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Artist Alley for Beginners How do you start?

#1 User is offline   C2Queen 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 03:15 PM

Since I've been going to cons I've been interested to try and attempt doing a table at an Artist Alley... Problem is I have no idea how to even begin. I've got lots of questions that might help others to look at too. I'm hoping some of you guys on the forums can answer my questions since I really want to attempt doing Artist Alley in the future. Thinking about starting out at a smaller con... so giving me ideas about smaller cons would be really helpful =] (By small con I mean like 1000 attendees - 5000 attendees) The con I'm aiming to start out at would be like 1500 attendees.

How much do tables usually run for? (Small cons & larger cons like ACen)

What is the average amount of merchandise you have on your table? (Small cons & larger cons)

How much do you usually spend on all your merch (just give an estimate) getting prints, stickers done, keychains, posters, etc? (Smaller cons & larger cons)

How much variety should you have with your merchandise? (without overdoing it)

For those who have been in Artist Alley, what of your merchandise usually sells the best? (stickers, posters, paintings, calendar, pins, keychains, buttons, etc)

REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION: How do you make sure that you profit from a table and not lose out on money? Have you ever lost profit on a table?

How do you know how much merch you should purchase/How much should you purchase depending on the con? (small cons & larger)

How far in advance do you order things for your table?

Problems you may expect to run into?

Best places to order prints, etc from? // How & where do you order your stuff/get your stuff made into merchandise? (Websites, stores, etc)

Average amount of art to draw? How many different pieces do you usually draw up?

Using a piece of art on more than one piece of merchandise.... how much is too much?

Pricing what you sell? How do you go about pricing your stuff?

Tips and tricks on how to draw people to your table? (The way you set it up, merch you offer, etc)

Policies on Fanart?

And anymore basic stuff someone just starting out should know...
Go ahead and throw in anything you think I'd need to know I haven't already asked.

This post has been edited by C2Queen: 04 March 2013 - 04:31 PM


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#2 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:33 PM

My experience is only through one year at Anime Cental; I have not done any other Artist's Alleys.

What is the average amount of merchandise you have on your table? (Small cons & larger cons)
Last year I brought ~25 shadowboxes with me as well as some tiny canvas paintings, around 200 keychains, and a collection of buttons (50, I think? Or perhaps 100). The buttons, keychains, and paintings did not sell very well but I was able to sell the majoity of my keychains via Etsy this past year.

How much do you usually spend on all your merch (just give an estimate) getting prints, stickers done, keychains, posters, etc? (Smaller cons & larger cons)
I think last year I spent aound 500 on all of the supplies used to make my merchandise. This year I think it'll be about 300-400 but I've been smarter with my spending, so I'm able to bring a lot more. The biggest cost for me last year was getting my acrylic charm designs printed up, and I'm not doing those this year.

How much variety should you have with your merchandise? (without overdoing it)
Have a nice variety with a few different price points, but don't overwhelm your audience. It's good to have a focus with your store (plush, perler beads, original paintings, or in my case papercut art) with variety within that, I think.

For those who have been in Artist Alley, what of your merchandise usually sells the best? (stickers, posters, paintings, calendar, pins, keychains, buttons, etc)
For me, it was definitely my shadowbox art. Nothing else came close, although to be fair the shadowboxes were my front-and-center.

REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION: How do you make sure that you profit from a table and not lose out on money? Have you ever lost profit on a table?
I came out of it all last year with a profit. Don't overdo it with what you bring unless you're certain you'll be able to sell your leftovers at another Artist Alley or online. Don't spend too much in the Alley itself, either. ;)/>/>

How do you know how much merch you should purchase/How much should you purchase depending on the con? (small cons & larger)
Honestly, the first year I just guessed, and I didn't end up bringing enough of my big seller while I bought too much of my smaller items that didn't sell. This year I'm able to make a more educated guess based on last year's successes/failures.

How far in advance do you order things for your table?
Any supplies I can't buy in brick and mortar stores I've already bought. It's best to have everything early rather than cutting it close, or risking getting something in at the last moment that is wrong/broken/etc.

