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