Artist Alley 101: Things to Consider/Resources
|12 min read
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Published: January 23, 2013
Hello everyone! Welcome to the 4th and final part of my Artist Alley tutorial!

This is meant to be a good start for those who have never been a part of an artist alley before, as well as a nice refresher to those of you who are veterans of alleys everywhere! I will try to be as detailed as possible, but make the information easy to reference and read through!

Hope you enjoy, and feedback is definitely appreciated! Let me know your thoughts, reactions, some of your own alley stories, as well as if you have any suggestions to add to this tutorial! I definitely haven't thought of everything, so if you had new ideas to share, I'd love to hear them!

Here are the links to Part 1 theartslave.deviantart.com/jou… Part 2 theartslave.deviantart.com/jou… and Part 3 theartslave.deviantart.com/jou… if you'd like to take another look!

--

ARTIST ALLEY 101

PART 4

Other Things to Consider/Resources

:star: OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
:star:

This section will cover all those other bits that wouldn't fit in any particular section in my tutorial, but are still very important to think about while preparing for artist alley and beyond.

:bulletblue: Your packing list just got a whole lot bigger.

Along with this year's assortment of cosplays, spending cash and snacks, you definitely have a whole lot more stuff to remember to bring with you than you have ever brought before!

Below is a sample list of things to bring that I use and constantly add onto and change depending on what I am selling. I hope this is a good starting point for you and that you customize your own list for the items you sell!

Art and merchandise (add a more detailed list of items here for your personal reference)
$1/bargain/discount bin (for old or damaged items that can still give you some profit!)
Duct tape/scotch tape/scissors (for unexpected repairs! You never know when you'll need them.)
Table price list (printed/written legibly, and for an extra layer of OCD, list prices in ascending order!)
Business cards/business card holders (holders are inexpensive and a nice way to add verticality to your cards!)
Inventory/writing utensils (be it in notebook form or printed spreadsheet form, use it to keep track of your sales.)
Sticky notes for reminders (for last minute schedule changes, things to stock up on for the next day, etc.)
Water bottles (stay hydrated!)
Cash box
(you want to make sure this is protected at all times, especially when you're not at the table)
Display board/s (for holding magnets, keychains, stickers, or other items you have)
Mirror (this is nice for your customers if you have jewelry or hair accessories, it lets them see the product on themselves first hand!)
Tablecloth (for that extra layer of professionalism!)
Spare change!!!! (and lots of it)
Envelopes for cards (if you sell greeting cards or postcards, this is a nice way to protect them)
Calculator (to add up your total profit throughout the day/weekend)
Clipboard (to hold important papers like convention schedule, inventory, etc)
Hand sanitizer (to rid thee of ye olde con plague! Keep it out on table and use it frequently between transactions)
Jewelry stands (for rings, necklaces, etc!)
Storage cubes (for all the larger stuff, prints, etc.)
Sleeve protectors/baggies of varied sizes (Also another good way for customers' purchases to be protected once they leave your table, especially if they buy prints, postcards, etc!)

:bulletblue: Be courteous to your artist alley neighbors!

Yes, they are all your competition, but you're all in it together! Good artists help each other out, so be nice and courteous! Who knows, you may even see them come over to your table and buy something, or request an art trade or commission! Kindness comes back around, so be a great neighbor and you'll have great neighbors! I've made lots of friends from neighbors that I have met, fed, helped out, or was just simply nice to in the past. And why shouldn't artists help each other!

:bulletblue: On art theft and vandalism

This was something I originally hadn't thought of mentioning, but I think it's important to do so! If the alley is in a locked room, there may not be as big a concern for this, but when the alley is in an open hallway or area you want to make sure you pack up all your stuff each night. Put it away in your car, or at home if the con is close by, or at the hotel room you are staying at. At the very least cover it up with a big sheet! You don't want to run the risk of leaving things out and having it stolen, or worse yet, vandalized! This has happened to people, and it is not fun. So don't risk losing all that precious work, and have a place to put it after each day!

:bulletblue: On taking commissions

If you want to advertise that you do commissions, the simplest way to do this is by having a sign that says you take commissions, or you do on-the-spot commissions for a named fee. Make sure you give your customers flexible options that are also easy to understand. Lots of people have been burned in the past with paying for a commission they never received, so make sure when you advertise you're not making people afraid of the "c" word by being too vague!

The way to fix this is to have a system set up in advance. I usually don't take on the spot commissions, so this is a little easier to imitate. If someone is interested in a commission from me, I hand them a small index card that has some information I need the customer to fill out. What you will want from them is the type of commission, the customer's name, email, and mailing address. I ask for payment of commission at the convention but I can also create a receipt for the transaction so the person doesn't forget that they commissioned me, and so that they can later contact me if I happened to forget to send it or something crazy happens (believe me, you never know.)

