Whew...it has definitely been a busy, busy trade show season! I've personally attended three shows in three industries over the past three months (Craft & Hobby, Gift and Home + Housewares). And, while I didn't attend the Atlanta Gift Show myself, my licensing agent did....so I had to create new art collections for her to present, simultaneously with my getting prepared for everything else !
One of my favorite things about trade shows is spotting and/or validating trends. This can include overall design themes (like chalkboard or Steampunk), image specific themes (such as owls or forest creatures) or color palettes. Not sure how or why, but I've always had a weird ability to "feel" trends coming in way ahead of the curve. All of a sudden I'll have an overwhelming desire to use colors I normally don't use or combine...or want to ONLY paint certain images or themes. I may not catch every trend or color palette because some colors or images I just don't like naturally, but when it is a major shift, I'll pick it up light years ahead of when it actually appears.
This odd trait surfaced when I was fairly young. In fact,my first memory doing this was when I was a teen. I was a student at the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in the downtown area every Saturday. After class, I would stay down in the city for hours, either exploring museums, enjoying the city or looking for other visual inspiration. Or, I'd do what any other normal teenage girl would do....SHOP!
Those shopping excursions, of course, eventually took me down Michigan Avenue (or "the Mag Mile", as we native Chicagoans call it) and into all the trendy high end stores. I'd see the latest trends, the newest designer fashions, and soak in colors and fabrics and everything I could! And that's when it started.
Before the internet and instant access to what retail stores carried, we had to make trips to stores to see everything. Shopping malls or strips didn't really exist either. Except for limited catalogs, we couldn't order things, have them delivered and then return them if they didn't fit. We had to actually GO to the stores. And, sometimes we had to make countless trips to store after store during specific times of the year for certain types of purchases...like winter boots or matching accessories. Individual stores only carried what they could put out on their shelves and keep in their back rooms. Mass market merchants didn't exist except as department stores like Marshall Fields, Sears, etc. There were no Targets or Walmarts. We also couldn't compare sale prices online. And discount sales only occurred at specific times of year.
It was a different world. Fashions and trends moved much slower because we literally couldn't see everything instantly. Taking public transportation to and from shopping was time consuming so all seasonal shopping took longer. Which leads me to how I first discovered my ability to sense trends before they even appeared.
I wanted a pair of fashion boots. But I had a VERY specific look in mind. I wanted a pair of boots that came up to or over the knee and folded in a cuff. The styles at the time were lower or mid calf and absolutely nothing had a cuff. So I started my search late summer when fall fashions started appearing. And found nothing. I continued my search all fall. I found nothing even remotely resembling what I wanted so I gave it up for that year.
Next summer, I started the process all over again. What had started as a simple search rapidly became a frustrating and impossible waste of time. Now I was getting mad. I really WANTED boots in this style! But, since I also needed boots for the practicality of wearing boots, I eventually gave up, caved in and finally bought a pair of fashion boots as tall as I could find them...without a cuff.
The following summer, high boots with cuffs--exactly as I had envisioned them...in the colors, styling, etc--appeared in ALL the high end shoe stores on the Mag Mile. They were ALL the rage in fashion that year! Of course, I never got a pair because I had spent all my money the year before. That's the irony.
It's up to you to decide whether I had actually sensed this big fashion trend or whether someone had listened to this persistent artsy looking teenage girl when I kept reappearing at the shoe stores asking for tall boots with cuffs. Either way, I knew this was all a bit too coincidental.
Over the years, I've identified many trends and color palettes before they were apparent to most. Finding paint or fabric in the right colors has always been frustrating because I am always SO far ahead of the curve when a major color shift is about to happen. I had already called out the travertine palette and was redecorating my home long before it was announced 3 years ago by the Pantone Institute... but I'm still currently OBSESSED with this palette, along with the incredible subtleties of travertine, gray and all the neutrals.
Don't worry. I'll let you know when the next major color shift is happening. It will be obvious when I can't find anything in it.