This is my very BELATED BLUEPRINT POST…
Last month (May 2019) I exhibited in New York at The Blueprint Show. Many have asked me how my experience was at Blueprint. Honestly- I have very mixed feelings about this. I have vacillated back and forth, whether I should write a post, but in the end, here I am posting on my experience- and mine only. You may ask other artists how the show was for them- and their opinion may be wayyyy different than mine.
This was my first Blueprint. I’ve done Surtex before so I was a little familiar as to what exhibiting would entail. I had so many different feelings about heading off to New York, especially since my husband was supposed to come along with me to be my “booth babe”, but those plans changed, and he needed to stay back because of his mom’s failing health. Hindsight, I should have stayed back as well.
I would be going it alone. This girl is a country mouse, and I REALLY am not a fan of THE CITY (no offense New York).
Over the years I have heard many good things about Blueprint (BP). The line-up of top notch artists that it attracted and the affordable cost for a booth are what really drew me in. If you combine all these things together and the fear of missing out (FOMO), this is pretty much why I signed on.
Information (by that of e-mail) for Blueprint started flowing into my mailbox late Summer of last year. The owners of Blueprint had decided to add a second venue to their already secured Hudson Mercantile location. They did some hunting around and found the Shop Studio space- which opened up more than 50 more spots for artists. I was so excited, because I tried before to exhibit with BP, and was turned away because there wasn’t any more room left.
I will keep a tally along the way, okay?
My flight to New York from San Francisco 876.00
Cab Fare from airport 95.00
Contracts were signed in August, with half the balance due. That would be $625.00. This would all be followed by a Blueprint Handbook, that was full of all sorts of information, from links to suggested banner printing companies to due dates for artwork submissions. The key to all of this though, is that you should join the Blueprint Facebook Group. This is where so many questions are asked, so many problems are solved and where you get very good advice from prior BP exhibitors. Even though it isn’t mandatory to join this group, you really should, because you will miss some very important updates that may only be shared in this group and not by e-mail. If you don’t do facebook, start doing facebook, just to be part of this community and to stay up to date.
Deposit for Booth $625
balance due. $625.
Blueprint was doing a couple of things different for this trade show. They were providing orange bags for each attendant at the trade show. Blueprint asked each artist to provide 500 postcards, and there were to be at least 500 attendees at the show. That way each bag would have postcards from each of the 160 exhibiting artists already in them AND each bag would also already be sporting a sticker from each artist. This would all be waiting in the reception area of each venue. When the guest checked in, they would receive this (I’m assuming very heavy) bag full of postcards and sticker adorned. EVERY ARTIST WAS TO BE REPRESENTED HERE. It wasn’t mandatory, but it was suggested as part of our marketing for our booth and brand. Most everyone participated.
Now, had I been brilliant like some other folks, I would have left the backside of the postcard blank so I could have used all the leftover cards for “follow-up” corresponding (but, there wasn’t supposed to be any leftover cards).
They asked each artist/collective/agent to do 500 1.5″x1.5″ stickers (with your logo) and 500 4″ x 6″ postcards (created with your artwork). These were required sizes that would only be accepted…. for the promotional orange bags. A side note- I refer to required sizes, because that was what we were told- but I learned later that people who didn’t follow the rules still had their postcards, stickers and artwork accepted… This really fumes me, because I ALWAYS FOLLOW THE RULES (or at least I try too). The blatant disregard for following instructions for blueprint was so incredible. There were maximum height requirements for booth banners, and those were not followed either.
FYI- the stickers were super expensive…. because they weren’t a standard size that companies usually print.
The Postcards and the Stickers, were for me, one of the huge areas of contention…… I spent $263.00 on these promotional items…. it was voluntary, but in the end, only a handful of orange bags received both postcards and attached stickers. Why? You ask?
Well, Blueprint asked for volunteers, a few people did accept to help with the sticker application and postcard bundling. But first on this day, we needed to set up our booths, we arrived at 3:00 pm like requested, but for some reason we waited an hour before we actually started this process. (I heard a rumor that our tables were stuck in traffic, and that’s what slowed everything down), but our tables and chairs were sitting in the middle of the room? So why the delay and why wasn’t there anyone there to give us direction?
My friend Solvejg, from Trosko Design, is one of those people that accepted a volunteer position to help with the sticker and postcard processes. She is amazing and
probably IS the only reason I survived New York… anyway she was one of the original volunteers. Many of us ended up at the Hudson Mercantile reception area (after booth setup) to help with bundling postcards and applying stickers. Solvejg and a few others (I’m sorry I don’t remember everyones names) arrived quickly after setup and got to work. I got there later to help, (my booth was more involved). My point here is that- even if we would have had an extra hour, I don’t think we would have finished. We only had the Hudson Mercantile venue until 7 PM, so at the most, we may have had an hour and a half?
Above, you will see the postcards that I stacked in a pile of 8. Someone super smart figured out how to do the bundles, so that it was fair….. but not all of these bundles ended up in the bags.
To be fair this was the first time Blueprint was doing 2 venues, and I know it was to accommodate more artists and those of us that were able to participate and be included in Blueprint because of the added space, were very grateful. These 2 venues were the Hudson Mercantile (located at 500W 36th Street) and Shop Studio (located at 528W 39th Street). Each venue would hold 2 floors for Blueprint and these venues were within walking distance from one another. That being said, each venue was a completely different experience.
