I exhibited at Surtex for the second time this year alongside Jules McKeown, under the booth name The Pattern Social. We debuted our art at the popular show in 2016, and I wrote about it here. We were thrilled to have a lovely reaction to our work, so we immediately signed up again for 2017. The Javits Centre is a fabulous but huge building located on 11th Ave between 34th and 40th Streets, in Manhattan.
There are a mixture of exhibitors. There are design ateliers don’t tend to license artwork, but just sell off art on a flat fee basis. Then there are studios who license and potentially sell off work flat fee. We were in the latter section, but right next to where the atelier aisles began. This worked well as we did have some art available for outright purchase.
In contrast to some of the UK trade shows I have done, Surtex remains busy for the entire duration of the show. We even had people coming up to us to chat as we began to take our work down. I personally left feeling immensely positive about the reaction to our work again. Some definite projects were discussed, and we had some firm artwork sales in the bag.
We met a wide variety of potential clients, but there were certainly a lot of stationery companies walking around. This was probably partly due to the fact the National Stationery Show was taking place at the same time. Everybody was so friendly, and it was nice to have some in-depth conversations with different types of buyers who sat down and spent some time at our booth.
Jules and I allowed ourselves an extra day in the city this time, so we could have a little down time before the show began. This was lucky as it took slightly longer than one day for us to get everything put on to the walls. It was nice to pop back on Saturday morning and take a look with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ and make some tweaks. After many hours, and a ridiculous amount of velcro and mess later, our booth was ready! I had planned out my space before we went but as we were putting the display up, I changed my mind on a few bits. Jules and I have quite different work, but our colour sense is very similar, making our art sit well together.
Jules’ work is on the left, and mine is on the right.
Surtex Promotional Materials
This year we took promotional double sided postcards that gave a flavour of our work, alongside personal business cards. This worked well, as despite us exhibiting under our collective name, all artwork sales and licenses will be done individually.
Most of the artists showcasing their art in the licensing section get portfolio books printed. They are designed to give potential clients an idea of your work, but don’t include the entire portfolio. We didn’t have books last year, but I much preferred having one, and I chose to just print the art I had available for flat fee sale on larger sheets. It helped me to be really clear with buyers about which art was available for purchase, and that which was part of my licensing portfolio.
My portfolio book showed a mixture of repeat pattern and placement designs. I also showed some product mock ups and examples of previous collaborations. I spent a lot of time putting the pages together (some examples are below), but I was pleased with the result.
Jules and I are both back at home enjoying some of the bank holiday sun now. This coming week will be busy following up all leads and catching up on admin! I’ll be writing another post soon with photos from the trip alongside some recommendations for places to eat and shop!
I am very excited to announce details of a new book that Pavilion have just published! It is called House of Cards and is by Sarah Hamilton, the pioneer of the Just a Card campaign. The purpose of the book is to educate the reader about the history of greetings cards. It also gives step by step guides in order to make your own cards. It covers utilising a variety of print and production methods.
Jakki Brown, editor of Progressive Greetings Magazine, organiser of PG and all round lovely person opens the book with a history of greetings cards. The book has various chapters, including one about licensing artwork, which can be a lucrative way of making money through art and design. I have done a lot of licensing over the last 5 years so was happy to contribute to this chapter.
It was an honour to be asked to be the digital illustration contributor, and therefore have my very own section in the book! I talk about my inspirations as a designer, as well as my studio. My chapter shows you how to go from thinking of your own card idea to finished design. The idea is that your final artwork is digitally printed. I include instructions on creating a drawing you want to colour and print by hand. I then give an in-depth step by step guide to vectorizing and colouring the art in Adobe Illustrator.
There are ten step by step chapters in total, and other methods of creating art include paper cutting and screen printing.
Where to Purchase House of Cards
The book is available to buy from good shops including Waterstones as well as online here.
You can find details of where to purchase my own range of cards here.
I am thrilled to have these bright coastal designs appear on kitchen textiles. I collaborated with a USA based company, whom I met at Surtex in New York last May. The art is available on dishcloths and napkins. They are being distributed across the USA and Canada. I have lots of freelance work on at the moment which is great! However, I do to find time to produce more new art in time to showcase at the show. I will return to New York with Jules in May to exhibit under the name The Pattern Social in May.
Would you like to collaborate?
If you are a potential client looking to license or commission new artwork, please head to my design portfolio page.
I have followed people doing drawing projects on Instagram before. It’s great to see the collection of work that they build up over the course of a month. Flora Waycott’s cat drawings for Inktober were delightful. Some projects are longer, like the 100 day project. When I read about this Instagram challenge launching again on April 4th, I decided to go for it and see what I could achieve.
The first thing was deciding what to draw. People tend to choose a theme and stick to that for the duration of the project. At this point I was in the midst of preparing for Surtex and pondered what could add the most to my portfolio before I went. I wanted to draw something that tied in with my Instagram account since I’d be sharing each daily illustration on there. After a bit of consideration I opted for buildings. I have drawn hundreds of architectural structures over the years and it’s something I really enjoy. It would probably be beneficial for me to choose a theme I am not as familiar with going forwards. There is a limited amount of floral work in my portfolio, so focusing on something like that next time would be good for me.
