Angry Artist Alley: Taking the ‘leap’

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A number of artists talked to me about this topic at previous conventions I’ve attended, so I decided to write this article. It might sound a little biased here, but if you want to argue with me, I hope you’ve actually tried this stuff before stating your opinion about it.

When I mean fanart, it means that you do not own the Intellectual Property/Copyright of the characters in the image. Let’s ignore America’s leniency with with dead copyright holders, historical art, parody, and journalism use for this topic. You are basically taking a preexisting character, and then you make an image with them on it, in your style of art. Some people use quotes or logos from the series. And some would make an obvious innuendo of a character’s design on their work (such as fanart hats, hairties, etc). That’s pretty much how people would determine fanart for artist alley. Simple as that.

Then you have ‘original art’. This means that you are the creator of that intellectual property or own copyrights to the characters in the image. In simple terms, you made it, you named them. Maybe it’s a comic–you made the comic yourself with your own characters. Or maybe they’re crafts and plushies–you designed those characters.

The problem with selling original art for MOST (because i know it doesn’t apply to every single one of you), is that fanart often deters away from your original art. Let’s face it–fanart sells, that’s why we’re at artist alley, and we need cash to survive. Sure, you love when people compliment your work, or cheer you on, but in the end, you can give yourself a huge pat on the back when you check your wallet after the convention. But…if you’re not selling fanart, there’s the deep root of fear that you may be end up loosing a LOT more money than you are gaining at these conventions. It’s a legit fear. “Those tables can cost a lot! What if people don’t like my original art?”

Well, I’m here to tell you my experience. I’m not going to happily say ‘yes it’s the best thing ever and you can do it’ but I’m also not going to go ‘no don’t try it at all’. These thoughts and decisions are for YOU to decide. I can’t tell you if you are going to like it or not. But what I can tell you is that if you don’t TRY it for a while, you won’t experience it.

So, I’ve grouped my experience with artists into three groups. I’ll tell you honestly that I have gone through phases of all three of these groups, back and forth. Yes, humans change their mind, and so I’ve changed my mind all the time on this issue. It’s a very fine line between these ideas, and there are exceptions to all of them, but I’m grouping these artists up in three categories to make my explanation easier. You will find that you may be jumping in and out of your work, your decisions on selling what kind of work, and even regretting your decisions. THAT IS OKAY. IT HAPPENS. No one is perfect, and there was never a set of rules about what’s right or wrong in these situations. I’d like to emphasize that if you have not been in all three of these categories, you should not be judging other people who are a part of the other categories; everyone goes to artist alley for different reasons, and yours might be different from theirs.

Category A: I stand firmly by the belief that fanart is pretty much the only way I can earn money at the convention or promote. People in this category are here to boldly make the dough, and they know that fanart does the trick. Maybe they like a niche and love to celebrate it with their other fellow niche lovers who don’t see much fanart of it. There’s plenty of reasons to be in this category. But in the end, it’s mostly for financial success.

Category B: I mostly do fanart, but I’m kind of scared to sell original art! You’re probably doing a great job selling fanart already. You might sell a few original pieces of art on their table, but it’s almost entirely made up of fanart. Maybe your original art isn’t selling very well, so you eventually take it off the display. But in the end, the fear of an empty wallet or strong criticism is keeping you from doing much more than those few pieces of art, or making more space for it at your table.

Category C: I’m here to promote; here’s my original work! If you’re in this category, it’s likely that you are there to promote MORE than you are there to profit. Maybe you accepted the fact that you don’t earn that much at artist alley anyways, or have a second means of income that keeps your project going. Your table is mostly or entirely made up of your original work. Maybe just earning enough to keep that table in artist alley will suffice, as long as people are buying your art and checking out your sites.

Tip: Get a second job. You’ll have to work harder, but you’ll have funding for your projects.

Talking to various artists about conventions, the main problem I think about trying to promote original art is that the investment is often high, and the fear of never being able to make back that money holds people back. Unfortunately, that’s just the gamble you’re going to need to take if you want to promote your work. But if you’re really serious about showing your original content, then NO ONE will be able to see it if you don’t make it!

Make the sacrifice, and make the majority of your table (if not all) your own personal work. I’ve read various articles of professional artists who stop selling fanart at conventions so that they can promote their personal work. Always make sure your priority is the work you want to create for yourself, not others. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF DAMMIT. What’s the harm in doing that?

You will likely do poorly the first time in sales, but that does not constitute as a failure. I know I earned significantly less money after I stopped selling fanart at my table. But I REALLY wanted to promote my horror comics and CONventional. I’ve never sold so many of my comics before until I put the fanart away from my table. All eyes on the prize, I suppose. But that still didn’t mean much profit for me. The conversations I have about horror manga artists, convention etiquette, and etc. are SO FUN! I manage, and I am very proud of what has become of CONventional, when people walk up to me and talk to me about the comic even though we’ve never met before.

