This year, I decided to start the adventure of selling my art at conventions. It's been a great personal experience, not so great financially, but I'm doing better at each con and learning from my mistakes little by little.
I'm an experienced artist who has been doing commissions for many years, but artist alleys are quite new in Spain and I didn't feel confident enough to try and apply for one. At the end, one of my artist friends convinced me and, last summer, I decided to save money to invest in prints, merchandising and tabling costs.
From that moment, I spent a long, long time doing research, looking for blogs and websites with very basic advice for newbies, comparing online printing services and ordering my first prints and merchandising little by little.
I started sending applications in December, and I've done four conventions in two months so far.
So I decided to write this blog talking about my first four artist alleys.
JAPAN WEEKEND MADRID (FEBRUARY 2018)
One of the first pieces of advice I read was "start with small, local conventions" but I must admit I ignored that. Local cons were too late in the year, and it was too hard to get tables for different reasons. So I took a big step and decided to start at a HUGE con with, probably, the biggest artist alley in Spain (200+ tables!!): Japan Weekend Madrid.
I asked my friend Sandalwood to share a table with me, so we could split the cost and share our first artist alley experience. Being with a friend made me a lot less nervous and we also had my brother to lend a hand, but I was quite nervous anyway xD
We were lucky to get a table and the convention was great, even if I didn't sell much. I was prepared for that, because it was my first artist alley, but there were many slow times. But hearing the nice comments people made about my art was really nice! I met some old friends who came to see me, and some of the neighboring artists, but I'm shy and I wish I had taken more time to talk with more people. But also the artist alley was HUGE, I didn't even have time to see everything, let alone talk with everyone.
Mistakes I made in my first artist alley:
-Not giving a business card with every purchase. Some people took one, but some just walked away with their prints and I didn't sign them or include a card. Now I always put my card inside the plastic bag with everything!
-Not giving business cards to random visitors who didn't buy anything. Again, some took one, but some spent a long time looking at the table, made nice comments, and I was waiting in case they wanted to buy something, but they didn't and walked away without even taking my card. Only on Sunday afternoon I started offering cards to everyone who stood for more than 10 seconds looking at my art (or to Harry Potter cosplayers, because my card has Harry Potter art on them)
-Not putting a visible banner with my name. Some people were looking for my booth, but it was a huge event and I didn't have a sign with my name or my booth number, so they couldn't find me, I was so sad when they told me!
JAPAN WEEKEND BARCELONA (MARCH 2018)
A similar event, this time in Barcelona. I had to travel alone this time, so I found someone to share my table, I'd be less nervous if I had someone to go with and help each other. I shared with Alma de Origami and she turned out to be really nice!
But, again, it was a huge convention with 100+ tables and sales were really, really slow (not only for us, even more experienced artists said the same, but the girl beside us was selling non stop all weekend and even had a queue at her booth).
I was a little depressed because I had sold very little on Saturday and it was a disaster but, surprisingly, I made most of my sales on Sunday afternoon and could make up for it. I was also glad to meet some of my cosplay friends!
EXPOTAKU ALMERÍA (MARCH 2018)
My first event with a whole table all for myself! I used that extra space to bring my art supplies and start offering color commissions (I offered pencil and ink commissions at the previous events, but nobody requested a commission). Friday was really, really boring, but I made some good sales on Saturday and I started doing commissions on Sunday, which kept me busy all day. Even if it was a much smaller event, I sold much more than in Japan Weekend (about 2x) and people were really nice! Some people recognized my old Harry Potter fanart and they were so happy about it, it made my day! *^__^*
SALÓN DEL MANGA DE ALICANTE (APRIL 2018)
My best event so far! I'm so happy I got a table, because it was amazing!
It was only 1 hour from home, so I could save up on travel and accomodation, and the table was free. The convention was crowded all day, I thought the artist alley was a little hidden and nobody would come, but I was wrong! I got my first commission on the first day at 11 am, and from that moment, I spent the whole weekend drawing and selling stuff. I was exhausted, but really happy! I realized people love seeing me draw, and when they saw me working on a commission, they wanted one for themselves (I even had to take down the commissions sign because I was a little overwhelmed, but they kept asking about them!), so next time, I'll make sure to make room for my art supplies!
I got accepted for another Japan Weekend in September but... this time, there will be about 300 artist tables and it's a little scary. I applied for another two local conventions but I haven't heard back from them. Wish me good luck! And even if I've done four cons, I'm still a newbie, advice is always welcome!
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