I've come back to the 'Artist's Alley'
It had been a while since exhibiting at a convention due to the whole pandemic situation. I booked a table for London's MCM comic con 2021 this October. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a lot more successful than anticipated. There was a good crowd in attendance and around 180 artists in the Alley. Along with what seemed like another 30 or so artists amongst the main retail sellers.
It's great to see so many artists having the opportunity to show off their art and products. I love checking out their work. I just wish I had more time to browse at what everyone was selling instead of spending 95% of my time behind my table. There's just something satisfying about viewing art in real life as opposed to through a screen. Plus I like having the opportunity to talk to my fellow artists and creators face to face.
From an Artist's Perspective
If you're an artist interested in exhibiting at a UK convention or would like to read a detailed report on the first load of cons I tried out, have a look at my 2016 article here. In that article I go in-depth to discuss my honest experiences during my first 10 cons. Plus offer insight on what to expect and give tips to potential success. Five years later and I've now finished con number 23. It took a while, but from a financial point of view, things finally turned a corner. In fact I generated more profit overall in the last convention than the previous 22 combined!
I'm massively appreciative of everyone who stopped by this time to make a purchase, or even stop for a chat, to say hello, or offer feedback. It took a while and some trial and error, but I'm pleased to now offer customers a range of artwork they love. While I still like a lot of my earlier work, I can see why it had limited appeal so have since cut most of it from my inventory.
I still don't know whether it's a good thing that I sell a wide mix of styles and themes; from big-eye small-mouth manga characters to moody tattoo-vibe skulls. I imagine being more consistent with my offerings would help customers understand the type of artist I am. Certainly, my pastel and rainbow-coloured Unicorns Colouring book just didn't seem to sit right on my table. Having said that, I would on occasion hear passers-by comment on how they like the mix of styles, so who knows.
When things go well, it allows me the potential opportunity to create more of my own designs, rather than needing to devote my time to working on other people's projects. Taking on commissions can still be enjoyable, but I like having wiggle room to decide what I take on rather than needing to do whatever is asked of me in order to pay the bills. I didn't get into the art game to create corporate info-graphics or draw generic, mass appeal illustrations. So moving forward, I hope to work on more personal projects which I'll sell later down the line.
Any new events coming up?
I'll be attending another convention in Birmingham in just under 3 weeks: 13th-14th of November 2021 at the NEC. I'll be using it as reason to take a break from my usual environment and check-in to see if my more recent selection of offerings fares any better than the last Birmingham Con I attended in 2015.
There's nothing else booked on the calendar for 2022. I would be interested in attending a few more of the larger conventions next year. The smaller townhall size cons aren't of much interest. Although I've been invited to several smaller conventions as a guest artist previously and so if I'm invited to any more in the future, I may possibly attend. Having travel and accommodation expenses paid for at these events can just about make it worth while.
In other news?
The rest of 2021 will be fairly busy for me. As well as managing sales through my Shop, Etsy and Amazon Stores, I still tattoo part time and have several projects such as full sleeves yet to complete. And of course I hope to get back to working on my card game project 'Total Blast'. Around 70% of the core game artwork is complete. The main hurdles have been passed for that one so I'm looking forward to continuing with it. On a personal level, I'm hoping to get in some more rock climbing, board gaming and making time to hang out with friends and family.