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: Set it up, Break it down

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Personally this is one of the more frustrating topics to deal with. And you have to realize, I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and I’m STILL not that great at it. It’s most likely that I keep changing my table to fit what I sell, but it gets worse every time. Still, a good topic to know since doing it well gives you brownie points. So what’s the topic?

Setting up your table, and breaking it down.

Composition wise, that’s up to you. Usually whatever you stick vertical on your table is what catches the viewer’s eyes, and what’s flat down on the table is what they see when they walk up to your table. It’s good to have a higher balance of vertical things than horizontal. People have pipes, people have wire racks, people have photo backdrops, just get creative.

note: There might be height restrictions because stuff do occasionally fall down. 

another note: Don’t laugh at someone if their stand falls down. It happens a lot more often than you think it does, and setting up any stand that tall is very tedious.

One VERY important skill you need to know is how to set up your table and break it down efficiently, TIME WISE. If you’re late to a convention or you only have five minutes to set up, you better make the best of your time. I take public transit, so I am often set at the very last ten minutes before the convention opens, sometimes I’m even late to the convention entirely so I need to speed it up. When you take public transit to practically every convention you go to, many buses don’t begin really early in the morning, and it can take over an hour just to arrive.

note: There are conventions where you will lose your table if you don’t sign up twenty minutes, sometimes an hour prior. When that is considered, it’s called ‘forfeiting your table’ and you usually don’t get a refund on it. YOU BETTER MAKE SURE YOU CAN MAKE IT.

What’s so great about setting it up fast and breaking it down fast?

Artists and artist helpers get the special priority of walking in that room at least an hour before any convention people come in. That means there’s no crowding, you get the very first peek at everyone’s work, AND you can talk to some artists before you know they’re going to get busy. If you break down quickly, you can do the same (but those artists might have left by then or are about to leave so you can’t hang too much). Artist alley in the same room as dealer’s hall? SCORE.

By speeding the process, it gives you a few more minutes of brownie time with the other artists. Of course, if they’re late then it’s not good either. You can also scan the entire vicinity to see where the ‘good artists’ are to check competition or navigate certain customers to your other friends who may have tables elsewhere. Another important thing is trying to figure out where the bathroom is early so later you don’t get lost finding it and wasting time (trust me, this is VERY helpful). And when you pack up early, it really helps the people who are locking up the room and stuff, because they’re pretty much standing there waiting for you to finish.

 Practice doing it somewhere else

  1. Find a 6″x2″ area (that’s usually the norm for the tables, although some cons have bigger ones).  It’s good if it’s a table area, but you can always just use the floor. Conventions often say 6″x4″ but that usually means about two feet of that room is actually where your chair will be sitting. Don’t be deceived!
  2. Time yourself on how long you take setting up. DON’T RUSH THIS PART. Just do it like you’d normally do. This will gauge how long/short your setup time should be as well as how you might set up certain things on your table as well as not cluttering stuff all over the place. It may also determine what things you should set up first, in case customers are already walking in.
  3. Time yourself on how long you take BREAKING IT DOWN. Most cons give you an hour at most to break down. It’s wise to take less than half an hour so you can leave earlier and do you last-minute talking to the artists you most likely did not talk much to because you were at your own table. If it’s taking too long, you might consider doing it the night before (many conventions offer a late-night setup time to make it easier for the next day)
  4. Repeat after you figure it out. Depending on what you sell, it will take longer. Just try and keep it under thirty minutes if you can. Over, and over. In the middle of the day, at night. It’s not a thing you do one time and assume you are awesome at it.

If they can stacked, fold them: If you plan to have prints standing side by side from each other and they’re the same size, you can put them in plastic mylar bags and fold them in a zig-zag accordion. When you just take it out to hang, unfold the accordion–no need to individually tape them all down!

Pre-make it before you make it: If you have a stand-alone sign, or the objects on your table are most definitely not going to move anywhere, you can pre-make the stand so you don’t have to constantly tape stuff on it. This is especially true for buttons: just pin them all on a piece of cloth or tape them on a board and never have to touch that thing again. It saves a LOT of time and effort.

Left, right, up, down: It’s good to know exactly where you want stuff to be BEFORE you stare at that blank table. Prints go on left, buttons go on right, etc. Sometimes just putting separate objects/prints in different bags/binders to distinguish groups will help. I have a separate binder for the prints I hang up so it doesn’t get mixed with the other things

Peek A Boo!: Even if you have a LOT of stuff at your table, make sure to leave a nice space so people can see where you are! You can’t buy a print if you can’t talk to anyone, right? If you’re hiding in the back, that’s no good. Remember, the more stuff you’re going to sell, the bigger the table setup will be. This is when people start stacking vertically with pvc pipes  or photo backdrops.

People walking in already? Show them something: This happens to me a lot lately because public transit can only bring me so far. When customers are walking in the room and you’re just starting to set up, find something you have that can easily be put out that they can see. So if you’re in the middle of setting it up at least people can see what you do.

Staying more than a day? Leave it there: I used to be really cautious about this, but it really saves time for the next day. Also, nowadays they have a setup time where you can go and set it up the day before the convention actually begins to save time. Just remember, ALWAYS bring your cash box and your prized belongings when you leave. Prints can be left untouched, and always leave some business cards on the table. If you’re selling stickers or buttons, only leave the minimum number on the table top, and if you’re nervous about someone stealing it, position the stuff flat on the table and pull your tablecloth over the artwork so it covers everything. Another reason why there’s a designated time for breakdown is that when everyone is done breaking down at that time, they lock the room up.

If you’re late, consider putting up certain items before another: If you’re late, but know some of your setup can be put up very quickly, go for that first. For example, your portfolio binder can be put on the table, or your sticker/button stand, while you are setting up your prints in the back. At least people walking by can see *something*.

Rules that should be followed

There are rules set by conventions, and although some sound absurd a number of times it’s actually not the convention’s policy but the hotel or building policies. Sometimes there are zero tolerance policies that are strictly enforced. If you have questions about the rules, then ask the person in charge. Don’t just start flaming on your facebook about how strict the rules are if you 1) paid money for the table, and 2) signed the contract for artist alley saying you already agree to the policy and rules.

Size, width, and height: Yes, everyone gets a designated spot. Yes sometimes there are height requirements. That is because when you have a super high stand, and it falls over a kid, you want to minimize damage and you don’t want to start any problems with the roof top. And no one hates table hoggers that take up other people’s’ spots or put a bunch of stuff forward from the table. That includes a musician sitting in front of the table.

No wall, table, or chair climbing: Doing so has a chance of falling down and getting an injury. If possible, ask staff people or some artists next to you for help. Make sure not to bother them if they’re in the middle of setup, but if they’re sitting there and need help or ask you if you need any help, might as well get some extra hands. The proper way to set up is to prepare everything that needs to be hung on top, and then with the help of a partner or nearby artist, both of you prop it up and secure it in one shot. The wrong way is to set up the vertical stand, get on a chair, and tape each piece one by one.

Pinning stuff or tape on the wall: Conventions borrow a public space. So it is not their property, thus, you cannot screw with it in any way. Tape might leave residue or even damage the walls in some way. Poking holes through the wall is no good either.

Set Up and Break Down: The convention only rents out rooms at certain times. Lagging the time by taking forever to break down is really un-cool. Staff people are waiting for you to finish packing so they can finish their job and eat.

table setup

My table layout around me from Kraken Con 2014.
Left: Magical Mangaka, Right: me

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How to Critique Art CONSTRUCTIVELY

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This post is actually taken from something I posted on the Lemmasoft Forums,  but thought it would be great to share here. Also, haven’t updated lately because I am so disorganized right now.

As many of you know, one of my dreams is to become an art teacher. And believe it or not, this routine I’m writing is derived from teaching first through fifth graders as an art teacher assistant. So if a ten year old can do this, I’m sure you can figure it out too. Or at least try to.

Critiquing in art can be tough. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, and you *usually* don’t want them to hurt yours. Well suck it up. In art school, that’s how I dealt with it. I wanted to cry sometimes, and it’s not because they said it was horrible, it was more like they’re able to admit my mistakes I never wanted to believe in. Well, so I thought. Anyways, no drama, let’s get straight to the point-

Here are some tips you should consider before you type out a critique

How can you absolutely tell they want a honest critique VS. showing off their work?
1. They will say it in their topic–something like ‘critique wanted’ or ‘help with my art’–Use your judgement.
2. There are topics where they say ‘can you redline this?’ or ‘how do I do this?’–
3. When they mention that their work is pretty much done, it’s usually too late to give them feedback unless they plan on using it for the future.
4. Yes, some people just want to show off their skills and don’t want to be told something’s wrong with it. No shame in that. We know we wanna do it sometimes.

Not everyone can take your critique in a positive manner. In fact, it could actually insult the person because you sound like you’re better than them. Or it could ruin your reputation all over the forums…or worse. Think before you post. If there is something you absolutely want to say but you’re embarrassed, you can always send a PM. There are times where one person thinks something is correct, and another person thinks something is wrong. Well, they could both be right and both be wrong. You can take ANY comment with a grain of salt–no one said you have to follow their orders. Then again, sometimes it’s good to change your work and see if it actually looks better (or not).

How to give a POSITIVE critique:
Sometimes you have nothing bad to say about their work. Some people are just epic and awesome. But how do you make a constructive critique if that’s the only thing you can really say? Simple! Tell them WHY you like it, or what part of something you enjoyed a lot. This kind of ‘positive’ feedback actually helps both you and the artist. The compliment will tell the artist what their strong point in their work is, and the comment will help you recognize parts of the work in which you enjoy, so in the future maybe you might want to implement it in your own work or many other things. It will train your eye and mind to be more critical as well.

Fill in the blank:
“I like the _______ because it _____”
“That ______ looks really cool!”

How to give a CONSTRUCTIVE critique:
-It’s always nice to point out something good before something is bad on a critique.
-If you have something negative for the work, make sure you explain WHY you don’t like it.
-If you really can’t say why, but you just know something doesn’t feel right, be honest and admit it. When you do, there might be someone else who pops in the thread and figures it out for you, which is great because then the person who posted the pic AND you will learn something new
-After you explain the issue, give some sort of advice to fix it. This can involve finding reference images for the person, redlining (but it’s best to ask first), reference sites, tell them tips on how you can fix it, techniques they can figure out, etc.

Fill in the blank:
“The _____ looks a little off. Maybe you could __________ or __________”
“Try doing ___________. It might help your work ___________”
“Check out these links: _________________. It might help you on ___________”
“I like how you __________, but you could try __________ and it might look better because ___________”

The way I see constructive criticism: When you find out you have mistakes, then you know where to start fixing it. You learn by your mistakes, yes? If people just point out only the good parts in your work, you have no idea where to practice more on. Doesn’t mean you won’t improve, but it’ll mean you’re not sure what to practice more on.

Things that make a BAD critique:
-Blatantly saying something sucks without reason. Never do that. It’s rude, and it makes you very obnoxious. And it pisses people off.
-Comparing it to another artist and asking them why it’s not as good as theirs. I personally hate being compared like that.
-Telling people to give up without reason. This is really demeanoring, and you should know that anyone who posts something up built some amount of courage to do so. This is a positive community here, don’t tell people to stop what they’re doing on a forum thread that is supposed to help people get better on their work. However, telling them to ‘try again’ might be a little bit better, although sometimes that is interpreted very negatively.
-Constantly repeating what everyone else has to say. Dude, the person who posted it probably reads every single comment on the thread. I am sure they’ll get sick of ten people telling them the exact same thing. Unless it’s new advice for the same issue, avoid doing this. It’s annoying as hell.
-Telling the artist to ‘DO THIS’ without reason. They’re trying to command you as if there’s only one sole way to fix an issue in art. Which is absolutely not true. There could be other methods that might be better, or maybe you just don’t want to do it like they do. Sometimes they could be right though.
-‘something looks like something’ without being able to answer why it looks like that. Keep this thought to yourself.

What happens if someone gave a critique and I don’t know how to fix it still?
-ask how. I’m pretty sure that’s as straightforward I can make it. If you don’t know how to fix it and you’re looking for a critique in your thread, ask. If you find a particular mistake or need help on something specific, I’m sure asking about the specific problem will help people give you a straightforward answer to it.

What if they tell me something I don’t want to fix?
-Then don’t. No one said you had to follow their advice. You can completely ignore it. But if they had a reason for why there’s an issue, then usually you should at least be aware of it. But you don’t have to fix it the way they told you. Also, you don’t have to straight up say ‘i don’t want to’ in the thread. It’s not nice, and being stubborn is well…some people don’t like it.
-There are times when you know the person who is redlining the thing for you is wrong as well, but you don’t want to admit it to them. Just uh…keep it silent.
-They’re just trying to be helpful.

They’re giving me advice when their artwork sucks too!
-Don’t compare JUST YET. Sometimes people who aren’t as skilled can point out mistakes just because they’re not used to ‘sophisticated’ art. It’s like how a ten year old can find a typo in a book, when you have 25 year old editors working on the documents. Same with art. Although sometimes i feel people get a little over their heads sometimes too. That will bring me to the answer to the previous question I wrote: you don’t always have to listen to them.
-….or you can secretly resent them.

It is absolutely OK to say something that conflicts another person’s idea in a critique thread.
-Sometimes the person who left the comment looks at the art in one direction, but you see that maybe if it heads in another direction, it could be better. It’s great to have multiple views on one piece of art. That way the artist can understand that there’s more than one way to fix a problem.
-Don’t go over a heated battle with this idea though. Just leave it alone. The thread is asking for a critique, not a righteous battle between one stubborn artist over another stubborn artist. For one thing, you’re talking about your method, they’re talking about theirs, but in the end the one who makes the last choice is the artist who draw the piece.
-Sometimes the other person’s comment can change your own view or opinion on a topic as well!
-Just because two people said it’s right, and you said it’s wrong, it doesn’t mean either of you are right or either of you are wrong. It could just be some insane middle line. This is when the artist who posted the thread has to make choices for themselves.

Hopefully this list will help everyone with critiquing other people’s  work when they need it. Remember, you don’t have to be a pro to help someone else out with their work! Don’t be shy, sometimes pointing out the good things will help the artist find out the bad things, and pointing out the bad things will help them work on it to become better :]

 

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Angry Artist Alley: My table’s OUTSIDE!

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blog question

(artist link: http://yamihp7.deviantart.com/)

So they put  the tables out side and you’re a drawing artist eh?

First thing’s first: PUT ON SOME SUNSCREEN.

Dear, you’re gonna feel more like shit than you will normally do indoors. Unless the weather is not too hot, not windy, not raining, and slightly cloudy, it’s likely you won’t get much business or feel like doing much either. Well for me, I’ve never had good experiences going outside doing it.

Issues with the weather and how to prepare:

Sunny/hot: Sunburn, and blinding light. All I can say is slap on some sunscreen and wear some sunglasses. The downside is that sunglasses are tinted so your drawings might not have the colors you wanted in the first place. It might get hot and sweaty as well, so make sure to freeze some water bottles overnight for the day.

Cloudy: Of all possible weathers, this is the greatest. No blinding sun, no wind, no crap falling from the sky.

Windy: All hell will rise. Please make sure to secure your work very very tightly with extra binder clips and tape. I’ll explain later.

Rainy: Well, depending on the kind of work you’re selling, you’re in a lot of deep shit too. Hope it’s not windy at the same time. If the place didn’t have a tent cover for your booth, you’re in some really serious trouble.

Craft fairs are taken outside for many reasons, like cost, convenience, etc. But their work is ROOTED DOWN on their tables a lot heavier than flimsy paper. When you hang your paper onto a pole, the paper creates a sort of  ‘wind tunnel’ around the thing, making it so easy to flip off the thing. It’s hard to explain. The best analogy I can think of is when you walk in a narrow alleyway and the wind suddenly bursts into your face–wind that traveled from the side of the buildings build up in the alleyway and it feels very strong.

Things that can aid you:

CLAMPS:

These things are used from holding down stands from the table, connecting pvc pipes to the sides of the tables, keeping table cloths from flying everywhere, and hanging signs off the table. They are affordable and come in insane industrial strength. Industrial as in you can toss it against the wall or hang over fifty pounds without it having a scratch. It’s a great investment that can last for decades.

A beautiful young lady reminded me the wonders of clamps. Genius!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here her stand is set up. A four tier wire shelf frame stacked vertically, held only by two clamps for each stand. As you can see, it’s pretty strong. If it was a windy day, it’d probably keep, but always be safe and add another extra one or two if you’re going outside ;)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image Courtesy of ScuttleButtInk: [link] and [link].

Tape: Something like masking tape might not do. You may need to go one grade up to ‘artist’s tape’, find stronger scotch tape, and go heavy duty with duct tape or packaging tape. If you use the super strong stuff, make sure not to use too much, and make sure your images are lined inside something like mylar bags, so the inside won’t be damaged if you ripped the tape apart.

WEIGHTS: A can of soda might work. Actually depending on what you’re weighing down, you might need a six pack. Or binder clips, or something like duct tape.

FOAM: This is more for the artists who sell crafts. You’ll usually see them sticking things like rings and necklaces in them. Not really for drawings. But excellent for jewelry and buttons.

PINS: For me, I actually pin all my pinback buttons on a piece of cloth when I sell it, so if you have something that can be hanged, something simple like pins are ok. Safety pins are so great too (especially if a cosplayer needs emergency help too)

Anyhow, here is a diagram of problems with windy weather:

Wind tunnel

(click image for larger size)

Since this is just for guidance, know that these things can’t save you from tornadoes, thunderstorms, or anything of the like. If you check the weather a week ahead and find out there’s pretty bad weather and lose hope, I’d recommend you cancel your table/refund/transfer to another artist with the guts to do it.

Random story

Once it was quite the windy day. Really hated it. Me, my tablemates, customers….I’d say everyone sitting there were in hell. It was seriously WINDY. So as the tape was very weak on all our work, the wind would literally blow our crap away. I think it was me or someone near my table, but we were literally chasing after some artwork that ripped off a stand and flew away! When I hear about tables being outside, I don’t bother buying a table at all. Not because of customers (hell, tons of people walk by because it’s outside in public), but it’s because of that tiny chance of intense weather. Here in the Bay Area, it’s starting to get unpredictable too. 

…and there you go. Hope this helps :D

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Angry Artist Alley! What do THEY want to buy?

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So someone asked me on Facebook: Juri Renee  What cons do you sell your comics at that you have found successful?

Juri’s Deviantart: [link]

answer: Many, many years ago it was at anime conventions. As work changed, I did not really fit in to those cons anymore, as demand for original artwork was very low. One of my best experiences was at Hypercon or Kinyoobi Con (i forgot which one). It was one of those conventions that didn’t have much of a reputation but I ended up with more commissions than I could handle in the same day. I decided to pursue my art in another darker direction though, but it didn’t fare too well with my audience. The years after, it was not so great anymore. In fact, I saw a lot of moms dragging their kids away from my artwork telling them ‘not to look’. Sadly, either I had to changed my work, find another convention, or leave. It was a dumb move for me, but I decided to change my work to fit the crowd better. Fast forward years later, where I had a talk with Anthony. After that talk, I reverted back to what I loved to draw and just not care if other people hated it, and appreciate the ones who did like it.

I would love to mention a guy called Anthony Leano for my change in work. He is in charge of finding panelists in Sac-Con and Sac-Anime and I see him all the time. Actually I didn’t know that he was in charge of anything at cons until last year, but I am quite aware that he is more experienced at this than I am. He gave me a small talk:

“The cons I found successful weren’t about how many people were there. Nor was it how well done your work was either. They were the ones where the people who liked your art bought it.” 

Why would I say this? No matter how professional your stuff looks, if consumers at the convention weren’t looking for that, they’d turn their heads and walk away. As my work strayed farther and farther from generic anime-style like artwork to what it is now, the less my work was looked at in anime conventions. Fast forward about two years, when Attack on Titan gets popular for gore and intense action was the new hype for animation, people became more tolerant of my work.

Anyhow, here’s my timeline of work. If I sound sarcastic when you read this, I am not. But take it with a grain of salt, because everyone’s work has a different impact on other people.

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Examples: (early drawings like this got me hundreds of bucks by end of the day) (then my work started to change ‘style’) (what my work looks now) This was one of the far more popular pieces. 2009. This was when Gurren Lagaan got very popular. Probably the prime years of my wallet cash, when people would actually start asking me to draw for them. Key Ideas: Find out what’s ‘hip’

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.This piece was done in 2011. At the moment, Deadman Wonderland was an underground kind of series. I’d say it’s a decent work of inking, but when people saw it, it looked a bit ‘dark’. People pretty much glanced at it. Around this year, I started noticing a decline in sales. Parents were dragging their kids away from my table because the work seemed a bit too ‘dark’. From earning around a hundred to only fourty dollars at a convention (despite going to bigger ones)

Key Ideas: Drawing an unknown series is risky because people almost always want  the popular generic fanart at anime conventions. When someone really DOES see it and know the series, you can grab attention though. HOWEVER it can also be a double edged sword, as many other tables would be thinking the same. So sometimes having some obscure stuff can allow for better audience for certain niches. In the end, the best way to think about it is to do what you love, and the right people who love it will come.

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A year later, when I only earned forty bucks, I took a short hiatus to reflect on what the hell I was doing. I think this was the time when I just stopped caring what other people expected from my work, and just do what I like myself.

 

 

 

Sakura

 

 

 

I think this was about 2013, when I decided to find inspiration from other artists. One of the artists that I look up to was colorblind, and he introduced me to Pentel Brush Pens. I took inspiration from people like Jonathan Wayshak, Barron Storey, and Mike Mignola, then I played a whole lot of Street Fighter, and watched a shitwad of action anime, and and stuff just kind of brimmed into this mashup.

 

 

set2a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward to 2015, where I realized that illustration never came easy for me, and I loved my nitty gritty comics more. Literally, zero f*cks given that it’s not anime-style, that it’s dark and gritty, there’s almost never color, and it’s a comic. If you don’t like it, well I’m not sorry it doesn’t meet your standards (lol I’ve become so salty).
tsumugi

Food for thought: I stopped selling at conventions around February 2015 to rethink some of my work, toss out most of my old stuff, and also received some very insulting comments from several people online. Although I walked out of conventions, immediately afterwards, projects and commissions opened up. So sometimes, if you need a little break from conventions, it might just be more rewarding to just work at home instead for a while.

 

 

But…WHY DIDN’T I EARN MUCH AFTER 2011?
(Read this article for even more detail)

You need to make sure you’re sitting behind the right convention to sell your stuff.

The reason I wasn’t selling very well at big conventions was that they were all practically ANIME and indie conventions. Some old conventions actually started off as comic conventions, but because the world of Japanese media grew, people lost interest in my work at those particular conventions.

Specific conventions attract different customers who actually have something else in mind. Of course, sometimes an artist that has completely different work will pop in and grab a ton of attention, but for myself, through experience, it has never happened with my own work, personally. Here are some ideas:

Comic Conventions: Tables here are the most expensive of all other themed conventions. Beginning artists, professionals alike. These conventions celebrate more of the professional/self published, and artist and customer understand each other far better. If your work is unique, and you have a decent knowledge of comics, this is a good choice. You can often meet professionals here if you have questions or you find a hard time with getting into the business. I would like to mention Tone Rodriguez for really bringing my hopes up as a comic artist. Great for the ones who want to break into comics. But if you’re not ready to earn back that hundred fifty for that table (some are more expensive), it might not be the best idea. Commissions are often based on popularity and skill of artist

Regarding crafts, I have seen so much variety (from clothes, masks, steampunk, toys, mugs, etc) that even I can’t tell you about this one. I usually go to these things to shop for comics. But in regards to that, comic conventions are definitely better to sell comics than anime conventions in my opinion.

On a personal note, I find the atmosphere at these conventions much more positive, and I often find myself going to these more to shop for comics and meet artists than actually selling, since opportunities to meet world famous artists are more common here than at anime conventions. My overall experience was that business is just average, but the people I meet is above average. I end up walking out with new knowledge of some sort to apply to my work, and/or just a LOT of swag. 

