So. Euro-Flatstock 4.
I sort of think there should be an addendum to the the definition of Flatstock from the API site, with a seperate description for Flatstock Europe.
In theory they are both very similar creatures (and to be fair, since I haven't attended a US Flatstock, who am I to suggest they are different at all?) but after numerous chats with some of my US poster-comrades, I am reliably informed that what the Euro event lacks in commercial returns, it makes up for in camaraderie and, most important of all, mayhem.
Over in the States, Flatstock draws a crowd of actual gigposter collectors and enthusiasts: people who's most highly regarded passion is the collection of screenprinted gigposters. They often buy 2 copies of posters they like -- one to line their nest with and the other to be archived away in the hopes that it one day be worth a million in US Sterling. Some artists actually make so much money from selling posters they suffer from "Fiscal-Flu", literally an illness brought on by an overdose of cash.
Flatstock Europe, on the other hand is a loose cannon. A wild card. A Thunderdome. A potential death-trap.
About half way through a three day event where you sit at a stall surrounded by your own work, in the middle of Hamburg's red light district, you are hit by the "Flatstock Malaise". You start to tire of having bemused passers by ask you "What is a Melvin? What do these posters mean? Why are you doing this?" and you start to question the legitimacy of your very existance. I mean really, is this behaviour becoming of a gentleman? Why are these lovely German folk buying armfuls of posters from some artists and completely ignoring others? Is it time to start drinking yet??
At this point it is vital that the Euro'Stock Artist put aside every shred of negativity and doubt. It is essential that the fundamentals of the event are understood: You might make some money, you might not make some money; but you WILL have a lot of fun.
I was lucky enough to make a few sales and come away with a very small profit; but of far greater importance was the camaraderie and good times. It was great to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Everything from the 5am drinking to the Sunday Boat-ride to the constant in-jokes were tackled with aplomb, and that for me is the real success.
I took plenty of photos and there are numerous others doing the rounds online but in all honesty it's hard to choose even a handful which will adequately sum up the experience. Here's a shot taken by Dina Howard of myself and boothmate Cameron Two Ducks Disco, whose pleasant company and tolerance of my nonsense was much appreciated!
A billion thanks to everyone involved in this year's Flatstock Europe -- from all the other artists, to the Reeperbahn Fest people, to the API (and the real API), to the boat-driver, and to the punters who bought stuff (and even those who didn't).
See you next year.