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DarkishStar, calm down! Your art is by far good enough to break even! <3
Thanks for the reassurance. Dx It's just that Artist Alley has by far always been my most favorite for all the events at Anime Expo and I'm just as excited as anyone to be able to participate in it this year, but from what I've seen, art that tends to do better or draw more attention is more.. bright and cheerful/cute?

I guess it depends on the audience that your art tends to cater to that determines how successful you'll be? I want a mix of both, but cuteness really isn't my forte. Do you think it's better to just stick what you can do really well? Or should you experiment with other things, even if it doesn't turn out as well?
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I agree, it is very hard to find one source of a lot of info without just asking around in forums a lot!
My con background for having tables has been: Otakon, Katsucon, AWA, Anime Metro, and I've been to a couple other cons as a regular attendee. Though not every year, I've been going to cons since about 2000. I've had tables for about the last 3 years.

Quote:
Part A- Getting the table:
1. How many months in advance do conventions usually release tables, in your experience?
Very frusteratingly early!! It can be up to 6 months or more in advance, or they can dally and not release it until less than a month. Don't assume because it was around a certain time last year, it will be the same the next. Organization and art directors change from year to year. Most AAs have to adapt as they grow.

2. How much does a table usually cost?
It really varies, depending on the con size and facilities. I find $20-$50 is normal, I've seen it up to $75 which I think is a bit of a rip unless its a very big con. They can also vary between having half tables and full tables, or only one or the other. Check actual table sizes listed, space varies.

3. How quickly are the tables reserved?
Within a couple days for popular cons (yes really, there are almost always more artists who want then than there are available), to about a week or two for lesser. It can be very frusterating, when they go up with no warning and you miss it. You have to watch like a hawk for them to be released.

4. What complications should one be prepared for?
If you manage to get a table, that's most of your battle right there. Seems like there's frequently something that comes up though... just have all your info ready and be prepared for some mix-ups or last minute changes. Sometimes tables are not well-labeled and its hard to find yours. Some cons have to require you to collect tax and report to the tax office for that state.

5. Anything else?
Don't be crushed if you don't do well your first or second year. Many artists are well established and people come to cons specifically with intent to seek them out. You have to give time for people to get to know you. Having buisness cards and a nice website is good (I generally consider having a well-made site instead of or addition to DA to show more professionality.) Treat your table as a fun venture and a chance to get to chat with people.
Also, some cons will just go better than others. Try to go to more than one con. The setup and feel of AA varies with each one.
Don't let someone steal your table! There's always people around who are lurking for no-show tables because they didn't get one. If they have a table, they should be at their table. I don't care if someone is at my table if I'm gone for the day (though I stay as late as possible, I've seen other artists leave at suppertime and I've squatted at those tables before when I didn't have one. I always expect to leave if asked.) But yeah, if you get there in the morning and someone else is that, ask them to move.

Part B- Preparing to sell:
1. What sort of merchandise would you advise selling?
Prints (various sizes for most popular ones- I actually like postcard oens since I don't have a way of nicely displaying regular size ones), commissions, cute things, from accessories to plushies to knick knacks to small sculpture to whatever. I find it best to have a varity in things and price.

2. What sort of merchandise would you advise against selling?
Dunno. T-shirts don't seem to sell well enough to be worth it.

3. What sort of stuff sells best?
Hats have been very popular lately, and accessories. Prints and commissions are pretty much staple. People love little pins. Fanart of what's currently popular. My chokers, which I consider easy to make, sell better than my art, which I consider harder.

4. Where would you suggest going to get things printed?
Don't do it much, so can't say. Staples and Office Depot aren't bad, seem cheaper than like Kinkos.

5. If printing at home, what preparations should one make?
Usually you don't do it unless you're serious about being pro-sided. You need an expensive printer and expensive ink cartridges, and decent paper. Personally I have no experience with it.

6. How far in advance should one have one's merchandise finished?
At least a month. I work up until the day before, always best to bring as much as possible. I'm a procrastinator though.

7. Anything else?
Make sure you have somewhere to keep your stuff other than the table. Figuring out how you're going to lug it around is good, expect to have to hunt for and wait for elevators. Backpack is great for print books and small supplies. Many people use a suitcase with wheels. I use tupperware bins on a cheap Walmart dolly thing, with bungee cords to hold them on. Figure out something that doesn't kill your back, you'll probably have to do a lot of walking while toting it.

Part C- At the Con:
1. How early should one arrive to be sure of reserving a good table?
I havn't been at the type of con that doesn't have table spots already assigned, so I say come a half hour or so before doors open to set up, depending on how much you have to do. I'm kinda bad, I only arrive shortly before opening and usually still setting up when people start to come.

