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Artist Alley 2012 Feedback What worked and what didn't?

#1 User is offline   Kikai 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:26 AM

Hello all c:

Let me start off by saying thank you to the AA staff and volunteers for a rather smoother AA run (for me at least). I didn't know if I should start a feedback thread or not, but it can't hurt.

First off, the pros!

-Smooth check in, kind IRT. On Thursday a very nice IRT guy (who I wish I'd gotten the name of) who went above and beyond by walking us all the way to the artist check in and even helping us with our stuff when he didn't have to. Thank you!

-Great neighbors, great AA. This AA was filled with so much talent, I was really excited to see all the different artwork there

-Great hours (though I wish we could stay open just a *tiny* bit later on Saturday evening)

-Staff was really kind at closing, wasn't yelling at us to get out. I was making a last minute sale (and a large one at that!) saturday evening and a staff member was kind enough to wait until I was done before politely ushering off the con-goer. He really helped me out.

-I liked that we closed after the dealer's room, as it helped usher sales our way. I wish we would close even later after them.


And my cons:

-Thursday they didn't have my badge printed. It wasn't a huge deal... but it would have been nice instead of having to explain to IRT every time I had to go in and out why I didn't have my badge.

-Set up. I think rows would work much better than islands. Even I as an artist would be overwhelmed and maybe even get lost in the maze that was the AA. I'm sure I missed a few tables because of the confusing nature (or even just vast nature) of the layout and know that that means con-goers and potential customers did too.

-I think we should limit table alottment to two per person if we keep the island layout. Three seems like honestly a tad much, and with four tables to a row if one person has three and the other has one, it looks really off balance. And honestly, what one person needs three tables? Two I can completely understand, but that third could go to another artist.

-Can we ban music from the AA? I hate to be a Debbie Downer but there were tables that played the same soundtrack all weekend, and I wasn't even sitting that close to them, but I could hear it loud and clear. I felt bad for those actually sitting next to them. There is honestly no reason to have such loud music at your table, it most definitely doesn't help sales and in fact makes a lot of people steer clear of your table. The same can be said for blinking lights. Constant blinking christmas lights at your table get incredibly hard to look at and very annoying after the first hour on friday.


That wasn't very many cons, and I did have a smooth and wonderful time this year. Partly because Acen is local to me and it made the whole con experience far less stressful. I do have a few general complaints that don't necessarily have to do with the AA or the staff, but felt it might be nice to see if others had these same issues?

-The food options in the hall were just.... ridiculous. I went to get breakfast and a danish and a bottle of water cost me $20. TWENTY DOLLARS. I understand that they up their prices for the con, but that is just stupid, and is taking advantage when there aren't any other food options besides walking a mile to mcdonalds or denny's. Eeek!

-The announcement intercom thingy. Maybe it was just me but it was hard to understand what you were saying sometimes :c



Over all I had a good year! Looking forward to next year. How was it for the rest of you?

#2 User is offline   Grimby 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:25 AM

All in all, I had a lovely experience this year and don't have much to complain about. IRT and AA staff were incredibly helpful, and everything was easy enough to figure out.

Thanks being said, there were just a couple things that I think could be improved upon:

-I have to agree that music should be banned. I was halfway across the alley and I could still hear the loud music from some table... and they seemed to play the same song over and over again. While I can appreciate wanting some background music while you work, you shouldn't be trying to use music as a way to lure people in... That just means it's too loud, and too distracting.

-The announcements that came on were SO LONG and so loud! There were multiple times I was talking to a customer when we were interrupted by a loud booming voice that seemed to go on forever. It was so loud we had to stop talking, and just stand there until the announcement was over. While I understand that these announcements are necessary (and very important) I feel like they could have been cut down to a single sentence--"The Dealers Area is now closed and the artist Alley will close in 30 minutes" Instead of "Hey everyone, hope you're having a good time at ACen! The exhibit hall is closing in 10 minutes, and the artist alley closes in 40. Have fun at ACen!"
I'm actually glad the speakers were as loud as they were because I remember not being able to hear them last year... just please make the announcements as simple and short as possible.