Anime-specific Conventions: I say ‘anime-specific’ as in the description of the convention IS  an ‘Anime’ convention. Some are not called that, but happen to have a lot of ‘Anime’ artists. I know that word means ‘comic’ in Japanese, and the style can mean a lot of things. But why do I call it ‘manga’ or ‘anime’style? Think about that for a second. Okay you can stop thinking for a second. Or keep thinking. But what’s the first couple things that just popped up in your head? Naruto? Bleach? EXACTLY. This genre of art, this demand. Don’t expect too much commercial exposure here anyways. Few are professionals walking around a convention like these looking to hire people. Places like these are loaded with hormone-rushed teenagers and adults in love with a fictional character a bit too much (I’m one of those as well). There are lots of moms dragging kids there too, so you have to watch out. The first thing that pops out to a consumer is the fanservice delivered on your artwork. Draw Kirito with no shirt and his sword+jacket, the girls AND guys will be flinging at you. I use the word ‘fanservice’ but I also mean very dramatic moments in the series which bring back emotions to the viewer. For example, a death scene, or a character rising up from the ground. Second is if they recognize the series. A picture of Sakura kissing Naruto on the cheek would grab far more attention than a drawing of Gasai Yuno kissing Yukiteru(Mirai Nikki). Also, when you’re asked to draw them as an anime character, slap some ‘anime’ eyes on a circle, put the same color shirt and hair on it, and you’re done (sarcasm). I’ve never seen an unsatisfied customer staring the most pathetic attempt before . Not at my table, not at others. Nope. The whole concept of them being an anime character seems to blow their mind. None of these concepts requires a Da Vinci to handle it.

For craft artists, I can simplify it to this: ‘Kawaii is the way-ee”. Cute stuff is awesome. Nerdy cute stuff, even cuter. I don’t think I need to say more here.

Exception: Yaoi-Con is a 17-years-or-older convention. Because moms don’t bring their kids, and the people are old enough to understand the effort we put in this, original art is a bit more celebrated here. Also, you can put more adult stuff in front.

In my personal experience, my work used to sell really well at anime cons, but the more my work changed, the less business I was making. I’ve tried fanart vs. non-fanart, and for me, fanart definitely sold much better than non-fanart, but when I did art trades, a lot of the time the artists would want my non-fanart prints. I’d still say that my highest business yield are anime prime conventions, just because the fanart usually revolves around anime series or cartoon series often seen by anime fans.

Indie/Craft Cons: These emphasize artists the most. They vary from professionalism to really indie. I will explain the ones that are ‘Indie.’ These are usually handmade work, self published, or hand crafted. Because they’re varied, here is just one idea I picked up: Make sure your work looks ‘hand-made’ and/or ‘unprofessional’. It seems, from my experiences, that things that have been set into online printing presses are barely looked at, while comics that have been hand made/screen printed and stapled sell MUCH faster. Quite a number of them look like shit to me actually (not the art, just presenting it). Even more are the black and white printer paper copies that look rushed. Also, making it unique and artsy helps. It’s hard to interpret that idea, you just have to figure that out on your own. Do not expect many commissions at all here. People are as broke as you, lurking at tables. Unless the customer is aware that they can ask for commissions, don’t expect much from here.

Regarding crafts, these conventions are the most erratic, so I can’t give any specific advice here, sorry. All I can say is that I like buying homemade soaps :3

This is all speculation from my experience and some experience from other artists who have gone to these small ones. 

Exception: LARGE indie comic cons, such as Alternative Press Expo has been regarded more for very serious individuals trying to get into the art world, although it is for indie artwork. These should be regarded more as ‘comic conventions’ and not ‘indie’ conventions even though the intention is for indie artists.

Cultural Events: These sucked for me the most. All I can really say is to keep your work unique. Because it celebrates a culture, there are many other people obviously selling the same thing you are, or can also see a professional company/business/store that has it right in front of the window for cheaper. I can’t say more to this, because I’ve never had a positive experience with it. They’re usually boring anyhow, since people walking by are just there to browse and not buy.

So there you have it. Don’t buy a table where you’re not sure you can earn back enough money to hit the green zone. But it doesn’t hurt to try it at least once in your life to have that experience. Click for article.

