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Deconstructing the Artist Alley Convention Booth

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Nov. 10, 2014

Here's the Scene:
Palms are sweating, the convention doors are about to open. Every plush doll, button, glossy 12“x24” poster is hanging around the overpriced booth that was paid for with a year's worth of savings. Welcome to the Artist Alley, where it is always a game of every man for himself to sell the most merchandise.

In last Friday's newspost, HippieVan brought up a topic that has been on my mind since the last convention I attended: Preparing a merchandise booth at a convention to showcase webcomic work for profit. One of the benefits about being a creative person is the creation of beautiful works of art that can be exchanged for money (crazy idea, right?) However, the idea of selling comic swag or putting a monetary value on the endless hours of work can be really hard since original work and ideas are difficult to price. There is an entire business side of the art world that deals with making a profit from artwork. It takes a somewhat outgoing personality type to sell any product and it only gets more challenging when that product is very personal and sentimental like original art.

My experience at a con comes soley from the buyer's perspective as I have no experience setting up a booth at a convention. Sometimes I come across an artist sitting in a booth completely shrouded with the most brilliant pieces of artwork so I can automatically tell that they are a genius without even a word, but after about five minutes of admiring their work, there is no eye contact, no quick “hello”, or interest in selling that I end up being drawn to a booth with a more outgoing vendor. One time I was so impressed by the art style pinned on the boards of one booth that I sought out the artist, asked if she drew the work, and all I received was a small nod.

Some artists are fortunate enough to be a natural salesman, but as a fact of life, every artist does not have the personality to be a salesman. There is a charm to artists who are very shy or nervous about the work they create because the work tends to be introspective and they obviously focus on their work. Though, in order to justify the amount of money paid for a booth at a convention, pretending to be a salesman for a few hours could not hurt.

I am really curious to hear from anyone who has experience working behind an artist booth at a convention. Is it difficult to engage prospective buyers with the product? Is it easier to draw the entire time or to talk to people about the work? How challenging is it to put a price tag on original artwork?

Have you heard of HollowQuest?

For any fans of the old school 8-bit games like Hugo's House of Horrors or Maniac Mansion, this webcomic might be right up your alley! junkbondtrader has created a comic where user comments directly effect the course of the story. It is actually a pretty fun concept where the community can actually alter the comic outcome!


What's Quacking?
Do you have any original art to contribute to our stock image database, announcements, community projects, ideas, news, or milestones to report? Please leave general comments below or send a PQ to kawaiidaigakusei. Email me at kawaiidaigakusei(at)gmail(dot)com.



cdmalcolm1 at 5:21PM, Nov. 10, 2014

I can tell you. It really depends on if the artist is over selling and under selling their work...what I find out that works is having a good friend or best friend with you. Why? Because it brings the natural you out. When you are comfortable, you can naturally sell your work. The ones that are solo and can sell their work are out going. The shy ones that are solo tend to not pay attention to buyers. Looking down or drawing is not a good idea. (Unless, you are bored or very damn good.) Look at all the famous artist. They do nothing but talk to everyone about their work. If they draw something it is only for profit) As far as what sells is original artwork of a famous characters. Not just comic characters, but any famous character. What I like to do is have one of my characters vs a famous. It always bring up a question, " who is that fighting wolverine or superman?" It sells itself. THats when you can get into your character and your merchandise. Try not to draw.

CornTown at 2:08PM, Nov. 10, 2014

I sell at about roughly five to seven artist allys a year so I'm familiar with the situation. The key is to have a wide variety of products/prints, both personal art and fan art. If you do fan art, make sure you are up to date with what is popular. For example, Smash 3DS just came out so any prints of smash characters will sell well. Last year, pokemon prints sold well as Y/X was released). Finally and most important, talk to people, even if it's just to say hello or ask them how they are enjoying the con. Most the time, people will say hi back and leave, but many stop to chat. Alot of people at cons are just looking to talk and even if you don't sell anything, people you talk to will look at your art and almost always pick up a business card.

VinoMas at 9:45AM, Nov. 10, 2014

I love that you are a guest editor to this site. Your entries are always entertaining and informative! You bring a new sense of energy to THE DUCK and I love it!

tupapayon at 4:24AM, Nov. 10, 2014

Sales... it is a personality thing... people are already there, curious about your things... half the sale is done... a little attention to the potential buyer goes a long way... I work in a grocery store and many times people buy things they were not looking for when we are friendly and make suggestions.... so just talk to people, or bring an outgoing friend along with you... I don't have a salesman personality but I've been able to make a few sells just by talking...

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