What can you do to make your big leap to selling original art easier?
Get rid of the fanart: Make room for your personal work, so people can see it on your table clearly. This is the biggest sacrifice, but when people come to your table, it will be all eyes on your work, and your work only. If you’re super duper scared, you can leave one or two pieces of fanart there. There’s no rule to how this works, and I haven’t experimented enough to give anyone a solid answer on how to do this ^_^;

Share tables: I am very sure that if you are Category B and want to transition to Category C, you won’t have much to sell on your first few times. THAT IS OKAY! That’s what table sharing is for! I shared tables on my first time trying it out, but the next convention half a year later, I had enough time to fill up the other half of the table!

Indie Artist Tables: Some conventions have a specific space for artists that aren’t selling fanart to promote. They often cost extra, but tables are larger (which are perfect for sharing), and often put in a more comfortable spot at conventions, next to other artists who are selling original work. When the artist to the left and right of you aren’t selling fanart, nothing deters the attendees from walking away from your table; there’s no competition of art whatsoever. From personal experience, the feeling of competition is almost non-existent compared to being sandwiched between tables with walls of fanart prints.

Have Confidence: You won’t hit it big the first time. Or second. Or third. Treat your first time like it was the very very first time you tabled at a convention. No one has seen your art before, but that doesn’t stop you from being at that table to show them what you got!

What did I lose and gain from selling only original art at my table?
The main thing is that I lost was a lot of money. It’s thanks to a day job and a patreon that keep me going right now. I am not sure what the right word to describe the feeling I gained from the experience, but it’s a mixture of ‘confidence’ and ‘dignity’. CONventional is a free comic, but it has become my most successful work, as they are freebie comics in all the Krakencon swag bags, as well as the one time at Kumoricon where they were giant signs for the Black and White ball. I always leave a tip jar to fund the printing of the comics, and it has always helped keep the project going. One of the happiest things that have happened to me recently was a fan of my original horror comic actively looked for my table at Krakencon so that he could check out the second comic in the series! These are feelings I have never felt just selling fanart at conventions. So I lost something, but I gained something else from these experiences.

Some Misconceptions:

Just because you sell original art at artist alley, that should NOT keep you from drawing fanart anywhere else. In fact, most of the stuff I post on the internet is all fanart! It’s only at conventions where you see the majority my original works. I’ve gotten confused behavior at conventions when they find out I’m not selling fanart, but it is often followed by curiosity of the other stuff I make!

You don’t have to make every single convention a convention where you only sell original art. I only put an effort to do this at two specific conventions, since the audience is the broadest. The other conventions are for-profit for myself (since they’re local and most people know me in that area), and I will put up my fanart at those conventions (i still promote my original work though). But I emphasize that you need to be brave if you want to promote your work. I traveled all the way to Austin and Seattle just to promote my comic! It was so worth it….and so was the food….yummy :3

Just because it’s original art, it doesn’t mean everyone will like it. This applies to fanart as well. Some people will like it, some will not. It’s not like everyone will love my horror comics (nor should any kid under 13 be reading them). Nor will they like my weird sculptures. Don’t assume your audience. But know that if you are making what you personally enjoy, then you will attract the right kind of fans who want to see your work.

If you want to only sell fanart, go ahead.
I really don’t know why you read all the way to the end if you weren’t interested in this topic in the first place :P
Like I said, I only ENTIRELY get rid of fanart on my table for just a select few conventions. I might have something lingering here or there, but the main highlight on my table are all my comics.

Anyways, whether or not you want to try my advice is up to you. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to ‘take the leap’

Artist Highlight: Avelino!
Tumblr | Instagram | Twitter | Site

where is he? :P

I met this guy at Sakuracon a few weeks ago. He was so shy, that when i asked for a photo of his table, he didn’t want to be in the picture! Actually, a lot of artists are like that, and I emphasize that this is one of many reasons you should ASK before taking photos at artist alley.
Okay, moving on, we met properly at the end of Sakuracon’s ‘Artist Meet and Greet’ event, and had a semi-intellectual conversation with another artist who was at the event, Eva about this topic. Will he pursue his dreams? I don’t know, but I’ll root for him if he does. I wrote this article about four months ago, but have been really hesitant about posting it, in fear of how harsh and biased it might sound to other artists, but these two really showed me that I’m not the only one who’s been in that boat for so long. Also, I’m very inclined to go to Sakuracon next year just to meet up with them again :D

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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

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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: How do I order a commission?

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This article is pointed more for the consumer and not artist (although i recommend both of you read it). I get asked this quite a bit at cons, and some people are too nervous to ask the artist even though the sign is in plain sight. So be brave, because you may never ever get the chance to request whatever you want next time you go to that con ;)

You might think it’s really obvious people will want a commission. But why the hell do you always see signs on everyone’s table that says “Yes, I do commissions!” I’ve got two hanging on my table, and one inside my portfolio. Do I really need that many? Hell, I don’t think people really pay attention to  my table but it’s there. Usually people just ask. Or they don’t know it at all. Or too scared to ask.

But uh…what’s a commission?

The quick answer is that you can ask the artist to draw something for you, for a price. Your request will determine the price, and the artist will execute it for you. Approximate time varies between artists and projects.

Is it just for drawing?

Nope. Crafts and even services (like music) can be requested as commission. At comic conventions, drawing just happens to be the biggest thing around.

To the consumer:

  • Before you even CONSIDER ordering a commission, LOOK AT THEIR ART. If you LIKE the art, THEN YOU ASK. Not the other way around. If you are staring at the price tag and not even the art, this is very poor conduct. At least glance at what you like before you choose whether or not you want a commission. Often there are samples in portfolio binders on the table, please check those out too.
  • Please do not ask the artist drawing behind the table ‘hi, did you draw this?’ It’s kind of a given, but you have no idea how many times people ask me that when I’m doing a commission behind the table. It really grinds my gears, but you know, it’s the same feeling when people ask you how much something is on the table when there’s a freakin price tag right next to it. And sometimes when the person didn’t draw the work they are flattered that you think they did. Now, if they’re not drawing behind the table, that’s when you have reason to ask.
  • If you see a sign that says ‘I do commissions!’ or ‘ask me to draw anything!’ or ‘I do requests!’ or any other similar sort, please ask “hi, can I order a commission?” instead of “do you do commissions?” The latter is when you can NOT see a sign on the table. This is because not all artists will do requests, and that when there’s a sign on the table, you don’t want to have the artist constantly repeat themselves.
  • Don’t just blindly ask ‘how much does a commission cost?’. This confuses the artist many times, because it can cost anything. Instead, point to an example, ask about an inked piece, or pencilled piece, etc. Give some sort of direction before you just ask that question. This clears a lot of things up. **to the artist: this is why you need a portfolio or set examples on the table so people can see what you’re capable of.
  • Pay beforehand. Because if that artist drew it and you forgot to pick up your commission, you practically wasted the artist’s time to do other commissions as well as have them hanging with a piece of work they have no idea what to do.
  • Remember to pick up your commission. No seriously, if you forget don’t blame it on the artist.  I still have a Heart no Kuni no Alice bookmark from five years ago, person never paid for it or picked it up yet.
  • If you’re an artist, avoid asking ‘how do you do this?’ Artists have trade secrets and sometimes aren’t really comfortable talking about it. Not everyone is very open to how they execute things.
  • If you are going to use it as a website logo or company work, you must inform the artist. That kind of work should require a contract or document, most commissions at comic conventions are more for non commercial purposes only (like a souvenir or gift, not like a resale or company mascot thing).

To the artist:

  • Customer should pay FIRST. The half and half thing is too much of a hassle, and you should be responsible for working your best on a commission. To make sure your customer gets the commission, please read this article.
  • Don’t half ass it. No.
  • There will be times where you have absolutely no idea why someone in their right mind asked you to draw something, but you don’t mind drawing it. I’ve had a kid come to my table asking for Shugo Chara when my entire table was infested with drawings of people jumping in the air, punching the paper, or slashing a weapon at the viewer. She was ten and her dad just told me she liked my work. Well, hope she liked it. 
  • If someone is going to use it for their website/company, you should charge much more, as you are literally giving them commercial rights to use your design on everything they’re using it for. It’s completely different business, and should be dealt with more professionally.

How do I order a commission at a convention?

1) Look at the artist’s work first. Hopefully there’s a portfolio, and a stand with lots of prints or whatever. If it’s crafts, you can often pick up and touch the stuff (but make sure there’s a sign that says it’s okay to touch, because sometimes it’s not). If you like the work, THEN ask for the price.

*if you ask the artist for the price and THEN ask a request, it’s like paying someone to draw something for cheap without caring how good or bad it looks. This is VERY poor conduct, and I am really against it. This situation is often caused by people who under price their commission work, and often upsets the balance of everyone else’s commission prices.  When I see a booth selling sketches for under ten dollars, it makes me sad, because I feel the artist feels that they aren’t worth more than that.  Pricing my own drawings for twenty is already low (I don’t sell sketches I sell inks and colors), but because of the ‘competition’ of prices, it’s probably going to stay that low until people consider selling their sketches for more than ten dollars.

2) Politely ask the artist about a commission. If their table has a sign that indicates they will draw requests or do commissions, then just ask for a request directly. You don’t have to first ask ‘did you draw this?’ and then ‘do you do commissions?’ Just ask ‘Hi, can I order a commission? How much does it cost for ________?’ This gives the artist a peace of mind when they know you are somewhat committed before asking the price. Also tells the artist that you respect their artwork before asking how much it would cost. Of course, sometimes budget is not good, but the fact that you liked the work before you thought of the price is a better feeling for the artist than asking for the price and walking away.

3) Tell them what you want. Remember, this is a comic convention. Be mature about what you want. There’s a line between asking something ridiculous just to piss off or make the artist uncomfortable, and asking the artist to draw something you like but not sure if they’re okay with it. If you are really asking something absurd, highly detailed, gundams, added background, or pornographic, prepare to pay extra money.

4) Give them the payment, leave your name and number for them. Also, remember where their table is located. Artist will contact you when they’re done, or in some other way (depending on artist’s preferences). For you artists, check this post out.

5) Come back to the table and admire it. Upon receiving, regardless if you like it or not you should thank the artist and be happy. If you didn’t like it, then pay the artist AGAIN and ask. I’d hate for that to happen, but hey, at least you will be given ‘another chance’ with a little extra cash. Don’t toss it. Think of it like this: the artist probably spent over an hour for you, you should be happy for that.

Someone once asked me to do a bleach commission, and although I admit it wasn’t the best thing in the world, when he saw a picture of it (because i had to drop it off for him), he told me to ‘just keep it’. I was so heartbroken :(

….and there you have it.

This guy pre-ordered two color commissions from me and picked it up at Animation on Display 2014. Of all the things he requested, I have not been asked to do a color commission in about two years (although i constantly do color stuff on my own for my prints). Like I said before, sometimes you just get that art request that seems to be really out of place, but sometimes is really fun because of it. Here’s my happy customer:

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Rebecca and Nami, One Piece. Color commission, Marker. Each was trimmed and came with a backing board (which is why he could hold both pieces like that). I got so excited when I got this request, I hope that guy feels the same too.

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Angry Artist Alley: Can you draw me a…..?

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This is an article is to point out what might or might not be a sensitive topic for artists and consumers, hope to bring empathy to both sides of a nonexistent argument.

One thing I want to tell everyone is that as an artist, we have the freedom to draw what we want. Whether or not you like it, we’ll do it for ourselves. Sometimes we draw it for you too. And you have the freedom of liking what you like too. Everyone has their own little fetish. That’s the wonders of internet. Just don’t get caught with child pornography videos on your computer though.

And another thing is that yes, people have their likes and dislikes, but you shouldn’t hate someone just because you don’t like something they like.
This happened twice recently, and I am concerned about this kind of….behavior.

In my most recent two conventions, someone asked me ‘H…hi….d…do you d-d-draw f-f-furries?’ I’ve never been approached with that thing, but I said ‘Sure, although it’s my first time I don’t mind’  Well, I didn’t get to, probably because I said it was my first time, but yea. Here’s my point:

We’ve got people who like furries, people who love moe, people who love yaoi, people who love BOOOOOBs, you get it. I’ll be honest here: I like blood and guts. It’s pretty obvious from my table stand. I’m not embarrassed (okay maybe when little kids get nervous, but that’s what their mommies are for). I’ve got a number of nicely built women on the pics. Yes they have four packs, what about it? But don’t be too shy. We all like something not everyone else does, it just gets REALLY extreme that’s all. The internet is full of wonders, yes?

I mean, I think it’s great you walked up to my table and even decided to ask me if I could draw something. But don’t be too shy (it makes me uncomfortable too!), what’s the worst someone can do to a complete stranger they don’t know in that situation? They’d just say no (well there could be worse but don’t argue with this). And if they joke about it with their friends, it’s not like they know who you are and if you’re scarred forever. Hell if that’s the issue, this blog would be flooded by some seriously ridiculous requests.

In my comic drawing group, I used to think people who did the kind of art where girls had quadruple FFF cup sizes and people who drew women with unworldly amount of muscles were really freaky people I should never associate with. But you know, they’re pretty much as normal as anyone else. Like sure, they’re not ashamed of liking it, but do I hate them because of that? Nope, and I think they’re really cool people! We draw on google hangout, and of course, one person is courteous enough to turn off his screenshare when he is doing NSFW stuff. What a gentleman!

donthate

So I’m talking as an artist behind artist alley: You don’t hate someone because they asked you to draw something specific. Sure I can see how you might think they’ve got a few loose screws in their head, but if you don’t want to draw what they like, don’t do it! And if you want to challenge yourself, then be my guest. You set up an artist alley table at a comic convention, what do you expect? But here’s the thing–don’t hate your customer because they like a certain kind of art (i.e’ i hate that person coz they like sasuke, or I hate that person because they’re a brony). That is, unless they’re pushin your buttons and trying to make you very uncomfortable, and communication sucks. Then you have my permission.

And I’m going to talk to the consumer here: Have some confidence in what you want. Just ask ‘do you draw yaoi?’ or ‘do you draw furries?’. Don’t be too hesitant, some of us get it. Some of us might not look like we’re into that stuff yet turn out to do it secretly and then secretly get excited they got a chance to do a commission of it for someone. Here’s another thing: you just walked into a COMIC CONVENTION, and you don’t think some of us understand you?  What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t know you.

Last convention there was a boy who made a slight argument about one true pairings and how he doesn’t get how people would be interested in Yaoi pairings. I just answered ‘boy, you have no idea’ and giggled. Too cute. 

Be confident.

For anyone who is interested, I have never drawn furries in my life because no one has commissioned me, and if you do, yes i can do it. Hell, if  it’s yuri, yaoi, loli, shota, guro, any of that stuff I’m completely fine with drawing it, as long as it’s not extreme NSFW stuff. One thing I do NOT draw are dead turtles, or kids shooting other people. Many artists have things they’re okay with drawing, and some have things they don’t feel comfortable drawing. If you’re curious as to what the artist might like drawing, LOOK AT THE ART ON THEIR TABLE. And if the artist you’re commissioning isn’t comfortable with drawing what you want, don’t push it. Peer pressure is horrible at a con. Please request responsibly :)

WAIT. Whatever you do, avoid drawing highly religious figures: I don’t want to get into the specifics, but there have been instances involving shootings. So be careful, don’t push it THAT far.

