Art and Culture, Blogging, creatif, exploring, personal

What it’s like to hold an Exhibition at COEX as an artist/seller

For the past four days, I volunteered to help my mom take a shot at selling her Zimbabwean art collection at the annual Home and Lifestyle Exhibition held in unison with the Gyeongyang Housing Fair. This exhibition, alike many others, are hosted in key cities around the country such as Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Jeju and others throughout the year. It hosts a variety of creative products, from traditional hand held mirrors embedded with mother of pearl to extravagant tech that guarantees turning all food waste into liquid form. I’ve attended many of these events, but got to understand the behind-the-scenes of running our own booth. I thought this would be interesting for anyone wondering whether this is the step to launch or propel their business in Korea to the next level.

With 30 years of experience, this event boasts an average attendance rate of 180,000 persons. There is an entrance fee of 10,000 won, but they have the option of reserving a ticket for free beforehand. The bigger firms use this as an opportunity to showcase their exhibition design with elaborate and flashy architecture, case in point:IMG_0341.jpg

 

 

 

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(This particular shop was all about the pictures and promotions of–can you guess what? Shampoo!)

However, there are still a good number of smaller shops that sell their products in a more straight forward and simplistic manner. There are shops selling handmade jewelry to cosmetics and chocolate. Even if you’re not particularly keen to sell, if you are familiar with the fleamarkets and open market styles, this may be an interesting event reminiscent of those days when you can just walk up to the different stalls, have a chat and be hopefully jostled from your everyday surroundings and gain some home decor tips. Speaking of which, they host different seminars and conferences during the course of four days, where you may listen in on talks of brand design, sustainable and eco-friendly living, and other seminars for free. Unfortunately, most of these talks are held in Korean, and have yet to provide English translations due to the fairly limited attendance of foreigners (or perhaps, vice versa).

Setting Up.

This particular event is held over four consecutive days, with 2 days extra before and after for setting and wrapping up. They give you the whole day before to construct either your own booth or hire another company to do it for you. Because of this, the day (and air) is filled with dust and people panting heavily as they carry furniture and other goods across the huge hall. The hosting company conveniently failed to provide air conditioning on that day, and we had to move, unpack and organize items in the middle of Korean summer. When you apply to be a participating company, they are literally providing you with a standard 3x3m stall, and come to install lights, plugs, and a white box that you can use for some displays. Luckily, the plastic walls dividing shops are pretty durable and you can mount things onto it with a drill. We ended up drilling a painting, a light and a huge mirror so I’m guessing most other things are good to go.

Most of the preparations must be done beforehand. Bring your own tools and posters and marketing strategies. However, COEX has a lot of handy shops nearby, and you can pick up last minute supplies like tape and plastic chairs from the Daiso on the B1 floor. They will require marketing material a week before the exhibition itself, which they will disperse (though unseen by myself still). Another pro tip is packing a large piece of fabric that you drape over your products once you’re done for the day. It indicates that you have closed, and gives you some privacy when you leave the building.

If you don’t manage to complete everything in the day, it’s okay to do so the following day. However, because you share a wall, drilling it on opening day may not be seen favorably. You may still reorganize and set up your goods as there are not that many customers on a Thursday morning.

Personal Experience/Verdict.

Our mini exhibition/shop was wedged between a sink company, a facial exfoliating device company and a handmade arts and crafts store. Overall the neighbors were amiable and you grow a little fond of them by the fourth day, buying each other’s products and breaking bread with one another. However, deciding to partake in this exhibition requires some critical contemplation, especially if you are a relatively small company. While I’ve heard that smaller businesses in the arts pair up to split the booth costs, I am skeptical that many of them were even able to break even during the four days. The bigger companies, like the one above have no problem in fronting ‘advertisements’ as their main priority, even without reaping in the money. On the other hand, many of the smaller shops that were selling towels can hardly sell enough to even fathom covering the 3000,000 won booth fee (very rough approximation of 3000 dollars). Even our booth, which had a higher average price could barely breakeven. On that note, this exhibition, while catering towards companies that offer products as big as beds and storage containers, many of the consumers are within a demographic that are more frugal with their money. This is not the exhibition for you if you are looking for people that are willing to part with their money, even if it is for high quality art. Many are there, including myself in previous occasions, to have a feast for the eyes and have a little chit chat rather than to make an investment. While there is a considerable peak time on Sunday with last minute customers, I just don’t know if there 5~6 days is worth the effort. Through this experience, I felt fully the hardships of entrepreneurs, even with products as brilliant and futuristic as sinks that dissolve food waste into liquid form. They’re just not there for it. On the other hand, we were lucky enough to invite a gallery owner to see our booth and negotiate some business, but this was due to a friend network rather than an amity birthed by the exhibition. It’s really your call, but I strongly recommend that you prioritize your market research and consider what the primary goal of your business/exhibition is. In our case, we definitely chose the wrong market.

