Angry Artist Alley: Does Fanart really help? (opinionated RTX2016 experience)

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I need to stress that this entire article is based off of my one trip to Texas in Roosterteeth Expo. Therefore, there is no scientific whatever evidence if this happens to everyone at any con, or if it was coincidence and is entirely my own opinion. I just want to share my own, PERSONAL experience, and I want those who have tried this technique or similar to tell me how their experience was as well. Am I the only one who has experienced this? I don’t know, but if you have a story to tell, feel free to leave a comment! This article may or may not apply to you, because you are one artist and I am another, and we both likely live in two very different situations. But I’d love to hear if these situations are similar with other people or not.

So one day I decided ‘Hey i’m not gonna sell fanart, i’m going to sell my original art’ with the mindset that I’ve learned ‘no one really buys fanart’. Because let’s face it–most people go to conventions to make bank, and the majority of people making big bank is just drawing and selling fanart prints of the most popular intellectual property they can figure. Or some sort of niche. I mean…it works, that’s why you see it everywhere.

I was helping Jason Shiga with printing his comic Demon for a while, and through many lunchtime conversations, he convinced me to be brave and just make my own thing. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? Money defecit. But hell, it’s a risk I will take if I want people to see MY work, if I want to share my OWN personal stories. But where would I do this with lower risk?

Roosterteeth Expo. Bam. That’s what I thought. I was very, very, VERY far from being right. But at the same time, far from being wrong too.

In the ‘agreements’ section, it mentioned that you weren’t allowed to sell ANY Intellectual Property that you do not have written permission to sell. I was totally stoked! A convention where you can’t sell fanart with official permission? So everyone’s selling original art? I bought a table, packed my bags, and took a trip to Texas. RTX2016 was my first gaming convention, my first out-of-state artist alley, and omg my first convention where everyone just sold original art.

BUT I WAS WRONG. Far from it! Like totally fucked, as every table except two (mines and Tanya Burr had some amount of fanart on it. Some entirely of fanart. Apparently, they meant ‘Intellectual Property of their own work’. So wow I was very, very screwed. But then, this is the big moment–will people REALLY buy my work even if it’s not fanart?

In Roosterteeth Expo, you could technically show fanart of their stuff or give out free art of their stuff, which I took advantage of. I had a fanart display on half my table to draw in customers, while the other half was my actual artwork.

I had an entire display of tiny custom RWBY nendoroids! Not for sale, of course. Just display. Here’s a small sample of what was on the table:

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Custom Ruby Nendoroid

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHXLxEihzVT/

 

And even freebies like this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BG9so5PG68_/
I WAS BASICALLY SELLING ONLY ORIGINAL ART, SURROUNDED BY TABLES FULL OF FANART. I totally screwed myself over. And of all conventions, this was the most expensive, ever.

Friday and Saturday:

This is what I saw: That display REALLY drew in a crowd of customers. I encouraged photographers to take photos and tag my name and table. It was a HUGE success! Even some voice actors/actresses and animators from RWBY came to check it out! People were wondering if it was official merchandise, and it was so overwhelming. It was working! Well, until they turn their heads a little to the right, and see a print artist who decided to tape their fanart prints on the other side of the display and walk away. By the way, don’t ‘double-side’ your massive wall of prints, because you’re taking advantage of your display and it’s a real dick move to the people sitting next to you (your display should be pointed towards YOUR table, not someone else’s. It absolutely does not help bring attention to the other person’s table, if that’s what you’re thinking. At conventions, you can’t tell any artist to fix anything because then you’re just considered a dick on social media (at least i can write these blogs, right?).

This is what I also saw: The fanart that was drawing the hoard of crowds to my table did almost NOTHING to benefit the art I was actually trying to sell at my table. I really mean it–nothing. They didn’t bat an eye in that direction. Even when I was giving my free minicomic, CONventional, in the direction of my art. They really didn’t care. Like somehow a piece of my dignity was ripped out because people only cared about the display but not the work I was making. Hope was really downhill. I couldn’t even pay back for half the table from the profits of Friday and Saturday combined. And I’d like to emphasize that artist alley was less than 20 artists with a 44,000+ crowd.

Sunday. The last day.

Now this one, I did something different. I realized it was the display that’s making it difficult to grab any attention, so I dumbed down the display so that it looked much ‘less’ interesting. It was a bit more bland. Minimal props, and the table was brown instead of moss-green. None of the characters popped out as much because they weren’t shown with their weapons or normal outfits. So……what happened?

What happened:
The eyes trailed towards my work and less on the display. People started picking up the comic on display. I’d say the majority of those who picked it up ended up asking for the price, and many of those actually bought the comic. I got a lot of great comments like ‘wow I don’t see people making stuff like this much these days’ (i think they were mentioning more like non-vampire/werewolf horror comics, not original art shtick). In fact, I didn’t notice this until I went home, but half the comics I brought to RTX were all sold–the most I’ve EVER SOLD EVER. Seriously, just on Sunday. I also got a number of commissions on the last day too! To be honest, I didn’t think the majority of my profits would just come from selling the one comic I had on my table, not commissions. My other work didn’t fare well, which is an incredible disappointment, but in the future, Ihave plans for this unsold cute merchandise, so it’s okay.
COVER PAGE_previewAbove: The cover of ‘Eerie’, my horror comic, was the item that sold the most on my table. This is the second time it’s ever happened to me. The first time was at Krakencon, coincidentally in a row of tables that didn’t allow fanart as well. 

Of course, the table next to mine was still the bummer to some of my business. Many people who turned their head to the right often just continued to walk to the right. The table to the left was courteous enough to only put their display pointing at their table, so I was really damn relieved, considering the dilemma I was in. Again, I gotta stress-if I said anything like ‘please take down your prints facing my table’ that day I’d be such an ass, and thanks to the internet and social media, I’d just be flamed about it. But now I can fume a little, as it’s mostly anonymous now. I ain’t gonna say who it is, but I mean…just don’t do it in the future, I guess. All of you. It gives your business an advantage, but it’s a bigger disadvantage and a bit insulting to those around you.

Conclusion:

Fanart is amazing, it really brings a lot of attention to my table, BUT it doesn’t help people see my original work at all.
Fanart really does take away from my work. It grabs attention, but not quite the business I wanted. In the future, I know I’ll definitely NOT have a kickass fanart display. But I *may* sell some fanart, but only at a VERY minimal amount. And make sure it’s spread out smack in the middle of my original work, instead of the other way around. What really drew the customers was the ‘mystery’ of what the heck my table was about. Something any comic artist should do is learn to pitch their comic in less than two sentences. Mines was literally ‘oh it’s a comic with some short horror stories. About a barber, a tongue fetish, and loose teeth’ Simple, yet effective.

From this experience, and my past experience at Krakencon’s Indie Artist Alley (a set of tables that aren’t allowed to sell fanart), I can confidently say that if you are really serious about advertising your personal work, make the sacrifice of tossing the mass amount of fanart at your table. You will probably lose a lot of business, but your sacrifice will allow people to keep their eyes on your prize–your personal work that you really want to share. If your followers love your work enough, they’ll commission you anyways.

In the end, I could not earn enough profit to pay for the table, trip, and food, BUT, because I was distributing my CONventional comic to all sorts of people at the con, I have definitely successfully grabbed the attention of east bay convention-attendees, some texas cons, and now it’s really going somewhere. This was the main intent, and because I was able to give it to various press/media/even staff from Roosterteeth, I’d say it was a successful con!

This entire stack was gone before the second half of Sunday (and i had to hold back on Friday and Saturday too). I am really happy that all the people, press, media, and even staff from Roosterteeth got them. Hello New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Singapore, UK, and everywhere else! Welcome to CONventional:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHEaOjihHUQ/

More info on CONventional

ARTIST HIGHLIGHT______________
Okay, this is a bit different. This time, it’s a KICKSTARTER! Woot woot!
Ben Seto’s ‘Skullbunnies’ was one of the darn cutest comics I’ve ever read, and one of the first comics that brought tears to my eyes (no seriously, I’m not kidding). It was mostly tears of joy though..it was so damn cute. Ben has done some real amazing watercolor work, and is compiling all of them in a book! If you look at the info, it says ‘192 pages’. And yes, he’s made a LOT of illustrations!
So just check it out, and back the project. If you’ve never read Skullbunnies before, one tier comes with the comic itself :D

 

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Angry Artist Alley: The Origin

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Okay, so you might have wondered: Why is this blog called Angry Artist Alley?

