August 19, 2013
Start at the Very Beginning, A Very Good Place to StartPosted by Cathy Heck
How much fun to return from vacation and receive notice that an interview was posted while we were away gallivanting about. Patti Gay, a fellow illustrator, writes a blog, Illustrator’s Market, which is chock full of interviews with artists. If you or your little ones ever thought about putting pen to paper to computer to product, her blog is a great place to visit for inspiration. I hope you enjoy our story. Here is a sneak peek photo (below) of me (Cathy) when I was two, helping my mother with her work. I feel like this picture says a thousand words about the importance of letting your children help AND the possible origin of my tidy gene. (Love those well-groomed bangs.) Thanks Mom.
And thank you Patti for including us in your delightful blog.
July 23, 2013
My Lunchtime Sip-and-See for a Future KingPosted by Cathy Heck
What a majestic lunch I had today! While dining on an all-American farm-stand salad, I turned on the television, and found myself in England, where the world was awaiting the first viewing of the new future king of England. I couldn’t believe my excellent choice of lunch hours. Suddenly, from the doors of St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington appeared the happy mom and dad with their brand new baby boy. I almost started crying, and I’m not even related.
It was like watching a fairy tale coming to life. I felt like I had been invited (with the rest of the world) to a Sip-and-See for the new monarch.
Now I am back to work, totally re-inspired, as we finish a new baby book collection to be introduced in January for all the other baby princes and princesses of the world.
(Here is my favorite link by the BBC to the viewing, because the camera is so close to those tiny new fingers stretching out to touch his new kingdom.)
July 13, 2013
Red, White and Blue-ishPosted by Cathy Heck
Is your Fourth of July flag still out? Ours, too. So, before we tuck away all of our red, white and blue until the next American holiday, we thought we would share a floral treatment that works very well for any holiday celebrating Uncle Sam.
Here is the reason a patriotic presentation of flowers is so tricky: Mother Nature does not make very many blue flowers. Hydrangeas are more of a baby blue, and the other deep blue flowers like irises or asters are actually violet. So they never really match your blue paper plates, which are true plastic blue.
So here is my trick. Don’t worry about the blue. Get lots of red and white, and then some little bits of any semi-blue flower that you can find. Your guests will be in such a red-white-and-blue state of mind, their brains will tell them that you have created a picture-perfect Americana arrangement. See arrangement below. Red, white and blue-ish.
If you have a long table for lots of hot dog consumers, you can make several mini-arrangements and get a very big bang for the buck. It’s like a row of floral fireworks. Happy July!
July 3, 2013
Happy 4th of July from Cathy Heck StudioPosted by Cathy Heck
A holiday greeting created from the Richmond branch of Cathy Heck Studio. Thanks Jules for bringing our little summertime bugs to life. Who knew fireflies could pack such a powerful punch?! Happy 4th of July everybody!
June 28, 2013
SURTEX 2013: Lesson #4: The Most Important OnePosted by Cathy Heck
Lesson #4: Make new friends.
Our favorite part of Surtex is meeting the people who live around us for four days. Not only do we learn trade tips and tricks, but we have made life-long friends from our trade show seasons.
A new friendship at Surtex might start like this: “Oh my goodness, all of my artwork fell in the night, do you have any tape?” “Here are some Command Strips, they are much better.” “Will you watch my booth while I just grab some coffee?” “Disney came by while you were away, and we signed a deal for you … is that okay?”
No matter how the friendships start, they are lasting. Here are some of the new and old friends who were living near our Little Big Top this year, deep in the heart of Surtex.
We were delighted when we arrived to see that the Surtex staff had moved our neighbors from last year to the very same corner to which we were moved. Right across the aisle were Elliott, Sherry and Debbie of the Debbie Taylor-Kerman team. Not only did we get to hear Debbie’s wonderful Scottish accent for three days, but we loved being near her husband, Elliott, who still makes us feel starstruck because … well, you will have to read about him here!
When we first saw Debra Jordan Bryan walk in, we were in awe … she was wearing high shoes! We are so very impressed with artists who can stand in their booths for three whole days with high shoes. Then it turned out that she was not only fashionable, but very talented … and adorable. When clients weren’t clamoring to meet both of us, we were able to visit and learn that we had so much in common … well, except trade show shoes.
Across the aisle was Sheila Meehan, who is an agent for a great group of artists, and lucky for them, because Sheila is one of those people that you just want to be around. She is fun and funny. Sheila has also been in the design licensing business about the same amount of time as we have … which is basically since it began, so it was fun to compare notes and reminisce about the old days now that we’re both so wise.
The team from Roaring Brook Art was catty-cornered across from us, which really made our corner feel upscale and elegant, because their booth had the feeling of an inviting living room. I hope they weren’t concerned when they saw that a bunch of loud circus clowns were moving into the neighborhood.
