Tag Archives: Americas Mart

The Atlanta Show January 2015 and Trends

Dennis and I  got home Sunday January 12th after being at the Atlanta show for five days. There was a really bad virus and cough going around and we both got it. Luckily not at the same time. So we were able to spell each other at the show. I still have it and it has has slowed me down. and since I am a bit late now to report on the show, I’ll write on some topics related to trade shows.  There is a lot of important things to say about the show (or any trade show you go to) . I am going to start with:   Trends  

How and where to spot them at the show. (At the end of this blog I will mention other good sources of trend spotting).

At the shows Look for trends that predominate and show up in at least 5 major showrooms and more. In Atlanta Showrooms like C & F , Manual Woodworkers and Evergreen are good for trend spotting.

 Check out the fashions you see in the halls and showrooms – We saw, of course chevron, animal prints,lots of patterns, and combinations of patterns. At the July show I am sure we will see lots of floral patterns.

         Check colors and patterns that appear in the showrooms- Seen were a lot of the warmer colors in the orange, pink and coral family. Also sunflower yellow. In the Cools   were, you guessed it Blues. Lots of Aqua, Cobalt and Navy. Lots of warm and cool grays combined with the blues and warm shades.

Patterns and bright colors

Patterns and bright colors

Spot recurrent themes – Foxes and owls still around. Woodland animals, deer, moose etc. are showing up. Not as much as was predicted a year ago. The little Hedgehog so popular in England didn’t live up to last year’s predictions. We saw some, but not enough to call it a big trend,.

  I saw  a good showing of black and white designs, patterns and black line art combined with watercolory butterflies, flowers. This last was starting to appear last year in gift wear fashion and tabletop.

Black and white line art with some color

Black and white line art with some color


LOOSER WATERCOLOR AND NATURE THEMES, especially birds and flowers
 Photos of two products in a line sold by Overstock.com by yours truly. This look on Home decor products has been coming about in the last 5 years. And you can bet I am happy about that. The products will be on the Overstock site in late February.

Overstock.com Duvet

Overstock.com Duvet



Looser Watercolor styles on Paper. This look has been popular on pillows for 3 or 4 years and is now appearing on other products.

Looser watercolor designs

Looser watercolor designs



Collage style inspirational art where the art is very stylistic. These two pieces by Kelly Rae Roberts and Lisa Kaus are good illustrations. Type is used in unusual and varied styles often looking like a snippet of typewriter type. Kelly and Lisa were among the artists that first developed this style around 5 or 6 years ago.By now I’m sure if you have been looking you’ve seen lots of other artists now doing this look. I remember seeing this style and the artists who did it for the first time in the Demdaco Showroom in Atlanta. Then it was new. Now there are many artists doing this look. It caught on and became popular. With artists and with the public

Kelly Rae Roberts collage style

Kelly Rae Roberts collage style

Lisa Kaus collage inspirational style

Lisa Kaus collage inspirational style

Some Themes that come to mind as always popular.

Coastal. I think that we saw a lot more than in past years.

Birds, florals and patterns. (I read in Gifts and Dec Accessories that florals are trending again this year in home decor.

Wine and grapes

Traditional Holiday

Other ways to follow trends:

Check the Pantone color reports for the current year. This is the palette I saw a lot of at the show. And it should be showing up more as Spring is being show in stores.

Pantone colors Spring 2015

Pantone colors Spring 2015

“About the PANTONE Color of the Year
The Color of the Year selection requires careful consideration and, to arrive at the selection, Pantone combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the fashion and entertainment industries – including films that are in production, the world of art, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, the availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention. “

This years color is marsala. It is the luscious rich red brown. Watch for it to start appearing all over!

I try to think of trends when I do my nature paintings. But don’t always incorporate them. If I am working on a collaged piece with Dennis then we are mindful of trends More decorative artists like Jennifer Brinley do use them in a lot of their designs.

Whether you choose to use these colors in your art or not it helps to be aware of them. Don’t feature colors that are out of date for that year.

 Some other ways that I follow trends are: Remember that,  The trends start in  fashion and apparel move to home decor rugs furniture and tabletop and then giftware. ) It can take a year or two for this moving along of the trends. It seems to me that they move from one market to the next faster now than say 5 years ago.

Trade Magazines. Especially Gift and Decorative Accessories

Watch QVC on TV to see what is trendy in fashion.

Visit local gift shops. Talk to the shop owner and see what they are considering hot trends.

Check some of the trendier stores on the internet: ex: West Elm, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Pier One

Go to other trade shows. There are so many around the country.

I  was going to make this a short post. Ha ha lol.

It is a cold night in the big apple and I smell Apple and Butternut squash soup from the kitchen.  Let me know about other trends you are spotting.

So I will end here. Stay warm and if you are in a warm place

enjoy it!



























Filed under Atlanta Gift show, Owls, watercolor birds and wildlife

The Atlanta July Gift Show, Part One

After Surtex there were about three weeks to do the show follow-thru, get ourselves organized and think about new artwork. Most of our current clients are in the papergoods market, i.e. paper tableware, stationery, shopping bags and greeting cards. We have a few clients in the home decor area like EvergreenBurton and Burton and Robert Kaufman (fabrics).

At one of our meetings after the show we decided that  we wanted to expand into the gift and home decor market. There are several reasons why. One is to increase our client base. Two, to develop products in a new market area. And three, to stretch the inspiration for our creativity. New markets equals new ideas. And did I mention to increase income?

So, we decided that I should go to the big Atlanta July Gift show to scout out new companies.