Well, today you finally get to hear a history lesson ^_^

………..

Actually, I’m writing this because of some shenanigans that people think this is some sort of negative blog about artist alley or whatever….like, 9 months ago? I’m sure I’m the only one who cares about it now, but I knew one day someone would start a riot about it, as all bloggers get some sort of shit for speaking their opinion online. In the end, it was just a bunch of oversensitive people, haters, and someone whom I assume didn’t like my response to them so they started a riot on 4chan about me with false information. But *anyhow*…

Hopefully this clears up a lot of complications or future complications, or whatever:

Why is the title of this blog series ‘Angry Artist Alley’?
The title of this blog, ‘Angry Artist Alley’, was a joke my friends and I made many, many, MANY years ago in my younger years of tabling. I would be very eager and excited at the beginning of conventions, and by the time the convention ended, I would end up flipping tables (metaphorically, of course). It didn’t matter if business was good or bad, I always felt angry at the end. So my friends described the situation ‘Angry Artist Alley’. I don’t think I really feel this way anymore…I’m used tabling now. So no, Angry Artist Alley is not a hate blog about why I hate artist alley, it was a joke about how people saw me at the end of conventions. If you ever met me in real life, I’d highly doubt you’ll ever see me angry. Oh yea, and ‘Angry’ started with the letter ‘A’, and if I used the word ‘awesome’, I felt it would have given a more false representation of artist alley if it was your first time tabling. Not that my first time was bad, but I’ve seen people on the verge of tears before.

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Why did I write this blog?
When I was in college, my website teacher made us create a blog and write articles. He convinced us that by writing weekly blog articles, more traffic would come to our art websites. One week, I ran out of ideas of people i could interview or document for a blog article. Whelps, guess I’ had to write about something else…
Back when I was doing research on artist alley, I was really shocked to find little to nothing about artist alley (I know, crazy, right?). Like, maybe two decent articles? Tumblr was very underground at that time. It struck me that I had tabled for more than half a decade, and there was a recent frustration I had at the latest tabling incident–someone claimed my tape as theirs! OH NO THE AGONY! (sarcasm) So I wrote an article about how I solved the problem. I guess people liked it, and wanted me to write more. Then people started voicing their own problems or asked me about how to solve some, and so on. Knowing that I was practically invisible and unknown on the internet, it wouldn’t really do much harm if a nobody talked about these issues. About a few articles in, I decided to name all the articles ‘Angry Artist Alley’, thus, the series began. But seriously, this blog isn’t about hating artist alley.
Tl:DR: It started out as a weekly homework assignment from my website teacher.

Is all the information based on your own experience?
IT IS NOT. Actually, I’ve been tabling long enough to be a ‘regular’ artist at Bay Area Conventions. I’ve made many friends behind artist alley, and we’re comfortable talking about our problems in artist alley and how we fixed them. Some artists I’ve only met once or twice in person but keep in touch online. Some are in San Diego, some in Seattle, some in New York, etc etc. I understand many artists don’t want to tarnish their name with opinions, so I just take the burden and I usually write the information under my own name (so if you have any concerns with artist alley, don’t worry it’ll be a secret between me and you).  Although the majority of experience is my own, a chunk of it is based on many other artist’s experiences.

How ‘experienced’ am I?
Okay, so I’m just adding this in because some people believe i just fart all sorts of shit about artist alley. Every single ‘personal story’ in this blog are absolutely real stories from my life. I started in early highschool. The very first experiences I had was sharing tables with BAAU (Bay Area Artists Unite) selling small pinback buttons…somewhere around 2005? The bay area had more closer conventions, so at some point, I’d be going to nine conventions a year (and back then you didn’t have to fight for the whole first-come-first-serve thing like we do now in the Bay Area). Other than tabling at the BAAU table for about a year, I didn’t really have any mentors or whatever, and went through a LOT of bad experiences. You learn from your mistakes, I guess. Nowadays, we have internet tutorials and guides for practically everything. Back then we just ranted about it to our tablemates and hope we learn something from it.

However, I didn’t really table for a year around 2013. I went through some serious depression issues. Two artists got me out of it: Tone Rodriguez and Toshio Maeda (yes, THE godfather of tentacle porn). Then I tabled all of 2014 because I needed the extra cash boost to get to Emerald City Comic Con. Soon after, someone on Tumblr said I should stop tabling at artist alley until I improve, so I decided to stop tabling until 2016.

Your blog has a lot of topics.
That’s because I’ve been tabling for about a decade. And I’ve never been an expert at tabling–I went through a LOT of things. I mean, if I didn’t go through so much trial and error, I wouldn’t have so much to say about it. If you just popped in with god-like skills, then you probably wouldn’t have as many problems to deal with.

Some of the topics are very harsh. 
Back when I wrote it, it really wouldn’t matter if people bashed on me because I was non-existent online. I had about two thousand views on my deviantart and I had nothing to protect. My older articles are a lot harsher than my newer articles.

There was some shennanigan where people were complaining my articles ‘scared’ them and other newcomers from tabling, and ironically, they ended up having a great time. Seriously though, I never guaranteed anyone that their first time tabling was going to be good or bad. My first time was freakin amazing, but I’ve seen some people on the verge of tears when they table their first time.

So to prevent that drama again, I have to write disclaimers on my articles *sigh*

Is there anything you won’t write about?
Yes. I will never write an article that concentrates on fanart vs. original art. It’s too controversial. If I take one side, I’ll get bashed by the other side. If I take both sides, I get bashed by BOTH sides.
Another one is mentioning if you think your art sucks. I once posted this phrase and the artist alley facebook group blew up. The irony is that for a whole week, a number of people were just describing how my art was terrible and that I shouldn’t be selling at artist alley (PLUS some were on that same facebook group too). So like, I guess my art sucks, but I can’t say that? =_=’

Do you do well at conventions?
I’d say I’m just average. I’m pretty good with holding conversations with people, but when it comes to sales, it’s average. Nowadays, I have more fun talking to people who visit my table than actually buying my work (since it’s likely they already have something because I’ve tabled for so long at Bay Area conventions)
You probably won’t believe me on this, but I used to earn at least twice as much in my earliest days of selling at conventions compared to today’s conventions. Now that I have a more sustainable amount of income, I will be taking advantage of conventions more for pursuing personal projects instead of trying to make profits from it.

Have you ever had an actual good artist alley experience?
Yes.

Are you actually angry?
I was told I used to have anger issues in highschool, but it completely subsided after college.

Will you write future Angry Artist Alley articles?
Yes, but much, MUCH more infrequently. I already promised myself that articles will subside the moment someone sends a hate mail to me about it, and that has already happened.

Seeing as there’s like…over 30 articles, I am PRETTY sure I’ve covered the most important topics. If you ever have questions, feel free to ask. If you have a concern or problem, I’ll listen. Like I said, I do keep artist alley problems anonymous and write it under my own name. I completely understand what kind of problem it may cause for an artist to say something stupid on the internet. For me, unfortunately, it’s too late, so meh :T

Are you a good role model for Artist Alley?
According to the people who don’t like my blog articles, no I’m a shitty role model.

I hate your art, you shouldn’t be selling it for that price.
Thanks. Enlighten me and tell me why.
If you feel no one should buy my work at all, that’s totally fine! Let me share half your artist alley table (I’ll pay for the entire table too!), and I’ll give out free drawings and free sketch requests for the whole day! I’ll even advertise that the table will be giving out the free art too! It’s not like people should pay for the art at artist alley, right?

What’s wrong with Angry Artist Alley?
This blog is supposed to be about troubleshooting, which is why there are so many ‘problems’ indicated in this blog. Obviously, people walk in the blog, not prepared for that, and then they become very sensitive about it, and feel that I am too negative about artist alley. I mean, the title of the blog series should have indicated *something*.

