So, last weekend I exhibited in the artist alley at ECCC in Seattle. It's the first con I've shown my work at since last May at VanCAF, and ECCC is a much bigger, 4 day convention. When I was in art school, I exhibited there quite a bit, but missed last year, when it was taken over by ReedPop.
This year was also the first time I've tried to sell myself with my paintings instead of my fan-art propaganda posters. I brought a couple prints of those that I had still from previous cons, but they were at the back of my book and not the focus. I admit it, I was a bit nervous about leading with personal IP keyframe paintings and illustrations, but it turned out great!
This year, ECCC put the entire Artist Alley up on the 6th floor of the convention center. I was a little nervous about being separated from the dealers, but that was quickly allayed by the crowds. People definitely had no problem coming up to see us, and it was great to have things all in one place, instead of spread out. The con started at 2:00pm on Thursday and went to 5:00pm on Sunday. Regular days were 9 hours, from 10:00am until 7:00pm, which, I will admit, felt VERY long. This was a marathon of a con.
Setup - I was sharing a table with my friend Nick Jizba, and display wise, I had a back banner with an image and my name, and then I was displaying my 11x17 prints in a large portfolio people could flip through. Not ideal, I didn't have any big copies up behind me or on the table to been seen from afar, and could only show the one image on the page of my portfolio. I did have a couple of stickers for sale to put more stuff on my table, as well as a couple of copies of my "Draw What You Love" book of sketches from 2015.
Thursday and Friday were very disappointing for me, sales-wise. I made $42 on Thursday, and $32 on Friday, which is not a lot for full days sitting at a table. Even more discouraging, all I sold was stickers, the old propaganda posters, and one of my old books of sketches. By Friday night, I had basically decided to just hang in there for the fun of it, and not even worry about making back my costs..which made Saturday and Sunday all the more sweet when things turned around.
I don't know if the crowd was different on the weekend, or if people just got their fan-art fix out of their systems, but both my tablemate and I did much better on the last two days. Sunday was actually my biggest day. I ended up making $549 USD total, which isn't a lot for working a con, but given my setup, location and expectations, I was quite happy.
One of the things that really seemed to help was that both Nick and I were selling prints for $20 for one, or three for $50. We decided on Saturday to make the 3-deal apply across *both* of our works. There were a lot of people who wanted something from both of us, and I feel like being able to "one-stop shop" across the whole table was an excellent selling tool. The person selling two didn't get as good a deal, but it switched back and forth enough that it felt pretty balanced.
I ended up selling out of two prints, and coming close on several others, which was a nice feeling. I paid off my half table, printing, travel and food costs, and made about $200USD on top of that. I really do think that I would have benefited from more display area, and next year I plan on getting a whole table and using the space to showcase my work much better.
I like doing cons - It's really interesting to see in real time what appeals to consumers, and it's great to be able to both hang out with fellow artists, and see what they are doing, setup-wise that you might be able to borrow from. On top of that, it's a great opportunity to meet people you only know online - and hopefully get some freelance work out of it.
The next one I'm scheduled for is "Spectrum Live" at the end of April. That's going to be really interesting, the audience is almost 100% artists and people inside the community. I've heard it's less about selling and more about exhibiting, which will be amazing.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully I'll see you at a con in the near future.