AmericasMart Displays Tried and True Themes and Designs

18 01 2010

I’m just back from the southeast and found time to jot down some more impressions from last week’s Atlanta Gift Show. The show was so upbeat this year and on all accounts, from AmericasMart, artists and manufacturers, I am hearing that traffic was up and that orders were being written. I have enjoyed reading other blogs and tweets about the show; artists seem to be optimistic about the future. Is the economy beginning to turn around? And if so, we hope to see manufacturers starting to expand their offerings and explore new artists and licenses as they gain confidence again. For more basics about the show, check out Joan Beiriger’s latest blog.

Trends at the show were really not new. The manufacturers seemed to be sticking with some very tried and true themes this year. Here are some observations from walking the show, just in case you missed it or want to add these notes to your memory bank of what’s ‘hot’ and what’s not.


Inspirational messages were everywhere. This is probably the biggest trend on gift, home décor and stationery products. While there were lots of Christian references, there were also quotes and words of wisdom from the artists themselves. Check out Kelly Rae Roberts and Curly Girl Designs. Humor, poetic insights and even advertising embellished all types of product. I have always said that if you have a talent for both art and words, the combination can be explosive (and profitable)!

There were lots of birds, including owls, in various treatments, but primarily in collage and silhouette.

Natural and botanical themes were really prevalent, whether designed with a graphic modern take or vintage approach. There were also more blatant green, eco and recycled themes.

You’d think that Girlfriend-to-Girlfriend themes would start to die out. But since we are still craving indulgences and encouragement, and are willing to spend our money on these, it seems that high heels, lavish lipstick and leopard prints; pretty cocktails; not-so-perfect-motherhood sentiments; and other womanly themes are still in-demand. I think in these tough economic times we need all the support and feel-good stuff we can get!

With the rise of cooking shows, products such as kitchen tools, accessories and books on cooking are huge. Also cooking as a theme and cooking elements are appearing on more and more types of product.

Personalization has always been big in stationery products, but now manufacturers are offering drop ship programs so that personalization and initials can be applied to things like travel mugs, trays, cosmetic bags, wall décor and much more.

We are still a country that wants to outfit our pets with everything we think they need. We also love to show and talk about our dogs and cats and their idiosyncrasies on all types of people products. I’m not sure this theme will ever go away.

Design Insights

And last, but not least, a couple of notes on design trends. Brights are everywhere. Turquoise may be one of the new big colors, but also purple, purple and purple—all hues and intensities. I just spoke to an artist who attended PrintSource and several fashion-trend seminars. They mentioned a resurgence of the “grunge” look, but noted that added to the grays, neutrals and blacks, will be sparks of poppy red, neon orange and hot pink. This is more evidence of bright colors mixing with everything.

There were three major design styles that were represented with all of the themes noted above: 1) modern—a graphic bold interpretation of patterns, icons and silhouettes 2) vintage—whether retro or Victorian and 3) collage—both complex and simple.



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