What are your future plans for Artist Alley?
I feel like shit right now. I mean, I feel better after not tabling for a while (suddenly all the drama disappeared), and I’ve got a lot of things I plan to do. Yesterday I had my first episode of carpal tunnel syndrome in the middle of the night. But here’s some insight for the following year:

I bet you didn’t know I was in 12 anthologies, since 2005. Only two of them were fan art. And for all the anthologies, I mean comic submissions. I bet you didn’t know that either. That’s because my work is flooded with fanart (that, and posting the comics online defeats the point of having the incentive to buy the thing). I hope to change this in the upcoming year. I may have a shitton of fanart in my online store, but there will be some conventions where I won’t sell a speck of it. I hope my original art will be a bit more prominent in the future.

I’m going to be tabling a LOT less than before (maybe about 3 times a year), but try and earn money to travel to further conventions (as advised by some anonymous person on tumblr). I’ll probably be updating my online shop with an average of 3 new fan art miniprints a month, and shipping will be cheap, for anyone who is still looking for that stuff. But for some conventions, I may not be selling any of that at all, and just my original art.
Kaiman_preview
random illustration print to break up all the text :P

What did you learn from writing this blog?
I learned there was a huge influx of artists from the beginning of writing this blog to what it is now (like I mentioned before, there wasn’t much info about AA when I started making this). I learned that artist alley changes within time, that the perspective of what artist alley should be changes over time. It has evolved into a battle of fanart and getting pissy over not getting a table (well, in the Bay Area it is). I wonder what generation of artists are the ones who began scorning others over sites like Tumblr and 4chan. From this experience, I learned that the worst people in artist alley aren’t crazy customers, but the artists who scorn you for your work, for any action they deem inconsiderate, or for just being there. I am very sure it was not like this when I began tabling, but the atmosphere has definitely changed over the years. Or maybe the internet is bringing light to all this for me. I don’t know. I’m sure if I tabled where no one knew me, I’d feel a lot safer.

What will future blog articles be about?
Well, it won’t be Angry Artist Alley, that’s for sure. Art, sculptures, interviews, panels, photography, preorders, whatever.

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Angry Artist Alley: FAQ for Newcomers

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I’ve got a TON of articles, and if you’ve never tabled and don’t have the time to read every single article here, I totally get it. Hopefully writing this article will prepare you for the most basics of basics before you start your first tabling.

Key notes:
-This isn’t in-depth. If you’re curious about a topic, check the links underneath for a little more clarification or additional reading if you have time.
-Some of these are personal opinions. Some of the questions I get asked I can’t answer myself. I’m not the all-knowing of everything. My expertise is selling comics, prints, stickers and buttons in Bay Area Conventions. Mostly prints, buttons, and stickers. In the Bay Area. Any knowledge outside of the Bay Area are passed down from my many other veteran artist friends and acquaintances, or personal research.
-If you have questions or want clarifications, feel free to ask. 

What should I prepare for the convention?
-A waterbottle (don’t get dehydrated)
-Snacks (don’t starve)
-paper/pencil to draw on (helpful for commissions)
-tape (for taping emergencies. also, you might want to write your name on it)
-Change for twenty dollar bills (don’t bother bringing twenty dollar bills, trust me)

How much should I price my art?
-This is too hard to answer, because it varies depending on where you are selling. Here’s a good way of figuring it out: 1) look at all the other tables and find out what the average price is. 2) Never price your art lower than the lowest person’s pricing at that entire convention who is selling whatever the heck you’re selling–average is GOOD, underselling is BAD.
See “My Art is worth TOO MUCH!” for info about why under pricing your artwork may be frowned upon

Seller’s Permit? Taxes? What?
Oh boy…All I’m gonna say is that every state is a little different. You will need to do a little research, but you basically sign up for a temporary or permanent seller’s permit to use for the convention. After the convention, you count your earnings, calculate taxes, and depending on your seller’s permit you will file your taxes before a certain deadline. Like I said, it’s different for every state, so you’re going to need to do your research. I can only recommend you look up “[insert state name] Board of Equalization” as a little direction.
-A seller’s permit is a number you register with the state that you’re selling goods at, and is used to file taxes when you’ve earned the money. Pretty much every convention will ask you for this number, and you need to be ready to have that permit number to file in those taxes.
-Along with filling out a Seller’s Permit, you should also do some research if you need to do anything else while you are selling, such as owning a ‘Business Licence’ (there could be other things too!).

How many of _____ should I make?
-Prints: since it will be your first time, I highly recommend you only make a few copies. They MAY sell out, but then now you know to make more. But if it doesn’t, you’ll just have a bunch lying around. By the time you do your next convention, you would have a better grasp of what people might like, what doesn’t sell, etc., and some more revamped stuff. It’s my own opinion, but I wouldn’t go over five or six on my first print run. That way I won’t regret it as much if they barely sell. This is assuming you didn’t pay more than $80 on your table. Your first prints are most often your worst because you will find that the more you make them, the more you will improve.
-Buttons: Some people stock buttons by bringing the machine and only making them as they order with pre-cut templates. I can’t give you a definite count, but buttons tend to sell more often than prints, in my personal experience. From my own experience, I started out with making ten copies of each button, and just reprinted more stock of the ones that were falling down faster. Eventually I’d have twenty of one button and five of another, so it’s really sporadic.
-Stickers: It’s different for everyone, and just as sporadic as buttons. My method is similar to the buttons (except I don’t bring a button machine)–I make about ten copies, and after the first sale I determine which copies I should make more of and reprint extras of those.
-Comics: This one varies depending on which conventions you go to. I usually keep an incredibly low stock of comics (about 10) because they often don’t sell at anime conventions. In comic conventions, I bring about twenty. I’ve sat next to seasoned professional comic book artists, and they would load two entire cardboard boxes and run out of some titles…and I’ve seen some that would only sell four at a convention. I would recommend you print a low stock of comics on your first print run (usually the minimum is 25), and when you realize people find interest in it, give it another higher print run.
**For everything else, you should ask some other artists what their system might be. When I started selling prints/buttons/stickers, this was a long time ago, so it could be different with today’s demand. All I’m going to say is that if it’s your first time, don’t go overboard, because you’re going to probably end up with better stuff and a better understanding of things you’d want to sell on your second round, and third, and so on.

Important: NEVER ASSUME YOU WILL SELL ALL YOUR STOCK IN ONE CONVENTION. Never, ever, ever! If you have such high expectations, and only two or three sell, you’re going to feel like shit. If you only brought enough to pay back for your table, and you only sold a little bit, you’re just breaking your own ego. Maybe for one convention, half my stock is gone for keychains, and maybe at another con, not a single one sold. So never assume you’ll sell out of everything in one convention!

How many things should I put on my table?
-whatever you can fit nicely, you can put it there. The limit is usually the height of your display, and sometimes you can’t put stuff in the front of your table (you need to check with the convention rules for this). Avoid huge blocks of space. Also, propping things vertically often gathers more attention than just laying them on the table top :)
If you want some recommended items for setup, check this out–there are many other companies too! I recommend looking at what other people use to display for inspiration on how to set your table up.
For tips on setting up, I found this Pixiv artist to have useful cheap DIY setups, and this pixiv tag to have others who have useful setup DIYs


Is fanart okay to sell?

-Depends on the convention. Usually yes. Not all though. Some require a percentage to be original art.
-It’s super controversial to side with whether or not selling fanart should be allowed due to intellectual property rights vs. creative rights. I’m not even going to state my opinion, because every time I’ve done it, someone who disagrees with my idea will relentlessly argue with me, treating my opinions as meaningless without a second thought that everyone has their own DIFFERENT opinions. BUT if you really want a very good answer in every perspective of the topic, ask this question at the Artist Alley Network International facebook page, since there are plenty of people who have their own different ideas on the concept.
-Some companies DO NOT want people to sell fanart of their stuff (of course it’s okay to draw it though), but they may not police it very well. It is up to your good heart to make the decision if you want to make fanart of that company’s intellectual property (their logos, their characters, etc) even though they would prefer you not to do it. Indie companies like Roosterteeth (especially RWBY) and comics like Homestuck are examples of such. OF COURSE, you will see people do it anyways, and just make excuses like ‘oh well, i’ll keep selling unless the company gives me a cease and desist’, which in my opinion is just getting a little too greedy as an artist, but like I said, this is up to you to make this decision. I’m not the police, I can’t do shit about this.  But I personally follow this rule.