Upon walking up to the Hudson Mercantile, it is a very charming brick building. Let’s face it, you are in New York, so you are going to see (and smell) some not great things on your way to any of the venues, but upon arrival to the Hudson Mercantile, you step up a few steps and you are in a “gallery” like setting. I mean it looks like a gallery. It feels like a gallery, you know you are walking into a space that is dedicated to showcasing…. something. I can only speak for the first floor, because that is the only floor I walked, but the lighting didn’t seem that great.
Walking up to the Shop Studio is a totally different experience….. here are some pictures of the area outside.
In the picture directly above you can see a sign that says Blueprint. You need to walk past a giant DHL building (that’s the bright yellow building) to get to the BP show…. I think if they are going to use this space again, they should put a giant sign on the corner directing foot traffic to the building, and there should also be a few people that work for the show that walk folks from the first venue to the second.
Once you find the building (Shop Studios) or SS there are stairwells on both sides of a freight elevator. The freight elevator was intended for attendees to use, and in a starving artist sort of way it was pretty cool. SS did a nice job of making the space artsy with beautiful modern paintings on the brick walls as you ride up to your 3rd or 4th floor destinations. Besides folks not wanting to travel down a very uninviting street, where the bottom floor of the destination building is full of mechanics working on broken down vehicles- was the use of the stairwell. Stairwell number 1 wasn’t too bad. It smelled mostly like wet paint and wasn’t too terribly dirty. But if you picked what was behind door number 2, I mean if you took stairwell number 2, you were in for a whole different experience. This stairwell was super dirty, full of cigarette butts, and smelled like urine. All this mixed together the smell, the aesthetics of the whole experience made me take 2 steps at a time with the speed of Florence Griffith Joyner, clutching my handbag in fear of a mugging. (Remember now, I am a country mouse, and I mean no disrespect). In a word? Gross. It was Gross. I offered at one point to one of the BP owners to sweep the stairwell, but he assured me that attendees would be using the freight elevator (which I learned later wasn’t always the case). Below you will see a (very bad) photo of what the floor below us had directly off the stairwell- I didn’t venture any further onto floor 2.
The above photo is the bottom floor. A pretty scary situation.
2 Banners (3′ x 8′) 142.00
Booth Frame 49.00
Insurance for Booth 170.00
I brought a white tablecloth with me, the table that BP supplied came with a black tablecloth. I was really happy that I brought another option for my booth.
Fabric Cost for bunting and pillows 221.00
Printing for 11′ x 17′ sheets (210) 360.00
A good suggestion for everyone is to bring a Mr. Clean sponge. I had 2 of them and I used them to clean my chairs, they were pretty filthy.
I love the message that this pin sends. Together WE CAN…. how would you finish this sentence? The answer for me is different everyday. Today- Together WE CAN finish the laundry. Which didn’t happen by the way. Tomorrow… Together WE CAN save planet EARTH!
I also had some pins made for giveaways. These were pretty expensive, but I really wanted to do a lapel pin- my name was also on the back.
They turned out really cute and the quality was great. They are from Pin Game Strong.
100 “Together We Can” pins 290.00
New Business Cards 60.00
My Hotel room was VERY tiny- it was SO small that I couldn’t change my mind in it! I stayed at the Pod Hotel -in Times Square.
Hotel 5 days 6 nights 1920.00
I stored my underwear in the safe. The Pod Hotel doesn’t have drawers or closets- so I had to get really creative!! It really is a good thing that my hubs didn’t come with me-there is no way he would have fit!
Blueprint threw a pretty amazing party on the second evening of the show. It took place on top of the Hudson Mercantile building. SO much fun- I had cheesecake for dinner! LOTS of cheesecake and it was served in adorable jars. I couldn’t find a fork or spoon so I used chopsticks. Hell, I would have used my fingers… IT was that good! Solvejg and I had a couple drinks- did some dancing, blew our eardrums out (SO LOUD) – I saw sides to some people that I wish I could unsee! Wowsers…. she says as her eyes are popping out of her head!
This is a photo from the party- I didn’t take many photos during free time!
So my takeaway from Blueprint? The cost not including food, and little things I purchased for my booth was about 5,696.00. I only had 4 people (companies) stop by my booth and I am sure that is because they felt sorry for all of us artists. There were SO many talented artists exhibiting at this event. The agents were getting all the traffic. I collected 3 business cards on my own and these aren’t even a good fit for me, and many business cards were shared that other artists collected- we shared all our contacts. We were also supplied with a contact list of 500 people that attended the show (I have my doubts that that many people walked the show). The list wasn’t that great. It wasn’t worth $6,000 anyway.
4 days is TOO long for any trade show! We were all so bored. Blueprint did supply us with some really good coffee though and I was really grateful for that! It kept me awake.
I was able to meet loads of artists that I only knew online and I also was able to spend a lot of time with my friend Solvejg laughing and chatting. She picked out some really great restaurants too.
On the last day when I was taking down my booth and putting things away, I bent over and I ripped my pants– that was definitely a sign that it was time to stop eating SO much!! What a way to end the show, eh? It’s not over until the FAT LADY rips her pants!
Well folks that’s all for now- stay crafty and stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon!
Thanks for reading