Some food for thought:
This is just a personal blurb, but I think if you want to sell fanart themed work, you should like what you make. It shouldn’t be art that is forced on to you because some random person online really wanted you to make it and you didn’t even feel like drawing it. I think artists should make up their mind on doing their favorite things instead of doing something they don’t even know about or even care about. So make something from the bottom of your heart. It may not be the most popular character from the most popular series that you don’t even like, but it’s something you put your heart into, and those are the ones that build friendship bonds between customer and artist. 

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And you thought Copics could only do one thing?

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Ah, I was once given the question ‘why don’t you use watercolors instead?’
Well, I mean they’re cheaper and can do a lot too, but I guess the only answer I have for that is ‘because it’s different’

I am very angry and disappointed about kids who invest in these fancy Copics without even understanding how much it can do! I mean, I guess I used to be one, but my first set was given by my friends in highschool as a gift (they chipped in to get me a set! d’aaw). I’m gonna say a ton of tutorials online only show you how to do it one way, and well….there’s more than just a few ways to utilize a marker.

First off, recently I decided to invest in a copic aircan set. I got it because I saw some frames from the comic Dorohedoro that looked like it was airbrushed…then had the urge to copy that. For anyone interested, I highly do not recommend you buying it unless you’re REALLY serious about using it, not a noob, or dedicated to learning it. I especially want to emphasize the last one–some people buy copic markers because everyone else is using them, and find out they don’t really use it except to color spots on pictures or draw lines. Get it if you know what you’re doing.

And here is a tutorial about a piece I worked on, colored entirely with Copic Markers:

1. The first thing to any picture is to think of a topic and draw out the idea. For me, I was thinking of Ghost In the Shell, killing robots, cyborgs and just happened to be reading Battle Angel Alita as well. Anyhow, I started with the blue line pencil, because as any of you know, I keep losing my pencils and the color blue just happens to pop out of my pile of pens more than a pencil.

2. I used a dip pen to ink it. Yes, entire thing. Took an entire night and morning, but it was cool.

3. When I scanned it in, I realized the composition was POOR. But I kept going, because I knew I can just crop it to whatever size.

4. I colored in the girl, and started airbrushing (Copic Air Can, adaptor+ 180). I forgot to take a photo of me coloring the girl, sorry sorry ^_^’

MAKE SURE TO WORK WITH AN OPEN WINDOW AND A MASK IF YOU HAVE ONE!

5. As you can see, when you’re done airbrushing, it looks awful. BUT, don’t fret!

6. I smoothed out all black/blue areas with grey and more black markers, and the shadows tightened with the markers. I did not airbrush for this. I also didn’t show the part after this, but I had to go to the art store to get another can.

7. NOW you’re wondering ‘no way what the hell are you thinking? Well, I watched simple airbrush tutorials, and I remembered a demo that Edel Rodriguez did in my Illustration 5 class where he masked areas with Frisket and just rolled solid colors over it. Well, here I gave some color and depth, and then..

8. Ta-da! peel the frisket paper!

It ended up looking like this:

sweet, clean, and sexy.

Now, the final run.

9. Again, I put frisket paper on the thing again and airbrushed a peachy background (there was enough grey in it, I had to brighten it up a bit). Then I colored in the basic flag, but it was too clean for my taste.

10. I airbrushed some random colors, but it STILL looked too smooth. So I used my colorless blender, and made spots by just dipping the marker onto the flag for a few seconds. Usually that’s an awful thing to do with your images, but for this particular picture, I wanted that flag to look a little less joyful and a little more nasty. Also, it was blending in with the hair too much.

11. Well, done with the picture, and scanned it in. However, I mentioned the image’s composition is very poor. Plus, I needed to make this postcard size so I can print it at a convention. SO, the final picture ended up like this:

I was going to add some white highlights to it, but I kinda felt the dirty colors gave it a deep mood. I was thinking of adding texture to the saws, but I felt it would blend in too much with the foreground, so I didn’t touch it.

….and there you go. There’s more than one way to use a Copic Marker. Now if only the company could sponsor me…..

Some progress of marker work a year later:

 

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