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Angry Artist Alley: Take what you need, get what you can

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This is a small series made from a powerpoint presentation back in Fanime 2013, where I did a lecture called “Artist Alley: Survival Guide”, in attempt to weed out the weak who were unprepared for conventions. Each one of these is a short article of one of the topics dealt with from that panel. In the panel, I tried to make it a ‘midevil’ theme, and tried to sound as mean and blunt as possible, trying to make artist alley seem impossible for the weak. Unfortunately, at the end of this panel a number of people were taking notes on paper, and I think I gave them hope. Well shit. Anyhow, anyone in artist alley should still be aware of this stuff, even if it sounds or feels awful. All the drawings were the same things I used for the powerpoint.

 Take what you need, get what you can

In personally felt this was a huge mistake when I worked this out, and hope no one ever does something as idiotic as I’ve done for years. Sometimes being thrifty is good, and sometimes you need to sacrifice what little money you have to make it better. And what’s up with now? Shit cost more, and shit you sell costs less. Article about that here: http://www.jackieloart.com/blog/angry-artist-alley-my-art-is-worth-too-much/

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Anyhow, not that I’m super pro at it, but as always, I have something to say about it.

Don’t over purchase for preparing

If you’ve never sold stickers or buttons in your life, don’t overdo it. What if people don’t like your design? Where will these little buttons go? You spent twenty bucks on prints? What if only one sells? Be prepared for a LOT of issues like this. Don’t spend more than you need. When you buy a stand, make sure you need that stand for a purpose. For me, I have no branded name yet (well, I’m trying ‘Paradox Punch‘ works, but I just started). My alias is Pineapple Pocky, but since I have no unique art, no mascot, nuthin special about me, I have not invested in a $40 banner. So same for you–if people don’t know you yet and you just started, it would be wise to start small and go up. Remember, there’s always a chance that all your money to make awesome stuff goes down the drain. I’ve gone through it a LOT of times. Very sad.

Bonus is incentive, not an obligation

Now, sometimes people love your stuff and they buy a button or a sticker. Please for the love of your own dignity don’t just start giving out free stuff just because they bought one little thing. Give free swag to people who are your buddies or deserve it. Just coz they paid you ten bucks for a print doesn’t mean you HAVE to give them a button, a sticker, and I dunno, another print. You’re not forced to give it out. You CAN if you want to, but I’ve just warned you. People might take advantage of you in future conventions. I used to ask my buddies for stuff  like this, and when my friends do it to me I can see I just lost ten bucks (and of course, if you refuse your buddy you’re an asshole). Also, don’t just ASK to have a print for free from a fellow artist, it’s more polite to either art-trade or BUY it from them. When the time comes, and it is for every single one of you artists, other artists will give you a print–at that moment, you will know that you have become enlightened as a good artist, friend, and comrade. But before that happens, please PLEASE don’t go kissing other peoples’ feet because they gave you five bucks for something and you *only* gave a print for them. They get what they pay, you’re not obliged to give them anymore than what was on that price tag.

And as a note about my own experience, nowadays I do get the occasional love of free art, but I find that taking a photo of them is worth more for me. I have a very hard time remembering names and faces, and although I can pinpoint an artist and their work, I cannot remember their name or face. When I take a photo, it’s like a happy little piece of me where I can remember who they are. So if you’ve ever heard me refuse your art but see me take a photo of you, think of it as giving me a ‘free print’ :]

Bargaining your price can be good AND bad

Another thing about licking your customer’s shoes. If they don’t like the price, don’t feel it’s the end of the world. I mean what–someone looks at your thing, you say it’s $20 and they walk away? Sure, you can lower it to $18, but you should never go down to something like $8. Just because someone LOOKS like they want to buy it, and they bargain, doesn’t mean you have to give them the lowest price ever. It’s OKAY to be a little stubborn. I mean, you’re trying to earn money here, it’s a very tedious method. Of course, don’t make the price insane as hell either. Man, I’ve seen people look at my buttons and stickers and go ‘omg two dollars?’ because other tables sell them for fifty cents or something. I mean, I’m not gonna hate them, if they don’t want it, then I guess my button was not worth two dollars to them. Pretty simple. And then sometimes, it’s nice to know that people like your work, but can’t completely afford something. That’s okay to lower the price, you know they want it, so give them a discount. There’s no set price, but you should never go overboard with every single person at the table.

Be smart, and respect yourself. Not that you need to hate everyone who doesn’t buy your work, and you can’t please the entire crowd. Just do what you can, be confident about your prices. Sometimes your ‘slightly higher’ price is bad, but you’ll notice people who buy it will actually buy it because they like the art, and not just because it’s ridiculously cheap (It’s a different feeling when they buy it). That usually makes me happy when I sell my work.

My two cents: I was given some rude comments online about how my art wasn’t ‘worth the price’. Look, I am an artist, and I have the right to charge however much I want. It’s absolutely not affecting your sales whatsoever, I honestly don’t see the problem. If you’re jealous, you have just as much rights as I do to raise yours as well. 

Featured Artists

Names: Alexis and Justin Hernandez.

