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Design Festa ... wrapup

Posted by Dave Bull at 6:26 AM, May 17, 2010

Today is a 'recovery' day ... after getting home from the weekend spent downtown at the Design Festa.

Here's the Tokyo Big Sight, the gigantic convention centre where the event was held:

I forgot to snap a shot before beginning the setup work, but remembered a few minutes later. I had rented a 'mini-booth', which is exactly one tatami mat in size, along with a back panel. I got a 'bonus' in that my neighbour had rented a side panel, and didn't mind if I used my side of it (technically against the convention rules).

People lined up waiting for the doors to open, and once the clock hit opening time, it just went nuts. Tens and tens of thousands of people came through the place over the two days, in what was pretty much a non-stop river that streamed by our booths (nearly 3,000 booths, and an estimated 60,000+ attendees ...).

I had no chance to take pictures, shoot any video, get food, take bathroom breaks ... nothing. I stood up and grabbed this single shot, during a momentary break in the flow:

(It's interesting that although driving in Japan is on the left like Britain, people walk down aisles like this on the right, so they saw my images on the side panel as they came in my direction ...)

How did it go? Mixed - I sold a pile of the little postcard-size print that I had on display, enough to pay the show expenses, etc., but made no additions to the subscriber list. That was pretty much to be expected I think, as there simply was no chance for quiet conversation with people. But around 800 pamphlets walked away over the two days, so perhaps there will be a bit of 'after effect' later; we'll see.

It was a lot of fun, but now I have to get back to the waiting blocks. The next pair of prints (#3 #4) has to be carved, proofed, and printed (at least the first batch of 120 or so) before I head off to Canada on June 4th for my parents' 60th anniversary reunion. And that's only 2 1/2 weeks away ... The stuffed email Inbox is going to have to wait a little bit longer ...

[Update:] I posed for any number of souvenir photos during the two days, but most people just then walked away, and I myself had no chance to see the shots. But one of the guests - an interesting guy who goes by the handle 'Joe' - sent me this one:

His hobby is doing (perfect!) imitations of various Johnny Depp characters, and you don't need me to tell you which one this is!


Following comment posted by: Dave on May 17, 2010 10:02 PM

I should also add something else. I also learned something about those 'Solitudes' prints that I made over the past few years.

I had them on display at the Ginza exhibition this spring, and the response from people who saw them was generally favourable. But that wasn't any kind of a 'test', because the only people who came to that show were those who already know me and my work. This event was different - a 'random' stream of thousands of people walked by the booth.

What was it that I learned? That those prints are show-stoppers. People would stop, look at them, then look at my sign saying 'Traditional woodblock prints - David Bull', then look back at the prints ... leaning in for a closer look.

Some of them of course soon moved on, but many stayed for a longer look, and to browse through the portfolio I had on the desk.

You may laugh at hearing me say this, because none of this is supposed to actually 'matter', but watching these people get 'struck', and stopped in their tracks by those images that I created from nothing ... and these were people whose visual sense had been almost totally 'deadened' by hours of browsing this astonishing show, with its cascade of visual overload ... well this was pretty satisfying!

I know I'm not really a particularly creative 'artist'; it's just not my character. But in the middle of 3,000 other displayers - all of us screaming 'Look at me! Look at me!' - I'm pretty happy to find that my work, even as quiet as it is, can hold its own!

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