10 tips for exhibiting at CHA

Last year I attended the CHA winter show as a non-exhibiting designer. I met great people and learned a lot simply walking the show. So, this year I decided I needed to exhibit and experience first hand what the whole thing was about. I made a great choice! It’s one thing to go and see the sites, it’s entirely different to be emersed in the event. I met more new faces, gained a variety of feedback about my art and most importantly was able to go home feeling like I’m moving in the right direction with my art.

Jen Goode at CHA 2011
Jen Goode at CHA 2011

Here is this year’s list of things learned while exhibiting at the CHA winter show:

  1. Always be prepared to tell what you do
    Just because you aren’t in your booth, doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to share what you do.  Be not only prepared but willing to start conversations about who you are and what you do.
  2. Share your expertise
    Volunteering to teach or share information you are familiar with can help you connect to others that are looking for your knowledge but might have something to share in return. I participated in a handful of events sharing my insight on various subjects. Through these events I made some fantastic new contacts.
  3. Triple check your list of must haves
    No matter how many times you check your list of things to pack, do it again. The last thing you need is to show up at the event without your scissors or tape or whatever else you forgot you might need. Then remember to bring it to the booth and not leave it in the hotel room. I ended up leaving a small portion of my Designer Showcase display at home. I had missed it when I was hurrying to pack the night before I left town. In the end I was the only one that knew I had left things out, but next time I’d rather triple check.
  4. There’s no such thing as too much tape
    We had a number of packages of poster strips and Velcro to hang things up for our booth display and we used it all.  It’s much better to come with more than you think you need… rather than run out and wish you had more.
  5. When it comes to image options, more is better
    Keep the booth display clean and organized, but be prepared to open your portfolio with more options.  I found myself wishing I had put together more pages for my portfolio showing art I didn’t think I should bring. This doesn’t mean bring a hodge podge of images from all directions, it just means, make sure you bring your best and a little more.
  6. If you’ve got it, flaunt it – Doubt only hinders your success
    Brag, if you don’t, who else will? You are your biggest fan and your biggest advocate, remember that when you are exhibiting. When you aren’t sure if someone is interested or seems to want to just walk buy, strike up a conversation and see if you can offer something they might value. If you doubt your ability others will sense it. Be confident and remember why you are at the trade show (not to mention how much money you spent to be there). Stand tall and proud and shout out to the masses that you are ready to share your talents… here they are!
  7. No one looks at your shoes
    For years I’ve always taken nice dress shoes and by the end of day one my feet are killing me. This time, knowing I’d be in a booth and on my feet a good portion of the day I decided to stop caring about my footwear and brought comfy shoes. I’m happy to day my feet are happy and not once did I get a funny glance from anyone about my feet. That’s happiness all around.
  8. Listen
    When someone does stop to look at your art and then begins to talk with you about it, listen to what they have to say. They may like what you have exactly as it is or they may be looking for something different. If you’re open to their comments you are more likely to find the connecting they are reaching for.
  9. Take notes
    Time moves by much faster than you realize when exhibiting your art, carry a notebook with you always. Write down what you hear, ideas and most importantly, things others tell you. When all is said and done, you can sit quietly in your studio and revisit all that you learned without struggling to remember where to start.
  10. Be yourself and don’t change for the sake of fitting in
    I found myself constantly thinking “they said they wanted …… so I can do that” when really I need to stay true to myself. Many artists can be many things and create many styles but what really makes each of us unique is our own individual approach. We need to stick with our style and approach and not try to conform just for the sake of a check.

Exhibiting at the CHA winter show in Los Angeles was a fantastic experience. I came home with more confidence about my art and where I am trying to go with it. I met some wonderful new people and enjoy every minute of the trip. Bonus tip, don’t shortcut your own expertise for time, make sure to give yourself the time and preparation you know you are capable of, it’s well worth the effort!

What ever you do, don’t be your own worst obstacle. Get out of your way and jump in head first, you’ll be glad you took that step!

11 thoughts on “10 tips for exhibiting at CHA”

  1. Some great points Jen. I really like #6 “Doubt only hinders your success” I am always amazed when I meet people at shows and they are talking about what if’s and asking me questions because they doubt what they are doing. You can never find success that way in anything you do in life.

    Your booth looks great and you look so happy. Glad you had a great show.

  2. Great list! I did have people looking at my shoes – maybe that’s because I had bright green polish with white polka dots – but at least they were cute and comfy flip flops! Perfect for LA!

    Your booth looked great and it was so nice to meet you (and the penguin!) -kg

  3. Thank you for being so kind to me when I came in to “pick your brain” as a designer. It is always nice to meet designers/artists that can be kind and encourage and share thoughts and ideas.

    I hope the show was a success for you!!

  4. I want to whole-heartedly believe that no one looks at your shoes! I’ll be sporting some comfy Danskos to my next show – they ain’t sexy but my feet wouldn’t be as sore!

    Seriously though – your booth looks great and I’d say your list is right on the money. You go girl!

  5. Tape? We don’ need no steenking tape!

    Wait. Actually, yes. We need more tape. I wish I had read #4 before I showed up. I think I’ll make a special belt to hold tape rolls for next time.

    Your booth looked awesome. It was so good to meet you finally! Congrats on a great show.

  6. I’ve been waiting for a post-CHA post from you 🙂 Glad it went well, and great tips, especially the last tip: Not changing your art just to ‘fit in’. Believe in your own unique style, and it is its uniqueness that will make you recognizable and successful. Good luck on your follow-up! xx

  7. Jen, You look great in your booth. That is a great list. I always keep a list like that every show for things to improve next time around. Thank you for sharing yours. And yes, whether you are walking a show or exhibiting, the comfortable shoes are a must!

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