The “But” problem.

So as we taxi to the runway in Newark they suddenly spin around and park us on an open piece of tarmac. If you travel much you know this rarely turns out well. Sure enough, after a few minutes we get the news that a radio is not working and they have decided to take the plane out of service. The fully loaded, ready-to-take-off plane will need to be switched out for a different one. Ugh. (To their credit, however, they managed to get us out in about 3 hours…)
We just finished up another Surtex, a pretty good show but not a record setting event. A lot of good meetings, some wild stretches with multiple clients in the booth and portfolios flying everywhere, and a few periods when you wondered where everyone disappeared to – in other words, a typical show.
It is always enlightening to get a full review of the art in a portfolio with clients, there really is no better way to get feedback on what works and what does not. Most are happy to discuss any design or concept, usually in terms of whether it works for what they do, and sometimes we will just run a new idea past them to get a general opinion of viability. Of course they’re only human, so while some will tell you flat out what they think, others are just too darn nice, hence the “but” problem.
Over the years we have learned to read the code hidden in the answers – I like it, but…
– “it looks kind of computery”.  The kiss of death, it’s not going anywhere.
– “I’m not sure about the colors”.  I hate the colors.
– “we haven’t had much luck with that style”.  You missed the trend by five years.
  “we have Paul Brent for seaside.”  They have Paul Brent for seaside – like everyone does.
– “we are done with Christmas/Everyday/Birthday/whatever.”  Show it to me in a year.
-“it’s really not us”.  Either it stinks and they are too nice to say so, or it’s really not them.
– “we can do this in house.”  This is nothing special, why would we pay to license it.
– “personally I like the style, however…”  It belongs in a museum, not on product.
– “it is definitely a look I have not seen before.”  I can’t tell what it is supposed to be.
Everyone in the business gets this type of answer on occasion, you just need to read between the lines and make your adjustments. If you are getting them all the time, however …well, read between the lines.
Have some of your own? Let’s hear ’em!
4 replies
  1. Holly Abston
    Holly Abston says:

    I’ve now read every post on your blog. Great insight here, I’ve added you to my Google reader and look forward to hearing more. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing why you decided to do Surtex this year, as opposed to opting out of it last year? I was curious if you thought it was better than year before last when you seemed disappointed. I would love to show there eventually, but wow, it’s so expensive. I want to make sure that wherever I eventually choose to show, it’s the best choice for my investment. Thanks for your time.

  2. Jim Marcotte
    Jim Marcotte says:

    Hello Holly, thanks for the comments. We opted out of Surtex last year for a couple of reasons: the show had declined a bit in size and attendance, but mostly because we felt the previous few shows had been so tightly booked with our regular clients (which IS great fun) that we were not able to meet many new ones at the show – really the most important reason to exhibit. So we just skipped a year. Even given that, right now there is nothing as big as Surtex for art licensors, but you do want to be ready before investing the money.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *