Four months ago I did a show in Paris called Playtime. Since then, I’ve been getting some inquiries about the show, so I thought I’d write a blog post about my experience there!
For those who are not familiar with the show, it’s a trade show for kids and maternity brands. Playtime takes place in four cities (Paris, New York, Tokyo and Berlin) and twice a year for each city(summer and winter edition). Only the Paris one offers a section for illustrators/designers to showcase their work. Only 12 artists get selected for this section, so it’s pretty small compared to other trade shows such as Surtex.
The show ran for 3 days – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Monday was the busiest as a lot of local French companies didn’t work on the weekend. The weekend was quite slow. Some of the artists that have exhibited multiple times before told me that the summer edition is usually slower than the winter one, because many people take time off during summer.
Most of the companies that visited my table were European, and most of which were French. While language wasn’t really an issue, I think it would be a bonus if you speak French! Otherwise, it’s an international show, so you can easily get by with English! Most of my visitors expect to buy prints outright. In fact, I believe this is the norm for the majority of European market; licensing is actually a pretty foreign concept to them. I separated my work into two sections – one for sale and one for licensing only. I still showed both of them because I thought my licensing work represents my style better and it was important to show that.
What I love about the show:
It was by far the cutest trade show I’ve ever done. The organizer did a great job curating the show and decorating the space. The atmosphere was very inviting, unlike big trade shows I’ve done that have security guards everywhere and rules for everything…
It was small but well curated. Since we only had 12 artists in our section, it felt less intimidating compared to a big trade show. You also get to meet all the other artists, which was an amazing feeling.
It was affordable. Each table was less than 600 Euro, which was way less than the cost of other shows I’ve done. There was no booth, just a table, so I didn’t have to worry about bringing material over to decorate my booth. They only allowed minimum decoration for your table anyways, so your portfolio is the focus.
The organizer did a great job with their branding and marketing material. It’s important because you’re part of the show and you want it to be presentable. They also made it very easy for the exhibitors to access important information on their website. Everything was in one place after you log in. As an exhibitor, I really appreciate little thing like this.
What I don’t like about the show:
It was super HOT in the venue. The show was in a building at Parc Floral de Paris. We were told that the building is too old, that’s why there was no air conditioning in the building. It felt like a big oven and I was sweating the whole time! It was honestly not very comfortable for all of us, especially that we need to be there all day.
So…was it worth it?
Honestly, I feel that I can’t really give a conclusion after just one show. I’d like to give it some benefit of doubt before I can give a verdict. I’ve been told that the winter one is usually busier than the summer one, so I feel that I need to do a winter one as well to find out. For me, it’s an investment doing any kind of shows – you won’t see immediate return in most cases. Though I didn’t sell as many prints as I wanted at Playtime, I did get a few promising contacts. Building relationships with clients takes time, so I can’t say that it wasn’t worth it. It also depends on your expectations. Personally I look for collaborations with like-minded brands as opposed to selling as many prints as possible. So it all depends on what you’re looking for and what your goal is as an artist. Regardless, the most valuable thing I’ve gained from my experience was networking with other artists.
Do I recommend it?
Obviously this is a trade show for those who want to get into the kids market. If you think this is your target, then it would be worth a shot. However, be prepared to sell your prints outright. If you’re not comfortable doing that, save your money for a licensing show instead. Just remember that it might take more than one show to establish your name as an artist in the European market. No matter what the outcome is, it is a great place to network with others and promote yourself!