West Coast Art & Frame Show & SmARTist Telesummit week.

Changing market conditions have been hard on art print publishers and the media and tradeshows supporting them. As such, it was delightful to observe a universal determination to succeed among these long-time industry veterans.

Last week was a bit hectic. It started Monday with a presentation to the 2010 SmARTist Telesummit attendees on my topic of creating a second income through the art print market.

While I have conducted many seminars via the telephone and Internet, this one was different. After a brief introduction from show producer, Ariane Goodwin, I was off to see how deep into a 41-page slide presentation I could get in 45 minutes.

What made this unique was I talked with no feedback as the attendees' phones were muted. Like most speakers, I prefer getting vocal or visual clues, so this was a challenging way to present. I trust my listeners took value from the presentation. The talk was intended to be enlightening regarding the print market with some basic art marketing concepts included.

Finish one presentation and hit the road for the WCAF Show

Once the SmARTist seminar was over, my wife, Mary, and I jumped in the car for the 300-mile trip to Las Vegas where the first day of the Ninth Annual West Coast Art & Frame Show was underway. There were lots of old friends to see from the art print market, including many I had not seen in years.The print side art business is still in flux and I was eager take the pulse of the market.

Hat's off to the Gherman family and their long-time employees for producing another consistent show in Las Vegas. Watching them and their staff from Picture Framing Magazine interact with exhibitors and buyers was educational in itself. They work very hard at maintaining high touch relationships with all their constituents. The results are proof their efforts pay dividends. I did not encounter sour grapes anywhere, which is remarkable for any tradeshow at anytime. At this juncture, I suppose exhibitors are pleased for a decent chance to get exposure to buyers.

Seeing old friends still producing great work with a hopeful attitude was invigorating

Since I sold John and Laurie Chester of Wild Apple Graphics their first ads and tradeshow spaces, I was thrilled to help them celebrate 20 years in business at their booth. I also realized I was the rep to first sell trade ads and show space to to Michael and Susan Singleton' for their Sagebrush Fine Art and likewise to Nasser Shortorbani and Laurie Downing of Poems Art Publishing. Those companies are just a few years junior to Wild Apple. To find myself decades later still in the art print business with such friends is a precious rewarding experience.

Trade media promoting new venues for Decor Expo Atlanta and ArtExpo New York

This show offered a chance to visit in person with the intrepid bunch from Next Step Media. These former workmates included Kim Feager, Kim Klatt, Renee Pinner and Kristin Stefek Brashares. With Kim Feager's leadership as publisher and new CEO, they salvaged Decor Magazine and the Decor Expo shows from being shut down and put out of business. Fred Rogers also was there. He recently joined the Decor team after years as an exec with former owners Pfingsten Publishing LLC and Summit Business Media LLC.

This group is rightfully excited about relaunching Decor Expo in Atlanta on September 11-13. They are equally thrilled to be back in the refurbished America's Gift Mart running concurrent with the Atlanta Gift Show. It would be a great tribute to them and a sign of industry resilience to see Decor Expo Atlanta roar back to life this fall. They have my fondest wishes for huge success there.

Eric Smith was there representing his Redwood Media company which rescued ArtExpo New York from letting its former owners put it out of business. Like every show producer these days, Eric has his hands full trying to put together a strong enough lineup to draw buyers. In 2010, there are no sure things in the art print market. The recent history of art business tradeshows and art consumer shows proves it.

While I have had issues with ArtExpo's previous investment banker owners, I, then as now, believe losing ArtExpo New York would be a stinging blow to artists, art publishers and the industry at large.  As such, my hope for Eric and his exhibitors is the show does well this coming March. It was a pleasure to visit with both John Haffey and Sarah Seamark who were there to cover the show for Art World News. Their trade publication has been an important voice in the art print market for decades.

In these tough times hope springs eternal … and it is more than just wishful

Just as my experience with art print exhibitors was fun and inspiring, I found it invigorating to connect with colleagues and friends who remain stalwarts in the art trade media and art tradeshow business. Changes in market conditions have been very hard on art print publishers and harsher yet on the trade media and tradeshows supporting them. So, it was delightful to observe a universal dogged determination to succeed among these long-time industry veterans.

Despite our very difficult economic times, and with other challenges around, these professionals maintain a palpable and realistic positive outlook as they demonstrate their belief the industry they serve is prepared to create new opportunities in bringing the art print market to a new era of prosperity.

Remembering Vivian Kistler

I doubt many reading this post knew Vivian Kistler, which is a shame. You can learn more about her life and contributions to the picture framing industry here. Nevertheless, I want to offer a few words of condolence to her family, friends and co-workers. She was a remarkable dynamo who for 30 years worked tirelessly at educating picture framers.

Vivian was a larger-than-life smart, funny, sassy, no-nonsense woman who produced books, workshops, seminars, videos and other materials for the benefit of those in the picture framing business. You did not have to know, or want to know anything about picture framing, to enjoy watching her put on a seminar. It was guaranteed to be lively, humorous and spot-on with great common sense business advice. Hers is a voice and legacy that will never be known again in our industry.

Get art marketing ideas emailed to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *