Angry Artist Alley: Time Killer


You know what I mean. You’re sitting there, it’s been about two hours, people walk by and say they’ll come back to your table later. It’s a pretty repetitive routine. So what do you do? You just sit there….waiting……….waiting……


(Above) Rachel Dropp from Raw Elements Jewlery. A couch just happened to be right behind her at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival event :3

You might have heard stories about how your butt will get big if you sit too long, how some guy cut off most of the blood circulation from his legs playing Diablo 3 and died, and well, numerous other ones. I mean, your ass is on the chair, you’re pretty much doing no business (unless you’re drawing a commission), you might as well stand up, stretch, and sit back down.

Here’s the breakdown: When you’re bored, you’re tired. Then you wanna sleep. At that point, you’re not at full capacity to do commissions or make conversation at all. So here are ways to keep you slightly more energetic.

Time Killer #1: Stretches

note: I am a fatty ass at home and I don’t exercise. If you don’t believe any of these exercises work, let’s say if you DID do it, you just killed twenty seconds of boredom, which is good enough to refresh.

The thing is, your arms and legs are part of your circulatory system, which means you need a good amount travelling through everywhere. Sitting down can cut off a little circulation. When your circulation is poor, you begin to feel tired. You might even feel things like numbness in your legs, or ‘pins and needles’ on other limbs. You’d feel stiff, your back might hurt, all that stuff. So when you’re done drawing a commission or it’s been about an hour, make sure to do some stretches. Here’s a diagram that will help you out:


(note: if you knew me in real life, I barely exercise and sit on my butt all day drawing. Somehow even I’m able to do this, which means you can too for twenty seconds of boredom)

And don’t forget to check this youtube video out too:

Time Killer #2: Conversation

A great way to make friends is to engage with a topic you two are interested in. So uh, you’re sitting next to a person who draws (and hopefully isn’t mooching all the business), and you can tell them issues about your table. Where did I learn about some of these tips and tricks? By the people who sat next to me! To start off a conversation, offer a snack or a mint, and just talk and talk. I mean, this is if they’re not busy drawing and stuff.

Time Killer #3: Take a walk

You’re wondering something like “wait if I’m out the table, then no one will buy anything!” You might and might not be right. In the instance this event is a full 9 hour event, I’ll tell you there are times of the day which I call ‘dead time’. Basically people are done buying what they want, or are just walking around browsing/killing time. Or it could be lunch time, or it could almost be the end of the day. Who knows.

In the occasion there’s a panel going on, just go! It might be the last time you’ll ever see the panel.

Time Killer #4: Food

Fruits and nuts keep without having to refrigerate them, and nuts are a really good for energy. A handful of almonds is enough for me to last an hour, and tangerines smell oh-so-yummy when you peel them open. Beef Jerky is also a great source of protein. Especially on conventions with multiple days, you do NOT want to be deprived of your daily diet essentials. If possible, eat a vitamin pill each day just to be safe.

Time Killer #5: Entertain yourself, Entertain others?

I’m pretty much deprived of handheld games and smartphones, but it’s everywhere. Check your email on your phone, play Legend of Zelda on your nintendo 3ds, just name it. You can crochet and stuff behind the table too.

Music is sort of a personal peeve of mine. Sometimes even convention rules indicate ‘no loud music’. I’ve seen violinists do it nonetheless and never get in trouble, so I might be wrong. But it really bugs me because no one can really hear them, and they would play the same song over and over. And another thing is when they decide to stand in front of their table, and then play their instrument or get their friend to play the instrument. It obstructs everyone’s path, ‘expanding’ their booth several feet in front of their table, and then soliciting for money afterwards (some conventions prohibit that in the first place). Anyways, just a peeve. If you’re going to do it, do it for ten minutes behind the table and I won’t be bothered. But not over and over for hours, please.

Time Killer #5: Bathroom Break

Some people just completely forget to let it out. I know I forget all the time, but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Basically, you walk to the bathroom, do your business, and walk out. A refreshed bladder will help you uh….well it feels better than a full one. It’s better not to wait till you’re about to explode, just in case there might be a line in the bathroom. Especially at cons, when people are dressing inside the stalls for cosplay.


I would say go for it if you were trying to stay awake for work or class, but when you’re sitting for eight hours drawing and it’s not like some crazy energy task, you’d probably feel more like crap than you did before in a few hours. And that isn’t good when you need to be on game-mode for eight hours straight (and caffeine makes you urinate a lot more too). Something light might be okay, but a heavy energy drink that would make you even more tired later is not good. Especially when you drink it early in the morning to stay awake and then feel tired in the afternoon when it gets busier. But you know…some people can do it. 


CarlyFornia here (left). I see her at practically every con I’ve gone to in the Bay Area, and I always say hi. She ALWAYS has her game face on. Never tired, always prepared. When she doesn’t have anything to do, I can see her sewing behind the table. A real soldier!


