Angry Artist Alley: Great for you, not for them


This article is very subjective, because it’s my personal opinion. It’s not like what I say is always against the rules, and somehow these things end up being broken. I want to tell you, that yes a lot of these rules ARE written in your artist alley contract, but you usually don’t give a crap and they don’t enforce it, so you might not know what you’re doing is right. Hell, you might think it’s so genius and awesome, but have you thought of the other people around you?

There are a number of things that attract customers to your table, which is great, but there are reasons why they’re written in artist agreements. I think this article will bring the super sourness out of me, but I’ll tell you if I’m offending you I’m not the only one who is thinking this. In fact, it might just be everyone except you.

And remember, PLEASE RESPECT CONVENTION RULES ON ARTIST ALLEY. Many artists do not, and some think they’re strict. But please consider that some conventions take place inside large hotels and that you must respect the hotel’s rules (which the convention does not make). Some may be way too strict, but I’m sure they have reason to do so.

1. Putting food out for customers: One of the worst mistakes you could ever do. Yes, it is very delicious, yes people may walk by to eat some. But what’s so bad about it? Allergies. You have no idea if someone is allergic to nuts or gluten or anything else like that. I mean, it could have been a wandering kid who didn’t know he had allergies and eat that M&M. Yes, you might have sent some kid rushing in the hospital with some serious issues, but is that the last of it? Think a little further-are you paying expenses for that little kid’s issue? Maybe, maybe not. What if the blame was put at the convention’s heads instead of you? Bad rep for them? What if they aren’t obliged to pay for it, or have no money to do so? It is some chain reaction because of something so minor. And if you’re wondering how it is impossible, I’ll tell you that I once went to a large convention, and paramedics were in the building because someone ate a piece of candy and was allergic to peanuts but didn’t know. I’m not going to name the convention because of bad rep, but I’m telling you, this is VERY SERIOUS.

Also, if you want to go through the ‘are you allergic to anything?’ don’t bother. It will annoy the hell out of you and it’s likely they’ll eat it and walk away.

2. Playing instrument in FRONT of the table: This is extremely annoying and very unfair to all the other convention artists. First off, when you paid for that convention table, you only paid for a designated spot. You paid for a 6×4 foot space, not a 20×6 foot area. Usually musicians are blocking someone else’s table. I don’t mean blocking because they’re standing in front of your table, I mean blocking that people AVOID your table and walk around the musician. A walking hazard. That time the people’s’ eyes are glued on to the musician is distracting to not just the people sitting next to the table, but also across and several tables away. So the artist is getting ‘free space’ while playing their music. Okay. What else? Well, there’s a very clear reason why tables at artist alley are set up the way they are. The term is ‘fire hazard’, that there are policies that conventions must follow to keep it safe for people to walk by the alley at conventions. Some cons are really good at handling this, but some conventions are very limited to space, and squish as many tables as they can properly, and when you’re taking up a chunk of that room in the hallway, you’re really distracting people from walking around the tables near you. Imagine an earthquake and your goddamn cello is in the way and people are rushing at you.

Also, if you think you’re clever enough to say ‘oh, but I’M not the one selling the art, I’m just here to play and I just happen to bring my instrument and be friends with that person’ I’ll put it as bluntly as possible: get out.

And sometimes people just really aren’t that er….they’re not ready yet.  If you feel you are, ask the convention heads to perform on stage. I will root for you every year like I did with my friends who do it now at anime cons. I’m proud to say they get better every time. 

The exception to this thing is if you can play your song for less than five minutes or you’re a passerby trying to impress people. Entertainment in small increments is quite enjoyable, but having it happen for seven hours is not. 

3. Walking out of your table, and dragging people to your table: Just don’t do it. It’s annoying, and you’ll tire yourself. You can do it to your buddies though. Also I hate people who walk to your table, give you their business card, tell you to check out their table at [insert number of table] and walk away. You know who you are, guy at Fanime 20010, no one cares about you.

4. Play music (from speakers) in front of your table (sometimes): You think you’re a great DJ because you’ve got your iphone hooked up to some speakers, and you’re playing Love Hina or something. Well, not everyone loves to listen to what you like to listen to, and usually the music has some static. I know I listen to adrenaline eurobeat, but I mean…what if the person next to me likes Myley Cyris, and is only polite when they say they’re fine with what you are listening to, and even if they said they liked that music you don’t like it yourself? Please be respectful about this. I think it’s OKAY to play music that all the tables around you agree with, but you always have to consider the situation you’re putting people in when you do this. They might just be polite when they’re telling you that they don’t care what music you’re playing. But if they say turn it off, please turn it off.

Exception: I went to Alternative Press Expo 2013, and holy shamolies, THIS WAS AWESOME:


This was a group who hooked up a TV set, vinyl records, and and quality speakers that are  not as crappy as the ones you hook up with a iphone. You see, the artist’s comic is called ‘Rappin’ Robot, and the ‘music’ they played goes along with the comic (so if you hear the song you can read along in the comic). Even came with cd, sung by Smoov-E. You can see the music video they played in the background here. The theme was perfect, there was reason to play music, and they totally went all out.


