Trade Show TalesBlog

Graphic Designers for Trade Shows and Events

September 16th, 2021 2 COMMENTS
Graphic Designers

Guest Post by Lori Hanken, Total Displays

So you bought or are renting a new trade show exhibit. It is exciting the possibilities in front of you. When you are on the trade show floor you have one chance to capture someone’s attention. The structure is just part of it. The bigger thing?  

Trade Show Graphics!

Let’s talk graphic design. What do you think of when you hear someone is a graphic designer? Do you think about logos? Websites? Flyers? Social Media? Here is what I think (I really should say know, but I don’t want to sound arrogant). 

Graphic Design is TOO broad of a category. Let’s run a little scenario. You have a “marketing firm”. That marketing firm helps you with campaigns, print campaigns, email campaigns, social media campaigns, maybe some logo design and other fun things like that. Then you decide it is time to update your trade show exhibit. Who do you turn to? Your marketing agency?

Alternatively, it seems like many recent marketing graduates or unemployed graphic designer has created a home based business to offer graphic design services to companies. Be very careful hiring these people without vetting them first. I am all about entrepreneurship, but your trade show graphics will have a HUGE impact on your success at a trade show. 

Let me tell you a little secret. DESIGNING FOR TRADE SHOW DISPLAYS IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING ELSE! We have seen trade show graphics that read like a marketing flyer. We have seen backwall graphics that are so busy with lifestyle or action shots and color that your brain goes, ‘WHHHOOOOOAAAA”, just looking at it.

Graphic Design for Trade Show Exhibits

Graphic Design Tips and Advice

You have 2.5 seconds to catch someone’s eye at a trade show or event. Here are some high level things to consider.

  1. People are NOT going to read all your copy. Your trade show exhibit is not a marketing flyer. Yes, I will say this multiple times.
  2. Putting graphics behind a counter or a table? The graphics are lost.
  3. Trying to align images (depending on the system) across structural seams is VERY difficult for fabric graphics.
  4. Putting messaging on the bottom of your display? No one will see them.
  5. Busy, busy, busy graphics with lots of images, color and text will be ignored (unless that is part of your brand).
  6. Images from a website or print media do not generally enlarge well for trade show exhibits.
  7. A jpeg of your logo may not enlarge well.  

We have had numerous interactions with “trade show exhibit graphic designers” over the years. Based on the questions they ask and the designs they create, it’s often pretty clear they do not specialize in trade show graphic design. It is a completely different animal from digital marketing, website, or even print marketing.

Trade  Show Graphic Design

If you are designing new graphics for a trade show exhibit, here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Ask for references from your agency of choice for large format, trade show exhibit design clients.
  • Check their website. A bullet item that says they do trade show booths or graphics, doesn’t mean they excel at trade show graphics.
  • Check their website or ask them for examples of  previous trade show work. 
  • If most of their work is digital marketing, web design and social media marketing? Find another designer. Your bank account will thank you. Your patience will thank you.
  • Make sure you have a library of your marketing assets, logo source files, high resolution images etc. 

Tried and True Suggestions

Here are some simple, tried and true suggestions for trade show graphic design.

  1. Trade show graphics are meant to be viewed from 6 ft. or more away.
  2. Don’t use strange fonts or fancy fonts.
  3. Put important messages or images, like your logo, up high for visibility.
  4. Use white or empty space. Don’t be afraid of white space.
  5. Reference/use PMS colors to be sure to stay true to your brand.
  6. Less is more. Don’t try to put an entire flyer on your trade show graphic.
  7. If this is for a large exhibit, make sure your graphics have a plan and/or coherency, don’t just place random product images on a wall because the wall is there. Have a plan. Be purposeful with your graphics.

If you need help with trade show graphic design? I recommend starting with your trade show exhibit company. A good partner should have resources or recommendations that they know have experience in large format, trade show exhibit design.

Total Displays can help. Contact us a or 952-941-4511 to set up a free design consultation call. Click HERE to see more blog posts from Lori Hanken

Good, Better, Best | Hand Sanitizer Stands

August 27th, 2021 COMMENTS

If you’ve attended or participated in a trade show or event recently, then you know hand sanitizer stands are everywhere — meeting rooms, lobbies, booth space, reception areas, restaurants, and classrooms.

Built for Trade Shows and Events

At Classic Exhibits, we design and build sanitizer solutions specifically for events, exhibitions, and tradeshows. Our Stand Tough™ solutions are heavy duty and modular unlike the lightweight stands in a doctor’s office or a retail store. All are built with engineered aluminum extrusion and steel base plates. Stand Tough™ Stands will survive in high traffic areas where they are moved frequently and then broken down, packed, and often shipped between events. A typical lightweight sanitizer stand isn’t designed for those harsh conditions or for repeated disassembly and shipping.