Extra credit homework: If anyone mentions Japanese artists selling fanart, then you can have fun and research about Japanese copyright laws, as they’re far more stringent, and you’ll be surprised about how their system works! You’ll also be surprised at what kind of stuff they sell compared to the bulk of America, and you’ll be even more shocked at their pricing! 

Can I get paid to draw stuff for people at conventions?
Yes, that’s usually called a ‘commission’. They pay you some money to draw something they like. It’s usually fanart. Just make sure not to under price your work (it’s good to keep your pricing higher than the cost you are selling your prints).
-You are NOT required to draw every single commission that comes your way. If for some reason their commission request makes you feel uncomfortable, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE THE COMMISSION. Also, try not to judge people for what they commission for–everyone has their own personal fetishes, even you.
See “How do I order a commission?” for additional info on the process of ordering and distributing conventions
Also, check out “I’ll come back to your table later” to learn about a slightly more fool-proof way of making sure your customers don’t forget they commissioned you

Are there any rules I should know of?
-Don’t block your own table by sitting in front or having someone stand in front to help out. I don’t know why it’s not enforced enough, but taking advantage of an artist alley space you did not pay for not only makes it unfair, but also blocks the tables around you. There may be some exceptions, but you must ask the head of the artist alley department before doing so.
-Don’t play loud music without everyone else being okay with it. It bugs people. If you decide to bring an instrument, don’t do it in front of your table, and don’t do it on a constant basis (like more than twenty minutes straight, every hour, etc).
-When setting up, don’t lug all your junk on someone else’s table. put it on the ground under or near your table while you set up. If the other artist isn’t there and the convention begins, don’t start selling your swag on their table–wait a few hours, then ask permission from the head of Artist Alley before you do something like that, since you didn’t pay for that table.
-Some people find it easier to drag in customers by ‘calling’ them in. If you do this, there’s a point where you need to consider that grabbing attention from people who are staring at the tables next to you, and/or speaking so loudly over the people selling next to you can barely communicate with their own customers is very inappropriate.
See “Great for You, Not for Them” for additional info about treating you and your neighbors with respect

Why don’t some people enjoy photos taken of their work?
Many artists I’ve met are photo shy, and don’t like cameras in general. Some people also want to reduce the risk of their artwork being stolen (people would take the photo and print them on the computer). Another thing is that some people would enjoy the art, take a photo to keep on their phone, but won’t buy the actual art. Lastly, some people take photos and post them without credit, thus leaving an amazing piece on the internet without anyone knowing who the hell made it. Sure, people would see it on the internet, but they wouldn’t care who the hell made it if your name wasn’t attached to it.
I’m not saying you should prohibit photos. This often gets misunderstood. If you don’t care, cool. If you care, then you might want a sign about asking permission first. If you’re really anxious, you can go full throttle and have a sign that indicates it. It’s up to you. Years of convention experience will dictate what your preference will be.
see “Do Not Photograph Signs” for more info and a free printable template

What if I don’t make much profit in my first time?
A few factors:
1) You were selling at the wrong place or wrong time. Basically, you did not go to the convention that suited you best, or it was at an awkward week or location.
(when conventions happen back-to-back with other conventions, or even multiple big events happening on the same day, there are usually less attendees or attendees aren’t as willing to spend as much)
2) Your work needs improvement. It could be improvement skill-wise, or that your work was not appealing to the right audience (again, to #1–not the right convention). To be honest though, it’s highly likely that it’s answer #1, and not that you need improvement. It’s pretty crazy how conventions can make or break your expectations.
3) Social skills. I have no proof of this one, but I know people who hide behind their tables and too scared to talk to customers don’t drag as many customers.
4) The con was too freakin fabulous–okay, that’s sarcasm. Maybe not. Actually, I’ve noticed when there are HUGE stars at a convention or have many, many panels or very long wait times for autographs and the such, attendees end up stuck in line and outside the artist alley longer. It’s not always the case, but definitely something to consider.
When Stan Lee comes to a convention, don’t expect a lot of people to walk in artist alley for hours XD

see “Not Selling Much” for a more in depth answer

Some last tips on your first tabling experience:
Have realistic expectations. Don’t expect people to buy every single thing out of your inventory, and don’t expect every single person to go to your table telling you your art is the most amazing thing in the world. There will be many, many people walking past your table. Don’t sweat it, it’s your first time. It happens to everyone…all the time.
Your first time tabling is to gauge whether or not you want to do it again: It’s likely you tabled because you want to do it more than once. Well, don’t worry too much about sales on your first time. If you can handle whatever stress gets thrown in your way while you’re tabling, you’re good to go. If you didn’t make a lot of sales, or possibly sold out in the first hour, your first time is to determine if you want to try it again. If you make a lot though, I recommend you go celebrate :D
Bring change: Don’t even bother bringing $20s. You will be breaking $20 bills for the first half of the convention, trust me. $5 and $1s are very essential. In case of emergency, and your nearby table members don’t have $1s, go to your nearby coffee shop to break them.
Know the convention: Make sure you know where the convention is, where the food places are around the convention, where the bathrooms are, and where the atms are (so you can direct some people to the atm machine if they only have a credit card)
Advertise your spot:
Before you go to the convention, tell everyone you’re going to that convention weeks ahead, and the moment you know your table number, post it all over your social media. Otherwise people won’t know where the heck you will be.
Business Cards: Make business cards with your web address and/or social media. Facebook, Tumblr, etc with your art–put it on a card. Or paper. Anything. People will want to follow you online to see what else you make :)
Don’t be stinky: If you have bad breath, or you have some body odor problems, please eat a mint/chew gum and wear deodorant.

Featured Artist:
Hai-Na-Nu Saluque, aka. “Nooligan”


This awesome dude is one of my top favorite artists I’ve discovered at conventions this year. I mean, holy crap that’s some really awesome style! The art is full of attitude and spunk whilst holding a very unique 1920s cartoon feeling to it. And he also made a comic called ‘Union St. Choir’. Just…yea, go check it out. I love the fresh style in all his work <3
You can check out more of his work here:
Illustration Site
Online Shop
Instagram
Deviantart
Facebook

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Angry Artist Alley: My First Time Making Acrylic Charms

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Note: This article isn’t about ‘Artist Alley’ per se, but more of an article about something many artists make at artist alley. I put it in Angry Artist Alley because it could possibly be relevant to some people.

Chilly Pig Creations
is an independent company that prints acrylic and wooden charms. This article describes my first experience with making acrylic charms, and working with this company.

THIS IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL GUIDE TO MAKING ACRYLIC CHARMS. I REPEAT. THIS IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL GUIDE TO MAKING CHARMS.

It’s a beginner’s perspective on making charms. If you’re a noob who wants expert advice, go ask an expert on it. Heck, if I wanted expert advice I’d be asking my other friends on this (which I did). I’m just writing this article based on my very first experience making them. I just have a LOT to say. I’m sure someone on the internet probably wants to read a personal article about me struggling and crying in agony. Here you go. 

I couldn’t find a good article that puts making acrylic charms into a beginner’s point of view. More like an expert’s point of view, that describes quality, perks, and etc. with these things. This is more like the process of making them. If you’re looking for expert advice, I’ve just warned you now, this isn’t the article you should be basing all your opinions from.

Continue reading

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Angry Artist Alley: One order of Table Plz

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So lately some hassle happened with an artist alley registration that led to a lot of heat over whether or not the convention should do a ‘first-come-first-served’ registration system over a judge panel. Not to get into detail, but I decided to write this list to describe other kinds of registration.

Note: this is bias from both ANIME and COMIC conventions, so opinions and experience may vary. There’s a ton of conventions that can combine one or more of these together, and different methods are used, but they usually fall in these categories.