Another way I have seen this done more recently is for those who do on the spot commissions. They write down the specifics of the commission (name/character name/size/full color or inked, etc.) AND they also write down the commissioner's phone number so that the artist can receive a text alerting them when their commission is ready to be picked up at the con! I used this system when commissioning a few different artists and it is super effective and awesome!

:bulletblue: Always have a business card at your table!

This is very important, because you want people to remember you long after the convention is over! If a friend of a customer asks where they got that awesome magnet, I wouldn't want them to say, "Oh, I got it from this one gal at the artist alley, but I can't remember her name." Rather, you want them to say "I got it from The Art Slave! She had a booth at the artist alley, but she also sells them on her Etsy store!" This is the power of a business card. Encourage everyone that buys from you to pick one up, or just automatically give one with every sale. You can also package the cards in with your items like putting them in the back of prints.

A good trick to get more people to your table may also be to walk around with a couple of business cards on hand, even while you're getting up to eat or attend a panel. Strike up a conversation or two and pretty soon they'll know you have a booth, and you can give them your card. Be smart and creative with promoting yourself!

:bulletblue: Have fun!

This is the first thing we tend to forget to do, but it's also the most important thing. You can get caught up in the stress, the hustle and bustle of the convention, the last minute complications, and so on. Take some time to go away from your table and take a small walk around the convention. Immerse yourself in the convention environment, and remember why you started to sell in the first place. Hopefully the answer will be, because it's fun! I know from my personal standpoint that I absolutely love to go to conventions and sell my work. I love the little moments that are so unexpected and hilarious that make each year more memorable than the last. I love to meet new people and hear about what they like, what they're into, and develop friendships that span beyond the convention. I love seeing the reactions people have toward my work. All these reasons and more keep me coming back and make it rewarding for me. So whether this is your first year or your latest and greatest year, remember to take some time to enjoy yourself!

:bulletblue: Constant re-evaluation and improvement

After the convention is over and you've mailed off your last commission, do an evaluation of your experience. Did you enjoy the convention atmosphere? Did you have a good turnout at your table? Did you do as well as you had hoped? Would you do this again? And based on what you come up with, you'll see whether or not this is for you. And if you totally had a blast and want to sell again next year, great! Keep track of your progress and build on your knowledge. Maybe you didn't like the way your display turned out, so you want to change it up for next time! Maybe you want to make more stuff now that you know where to go to find things that will help with efficiency. You might have seen a booth at the alley that really inspired you, whether be in its design, its layout, or the work up for sale, and you want to bring that inspiration into your own booth. If you are constantly looking for new and better ways to improve your work and how you sell it, then I guarantee you will always have a great artist alley experience.

Before I end this tutorial, I would like to give you a list of resources that I hope are helpful and can get you started into thinking of ways to make your artist alley experience great!

:star: RESOURCES :star:

Art Supplies
4 in. Nickel Plated Keychains (army_navy_tags on Ebay has a good deal on wholesale keychains)
Sticker paper (upon googling "printable sticker paper" Staples and other stores seem to have some)
Magnet paper (I get mine at Michael's. It's hidden, but you can ask for the Pro Mag brand and they should have it)
Glossy or matte printing paper
Cardstock or photo paper
Jewelry-making materials
(arts and craft stores have whole sections dedicated to this!)

Display Materials
Jewelry Stands (Michael's has a variety of sizes and types)
Grid Squares/Storage Cubes (I hear they sell for $20 at Bed Bath & Beyond!)
Tablecloth (any fabric or craft store should have loads of colors/patterns to choose from!)
Cork Board (I got mine at Target)
Portfolio (A nice black folder at Walmart can be good, but if you want to go for professional you'll have to check your local art supply store)
Customer baggies (I got mine at Michaels and they come in packs with a variety of sizes)
Photo Albums (These could be great for displaying postcards or smaller prints and can be found anywhere really)

Art Supply Stores (Online/Public/Both!)
Michael's Arts & Crafts
A.C. Moore
Amazon.com
Ebay.com
Office Max/Office Depot
Staples
Any craft or fabric store near you!


Printing Services (Online/Public/Both!)
Moocards (good for business cards, promotional stickers)
Office Max (great for prints, lamination service, mounting)
Staples (good for prints)
Vistaprint (good for ordering postcards, business cards and banners)
Ka-Blam! (great for printing comics, art books and more!)

**Another great resource to check out is the Artist Alley Network International group on Facebook!!! You can join and meet a ton of artists/crafters who sell their wares at various conventions throughout the US! And, there are a lot of tips/resources lists that are way bigger than this one could ever hope to be! If you're interested in joining, here is their page: www.facebook.com/groups/143875…


THE END!

Thanks for checking out this tutorial! I hope it has been informative and fun! Let me know your thoughts, reactions, suggestions of things to add to any section of this tutorial, or any questions you want to have answered that I have not covered here!