Even though I am a designer for a living, I have never drawn something every single day for 100 consecutive days. As it happens, I still haven’t. My 100 day project fell by the wayside at day 54. I felt like I was really getting in to a routine ahead of flying to New York for Surtex. I’d often do my drawing late at night before heading to bed. It felt satisfying to do something creative at the end of the day.
Aside from a couple of days whilst in NYC, when I posted photos of buildings instead, I managed to keep on top of the project until after I came home. I often find it hard to focus on designing when there is so much admin to do. This is something I am working on getting better at. after all, my main job is supposed to be creating beautiful patterns.
I posted images daily on Instagram, and made sure I scanned and saved the art on my computer. When I returned back to the UK, I kept up with the drawings for a little longer, but then catching up in the studio seemed to take over. I couldn’t even seem to find 20 minutes in a day to draw. Despite not making it to 100 days I am happy with the illustrations I created.
Some of the buildings were made up, whereas others were drawn from photographs. A lot of these drawings will most likely never be used in a project as such, but that wasn’t really the point of me doing the challenge. The image below shows the majority of the drawings completed during the 54 days. It’s satisfying to see them all together! I used the hashtag #100daysofbuildingsjh which means they can all be viewed together on Instagram.
New art as a result of the 100 day project
The most enjoyable part of the project, was drawing a selection of Parisian architecture. I have focused on Paris as a theme many times before. The intricacy of the stone and ironwork that adorns many of the buildings in the city is stunning. This also means there is lots of detail to be captured within a drawing. I gave myself 20 minute time limits when drawing landmarks such as the Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame. Without this I could have easily spent an hour on each drawing. Working quicker allowed the illustrations to be a little more spontaneous. There are some examples of these below.
After a few days I had enough illustrations to think about putting them in to a design. One thing I was keen to create was a brand new architectural art printed on a banner for Surtex. I decided to work on a ‘map’ of Paris, and then changed it in to a repeat format for the show. I really enjoyed working on this design, often late at night in the studio with no distractions. The result (shown below), is probably my favourite piece of work to date. Going forwards, I aim to work on similar pieces based on other famous cities.
Other new pieces of repeat print work included a winter themed pattern and some New England inspired coastal buildings. I also created some placement prints on a Christmas theme.
Despite not managing to complete the 100 day project, I feel quite satisfied with what I have achieved. I’ll be keeping an eye on Instagram for other challenges, such as Inktober, and aim to take part in one of those later this year.
PG Live seems to come around quicker every year! It’s a two day greeting card trade show held in the Business Design centre, Islington. It was my fourth time exhibiting, and it’s an important even in the trade show calendar. It brings in visitors from over 40 countries, including some top UK buyers. Max Exhibitions Ltd organise the show and they really go all out to ensure exhibitors and buyers alike are very well looked after. As a result of this, everybody has a wonderful two days! Visitors are greeted by women wearing dresses made from greeting cards. These have been donated by various exhibitors, and they have an official opening on the first morning of the show!
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
Unlike other trade shows, there are people going around with tea and coffee trolleys offering free refreshments which is lovely. What’s even better are the free – yes free lunches! It can cost a small fortune purchasing dinner at other trade shows, and PG Live offer a meal to every exhibitor and visitor to the show. This years menu didn’t disappoint and you even get dessert! The dining room is sponsored and decorated by a different exhibitor each year. Gorgeous card company Lagom are celebrating their 10th anniversary, so they took over the dining hall and decorated it with monochromatic geometrics and large colourful balloons.
I am pleased to have just launched new greeting cards, and you can see some of them below. If you are a wholesale customer you can browse the range here.
The first night of the show sees a lively drinks party take place in the dining room.
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
I was thrilled to receive a Sunshine Ticket from the multi award winning shop Mantons. This is a wonderful outlet situated in Port Erin on the Isle of Man. Retailers that have been shortlisted for a RETAS award receive tickets to spend with publishers of their choice at the show. Here I am pictured with director Chris Beards. I am thrilled to be supplying Mantons with my colourful cards!
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
There is an image of my PG Live stand below and then a section of the Deva Designs stand, whom I have worked with since 2014. I love working with repeat patterns so it is a pleasure to produce art for licensed gift wrap and bags. This years offering showcases my signature illustrative style. My wraps are the three bottom left designs. The Christmas patchwork and skiing scene can also be seen on roll wrap, bags and tissue.
The Ladder Club at Pg Live
Whilst PG Live was a great show, a number of exhibitors, organisers and retailers were saddened by the loss of industry legend Lynn Tait. Lynn lost her battle with Myeloma, just days before the show. Lynn owned a thriving outlet in her home of Leigh-on-Sea. She also wrote articles for Progressive Greetings magazine as well as being a photographer. I best knew her for setting up the Ladder Club seminars, which she organised alongside Jakki Brown (editor of Progressive Greetings magazine) each year. The seminar days are intended to help greeting card publishers that are starting out, and give them the support required to grow in this thriving industry. I attended day two in 2014, and since then Lynn became a friend. She was admired by many and was hugely respected in the industry.