Types of registration:

First-Come-First-Serve

Process: Simple enough–the convention declares a date and time, and during that time you will refresh your computer screen like a mad bastard until the website updates with registration and then you let auto-fill do the rest of the magic and type the rest of the info in there. Then, depending on the registration, you’ll be informed either immediately or in a week or two.

Tip: If the convention has a group for their artist alley on facebook, keep this window open, and while you’re refreshing the page, refresh this page occasionally too. Tons of people are anxious to get the table, but sometimes the table  signup times aren’t precise, and people will post ‘did you get the table yet?’ and stuff like that. It’s a good cue to calm you down. I was once fortunate enough to get a table at Sac Anime due to a link error, where someone noticed the link that was given wasn’t working and posted the correct link to the signups on the facebook. whew!

Pros: Anyone can get in, as long as they have a good internet connection. Signups are usually much easier, and information is processed faster to the convention. If someone didn’t get in, you have the valid excuse of going ‘well you weren’t fast enough when you registered’

Cons: When the site doesn’t upload on time, people get anxious, VERY anxious. And when these are conventions where hundreds of people are trying to log in at the same time, the website often crashes. Since anyone can get in, artists can range from very professional to very amateur, and sometimes the art looks like it doesn’t belong anywhere in the convention. It gets harder to register year after year when conventions increase reputation more and more.

Tip: Get your credit card ready and your Seller’s Permit ID number right in front of you.

Fun fact: PMX 2014’s Artist Alley tables were sold out in exactly THIRTY THREE SECONDS.

Judged Panel

Process: There is an open submission time period where you send samples of your work, and sometimes they ask you if you’ve been published in other things and such before. To keep it simple, you’re trying to dazzle the judge panel.

Pros: When you get to the con, there’s some amount of quality check (either by the skill level of the artist, the topic/theme of their work, or something else). More committed artists (weak hearted ones won’t register at all and so you weed out some of these people). Sometimes themed conventions strictly require themed artwork and nothing out of that norm, so you have more uniform work. You will find these often in very professional conventions, or themed conventions such as furry cons, brony cons, steampunk cons, etc.

Cons: People who were rejected may find it ‘unfair’ and become very angry. Especially artists who enjoy having their ego stroked (most people who don’t work in a professional environment tend to be like this). Rejected angry artists also don’t understand that conventions who have a judging system also have a LIMITED amount of tables and may feel like some of the artists who got accepted shouldn’t belong there. Judging panels may also be very selective, and you may notice a trend with what artists gets selected. Also, after the selection, sometimes you may get artists that try and harass other ones who got in whom they think didn’t deserve the table.

Tip: prepare all your portfolio stuff AHEAD of time. Like WAY before it’s announced. Hell, I shouldn’t even be telling you to do this. If you’re an artist, you should always keep your portfolio up to date! Also, if you get rejected, do NOT get discouraged. That just means the judge’s decision, so try harder next time. Pouting won’t get you anywhere.

Another Tip: Think of it this way: just because they didn’t want your work in the show doesn’t mean every convention or every person doesn’t want your work in ANY show. Still, don’t hate the convention or staff purely because of a single decision; they’re still human, after all. 

Pioneer Registration

Process: Having had a table at the convention, the convention will give you priority on ordering a table. Sometimes next year’s registration begins in the same day as the convention itself!

Pros: As long as you have tabled at that convention, you’re pretty much safe to table there, forever, and ever, as long as you table there every single time. Pioneer registration sometimes has a cheaper registration as well.

Cons: You miss one convention and you no longer have pioneer registration. Usually after pioneer registration, when normal registration begins, only a very small select tables are left. The conventions may have the same ‘regulars’ attending.

Tip: Table once, and you’re all set! First time usually is most expensive though :(

Random Lot

Process: You sign up, and then you cross your fingers. The names are then randomized and the random lot will be selected to table.

Pros: ANYONE can get in, as long as they’re lucky enough. People complain less when they get rejected because it was randomized.

Cons: ANYONE can get in…which means it does not discern skill level or background/reputation or personality of people. There are some people whose work stick out like a sore thumb (imagine a horror science fiction book company surrounded by anime fanartists), and sometimes you get random insane talented people you have never met before or wondered where the hell they came from, etc. After artists are announced, rejected artists will find their desperate methods to try and share tables with other artists or buy dealer’s tables and squish in.

Tip: And I know this is kind of like cheating. I swear I’ve only done this twice, ever, and I was the one who got the table, not the other person. You basically get your friends who want to table, or even THINKING about tabling to just sign up. The more people you know who sign up, the higher the chance that at least one of you gets in. Now if you BOTH got a table, don’t be a dingus and both keep it. Because random lots often have a LOT of people signing up, you should be courteous enough to SHARE tables with your friends if you can, so more people can get in. I recall my table partner and I both getting in a table in one random lot, but we decided to drop one table and share to make room for another artist that would want a table.

Fun fact: Some people have suspected that the random system may be rigged, so some are more ‘guaranteed’ a spot at the convention, after seeing the same artists have a table year after year. Conspiracy theory?

“BUT IT’S NOT FAIR!”

If you think a registration for artist alley isn’t fair, maybe it’s not the right place for you. The world can’t revolve around you, and sometimes you can’t get what you want. But don’t let that ever stop you. Try again next time, because a rejection the first time doesn’t guarantee a rejection the next time :) 

Also, nowadays there are so many conventions happening that some overlap each other. You can always try and go for the other, if you don’t get into one; it’s not the end of the world ^_^’

Professional Registration

This isn’t for getting a table at artist alley, but if you’re an established or published artist, some conventions allow you to sign up for a ‘pro badge’, which is basically like a free ticket to the convention. This is intended for artists who are trying to get a career and network. If you can’t get a table but you want to attend a convention, you can always try this. I would also like to note that you should take advantage by bringing your portfolio anyways and showing to any top tier artists or publishers, in case they may be interested (that’s the intention of a pro badge).

Note: These badges usually only apply to large industry  conventions, especially comic conventions. Regarding anime conventions, I’ve only heard of Anime Expo giving them out. But if you ever want that one-in-a-million chance to go to San Diego Comic Con, and you have proof of published work, it doesn’t hurt to try!

Conclusion
In the end, you shouldn’t HATE a convention because you couldn’t get in the artist alley. Nor should you ever harass anyone because THEY got in and you DID NOT. Sometimes your computer didn’t refresh fast enough, or you didn’t type in the information quickly enough. Maybe you just weren’t the lucky one at the table raffles.
If the judges didn’t like your work, it could also just mean that there were too many other artists. I know this sounds harsh, but yes, sometimes your work isn’t at the quality they want, so what do you do? Practice, practice, practice, and prove them wrong next time!

Although this article was pre-written about a month ago, there has been some recent news about Fanime artists overreacting. Without getting into detail, if you were ever rejected from AA at a convention because of a judging panel, do NOT harass people that actually did got in. That’s really immature >:0

Featured Artist: Foxberry Studios!
Tumblr/ Deviantart/ 
Facebook/

(unfortunately, I did not take a good picture, and asked the artist to send me one instead. I’ll replace it the next time I see her at a con)

foxFox’s work is unique, in that she does a lot of World of Warcraft OC commissions, which I find very fun to check out on my facebook feed (well, it’s way cooler than the political stuff that goes in my thing). I find it rad that she does OCs for commissions more than straight up fanart. For me, it’s one of my favorite commissions, albeit one of the rarest ones that ever actually approach me. So go Fox!

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Angry Artist Alley: Where ‘da Conventions at?

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So if you’re starting out at conventions, you’re probably wondering “uh….so where do I find conventions?” That’s a pretty legit question. I’ll tell you where I find mines: on the internet.

There’s a bunch of ways to find out when and where conventions are, but there’s no guarantee ever that you’ll know every single one. After you go to a few conventions, you’ll get used to it.

Because I only go to conventions in the SF Bay Area, not everything I say will apply to EVERYONE, but I hope it will help you decide how to look up and prepare for conventions.

Tips:

  • ‘convention season’ is when a lot of conventions happen back to back during the same time of the year. In the Bay Area, the busiest times is around December-January, and April-May. In So-Cal it’s more around the summer time.
  • Conventions often happen during holiday weekends.
  • Conventions often occur in bigger populated cities. One exception for this are the conventions that take place in colleges.
  • If someone already posts something saying ‘I’m going to be selling at ____ con’, the chances of buying a table there are slim. A lot of conventions sell out on their tables very quickly due to a first-come-first-serve basis!