-While this isn't really a complaint towards anyone in particular... I sincerely don't understand why panelist badges are free, but artists have to pay the full badge price. As an artist, I am confined to my table at all times. The only times I got to leave my booth were when I would skip out on my partner to do a quick run around the alley, and when we closed at night. And when we closed at night, I was so tired from being so busy all day we went straight back to our room and fell asleep. I guess it just bothers me that I'm paying for a full-access badge into everything ACen offers, but as an artist it is impossible for me to make full use out of it.
I'm not asking for a free badge--but a discounted one would be nice. Or ever offer free badges to the head artists, and discounted ones to people under their table? Maybe even offer free "artist" badges that only allow access into the alley, but offer an upgrade for those who know they will have the time to attend panels, etc? This way people who know they're never leaving the alley don't have to pay for a full weekend badge, but people who know they'll have time will still pay for a badge.
I just felt like I was wasting my badge this weekend because I never got a chance to see much else of the con, despite having two others at my table helping me.

But again, my overall experience was a positive one and my thanks to everyone who made this past weekend possible. I appreciate all of the organization that went into the AA, the lines, etc. and I am thankful for the friendly and helpful staff making sure everyone knew what was going on. ^_^

This post has been edited by Grimby: 30 April 2012 - 11:29 AM


#3 User is offline   JujuFox 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:49 AM

PROS:
We had great neighbors. They were awesome and I hope we can be booth buddies next year too!

Aisles seemed a bit bigger, and seemed to get clogged less than last year.

The wide open layout was a good idea. I loved not having the blue curtains up blocking us off from the registration traffic! Since that aisle was so big it seemed to help with traffic flow and make getting in and out of the AA easy.

Registration and setup went smoothly. We were able to walk through the loading dock doors without a problem to set up and tear down.

We made better sales than last year, and not just our fan art amigurumi, but all the amigurumi! We sold out of quite a few items.

We could actually hear the announcements clearly over the intercom! I think this may be due to us being right next to a speaker. :P

CONS:
Overall layout was a bit confusing with the islands. I got so lost looking for specific tables, and since the maps on the Guidebook app were so small the numbers were illegible. I'm not sure if there is a photo size limit on the app, but it needed to be big enough so that if you scaled it on your phone you could actually see the table numbers. All I saw were blurry pixels when I zoomed, and my phone's screen is much bigger than the iPhone for a size reference.

Exhaust fumes. We got major headaches on Thursday and Friday from the exhaust of the fork lifts moving stuff around in the AA. It was pretty gross. Also, I had one guy with a pallet not beep or let me know he was behind me. He was going to try and pass by me with the pallet going over my head. How incredibly rude and unsafe! He had no business cutting through the AA like that. There was plenty of room to move through the bigger main aisles.

Music. We were fortunate enough to be far away from music, but it wasn't far enough that we couldn't hear the constant drone of "Thriller" and songs from the Lion King. I talked to a few people next to those booths and they agreed with me that it was more annoying than anything. I would not be opposed to banning music from the AA.

Signs? Where were the signs that were out last year about no photography in the AA? I don't really care if people want pictures of my booth, or my products, but I had people just not even ask me. People would come up, take a photo and not even look me in the eyes. What is up with that? It was rude, and I thought that wasn't allowed in the Alley or Art show, right? Another thing I noticed is that the exhibitors had hanging banners to denote the aisle you were in, like Booths 1000-1100. I know the layout is different in the AA, but those would have been helpful. Not everyone had their table number banner up. Also, I had no idea we would be getting a table banner! Is that going to be a regular thing now?

Empty tables! I cannot believe the amount of people who left halfway through Sunday. I also saw an empty table or two on Saturday. That's not cool, and it does make us look bad. I just hope AA staff took note of those tables.

No eye contact? Not even a hi? This is directed at the AA tables who ignored me. I was blown away that so many people (not talking about those drawing commissions behind their table) were just plain unfriendly and unprofessional. I browsed a few tables were people didn't make eye contact, nod, or say hi to me. That projects so negatively on the other artists. You have to say hi, smile, nod, wink, or at least acknowledge the people at your table! Act like you care even if they don't buy anything. Most people are just browsing and planning out their purchases on their first pass.

We did have a possible theft issue when I was away and my husband was manning the table, but I notified IRT who were extremely professional, concerned, and told me what they would do to help. Even if the item was stolen it wasn't a big loss, just more annoying because it is the principle of the matter. I hope this didn't happen to anyone else, and I really hope my husband was just mistaken and the item wasn't lifted.

STATUS QUO:
The hours were perfect. I was starving for some real dinner by 7, so I'm glad we weren't open any later. Also, the morning hours were just right. Most full badge con-goers aren't going to be up before 10AM anyways.

