Arlene Sy
Art + Illustration


My journey as an artist chronicled in life events, thoughts, and musings.

Art Mart musings

Joining an arts/crafts fair was among the least of my plans for this year. Days later, I still can't believe I participated in my first bazaar! The experience was nothing short of amazing. It was very tiring, but definitely so much fun. I had a smile plastered all over my sweaty face at the end of both days.

During the last couple of weeks of August, fellow artists and friends Lorra and Elbert (also the talented duo behind Homeycomb) casually told me about the BGC Art Mart hosted by Arts at BGC and the Bonifacio Art Foundation, which was having its seventh run in September. I hesitated at first, but they soon convinced me I still had enough time to produce items in time for the fair. I took this as a sign to stop procrastinating and to finally work on coming out with a debut line of paper goods and stationery.

In the weeks that followed, I racked my brain, figuring out the perfect combination of items to sell during the Art Mart. I felt it was a good idea to reproduce art prints of some of my previous work, but I also wanted to produce a batch of notecards, and a 2015 calendar. For the latter, I took to friends, family, and Facebook to see whether people would be interested, and I got great feedback. The encouragement I got was enough to make me scramble for a printer who could produce the calendars in less than a week. I found Studio 58 through a referral, and I wasn't disappointed. The proofs and final product turned out so beautifully! (Better photos in my next post!)

Throughout the preparations, I had many questions and lots of uncertainties coming in as a first-time bazaar seller, so I was grateful for the help and support of both Lorra and Elbert. After receiving confirmation from the Art Mart organizers, we immediately confirmed our slots. We were lucky to get table assignments right beside each other!

I signed up for the Art Mart scheduled for September 27 and 28. This was supposed to be the second weekend of this run, starting with September 20 and 21, but a strong storm forced the organizers to move those dates to October 4 and 5. For each day, we were allowed to set up and decorate our tables beginning 3 PM. Thankfully, the organizers weren't too strict, and allowed everyone who was ready by this time to begin selling to passersby.

On the first day (Saturday), Birdie and I didn't have a difficult time setting things up, but we spent a few minutes fixing and adjusting the display until it felt attractive and organized enough. Later, one of my best friends, Mae, joined us to help man the booth until the rest of the day.

As early as 3 PM, people had already begun milling around the canopied selling area at Bonifacio High Street. We started with a few onlookers asking about the products and their prices, but soon, we had buyers trickling in. It was during this time that I noticed someone from Prestige Paper Products stop by my booth (OMG). I immediately recognized her as one of the representatives who attended a recent Ang INK event. I was happy she recognized me and my work (YAY!). After I enthusiastically pointed out that I used one of their Fedrigoni papers for the calendar, she decided there and then to buy a notecard set, plus a calendar for their office! (I resisted the urge to squeal like a little girl at this point.)

I was so floored and intensely overjoyed, I wanted to hug her! I was just acknowledged by a top paper provider! I know it doesn't really seem like much to most people, but I've been a huge fan of Prestige Paper's goods (and a huge paper nerd) for some time now. I wouldn't have minded acting silly in front of her. Hehe. I thanked her profusely instead.


After this pleasant encounter, things gradually picked up. Some friends dropped by to say hi; a few introduced themselves as followers on Instagram (so that's how it feels like!); a group of Korean girls hoarded several of my art prints (they loved the beach scene!); and a very generous group purchased nearly one of everything on the table. It was going better than expected! My notecards (both the bigger floral sets, and the mini botanicals) were bestsellers. I realized I hadn't produced enough, but it was all right since I couldn't have predicted the outcome in the first place, and I wanted to err on the safe side than get stuck with lots of unsold items.

On the second day (Sunday), it was my calendars that fared much better, but I also think it was because my notecards had already sold out, and our booth had to be repositioned due to the weather. Right after we'd set up, a light rain started to come down, forcing us to immediately move our table to the opposite side, where the shade was. It turned out to be a lucky move. It definitely gave people better access to our tables, and gave us better lighting (from the existing BHS streetlights) way into the night. Sales really picked up around 5:30 PM and continued at a pleasant pace up until around 8 PM, with the pre- and after-dinner crowd (including lots of families) pouring into the area.

(Also, I learned my lesson from the first day, and opted to wear lighter, breezier clothes instead. Heheh.)

At around 8:30 PM, right before we decided to close shop, Birdie and I were thrilled to have people snapping up some of our remaining products at the last minute. The last calendar was purchased, a set of notecards intended for display were bought, and Nicole's postcard prints (which she consigned with us, and which were super slow on the first day) suddenly sold out.

What a weekend! More than the actual selling though, I thoroughly enjoyed being around people, soaking up the vibrant side of the weekend (and I quote Birdie: "So this is what happens on weekends!" LOL). I was also so, so happy to have met artists/crafters who, until then, I'd only talked to and seen on Instagram and other social media, like Lai, sisters Maan and Roma, Abbey, and Ella (sorry if I couldn't remember all of you!); and to have seen more of Cat and Ebony's wonderful work. To you guys and everyone else, thank you SO MUCH for stopping by my booth and supporting my art, it really meant a lot! <3

The second weekend of this seventh run of the BGC Art Mart is on October 4 and 5! I'm dropping by, this time as a visitor and buyer. I'm hoping to see and get hold of some items I missed out during the first weekend. Everyone, please support our local artists and crafters! See you there!