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However, I had a good experience. I had my very first taste of a small exhibition beyond the confines of my home. I did not realize the time was passing as I shifted products, displayed and rearranged the sculptures here and there. While it was a strenuous process, especially since it was done by the three of us only, unwrapping each of these products and finding an aesthetically pleasing composition took up the whole evening. I felt all the better after it.IMG_0305.jpg

 

Wrapping Up.

While it is advertised that the wrap up time is till the Monday after, we were surprised to see that most of the shops were packed and ready to go by Sunday evening following the exhibition. It dissolves into more chaos than the original set up, with some hoarse screams here and there as peoples’ frustrations go through the roof. This is another frustration that I had with the exhibition hosts–they do not seem to care for the participating companies. I say this because they offered no airconditioning the entire set up day, and immediately switched it off at 6PM when everyone was packing up. Everything had to be done in the excruciating heat and humidity of the Korean summer. This struck me as a disgusting capitalistic ploy, where all the smaller companies paid high sums to participate, slave away for four days everyday as they try to break even (sometimes located in farway and unfortunate areas with little customers) and immediately discarded as soon as they are away from the lime light. This was particularly disheartening to see, as some shop owners looked like they were on the verge of tears by the end of the show.

This is my personal experience and view on the Living and Lifestyle Expo, which transformed into the Home and Lifestyle Expo held in COEX. I felt like this was an interesting insight to the shenanigans, and especially interesting for those who do not have access to such information in Korean. Atleast, you know a little more and can perhaps have a little more sympathy for the sullen faces you may see at one of these exhibitions.

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college, personal, Uncategorized

meek.

I found myself lying, face drooping into the slopes of my pillow, weighed down by all the things I should probably be doing and the things I wish I was doing. My uneven posture and tense legs strain from clenching and releasing early this morning from when I was taking my driver’s for the second time. Later, I struggled to cover the rose of my frost-bitten cheeks with multiple layers of foundation. It still shone through, a harsh and unapologetic bloom.

I tend to find myself fleeting from one place to the next, eagerly checking off the menial things off my diary for comfort. Put money into the bank. Check the dates for performance. Get some groceries–especially some salad. I should really get into that. I then crash into bed when they are done, feeling strangely unaccomplished and disconnected to my self.

I picked off the pieces of my body, the mangled individuals cast here and there over the bed. Recollected myself, and gathered together a self that can writes. I try to make meaning of the empty space. No matter how many times I try to keep my desk clear of the clutter, my pens and books with stickers and orange peels litter the top, and stay there until someone else enters.

I see a message pop up from my friend. We find solace in each other. There are friends you meet in blurs to pass messy nights with, and others with whom you reach out for in the darkness, meandering the unknown hills and edging around the crevices. I talk again about my feelings. She returns the same. I feel that there are many of us out there tonight–we are not lost, but just waiting for the winter to pass us over.

 

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adventure, Blogging, college, exploring, personal, Poetry/Inspiratoin, travels, Writer

Ecclesiastical

I wrote a poem.  I’m at a crossroads in life, and no doubt overwhelmed. Enjoy.
Clearly, your feet have not dipped past the ivy crusted rims

Feeling the soft tickling of forgotten mosses,

They’ve meandered through the clattering shells clinging

To rounded flowers opening and closing before you.

They have not waded between the fluid roads revealed and at end

In the sky wandering round and straight in their wondrous Milky Way.

