How to do Artist Alley
I’ve worked at tables for three conventions now, and I’ve got to say, this latest one was the most rewarding.
Let’s go back to my first con. FanExpo in Toronto, 2010, where my comics went to die. I came out of that con feeling deflated and uninterested in drawing. I stopped drawing comics, and honestly, I haven’t done more than a few pages since. There were two major reasons why.
1) I went with a friend who was (and still is) a much better comic artist than me. Brenda Little. (Yup, My Little Pony artist, Brenda. Though she wasn’t doing that at the time). I’ll admit it, I got jealous when people said nice things about her stuff and ignored mine on the same table.
2) I wasn’t ready to be there. Although I’d been doing a couple of online comics, neither were popular by any means, and my drawing skills were still pretty amateur. Course, I didn’t think so at the time, but that’s what a few years of retrospection gets you.
I sold a few little things, including a couple of my very first plushies based on my own comic. Honestly, I did amazing for the level I was at, I just didn’t appreciate it at the time. Plus the trip and table was expensive, so both Brenda and I were hoping to do better.
My second con was Hal-Con 2012. I went with author Patti Larsen. This was her table, but she let me have what I had of my books on her table. We went with big hopes, but it was pretty clear, most people at the con weren’t really interested in books. Even if they were all fantasy and sci-fi.
Still, I had much more fun at this one compared to the first, even though I didn’t sell a single book. Why? I had no expectations going into the event. It was a last minute invitation and I was super happy I got to go at all.
My third and latest con ended just yesterday. Hal-Con 2014. What a blast! Everything went right at this con. People were in great moods and seemed to be there to buy things. My table did amazing, and I sold all but two of my dragons in the first day. I even sold a few books and prints, which I really hadn’t been expecting after my other two experiences.
What were the major differences?
The con atmosphere. Fan Expo had problems the year we were there. It was over packed and fire regulations kept people from moving about the exhibition area with ease. That put people in a foul mood which made them less likely to buy, even if they did see something they sort of liked. This year’s Hal-Con ran remarkably smoothly. I didn’t hear a single complaint the entire time.
I had product people wanted. People want something they recognize, which usually means fan art. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone. There’s so much visual information at a con, your brain seems to shut most of it out. It’s only when it sees something familiar that it goes, “Hey! That’s awesome! You want that!”
My skill level has greatly improved. From my drawing to cover design to sewing. Everything looked a little more professional than even two years ago.
Plushies! I was the only table to have handmade plushies, which made my items a novelty. Also, people love items they can hold and cuddle. Once they’ve picked up the items, parting with them becomes that much more difficult, which means sales are more likely. Posters are great, but there’s only so many walls in a house. There’s always room for one more plushie, pin, or trinket.
Will I do another con?
Before this year’s Hal-Con, I wasn’t sure. Tables can be expensive and travel is even worse. Now, it’s a definite yes. I’m not sure when or where, but I will do it again. It was so much fun, how could I not!