We took part in this year’s Shanghai Art Book Fair 2019, held at M50 Creative Park, Shanghai China held on 17th - 19th May, a lovely early summer weekend. As a young fair (only into its 2nd year!), I must say that this year’s SHABF was overwhelming with 4 halls of creative booths (so many booths I cannot even cover everything!), it’s like a massive creative art playground for the weekend.
Highlight creatives for the event (personally) were Misaki Kawai and NORITAKE from Japan. I love their expression and the best thing of an overseas fair is that the artists will most probably be at the booth themselves! (So there’s a good chance of chatting up with them and get to know the person behind the artwork)
I’m going to cover briefly a few aspects of the fair for those who might be thinking of attending the next.
The 2019 edition was held at the M50 Creative Park, just about 15 mins walk from Shanghai Train Station, and 8 mins from Jiangning Road Subway Station.
M50 Creative Park is a huge venue and I think it used to be an old factory warehouse, repurposed to a creative district with galleries and little quaint ateliers and cafes.
Overall, facilities were reasonable though our air-conditioning system broke down at our Hall for all days and there were afternoons that got a little stuffy. But otherwise, sanitary facilities were pretty alright and comfortable for exhibitors as well as fair-goers.
We chose the cheapest booth without walls since we didn’t really know what to expect for the fair as first-timers. But to our surprise, and fortunate enough, we were allocated a space at Hall 2 that somewhat had a wall though the pillar sticking out made the booth narrow.
Our booth was spacious with 180cm in width, that means a good spread of your stuff!
All booths were right next to each other, covered with a navy table cover each (that I thought was really useful for those who didn’t have table cloth prepared), and comes with a pair of chairs. (It really helps to not need to purchase an additional chair unlike Seoul Illustration Fair, where we were charged for an extra chair.)
Lucky us that we had an electricity outlet right next to us (and we shared it with our neighbors of course!) that made charging our cellphones a breeze.
The crowd was exceptional! I was surprised and shocked to see never-ending queues to all the exhibition halls. The crowds were mainly young creatives and aspiring creatives, as well as industry people, families and individuals who have lived overseas or are interested in foreign culture and art. They were a friendly and curious bunch and chats with you about your work and inspiration.
This was the biggest worry for us! In China, they use mainly WeChat Pay (they call it Wei- Xin) and Alipay (they call it zhi fu bao). Since we don’t live in China and naturally we don’t have a Chinese Bank account to make mobile payment work for us. Cash was barely getting by and mobile payment systems were the main payment method.
So we tried to download the Alipay app, and input the details of one of our Japanese Bank Visa Credit Card and to our surprise, we were able to accept payments from the lovely people who purchased our zines and little knick-knacks! (All you need to do is just print out the QR code that allows them to scan and pay you)
But here’s the catch:
We cannot transfer the money in our Alipay app, to our local bank account back home.
That means, your money is stuck in the app, and you will only be able to use it for meals and shopping in China, as well as the airports and shops that accepts Alipay payments. (Well, another way around this is that if you have a good friend living in China, you might want to transfer him/her your Alipay credit, and he/she pays you back in cash.)
What we brought to the fair
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect both for China, as well as the fair and here is what we brought to the fair. 2 new titles + 2 old titles for our zines, as well as a limited run of handmade brooches to complement our RETRO series of zines. You can purchase our RETRO zines, as well as The Tiny Cat & The Tiniest Fairy zine at our online store here.
We splurged a little and stayed at the Pullman Jingan Hotel Shanghai, just right across the Shanghai Railway Station (so convenient if you plan to travel outskirts via the high speed rail), and right above Exit No.5 of Shanghai Railway Subway Station (convenient for city access). It was clean, spacious and service was great at expected from the Accor Group of Hotels. (Nope, this is not sponsored!) The hotel is a 15 - 20 min walk to the venue, but if you prefer taking a taxi, a taxi from the hotel (just ask the guys at the entrance) cost less than 20RMB (3 USD).
The cheapest booth was 280 USD for this year and I think it is rather reasonable with the amount of audience and fair-goers, and for the space/table given.
Overall, we were very happy about this event and it’s one Art Book Fair that we hope to participate again next year. Find out more about the Shanghai Art Book Fair via the official website.