Overall I thought the Licensing Expo was very interesting and informative and best of all - FREE to attend. It was less art focused that I would have thought which made it take a lot less time than I had imagined. It made most sense for me to attend this Expo because that I live on the West Coast but I heard from many exhibitors that Surtex is much more art focused with over 2x as many art booths. At Licensing International Expo there were 70 booths comprised of individual artists, agencies and collaborative art groups all located in the Art & Design area. This is where I focused my energy for the majority of my time.
I got to the Expo right at 10:00 when it opened. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to carefully walk through the Art & Design area while picking up cards, talking to people and introducing myself when I had a chance. I was very careful to mind people's body language and keep quiet when I thought necessary. Some artists and agencies were more willing to chat than others. I gave out my cards when people asked. Cameras were not allowed so I had to stop and take notes often. Luckily there were a lot of sitting areas in between booths.
After I walked around the Art & Design area about 2 times I didn't want to seem like a stalker so I toured the rest of the show. This took about an hour. The rest of the expo was very engaging - there were entertainment booths the size of a Mc Donald's and movie characters walking around in costumes. There were a ton of executives who seemed to be doing deals right there on the floor. It felt a little like the show "Entourage" with a ton of good-looking, fashionable people talking about entertainment deals. Everyone was on their i-phone and/or computers. The vibe was very fast paced and business oriented. It was pretty neat.
After that I picked up a bunch of literature and free publications and headed out to get lunch. I didn't really have a reason to go back so I am glad that I booked my trip for only one day. It was definitely worth it because now I have a better understanding of agencies and what they are looking for. I also was able to take note of all the agencies and even made some contacts to follow up with. Now I can't wait to build a portfolio and get my licensing show on the road.
My Advice For Walking A Show:
- Get there early so you can talk to people before they have their business appointments scheduled
- Bring a folder and a notebook/pen so you can take notes and stash away all the cards you pick up
- Be prepared with a short pitch about who you are and what kind of art you do. I was asked to describe my art about a dozen times and I wish I had had a more succinct speech.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions but definitely excuse yourself if an exhibitor looks like they need to be tending to something else
- Have a couple of good questions prepared
- Dress professionally
- Try to pick up as many free publications as possible because they contain all the exhibitors names as well as great licensing info
- Agencies are always looking for new work and new artists to review
- Licensing is a great way to go if you want to make money as an artist
- It's a tough job and requires a lot of hard work and tenacity
- Definitely consult a lawyer before getting into any agreement
- Times are tough right now and the industry is changing somewhat