 

Where have you rested your head, those days you believed it was softened moss?

Whose breath did you let caress your face, what purple did you make your shade of nightingale?

 

They turn round eastward, towards instinctively home

The auburn sky is ablaze and you are there,

Feeling nothing

But still teeming, seething and afloat.

The chasms spread before, thinly sunk into worn crevices,

Peeling skins off of the age old trees and the heaven dense auras

The valleys and its hidden villages are to be pillaged

Only by those ravenous in the mouth.

A donkey bears the laden fruits of your search

And together you make it to the hole

Where you bury the hatchet, and leave the memories under

The skies fondle a home in the murky waters below.

Your sister is both there and already in the wind,

Faces sunken, but never lost.

Well done, the deed is done.

Whatever you have seen,

The losses you have carried,

The tragedies you have committed in both your name and others,

The slandered will rest easy tonight.

 

When the night falls, and you offer your soul to the pits,

You are free, and free of burden.

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adventure, Blogging, personal, Writer

Procrastination, staying motivated and other ills

I am a twenty-something, kinda-Asian, kinda-artsy, kinda-lost-and-clueless college student. What a solid introduction, but that is the best summary of my current and more-so on going situation. I am not lazy, I am moderately hard working and moderately willing to take risks. Yet, so often I find myself in bed, crushed under the weight of all the assignments I want to do well in and things I want to discover.

Then I take a brief nap, and blame it on my food coma. I doodle in my journal about avante garde art, and reminisce a century that challenged everyone and everything to art for art’s sake. I sit on my desk, begin rearranging the mess that I’ve made during the peak of my motivation levels, and open my computer to type. I find myself opening Quora and Tumblr and Facebook, and eventually, WordPress. And so I type. And begin to realize that there seems to be a recurring pattern to what I prefer to do in my free time, or rather, things that I pursue despite having none.

The other day I posted a question on Quora, beseeching the Quora greats on how to keep motivated, how to remain inspired and how to continue writing. I’ve never fully considered writing to be a career choice, despite my habitual ramblings that I mindlessly share in all my social media platforms. I don’t want to label myself as a writer and have expectations, judgments and criticism, and stick closely to “snippets” in which my thoughts and its translation into a flow of words, best comes across. The answer was simple. Embrace it fully. Writing and words do not come by without effort, and in most cases, comes as an exorcism of emotions not so much for any other true benefit besides the soul. Art for art’s sake.

I want to though. Desperately.

Ever since I began this private blog site, a miserable teen on Christmas day in a cold, unlit room in Harare, Zimbabwe, I had the simple goal of writing and creating and putting something out there that would not have much significant meaning to anyone really besides myself. Slowly, my number of followers increased, and as I began searching for other like-minded blogs, I tried to do multiple things–house reviews, shopping hauls and the sort. Things that would increase my views and make me feel established.

“I”, the metaphysical ego.

Since then, my writing became even more erratic as it became a chore rather than an open forum where I could sort through my emotions and make meaning of the flashes. Rather than simply reverting this passion into the simple blogger I was 3 years ago, I want to reform, and begin to reveal the raw edges of myself again.

I’m back.

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exploring, personal, Uncategorized

why words matter

The older I get the more I realize how soft my mother is to words. The last time I met up with her in Korea, she was so furious with my dad, over something he said in passing, that she ignored him for months and was on the verge of getting a divorce, when I told her to confront him and deal with it once and for all. They talked about it, best part is he didn’t even know she was mad. He apologized and she was all good after that. I’ve come to realize that my mom is not that steel hard wonderwoman I always pictured her to be. I remind myself to be kind and send some words of affirmation to her now and then, especially since we now live apart. I’ve done it countless times for strangers in club bathrooms. Reminder to be kind to those who matter the most.

