So I admit it, I’ve never had a booth at a convention before, I’ve been to GenCon twice but otherwise am pretty green when it comes to conventioneering. I gotta say, I was so stressy and worried for a good week before set-up and would consistently have terrible sleep because I couldn’t relax. The set-up day I showed up at noon which was the very earliest you could start setting up, well apparently most people don’t do that! I set up in an empty room, it took 3 hours and all the while my company was mostly convention center employees and a few flies, but I got it all done! To be honest, even though I didn’t have the best little set-up at the convention, I feel like I did pretty well for a first-timer and I learned so much about my setup and how people look at tables.
I did a lot of touring and a lot of introducing-myself-ing the first day, met a lot of really cool people with really cool art and by the end of the con had a few people who wanted to either buy or trade for artworks and it was thrilling because I mean, those people didn’t know me pre-convention and it was so nice to have people so quickly be interested in my work! Friday, which to my knowledge is usually relatively slow, was actually one of my best days in terms of networking and sales. I met a few people that asked about post-con commissions (which, if you’re reading this, I am open for commission anytime!) and even a few folks that purchased commissions at the con. Saturday was strangely slow and Sunday beefed back up again making the whole con a grand success! I made back my booth fee and I’m fairly certain I made a small profit even counting the display and art supplies. I met Tony Moore, who I disappointed by saying I had previously signed up to be at the con he was running but was not able to make it, my friend Samuel K met a fan of his let’s plays, and we met a girl who was legit named Star Fox. I met a lot of local talent too, which was especially cool!
PopCon was a blast, but it was an enormous exercise in training my social anxieties, it took everything I had to say “hello” and “how are you” to folks passing by and chatting with them about their various fandoms I had done art for. I learned that next year my original work, despite being generally just images of animals or skulls that I thought would be easy to relate to, needs to take a back seat. Fanart is the key at Indy PopCon (and probably most cons) and most people seemed to be into video games or comics/superheroes since PopCon didn’t have a particular focus. I also now know that no one wants a physical copy of grotesque My Little Ponies (which is fair). People thought my records were really cool, that’s definitely something I’ll have to revisit in future conventions. One of a kind pins were a big seller, I sold most of them, especially the wooden ones which is fine with me because they’re easier to make.
I guess this is part blog post and part checklist for later conventions, but if you’re interested in having a booth at a con, use my mistakes and successes to your advantage. I had a vertical banner at my booth, and more than one person stated their eyes were caught by the banner so definitely have something in that vein to be eye-catching.
Banners in front of the table don’t work as well, they’re usually behind someone’s knees and below people’s eye line. Ghibli is timeless, I sold out of small Catbus prints and no other print sold that well, not even Mad Max, and mini-prints are a goldmine. I sold mine for 3$ each or 2 for 5$ and people really were into them, it was something cheap and they could have a sample of my work without a big investment since I am not any kind of big name.
I was told a lot that my work was “scary” or “deranged” or things like that, despite my efforts to make a few cute things. I understand it’s not for everyone, I need to embrace the scariness though instead of using those comments as direction in my art. Me trying to make cute things just ends up even scarier than the stuff that’s intentionally scary! I also got schooled by a 10 year old about why I drew MLP characters as horses instead of ponies, she insistently asked why I drew them as horses like 5 times and refused to accept the answer of “real ponies look like horses”.
I know this post is relatively aimless, but I had a really great time and I would recommend that if you’re considering visiting or exhibiting in Indianapolis for PopCon in the future, you should really do it. It was really smoothly run and I didn’t have too many issues with the way it worked that a sign or two couldn’t have fixed, and plus I can meet you there and I really did like meeting all the super-talented artists despite my high levels of anxiety!
Well, onto July and August! I have some tentative July plans for artwork showings and I have one definite one in August which will wrap up the summer before Cincinnati Comic Expo in September. I’ll keep you all posted, and if you haven’t yet, make sure to sign up for the newsletter to keep up to date on new artworks and exhibit locations.