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Selling at Cons is best during the...

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Don't want to read 250+ pages? I don't blame you. The awesomtastic users of this thread have started to assemble all of its information into a wiki! Check it out!

Hey everyone! Be sure to check out the Artist's Alley Guild!
(And help me out with my list of sales & use tax laws by contributing information for your state!)

Artist's Alleys are rooms at conventions where artists gather to sell their original products and fanart. They're a wonderful place to meet other artists and exchange ideas, but it can be a bit daunting for a newbie artist to face. A few years ago (Jeeze, it's been that long? I feel old.) I was one of those newbie artists scurrying about attempting to figure out this big confusing "Artist's Alley" thing. How do I get a table? How much does it cost? Where do I get things printed? There were so many questions and you had to go on a scavenger hunt to get the answers. So I turned to the Art Discussion forum and asked my questions in this thread. The thread turned out to be useful to others who were looking to get the same questions answered, and the thread changed from a couple of my questions to an archive of useful information. The first ten pages or so are definitely worth reading through for anyone who wants to learn a bit about entering an artist's alley, and any further questions can be posted in the thread!

Want to help out? Here's a basic survey to fill out! biggrin

Part A- Getting the table:
1. How many months in advance do conventions usually release tables, in your experience?
2. How much does a table usually cost?
3. How quickly are the tables reserved?
4. What complications should one be prepared for?
5. Anything else?
Optional: What skill level would you suggest entering the AA at? If possible, please provide examples.

Part B- Preparing to sell:
1. What sort of merchandise would you advise selling?
2. What sort of merchandise would you advise against selling?
3. What sort of stuff sells best?
4. Where would you suggest going to get things printed?
5. If printing at home, what preparations should one make?
6. How far in advance should one have one's merchandise finished?
7. Anything else?

Part C- At the Con:
1. How early should one arrive to be sure of reserving a good table?
2. When setting up one's table, what sort of layout would you suggest?
3. There are some pretty bratty congoers out there. How would you suggest dealing with assholes?
4. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. What issues should one be prepared for when running a table at the Artists alley?
5. Anything else?


Want to do more? Post whatever tips you have in the thread.

Don't be afraid to ask questions! Chances are if you want to know, other people want to know as well. If the question is really good or significant, I'll even feature it in the first post.

Speaking of being featured in the first post, here are some great questions:
Quote:
+How many prints should I have? I'll probably only have, at most, about ten pictures that I'll be selling, but I have no idea how many are likely to sell.

+Should I have a display?

+Should I have numbered prints? My style changes pretty quickly - my table next year will likely feature nothing that I've got right now. A friend told me she sold limited prints faster, so I wondered if that was wise at all.

+What sort of prices are people usually willing to pay, IN GENERAL? I know quality has a great deal to do with it, but I'm looking for a range here, I suppose.

+Glossy or matte paper?




USEFUL LINKS

Looked through the thread and still have questions? Take a look at this Artist's Alley Podcast! It's run by Songjewel and some of her friends, and it's awesome.
You can also check out the Anime Boston Artist Alley Beginner's Guide, which has quite a few helpful tips!
Want to sell your own comic? Check out the Printing, Hosting, and Financing thread in the Comic Creator's Subforum.

Online supplies/printing:
Cell Phone Staps at Rings & Things
Catprint Digital Printing
Clearbags, clear protective sleeves for prints of various sizes.
Purebuttons, Button Printing
Modbuttons Button and Magnet Printing
UsaButtons Button Machines

---
Finally, this thread has a wealth of information for anyone looking to break into the business, no matter what sort of item it is you're considering selling. I highly recommend reading the entire thing. I am slowly working on compiling it into a more manageable compendium, but I would still recommend making your way though.

Please do not quote the first post.
Part A- Getting the table:
1. How many months in advance do conventions usually release tables, in your experience?
That varies. And I almost always miss out the table booking, but for the ones I've been to, they usually start the booking 3-4 months prior to the event. Though AX this year had taken a really early spin.


2. How much does a table usually cost?
Depends on the size of the con. But for the ones I've been to, I'd say $30-$40 for a full table. Though non-anime convensions, such as Wizard of the Coast, Comic Con, and others would cost hundreds.


