Comic Non-Sans: Convention Time Again

For myself and many other artists, November holds quite a few conventions.  Some lucky sods got to go to Rising Star this month, which I hope was everything they dreamed it’d be.  Myself, I’m preparing to hold down a table in one Artist Alley this year, and sucking it up that I missed the deadline for the second.

Right before I leave for any con, I do an “idiot check” — that is, I make one last round of every room, turning everything inside out and making sure I haven’t forgotten anything.  So this week, I present as close to an “idiot check” as one can get in an article of this sort … a general what and why that I’ve learned (and am still learning) over the years when it comes to an Artist’s Alley table.  Yeah, your laptop and some stuff to draw with, even an idiot like yours truly won’t forget.  But it’s so easy to show up unprepared.

Feel free to laugh at the obviousness of the following.

Books: If you have them.  The “idiot check” part?  If you sell even remotely well, get an extra printing.  It’s the con you only bring two books to that will have people wanting ten copies.  On the one hand, selling out of something can make you feel pretty special; on the other, it’s hard to say how many people will go to your website and order it if you don’t have any handy.  Also — and maybe this is just a me thing — make sure you haven’t spilled, say, tire cleaner all over the top two or three books in the box.

Prints in a binder: 99% of people do this; there are some of us who don’t.  But the binder really does make things easier.  Having something to page through gets people to hang out at your table longer, it looks neater overall, and it helps you keep organised.

Fanart prints: A lot of cons are cracking down on this, anywhere from saying to keep it down to a certain percent of your stock, to just saying don’t bother.  In my case, I go for the latter.  I know those “Death Note” prints are likely some of your bestsellers, but I’m pretty sure AA staff mean it when they say they’ll be checking on you.

Pins: There’s an idea.  One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of comic creators are selling pins and T-shirts that are only vaguely related to their work — enough for fans, but in such a way that they might attract a buyer who just likes funny phrases or cute pictures.  Whoever went that route first is clever … after all, not everyone has heard of you.

Stickers: A tricky one.  Stickers are awesome for sticking on folders or laptops.  They’re also awesome for sticking on hotel property.  I’ve been through my share of AAs that have zero tolerance policies on stickers or anything you could use to deface the hotel or convention center hosting the even.  This is a pity; bumper stickers can be pretty awesome, and I’ve seen a fair number of artists do pretty well with them.

Business cards: Guilty of falling flat here.  A lot of people will want to look at your site later; writing your URL down on scraps of paper does not look awesome.  One tip I received from a friend is that, if you do multiple projects (say webcomics in addition to writing for an entertainment blog), you need to understand that people won’t necessarily be enthused about all your work.  Thus, having different cards for the different things you do — provided you can afford it — is a good idea.

Stuff to keep yourself organized under the table: Really guilty of falling flat here.  You don’t need a little filing cabinet under there, but it helps to sort of know where everything is if someone wants to buy certain prints.  And, at least in theory, it’s easier than laying everything you own out on the table.

A good big pile of books to read: Okay, I’m just being sarky here.

Much like my aunt, who makes huge ceramic sculptures, ideally I’d run out of stuff over the weekend and not have to carry anything home.  Provided that happens for the right reasons — as opposed to being disgustingly underprepared — that’s cause for a party and a ton less packing than normal.  And then having to replace everything for the next con.  Yet another chance to forget my cash box three hours away.

Posted on October 26, 2010 at 08:19 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: ,