NAMTA is the International Art Materials Trade Association. It's where retailers go to buy art supplies to stock their stores. Essentially, it's CHA, but for the fine arts world. And it was very interesting working at a booth called "The Crafter's Workshop" at a show for fine arts. Let's just say that more than one person looked at me scornfully and said, "We do fine arts." I had to giggle a little about it. From a purely business perspective I think you're turning away retail dollars if you refuse to even consider new supplies for your store. If I were a store owner, the fact that craft and mixed media artists are buying paints and other traditional art supplies would encourage me to open my business up to a few new supplies to keep them coming back for more. But who knows? I don't run a store, maybe that's not the way it works?
As I said, I was there with Crafter's Workshop and my job was to show some fun ways to use stencils!
And as a nice bonus, several of the companies there were generous enough to share some supplies for us to try out! After all, stencils sell art supplies! (That was my tag line for the show.) It's true, you know! Any time you demonstrate how to use a stencil, people go home with the stencil and with the art supply you demo'd with!
Golden gave us several samples of their different mediums. They were lots of fun to scrape through the stencils with a palette knife!
Faber-Castell gave me lots of brush pens that I put to good use in my art journal:
I loved the shimmery watercolor from Kuretake (they were right across the aisle from us).
And the PanPastel folks gave us some of their creamy product to play with!
The only other trade show that I really have a point of reference to compare NAMTA to is CHA. And the biggest difference, for me, was the lack of fandom. There were artists (wonderful, amazing, talented artists) demoing at most booths, but they weren't "celebs" that people wanted their photos taken with. They -- er, we -- were more like booth props. Just another component of the booth so that you could see how the product worked. There weren't huge giveaways with lots of screaming. People seemed surprised, and not necessarily gleeful, when we pressed free stencils into their hands. Most people who were there were buyers. So while the show felt smaller and slower than CHA, I think there was more actual business going on. And lots more men too. More male artists, more male salespeople, more male store owners and buyers.
All in all it was a really great experience. I learned A LOT, surprisingly ran into lots of folks I knew, and had a good time! Though my feet did hurt every night... ;)
P.S. Tina has some great photos on her blog of the Mixed Media Meetup in Phoenix last Tuesday! Go take a peek!