Angry Artist Alley: Let me photograph your artwork!


NOTE: This article is about refusing photos without permission. If you let them take a photo of your work, then go ahead.  Also, YES I did get permission from everyone here and even gave them a slip of paper with my contact and blog in case they’re pissed about it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist: Aurelia Toscano. “Nope. Don’t think so.”

“Hell no, you cannot take a picture of my work and shove it on instagram with your stupid ass meme or whatever” No. NO.

If you’re one of these people, please dunk your head in some ice water and think about what you just did:

I don’t care if you’re a fellow artist, public media, or whatever shit. Please ask the artist behind the table before zooming in and taking a pic of the artwork. If my reputation behind artist alley table didn’t matter, I’d seriously get up and take that person’s cellphone and throw it against the wall. Of course, that won’t happen, because well….my reputation would go down the drain. So as fellow artists, LET’S STAND UP FOR OURSELVES!


Artist: Scuttlebutt Ink. “Not on my watch!”

Photographing someone’s artwork in artist alley is very impolite. The artist  has spent so much time creating artwork to sell for cash to make up for the table and expenses, and the person with the camera takes the photo for free without even asking. I started hearing stories about people photographing artwork, and with such high resolution cameras and phones, they used those photos to re-print and sell. Copyright infringement, artist exploitation, sometimes internet harassment/cyber bullying is built from these things. When you take a photo and keep it for your own viewing or post it online, you’re exploiting the artist’s hard work and effort making it. So please support an artist by buying something that is worth the picture itself.

There’s no 100% definite way to fix this. Actually at conventions, they often have a note in their booklets or websites that already say ‘please do not take photos of artists and their property without permission from the artist themselves’ SO UH, WHO ACTUALLY READ AND KNEW THAT? Almost no one, since that’s usually an obscure sentence hidden in the ‘artist alley’ section of the booklets or website, where only artists really actually read. SO, here’s some ways to help you, us, and everyone in artist alley. It only works if we all work together on this, okay?

Things to understand about these people with cameras

  • They are usually using phone cameras, which usually also leads to things like instagram, which means an instant photo of your work posted on facebook while the convention is going on.
  • You need to understand that when they do that, they usually will never buy anything from your table. I mean, they have a photo they can look at and post and show off online, why do they need another picture?
  • After taking a photo, they usually walk off. Usually no conversation whatsoever.
  • Along with no-conversation, this means that after taking the photo they won’t know who you are, what you look like, or where the art came from, because they got the picture. I mean hey, if they have a free picture, why the hell should they care who made it? (sarcasm)
  • Taking photos, posting them online without knowing the artist, that’s not going to give you publicity–no one will know who made it :T
  • Their excuse would likely be ignorance. “I didn’t know!” Well, informing people is just the first step. Artist alley is not just a show of your artwork, it’s getting enough cash to pay back for your table and more in the first place and get exposure for your work.
  • No payment required. Just *click* and you got a picture of it.
  • Memes

So, how should we artists stand up for ourselves?

  • When they whip out the camera and point it at your work, quickly cover it with your hands and politely say ‘please, no pictures unless you’re buying, okay?’
  • Have an obvious sign that says ‘NO CAMERAS without permission of artist’
  • Straight out tell them ‘Excuse me, but why are you pointing your camera at my artwork?’ and then explain your situation to them.
  • If they ever EVER want to, make sure they take a photo of you and your sign/name. When you have a sign or name on your table, people can at least find your screenname or site from it. For example, my sign would be ‘Pineapple Pocky Productions’. Someone finds that phrase online, whips it to my website. This can be both good or bad, so be cautious on this too.


Artist: 777Sprites. He knows what’s up. Don’t worry, I ASKED before I took this photo :P

How do the customers feel?

  • Usually, they get really giddy about the picture. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this reaction a few times somewhere. “Oh my god check this out!”
  • Taking a photo of the picture WITH themselves in it makes it into proof that they didn’t just clip it online.
  • They like the picture
  • When you refuse, they’re angry and think you’re an ass for not letting them ‘show’ your artwork
  • Your reputation will go down because of that.
  • They walk away not buying anything
  • They don’t understand your situation.

If they don’t understand how you feel or your situation,

would you think they’d be an actual customer in the first place?

I was once ignorant and used to take pics of tables (and cosplayers, I’m so sorry). So yes, I’m guilty, and when people started doing it to my own artwork, I began to understand too. Not that I’ve ever posted a photo of these things online, but I would do it anyhow. The only time I remembered doing it was to post something about art theft. I’d like to apologize to anyone here in my earlier years with a camera that I had no idea how you felt. Hopefully other people who were once ignorant about this situation is not anymore now.


