Getting Ready for Blueprint

At the moment I am beavering away, trying to get ready for Dot & Flow's first time exhibiting at Blueprint (a surface design and print trade show) taking place this May! After two consecutive years of doing Surtex, it's a little nerve-wracking to change to another show, but having done my research and weighing up the pros and cons, it feels like the right move to make. Only time will tell!

Here's a little teaser of what we'll be bringing to the Big Apple in just a few short weeks :) 

The show will take place just a block away from the Javits centre (where Surtex takes place) at 404 and the space looks great inside. I'm thrilled to see who are booth neighbours are and can't wait to meet some people I have either been following and or interacting with in the design community online, as well as some old design friends. 

Map of where to find Blueprint by Andrea Turk Cinnamon Joe Studio

Map of where to find Blueprint by Andrea Turk Cinnamon Joe Studio

See you on the other side! 

Viva La Frida! A Blooming Vibrant Portrait

Here’s a little sneak peek at me creating a new portrait design in my sketchbook. I decided to paint Frida Kahlo as part of my tropical collection. This will be part of a series of portraits featuring my favourite painters, each accompanied by a coordinating pattern. I think these will make a really cool stationery collection for designers and art lovers like myself.

I began by sketching a loose portrait and placement for the giant balloons. Followed by inking the main border and Frida herself. I decided to sketch a little more detail in the background before using acrylic inks to paint in the flora and fauna.

© Natalie Williamson

© Natalie Williamson

That’s all for now, I have to get back to my Surtex preparations, NOT LONG TO GO NOW! If you don’t know already (I don’t know how - I do keep mentioning it), I will be exhibiting this May and you can find me in booth 244. It would be lovely to see you :)

Kissy Kissy Jazzy Lips Ink Play

Today I am continuing with my #100daysofink project and working on a fun piece using masking fluid accompanied by my furry Design Assistant, Poppy 😂

I painted the black lips and and words before applying masking fluid over the lines. Once dry, I inked inside the motifs and allowed this to dry also. I added a second layer of making fluid over the motifs to protect them before adding a wash of grey ink.

Masking fluid: be sure to put your brush straight in water after use!  

Masking fluid: be sure to put your brush straight in water after use!  


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Rawrr! Jungle Fever Surface Pattern Design

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Take a walk on the wild side and a sneak peek at my new collection of graphic jungle surface patterns! Inspired by tropical forests and wild jungle life forms, shapes and animals, I worked with inks, paints and fineliners to create organic shapes and marks for an energetic and free vibe.

After making a happy mess, I scanned and digitized my designs before adding colour and forming various patterns and placement prints. 

Available for license, these patterns have been added to my private portfolio and can be viewed securely in my Art Licensing Show profile. 

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Butterfly Flutter Pattern Tweaking

I've been working on a collection of prints for a fabric manufacturer the last few weeks and though I can't share how the designs turned out just yet, I thought I'd let you take a sneak peek a little look at my work in progress. Here I am tweaking a butterfly repeat pattern.

If you'd like to catch more behind the scenes and new design previews, hop on over and follow me on Instagram. 

Until next time :)

Designer Insights with Natalie Williamson - Yay!

I had the pleasure of being asked to take part in Terrys Fabrics' Designer Insights series recently. Take a peek at my interview below!

Courtesy of: Terrys Fabrics

The Low Down on SURTEX (and a little Printsource info too)!

I've been asked a few questions about my experience at Surtex so I thought I'd share my answers and thoughts here, as it may come in useful for other people too. I've tried to be as honest and thorough as possible, but if I've missed anything, give me a shout.

This year, I exhibited my portfolio as part of Cultivate Art Collective, 9 super friendly, uniquely talented individuals with a wide range of styles and genres available for licensing and sale to various markets. 

What does the booth price/rental actually include?

  • 8’ high side walls and back wall (or corner booths with two walls and 2 open sides)
  • Company name sign
  • Lighting
  • Carpeting
  • One counter (low or high)
  • Three chairs (low or high depending on counter)
  • Wastebasket
  • Pre-show cleaning
  • Daily rubbish removal
  • Overnight storage of artwork
  • Operations assistance
  • And this year we each had a free seminar included with our ticket
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Shelves cost extra, power to the booth (for laptop charger etc.) costs extra, reliable Wi-Fi also costs extra but free Wi-Fi available but only good for the odd personal use as it's a little temperamental and you wouldn’t want to be sitting with a client, trying to load something and have it freeze or cut off on you! You have to log back in each time it kicks you out, again not something you want to deal with when you have a busy client in front of you.

Walls are plain white as standard and you can either decorate them yourself, build certain fixtures or contact the show to use their people to fit it out to your design (but this is very costly).

How does it work when you're a part of a collective? 