2. When setting up one's table, what sort of layout would you suggest?
Can't really say offhand, depends on what all they're selling. Just try to make things as accessable as possible for people to browse. Flatter things in front, taller things behind. Also leave yourself some workspace on the table to do commissions or have food.

3. There are some pretty bratty congoers out there. How would you suggest dealing with assholes?
I've been lucky not to have any, but you just have to be as polite as possible and get some con security or AA staff to help you. I'd bet your neighboring artists will back you up too, you're not alone.

4. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. What issues should one be prepared for when running a table at the Artists alley?
Lots of things. Really pertains to what you need and what you're expecting.

5. Anything else?
I'd also like to throw out to beware of theft. Don't have your money visable. Many people have lock boxes. I suggest taking excess amounts (you don't need a fistful of $20s) and hiding it in a secure place, so when making change they don't see how much you have. When people ask how you're doing give them a really general answer, don't be like 'OMG I've made over $100 already!'
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[Kako]
fernshouldburn
Isn't it illegal to sell prints and stickers of fanart characters? I mean, will you get in trouble for that if you're selling them at a con?


Short answer: Yes, it's illegal. No, you won't get in trouble

Long Answer: Fanart is, technically, the use of somebody else's characters and thus intellectual property. Unless you have permission and are giving the owner royalties and s**t, it's illegal. Most creators of anime, manga, books, ect., don't care about fanart, however, and some even encourage it. Because of this attitude, unless the comic creator walks right up to you and says "Don't sell this," conventions generally allow the sale of fanart.


There would be a mob of unhappy people if they couldn't sell fanart.

I was also going to add, most walk-in copy places to make prints at may not let you do fanart due to copyright stuff. Some won't know though, or if you do the copies yourself.
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DarkishStar

I guess it depends on the audience that your art tends to cater to that determines how successful you'll be? I want a mix of both, but cuteness really isn't my forte. Do you think it's better to just stick what you can do really well? Or should you experiment with other things, even if it doesn't turn out as well?


Well, as an artist you should be open to trying new things 3nodding If you feel they don't turn out well limit them and mostly have what you're confident with, but even though you may not feel like they're that great maybe other people will really like them.
Kitsune_rei
DarkishStar

I guess it depends on the audience that your art tends to cater to that determines how successful you'll be? I want a mix of both, but cuteness really isn't my forte. Do you think it's better to just stick what you can do really well? Or should you experiment with other things, even if it doesn't turn out as well?


Well, as an artist you should be open to trying new things 3nodding If you feel they don't turn out well limit them and mostly have what you're confident with, but even though you may not feel like they're that great maybe other people will really like them.
xD That's true. I would love to face the challenge of creating something I'm not that comfortable with yet.

I guess it's true what you say, I can't be sure really of my course of action, unless I try it out first and see if I'll be confident in it or not. And I guess it really does boil down to people's preferences as well because I'll never know if someone will like something or not, though I don't want to exactly cater to an audience or fanbase, I guess it's a little unavoidable if I'm going to be selling something. Thanks for replying. It helps ease the nerves just a little. xD I think what you're saying is that I should just do what I'm best with, try out new things, and hope for the best. xD
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DarkishStar
xD That's true. I would love to face the challenge of creating something I'm not that comfortable with yet.

I guess it's true what you say, I can't be sure really of my course of action, unless I try it out first and see if I'll be confident in it or not. And I guess it really does boil down to people's preferences as well because I'll never know if someone will like something or not, though I don't want to exactly cater to an audience or fanbase, I guess it's a little unavoidable if I'm going to be selling something. Thanks for replying. It helps ease the nerves just a little. xD I think what you're saying is that I should just do what I'm best with, try out new things, and hope for the best. xD


Yup, pretty much. For my art tables, they evolved a lot over the years, depending on what I felt like making at the time and my success with certain things, I'd concentrate more on what seemed to be popular and listen to what my customers had to say. Usually people will like to talk to you about your art so take that chance to get feedback. People's tastes range a over the place so its actually kind of hard to cater to a specific fanbase.
DarkishStar
Gah, that's kind of a downer. Dx Sell cutesy things? Dx My art isn't cute, at best it's more like.. cool looking I guess. I'm not too skilled with Chibis though I could learn before AX comes.

I don't think I consider myself a beginner, but I want to make up the $50 the table cost at least. xD I know most of the people attending the con like cute things better, but I'm hoping they'll like.. the more mature kind of art? Not mature as in smutty, but not necessarily cute.. more serious? Dx


Cutesy... well... for example... Fanime my big seller was Gaia hats (this was before they had the official hats). They were smaller products made to get people to the table to see what else I could do and potentially commission me for something larger. But they were only interested in the hats and plushies... But I made my whole year's expenses at that con.

My big seller at Yaoicon were Mini Plushies. About half of my income came from minis. The other half was a couple of bigger plushies. I broke even at that con, including registration, hotel and table renting. Luckily I had plenty of commissions earlier in the year so I was able to cover yearly expenses.

