Convention Basics0 Table prices vary with convention prestige, but $300 for a 6’ table for a fairly well known con is pretty constant across the different cons.0 The closer you are to big name artists, the better you’ll sell. Some conventions have a policy about spreading out well known artists to increase customer circulation, some don’t.0 Ask around. Check out reviews of the conventions you plan to attend, talk to other artists. A convention that’s great for your Ponies loving friend may be a total bust for you.0 Be flexible. Things change.0 Established properties will always sell better. If you don’t have a web presence or a web comic, consider tabling with a generous friend who will send customers your way.0 Try to table with a friend who knows how to time their pitch so it doesn’t interrupt yours. I’ve lost a lot of business this way.0 Table with someone who’s work is similar to yours, but not competing (I.E. Kid friendly with kid friendly, PG-13 with PG-13. Nothing worse than losing sales when your friend shouts out “WHO LIKES PORN”)
Your Basic Convention Kit Useful for all types of cons0 Cash Box0 Lots of $1’s, lots of coins (save for pennies)0 Sticky Notes0 Sketchbook0 Spare paper0 Sharpie0 Tape0 Tablecloth0 Pencils0 Gum0 Menthol Stick (Great for headaches, and if you put it under your nose, it cuts the con funk)
5 Convention Essentials to Consider0 Display (Includes banners, signs, and props)0 Demo Materials0 Room to draw0 Space to Store Materials/Stock0 Portage For more tips, visit here.
Figuring Out Your Gimmick0 A gimmick helps set you apart from the other artists.0 Can include banners, small table items, freebies, business cards, and cut out stand ups0 Intended to get audience to your table, increasing your chance of sales0 Your gimmick should vary by cons- large banners are great at superhero conventions, not so welcome at tiny indie cons.
The Hard Sell0 Two camps- some believe your work should sell itself, others believe you should engage customer0 I’ve tried both, had best sales when engaging the customer0 If people like you, they are more likely to buy your work0 Be chatty, but not pushy. Ask how they’re enjoying the con, if they’ve ever been before.0 If people are buying multiples, and you have a cheaper option, say so. I sell button sets (4 for $5, instead of $1.50 each) and people appreciate a good deal0 If people ask questions, there’s your chance to open up. Be excited about your work, excitement is contagious.
Major Types of Cons0 Superhero0 Indie/Mini0 Anime0 Furry0 Sci-Fi0 GamingNote: I’ll be covering the first four in this presentation.
Which Type is Right for You?0 Art style0 Comic content0 Your demographic0 Ability to interact with others
Superhero0 San Diego Comic Con July 12-150 New York Comic Con October 11-140 Lots of cities have their own, check out Convention Scene for a calendar of events.0 Best to plan ahead, buy your table early0 Tables tend to run from: $300 (typical of most cons) - $2500 (Small press table at SDCC, free if you’re small press, but the waiting list is years long), and are 6’ standard. You can buy half a table if you desire.0 Use this opportunity to talk to editors0 Most complicated sign up sheet I’ve ever seen:
Superhero0 Some minicomics sell, don’t invest a lot of money in printing new ones0 Most of your money comes from commissions- customers usually know to bring their own reference0 As long as you’re cheap, you’ll make sales0 Some prints sell, cheesecake usually sells well, but so does super cutesy takes on popular characters0 Fanart is a major seller0 Minimum interaction with audience is necessary0 Crowd is mixed- lot of kids, lot of young 20’s, lot of parents0 Fair amount of cosplay, complement costumers
Superhero-Portfolio Reviews0 Many publishers offer the opportunity for one-on-one portfolio reviews with editors and artists 0 Show up very early, the lines tend to get long fast (an hour early is a good rule of thumb for Oni Press, earlier for the Big Two) 0 Dress business casual. You want to present yourself as a serious contender 0 Organize your portfolio ahead of time, cull items that you aren’t pleased with. Cater your work to the editors you plan to talk to 0 Take-aways are great. Mini comics, business cards, small pocketable samples. 0 The more you do convention portfolio reviews, the more likely editors are to remember you 0 Be friendly, upbeat, but not overly talkative. Take notes. Appear attentive. Thank them for their time.