Ed Miller, who was new to Surtex, was across from us and his booth was as cheerful and fun as he was. We knew we were going to love him, when he stayed for booth set-up as long as we did (which was loooong) making awesome paper garlands from his great juvenile patterns.
And last, but not least, a fellow Austinite! Samantha Stevens is the licensing agent for Terri Puma Design. When we were introduced, we learned that (1) Samantha was from Austin and (2) Terri has a child at Colorado State where we have a child. And then it turned out that (3) Samantha has a child that played lacrosse against my child. We were both lacrosse moms! It just doesn’t get any small-worlder than that.
So these are the new and old friends that lived near the Little Big Top, USA for three days. During those few moments between signing big deals, we were able to share photoshop tips, copyright info, organization ideas, and even camp stories.
We feel very lucky to be part of an industry full of artists and agents who are so willing to share and support each other, and also just so ding dang fun. (See! I learned that great expression from our booth neighbor and dear new friend, Debra Jordan Bryan. You never know what you might learn at Surtex.)
June 27, 2013
Surtex 2013: Lesson #3Posted by Cathy Heck
Lesson #3: More on marketing: When is enough enough?
Once you have your trade show theme brewing in your creative stew pot, most of your other marketing tools will fall right into place. We started with a fun trendy color story to use for our booth and our marketing: Dusty Turquoise, Coral and Kangaroo with a touch of Banana and Lime. We were going for vintage with a twist. We think this group of colors is a fresh new choice for a gender-neutral color story. And, just today, I was delighted to see that Project Nursery predicted a similar story.
We knew we would be needing envelopes for mail-outs as well as something to contain our press kits. Lucky us that Paper Source had an envelope that perfectly matched the dusty turquoise from one of the circus prints that would accent our booth.
We also knew that we had lots of baker’s twine on hand from my overzealous twine trials for the animal cracker box handles. (See previous post.) So I thought of this excellent way to use up at least one roll of twine. I’m not saying that I designed this press kit around the twine, but let’s just say it inspired me.
The cover page was designed so that our little mighty mouse would be peeking out, most certainly luring a busy editor to want to learn more. Plus, I was dying to use a phrase I found on a vintage circus poster somewhere in our booth, but it didn’t fit on our walls: “Pachyderms, Pulchritude & Pantomime.” So, imagine my delight when this verbiage could find a home in our press kit. Plus, this word usage will also provide a great ROI measurement … if any trade magazines use “pulchritude” in describing Cathy Heck Studio, we’ll know our press kits worked! Although, it might turn out to be a coincidence, since pulchritude does actually mean “physical beauty and comeliness,” and well, just sayin’.
So, when is enough enough in marketing for a trade show? Maybe when one has a burst of creative genius and is certain that one should provide mustaches for possible photo ops with booth visitors. Or, maybe enough is enough when one decides that mustaches would be trendier than trendy if they were made from our Little Big Top patterns. Or, maybe enough is enough when one begins this little project at about 11pm the night before her flight to said trade show.
Clearly, I don’t know when enough is enough. And I’m pretty sure that we will not earn any marketing awards for this small part of our marketing package, BUT, it sure was fun.
Photos above top: Kim Andersson, textile designer, who was helping Carol Van Zandt, stopped by for a little mustachio. And below, Ronnie Walter and Jim Marcotte model our show ‘staches … wow, Ronnie, we all knew you were stylish, but, you even wear a mustache with a certain panache … and I am pretty sure Jim has worn one of these before.
Here are a couple of links to some fun mentions we discovered after the show, which may have been influenced by our press kits, or possibly our matching mustaches. One was the post-Stationery Show/Surtex wrap-up by Gifts and Decorative Accessories, in which I was very honored to be included in the list of “familiar names in our industry at large.” (Thank you. We love being known as familiar … it’s a little bit like being called a good friend.) And, another article and photo surfaced in Illustration Today, which is written in another language, but we are confident that the description of our Surtex booth is full of praise … although we’re guessing it does not include the term, pulchritude.
So, next year, when you are trying to decide whether to do a bit of marketing before the show, I say, yessiree, do it. But, maybe not the mustache idea. I mean, really, enough is enough.
June 26, 2013
Surtex 2013: Lesson #2Posted by Cathy Heck
Lesson #2: Marketing works, so just bite the bullet and do it. And speaking of biting …
Every year, a few months before May, we think about our Surtex theme, and since we love food of all kinds, we might even begin with brainstorming about our Surtex Show Snack choices. I won’t say that we designed our entire circus-themed booth around our animal cracker show snacks … but I won’t deny it either.
A few years ago, we gave away animal crackers to celebrate the debut of our Welcome Home Noah collection … and long after the little cookies had crumbled, we received a call from a new client who was holding the box in his hands as he spoke, “I want the elephants on this little box.” We thought, “Hey, our show snacks worked.”