Websitehttp://www.glowingraptor.com/shop/

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Their art is really cool, but I actually went to that table to get a bar of soap because I needed it to wash myself before Friday (This was Alternative Press Expo 2013 on Sunday). Thank goodness they had that table. Really nice smell, it’s handmade, and it made me squeaky clean.  You can purchase here:  http://www.glowingraptor.com/shop/product-category/bathandbody/. I bought the one called ‘Rejuvination’, but the tiny sample of ‘From Beyond’ would probably be my favorite scent. Anyways, great table, and a very happy couple. After that bar of soap, I’ve switched from liquid body wash to all natural soap bars now :D

Extra:

And another note, I’ve updated my online shop with a number of new kawaii-ness: http://www.zazzle.com/crazyapples*

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

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Angry Artist Alley! This money stuff is COMPLICATED!

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Haha,……yea it is. Well, some of you don’t give a crap either, as long as you’re making that money behind the table and getting good exposure. But for me, I graduated out of the California College of the Arts as an Illustration major. Pretty much got out of school with little knowledge about how crazy money management could get. I mean, sales tax in highschool, i can do that. But when you’re not relying on your parents money and stuff like that, you need to think very hard about your choices. Luckily I live with my parents :P

I recently learned Excel, and decided this would be a great opportunity to show my abilities in a real-life situation. Below is a downloadable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that will have blanks in it. All you have to do is fill out the numbers/words on the list, and it will calculate the funds for the entire year. So you guys don’t have to worry about whipping out the calculator every single time.

This is what it looks like:

excel sheet preview

This worksheet only applies to taxes for a single state. And sadly, different cities may charge different sales tax, and this little excel sheet can only read one number (unless you know Excel and you change it yourself). However, with some tweaking (if you know excel), it’s very easy to add extra numbers.

The following excel sheet will contain:

  • calculation of sales tax per year (how much money you earned and how much of it goes will be sales tax)
  • money on supplies/conventions (how much money you spent on tickets/transportation/equipment
  • total earnings for the year, and how much after calculating the amount spent
  • Calculating cost/earning per convention
  • average money per month
  • comparison of monthly earnings
  • payments due-by dates and how much you need to pay during that period. Basically after you shove all the numbers in, you just look at this box and write down the number on your sales taxes ;)

>CLICK TO DOWNLOAD<

*This sheet is in beta, so if you find a typo or a calculation issue, please tell me. Also, do not distribute without leaving credit to my site. That would be mean >:I

Although I’m not getting paid for this, if you could kindly spread the word about my blog for social networking sites, it would be nice of you to do so ^_^

Note: Paying taxes in California change a bit now, because they ask you for your total earnings instead of acquired taxes. Still, the chart can help you map out when to take a break from artist alley and help you prepare for future conventions. 

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Just another ANGRY artist alley day

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This is a personal rant about a convention I went to, with several explanations of stupid Artist Alley mistakes. I bet if it wasn’t for my medication’s ‘happy’ side effects, I would have tossed a chair at the wall. But…you know, shit happens. People can be ignorant, and my hopes for starting this whole ‘Angry Artist Alley’ was for noobies to NOT make dumb mistakes. I’ve been mentally trained volunteering at an elementary school, so I know it’s more because of their ignorance, and not out of spite.

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Photo was actually from Fanime 2013 and not Sac Con ; I couldn’t help but shove this pic in my article XD I was so preoccupied with shit that I could not take out my camera to take photos of this con.

Artist: Jason Bastos

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I feel like I should write more of these real life experiences in the future. But then that would just be a hate post (which is why I don’t mention bad conventions in my blog very often) You always learn from your mistakes, and even better, you don’t have to make those mistakes to learn it because someone like me already experienced it and taught you first. Of course, I’m sure many of you had worse times, and one of the experiences I had in this convention was so bad that I cannot open up to talk about it here  (sorry, I have my limits too!)

Also, SacCon I don’t hate you that much yet. It was a seriously shitty experience, but it was just because of the people sitting next to me and not the convention or customers (even though I barely made enough). So I’ll consider going again. Just hope that if I take Amtrak up there and not get a table until around 11:30 in that situation because of some serious misunderstanding, and you say ‘I’ll give you a refund if I call some people on the waitlist and they decide to come buy the table here………I honestly think giving a 25 dollar refund can’t possibly be too hard.

So, on to my day to SacCon:

Introduction: I took the Amtrak from Oakland to Sacramento early in the morning. Then after some trouble, I found the bus stop and took it. It was across the college campus and I decided to take a detour because there was no sidewalk for my wheeled cart to lug around. Apparently the Sacramento College only had enough money to buy a single entrance/exit fence door for the campus, and thus, I made an entire 360 and finally walked out, where I finally found the sidewalk.

My lesson? CSUS has one entrance and exit. Everything else is fenced all around except for that area. You have to walk around from one side of the campus because…there’s only one opening in that campus.

