VanCAF post-mortem

So last Saturday and Sunday was VanCAF, the Vancouver Comics Arts Festival.  I tabled, and I thought it might be interesting to do a bit of a post-mortem to examine the con, what I did, what worked, and what didn't.

I really like this convention.  This was the 4th year, and it's a lot of fun.  It's held at the Roundhouse Community Center in Yaletown, which is a great space, although fairly small.  It is 99% exhibition hall stuff, like most small cons, but there were some panels, and some signings...I was too busy running my table to hit any of those up, so I can't really speak to them.  The exhibition hall is divided into two rooms, both about the size of a community center basketball gym (which is what one of the rooms is.)

Tables are 8', and can be divided into 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4th spots.  Even better, they can be *booked* in those sizes, so you don't need to find friends to share a table, although you can request people to table with.  The coordinator was awesome, and I ended up tabling with my good friend Devin Rosychuck and my girlfriend Mariya Olshevska.  Having cool people next to you definitely makes the weekend more fun!  Tables are curated, and I have to say, the level of quality and interest was extremely good.  This was not the somewhat amateur artist alley that I've seen at many small cons.  It is an indie con primarily, so you may not have heard of the people tabling, but they had skills!

As an attendee, one of the best things is this con is *free*.  That means you get a lot of drop in traffic, and a lot of people that might not shell out to come to a more expensive con like Fan Expo....there are also no admission lines, so you can just walk in off the street!  As an exhibitor, it's great, 'cause your audience hasn't already dropped a chunk of cash just to get in...so they have more money to spend!

I had 1/3rd of a table, so about 2 and a half feet of space to play with.  Most of my work is 11x17" sized, which is hard to display properly in such a small area.  I opted to put my work in a single portfolio book and leave it open to flip through.  It seemed to work well, although I'm not sure how many more people would have been interested if I'd had them all out for display.  I do have a big banner stand behind me, so there is some verticality and advertising.

I also brought copies of the B&W sketchbook I made for IlluxCon last year,  some 4x6 postcard  sized prints, and some business-card sized stickers, which I displayed on a vertical rack that sat on the side of my space.  Finally, I had a sheet for people to sign up for my mailing list.

In terms of new stuff, I printed 5 copies of 10 of my newer paintings at 11x17, plus the postcards and stickers.  I had a fair number of my propaganda posters from ECCC last year, and I put them in the back of the book as well, which was great, as they sold MUCH better here than they did at ECCC!  

There was no clear winner of what subject matter sold best, but the 11x17 prints were clearly the most popular overall.  I was selling them for $10 for one or $15 for two, and they went fast.  I think I might try nicer ones for $20 next time, as no one seemed to balk at all at the price, and several people were surprised they were so cheap.  The postcard prints were priced at 1 for $5 or 3 for $10, but they barely sold at all.  Stickers were 3 for a dollar, and I only made $2 from them.  On Sunday, I changed stickers to be "sign up for the mailing list and get a free sticker", which got me a lot more mailing list names, and lord knows I wasn't losing money by not selling them!

My 1/3rd table cost $40(!) for the con, and my printing and packaging costs were about $70 in total...so lets say my upfront costs were $110.  I made $317, and came out with a net profit of over $200.  I KNOW other people did better (Mariya *killed* it), but environment painters don't typically have that instant appeal that character people do, and I was quite pleased with my sales.

I also talked to a couple of art directors, some concept artists at other studios, and some people looking for freelance illustration, so hopefully the networking side will lead to more work in the future, although that is always an unknown.

I don't see me doing the "con circuit" any time soon, it's a lot of work, and the profits, while awesome, don't justify the amount of time spent - particularly for cons with hotel costs and far more expensive tables.  Even so, I had a great time, I sold a lot of original work that means something to me, and got to connect with a lot of both artists and fans.  I consider this a weekend well spent!

I hope that was helpful and/or interesting to you!  Thanks again for reading my blog :)