So, this year, since we had created a fun new vintage circus collection, we decided that good ol’ Barnum’s Animal Crackers could make their comeback as the giveaway snack under our Little Big Top booth. Not only would the packaging offer us the opportunity to use every corny circus slogan possible, but, hello … they’re good for you. Note the very strong mouse below.
Personally, a major part of animal crackers’ charm for me is the little purse-box that houses them. No matter how old a little girl might be, there is just something fun about carrying a “purse” of cookies around. This lead me to the search for perfect purse handles: baker’s twine to match our vintage circus boxes, and yes, we now own enough baker’s twine to open a bakery.
We also have to take a moment to thank our wonderful helper, Linda, (busy hands below) and our great printer, Barry Colvin at Republic Printing, for, once again, helping us to get these boxes printed, scored, assembled and shipped before the “now-it-will-cost-an-arm-and-a-leg” shipping date. Below you can see the transformation from Barnum’s Animal Crackers to Cathy Heck Studio’s Critter Crackers.
We actually called our giveaways “trade show emergency snacks,” because many of our clients and press visitors told us that our snack became their dinner on the train or in their hotel rooms. So next time you think of animal crackers as a simple carpool snack to last until the soccer game, think again. This little snack might just be the lifesaving-nectar-of-the-gods to a new client who couldn’t fit in a lunch break.
Above, little purse-boxes of critter crackers displayed in our booth from a nifty vintage-y luggage piece which we found at Paper Source. I know you’re probably hankering for an animal cracker right about now, but unfortunately, this limited edition has been devoured. However, you can find them in your local grocery, and they will taste exactly as you remember!
June 25, 2013
SURTEX 2013: Lesson #1Posted by Cathy Heck
Lesson #1: Check your booth signs before you leave your studio.
We are maybe the slowest booth putter-uppers at Surtex, and it has really been cutting into our shopping hours. So this year, with our two college daughter helpers, as well as Jim, my really tall husband who can reach the top of the booth without a stool, we designed our booth to go up faster than ever, with hopes of a Chelsea shopping trip to follow. But, alas, we had a tiny little set-up snaffoo:
Cathy: Wow, we are working so fast. I bet we will be out of here by 4.
Jules: Okay, Mom, what next?
Cathy: Aisle Signs. Here they are.
Jules: Um, Mom, these say Booth #550. We are #640.
I had used the same files from years past to print our signs–when we were always #550–not #640. So with supplies from our handy dandy emergency tool kit, we hand-cut our new numbers … 2 per sign x 3 numerals = 12 cut-outs = more time than one might think. But, we powered through and finished our booth set-up … albeit not in time for shopping, but in time for a fun dinner.
Above: the traveling studio. I’m a bit of a perfectionist (as you might have guessed) so Jules had to talk me into believing that the juvenile hand-made aesthetic of our new lettering actually coordinated with the look of our booth. We even decided it looked better than before. So, we set off to reward ourselves with a piece of Crack Pie, which was sold at the Milk Bar, located just around the corner from our hotel, which was handy and dangerous, as we felt we deserved a reward every single night. (And yes, we are still walking off our Surtex rewards!)
June 4, 2013
SURTEX 2013: How to Set Up a Booth in 60 Seconds or LessPosted by Cathy Heck
If you are wondering how to set up a booth for SURTEX in 60 seconds or less, please see the How To Video above. Okay, you’re right. It took us a little longer than 60 seconds, but thanks to our on-site photographer, Margaret Heck, and video ninja, Julianna Heck, you can enjoy it in 57 seconds flat. We had a great show. For us, it’s a bit of a family reunion with our girls arriving from finals at their colleges to help set up, man, and take down our booth … surely the dream vacation for any college student, right?! Don’t worry, we pay them with our undying love and some excellent dinners.
We also reconnected with dear old friends, met some wonderful new friends, ate delicious meals, walked far, and laughed often. We even sailed with our SURTEX neighbors by Lady Liberty while a DJ was spinning 80’s disco tunes … which was a little surreal, since I actually began my illustrating career in New York humming to those very same tunes! (I was instantly transported to the joy of delivering final art to my agent, while dancing down the streets of New York listening to Gloria Gaynor on my Sony Walkman. But that’s another story.)
More about our experience at SURTEX 2013 in the next blog post. In the meantime, please press play above to join us under the Little Big Top, NYC, May 2013.
May 17, 2013
See You At SURTEX!Posted by Cathy Heck
If you are headed to New York City this weekend for the largest surface design show of the year, come see us under the Little Big Top. We are looking forward to visiting with our great licensees and our wonderful artist friends. We’ll be sure to tell you all about it when we return! Ballyhoo! (I know that’s actually a noun, but I think it sounds like “Onward!” in circus language.« Newer Posts — Older Posts »