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Monday, May 13, 2013

Last Minute Tips: Attending SURTEX by Agent Kimberly Montogery

The 2013 SURTEX sale and art licensing show is May 19-21 at the Javits Center in New York. Read the following tips on attending it by art licensing agent, consultant, and artist Kimberly Montgomery. Kimberly is a 20-year veteran at SURTEX and this will be the third time she's exhibited as Montage Licensing (booth 465).

Last Minute Tips About Attending SURTEX
by Kimberly Montgomery
Montage Licensing

The last thing the world needs right now is another person commenting on how to navigate SURTEX (or as I lovingly refer to it this time of the year: the ‘S’ word). But never the less, here I go . . .

1. Very few people actually make a DECISION at SURTEX. That includes manufacturers, agents, art buyers and art directors. Probably the only one who does is the guy who changes the empty toilet paper roll in the bathroom stall after you use it. Every one else is going to go back to the office and think it over for months. Maybe years.

2. A lot of people that attend SURTEX have known each other for years and act like it. It can make you feel like you’re back in high school and not in with the cool kids. The best you can do is be friendly, brief and dazzle them with your confidence. Follow up is your new best friend.

3. You will see a lot of great art. Trust me, it wasn’t great in the beginning. Everyone started somewhere. Licensing takes a lot of time and a lot of work. And then you make a little bit of money if you’re lucky. Sounds fun doesn’t it?

4. While attending SURTEX, please don’t ask an agent to represent you. You won’t like the result. See the last two sentences of #2.

5. It is the most exciting few days of the year for all of us. Great art, great talent, great minds and the best of the best in the industry. Go to SURTEX with the idea of having fun, making connections and possibly a few new friends.

See you in New York!

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.


  1. #4 is a tad confusing: are you directing this toward people who aren't already represented by an agent?

  2. Yes. If you're looking for an agent, note the contact info of those you think might be a good fit and follow up with them a few weeks after the show.

  3. #4 If you are an artist who is seeking representation, I suggest contacting the agent before Surtex to see if there is mutual interest for representation. The agent may want to meet you at Surtex. If the agent does not make time to meet you and they are interested in representing you, it is a red flag in my opinion. I agree that walking up to an agents booth without establishing a connection beforehand should be avoided.

  4. I absolutely agree with #4. An agent’s primary focus at Surtex is to establish or build on relationships with their clients in order to place more work for the artists and brands they already represent. The established agents are very busy and a meeting with a prospective artist can take away from valuable face time with clients or the opportunity to meet a new client, so the show is not the place to do it. If I was looking for representation that would not be a red flag, instead that would be the agent I want.

    1. Yes, I absolutely agree that an agent's primary focus is there to sell. A seasoned artist is respectful of their time and knows to walk away if a client approaches their booth. I did not imply this would be a long meeting as details and questions should be discussed at another time. While an agent is there to establish and build relationships with clients, they also must build and establish a relationship with a prospective artist. The show might be the only opportunity to make a brief introduction in person for a potential long term relationship. If an agent does not have a few minutes to say hello to an artist who they are eager to represent (when they are not busy in their booth or at another appropriate time like lunch, coffee or after show hours) they could have failed with a potential lucrative partnership. I have no interest in signing or building a relationship with a prospective agent who can't give me a few minutes of their time to say hello at the show.

  5. Interesting perspective. I am so excited that Surtex is quickly approaching. My first show in 2006 was awesome and I created immediate relationships that turned into great licensees...some quickly and some over time. I think that every artist, manufacturer and agent has their own style and process and find that the advise of being confident in what I create and who I am works for me.

  6. Thanks. Great concise info for a newbie.

  7. Great tips Kimberly! I agree with #1, and not just in regards to Surtex, but all aspects of licensing. I JUST got a call from a great potential client I met at TNNA in January and hadn't heard a peep from all my follow ups. Now she is ready to launch a full line our our designs. Good things come to those who wait! Have an awesome time in NY!:)