Lynn has helped hundreds of publishers over the years through her seminars. More recently, anybody that has attended a seminar has been able to join a private Facebook group. A mixture of new and experienced publishers all support each other and offer advice on all kinds of card related topics. I felt honoured to be asked to join Lynn on the admin side of this in 2016, and Megan (of Megan Claire), came on board recently. Megan and I will now continue to run the Facebook group and Lynn’s legacy will live on.
It’s a tradition to have a ‘Ladder Club’ photograph each year at the show, and the 2017 one can be seen below. There were lots of members exhibiting, some for the first time. The flowers and text are a tribute to Lynn, who is going to be really missed.
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
Looking ahead to 2018
PG live was the last trade show for me in 2017. I will be at Spring Fair next February, where I’ll be launching 2018 Christmas and loads of new cards!
I published a blog post last week about the work side of my trip to New York, so I thought I would write one about some of my personal highlights from the trip. Despite being in the city for work, we did get some time to sightsee, shop and eat in some lovely places.
We spent 6 nights at the Row Hotel which is on 8th Ave between 44th and 45th Street. This was really handy for a morning walk to the Javits Center for the exhibition. Although small, the room was very clean, with a good shower and comfy bed so I wouldn’t hesitate to book a room there again. That said, there are so many places to stay in NYC, it would seem wrong not to stay at different accommodation next time! City Kitchen was joined on to the hotel, which became our go to breakfast spot. It has a laid back vibe with numerous vendors, each offering tasty food. We enjoyed pancakes, waffles, pastries and donuts during our time there, all of which set us up nicely for busy days in the city.
We were lucky to have some fantastic weather whilst we were there, which made it great just for wandering around. I spend a lot of time sat at my studio desk, so it was nice to get out and about, doing lots of walking whilst taking in the sights.
One of my favourite bits of the trip was walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was my third time in NYC, but I hadn’t had chance to do this previously. We took the Subway to Brooklyn and joined hundreds of other walkers and cyclists and walked over this iconic bridge. The rest of the day was spent meandering all of the way back up to our hotel on 45th. We stopped off on the way for cake, wine in Union Square and food at delightful restaurant Boqueria (more info on that below).
The High Line is one of my favourite walks to do when in New York. It’s a 1.45 mile long elevated path, built on a disused railway line. It begins at Gansevoort Street and runs up to West 34th Street. It’s a really popular walk for locals and visitors alike, giving a unique perspective of the city, being elevated away from the traffic, but not too high that you can’t take in the sights the city has to offer.
I thought I’d include a list of a few of the places we ate, drank and shopped at whilst in New York. There’s so many more places I’d like to go, but I’ll have to save them for next time!
Shopping in New York
Shopping is never at the forefront of my mind when I’m away on trips, but there were a few outlets that we couldn’t resist visiting!
Anthropologie – beautiful fashion and jewellery, but the main attraction for me are their gorgeous homewares.
Fishs Eddy – just on the corner of 19th Street and Broadway. This store sells illustrative and quirky ceramics, glass and textiles for the kitchen. Reasonable prices.
Marimekko – right near the Flatiron building. Shop for fashion at homewares at this iconic Scandinavian brands NYC flagship store.
Papersource – contemporary greeting cards (including some of mine!), stationery and some gifts. Papersource can be found at many locations across the city.
Chelsea Market – largely food with some other outlets including Posman books and Anthropologie.
My card in Papersource.
Eating & Drinking
Tick Tock Diner – big portions and fast service – available 24/7! I’ve eaten here a few times before, and it’s part of the New Yorker hotel. I would love to stay there one day.
Rosa Mexicano – Mexican food with ridiculously more-ish guacamole and tasty cocktails. I’ve eaten here many times now. Rosa Mexicano is a chain restaurant but with an independent vibe, and it never disappoints.
Boqueria – a real highlight. We went to their 19th Street location, but they have 4 restaurants across the city. We had their Parrillada mixed grill, which I’d highly recommend. It’s a large portion and intended to be shared!
The Park Chelsea – good food to be enjoyed in an eclectically decorated interior. It has a glassed in patio and a rooftop garden that overlooks the High Line.
Bobby Van’s – recommended to us by a local and was right near the hotel (45th between 6th and 7th Ave). However, they have locations across the city. We enjoyed sitting at the bar for a post Surtex wine.
With so much going on before I flew out to New York, there wasn’t much time to research places to go before I went. I look forward to exploring more of what the city has to offer in terms of food and drink next time! After a brilliant six days, I felt a bit sad to be heading home. I was so focused on getting everything prepared, it seemed like quite a big build up. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit ‘The Big Apple’, which hopefully won’t be too far away!