Doing a one day event like Comic Art Tokyo for the first time was nuts,nuts. The last 7 months have been nuts. So I’m sat here at 7pm in a coffee shop in Ikebukero going over and writing about why CAT happened (Part 1), how the day went and if we’ll do it again (Part 2).
We (meaning Aude and I) started planning not long after the TCAF exhibition at Hakusen in November.I am a partner at Gallery Hakusen and It was at the opening parting for the TCAF Tokyo exhibition, after a couple of glasses of wine that Aude and I agreed to ‘do a show’. Adam was there as well I think, I vaguely remember us (Adam and I) both both telling Christopher from TCAF we were thinking of doing something but he’d probably heard alchohol bravado a number of times before so didn’t question us on it.
Kaigai International Manga Festival Sunday came, I sold a bunch of comics and stuff to vaguely interested people but I didn’t really feel connected to the festival, it just felt like a mad rush to get there (by bike), set up, then leave. The whole day was a flash and then it was done. I managed to chat to a few people, the owner of TacoChe,Michael DeForge (briefly), Aude (briefly, she was overseeing Artist Alley), Adam, Ken Niimura (who we’re doing a book with but it’s taking ages..), Fred, and a few other people.
My friend Dan organises a reggae festival in the U.K, Dan and I did a couple of events together when we were university students. I had always admired Dan’s ability to create great things from ideas so I guess that was another reason for me to try and do a festival.His personality is based around community and togetherness, I guess that’s why he’s doing such great things with the festival he’s running, because it imbues the spirit of the music it promotes and it imbues the spirit of him. Dan’s an awesome dude.
So Aude set up a humongous spreadsheet in December and Aude and I began thinking about the festival and making decisions. Because that’s what you do when you create something new, you think about it at every available free moment, and often in unavailable moments, well that’s what i do anyway, think about things,often to the point of exhausting other people when I air my thoughts.
Aude and I both have full time jobs, plus I curate exhibitions at Hakusen Gallery and do stuff at Black Hook Press so of course we have time to put on an international festival.I think we may both be workaholics.
So the festival began to take shape, my ideas often put in check by Aude’s concrete objections, but more often than not affirmed by Aude’s agreement. We pulled from our network of friends to secure speakers, translators,and helpers.We haggled venues to give us substantial discounts and freebies. We spent a whole lot of time talking about the festival when we should have been doing other stuff or at least doing other stuff more efficiently.
We had more people come on board once we’d secured a venue in February. I believe Adam came on board then in more of an active role as Artist Alley Coordinator, and also japanese girl
came on board as a Workshop and Talk Coordinator as well as a japanese social media plugger, and the ever helpful Shinjiro at Gallery Hakusen. Adam came on board as Artist Alley Coordinator, I think if Adam lived in Tokyo he would have more of a role in planning and decisions but because he’s down in Nagoya, and Aude and I move so fast in our discussions, it was great to have Adam liasoning with artists and also contributing to some other important areas of the festival that needed attention as Aude and I may have neglected or not given proper attention too as there was so much that needed to be done.
Some of the elements of the festival were what we strived for in the festival, what we believed the CAT festival should be or represent, either as individuals or as a team, other things were happenstance. Long discussions (never arguments,no, never arguments) over table numbers, party foods, budgets, panels,costs,design, that sort of stuff. It got trickier when any more than two of us were part of a discussion on a decision. I feel sorry for japanese companies where decisions have to be made by large group consensus.It’s probably better to let it ride and let a person have their decision if they feel strongly about it. And that’s what all of us did, we trusted each other in areas of expertise to make decisions that would impact the type of festival that CAT would be when it took place on 31st July. And as I said some things were just happenstance. I will talk about how all these elements came into play at the 1st CAT festival in Part 2.