Singapore Trip 1 : Public Garden, Suntec Convention Hall

The decision for my 25th booth :
I've booked for the event so many months ago when I was still working as a freelancer. Along the way between my new job and Bromo run, Zika came into the picture. It hit Singapore in September and it was spreading slowly, calmly. My mom was worried, Af's mom was worried. So I couldn't decide on whether I should go or I should just cancel the trip. Every day I checked on the news  about Singapore : Zika, it was there, slowly spreading, not like wild fire. But like a really old lady trying to cross the road. Alarmingly slow, but it was there nonetheless.

I finally decided on going 4 days before the event. I booked the flight ticket and hotel for Saturday morning - the event day, and to get back home as soon as possible after the event ended on Sunday, that night. The original plan was to drive to Singapore on Friday, after work with my siblings and Af. But I decided to cut everything short and just go to Singapore for the event instead. Af wanted to join me in my first international event, so he booked the ticket as well. 
The flight costed around RM 200 for return ticket and addition of 20kg to bring all my doodle items in a huge luggage. As for the hotel booked nearest to where the event took place in Suntec City, I spent around RM 300. There wasn't any places cheaper than that, other than hostel - which I'm trying to avoid in this trip. 


The event's day : 

The weekend started fast. We woke up at 2.15am, and by 3.00am we were both already in front of Ma's apartment, waiting for Ma and Aja. They sent us to KLIA2, by 4.00am we already checked in and sent my luggage. Our flight was scheduled to board at 6.00am, so we had a quick breakfast at Mc'Donald inside while waiting. I will forever hunted by the cancelled flight to Cambodia because of my own recklessness and I'm avoiding that to happen again the best way I can by being several hours early.

One hour later, we arrived at Changi Airport. First thing first, I took a free map at the customer service. After my previous backpack trip in Tokyo, I have a habit of collecting city map at the airport. It's always free, and it helps a lot. Studying the map was pretty easy, especially their train system. It is exactly like what we have here in KL. 

We took the train from Terminal 2 to MRT and to get to Promenade, we had to change 2 times. At Tanah Merah and Paya Lebar. Simple as that. Everything was nicely labelled and pointed to the location. We just had to follow the arrow.
And so we arrived at Suntec quite early, the shopping malls weren't open yet. Except of Giant, where I bought several things to eat like bread, biscuits and boxed juice. We found a foodcourt afterwards so we decided to stay there for awhile, to wait until the convention centre open. I sketched that morning's story in my sketch book while Af read Haruki's novella, After Dark - until 11.30am when the hall opened.

The event :

The hall was big, packed with rows and rows of tiny wooden desk and 2 chairs. I was excited, full with energy. My very first international event ! I thought to myself. And so Af helped me getting ready for our booth and I took several stories to be shared in my Instagram - because yes, I was super excited. I haven't feeling like this for quite some time. 

The business later was a bit slow, getting my first customer took some time. The hall was really cold, packed with a lot of human all around and I was again, like the person I am, I began to feel awkward and out of place. That's the price of being an introvert. Things were tough for both Af and me, these two awkward Malaysians trying our their luck in neighbouring countries. It was even harder for me to make decent conversation with people. I managed to nod, and smile and answer gibberishly.

Those 2 days of coldness, packed with human like tinned sardine, barely any sales - just a decent $150 collected in 2 days. All by selling stickers only - which was impressive. I met fellow Malaysians : Minifanfan, Eeching, Evangelione, Noemo, HappyDoory, Mossery, also famous Indonesians : Heimlo and Naela Ali from Asobi. Most of the names that I've been stalking in my social media platforms. 

My highest point at the event was when I met Yellowmushmellow for the first time, in person. She was with her sister, she stretched her hand to give me a handshake - which I reached awkwardly. I hardly remember what I said to her, I think I answered to her questions, I was being awfully shy and awkward. Like I never wanted to meet her in person or something - padahal I've been wanting to meet her for so long, I am her biggest fan. Ever. I don't think that was even possible, for anyone to be so unpleasantly shy in meeting their idol in person. Haiyooh. She later gave me a pack of present, the one she was supposed to send during last Raya on her random Eid gift-away. I opened it gleefully after we bid goodbye to each other. 

She has no idea how highly I think of her.
Thank you Aida, I really-really-really like it - A LOT.


Outside of the event :

We walked in Bugis Street and Bras Basah area on Sunday morning. We managed to find a mamak's small restaurant in near Bencoolen for breakfast. Later using the small map, we searched for any malls with stationary shops for me to buy a pencil lid :D The one I've been using finished the day before so I couldn't doodle anything in my sketch book. The short morning walk turned into a pencil-lid-hunting. After 2 malls, we finally found one in Bugis Junction and then we headed to the event's place right away for our final day booth opening. There wasn't any exploration much other than that morning's short walk.

Note :
Everything in Singapore is commercialised and expensive *the rate is times 3, guys. So there's nothing much to do if you go there without wanting to spend much. Plus, I only brought SGD100 in this trip, just for the change when people buy things and foods.


Thoughts on the event & market :

Based on my personal rough observation I noticed that Singaporean got different taste than Malaysians. I saw what they picked up, how they lighten up when they saw certain objects. Even though at first I thought everything depend solely on each people's preferences, like certain people like certain things just because they feel connected to certain items - this wasn't the case at all. I managed to see an obvious pattern when I saw that they like vectorised-stickers a lot compared to hand-drawn digital illustrations. At first I felt like it was rather odd - because for me, vectorised illustrations are a bit stiff and not so personal. I mean, any designer can do vectorised illustration, right? - so as a designer myself I don't feel connected to my own vectorised works. Or something like that. But they keep on picking up those same stickers over and over again. So I'm guessing they do have a certain taste and style that they all agree to appreciate.

So in my case, I didn't meet the right market. I am a designer, but I try not to sell my designs - I'm more prone to my own hand-drawn illustrations. Outside of my designer's bubble, I like to think of myself as a self-exclaimed illustrator. So, yeah.

I already got an invitation to open another booth in the same event for Christmas and according to other Malaysian independent artists - the sales are much-much better and the crowd will be more overwhelming than this, so they are definitely joining. As for me, I think I need to change my technique for different market. I decided to not join their next event in December.
Note : Booth fees was SGD$200, I managed to collect SGD$150. So minus flights and hotel, I think I didn't really reach my target. Although it was a failed attempt, it is still nice to see a new environment, and new international market. Just to see how deep the lake is. Dip, dip, dip. Until next time :) 
Plus, I really need to think of ways to improve my props and make them all easy to travel and not so heavy and nice to the eyes, because obviously my stickers are expanding like there's no tomorrow :

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