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The industry as seen by top designers.

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CHA's Inspiration and Design Faire

Designer-exhibitors faired well at CHA's newest show feature.

by Shea Szachare (March 7, 2005)

The CHA Atlanta show certainly was, as Ed Sullivan used to say, "A really big (shoe) show" in many ways. I own a pedometer and on one day it registered more than nine miles walking the show floor. Iím not sure the exact distance between the last booth row in Hall A to the last booth row in Hall B, but I never reached both in a single day.

In between the two was a virtual ocean of products to be seen, admired, and in most instances, touched. Just as there is no book or video that can compare to one-on-one instruction with a real teacher, there is no photo or virtual tour that can bring you the true essence of a show of this caliber. Never full, the aisles were wide and with so large a show they remained easy to traverse, yet almost every booth appeared to be filled with attendees. The Inspiration and Design Faire could have been lost tucked away in two short aisles in Hall A, but Iím happy to report it was not.

The Scrapbooking and Paper Crafts category was large enough to cover expansive areas in both halls. Compared to the first time appearance of the Inspiration & Design Faire it was a Goliath. Still, I found after interviewing many of the participants in the Faire that all were pleased with the results of their showing and said they would be returning next year.

If itís true that there is power in numbers, then the Creative Spirit Cafť is a powerhouse in the design area. A highly talented group of seven designers (all members of the Society of Creative Designers) has come together in a collaborative effort to offer a total design package to manufacturers, retailers, editors, and publishers. Karen Booy, spokesperson for the group, is a consultant, coach, and designer who acts as liaison. Once the needs of the client are determined, it is her job to unite them with the designers who are the right fit. Each designer maintains her own business while still being a part of the Cafť. This creative think tank includes some of the most successful designers in the industry such as Marie Browning, Cheryl Frase, Cindy Gorder, Debba Haupert, Jill MacKay, and Debra Quartermain. With one call the client has access to a smorgasbord of creative solutions. Visit www.creativespiritcafe.com or contact Karen Booy by calling 604-820-8431 or emailing karen@creativespiritcafe.com.

Marcella Hayes Muhammad, a visual fine artist, showed outstanding African-American designs, many of which were already being licensed. She and her sister felt they had found an entirely new market for her work and were very pleased with the business they developed. Visit www.maruvadq.com or email marcella@maruvadq.com.

Lynne Farris of Lynne Farris Designs, a fabric artist from Atlanta and an established licensing designer, was very pleased with her first outing in this area. Traffic was not as heavy as she had hoped for but as she said, "All that is needed is one or two of the right people" and luckily she had them stop by. See Lynne's unique fabric sculptures at www.lynnefarris.com; email Lynne at lynnefarris@lynnefarris.com.

Lina Hoffman of Lina Hoffman Art Studio had a grape-themed booth inspired by Tuscany. She was apprehensive in the beginning but quickly found clients from both retailing and manufacturing who were very interested in her use of texture paste in her designs. She definitely will return next year.

Marty Segelbaum of MHS Licensing, displayed posters with some of the work his company has licensed for artists. He was most helpful in responding to the questions of many of the designers who were being exposed to the licensing concept for the first time. It was evident that in the world of licensing a single design cannot stand alone. Each must be accompanied by several related versions including close-ups, borders, etc. Marty can be reached at marty@mhslicensing.com or 952-544-1377.

The only negatives I heard were in regards to signage, marketing, and promoting the Inspiration & Design Faire itself. Once this issue was brought to their attention, the CHA staff did their best to add additional signage and promised to do much more in all of these areas for 2006.

(Note: Shea Szachara is an award winning consultant, author, educator, and designer who has been involved in the Creative Industries for more than 25 years. As a speaker and consultant she has recently launched a new business, Options-Plus. She is an active member in all of the major trade organizations and has served in numerous committee positions. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for the Decorative Arts Collection and Museum. Shea may be reached at 607-722-5518 or sszachara@stny.rr.com.)

A Designer's First-Hand Report.

Once upon a time there was a stay-at-home mom from Iowa with a dream. For five years she had been teaching art one day a week, teaching for community art programs, and teaching at a local scrapbook store. Due to a recent family move, she had more time on her hands and decided to start researching and creating art specifically for the scrapbook market. She found information through an online message board, started painting every spare moment, and developed an online friendship with an artist already working in the industry.

She took her portfolio to an ACCI and showed it to a handful of companies, but nothing materialized. Rather than giving up, she decided to try harder, paint more, develop a logo, and try again. A scrapbook message board friend suggested this "new thing" Ė the Inspiration and Design Faire at CHA in Atlanta. This would be the riskiest artistic move of her life, but her husband said, "Now is the time."

So she faxed her information off to CHA, purchased a plane ticket, found traveling friends, and reserved four nights at the Super 8. She set up a small tabletop display and started to hand out her business cards, brochures, and compact discs of her designs.

Local scrapbook stores, magazine editors, and paper manufacturers started walking by her booth. Soon book publishers, fellow designers, and tv show producers were trading business cards with her. Her list of prospective companies grew. Soon she was walking from booth to booth with a full schedule of people to talk to.

The Inspiration and Design Faire has vaulted this housewife from Iowa with a college degree in Elementary Education and Art into a huge new world she has never dreamed could become her reality. Her dream of seeing her artwork on a sheet of paper in a scrapbook store has grown bigger than she imagined possible. She doesnít know what the future will hold, but the possibilities of a "happily ever after" are now becoming realities. Ė Melynda Van Zee, Scrapbook with Passion (bmvzee@iowatelecom.net)

(Note: To read previous Designing Perspectives columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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