Preparing for Artist Alley:

I finally arrive at this place to find some lady who brought me to the room. I had to carry my wheeled briefcase by hand, which was quite a load. I don’t get why dollies are allowed to roll around but not briefcases with wheels here. Anyways, I I find the guy who was second-in-charge, I assume, because he had the artist alley wrist tags and sat in the same table as the guy in charge of artist alley, and was told to meet him. I got a hand tie, but I could not find any tables in artist alley that were open. He couldn’t either. EEEHH?! Seems like the trouble starts. I quietly sat on a chair nearby and waited for the guy in charge of Artist Alley tables to come back to help me out on this situation.

Lesson for artist alley staff? Don’t have a single guy memorize all the tables and not write it down for the other staff. When you leave to do your business, make sure you have someone who has the same amount of knowledge as you do before you leave. Or at least, leave a sheet of paper for your staff with the table numbers and name according to them. 

Setup….and breakdown?

And so, after what was about half an hour, this nice guy told me I could unpack my stuff at a table outside. Okay, fair enough. So I did. Later I saw the guy in charge of Artist Alley arrive at his table to sell his stuff, but did not come to my table so I assumed it was okay. Guess not.Then when I was about done unpacking, the table people next to me said they got a phone call and the artist that was supposed to sit at my spot was about to arrive in 10 minutes. Okay…so I unpacked.

Lesson for the artist alley helper? When there is a table change or issue and the guy in charge arrives, please notify them. Even if it’s minor it may pose an issue. I was ignored this whole time and then……….

Setup….can I get a refund?

Finally in contact with the guy in charge and pointed out my issue with AA and his problem, I asked for a refund because of negligence. Well, he said ‘NO’ and said that I could get one when he calls the people on the waiting list and see if anyone wants to buy the table from me. If they say yes I could get a refund. It was about 11:30 by now.

My lesson? No refunds for negligence. If I want a refund, I’ve got to wait for someone in waiting list to say “yes I’ll buy that table and come right away to sell for five and a half hours for $25”.

Getting my table…….

Oh boy, this was the the skull crusher. And this is why I write these articles, so things like this don’t happen. The person in charge of artist alley brought me to my table in about five seconds. But then I raised an eyebrow, and said ‘wait…THIS is my table?’ I said that twice and he said yes twice. The table was filled with paper, and one was a GIANT paper with doodles on it. Apparently, the two girls next to my table were so ‘clever’ enough to use my table, put their ‘draw on this paper’ thing and some other whatevers to cover the table. They claimed they came half an hour ago, which means they put stuff on the table the moment they saw no one was sitting there for ten minutes or something. Obviously I couldn’t find my table because their shit covered it. Also, my name tag wasn’t there either, so either they threw it away or no one wrote it there on the first place

Their lesson? When an artist does not arrive the moment the convention starts, you do not suddenly put your work on the table AND LEAVE IT THERE. Waiting for at least two hours would be wise, as I have experienced several artists who have arrived more than an hour late before. If you want to stick your artwork on the table, you must ask the artist alley person in charge, or you’ll get in trouble and either end up paying for that table or in extreme cases, kicked out. Sometimes you can get lucky….AFTER asking the person in charge. 

Story: I wish I knew the guy in charge of artist alley tables in Big WOW! con two weeks ago. Anyhow, first day my tablemate and I just sat staring at the empty chair.  The next day, I FINALLY found the guy in charge and told him no one was sitting at the table. He was like ‘well, since you asked first, you can have it for today’. Heh…mooched it before the guy who sat on the other side of the empty table got it :3 As etiquette  you always ask the AA director first–even the person who sat on the right side of the empty table didn’t touch it that day. And so was another untouched table on the other side of the row. It may be great to take the table, but always ask first. Be polite and considerate!

You are so clever, aren’t you?

I just wanted to make sure if these ‘kids’ were ignorant and not selfish assholes. I asked them how long they’ve been in artist alley. One girl said ‘since I was twelve (she looked like she was 17 or so)’–this girl stole my chair too, and I was standing up for quite a bit before she realized and gave me MY chair back which originally was at MY table. The other two girls said they did it for about a year and a half (or was it two years?). Anyways, I assumed they were just happy ignorant kids, so I just let this crazy shit hell go and wrote this article. I hope they learned their lesson though.

Their lesson? Well….now they know. And knowing is half the battle. No, I lied. Now they know and they better not repeat this again. 

There were a few other things, but cannot be mentioned here. To the three girls who sat next to me: If you’re reading this, I was super pissed for five minutes and it dulled down, so no, I’m not going to rip all three of your heads into shreds, but I hope you learned a valuable lesson. Just don’t do it next time, or ever.

 

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Angry Artist Alley! Your Customer should NOT….

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Okay, so this post is regarding is about *them* and not you. They can be rude, obnoxious, trying to hit on you, or nice. Well, I’m an artist and I’ll voice my opinion here about it and maybe give a few pointers. Once again, not EVERYONE is like this, but the thing is-I’m an artist, but I’ve walked around conventions too. I can say I may have been one of the obnoxious people at one time of my life too, so don’t feel angry or too guilty about this. And I’ve been an artist and saw what other people have done. We all have to realize these things first.

Customers come in many shapes and sizes….and some of them do rude things. Most of them not knowing it at all. So let’s examine….