In order to do this I researched companies that we had visited in Atlanta in January 2012. Then I spent my mornings for three weeks making phone calls to set up appointments for the show. I was in a happy creative frenzy creating new designs. I was warming up to do a loose fun watercolor style that was different than the way I had been working. I always forget that there is a learning curve with watercolor whenever you try a new style.

I got impatient and frustrated. It just wasn’t working out. I knew what I wanted to do but it wasn’t happening as fast as I would have liked. You cannot rush or force watercolor to do what you want. It’s a watery flowing medium and unless you flow with it nothing works.

Dennis, on the other hand, is a steady worker. He gets his ideas and  creative direction as he progresses on with a design. He knows that this is his process. I typically keep losing sight of my process. That’s my Aries nature. Always forgetting and running headfirst into that same wall. Experience and maturity have tempered it a bit. Whew!

The night before leaving I laid out my clothes for the trip, worked on a painting, and played with Maggie, our cat. I fell asleep around 2 am and got up at 5.

Bye bye Bus stop Cafe

Said goodbye to Dennis, the kitties and Greenwich Village.

Departure from La Guardia Airport

I love getting to the airport early enough to have time to stay relaxed about the check-in time. Shoes off, get patted down, explain away suspicious items like a nail file. The bonus is that I can browse the stores, read a paper and have my coffee and bagel before it is boarding time.

One Artist Aloft

Ah, finally on the plane. Cramped, no leg room, but nice people to chat with and my iPad to keep me amused.

My home away from home

I was lucky to get a reservation at the Days Inn. Everything else downtown was booked. I’ll give you a few tips about booking and when to do it in the next couple of posts. Stay tuned! The nicest surprise was finding that I was just down the hill from the Gift Mart.

Too tired to walk up the hill to the show Thursday afternoon I spent the time between naps strolling downtown Atlanta. It was a nice surprise to find that it was a pretty little city and not just a downtown business district.

Bridges everywhere connecting the three huge buildings

Friday morning I got up early and after a full breakfast (the kind I like) I headed up the hill with the crowds (mostly women buyers) to  America’s Mart. The Mart is actually three 18-story buildings with connecting bridges on different levels. For those who are not familiar with this show it’s main purpose is for the manufacturers to take orders from the retailers who walk the show and shop for their own gift shops.

It takes a bit of navigating and sometimes you just go in circles and get frustrated and feel like yelling “Let me Out of Here!”

Building 1 consists of showrooms for manufacturers of  bedding, rugs, furniture, lighting and more. More broadly it houses the home decor showrooms. Building 2  and its new wing 2W is where I spent most of my time. This is the Gift building and houses companies like the ones I will be featuring in my next two posts such as Enesco, Manual Woodworkers, Burton and Burton, Transpac, C & F and Evergreen Enterprises.

There are also are two sections that are fun and inspirational to walk through. They are the”Living Outdoor/Indoor Gardens (garden statues, furniture, art fountains, flags and wonderful food). The new Gourmet Food Section, in building 2 has cooking demos, books, kitchen products and food tastings. Yum! I made it to the Garden section and walked through with Lucinda who I’ll introduce a little further on.

And then there is  building 3.  I’d have to stay an extra day to walk through  some of the showrooms there, but it would be such a treat. Building 3 houses The Fashion Accessories and fine Jewelry Showrooms. It is known as the Apparel Mart. And some of the showrooms let you shop at wholesale price. Bring your credit card!

Friends at the Show

Chris Peterson and Peter Spader (Chris in the middle and Peter on the right) were my  art reps for around 9 years. Their agency is called C.P. Licensing, and they have been in this business for more than 20 years. About 10 years ago, Dennis and I branched off to be on our own. We’ve all remained friends. Chris and Peter and I met up for lunch each day and had a fun dinner, Margaritas and all, one evening. I learned a lot from them when they were our reps. It was great to do some of the show with them and continue to learn. They are both generous in sharing of themselves and their vast knowledge from years of being Licensing artist Agents. It is very important from my experience to spend a few years at least going it on your own before you sign up with a rep for a number of reasons. More on this also in the next several posts.
Lucinda Wei, a friend and talented designer, walked some of the show with me. I wanted to show her how I would approach  potential customers in their showrooms.


Yes I was really there.

Chris finally insisted on taking a photo of me just to prove to my readers that I was really at the Show. Well I was folks and I loved every minute of it.


My traditional welcome back home

I guess Roosevelt Bear missed me!

In the posts that follow this I will talk about the nuts and bolts of making calls for appointments. It’s important too to make calls for catching up on  both personal and business stuff and finding out what a company is looking for and what is the time period to submit these designs.  Then you need to organize all this information so it works for you! More on that in the next few posts. The calls and appointments are an important part of what you need to do when you want to start expanding into a new part of the licensing market. Or, to start out in the business.

I’ll also take you on a virtual tour of three large showrooms and walk you through a “Meeting”. For now I’ll tell you one very important thing I have learned: Networking is one of the most essential things you can do. And it’s fun and sociable. Keeps you out of the kind of trouble that can come if you become too isolated. And that trouble can be both personal and professional. I didn’t always like doing it, but the more you do the more comfortable you feel. You can make friends along the way with people you work with.

More to come about the Atlanta Show. Keep tuned and please send me your questions and comments.


Filed under Airlines, Art and Design, Atlanta, Creativity and Fun, Hotels, Kitchen and Food, Licensing, Manufacturers, Marketing, Trade Show, Uncategorized