3. How quickly are the tables reserved?
Very fast. Usually within a month. Popular cons tend to get it booked up within two weeks.


4. What complications should one be prepared for?
Some places ask for sellers permit, while others aren't so strict about it. And it seems some cons starting to put a maximum allowed copies to be sold for fan arts.
Minors will need a gardian to be with them and co-sign forms.

5. Anything else?
Can't think of.


Part B- Preparing to sell:
1. What sort of merchandise would you advise selling?
Prints, bookmarks, postcards, buttons, stickers. But I've seen comics, artbooks, T-shirts, hats, jewelries and other stuff in the AA.

2. What sort of merchandise would you advise against selling?
Anything that would cost too much. People tend to buy things under $20 dollars. Small things like bookmarks that cost under a buck or two usually sell faster, while larger things (especially appareals) would be harder to sell.

3. What sort of stuff sells best?
In my experiences, prints of fan arts.

4. Where would you suggest going to get things printed?
I prefer to print all stuff on my own. More control over print quality and color adjustments.
Local Kinko, Officemax and Staples are my old choices, but be sure to send print to them at least 6 weeks before hand. It takes them longer to process large orders, and on top of that they tend to mess up and you may need extra time to re-print.
Here are a few online sites my friends and I use for merchandize:
http://www.ezprints.com
http://www.mpix.com
http://www.cafepress.com
http://www.bestcolorphoto.com/
and http://www.deviantart.com 's print service


5. If printing at home, what preparations should one make?
Print a sample first to see how the color and brightness look. And print a few weeks before con, in case your printer break down or you ran out of ink/paper, you still have time to restock.


6. How far in advance should one have one's merchandise finished?
At least a week if not two.


7. Anything else?
Epson makes the best color inkjet printers. And it uses ink very effectively if you print it on Matt Photo Paper instead of Glossy.


Part C- At the Con:
1. How early should one arrive to be sure of reserving a good table?
As early as possible. At least an hour ahead, and if you need to pick up your con badge the same time, I'd suggest ask your friend to wait in AA's line while you get the con badges.


2. When setting up one's table, what sort of layout would you suggest?
I prefer putting my work in a portfolio/binder so people can flip through. And have frame above the table to hang prints from. But other people like to scatter their works across the table.


3. There are some pretty bratty congoers out there. How would you suggest dealing with assholes?
I don't recall running into any. Maybe ignore them?


4. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. What issues should one be prepared for when running a table at the Artists alley?
Prepare dollar bill and 5 dollar bills for changes. Bring a CD of your prints in case you sold out, you can always make more copy at nearby Kinko/Officemax.
Watch your money and valuables. There had been cases of people have their valuable items stolen.


5. Anything else?
Get to know the artists sitting next to you, you never know when they can lend you a helping hand. Not to mention it's always nice to meet other artists.
Part A- Getting the table:
1. How many months in advance do conventions usually release tables, in your experience?

You can usually reserve a table pretty far ahead of time; although, some cons work off a first come first serve basis. Meaning once they're gone they're gone. So I'd recommend getting one as early as you possibly, and some cons may make you register first before reserving a table.

2. How much does a table usually cost?

At Animazement, it cost around 20.00 for a whole table, and 10.00 for
a half. Not sure about other cons.

3. How quickly are the tables reserved?

Pretty quickly; however, it probably depends on how many people reserve tables at once. Depending on the vacancies and filled up slots.

4. What complications should one be prepared for?

Be prepared for loss of vacancies or lack of space. I've seen people put together make-shift tables at Animazement before because of lack of space, or some bring their own when con supported tables sell out.

5. Anything else?

Nope

Part B- Preparing to sell:
1. What sort of merchandise would you advise selling?

A) Regular Size prints 8 x 10, and poster sized prints.
B) Chibi art definetly seems to sell especially if they are done as stickers
or post card sized
C) Popular series fan art is nice, but it's nostalgic to see fan art of
older series or hard to find -likes to put together a mix when she does her folders-
D) Buttons those seem to go quickly too.
E) Be creative, if you can make something out of a piece, sell it. You're bound to find something different that people will love and buy up quickly.