This article is actually pointed to you customers, and not the artists. Please be aware, please be thoughtful. Unlike you, the customer, we, the artist spend practically the entire convention sitting there. So be mindful about how you treat us-we’re human (or furries), and we need some respect too!

customers1

Eating over the table: People buy coffee, eat cookies, fatty french fries, you name it. And then they bend over to look at your artwork while you’re munching. And they pick up a piece of your work. You may want to consider covering your work with mylar bags to prevent this.  If, in the incredibly rare circumstances, that they coffee or even water on your artwork, you should ask that they pay for the damaged piece.

customers2They are telling their friends how they don’t like the artwork. At least don’t do it in front of the table. I’m sure people need to voice their opinion, but do it when you’re not near the artist. As artists, some of us suck. But you know what? We are sitting there trying our best to make business. We spent time and effort doing the art that you see on the table. At least give us that respect.

customers3They’re taking photos of your work. Please ask the artist and include reference. See link here: http://jackieloart.com/blog/angry-artist-alley-let-me-photograph-your-artwork/

They ask you every possible secret to your techniques of drawing. This isn’t just for artists. There can be complete random people trying to pry out what the hell and how the hell you’re doing stuff. I made a huge mistake one time trying to push a guy into how he drew detailed rocks in his comics even though he said no (I’m so sorry!). If they don’t want to tell you how they do it, don’t push it. Sometimes we artists don’t like to give out our secrets. But I do enjoy asking people where the hell they print their paper. I don’t think that’s a huge issue at all.

customers4They are pressuring you to give them a discount. I hate assholes who don’t understand the concept that drawing art does not cost the same amount as the paper you draw on. It costs the amount of time, effort, concentration, and skill of many, many, MANY years of practice blown onto a piece of paper, and at the same time, very likely spending more than an hour on something where we’re being paid ten bucks to do. Sometimes we artist just need to charge MORE for the effort we’re spending on a piece (gundams take forever!). If you think the price is insane, then don’t buy it. But don’t haggle something that is less than twenty five bucks. And DEFINITELY do not go for ‘if you draw this for free, I’ll post it online for exposure’–that is a stupid scam.  

customers5Leaning on the table, touching everything roughly. It may have been my imagination, but I vaguely remember me or someone else rubbing against the table so much that the cloth just jumbled up and the table had to be re-organized. Very small nitpick, but these things are really annoying, especially when you set the table up and your body is on the other side of the table doing it. Touching and dropping something is very….just don’t do it. You can lean a little on the table, but one slip on that table cloth and the artist will get very aggravated  Make sure to keep your balance!

customers6Hitting on you, and won’t stop hitting on you. Now this is freakin hilarious, and I’m not joking with this one. Basically, every once in a while a guy will walk up to my table, and we make a looooong conversation about nothing I care about, and they just won’t leave. Just talk, and talk, and talk…..I mean, it’s fun for a while but at some point it gets very aggravating and other things. It’s not the boredom or awkwardness of it, it’s the fact that having someone talk in front of your table for long periods of time actually drives customers away because they think you’re busy on the table or the other person is covering your artwork with their back.

Fun story: I had no idea guys were hitting on me at conventions until my more-social friends pointed it out. Judging from what and when they tell me this happens, I can’t believe I never picked it up at all for years! But yes, I would get into stupid conversations with guys for loong periods of time thinking they wanted to buy a commission or something (so I’m friendly), and then at some point they walk away not getting a commission and with their head down. Here’s the thing guys–if you want to hit on a girl at artist alley and you tell them you love their art, try getting a drawing from them first before going any further.

customers7Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY?! I really hate answering this question over and over. Basically, when you ask someone ‘Why’, they will give you an answer. Don’t keep prying with this question. It’s just a personal peeve, because I once had a friend who wouldn’t stop asking ‘why’ so much that when I went home I just sat in front of my computer crying wondering WHY I couldn’t answer him…and it made me feel stupid. If you keep asking someone this question, at one point they’ll answer ‘I don’t know!’ or something, and at that point, you’ve aggravated the artist too far. If you don’t understand this, here’s a light sample:

Artist: So here I have these drawings, feel free to look at them.

Customer: What kind of media did you use for this?

Artist: Well um…they’re mostly digital.

Customer: Why?

Artist: What do you mean?

Customer: Why are you using digital instead of traditional?

Artist: It’s just preference, I like it, that’s all.

Customer: Why do you like it?

Artist: Because it’s easy to use.

Customer: Why is it easy to use?

Artist: It works well with my hands and I can erase easily.

Customer: Why?

Artist: Because you can press the undo button.

Customer: Why?

Artist: ………..

[never end.]

Extra: Kids with grubby hands. I was at Big WOW con today, and although not sure if my table partner was aware, but there were some very…tactile children. They would stick their little agile fingers up their mouth/nose/?? and then start touching the stickers on his button and stickers. LOL. Their mommies and daddies would stop them, when they catch the kid, but I would never attempt to stop them physically. I might get in trouble for that.

Be courteous and think about the artists too!

Featured Artist:

Lolita POP!” – When I saw this table and their cute outfits, I could not walk away. I had to try on a hat :3  I can’t believe they pointed out who I was from the Facebook page for Artist Alley, my heart warmed up a little. So this is for you, my featured artists!

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