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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Surtex 2011 plus NSS & ICFF shows: Inspirational !

Walking trade shows are a wonderful source of inspiration for creating art. And the eye-candy seen at the Surtex show, The National Stationery Show (NSS)*, and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York this week surely was stocked full of inspiration. In fact, there was so much that I often had to take a break because it was SO overwhelming. Note: A badge from the Surtex show gained admittance to all three shows that were running concurrently.

*The name of the Stationery show gives the impression that only greeting card companies exhibit at it. Not true! All kinds of companies exhibited that are associate with the stationery industry (pens & pencils, ribbons, wrapping paper, gift bags, party ware, etc. etc. etc.) or made with paper. In fact, the 2011 show directory has the words PAPER POWER on the cover.

When walking the shows, artists get inspiration not only from other artists work but colors or lack of, accessories or lack of, and layouts used in the booths at all the shows.

For instance, many of walls in the ICFF booths were white and were blank. And the only color in the booth was on the contemporary designed furniture. The white walls may have been effective in showcasing the contemporary furniture but they really did not give me any inspiration to create art OR did they? Yes they did! But in a completely unexpected way. After walking down row after row of booths, I kept visualizing the blank walls filled with art that complemented the colors and the simple lines of the furniture. And I also imagined products with and without art that accessorized the room containing the furniture. Even though there was no eye-candy per se, the displays created inspiration at the most basic level!

At the NSS show the type of products, colors, ways products were displayed and the booths accessorized were amazing. Truly eye-candy galore. The designs ranged from none to just a hint of geometric motifs to whimsical, to fine art and everything in between. Products were accessorized with jewels, glitter and metallics. They were made of paper, all kinds of plastic, leather, wood and stone. An exhibit called The Paper Runway stole the NSS show at least as far as I was concerned. It was comprised of about 20 mannequins wearing unique dress styles and created all with paper. It was an amazing sight that stopped attendees in their tracks. See a few of them in the picture at the top of this article. The exhibit was a contest among cutting-edge fashion designers, design students from New York City LIM College, and the design studio of DCWV. It was sponsored by Kate's Paperie.

Surtex Show
What a thrill to see hundreds of booth displaying all styles and themes of art at Surtex. I did not take any pictures of booths because it is not allowed unless you get permission from the exhibitors and I did not have the time. I plan to post a future article that has links to blogs written by Surtex exhibitors and attendees so you should see some booths. Meantime, view "Surtex '11 Days Away" that Surtex posted on previous to the show. It is mostly about the surface designers attending the show and was probably filmed in 2010 but still a good source of inspiration. Also checkout the one minute videos that some exhibitors submitted to Surtex. They were playing on monitors in the Surtex Resource Center. To see them, open and search for "Surtex 2011" to get a listing of the videos.

Inspiration comes from everywhere and attending trade shows are my favorite ways to find it. Now I have to assimilate what I saw at the shows and start to apply it to my art. And, that will not be an easy task because I saw SO much.


I welcome any suggestions and comments. Please write them in the comment section below.


  1. A smart and lucid quick overview of the three shows. Good piece, Joan. You're the best. I look forward to the rest of your postings on Surtex.

  2. Sounds like you had a great time! You are the show queen.

  3. Your blog is always informative and helpful; thank you for the time, work and love you put into it. I haven't been to a Surtex show, but have it on my top ten things I must do SOON list.