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There were some things that helped with that. Namely, I was sharing a table with my awesome friends Mandie and Nathaniel who had these amazing huge dragon heads sticking out above everyone and into the aisle. It was pretty distinctive! We also had about six feet of space behind us and a tall black curtain to separate us from artists on the other side. I never have had this before, and we were unprepared to have a display up behind the table, which most of the more prepared artists did. (With a little tape and some tumbles, we did get something up on the second day. I'm not sure if it helped, but I think it did.) Additionally, for most people who were there for three days, I think that eventually you do see everything and pick out the things you really like the most. I was really surprised that some of the booths in the artist alley weren't really artists at all. (I saw an insurance company there, an internet company, and we were right next to a lady selling energy drinks. They were super nice, but I wasn't expecting that sort of vendor at Comic Con! The table across from us also had a girl standing in front of the table in naught but her unmentionables all weekend, offering sultry poses. She was painted up and I think that they were pretending to advertise costume makeup, but their little ruse fooled no one.)
The convention was PACKED! It sold out and there were even more people attending than the building could hold, so I heard that they turned a lot of people away (and even stopped letting people back in if they left!!). We definitely saw a lot of traffic at our table at almost all times, but not all of that traffic was customer traffic. Honestly it was more like watching a herd of cows shuffling along a cowpath. I mean that in the nicest way possible. But I saw a lot of people just sort of stuck going with the crowd because there was no other way to go. A lot of people knew exactly where they were headed and were just trying to get past us. There were also a lot of people who were interested in our table, but who couldn't stop and see because there were too many people in the way already at our table, and the crowd just kept moving.
It was a stressful convention as well. Maybe the most stressful one I've ever done. There were a few reasons for that: the first is that parking was a nightmare. (Downtown Salt Lake. Ugh.) So we found a place to park and pretty much just walked everywhere we went. Another stress factor was that when we ran out of stuff or needed more things laminated, there was no place to get it done. Even though there were multiple print shops fairly close to the Salt Palace, they were always either closed, unable to do what we needed, or filled with incompetent employees... Sorry, but it's the truth. Incompetent. And then there was the management of the Con itself. I think that they did not do the best job of taking care of some of the important details. We had a hard time getting all four of us into the vendor room at all times, and that was a source of great frustration. I hope that they work things out better next year.
But that is pretty much the limit of my complaints. It was generally a really excellent convention! So now onto the good stuff. One of the best things that happened to us all weekend was that the table next to us never showed up. Some conventions have rules about not taking over empty tables, but this one apparently did not. There were four of us sharing a tiny little 6-foot table, and we did our best to make it work, but on Friday morning, that nakers little table next to us was just too tempting to pass up. We spread out our work, and just as soon as we did, sales picked up too. The weekend went on to be very successful! It was really awesome sharing with Mandie and Nathaniel. They were fantastic tablemates and I think things worked together pretty well.
I also really loved getting to attend all three days of Comic Con, even though I was super exhausted by the end. As some of you may know, my husband and I are religious and we don't attend conventions on Sunday. SLC Comic Con was Thursday-Saturday, instead of the typical Friday-Sunday. Salt Lake, don't change that!!
The customers at Comic Con were so great. SO GREAT. I have never encountered more people who were respectful, engaging, or overall so pleasant as the ones we had in SLC! Thank you, attendees, thank you all so much for being SO INCREDIBLE!
Bryce and Mandie took their portfolios around and got reviews of their work from Steve Argyle and one or two other awesome artists! For those reviews alone, it was worth attending the convention. We all came away feeling pretty optimistic and having had a good time, I think. I saw a lot of cool friends like my illustration buddies from BYU-Idaho, Kim and Becca and Steve.
Things that I learned/relearned at SLC Comic Con:
-Sharing a table with friends is totally awesome, especially in a big scary place like downtown Salt Lake. But in the future I personally would team up with art friends without necessarily sharing a table. It was a great experience, but there were three of us who had merchandise, and it is just way too much to cram into one tiny table. My husband and I both do art, and I honestly have enough stuff on my own to take up a whole table myself. (However, art buddies, take note: I would pretty much LOVE to team up with all of you and take up a whole aisle or block at Comic Con tabling next to you all!)
-Having friends at a convention helps everyone out. Everybody! It provides more interest for customers, and you all can help each other. It shouldn't be an artist-eat-artist world out there. You can help build each other up instead of beating each other down and being cutthroatishly competitive. If you can, bring friends. If you can't, make friends. :)
-You will never plan so perfectly or be so prepared that you will encounter zero frustration. No matter how pro you are or feel, there will be management problems, table problems, table neighbor problems, customer problems, and so forth. Expect them to come and be prepared to take them in stride and deal with them gracefully. And on that note...
-Attitude! Attitude makes a big difference. Try to stay upbeat even if things don't go the way you want them to. A lot of customers are turned away if the faces behind the table are frowny ones. Don't let them know if you're having a rough weekend.
-Don't be afraid to tell people no. If they want you to do something you are not comfortable with, just say no. You don't have to explain or apologize. Also, a lot of people love to take pictures of art at conventions, which in my opinion is not kosher and even kind of defeats the purpose of selling prints. Don't be afraid to tell them no either, but do so kindly. I gave people my website when they wanted to take pictures, informing them that they can see my art online. Most people took it pretty well.
-Don't be afraid to try! If it won't put you out too much if you make ZERO profit at a con and you really want the experience, go for it. You will learn things and you may be pleasantly surprised!
All in all, it was a great experience. So many thanks to all the people who made it possible, and especially to my husband and awesome tablemates. Thank you thank you thank you. We'll definitely add this convention to our list for next year!