“Phew”…… I can’t remember when I arrived or if I ever left this place. There may be no time difference between Japan and Australia there surely is a brain zone difference. I find I live in my own head here quite differently to how I do in Australia. I am having much trouble articulating the experience in English as I converse so much in Japanese here and I don’t just mean the language but also in the images in my mind. To be honest much will be lost in translation, describing how I feel in english just doesn’t do the experience justice. I suspect it might also be in the intonation.
I will however try to describe my Design Festa experience this year…. here goes….
I headed to Tokyo Big Sight with 10 kilo backpack and 18 kilo roller bag full of my works and items from Inage Kaigen in Chiba early Saturday morning. The trip was easier than I thought, as I dragged my items from the combinni (convenience store) where I had bought my breakfast, down towards TBS I was surrounded by fellow artists and designers also dragging their works, it was like some huge pilgrimage of followers to worship the God of Design Festa, and if you have ever seen TBS it could be mistaken for some kind of Mayan Temple or meeting place for Scientologists so that analogy fits quite well…. if I do say so myself.
At the risk of sounding a tad emo, it is not often I feel like I belong but I did feel like I did here. There is a vibe that surrounds this festival that is quite contagious and, I suspect, addictive. I just love being a part of it and as hard as it is to get prepared the minute its over I want to do it all over again.
It took me some time to set up my booth and it was around 12 until I was satisfied with it, by then visitors had started to flow through and by 1pm the place was packed. Over the weekend over 60,000 people attend Design Festa on average.
My brother Scott and his girlfriend Tomoko came in around 3pm although not before I small stone had begun to form in my bladder due to the copious amounts of green tea and coffee I had consumed all morning with no chance relieve myself. This year my booth was twice the size of last years and on a corner, I also managed to hire some table and chairs as well. Due to some performance artists opposite we would often have more than 50 people at one time in front of us staring at some dude making robot moves and pretending to be some kind of artificial intelligence controlled by another dude with a card board controller. I personally preferred last years “Salaryman holding Bananas” but what the hell.
I had quite a few people stop by and over the entire weekend I managed to sell around 30% of my small items and go through two boxes of business cards. I also have a keen buyer for at least two of my prints and will be meeting up with her later in the month.
I was in a booth right behind a guy who had stopped by my booth last year Josh McKible, he told Scott I had inspired his participation this year ;-), he is an illustrator who lives and works in Japan but most of his commissions come from overseas, thank Jeebuz for the internet I say! Check out his site here. He is a seriously awesome dude and am so happy to have met up with him again.
I also managed to hit the Carton Box booth again and grab their new CD, they remembered me! I asked them when their ‘next live’ was and …. it’s the 17th… the day I leave. Argghhh!
I am by now means disappointed by my efforts this year, to be honest it went better than expected. There are so many booths and so many levels to that place I am surprised I was able to catch that much attention. The real fun is actually in the collaboration and the people you meet and that was my true intention.
Before I left for Japan over a week ago I had got to a point in my work where I had had enough feedback to realize that it is useless for me to try to sell the Japanese their own culture back to them. I was right. 70% of the people who stopped and bought at my booth were foreigners and lets face it, I’m singing their song.
Any way I am still processing the experience so will leave further thoughts to further posts but suffice to say…. tanoshikatta desu!!!
Thanks to Scott, Tomoko, Akane, Akkun, Kumi and all the others who have helped me this week!!!
PS(Photos on Flickr too!)