This is from a series of topics made in a powerpoint presentation back in Fanime 2013, where I did a lecture called “Artist Alley: Survival Guide”.
This was a huge misunderstanding I had for years at artist alley. This time I’m not going to apologize for what I’m going to say, because you know it’s true but you just don’t want to admit it, and I am going to sound like a bitter old woman. As usual, I’ll start with the negative.
Why you should NOT get a table:
- You THINK you suck-if you think you suck, why the hell are you paying for a table to sell your work? Selling while self loathing is just…. :(
- You want practice drawing–If you just want to practice and get better at drawing thinking people will request for art, why don’t you do it online? People LOVE asking for free art online, am I wrong? And you get more requests anyways. You don’t need to buy an artist alley table to improve your drawing skills.
- ONLY make friends– You can do that outside the table more efficiently. Also, Pro-badges make it even easier and are FREE *hint hint*
- Sit at the table and draw for free. This is just a personal peeve, but when talented people get a table to draw for free without any purpose, it feels like a waste of a table. Well…also makes other attendees feel like the people charging money are greedy. If you have some really damn good reason to do this, then I guess it’s okay. Like I said, this is more of a personal peeve.
- You’re not in the right mood-maybe your sales have sucked. Or maybe customers are just making your ego get down. Or possibly, you know that there are a number of people in that convention who may harass you or don’t like you. You’re just not in the right mood to table.
- You need a break- Very similar to #6. It’s ABSOLUTELY OKAY to take a break from conventions! Some people get really stressed, or need to refresh artwork. No one is making you go to every possible convention. Just take a breather. Sometimes it’s better to only go to one or two conventions a year instead of five or six. There was a point where I’d go to nine convention/events a year, and now I just go to four or so. I feel waaaay less stressed out now.
To clarify, getting a table for only one of these top reasons might not justify getting a table. I’m not stopping you, but just think wisely before you buy that table.
Why you SHOULD get a table:
Because it’s all about the gold. Face it, you know that’s so true. You’re trying to earn some pocket money to buy whatever the hell you want to buy. I mean, why are you paying money to buy a table to SELL STUFF? Well, it’s so you can earn more. Very simple. Hell, I would have never been able to afford my copics or camera if I had not been in artist alley for so long. I wouldn’t be able to buy my cool reference books, or take classes in college.
Exposure/ advertise yourself. You want some company to look at you? Well, this may be one of the more passive ways, but it happens. If you’re trying to advertise a game, a comic, kickstarter project, etc. you should get a table to bring attention. If you go to more commercial conventions full of art directors, and don’t get a table, it’s still a good idea to try and get a Pro Badge to get in for free and push your work to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Backstage pass. I’m sort of kidding here, but I’d like to mention it anyways. Artist alley and helper badges allow you to get into the artist alley hall (and sometimes dealer’s hall) earlier than the actual attendees. So after setup, artists would walk around to check out tables without the worry of attendees walking towards their table. It’s WAY easier to see stuff, and no need for crowding. However, you *should* be behind your table at artist alley hours or helping your artist alley teammate during convention hours.
Some sort of phobia with crowds is preventing you from being able to socialize, but the only way you can really feel free from those shackles is selling at AA and communicating. Alright, I’m half kidding here. I say half because I did drag someone into this situation (but he asked me to help him first) and I’m glad he’s able to communicate to strangers behind the table a lot better now. The other half is that if that’s the only reason, it might be better to go to a cosplay meet (not convention) and socialize, since cosplay meets are a lot more civil than conventions and much more stranger-friendly. Still, artist alley really does push you to the limits, in some sense.
You want to try it out. If you wanna do artist alley, it’s inevitable that you table first. And so, doesn’t hurt to try out, right? I’d recommend a smaller local convention than the massive huge ones, because they’re not as stressful and probably cost way less. If you did awesome, then sure, why not go a second time? If it sucked, and you wanna try it again, go for it! But if it sucked, and you hated it, and don’t think you can handle it, take a break until you think you’re ready, or maybe tabling’s not for you.
Because it makes you happy and completes your life. Hmm..that sounds like a legit reason to me.
Something to consider:
If you’re sitting at artist alley so you can practice and get better, and charge at ridiculously low prices, you’re underselling yourself and you’re probably pissing off a lot of nearby artists who are trying earn money at a much higher rate than you.
Does everyone deserve to table at a convention?
I’m just adding this tidbit here, if you’re new or want my perspective on this. I have two views on this. One is that I believe that everyone should have the OPPORTUNITY to table at a convention. Especially if it’s their first time, this is when they need the most support for everyone around them. However, this will determine whether or not they should table next. If they don’t want to table, then they shouldn’t (nor should you pressure or force them to). If they want to table, then they should at least have the opportunity to sign up though. However, in the end, it’s up to the convention’s final decision to really determine if it’s okay. If you even have the hint or desire to table, I encourage you to try it at least once before judging.
Oh yea, I don’t think art thiefs deserve a table at a convention. I’m just sayin’
aaand our feature artist at artist alley is………
I met her at Kraken Con. A LOT of the work at that con was underpriced (I have a bit of disrespect for artists who charge almost nothing for their hard work). But when I saw her work, it was beautiful and at a more ‘reasonable’ price compared to other tables. I wish there were more artists that followed in her path–don’t under charge, charge what you think you’re worth. Thumbs up to you Melissa, wish there were more artists like you :D