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Friday, January 15, 2010

Art Licensing: Walking and Exhibiting at the 2010 Atlanta Gift Show

Bridges between AmericasMart Building 1 & Building 2

Exhibiting and walking the January Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishing Market is an amazing experience. It is the largest gift show in the United States and has over 5000 permanent showrooms and another 5000 temporaries during the market. It is held at the AtlantasMart that consists of three buildings with 20 floors in building 1 (home accents), 18 floors in building 2 (gifts, garden, paper) and 13 floors in building 3 (apparel and jewelry). The buildings are connected by bridges on certain floors (see picture) so that once you are in the Mart you don't need to go outside. That was really handy for this show because it was bitterly cold in Atlanta and the streets were treacherous to walk. It snowed on the day before the show opened on Friday January 8 and the streets were very icy. Note: Taking photos inside the Mart is prohibited so the only ones I am showing are ones that the Mart gave me permission to show.

The amount of buyers at this show was way up from last year. Read "AmericasMart Celebrates Robust Buying at Market, Positive Outlook for 2010 From All Buyers, Exhibitors." And during the show, the Mart and exhibitors really generate excitement with promotions, artist signings, demonstrations, and classes. Demdaco had more artist signings than they've ever had (nine). Scads of buyers were walking around wearing their make-and-take-it fabulously embellished high-design paper bag hats. And everyone stopped what they were doing, to watch and laugh as a wacky band of about 30 senior citizens with brightly colored clothing and makeup danced and paraded through the show.

Building 1 registration.

Crowded temporary showrooms.

Registering for the Show
Artists can register for the show in several ways.
1. They can exhibit in the License and Design Collections.
2. They can attend free if they can meet the stringent registration requirements as a buyer.
3. They may be able to get on a manufacturers exhibitor list as a non-exhibiting manufacturer if they have a working relationship with that manufacturer.

December 2011- Update on artists registering for the show.  The Atlantas Mart has changed their policy starting with the January 2012 show.  Artists can NO longer register by doing the following.
• Ask to register because they are thinking of exhibiting at a future show and want to check the show out. In the past they needed a business card and pay $20.
• Register by bringing a portfolio and business card to show that they were an artist.  In the past they paid $20.

Walking the show is a great way to check out the CURRENT trends. But it is easy to get sensory overload by walking the many floors of the Mart and looking at all the "eye candy" displayed in the floor to ceiling showroom windows. The colors and number of products are overwhelming. By the way, the windows are really the walls of the showrooms and you can see almost everything in the permanent showrooms from the corridors.

At this show it was obvious that coastal themes are popular because it seemed that every gift showroom had coastal products. Snowmen and Santa are still popular icons for Christmas. Dark red and green colors seem to be used mainly for traditional and more realistic Christmas themes but there was plenty of the chartreuse green and bright red used in the more whimsical themes. Blue and white were also used on Christmas products.

Exhibiting at the License and Design section
The success of exhibiting in License & Design Collection section of the show was a mixed bag. The show is still new (second year) and not all the manufacturers are aware that the Licensing section exists. And some of those that did know about it, could not find it because it is held on a hard to find floor. It also didn't help that there was an error in the show guide that listed the Licensing section in the wrong building. Another draw back this year was the enormous amount of buyers that attended the show. And they were buying! Thus, art directors that normally could have broken away from the showrooms to look at art in the Licensing section were needed to help write up orders. As a result, the traffic of art directors through the Licensing section was slim.

Still this was a successful show for the artists and agents that already have established relationships with manufacturers and those that made appointments. Also the pre-show reception (manufacturer meet the artists/agents) the night before the show opened was a success because some manufacturers did come and view the art.

Note: Many of the exhibitors I talked to said that this show is still new and even though the traffic this year wasn't the best they are optimistic that as the show grows the traffic will improve.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.


  1. I didn't mention in this article that a key element to doing any show is networking with everyone and meeting with the manufacturers to learn what kind of art they need.

  2. Hi Joan,

    Thank you so much for the update on the Atlanta Gift Show. Very well written. I really enjoy reading your web blog.

    Take Care,

  3. Joan,
    I was the artist who met you there and we chatted about Photoshop. I feel the location was a bit off the beaten path and I had a hard time getting the correct directions when asking an offical of any kind.
    It certainly seems like a fertile environment for licensing artists to show. I think the key is getting the motivated traffic there and perhaps a larger showing of artists. Also, possibly some event(s) to draw traffic. You are essentially competing for all that is going on around you but that tells you there is so much potential.
    I was up in the area where Alton Brown was demosntrating and it was packed.
    I have to say to it was my first time at the show (visiting) and it is overwhelming. It took some time to master where the elevators might take you.
    It was nice to meet you though and I love your blog.

  4. HI Joan,
    It was a pleasure to chat with you at the show.
    It's unfortunate that more manufacturers didn't get to visit the License & Design secton...but if it was because they were busy in their showrooms, that's a good sign. I believe that in the future it will be a MORE successful show for artists. I only wish they would offer a more reasonable price for the L & D booths.
    Good luck and (keep warm).