See you next time!

~Natalia
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So you want to sell at an Artist Alley (part 1)
OK, honestly there is a lot of information regarding artist alley stuff, so I figured I would break it into a couple parts, so you don't have to read one big massive post LOL ALSO DISCLAIMER; I have only been tabling for about 3 years, I am by no means a professional, or claim to know everything about tabling, or that my way of tabling is the only way. This is more of just to guide people who have never tabled before, or other people who table who would like to try different things! PART ONE - APPLYING, PORTFOLIOS, AND PREPARATIONS Alright! The first step of any artist who plans to sell is deciding to sell! Once you have chosen you would l
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Surviving (and thriving) on deviantART
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Comments (30)
Anjach's avatar
Anjach|Hobbyist Digital Artist
hehe this was a good read, thanks so much <3
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are very welcome! Glad to hear it! ^^
Reply  ·  
ofmiceandbrushes's avatar
ofmiceandbrushes|Professional General Artist
Thanks for sharing all this info! Much appreciated! ^_^
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are very welcome, ofmiceandbrushes! :D
Reply  ·  
VanessaBettencourt's avatar
VanessaBettencourt|Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for sharing. This is a great article. : D
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
So glad to hear, thanks for reading! :D
Reply  ·  
Byakurin's avatar
Byakurin|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so, so, much for this! I'm going to be selling at a con next year and am really nervous, aah ;7;
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are very welcome! Best of luck at your first con! :D
Reply  ·  
joshhood's avatar
joshhood|Professional Traditional Artist
Ive been doing artist alleys for years but I've never thought of some of the stuff you have written about here. Thanks for taking the time to do it. 
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are so welcome, I'm glad you found it useful! :)
Reply  ·  
Kattie19blue's avatar
Kattie19blue|Student General Artist
do you get trouble if you want to create something (chibi, keychain, plushie, blanket, pillow, etc.)from the anime and sell it, since it is not your original creators.

how can you get the copyright of your works?
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
Hello Kattie19blue! If you want to create something based on an anime, like a fan art piece or chibis like I do, then you should be fine. However, if you are simply making merchandise that includes the anime's original logo or artwork, then unfortunately that would be a copyright issue, since you aren't making your own version of that thing and are simply copying existing art.

There are ways to copyright your own characters if that is what you are asking. I haven't had much experience with this but perhaps someone else could make a comment on this topic.

Hope that helps!
Reply  ·  
Ellofayne's avatar
Ellofayne|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I just read all 4, thank you so much!!!! Super informational, and even for things other than conventions! (I sell at Renaissance Faires; they seem to be sort of similar!!) Thank you!
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are so welcome, I'm so glad these were helpful to you! :D And yeah, Renaissance Faires would have probably even more types of items you could make/sell there. Best of luck to you!
Reply  ·  
Ellofayne's avatar
Ellofayne|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
yes, definitely! I make leather.... everything at faire XD. But I am curious how leather keychains might do at a con, along with prints and such... and of course, your info on prints and stickers and all that is good for me because that is untreaded waters for me, man. Thar be DRAGONS over there! Thank you, good luck to you too!
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are so welcome, and thanks! :D
Reply  ·  
Reaper145's avatar
Reaper145|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for making this! Really appreciate it. I'm doing my first artist alley in a few months and I'm super scared. Sorry if you covered this and I missed it, but what do you recommend for how many prints you should bring? Like let's say you have 15 designs, how many of each one?
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
Thanks so much for reading! :D

For prints, I would bring no more than 5 copies of each design. It would seem like a really low number, but trust me, any more than that and it'll seem like way too much inventory! The first time I made prints I had about 7 to 10 copies of each, and it was about 15 designs or so. Turned out to be freakishly expensive and I probably sold about 3 of each anyway. If you do 5, it'll be enough to gauge how well a design sells. And since you'll have lots of different designs, it will mean more options for your customers!

I hope this helped ^^ Best of luck to you on your first artist alley!
Reply  ·  
Reaper145's avatar
Reaper145|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hehe no problem XD
That's very true! I assumed people did like 50 of each design until I started reading stuff like this XDD Although I suppose that's only reaaally pro people. 
Thanks so much! 
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are very welcome! ^_^
Reply  ·  
Bronzewinged's avatar
Thank you so much for a long and informative list of things to know if I ever want to get on the sale part of a convention or similar. ^_^
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
You are so welcome, thanks for taking the time to go through it! ^^ Glad to hear it was helpful!
Reply  ·  
queenwicky009's avatar
queenwicky009|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Do you know where I can get custom japanese business cards?
Reply  ·  
MystoDraws's avatar
MystoDraws|Professional Filmographer
What kind of japanese business cards are you looking for? Because there are lots of ways to customize your card design!
Reply  ·  
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