This year I plan to do Fanime and Yaoicon in the same year. (previously has been a con a year) We'll see how that turns out.
I sat next to a guy during Fanime last year, and he had a bunch of his sketchbooks out on his table.

He recently told me that most of his sales come from selling sketches he had done throughout the year.

I'm thinking of doing that this year, since most of the stuff I draw is fanart anyways.
Ok, just for the heck of it: this is an awesome thread. I've been considering going to a con to sell art for a while, but I could never find enough information to actually go. Everyone involved just seemed to automatically "know".

I haven't seen Alphagraphics mentioned in this thread for prints, though. Our art teacher uses them for prints, and for a 12x9 the cost is 79 cents, lower the more you order. Has anyone used them to print things for this?
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fanartist
I sat next to a guy during Fanime last year, and he had a bunch of his sketchbooks out on his table.

He recently told me that most of his sales come from selling sketches he had done throughout the year.

I'm thinking of doing that this year, since most of the stuff I draw is fanart anyways.


I had actually considered doing the same thing myself, since I had some people show interest in my sketches last year.

Any idea how much he sold his sketchbooks for?
Shadow Ivy
I had actually considered doing the same thing myself, since I had some people show interest in my sketches last year.

Any idea how much he sold his sketchbooks for?

Not sure...

But he was doing sketches for I think $10 for commissions.

It should be around that amount... Probably a little less than you would charge for a commission, so people won't commission you for the same picture just to get a cheaper price.

Or more if it's pretty popular on the i-net.
Yeah, I was thinking of throwing in a free sketch if people wanted to buy a big print. I was thinking of sketching up a storm in these next few months so that I would have a nice stock of sketches that people can choose from. I would still accept sketch commissions because since I'm throwing the sketch in for free, they can't really choose what's drawn except from what's already there. xD If not enough people bought a big print, or I still have a lot of left over sketches, last day I might just sell them all for a buck. xD Some emergency money let's say. I'm going to try and do a hundred. That's the goal. xD Or maybe I'll just let people buy them off me if they really want it. xD

Otherwise, sketches commissioned from me.. I would only sell for.. $2? Yeah, a sketch doesn't take too long, so I don't want to charge like.. $10 as that one guy did mentioned above. I think that would be too much. I'm iffy even charging $5 for a sketch, unless I took a lot of time and care with it and shaded it and everything. O_O And then.. a sketch with some color pencil added in there.. $4? Roughly inked and color pencil coloring would be.. $5.. and rough ink with marker and color pencil.. $7-8? Can't decide yet. I know my decently neatly done commissions would be $10-15 depending on detail.

I think my point of doing AX this year is to try to get my name out more. I don't see myself doing too well, but who knows what that may bring. xD I'm just going to make sure I at least have fun.

And I have one more question. Once you claim a table, is that same table yours for the rest of the con? Because if I want to.. say.. close shop near the end of the day and go play or maybe when there's a cosplay gathering thing going on... would I lose my table? I sure hope not, I wouldn't want to be glued there all day, but I don't want to lose my table either.
Kitsune_rei
Yup, pretty much. For my art tables, they evolved a lot over the years, depending on what I felt like making at the time and my success with certain things, I'd concentrate more on what seemed to be popular and listen to what my customers had to say. Usually people will like to talk to you about your art so take that chance to get feedback. People's tastes range a over the place so its actually kind of hard to cater to a specific fanbase.
I see.. I guess I shouldn't worry as much this year if I even break even then or not. xD I think I should worry more about seeing how Artist's Alley works better and get the experience, so I'll be better prepared next year. Asking questions can't really be the say-all-be-all that the experience carries. xD Get my name out there.. see what people like. I guess that will be the important lesson. Thanks so much for the help. ^^

leloi

Cutesy... well... for example... Fanime my big seller was Gaia hats (this was before they had the official hats). They were smaller products made to get people to the table to see what else I could do and potentially commission me for something larger. But they were only interested in the hats and plushies... But I made my whole year's expenses at that con.

My big seller at Yaoicon were Mini Plushies. About half of my income came from minis. The other half was a couple of bigger plushies. I broke even at that con, including registration, hotel and table renting. Luckily I had plenty of commissions earlier in the year so I was able to cover yearly expenses.

This year I plan to do Fanime and Yaoicon in the same year. (previously has been a con a year) We'll see how that turns out.
Wow! I'm happy for you! Wow, you paid off all of your expenses. xD I expect to maybe break even for my table, I don't expect to pay off the rest of my 4-day pass, I plan to do that by enjoying the con by cosplaying, going to workshops, karaoke, games.. anything really. xD

I'm sure you'll do great! Judging by what you say already. =) Are you going to be at AX? I'd love to see your stuff up close. ^^

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