We’re Shopping for New Art! What Do You Like?


There’s nothing like a shopping trip to NY and the opportunity to see what’s new from the country’s most popular designers.  No, I’m not talking about Kate Spade, Calvin Klein or Vera Wang.  For manufacturer’s like us, the latest trends to be discovered in NY are at the Surtex show.

Curt and I meeting with Martha Collins, one of our artists, at the Surtex in New York.

Curt and I met with one of our artists, Martha Collins, to review her latest work. It's so beautiful!

I so look forward to going to Surtex every year.  For those of you who are wondering what Surtex is, let me explain.

Every May, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York hosts about 300 exhibitors representing over 1000 artists.  Manufacturers, like Magnet Works, go to Surtex to find new trends and art designs from some of the country’s leading designers.  It’s billed as the “marketplace for original art and design,” and it’s a must for those of us who are looking for the best artwork for our products.

This year, Curt and I went together and had to leave our creative director, Cathy at home to nurse a broken ankle.  We arrived a day late because our son Kevin graduated from high school on Sunday night, but we hit the ground running on Monday and it didn’t take long before I was pulling out my notebook and jotting down the names and numbers of beautiful new designs from our artists.

It always amazes me how much artistic talent there is out there. Whether it’s beautiful Christmas designs by Susan Winget, life-like nature scenes by the Hautman Brothers, or the new colorful styles from Jennifer Brinley, artists who spend weeks and months preparing for this show never disappoint. PLUS, we saw many images from new artists we may surprise you with next year!  The creative energy of the artists at Surtex is so contagious that I always leave feeling inspired (and wishing we could do even more new collections than we had planned).

Most of all, this show is a great opportunity to see in person all the wonderful people we spend so much time emailing throughout the year.  It is like a reunion to get together and to hear about their kids and grandkids, engagements and vacations.  Over the years, there have been many blessings to my job, but without a doubt one of the greatest has been working with these dedicated and talented artists who make me look good at my job by licensing their art to us. Thanks so much to all of you!

To our retailers, I would like to hear from you.  What are some of your favorite Magnet Works designs over the years?  What would you like to see that we haven’t offered already?  I look forward to hearing from you and I’m sure the artists do too!

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17 Responses to “We’re Shopping for New Art! What Do You Like?”

  1. SS Marsha Says:

    Our customers are always asking for more “everyday” designs, not necessarily tied to a particular holiday, or even a particular season. Folk Floral has always been a favorite and a best seller for us for this reason. The new print on demand designs help fill this bill, to be sure… but some more designs in the vein of Folk Floral would probably sell well for us.

    • Sue Todd Says:

      Marsha, Thanks for your feedback! Actually, there was about a 20 minute discussion in our art meeting this afternoon about your comment and what makes a design “everyday”. Are there certain “everyday” themes that you would like to see us add or more “patterns” like you describe with the Folk Floral design. By the way, I love that one too! -sue

      • SS Marsha Says:


        Had to think about that one for a bit. Peace, love and smileys are still hot. We buy most of our flags (and of course MatMates) from MW, but there was an appliquéd peace flag from another company that sells very well for us.

        Tree of Life is a design I would consider more everyday… here’s a thought: how about a cool season Tree of Life?

        When I look through the Everyday section of the catalog, it seems all of the designs are very same-y same, and I’ll be honest, we’ve not bought very many of them. We did do Mother Robin this year, and have done Country Geraniums, Welcome and Country Lane in the past. But if you take away the “country” and “Americana” designs, there’s really not much left. Nothing very whimsical or more modern.

        We carry a little “country”… but our customer base (even though we are in Southwest Indiana) is pretty diverse. For example, a large percentage of our business is bridal registry, so we have to be hip enough for 20-something brides. So we certainly don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves as only country.

        Thanks for the feedback on the feedback. ;) It’s nice to know a vendor takes comments into serious consideration.

  2. Stacy Anderson Says:

    Try Harley Davidson. Hallmark is carrying that now in flags. We have to keep up with them! I also like folk art, americana and old barns.

    • Sue Todd Says:

      Hi Stacy, I think someone already has the license for the Harley Davidson brand. Folk art and Americana designs are great suggestions! Which of our country designs has sold best for you? -sue

  3. Mandy Says:

    Honestly, seems like you already do plenty of Americana and primitive. Here in my Southern town, we can’t give that away. The one thing I have to go elsewhere to get is the more whimsical designs my customers seem to be buying so much of lately. I would honestly rather buy your product, it’s the best out there, but since I can’t get it from you, I go to 2 of your competitors. Their quality is not on the same level, both in the materials and artwork, but I’ve exhausted your monogram programs, and you don’t have the bright colored silly whimsical designs. I’ve talked to my rep about this, and he said he was hearing that as well. He felt like he was losing a bit of ground to one company in particular, whose owner has been to my store twice asking my opinion on designs, what my customer wanted, etc. I’m really glad to find this blog because it shows that you also value your customer’s opinion, which is important to me. We know what is selling, and companies who listen and provide good sellers are the ones I stay with. So my vote on new designs would be funny bright colored whimsical, and how about a fresh fun monogram group again. I sold so many of that black/polka dot design. I finally retired it just because I wanted something fresh, and most of my customers had them. I’ve noticed I do really well with designs that have the patterned borders, like plaids, stripes. Your competitor has been paying close attention because they started doing that too.
    Overall, Magnetworks is absolutely the best company I buy from, out of all the lines I carry. When I call the company, customer service takes care of me right away, never have to wait on hold. They are knowledgeable, and very polite. I’ve only had one defective item in 4 years, so most calls are reorders. Can’t say that for my other companies. And I’ve never had a better rep than Cary. He actually came and rebuilt my display. Keep up the great work.