  • If you’re in this category, it’s highly likely that you’re one of those *ahem* successful-talented-artists-that-actually-make-a-good-profit-at-cons and people know you and you actually sell pretty well at cons. Honestly, you’re in the safe zone. For everyone else, which is like the 99%, when people take photos, they do NOT know the artist, they do NOT credit the artist, and they do NOT know their art site or will ever tag their art site.
  • Also, if you’re in this category, I’m surprised you read through this whole article.


I noticed this when I was asking for photos at Fanime for people to hold up their signs. Not every artist was compliant with photos (no I didn’t take photos of those people), but many said they’d only get their picture taken if they covered their face (you’ll notice some in the gallery). So some artists are seriously camera shy, and DO NOT want photos of themselves. Maybe they’re cool with people taking photos of their work, but not of themselves. Or maybe they want to put a prop on their head before any photo is taken of them. Just another thing to consider. Just ask first, yknow?

You can now use a printable template that I designed, completely free! Feel free to print it, share it, and whatever. Please read this Angry Artist Alley article to get it



Angry Artist Alley: My table’s OUTSIDE!


blog question

(artist link:

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:


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 ;)


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


Angry Artist Alley: How Much Change Should I Bring?


First note: I’m talking about two ‘wallets’. The ‘personal wallet’  is for yourself to buy all the great goodies at the convention  and the ‘cashier’s wallet’ is for giving out change and taking money from sales and counting for the rest of the day. These should be separate so you don’t mistake any calculations (unless you absolutely need that cash for buying something huge)

Depending on your popularity and how much you’ve sold before, it’s all up to you. But before you stuff your wallet, think of these few tips:

  • How cheap/expensive is your work?
  • How much is the cheapest thing that you’re selling?
  • If it’s not one, five, or ten dollars, what are you charging?
  • Any $0.50?
  • How poor are you?
  • How much money did you spend getting your table in the first place?

Key things to think about:

  • NEVER bring $20 in your cashier stash. In the first couple hours of any convention, consumers would have brought $20 from the atm machine or packed it in their wallet. Your cashier’s wallet is to GIVE CHANGE to people, not to buy stuff from people. Two hours in the convention someone is sure to buy a little button for $1 and give you a twenty.
  • Do not accept bills over $20. I get nervous when someone hands me $50….I don’t have a magic marker that can check or anything, but I don’t want to take my chances.
  • Bring some quarters just in case. Maybe your tablemate might need to break a dollar, or you need bus fare, it’s just for safety.
  • Look for a cafe. If there was an insane emergency where you and the rest of the people in the row of tables don’t have enough dollar bills or something, you NEED to break them right away! A local cafe or restaurant that is generous enough will help you break them. But you need to know where the closest one is.
  • A $20 bill can break into two $10 or four $5 or twenty $1, a $10 can break into two $5 or ten $1, a $5 can break into five $1, BUT YOU CANNOT BREAK A DOLLAR INTO TWO DOLLARS.
  • In large conventions, usually in the first few hours everyone is carrying twenty dollar bills. Towards the middle of the convention, you’ll notice people using more $10 and $5, and towards the end of the convention, you usually don’t have to give out as much change. And on rare occasions you’ll see people give you exact pocket change to buy things.
  • People actually carry credit cards everywhere (I mean, here in the Bay Area). So if you have a smartphone, get a card reader. Currently, Paypal and Square has a deal to get you one for free

Story: Many years ago as an amateur  I used to bring tons of fives, tens, and twenties. But not enough ones. And all I sold were dollar buttons, buttons, buttons. People would give me twenty dollar bills in the morning just to buy one or two buttons, and my $10 and $5 went out so fast. But I had this stash of $20 bills. So I kept asking my tablemates to break them, over and over. Then I kept running out of dollar bills. At one point I had to ASK the consumers to break MY big bills, and everyone was running low on their dollar bills because of me. Pretty much learned my lesson there. 


  • Common dollars come in $1, $5, $10, $20
  • If you sell something that is an integer, you don’t need to worry about spare change (although for safety measures, bringing four quarters would be wise)
  • Having a product that does not end in five or ten dollars, you need to figure this out:
    • $1 priced objects=$4 in change with a five. This means you need to prepare far more dollar bills than anything else.
    • $2 priced objects=$3 in change with a five.  Same as above, you need to consider extra dollar bills
    • $8 priced objects from a $20 does not mean two fives and two dollars. That means one ten and two dollars. Giving less change=better for you and them.
  • Your most important bills are $1 and $5. The moment you’re out of either one, you need to break your big bills, because these can go out like hotcakes depending on what you sell.
  • Avoid using your $5 if possible when giving out change. The reason is not just because $10 change is convenient than two $5, it’s because if you needed to get some $1, the person next to you may not have ten $1 bills.
  • SquareUp card readers can read credit cards, but for 2.75% transaction. Paypal card readers will use a 2.7% transaction through account.


