It has been almost 2 months since I exhibited at Blueprint in New York. I waited to write this post because I wanted things to settle after the show so I could share a bigger picture and not just what happened on the 5 days of the show. I´m very new to licensing and outright sales, and I had never been to a show so I want to share with you the perspectives of a newbie.
First of all, Blueprint is a rather new show, this was their third show. It is put together by the designers and studios to create a show with a boutique type feel. Clients that visited the show loved the open, relaxed and fun environment. Having no walls around the booths made it feel very inviting and gave Clients and Exhibitors the chance to bond more.
I won the Young Designers Competition Contest (along with the marvellous and lovely Pippa Shaw, who made this experience even better because I got to share it by her side and learn together). So we both got our booths for free and lots of help from other exhibitors that answered our questions (special thanks to Abby (Pomelo & Pomelo) and Andrea and Paul Turk who went out of their way to help us,).
The number one question in my mind before exhibiting was: will it be worth it? Now I can tell you that for me the answer is YES, YES, YES!
I have never been to another show, so I can just tell you my own experience.
THE PEOPLE YOU GET TO KNOW
I loved how open and nice people where at the show, Clients, designers and Agents. I think the best thing I got out of it was all the knowledge that all these experienced people shared with me. There´s no place or class that can teach you as much as you´re going to learn by actually exhibiting at the show. And I got to talk to the Art Directors of my dream Companies. (Here you can read a list of some of the Companies that came to the show: http://blueprintshows.blogspot.ca/2016/06/blue-print-iii-metropolitan-suite-new.html).
LESSON 1: Ask many questions, and talk to as many people as you can. Every single person you talk to will teach you things. And you´ll make great friends.
As a Designer it gets very lonely sometimes and it´s not easy to get honest feedback on your artwork. At the show, you´ll get the most honest feedback you have ever dreamed of getting. Sometimes brutally honest (which personally, I prefer). You´ll have Art Directors talking about your pieces, sometimes telling you why something works or why something doesn´t and that, for me, was AMAZING and EYE OPENING. I learned so much! A Client will come and say: “those eyes don’t work” and the next one will say “I love those eyes”! Or a Client might love your work but it doesn´t fit in with what they´re looking for. Some won´t even look at your work. But nothing is personal, it´s just business. Buyers know what they´re doing and they know what they´re looking for. That they don´t choose your work doesn´t mean it´s not good. I took note of every comment and now I´m more aware of what is more commercial and might sell better.
LESSON 2: Learn and grow from the feedback you get. Write everything down and get home and work harder!
Obviously the money is a very important factor to consider since this is my full time job and I do it because I love it but I also need it to be profitable. I have a background in finances and project management so I´m able to see this as a business, and as business I have plans and have made decisions about how I want to run it. At the show a lot of people are looking to buy outright; some will buy only for a specific category, so you´ll get to sell it to other categories and some want full ownership of rights. There are also some that are looking to license. You need to be prepared when they ask what you want to do and how much you charge for your artwork (it´s not easy but there are Consultants that can help you with this and also Artist friends that have been in the business much longer). For me, even if I had had to pay for my booth, the show paid of financially. And after the show I have had several commissions with dream Clients and a signed license deal.
This is a business and it has to be managed as such. You can´t just be an artist. You need to be a business person and have a plan.
WHAT COMES NEXT:
The most amazing thing happened at the show: I have an Agent now! I got to meet the fantastic Paul and Andrea from Cinnamon Joe Studio and I am so happy that they now represent my portfolio for buyouts and will be showing it this August 8-10 at Blueprint in New York (404 10th Avenue (between 31st and 33rd)). So now I´m making new collections for them, I´m working on commissions and I´m also preparing new Skillshare classes. I´m very busy and I´m very happy and grateful with everything that is happening. I can´t say that this will be how it goes for everyone, but I can assure you that it´s possible. You just have to work hard, never give up and do it.
One last thing that I wanted to tell you (and might talk more about in a later post)… STYLE. I struggled with this at the beginning, with the idea of having to have a style and it made me worry a lot (I can´t even write the same every day, how am I going to develop an artistic style?). So I have an array of styles and techniques and I draw what comes from my heart… and I don´t worry about it anymore, and you know what? Almost every Client complimented how varied my artwork was and how it was nice that I could work in different styles.
If you´re interested in exhibiting at Blueprint in August, there are still some spaces available. You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information.