One time I contacted Big Wow! a few months before the convention because I didn’t know tables were being sold, but apparently were quite some left even though tables opened up two months prior. So it never hurts to ask if tables are full or not ;)

So how do I find out where the conventions are?

 Look them up online. There are websites solely dedicated to comic and/or anime conventions, facebook pages, etc. Try this one for anime conventions. Or even this one for comic book conventions. You can even try sites that posts local events to see if anything else suits your taste.

Know the heads of the conventions. I don’t mean ‘know’ as in know them personally, but if you have facebook, you should watch their facebook pages for updates or anything of the like. People who run conventions or are affiliated in some way (such as guests or artists) will often post updates on the project when the time is coming up.

When you find the conventions you like, look for an email contact and ask them to be on their mailing list. The moment there’s any news about artist alley tables, they will start emailing people about the news. This is the most efficient way to keep track of conventions in which you’re interested in or have gone to.

Featured Artist: Toshio Maeda
He’s not an amateur artist, he’s pro. Author of La Blue Girl, he gave me a very powerful speech that has helped give me a drive to keep drawing when I first met him at Big Wow! Con. When he was giving me motivation, I started crying tears in front of him, it was nuts. Anyways, he’s a really great guy, and I recorded a panel at Sac Anime that he was in (warning, some adult language).
If you have known me long enough, and saw a giant leap of improvement at one year, it was because this guy told me to never give up :)
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Angry Artist Alley: Not Selling Much?

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So I went to a convention recently recommended by practically everyone I knew to go there and sell my work because it seemed like the right place. To my surprise, it ended up being a lot worse than expected. Because of the lack of sales, I had a lot of time to brainstorm reasons why a lot of tables were making sales but mines wasn’t.

This list varies a LOT and should only be a guideline about your sales. There are a LOT of instances in which you might think a convention goes bad but ends up being WAY better than expected, and sometimes a convention with amazing reputation ends up being your worst convention ever. BUT if you’re ever in a doozie, this list might clarify some reasons why your sales aren’t that great that day.

Convention Reputation: I mention this one because it actually isn’t often the biggest case at all. You can definitely make good sales at a small convention, and some people can say conventions aren’t that great and end up doing really well. Some conventions are known for horrible accidents and stories but are also the most popular to sell. Even the ‘small conventions’ where tables are only $10 might end up being your biggest revenues.

Size of attendees: If a lot of people attend it, there’s potentially a lot more customers.

Size of artist alley: The more artists in artist alley, the more competition and likeliness your stuff will be lost within a bunch of other work. These are usually the conventions in which you must figure out a way to attract customers to your table and buy it the first time they see it. At smaller conventions, making double, even triple rounds is completely normal. But when there’s an enormous amount of artists, it’s hard to recall certain artists. However, larger conventions with a large amount of artist alley tables usually mean a significantly larger number of attendees.

Guests of the Convention: Sometimes having REALLY AWESOME guests actually take AWAY from the convention. I know what you’re thinking–wait, but doesn’t really awesome guests mean more people are coming? You’re absolutely right, but if they have an autograph session, guess where your attendees are going to spend hours in line doing? Now I’m not saying all special guests do that, but it’s definitely something to consider.

I once tabled in a convention where Stan Lee had a signing. People stood outside in line for hours to get a photograph and autograph with the dude. Back in artist alley, the place was practically deserted. It’s not the only time stuff like this has happened too. 

Type of ConventionAre you selling original art at an anime convention? Or are you selling comics at a crafts convention? It’s really hard to determine sometimes, but just something to consider. Kind of a bummer, but most anime conventions rely heavily on fanart to make any business. Not saying you can’t make money off original art though; some people excel business for being the ‘sore thumb’ of the pile ;)

What day is it? I hate when people say ‘It’s ONLY Friday’ or ‘It’s ONLY Sunday.’ I paid for artist alley to make business for every day, not just one. But sometimes you have to consider what day it is. Some conventions may open up on a random Friday, in which most people have daytime jobs and don’t come home until late. Conventions often take place on holiday weekends for this reason. Sometimes conventions end up colliding with sports events and other conventions too, so it’s a very hard thing to juggle.

What’s happening today? If your convention is on a holiday weekend, chances are that there are other things happening as well. Sometimes some conventions conflict with other events (here in the Bay Area, you better watch out if there’s a football or baseball game happening that day). If there’s an event happening a few blocks from your building, it might be distracting customers away from the convention (or it could be doing the opposite, but it’s usually a bad thing when it happens).

Too many conventions? Okay I know some of you are going to disagree with me on this (because it’s happened), but let me give you my two cents on this and you can think about it. When I say ‘too many conventions’, I am talking about too many conventions put in the same time period or that the convention is very close to the HUGE conventions. In the bay area, there are times of the month where there’s practically a new convention almost every week sometimes. Sometimes conventions overlap on the same day. I mean, every one is an opportunity to sell something, but for some people, their paycheck only comes once every month. When people are saving up for the REALLY big conventions, they get a bit more stingy. Heck, if the same customer bought something from you a few weeks back, it doesn’t mean they want to buy even more from you. Spaced out conventions are easier to sell, while having a convention a week after another one is harder to deal with. Each is an opportunity to earn money, but not everyone  has a customer to spend at your table every time.
So I believe that a healthy dose of conventions spread out is better than a massive amount jammed in. Also note that despite there being many opportunities to table, each convention costs money to purchase a table and travel there.

What are you selling? Fanart or original art? Is it appropriate for the convention? Etc. Sometimes your art may fit in with the crowd and sometimes no one will bat an eye at it. Very hard to tell. For some extra info on this, check out my article ‘What do THEY want to buy?’

What were you selling last time? Sometimes if you’re selling the same stuff every time, no one wants it anymore, or they bought something they already wanted from you. Always have something new out, especially if you sell at the same area/ conventions all the time. Having new merch keeps your table fresh!

Position of artist alley: Is it next to dealer’s hall? Is it in a separate room far away from dealer’s hall? Attendees being able to find the place makes a huge difference. It’s hard to determine this unless you’ve gone to a convention before and they aren’t going to change the layout, so a lot of it is chance.

Position of the table: Did you get a corner spot at the convention? Is it across from dealer’s hall? Is it in between a bunch of really talented artists? Is it stuck in the back of the convention? It’s usually very unpredictable unless you get the choice of determining which table you want at a convention.

Who is right next to you? Tip: If you can choose where to seat your table, and you know some really awesome insanely talented artists, make sure to tell the person setting up the tables you do not  want to sit close to them. Their sheer awesomeness will deter customers away from your table, and they can’t help it if their work is glorious (you should strive for that quality too yknow). If you’re an illustrator, seating next to a crafts artist is preferable.
BUT there are some amazing artists that draw others to your table, or are so full of knowledge you won’t care your business sucks because you’re learning more from them than anything.
Also, some artists like to also be ‘musicians’ that sit in front of their table and play music. They clog up space in the alley, and then usually customers end up blocking your table instead of staring at your table. It’s really frustrating sometimes

Did you advertise enough? Did people know you were going to that convention? Did you tell your friends what table number you were? If you didn’t, chances are they were looking around but couldn’t find you in the crowd (especially the REALLY big conventions).

How HIGH is your setup? Yes, the height of your artist alley table matters. No seriously, the higher it is, the more likely it stands out like a sore thumb in the crowd. I personally don’t use pvc pipes, but those are honestly the ones that really pop out at you. I once had a setup that was half the size of the table next to me, and all the attendees looked up and saw the other person’s display and walked away from my work. It really does make a difference!

How COLORFUL is your work? Your eye just drew right to that word, didn’t it? That’s the power of color. The layout and harmony of how you position everything you sell is also very helpful too, but you’re going to need mad color theory skills to work that kind of stuff out.

Everyone has their own particular tastes in conventions, and know which ones to go and not to go to all come from experience. One year a convention might be bad, and the next year it’ll be great. It’s really hard to determine these things, so always give everything a chance.

