For the second year in a row I braved the crowds and the chaos which is the South by Southwest festival in Austin to check out the Flatstock poster show at the Austin Convention Center. It was a great experience last year, and I was not disappointed to find much more of the same this year. As a graphic designer with a particular interest in posters it's right up my alley, and it falls on my birthday, so that makes it a special part of the birthday celebration.
I consider myself pretty lucky that Austin is one of the five cities hosting a yearly Flatstock show. I'm not quite so happy about the fact that it's held during SXSW, which is becoming more and more of an inconvenience for anyone who wants to travel anywhere downtown in Austin while it is going on. SXSW gets larger every year and even on the last day the crowds were unbelievable. No parking, even at inflated rates, lines of hipsters a mile long to get in to see bands, and this year the convention center had new events jammed into every nook and cranny.
Despite what appeared to be a smaller exhibit hall there were actually more exhibitors at Flatstock than there were last year. Not a huge number more, but some new ones as well as many who were returning. The layout of booths was more economical and the booths were jammed closer together, but there was certainly a lot to look at. The downside was that the crowds were larger by an even greater proportion. There was less room to move around, fewer opportunities to talk to the artists and people were selling out of posters and running out of business cards. The upside was that with more of a crowd and more of an assurance of sales the prices for posters were considerably lower overall – a pleasant surprise at a time when the price of so many things seems to be going up.