2. What sort of merchandise would you advise against selling?



3. What sort of stuff sells best?

It's 50/50, depending on what the buyer is searching for. It's a tie
between Fan Art/Original Art. However, style that stick out tend to sell a lot. Especially if it's an unique mix. Like for me, I love to see gothic/Tim Burtonesque styles with lots of detail, but that depends on the buyer-

4. Where would you suggest going to get things printed?

Kinko's or Staples or if you're like me, you can buy the printing sheets pretty cheap and do a handful at home on best quality print on your printer.

5. If printing at home, what preparations should one make?

Make sure you have enough ink, since color and black go through on prints fast depending on the quality and max number of prints you make, so make sure you have back up ink jets just in case. Also be prepared to have extra print pages, especially if your printer likes to mess up like mine does.

6. How far in advance should one have one's merchandise finished?

I'd say a month or so in advanced. That way you know where everything is and can get things organized instead of tugging your hair out before con.


7. Anything else?

Preparation is the key to everything as well as organization. Organization and early prep time is your friend.

Part C- At the Con:
1. How early should one arrive to be sure of reserving a good table?

I'd say an hour or so early, or even on pre-con days. Just to make sure you can secure your space as well as table.

2. When setting up one's table, what sort of layout would you suggest?

I prefer to set my work up in folders. There's a lot of nice notebooks out there that already have the protector sleeves in them for you. Although, a word of advice, if you have yaoi or yuri in your folder, it's best to mark them, because cons will make you mark folders with hardcore art in them, due to underage viewing of artist alley ^^; Some artist don't do it, and it can be kind of scarring for those who don't like Yaoi or Yuri in particular, especially if the work is really erotic, this goes for Hetero pairings too XD


3. There are some pretty bratty congoers out there. How would you suggest dealing with assholes?


I'd play stern, but nice as well. I'm pretty generous and easy going with my customers, but don't let them to get to you. Best thing to do is be yourself, but stay on the defensive. People browsing your table usually love the artist to talk to, and greet them. Manners is another thing to consider, since it's like a small business ^^

4. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. What issues should one be prepared for when running a table at the Artists alley?

Depending on what you're selling be prepared for not making more than you've planned or even running out of prints. I tend to do art right there and sell originals rather then prints; however, prints of older work come in handy or ones you can't let go of original prints wise.

Some people make too many prints and don't get their money's worth back from sold merchandise ^^;

5. Anything else?

Nope
Thank you very much!
Part A- Getting the table:
1. How many months in advance do conventions usually release tables, in your experience?

Usually it's about half a year, or at least the ones I hit are like that. Sometimes a bit less or a bit more.

2. How much does a table usually cost?

Depends on the show, I've spent $40 on a table and I've spent $110 on a table - it kinda depends on the traffic of said show and if I think I can make up that cost. If I don't think I can make up cost, I won't go.

3. How quickly are the tables reserved?

Depends on the flux of people. A show I'm going to in April is about 3/4 full right now.

4. What complications should one be prepared for?

Be sure to figure out what sort of permits you may need, and then you'll need to know how much space you'll need.

5. Anything else?

Don't be difficult to work with if you can, remember they got rules - do what you can to follow them and make sense of everything.

Part B- Preparing to sell:
1. What sort of merchandise would you advise selling?

Prints and originals. Various sizes and prices. I hear small things sell nicely. But don't put aside big stuff, sometimes somebody comes along that would like a large print.

2. What sort of merchandise would you advise against selling?

Anything too expensive really. Most con goers have a budget, with this in mind remember to take more of the cheap stuff and less of the expensive.

3. What sort of stuff sells best?

It differs for everyone really - I sell 8x10's really easily, some people sell bookmarks really easily. And usually fanart does well from what I hear - though I wouldn't know since I avoid that.

4. Where would you suggest going to get things printed?

I do home printing, so I can't help too much there. For my first show I went through DeviantART actually and it did fine. The prints were great quality and what not. Prices weren't too bad compared to most other printers.