Badges were clearly marked Artist making IRT's job super easy! I had no issues getting in or out.
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#4 User is offline   AkaneNoHime 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:53 AM

View PostGrimby, on 30 April 2012 - 11:25 AM, said:


-The announcements that came on were SO LONG and so loud! There were multiple times I was talking to a customer when we were interrupted by a loud booming voice that seemed to go on forever. It was so loud we had to stop talking, and just stand there until the announcement was over. While I understand that these announcements are necessary (and very important) I feel like they could have been cut down to a single sentence--"The Dealers Area is now closed and the artist Alley will close in 30 minutes" Instead of "Hey everyone, hope you're having a good time at ACen! The exhibit hall is closing in 10 minutes, and the artist alley closes in 40. Have fun at ACen!"
I'm actually glad the speakers were as loud as they were because I remember not being able to hear them last year... just please make the announcements as simple and short as possible.


I actually agree with this wholeheartedly! I had to stop talking to customers several times because the announcements kept going on and on. Also, I am THRILLED that you could hear the announcements this time around...but it did skew into the "way too loud" extreme at times. As someone with hearing loss, I was one of those that asked for things to be louder in years past...but this time around, I had to turn off my hearing aids every time they came over the loudspeakers because it was so loud my hearing aids would go bonkers! If your announcements are so loud they make deaf people hear, imagine what it's doing to all those who aren't deaf!

View PostGrimby, on 30 April 2012 - 11:25 AM, said:

-While this isn't really a complaint towards anyone in particular... I sincerely don't understand why panelist badges are free, but artists have to pay the full badge price. As an artist, I am confined to my table at all times. The only times I got to leave my booth were when I would skip out on my partner to do a quick run around the alley, and when we closed at night. And when we closed at night, I was so tired from being so busy all day we went straight back to our room and fell asleep. I guess it just bothers me that I'm paying for a full-access badge into everything ACen offers, but as an artist it is impossible for me to make full use out of it.
I'm not asking for a free badge--but a discounted one would be nice. Or ever offer free badges to the head artists, and discounted ones to people under their table? Maybe even offer free "artist" badges that only allow access into the alley, but offer an upgrade for those who know they will have the time to attend panels, etc? This way people who know they're never leaving the alley don't have to pay for a full weekend badge, but people who know they'll have time will still pay for a badge. I just felt like I was wasting my badge this weekend because I never got a chance to see much else of the con, despite having two others at my table helping me.


You know, this is something that's niggled at the back of my mind for awhile now but haven't brought up before now. Why doesn't Acen do this? I mean, the tables for AA are already expensive...if you have two tables plus your badge, that's $185 your plunking down - and that's not including the cost of badges for any of your studio members. And you're right - if you're in the alley chances are you're not going to have the time or energy to do much else at the con - I know I didn't! I did Kitsune Kon earlier this year, and while yes it's a much smaller show, they had it set up so that if you get 1 table you get 1 artist badge free. Why not do that here?

I don't see why someone should get a free panel badge and not a free artist alley badge as part of registering. As someone who helped run a panel a few years ago, and as an artist who has been in AA for many years at ACEN, I can tell you that the amount of work that goes into both is 90% of the time greater for artists. So that seems a bit unfair.

And another point - the exhibitors get 4 free badges per booth. While I know that it costs a lot more overhead for them and their people to come out and set up their stores, and while I don't begrudge them their badges at all, I do think that in terms of hours spent at the con and responsibilities, and the fact that we're all in the same space, we do the same kind of thing. I think 1 free badge per table is reasonable for Artist Alley. Thoughts?
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#5 User is offline   JujuFox 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:04 PM

View PostAkaneNoHime, on 30 April 2012 - 11:53 AM, said:

You know, this is something that's niggled at the back of my mind for awhile now but haven't brought up before now. Why doesn't Acen do this? I mean, the tables for AA are already expensive...if you have two tables plus your badge, that's $185 your plunking down - and that's not including the cost of badges for any of your studio members. And you're right - if you're in the alley chances are you're not going to have the time or energy to do much else at the con - I know I didn't! I did Kitsune Kon earlier this year, and while yes it's a much smaller show, they had it set up so that if you get 1 table you get 1 artist badge free. Why not do that here?