Stand Tough™ Sanitizer Stands come with graphic options, tablet enclosures, and literature trays in Good, Better, and Best price points. Plus a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Made in the USA.

See the full assortment HERE and download the brochure at this LINK.

Stand Tough Hand Sanitizer Stands from Classic Exhibits
Stand Tough Hand Sanitizer Stands from Classic Exhibits
Stand Tough Hand Sanitizer Stands from Classic Exhibits

–Mel White


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or

Tom Beard is Retiring. Say It Isn’t So!

August 25th, 2021 2 COMMENTS

Tom’s Farewell Letter

As many of you have heard, I’m retiring and calling it a career. It’s been a fantastic 27-year run working in the trade show and events industry for some great companies including Eco-Systems Sustainable and Classic Exhibits. I’m leaving with many great memories and with more friendships than I can count. Our industry has some of the hardest working, creative, and caring people I’ve encountered in my 45-year working career, and I feel blessed to have stumbled into this crazy industry! The past 18 months have been difficult for all of us, but it has brought to light the true collaboration and culture of Classic and Classic Distributor Partners. It was pretty amazing to witness!

Having traveled extensively over the years, I’ve seen the United States through the lens of airports, hotels, convention centers, and businesses, and it’s time to hit the road and see what the country looks like outside of these areas. You never know… I might stop by and regale you with stories about a giant ball of twine or other amazing sights in the US.

Your friendship and support over the years made my decision to retire very difficult, but I will stay involved with the Midwest EDPA Chapter and hopefully attend future EXHIBITORLIVE shows so I look forward to connecting down the road. I’ll say good-bye for now and leave you in the capable hands of Jen, Harold, and Mel.

Feel free to contact me at

— Tom Beard

Watermelon Seed Spittin’ Contest 2021

August 24th, 2021 COMMENTS
Watermelon Seed Spittin”

Spit Happens!

On a New York City subway, a spitter (“one who expectorates”) can be fined $100 and sentenced to up to one year in jail. In California the fine for spitting is $2000.

But in Portland, Oregon, one is not fined for spitting. In the PDX, one is celebrated.

On July 23, Classic Exhibits held its Annual Watermelon Seed Spittin’ Contest delayed by one year because of, well, you know.

Ripe, Seeded Watermelons

As any watermelon aficionado can attest, there is no sweeter or juicier melon than a ripe, thumpy, seeded watermelon. Just saying those words makes most mouths drench in anticipation of that first burst of summery sweet goodness. What is summer without a fresh juicy watermelon? I’ll tell you what it is… It’s Fall! Fehhh!

After Classic provided a yummy meal of barbecued steaks and grilled chicken (THANX, Chef-Boy-R-Kev), it was time.

With full bellies and a wedge of beautifully sweet and seeded watermelon slices clenched between their fingers, our competitors brought their toes to the line and began launching serious bursts of saliva-enrobed seeds.

The rules are simple. Each spitter gets two seeds/two spits. The spitter cannot cross the launch line until after the seed has left his/her body. And lastly, to be a valid spit, the seed must finish its travels on the Official Watermelon Seed Spittin’ Tarmac. If both spits land off the Tarmac, that spitter is DQ’d (disqualified). With the Tarmac being a mere 60” wide a spitter must show his/her prowess in both distance AND accuracy.

If you can make a taco with your tongue, cool. It kind of acts like a channel so when you spit with your tongue rolled it cannons out with a wet and forceful SPITOOEY!

Mel White was given the honor of launching the inaugural spit for Spit-a-Palooza 2021 and what a spit it was. He made Marketeers the world over proud.

By the time the spittin’ was over, records had been shattered.


  1. Women’s Gold…………..Jen LaBruzza – 23’-9”
  2. Women’s Silver…………Lindsey Carty – 19’-7”
  3. Women’s Bronze……….Paras Semenov – 12’-11”
  1. Men’s Gold…………………James Sharpe – 24’-4”
  2. Men’s Silver……………….Shawn Ellis – 22’-1/4”
  3. Men’s Bronze……………..James Zuber – 19’-5 ¾”
2021 Winners

These Champions are the best Classic has. With the pressure bearing down they launched their seeds with a velocity and accuracy seldom seen around Portland. Quite simply… they are our best. At least for another year.

FREE Show Hall Pass for EXHIBITORLIVE 2021

August 16th, 2021 COMMENTS

Join Classic Exhibits and Classic Rental Solutions for EXHIBITORLIVE 2021 on October 31 in Las Vegas. For a free show hall pass, enter #4044 when you register for the trade show.

While there, please stop and visit with the Classic Exhibits Family at booth #324. It’s been a while and we have a lot to show you.