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It obviously depends on the individual collective, but we acted as individual artists in terms of handling any sales/requests, but worked together in generating interest in the collective and directed visitors at the booth to the artists with the most relevant work for that particular client but also shared all contacts with each other at the end of each day. This meant there was no competitiveness and we each had areas we were particularly interested in and geared towards, so we were a one stop shop covering most areas, having something for everyone.

Some other collectives were more of a Studio and had a more unified collective style that works for a more targeted audience or a specific market. Both work well in different ways, so it depends on the group you are working with and what your goals are.

Do you have any tips?

Decide on who you are as a collective, A one stop shop with something for everyone, or a collective for e.g. Kids Stationery, greetings and gift.

Decide on the look and feel of your collective, making sure it speaks to what you decided above. This will feed into your booth design and marketing materials you produce and you want to get the right people to stop at your booth and take note. Once you have them there, you can wow them with your amazing work!

Decide how you will handle interest and sales. Do you want to work as  group of solo artists under one umbrella or share all sales equally. Is one person the Admin Queen, who handles it all, taking notes, collecting business cards and so on…?

What would you say was the most helpful thing you brought with you to Surtex?

  1. 3M command strips for quick hassle free installation and removal of banners, etc. without causing any damage to the framework or blank booths (you’ll be charged if you damage anything!).
  2. A notepad and clipboard. It’s a whirlwind and though you might think there is no way you will forget speaking to that one amazing client you had your heart set on, you won’t remember everything they said once they walk away and you get talking to more and more people. Make notes on what they were looking for, what their role is, who their target customer is, when they look for certain seasonal themes, which peaces they paid attention to… anything you find out, make a note of it. If you type faster than you write, send yourself a quick text or email on your phone or iPad.

If you could change anything about the way you showed your work, what would it be?

I would opt for a square or portrait portfolio booth rather than landscape so it takes up less space (width wise) when laid flat. Space was limited with so many of us in the booth so it was a little tight. I also had A3 printed artwork sheets which were pretty handy since I could reorder them depending on who approached the booth and what they were looking for but again, I could save a little table space by taking the size of them down and they would still be as effective.

What's the difference between Surtex & Printsource?

From my experience, Printsource is slightly more apparel and textiles orientated and people are shopping to actually buy/license there and then where as Surtex has a lot more window shoppers and scouts, looking to find designers and particular styles. That’s not at all to say they were time wasters! Many seemed to be the assistant to the person with the chequebook and others were looking for work to present in meetings where the decision of what work to move forward with would be made. Surtex had a wide variety of shoppers looking for everything from repeat patterns to card designs, characters and everything in between. I would say, expect to take contact details and contracts at Surtex, and expect credit card payments at Printsourse.

That being said, many companies like to see a booth a few times at shows before they feel confident to immediately buy from them. They want to know that your business knows what they are doing. With Surtex especially, follow up is key!! Showing is just the beginning. The hard work comes after when you have to be brave and reach out to all those fantastic new contacts you’ve just made. And believe me, I know how daunting it can be!

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who said they want designers to keep sending them work and that they want you to keep them up to date with what you are up to!

Of course, everyone's thoughts and experiences of the two shows will vary from person to person and partly depend on your style, whether you show as a collective, through an agent/studio or as a solo artist, but I think it's helpful to her about such as massive (and costly) venture such as this, from as many different sources as possible in order to help you make the most of it if and when you decide to show yourself. If anyone has any other questions or insights, please feel free to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.  

One Month & Counting til my Surtex Voyage!

This time next month, I will be jetting off to join a group of amazing artists and designers to take part in a Trade Show, Surtex and boy, am I excited! The last time I was in New York I attended a similar show, Printsource and it was a turning point in my career. This will be my first time at Surtex, so I'm a little nervous of the unknown, but I'm sure it will be an equally wonderful experience. Here is my press pack, a little taster of the work I'll be taking to the show.  

In preparation for exhibiting at the show, I have been designing new surface patterns so I'm going with my new and exclusive work! As the countdown begins, my to do list continues to grow. I'm working on little goodies and takeaways for guests, printing, oh and I can't forget my sightseeing list too!

Here I am freezing on Brooklyn Bridge. Fingers crossed I'll get some nice weather this time round :)

First Look! Surface Pattern Designs for License

Tweet tweet! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter for updates and sneak peeks. I'll be tweeting my way through SURTEX this May too. 

Natalie Williamson Designs on The ArtLicensingShow.com

Drum Roll please... The ArtLicensingShow.com is all set to open its virtual doors today at 2pm EST 6pm GMT and I cannot wait! 

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This exciting new site is a place for Art Licensors and Art Licensees to connect in a safe and secure environment, ensuring that fantastically designed products make it to the shelves. 

Join in the festivities and find out more on the ArtLicensingShow Red carpet here

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I'm also getting the honor of networking with other wonderfully creative designers, which I adore! Art Directors and Agents get to browse great art without the hefty airline and travel expenses, all day everyday - what's not to love? 

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