- by Barney Davey
One show that is growing in importance to many art publishers and self-representing artists is the HDExpo. It is the tradeshow component of Hospitality Design magazine.
Changes in the tradeshow scene regarding the art business have been frequently reported here. The traditional industry shows such as ArtExpo and Decor Expo are well off their peak years in size, as are the publications that support them. And, the total number of shows serving the industry are at lows not seen in decades. No matter what factors you use to account for the downward trend, they are sadly there and showing no signs of resurgence.
Tradeshow Woes Are a Problem Across Many Industries
It’s not just art and picture framing shows that are on their heels. You needn’t look hard to find evidence of contraction in all kinds of industries. Given such a multi-industry trend is surely a cause to wonder if there are alternative shows worth either attending or exhibiting for artists and publishers.
There Are Bright Spots To Be Found
One growing show growing increasingly important to many art publishers and self-representing artists is the HDExpo. It is the sister tradeshow to Hospitality Design magazine, which also is growing in size. These entities primarily serve complete design needs for hotels, restaurants and corporate centers.
Gaining traction in this market is a way to create a steady cash flow from a distribution source outside the gallery and online channels that are top of mind for most artists. Not to say the field isn’t competitive. It is, but I have always maintained there is ample room in the most crowded fields for artists who bring a fresh perspective to the scene.
Hospitality Design Magazine Publishes Largest Issue Ever
As a former trade magazine rep, I drooled with lust when I saw the most recent at-show copy of Hospitality Design. At 448-pages plus cover, it resembles a mid-size city phone book. I hadn’t seen a trade pub that size since the heyday of Decor magazine’s show issues for New York or Atlanta many moons ago. The combination of growing importance of the HDExpo show and the size of the magazine puts an exclamation point on their momentum and the market they represent.
Las Vegas Is a Boom Town for Home Furnishings & Hospitality Design Shows
Las Vegas is also home to the World Market Center. It is the host site of the Las Vegas Market, which also is bucking the downward trend as a huge fast growing international home furnishing marketplace. The common wisdom for decades was no venue could successfully compete against the IHFC show and the concurrent shows in High Point, NC for the home furnishings market. In just a few short years, the Las Vegas Market has proven there can be a viable alternative to the IHFC.
To Be An Effective Marketer in an Industry, You Must Be a Student of It
Effective marketing is a multi-year strategy. The first stage is to become educated about potentially lucrative markets important and new to your business. If you have your own designs on seeing your originals and reproductions used in the hospitality industry, learn all you can about the shows mentioned here and the markets they represent. You likely don’t have the budget to tackle them all. But spending time studying them is a great first step towards getting your foot in the door at one of them at the appropriate time.
On the HDExpo Web site, go to Expo/Exhibitor List/Product Category Search. Start with the Artwork: Prints/Reproductions/Photography category and work your way through all the other appropriate categories for ideas on companies to approach, or to see what those exhibiting are doing on their on Web sites. It will be time well spent to study this terrific resource. And, of course, if you can actually go there, all the better. This year’s May 14-17 conference and May 15 -17 exhibition dates are upon us. If it’s too quick for this year, tickle it as a must for 2009.
Surtex Offers Artists Yet Another Alternative to Galleries and Selling Online
The Surtex show runs May 18 – 20 at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. Surtex bills itself as a licensing show for original art and design and offers a different kind of distribution and income from the hospitality business. Surtex is a terrific venue for artists who want to license their work. It’s a show to walk the first year and then to decide if paying for exhibit space makes sense. Many artists are able to make connections there by respectfully and tactfully approaching publishers and licensors when they are not otherwise busy in their booths. The better you prepare for these shows, the better your experience will be.