On another note, I came by this AMAZING article that I highly recommend checking out as well on a different perspective of this problem. Check it out!

__

Today I’m not featuring one artist, but a group! I recently went to Sac Anime and went to an artist meetup, and here is a group photo of us! We talked about sales (both good and bad), what it was like being an artist, and someone had some sweet cooking skills and made cookies and bread. We’re being really mature artists in this photo:D

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(will update the list of artists when I get their infos)

Artists (in no particular order, but check them all out anyways):

Note: Links in PURPLE are webcomic series!

**Note: If you’re in the photo, please leave a comment with your artist name + site so I can credit!

 

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Angry Artist Alley: Partnering at a table

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**I’d like to thank Ashly Tahilan: [Tumblr] and Terri Litz: [Deviantart] [Livejournal] for their excellent input on this topic. Thanks you two!

One of the best ways to reduce your convention costs is to have a table partner. Usually sharing a table allows you to share transportation, housing, and tabling costs. It’s amazing, but the downside is that you’re cutting your selling space by half (and sometimes thirds).

Still, depending on what you sell, these are great outcomes and sharing tables can lead you to buying more costly tables at bigger conventions, knowing you’re likely to be sharing hotel/housing with your tablemate.

But just having someone else at a table isn’t the ONLY thing you need to be concerned about. This part flies through peoples’ heads very easily, and you really won’t get it unless it’s happened to you–you walk out of your table, and suddenly people are walking at your table. Can you handle it? Can THEY handle it? WILL they handle it?

I’m egging at the fact that SOME TABLE PARTNERS ARE NOT GOOD TO PARTNER UP WITH. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean bad as in their drawing art skill, I mean bad as in they’re not interested in helping you out. By bad, I don’t mean they won’t do your money transactions either–that’s easy peasy. I mean bad as in they are trying to sell their work and their work only at your table. Or take it a step further, and sometimes just not enthusiastic about selling anything whatsoever. And well, standing at a distance, you can tell if they’re doing it or not.

First off, choose your partner carefully. Please consider these questions:

1) Can you get in contact with them? If they can answer your emails every two days or earlier, than it’s okay. And make sure you get their number.

2)What’s their work look like?

Be honest. If your work isn’t amazing, and you’re sitting next to an insanely talented person, where do you think all the business will go to? You want to have an artist who is struggling as hard as you trying to get better. Or at least, a balance of skill between both artists. Or you both mutually understand the situation and accept it.

3) Is your work going to COMPLIMENT theirs, or CLASH with theirs?

One thing you want to avoid is selling the exact same stuff the same series. If you’re selling stickers and pins from one series, and your partner did the exact same thing, it’s going to CLASH. It’ll feel like a shitty competition of whose will sell better.

“OH YA. if anything avoid selling the same things as well. It’d be total butts if both of you were selling charms of pokemon.. THE SAME POKEMON. DOING THE SAME CUTE THING. AS CELL CHARMS.”-Ashly Tahilan

One trick/tip when doing tables is to sit next to someone who isn’t selling your stuff. For example, if you’re selling prints, try and get next to someone selling crafts.

Also, I sound like an ass, but if the convention gives you the option and asks for your seating preference and you know there are some artists that kind of bang on your style or you don’t like them, just leave a note saying ‘I don’t want to be seated near [insert artist’s name]’ Better safe than sorry. On the contrary, if you don’t have a table partner but trust another artist who also has a table, consider asking the convention to seat your table next to theirs so when you leave you can entrust your money to someone you know.

It’s all on judgement of the artist’s style whether or not it compliments your work. If you have something that’s very vivid and colorful, maybe you should consider tabling next to someone with very dark moody artwork. If you’re selling headbands, maybe you should table with someone selling hair clips.

4) Do you know the person?

At least talk to them a few times before immediately trusting.  Also, it MIGHT NOT be a good idea to partner with someone you know who is very attached to you as a friend without considering it very hard. This is because if for some reason you don’t want to partner with them (either because they just ruin your business, art is bad, or attitude), and you tell them you don’t want to partner with them anymore, it can feel very very bad. So you want to have a mutual understanding with your partner that neither of you are obliged to share ever again if you ever do it in some other convention. A good table partner won’t feel butthurt if you tell them you want the table for yourselfor are sharing tables with someone else.


 

So, what constitutes as a good table partner?

DSC_1208 (2) (1)

(left, Louie Hidalgo (http://leadapprentice.deviantart.com/) and right is me, Jackie Lo (http://www.jackieloart.tumblr.com).  Photo taken by BlizzardTerrak. While his work is amazingly well rendered from the computer, my work is almost entirely drawn by hand. It’s hard to compare completely different styles of art. 

-You inform each other what you’re going to sell/prepare AHEAD of time. Not at the convention. If you’re going to have a stand or prop, you tell your partner that or you’re going to have some conflict the day it happens. If you brought a red tablecloth and they brought a black, you better be able to settle for either splitting the color in half or fighting over one.

-You know your limits to your space. Don’t just shove as much as you can on your side to the point where people can’t see your face, and you’re going to be squishing yourself sitting next to them on their side because of that. If that’s the case, it’s likely that table sharing may NOT be the best option for you. If you don’t have a lot of stuff then let your table partner put some of their stuff over the other half of your side.

Don’t be annoying. They bug you? Tell them politely. You bug them? You better stop it.

Don’t ignore them. Dude, you are standing next to them for eight hours. But don’t bother them too much if they’re drawing or you see that your talking is distracting their commissions.

You guys know how to deal with food. Seriously, if only one of you just get food for yourself that’s selfish and too much work. Get food for both of you at the same time, and know where you’re getting it. Also be aware of your friend’s food preferences and allergies. For tips on food, check out my article ‘how to do the food’

-if you think there’s something they can fix up, like helping you sell your work, or something like that, feel free to tell them. They may or may not do it, but at least telling them will inform them of your concern. If you get butthurt because they told you something, it’s probably not a good idea to table with them if you couldn’t handle the criticism.

They don’t jack your money. Stealing your partner’s cash is a no-no. If you’re anxious, take some of your money with you.
In some instances, they might not have change, and you will have to give out the change. It’s your judgement whether or not you want to do the money transaction and tell your partner later.

And here’s one of the biggest flaws in table partners….

-If you or your partner walk out the table, that does NOT mean you lose half the work on the table. That means you work hard and help them with their side of the table while they’re gone! I don’t mean go commando and only sell their work, I just mean that if someone looks at their work you keep their attention at the table and if they want to buy something then you should know how to exchange money. That may sound ridiculous to some, but imagine if someone walks at your table but only looks at your partner’s work but not yours. I bet you that if you just made light conversation with them, they’d at least take a glance. If you just sit on your butt and ignore the crowd, no one is coming to look at EITHER you or your partner’s stuff. So there should always be someone actively trying to engage with customers. Engaging customers is a very important key to good business! Even if it’s their work people want to look at, sharing tables is a team effort. Also, ignoring their sales with customers is not cool.

Here’s an instance of why you need a table partner that will help sell your work when you’re gone. Imagine you leave to go to dealer’s hall for half an hour. Your table mate says ‘okay’ and sits there. Then, when you’re done, you come back and your table mate tells you, “oh yea, three people wanted to buy some of your work but I didn’t know what to do, so I told them to come back.” What if they forgot and don’t come back? You just lost some business there because your partner didn’t know what to do. Having a partner you can trust with handling money and knows all the prices of your work will help you out a LOT.


 

Tips about sharing tables:

-At least one person is trying to engage customers. That usually means one person always standing and waving their hands at the art. The other person can be drawing a commission or out shopping. But always one person is getting people to the table. If your partners leave, don’t just sit lazily on your butt; that rarely attracts customers. Stand up and engage.

-You both know exactly how/when to get to the convention, and you know exactly how you’re getting food. No conflicts or problems. If you both take the train, it’s a good idea to meet at the exact time so if you plan to take the taxi, you can share the fare getting there.

-If someone buys your partner’s stuff, you know where to get the change from, and write down what you sell to inform them. Forgetting to do so or being unable to handle money is not a good idea when sharing tables.