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exploring, personal, Uncategorized

Why I am “Fine” – something personal

I went to a talk about mental health awareness today, and how it is stigmatised and 40% of Australians think that depressed people are dangerous, when in fact, they are the most targeted. I remember back in high school when I had some of the most tumultuous years of my life, and the crippling anxiety I had after getting gang robbed the second time and having my family fall apart and stitched back together. I would burst into hysteric tears for no good reason. The only reason I went home was because of my puppy and the weird guilt that convinced me I needed to be there to calm and mediate everything. I spent so many days at my sisters because the atmosphere choked me. I always looked to school for refuge, and thinking back, it’s the only reason why it never really developed into medication and doesn’t affect me so much now. School always had gossip and rumors and this and that to keep my mind off of things. I was preparing for college and for exams and having crushes and having fun with my friends… it gave me things to focus on. Even now, I sometimes find myself crying over something trivial, and it used to make me so angry for being weak and emotional. I’m over that now. I may not understand it, but it’s okay. I don’t judge or reprimand myself for expressing something and giving a sign that I feel something about the situation. I want to thank my boyfriend for this too, for always understanding and telling me to continue nurturing myself.

This turned out to be a longer post than intended. I just guess I want to say that I’m really grateful how everything turned out, and to everyone that has stood by me along the way. I took counselling after the robbery, and I am never ashamed to say it. I openly encourage all my friends to seek help if they need it. It was one of the best choices I made at the time, and just being able to speak about it to someone who would not worry as much as my friends or family would was everything. I’m really grateful for all the support my counsellor gave to me (shoutout to Miss Wilhite, I’ll never forget you) and to everyone who accepted me for me and were patient with me during my healing. Mental illness is an illness like all others, should be openly discussed and have support like any other battle.

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college, personal, Uncategorized

It’s Ridiculous

…That it’s taken this long for me to post anything on here. Ri-dic-ulous. I am proportionally ashamed of myself because I’ve been busy with moving to a new city and applying for exchange and falling in love and all that. When I start reflecting on my 2015, I can identify all the new joys and richesse that has stripped me of my routine and the hobbies that I identify with myself. Another year has passed, and voila, I somehow find myself here in 2016. Time is unwarranted. It keeps going whether you take hold of it or not.

Currently, I am back home in Harare, Zimbabwe after spending almost a year and a half alone in South Korea. It’s great to be back. A couple of nights ago I met with some of my highschool classmates and it felt good to be able to talk about the powercuts and the ridiculous requirement of you having to go fetch the firefighters AND provide them with some water in case of fire. These are the little ideosyncrases that I can only fully enjoy with these special peoples, because explaining to any others will only result in gasps of shock or sympathetic ‘aws.’ It’s a sad state, but there is so much more to life and richness to our lives that cannot be enveloped by pitiful headlines that makes the international news.

The last year I believe I’ve changed a lot. I have more concrete ideas and beliefs on the things I feel passionate about, and have found more confidence in standing up for it and defending my position. I’ve also made important steps, participating in the little joys of being an adult and leaving my nest. I’ve lived about a year alone now in my own apartment, experiencing the infinite freedom of dancing around only in my underwear, to wishing death upon myself for leaving the food waste rubbish to last minute. I’ve learned what it means to fall in love, the ups and the downs, and what it means to share yourself in a way a little different to before, how it’s been with my family or any of my friends.

As I sat down at my desk, jotting down all the new years resolutions I made (e.g. STOP PROCRASTINATING. FIND 3 HOBBIES AND STICK BY IT. (FIND AN EXERCISE ROUTINE DEMMIT etc), I realized that all these things really amounted to one thing. Call it an idealistic existential crisis if you will, but this is the year I really want to discover myself. Get really in tune and more importantly comfortable with who I am and who I want to be. When I look back in 2016, I hope I can nod and be really satisfied and marvel at my spiritual and emotional growth. Already a lot is in store for me–I’m heading to Australia for a semester of exchange. How did I even pick this country from all the other options? Simple. I was inspired by a vlog I watched, I did some research and I was inspired. I put it as first choice. Surprisingly, I got in. So that’s what it is, I guess.

This is another thing that I’ve come more to terms with me. My carefree personality. It used to stress me out not knowing what I was going to do and always felt guilty about making big choices on a whim rather than the meticulous check lists and research that my friends delved into. But as I say, hey, it’s gotten me this well this far. It must be work pretty well for me!

I hope to write more often.

Cheers to that, and to the new year!

x

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