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The High Point Market experience from an individual artist point of view.
A Hiking Connection
Many years ago I did a backpacking trip to a place called Bearpaw Meadow in the Sequoia National Park. It’s 11.5 miles of hiking to a 7,800 ft. base camp in the High Sierra Mountain of California. From there you hike to 10,000 ft. arriving at a beautiful mountain lake that still had an iceberg on it in a warm mid September. It was the highest point I’d ever experience on earth.
I can’t remember walking as much in a single day since that time until I experienced High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina. The largest Home Decor trade show for interior designers, or anyone who deals in home decor furnishings and want to know the latest trends of the industry. It was an opportunity to gather information as to whether the Home Decor industry could be a venue for my artwork. I wanted to learn how it works to get art in, hopefully connect with designers, and see what the trends are for art.
The High Point, Sightseeing
The market experience had both a “High Point’ and a “Low Point”. The “WOW” factor was the amount of showrooms in several blocks of walking. Claiming 10 million square feet, about 2000 exhibitors throughout 180 buildings. It was eye candy for anyone in the Decor industry or even if you love window shopping, seeing beautiful craftsmanship within Home Decor. There were inspiring ways to set up a storefront if you were only looking at that. Truth be told, you must pick and choose where to go because you can’t see it all. It’s the beauty and variety of Decor in one area.
The Low Point Encounter
As much as I enjoyed being there to see the exhibits, I was disappointed with my ability to get information and my lack of skill for connecting with designers.
There are four types of passes required for entry into the conference. Exhibitor, Buyer, Industry, and Press. Buyers and Press had access to everything. To my dismay Industry Pass was almost the reject, the outcast to Exhibitors. There were exhibitors who would not allow us into their showrooms.
Now I understand it when there is a Buyer on the floor, they are to have priority above all. But to disallow someone because of an Industry Pass makes no sense to me. I also get that there may be concerns of industry persons knocking off ideas before designs go on the market. I understand this first hand. As a background supervisor for Rich Animation, I once had an artist show me his portfolio hoping to get hired to work in my department. To my amazement, this artist was showing copies of my artwork in his portfolio. That was the ultimate “Gotcha”. This comes as a risk in every industry. One of the showrooms we entered, with the question of whether they would allow us entry had it right. The owner said your money is as good as anyone else’s. He recognized the potential of an Industry person becoming a buyer. If ever I have the opportunity to attend this market as a buyer, I would again receive an industry pass and purchase only from exhibitors who treated the pass with equality.
Naturally the art exhibitors were the places where I desired to spend most of my time. This is where I expected to gain the larger portion of information. I recognize in a competitive environment, there is a tendency not to share information. But the avoidance of my inquiries was beyond amazing to me.
A High Point Revival
My resurgence to the namesake [High Point], came the last day of the market. The crowds dropped off 90%, the exhibitors were starting to pack up, the offer of grandeur deals were tossed before us as we passed by. Perhaps one less item to pack and ship home. It alone appeared to be the motive to spend some talking time with us. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I assumed it to be the down time. No more rush to catch that next buyer.
This is when I got more insight regarding the how too’s of the industry. A sense of personal interest toward a seeker of knowledge. A willingness to give someone with an “Industry Pass” the time of day. It gladden my heart to have those few moments with those full of sincerity in sharing.
High Point Takeaways
Exhibitors who were willing to share, viewed their products as originals, one of a kind and different from all other works. This may be true in one aspect. In another vantage point, I found the majority of the art as appearing the same. Some variety in subject, but similar in look, style, mood and color. Mostly Abstract, a few traditional painting. Truly a trend. Which begs the question, Do I want to look like a trend or myself.
I believe every artist wants to be themselves. To be recognize for those traits that are distinct to them which distinguishes them from others in style, subject, color usage, etc. Having said that, I can see using touches of mood or color here and there to appear somewhat trendy. But not the whole of what I do. It still needs to distinguish my artist flare as my own.
The larger distribution of art was by way of an Art Publisher. A few are used directly by the designers. Meaning designer to artist or a gallery representing the artist(s). Publishers license artwork from the artist for a very small percentage (pennies on the dollar) to the artist. This keeps cost down at the designers level. Not very profitable for the artist but a little money on the side. This would be one of several avenues to make up the total income for an artist.
Designer to artist may be better per piece of artwork but still needs to be cost effective for the designers to make their bottom line. As for me, I’m open to working with designers directly, along with all other avenues I must pursue to build my brand. Overall, I enjoyed my High Point experience. I gained a few insights. It was a good reminder, just like that backing trip to Bearpaw Meadow. Up is a slow and steady climb. Therefore I’ll keep stepping one step higher until I reach my own High Point in the Market.
By the way; since we are coming into the Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday holiday period, here’s a chance to get a 15% discount off our art prints. Just enter the code: givethanks15 on our shop page and bring home your favorite art image.
Thank you for your support and Happy Thanksgiving!