-Don’t take your sweet sweet time outside the table. Don’t leave all the work to your partner. That’s not cool. For me, one hour is tops. However, at bigger conventions it could be longer. But don’t leave for half the day and not tell your partner.

-If you can’t do a commission or something, why not tell them your buddy can? That’s a plus!

In the end, if they’re friends, strangers, lovers, or family members, if you think they’re not helping your table when you’re sharing tables, just tell them no; no hard feelings, not everyone is good at it, but it really does suck when you feel obliged to share because you did it once. Do you have a story about a positive or negative experience sharing tables at a convention? Please share by leaving a comment below!


 

Featured Artist(s):

Rachael Ann Miller

2014-12-06 10.54.50

At Fanime, I was standing in front of her table staring at a picture because it seemed familliar. I asked her if it was on tumblr at some point, and she said she posted it a while ago. I told her it looked amazing and recognized it and she gave me a postcard print (it’s the black on on the table), and on the back she wrote ‘thaks for tumblr creepin’ LOL. No, she meant it in a good way, because she was really happy to see a follower recognize her art. I feel the same way when people come to my table too :3

site: http://rachelannmillar.com/illustration

tumblr: http://rachelannmillar.tumblr.com/


 

 

 

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Angry Artist Alley: When they got no cash

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If you’re new to artist alley, then you might not understand this. And it happens a LOT more often at conventions now, and well, it’s kind of hard to solve it. I have a lot of solutions, most of which are inconvenient or lack of trust with a customer makes it difficult. I have my methods, other people have other methods, but altogether it’s not a sure way to solve this issue. What’s the issue?

When someone has no cash but a credit card, how do you approach this?

and also: If there’s no wifi, how do I handle the payment?

SAFEST OPTION: Do NOT do transaction without the moo-lah.
However, they might give you the cold shoulder (oh well, it’s not like they could buy it if they didn’t have the cash).

FIND THE CLOSEST ATMS (wifi not needed)

1) Find out if there is an atm in the building where you are selling art. Find every single one. Find the closest banks too.

2)Print out a map of the floor plan of your convention and mark the areas. This is a safety precaution in case the convention does not provide a good enough map. Many conventions take place in hotels, and there are usually one or two atms nearby because of that. Mark all the areas where the atm is on the map on the floor plan of your convention, or local ones. ALSO take note if there are nearby banks at walking distance and write their address.

3)When someone has a credit card, you can do direct them to an atm. If the convention provides a free map in their freebie bags, mark the area where the atm is on the map so they can find it for the future.

CARD READER (wifi needed)

Now, this is if you have a cellphone that has internet service. Otherwise, you will have to pay the hotel area money to use internet (and that usually costs about $60 per person). NOTE: Card readers take a percentage of your transaction. It’s wise to add an extra twenty five cents just to make up for it.

Square: https://squareup.com/reader, transaction fee: 2.75% (and $3.75+$0.15 for manual entered transaction)
This is your classic reader. It’s the first and most popular.

Paypal Here: https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader, Transaction fee: 2.7%

It looks like a triangle, and actually takes a smaller percentage of a fee than square. The advantage is that people can use their paypal account, BUT it’s not restricted to that. You can also use normal credit cards if you want too.

CARD READER-OFFLINE (wifi not needed)

Square has the option of doing cellphone transactions offline. They keep the information of the credit card in the system for a day and when wifi is attached, the transaction can be completed. You need to take the chance of having a successful transaction for this to work-hopefully the credit card isn’t busted, or bank suddenly has issues, etc.

Check transactions via. cellphone (wifi needed)

There are some companies, like Chase Bank that has a cellphone app that allows you to photograph the front and back of a check and send it to the bank for the payment.

I don’t like to leave the house to the bank, so when I ask for payments that I want to put in the bank, I request that my clients send a paper check to me. I don’t go to the bank, I just immediately use the Chase app and do the transaction via smartphone. Very nifty. 

If you trust your customer, you can request payment AFTER the convention (wifi not needed)

This is pretty simple: Both of you exchange information about what you want for the commission and the price and a contact, and then wait for them to send you the payment via. paypal. When you receive the payment, you start on the convention and voila! It is up to you if you request for extra money for shipping or if you want to keep it the same price.

Nowadays I only get about two or three commissions a day. So usually for my customers, I will tell them I’ll mail it when I’m done with no additional cost (or give it to them the next day if the con is multiple days). I order a lot of things on amazon, so I have a lot of padded envelopes and I use those to mail my commissions out, and so shipping costs less than two dollars. It’s very helpful for me because I can concentrate on grabbing customers to my table instead of sitting quietly drawing. 

And there you have it. Do you have any other methods? Do share!

Featured artist: Me! (and BlizzardTerrak)

blizzardTerrek

Photo courtesy of BlizzardTerrak, one of my sensei for camera stuff. He’s a great cosplay photographer and has a lot passion for doing it. He came by my table at KrakenCon and snapped one real quick.

You see all that stuff on my table? If you want any of it, it’s likely on my online shop so you can get it there or message me. 
Websites:

My next article will feature a LOT of artists, so be prepared!

And a list of the EXACT supplies bought on Amazon that I used for my table in that photo:

Whitmor 6070-1723 Wire Storage Cubes Set 4 Black
4-Pack 6AC Gibson Holders – 3 Wire Display w/ Deep Edge – Black
MyCraftSupplies 5 1/4 x 7 1/4 A7 In Resealable Clear Cellophane Plastic Packaging Set of 100
Pack of 50 5×7 Picture Mats with White Core Bevel Cut for 4×6 Pictures Various Colors
100 EcoSwift 8.5×11 Chipboard Cardboard Craft Scrapbook Material Scrapbooking Packaging Sheets Shipping Pads Inserts 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch Chip Board

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Angry Artist Alley: Printable ‘Do Not Photograph’ Signs

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Okay I admit I did this in a jiffy, but I mean I REALLY need to do it for Fanime this year. Oh, did I mention?

Back to subject, in this post, I’ve attached a few files that ANYONE, including you and your cat sitting next to you (if you have one). Just print it out and put it on your table.2014-05-16 10.45.53

This is a tiny promotion piece, as the character that is drawn on that sign is actually one of the main characters to my comic ‘The Dark Side of Conventions’. I’m drawing a comic about proper behavior at convention, misconceptions about conventions, and more. PLEASE READ THIS AND SUPPORT MY PROJECT IF YOU CAN. It’s my Patreon site, and even though this comic will be free to read when completed, I need a lot of funding for me to get enough time to work on it efficiently (PLUS the perk is that you get to see every page when it’s done instead of waiting for each chapter to be completed).

So here are the directions:

  1. Download the file.
  2. Print it.
  3. On your convention table, just tape it to the front.
  4. If you’re nice enough, take a photo of your table and tag #angryartistalley and possibly my tumblr (jackieloart.tumblr.com). Not mandatory, but I’d LOVE to check out the photos when tagged to see people actually using it. Or feel free to message me with a photo of your table :3

Tips:

  • Printing on colored paper makes it stand out more20140516_105012
  • Laminating or covering it in a plastic mylar bag helps make it last longer and waterproof. Also prevents people from straight out ripping it in half. 20140516_113646
  • Don’t like my picture on the side? That’s okay, I made one of the templates empty on that corner so you can draw your own doodle there :)
  • Feel free to shrink it to whatever size you want
  • 20140516_105309

Anything Else?

  • Did you make your OWN design? Feel free to post it here, I would like to share it on my blog, rip off your awesome idea, and implement it into a better sign for everyone in the future.
  • If you have any tips to improve my poor graphic design skills, feel free to help me out on that.
  • I will have more designs in the future, and they will all be available on another page on this site (have not made link yet)

HERE ARE THE FILES

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ENTIRE BATCH OF ALL OF THEM

….or look below and choose which one you like.

Below: Black and White

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

CLICK HERE FOR HALF-PAGE VERSION

Sign_BW
Below: With Color

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Sign_COLOR

Below: Black and White version with empty areas so you can decorate the sign on top and draw in your own character on the bottom right area.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.

CLICK HERE FOR HALF-PAGE VERSIONSign_FILL IN

 

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