5. If printing at home, what preparations should one make?

You will run out of ink! Be prepared for that. Get good paper if you can, and remember to have a nice spot to store stuff where dust and things won't get to the art. Nothing worse than selling dusty marked up art. Be prepared to waste some paper too - there's almost always color corrections to be made. Plus, if your con is near home and you don't spend the night at a hotel or something? Be willing to print off some more mid - convention. I've had to do it.

6. How far in advance should one have one's merchandise finished?

I've finished stuff a week in advance, which was difficult. Aim for at least 2 weeks at worse really.

7. Anything else?

Nothing that others have said.

Part C- At the Con:
1. How early should one arrive to be sure of reserving a good table?

Get there as early as you can. If you can set up and have time to get a coffee or something you're in great shape.

2. When setting up one's table, what sort of layout would you suggest?

I frame in my table with a small easel on one end with a painting to catch the eye, and a crate of prints on the otherside, angled in to the rest of the table which as a book of originals on it, some cards, maybe even a few more prints sprinkled about. It's all about catching the eye. I put my most widely accepted print in front.

3. There are some pretty bratty congoers out there. How would you suggest dealing with assholes?

Try not to light them on fire.

4. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. What issues should one be prepared for when running a table at the Artists alley?

Make sure you have correct change if you can. Some 1's some 5's and what not. If there's a print area near by, (some places have a kinko's or something close by) maybe look into taking some source files with you. And always make sure you have a table buddy or that you trust the guy or gal next to you - you will need to go to the bathroom at an inopportune time, it's just how it works.

5. Anything else?

Nothing special. Try and be in a good mood and be willing to talk with people. Nothing is more of a turn off to potential future art owners than an artist who hides from their crowd. Also, if you're trying to get your name spread, take some business cards or something. You can go to an office store and print your own for like $10 or something - it's a pretty easy way to look professional.
Just remembered one more thing to add, to help reduce cost:
Write down how many copies you made for each art before the con, then see how many are left, so you know which ones sell the best, and how many you've sold. Then you can make copies base on that for next con, this way it'll save you print cost from printing un-popular items.

Do this for each con you attend, it'll help with the planning.

Also if you are printing on your own printer, try with different print option and papers. If "normal" quality option have no visible difference from "best", then don't waste your ink by printing on "best". If printing on matte paper is as good as on glossy, then print on matte cause it tends to save a lot more ink.
Thank you!
Thank you forthis, it's incredibly useful and informative!! smile

May i ask also, what is the ideal resolution of the digital file for a 8x11 print??
yumegari
Thank you forthis, it's incredibly useful and informative!! smile

May i ask also, what is the ideal resolution of the digital file for a 8x11 print??


I can answer this one myself, I think. :3 For basic printing, most people can use around 300 DPI and get nice results. I've heard of up to 600 DPI being used though, which I find insane. Drawing something at even 200 DPI gave me a headache.
snow_killer
O.o



...


Can I help you?
[Kako]
yumegari
Thank you forthis, it's incredibly useful and informative!! smile

May i ask also, what is the ideal resolution of the digital file for a 8x11 print??


I can answer this one myself, I think. :3 For basic printing, most people can use around 300 DPI and get nice results. I've heard of up to 600 DPI being used though, which I find insane. Drawing something at even 200 DPI gave me a headache.


That's what i've been hearing. Thank you soo much! smile

And I agreed, really big things are such a pain D:
Good luck with your table at whichever con you plan to attend!! ^____^
yumegari
Thank you forthis, it's incredibly useful and informative!! smile

May i ask also, what is the ideal resolution of the digital file for a 8x11 print??
300 dpi is pretty high quality, because most printers won't be able to print much more than that. The printers that will print at 600dpi will be too expensive unless you are aiming for a full time professional position.

I usually print mine between 200 to 300. 200dpi has almost no visible difference compare to 300dpi, espeically when its printed on matte instead of glossy. Sometimes you can even pull off at 150dpi. But anything below that will be clearly noticable.
I've added another question, though this one is optional: What skill level would you suggest entering the Alley at? Can you give some examples?

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