I don't see why someone should get a free panel badge and not a free artist alley badge as part of registering. As someone who helped run a panel a few years ago, and as an artist who has been in AA for many years at ACEN, I can tell you that the amount of work that goes into both is 90% of the time greater for artists. So that seems a bit unfair.

And another point - the exhibitors get 4 free badges per booth. While I know that it costs a lot more overhead for them and their people to come out and set up their stores, and while I don't begrudge them their badges at all, I do think that in terms of hours spent at the con and responsibilities, and the fact that we're all in the same space, we do the same kind of thing. I think 1 free badge per table is reasonable for Artist Alley. Thoughts?


I hadn't thought about this before, but you have a point. It seems a little unfair when you compare to the Dealers and Panelists. It would be nice if a full weekend badge discount was offered to AA members.

Also, if you're not an "industry professional" your panelist badge is only half price.
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#6 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:15 PM

View PostDavenEvanXaviour, on 30 April 2012 - 12:04 PM, said:

I hadn't thought about this before, but you have a point. It seems a little unfair when you compare to the Dealers and Panelists. It would be nice if a full weekend badge discount was offered to AA members.


I agree, a discount on the badge would have been super nice to have. I barely got away from my table aside from a bathroom break or two which I also used to dart around the alley a bit. I wouldn't really expect free badges by any means (although one badge per table would be super), but a discount makes sense considering what the artists' schedules are like at-con.

I also agree about streamlining the layout a bit. I think there was at least one row I never got to see, but I never could figure out which one.

This post has been edited by Sapphy: 30 April 2012 - 12:16 PM

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#7 User is offline   Tsubasa no Kami 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:21 PM

I had an amazing time! I agree with all the pros listed above!

PROS!
- best neighbors ever!
- smooth check in, everything was in order
- very helpful, nice staff
- everyone in the alley was so nice

Future Suggestions
- Garbage cans...? Our area really needed one!
- Maybe a volume rule. not "not music", but "no loud music", ya know?
- add badge costs into table

ART SHOW
- All went well, but I wish I knew that I had to hang my own stuff. I might have missed the memo, though, so it might be my bad.

#8 User is offline   Alysia 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:52 PM

Ok, keep in mind that I am not Alley staff-just a former head and veteran of many alleys. I make no promises or proclamations. I am just curious about this, and if I were to bring it up as a suggestion to the actual alley staff I'd like feedback to back it up.

If we were to look into giving badges to the artists, would you be willing to see a price increase for the table?
I'm asking this because we already essentially subsidize Artist Alley-we make next to nothing renting tables at the price we charge, and I suspect that giving out free badges would result in putting the Alley entirely in the red. To make it work, we'd need to come up with some sort of compromise.

#9 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:24 PM

View PostAlysia, on 30 April 2012 - 12:52 PM, said:

If we were to look into giving badges to the artists, would you be willing to see a price increase for the table?
I'm asking this because we already essentially subsidize Artist Alley-we make next to nothing renting tables at the price we charge, and I suspect that giving out free badges would result in putting the Alley entirely in the red. To make it work, we'd need to come up with some sort of compromise.


To be entirely honest, if the total price (badge + table) ends up being the same then it wouldn't really matter either way. If the total new price (with a badge discount/free badge plus the table fee) ends up being less, then that would be fine.

That said, I wouldn't want to put the AA itself in jeopardy if you guys end up losing money from it.
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Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:32 PM

Good Afternoon,

I would like to thank you all for exhibiting at Anime Central's 15th Anniversary. Without you, we would not have had the enjoyable, entertaining, and exciting atmosphere that our attendees have expected year after year of Anime Central. That being said, even though we are all unpaid volunteers, we would like to see what we can do in the future to help improve the event for not only our attendees, but for you as well. If you would be so kind, during your down time or when you have a chance, could you please complete our exhibiting survey, that was sent to your email (if you were an approved Artist Before Con). This survey will help us to know where we can help you, and hopefully make ACen's 16th year exponentially better.I hope that your travels are/will be safe, and that Anime Central was as enjoyable for you as it was for us.

Best Regards & Thank you,
Phillip
Exhibit Space Department Manager 2009, 10, 11, 12, 13, & 14
Exhibit Space Assistant Manager 2007 & 08

If you have any Questions, Comments, and/or Concerns, Feel Free to Contact us by using one of the emails below.
ArtistAlley@ACen.org - ArtShow@ACen.org - ExhibitHall@ACen.org - ExhibitSpace@ACen.org

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