    • SS Marsha Says:

      Mandy… You said very well many of the same thoughts I had. Good post.

    • Sue Todd Says:

      Wow! These comments have been great!!! Definitely causing some discussion for our art selection team. We really appreciate you taking the time to give us this great feedback. And the comments about our customer service team is much appreciated. What a great way for them to start their Monday morning. And….a big shout out to Cary and thank you to him for giving our customers such great service on our behalf. We always love hearing from our customers!!!!!

  4. flagsonastick Says:

    I would agree with the request for a few more whimsical designs. However, I feel MagnetWorks’ flags are more elegant and have a more sophisticated look, so please don’t lose that cutting edge style. I would like to see more and a better selection of Halloween and also Valentine themed flags. Designs that incorporate larger elements (Such as Fright Night) sell well. Even though these are both short holidays, they come at a time of year when my customers are ready to display a new flag, and it really kicks off a whole new buying season. I also receive requests from my customers for winter snowmen flags…not related to the Christmas holiday. After the Christmas holidays, they are looking for that adorable snowman flag they can display for the winter months. One of my best selling snowman flag incorporated some hearts in the design, which also made it pretty cute for Valentine’s day. My customers love the flags that feature large elements on the flag, such as a large pumpkin or large cardinals. These flags look great from a distance. Flags that have a really busy design do not sell as well for me. Flags with borders and pretty details really give the flags an updated look that my younger customers appreciate. I tell my customers “These are not your grandmother’s flags.” The design detail, plus the look and feel of the fabric really sets them apart. But first and foremost it is the design that sells the flag.

    • Sue Todd Says:

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I love getting these constructive comments and hope you will feel free to contact me anytime to share your thoughts about our products and designs. I am glad that you appreciate our “sophisticated” look. It has always been our goal to raise the bar when it comes to product quality and design. I am challenged by the request for more whimsical designs though and we have been discussing how that might fit with the Magnet Works “look”.

      Also, I love your comment that “These are not your grandmother’s flags.” ! I might find myself using that one when I talk to our customers in Atlanta. ;)

  5. becky Says:

    I understand trying to find the balance between whimsical and a sophisticated look. I tend not to buy the whimsical flags that (to me) just look silly or have a silly theme. I like the new fall scarecrow flag. For my taste, that’s about as whimsical as I like to see. It has great colors and charming details. Instead of whimsical…how about charming as a better descriptive word?? Maybe for spring/summer, along with colorful flowers, adding charming birdhouses or some other garden elements that make the flag really special.

  6. Sue Todd Says:

    Hi Becky,
    We are so on it!! Here’s hoping you will love what we come up with! Stay tuned for January 2012.

  7. Mandy Says:

    Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear when I said whimsical. It can be whimsical without being a “trailer park” flag, as my rep refers to them. I also don’t buy what I call “trashy” designs, but anyone who didn’t buy the ornament design with zebra print offered by the competitor would be missing out. It’s whimsical, but would look great in any upscale neighborhood in my area. And the welcome ya’ll and upcoming Merry Christmas Ya’ll from the same line is whimsical and still tasteful. The bright colors are just great. I felt the Magnetworks Christmas selection wasn’t as big this year as in the past, and while I do well with snowmen, even though we don’t get much snow here, I would like to see more true Christmas themes, like ornaments, Christmas trees, angels, and presents! And a Christmas flag on a warm winter white background would be gorgeous. And my customers will refuse to buy a flag that says happy holidays. Don’t hesitate to use Merry Christmas. Bright colors sell flags, no matter the season, especially if on black backgrounds.

  8. . Says:

    While we sell alot of ‘bird on a branch’ flags, my clients are getting bored with the style. They are asking for something different and more than willing to defect to another garden center in search of it! Why not try a close-up of specific garden flowers as tho the camera has zoomed in on a perfect dewy single rose in full bloom, or a spray of pristine orchids, or a prize winning shot of brilliant hibiscus flowers. Almost like flying your favorite photo to set the mood of your home. They love anything hydrangea, but are tired of the welcome phrase attached as an afterthought. Simplicity sells, and ‘kitsch’ stays on the display.

    • Sue Todd Says:

      Thanks so much for your comments! All really great suggestions! You mention you are tired of the welcome phrase. Is there another greeting/phrase you would like to have or do you think the design works better with no phrase?

    • SS Marsha Says:

      Interesting comment about “Welcome” being an afterthought. We find it’s just the opposite here. Flags & mats that say ‘Welcome’ are always our best sellers. For that reason, we generally have to really REALLY love something without it saying ‘Welcome’ before we’ll even buy it.

  9. Early Buy Sneak Peek – Fall 2012 « Magnet Works Blog Says:

    […] largely by your responses to this blog post, our creative team has cut loose and put together some charming and whimsical designs for this Fall […]

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