Mini/Indie0 Conventions:0 MoCCA- April 28th and 29th0 FLUKE- April 21st0 SPX- September 15th and 16th0 TCAF- May 5th and 6th0 APE- October 13-14
Mini/Indie0 Crowd varies greatly depending on con. For example, FLUKE was at a bar, attracted a 20-something crowd. MoCCA was at the Armory, attracted a lot of parents with kids. Know your con.0 Minicomics are a big seller, but it helps to have small, unusual items on the table0 Unusual table setups can drive sales0 If you sell kids’ stuff, advertise as such.0 Greet your audience, engage in conversation, ask how they’re enjoying the con0 Tends to attract a lot of 20-somethings, some kids and some parents0 Focus on making contacts, not necessarily on making money0 Very very little cosplay0 Try to table with someone new
Mini/Indie0 Have a variety of mini comics on your table0 Prints can sell, if cheaply priced0 Buttons sell, especially if they’re interesting0 Charms sell surprisingly well, especially if they are generic/have a wide appeal0 Be open to trading0 Make sure you have lots of business cards and some freebies
Anime0 Major cons: 0 AWA 0 Otakon 0 Ohayocon 0 ACEN 0 Anime Expo Most states have their own minor anime cons, Convention Scene can help you locate local ones.
Anime0 Table prices vary wildly depending on the size of the con- Anime South East tables are $35 for an entire table, Otakon tables are $300.0 Almost all sales come from unlicensed fanart prints0 Minicomics rarely sell, save to other vendors0 Small items such as buttons and charms do fairly well0 Audience is encouraged by staff to ask for ‘freebies’0 Audience is fairly rude, although you will find some shining examples of humanity- keep an open mind0 A menthol stick rubbed under the nose cuts the con-smell0 Some artists make a huge profit, others come out broke0 Commissions sell fairly well, but don’t expect them to bring reference. A smartphone or tablet is very handy0 You have to compete with a dealer’s room that sells licensed merchandise. Believe me, this is important.
Anime0 Cosplay is a huge thing at anime cons, even vendors may cosplay0 Audience interaction can be minimal, but if you engage the customer about their favorite series, you may end up with a dedicated fan0 There is very little chance of meeting with editors, this isn’t the sort of convention you really network at0 Some anime cons are trying to limit the amount of fanart sold. This is great in theory, but in practice, it means you lose out even more to the dealer’s room.0 Some anime cons are juried, which means tables are awarded on artistic merit, which controls the quality of art entering the convention.
Furry0 Animal Caps (including Pokemon)0 Books0 My Little Pony fanart0 Furry goods (Fursuits, collars, ect)0 Commissions are a huge seller here. You have little established fandom to compete with, no vendors room selling licensed merchandise. This is all about the customer’s fursona, and may be the only opportunity they have to get a visualization of it. 0 Badges
Furry0 Customers love interaction, ask them about their character, but beware, many are an ‘overshare bear’, so determine an escape route ahead of time0 A portfolio of prior work can really help, it allows customers the opportunity to see what you’re made of0 If you are pitching a product, ask first if they are familiar with it. If not, give them a short pitch.
Conclusion0 Pack smart- consider your mode of transit when planning your display and your wares.0 Consider conventions an investment, and invest in cons that pay off for your career- larger audience and editor interaction are goals to consider0 You are part of your brand and your gimmick, represent yourself as such0 There are people who will read everything you have on the table, talk to you for an hour, and buy absolutely nothing. At least they’ve looked at your stuff0 A convention assistant can be nice, but they aren’t very helpful if you have to explain every single thing to them. Find one who’s familiar with conventions if possible.