Monday, October 18, 2010

A.P.E Fun and Show Planning

Thank you everyone! We had an awesome time at A.P.E. Thank you to everyone who came out to support us, stopped by our booth, and or otherwise were with us in spirit. We really couldn't have done it without you. We met new friends and caught up with old friends alike. Found new inspiring artists to follow, picked up some DIY stuff (we wanted to buy it all, but alas rent comes first). All in all, it was super fun and we wish we can do this all the time!

At the end of every show, Monkey and Seal always reflect on it to see what they can improve on next time. This is a good skill and habit to have for anytime you finish a project. After packing up the show by 7pm Sunday night and unloading their load, they congratulated themselves with comfort-food dinner.

Then while it's still fresh in our memories, we proceeded to do what is called "a brain-drain." We list everything in terms of three categories: 1) What we did well 2) What could be done better/ needs change and 3) Misc. notes/ future projects/ or "what's next?"

Like always, Monkey and Seal would like to share with you what they've learned, some highlights, and a slice-of-life of what it was like:

Friday Night, Night Before Showtime

Friday night, we had trouble printing our shirts. The bulb inside the darkroom blew out so Monkey was registering the designs in the dark! By 12 midnight, we were dealing with two broken emulsion, mis-aligned screens, and no t shirt. Seal almost gave up, but Monkey pushed on. We had publicized on the APE guidebook and on our website that we would have the new t shirt designs printed. No matter the obstacle, we couldn't go back on our promises. That is a principle we uphold towards our friends and customers. So we pressed on. Seal learned how to print the t shirts, while Monkey problem-solved the screens. By the 25th t shirt, Seal has a new respect for screen-printing and Monkey's knowledge of troubleshooting. With screen printing, everything is a factor: weather, timing, amount of ink, drying time, etc. 1 second off and it completely changes the t shirt design. Seal went home around 3am to get the rest of the products ready, while Monkey continued to print, fighting off 9 more broken emulsions. By 7:30am we showered, picked up the Zipcar, loaded our stuff, and arrived at the Concourse around 9am.

We were now running on 24 hours of without sleep.

Location, Setup, and Visual Merchandising

One of the key things to a successful show is having the right location, setup, and visual merchandising. Location can make or break your show. In generality, you want to be placed where there is a good flow of traffic from multiple directions. You should avoid anything that is a extra step or obstacle for the customer to find you, for example, the second floor of the Concourse received less foot-traffic, simply because people didn't want to climb the stairs. Anywhere where there was a U shape, people avoided because they didn't want to feel trapped.

Setup and visual merchandising is also key, even if you receive a "bad or not-so good location," you can probably save it and or maximize your location, just by how you arrange your table and products. Monkey and Seal were lucky that we were in a place that was easy to find, also, we recently had a banner made with our big heads on it, so we were also easily identifiable. In terms of visual merchandising, we're lucky to have had honed in our experience by working for retail. Seal has worked at Disneyland, Starbucks, Barnes&Noble, a high end Japanese store (she got really good at wrapping presents during Christmas time!) But because of this, they know how to arrange the table, feature a product, organize by color/shape/ type of product, etc. When someone looks at your table, in a quick second, they should understand "the categories" or how things work. For example, our t shirt and ties are together because they're clothing apparel. We also learned that we needed to separate our comics from our zines, because if people picked up our zine, they assumed all our work was text-based. If people picked up our comics, they assumed that we worked mainly with images.

Some of the things we learned, either by ourselves or by watching other vendors
  1. Stand when greeting a customer. Many booths will provide you chairs, but use them only when you are on break. Remember that you represent your art, if you are slouching in your chair, your don't inspire confidence for people to buy your art. There were many talented booths, but as soon as Seal approached the artists, they looked so bored and unengaged that it was enough of a turn off not to inquire further.
  2. Along with number 1, we should be able to see the artist! The artist is part of the art package. Seal saw one talented artist, she has surrounded herself with her art, made a towering pillar showcasing her art on either side of the table, all that was left was a tiny window no bigger than an 8.5" x 11" paper for her little face to peek out from. Her art was beautiful. But damn, it looked like a prison in there!
  3. Make notes throughout the show, about what you observe, friends or customers to follow up on. Some of next best ideas, come during the moment when you are surrounded and inspired by other artists and your environment. Write it down!
  4. Take a chance and talk to people! At these events, people come from all over the place. We met people from Canada, Seattle, San Diego, Europe, Australia, etc. Some of the best suggestions for future shows, come from our neighbors whom we shared a table with. Or who knows, maybe your next projects comes from an inspiration from another person!
All in all, it was a very fun experience for us. It was a successful financial and creative show. We had fun talking to everyone and catching up with friends. Thanks for stopping by!

We will definitely be growing more for next year. We have our holiday shows to look forward and plan for. We will also be uploading our products into our online store, hopefully by next Monday. We also would like to share some resources in terms of show planning, such as time line or checklist on what to bring. These will be uploaded as well this week.

In the meantime, keep rocking your art! Keep growing!

Quote of the day: "So long as a person is capable of self-renewal they are a living being." -Henri-Frederic Amiel

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