 My personal wallet:

Just to give you an idea about my ‘cashier’s wallet’ before the convention starts, this is usually how much is in it.

Three $10 (nothing I sell is above $10, and it’s only when someone hands me a $20 that i need these)

Five $5 ( like I said, nothing I have is above $20, so after someone hands me a five, I get it or need to break a ten)

Fifteen $1 ( I sell lots of little stickers and buttons. So I either get ones, or have to break fives)

A fat ass handful of quarters (my stickers were $1.50)

If you sell really expensive stuff, then there really might  be that rare possibility that holding a few twenties would be helpful. Or maybe the only thing you sell are dollar keychains, so more dollars are needed. This is just a rough estimate!

After selling and earning cash for the day, I would recommend you read this blog article about how your earnings should be considered



Angry Artist Alley! “I’ll come back to your table later”


Goddamn I hate when they say that. More than half the time they are being polite and won’t walk back to you again, or forget. Actually it’s more than half, from my experience. Way more than half.


What happens when they forget to pick up their drawing?

waiting stages

  • you feel unloved
  • wait...did they pay you upfront, or not?
  • this drawing is going to sit on your lap. You can use it as a portfolio piece though
  • If you use it as a portfolio piece you will feel the guilt of making it for someone who never picked it up
  • If no one gave a crap about the picture, and no one wants to buy it off, it’ll just sit there…and sit there…and…


What do you do to prevent this? Put a tracer on them. I’m half kidding there.

  • Make sure that they pay for the entire picture before you start on it. Or at least a portion of it. You don’t want to draw a picture and not get paid even though you get the privilege of keeping it.
  • Get their phone number/email: When you’re done, call them up. However, at HUGE cons, even telling them your table number is tedious.
  • Make sure your table, compared to the other tables, LOOKS DIFFERENT. If all the tables had black tablecloths, it gets tricky to find people. And this is a reason why conventions don’t give out tablecloths anymore and others bring their own. You can use black to be suave, but if you had a bright red table, of course they’ll remember to look for that table. Imagine a ton of black tables surrounding you and you’ve got the red one popping out ;)
  • Important note: when choosing a table cloth, make sure it is large enough to cover over the table AND reach towards the floor at least down to your ankles. Table cloths aren’t just for decoration. They are also used to cover/hide your supplies, food, etc. to make sure it’s not visible to people who might want to crawl over and steal it. So when choosing a tablecloth, it can’t just be 4x6ft, it needs to be WAY bigger than that!
  • You look unique. I figured this waaay back years ago. I looked like every other asian girl behind the table, and at cons there would always be someone who forgot. And I would feel sad. I realized that it was hard to figure out the difference from my table and the other tables, so I put a bright ribbon hairband on my head. Hey, whaddaya know, it worked. If any of you know me in real life and just met me, I’ll often say “If you’re looking for me, I have a big red flower hairclip on my head”–so what do people do? Find the kid with a flower on their head. Not too tricky to forget. Still, you get the occasional people who forgot they even asked you to draw something for them in the first place. Things like dressing in cosplay,lolita, bunny ears, cat ears, awesome tshirt–all of those things really help. From the comic conventions I’ve been to, the variety of people sitting behind the tables are greater–you’ve got big people, little people, adult people, people that look like Santa Claus, people of all races and genders, tall people–it’s a bit trickier there.

-and lastly, WRITE A RECEIPT.



 .         Trust me on this. you get a copy of the receipt, and so should they. I’ve never had a commission where someone forgot ever again after this method. Basically, you do the same thing as I mentioned before–get their email, get their phone. But on the receipt, you will also get their name,their commission, the cost of it, and alternate phone just in case. AND they will also get your information: Your table number, your phone number/contact/email, what the commission was, the cost, and lastly, if applicable, the approximate time it will be finished. That way, they’ll be prepared to wait for your phone call or go to your table to check up on you. Ka-peesh? The copy you have will also help you calculate your earnings at the end of the day.


They’re easy to do–just use normal printer paper, make a template, print a few copies, cut it up, and you’re done. Make sure when you tell these people to sign it, do it in pen and ink and their signature. You don’t want people to try and trick you that it was some other drawing or it costed less.

And here’s a template that you’ll hopefully understand:

You, as the artist will fill this out for them (IN PEN) :



you can print these out, but I’m sure you can make your own look WAAAAAAY cooler, yes? If you customize yours, you can just write your name and cell contact there so you don’t have to constantly write it every time.


They ain’t got no excuse to pick it up or forget, and you don’t have to worry about them not paying you. If they lose the paper slip, you got a copy next to you. If you lose the paper slip, they’ll have the copy and contact you. If you both lose the slip, both of you need a slap in the face.