Things I find are OKAY:

1. Quick gather of attention, as long as there is reason and is not frequent whatsoever: I am absolutely fine if it’s only a few times you do it. I mean, everyone wants to hollar for attention, just don’t annoy everyone else because you’re doing it every hour. Years ago, have you ever heard a girl scream “MAGIC TRICK! MAGIC TRIIIICK! WATCH A LIVE PERFORMANCE AT THIS TABLE!!!” Hehe…that was me. I think they have strict policies about climbing on tables and chairs now, but I personally think this was okay to do just because it was only once-per-convention, and only if my magician buddy was with me. But if I did this every hour, I’d slap myself in the face. However, screaming random things to attract attention is very rude to everyone around you, so don’t do it. Unless you’re saying ‘hello’ to the person across the table. I hate walking out of my table to walk across and say ‘what’s up’. Usually I wait for a more quiet time, wave my hand at them, and then raise my voice. But not scream. You get it?

2. Playing instrument behind the table (but only sometimes): This, I can tolerate to some extent. Yea it’s sound, and sometimes the person’s not the perfect, but you should still respect that they’re doing it, and doing it BEHIND the table. What i don’t like sometimes is that tables are bunched behind the wall or that the musician is really close to the person sitting next or behind them. Someone’s going to get hurt. Be careful about this, warn people before you whip out your violin. And if it’s a cello, make sure you have enough room for people to walk behind you. Sorry to say though, when I’m sitting next to you guys, people can barely hear you through the crowd noise. Just wanna give you guys a heads up.

3. Tip jar: I don’t think it is legal in some cons, but I think it’s still a happy way to say ‘i like your work, i think you deserve more than this’ kind of thing. It’s not attracting bad company or keeping company away from others. I think it’s fine.

4. Crawling under the table: This might sound random, but I hate walking through artist alley tables where you have to walk down the rows to slip in and out. I think it’s totally fine to crawl under your table, and out. As long as you look both ways to make sure no one is coming before you do that. and you don’t take your sweet time and quickly roll in and out. As long as you don’t trip people, it’s a more effective way than trying to squish through a bunch of tables.

4. Bubbles: I can tolerate this because bubbles attract people beyond your table. And when you’re bored out of your mind, it’s relaxing. It’s not life threatening, and enjoyable. HOWEVER, avoid blowing bubbles at little baby kids.

5. Videos: Playing videos or slideshow of images on a laptop is fine. Just make sure to ALWAYS keep your eye on it. Very easy to get stolen.

And there you go, quick etiquette and safety precautions. Sell safely, don’t piss off everyone around you.

Featured Artist: Ray Chan




One of the few artists in Fanime 2013 I’d praise for having more than one ORIGINAL piece on his stand. More than pure fanart. You go man! Also, super talented. I personally think his prints are worth way more than just $10. If you’re an artist at artist alley, I urge you to try to put out at least one or two original pieces. To show something out of your own imagination instead of building off fanart is a different refreshing feeling. Even though my table is maxed out with fanart, if you’ve seen the setup, all my original pieces are set up in front of the table. Not that anyone really buys it, but I feel proud that it’s there.


And another note, I’ve updated my online shop with a number of new kawaii-ness:*

And if you have a kind heart and would like to help me raise money to keep a friend alive in Portland, please donate here or request a commission


4 thoughts on “Angry Artist Alley: Great for you, not for them

  1. Actually I agree with most of this and have things to add to it (I’ve been selling artwork for 10+ years now) I won’t mention them since I’m sure you’ll find them somewhere.
    Although, a friend of mine from the Philippines mentioned that her neighbor was still preparing merchandise cutting out items on top of her merchandise (she sells artwork and cosplay props).
    I think as artists, no matter who we are or where we are artistically, we need to keep a firm understanding that our neighbors are people who paid for their tables too. No matter what the competition, it doesn’t mean anyone has the right to disrespect. Right?
    I agree with the crawling under the table idea but the bubbles around traditional work has me antsy. (my business partner is a painter…)

    • If you want to work on someone else’s stuff, you have to ask permission, that person was being really inconsiderate. And regarding table crawling, you should ONLY do it under your own table. I keep my work ‘childproof’ by leaving most things inside plastic sleeves, so you’re probably right if you have delicate stuff on the table and your tablecloth is really thick.

      • It’s just a considerate thing to do, to crawl under your own. I’d be a tad embarrassed if I crawled under someone else’s. Most would question what you’re really doing down there.
        It’s a lot easier to crawl in and out from your own table if you’re cosplaying as well. (Which I do for fun and for conversation starters)
        I think, if you were preparing work for your own table, you should work on your own table and not on top of someone’s merchandise on their table.
        Also what if people are working on commissions and the explosion of circus bubbles were to fall on your current artwork for someone? Would that not damage the work you’ve already done (I work in inks so I’d get a little angry…)? I usually put in several hours inking a commission at my table since it saves me time from having to do it after work. Usually conventions require me to spend more time at work to make up for loss time. The bubbles, as fun as they are, wouldn’t work well around my table, sadly. I do love them. They are fun. Around my current art blob process they just make me (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

  2. Pingback: Angry Artist Alley: FAQ for Newcomers | Jackie Lo Art

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