Problems you may expect to run into?
This year? Carrying all my stuff in! XD

Best places to order prints, etc from? // How & where do you order your stuff/get your stuff made into merchandise? (Websites, stores, etc)
If you're looking to do acrylic charms, go for Printsess. They're wonderful and the quality/durabiliy is great.

Average amount of art to draw? How many different pieces do you usually draw up?
I think with all of my pieces, it's going to work out to about 20-30 different designs.

Using a piece of art on more than one piece of merchandise.... how much is too much?
I would say to limit using the same art in more than one or two places. To me, seeing the same picture everywhere in your work will make the idea of buying it seem less "special"--but I'm also not a print buyer, so take that with a grain of salt. I'm on the lookout for pieces that are closer to "one of a kind".

Pricing what you sell? How do you go about pricing your stuff?
As I mentioned above, aim for a few different price points as it will draw a wider range of people. I'll be having stuff for $5, $10, $20, $40, and $45 with a possibility of an oversized piece or two at $60-90 unless I change anything.

Tips and tricks on how to draw people to your table? (The way you set it up, merch you offer, etc)
Smile! Look excited as heck to be there! :D/>/> Say hi to people passing by, and just generally be friendly to everyone. I'll pass by a booth if someone's just sitting there looking bored or dejected. It's your art! Be proud of it!

Booth design helps, too. Aim for organization without making your booth seem cluttered. I got a lot of compliments last year for having my logo both above my booth and towards the bottom (tethered to the table), so there's that, too.

Policies on Fanart?
I'll be honest; when I browse the Alley I am looking to buy fan art. Cons that have banned fan art in their alleys have seen a huge drop in attendance/sales from what I understand. That said, it never hurts to try out and see if any of your original stuff will sell. I sold a couple original pieces, but fan art were definitely the best sellers.
Sorry if I was a little repetitive, but I hope this helps!

This post has been edited by Sapphy: 04 March 2013 - 04:34 PM

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#3 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:44 PM

First: If you want to go to ACen, you should! :)/> My first ever AA was ACen -- I hadn't even thought about doing art fairs or anything else beofrehand -- so it can be done!

Second: A lot of my answers to these questions are going to be "every con is different," because, well, they are. Which con were you looking at in particular? Mostly, it's a matter of locating the con's major way getting information out to attendees (forums, email, DeviantArt (totally not joking here!), twitter, livejournal, whatever) and then searching there to find what you want.

How much do tables usually run for? It's different for every con, and it can change from year to year. Tables at ACen are around $90 (but I think when I started they were $65? maybe), but I researched a similar con where tables were $150. THe size of the con doesn't matter, either -- I was looking at one small, first-year con who wanted $200 for an artist table, and one small, established con that charged just $40. Table size also varies by con. some sell by full-tables, some by half-tables... I think i even researched a con that sold 1/3 of a table. Badges, power, tablecloths, extra chairs and other things may or may not come included with the cost of the table; again, you need to research the con itself to figure out what's being offered for the price.

What is the average amount of merchandise you have on your table? This one varies by what you're selling and what sort of con you're at! When we're at ACen, my group tends to stock up on small, cheap, impulse-buy pieces, with a couple large eye-catch works to show off our skills, which is what we've found tends to sell best there. At another con, we focus on having fewer mid-range pieces and talking up our commission prices, because the congoers there are much more focused on commissioning original works than buying premade ones. My group does 3D work, so if you're a 2D seller, your setup could be completely different. Generally, I'd say you want enough out to showcase what you can do, but not too much that you can't keep track of. Some people who make multiples keep a display set out and the actual sellable pieces underneath the table.

How much do you usually spend on all your merch Again, depends on what you're making! I usually spend about $50 to $75 buying specialty balloons for ACen, so I know I have every color stocked up. My friend can put away a couple hundred dollars at least buying materials for her needle felting. FOr cons less amenable to balloon animals, I usually just go with what I have on-hand. It's a matter of what your budget is, what you're comfortable with, and what you're making.

How much variety should you have with your merchandise? That's up to you. What're you comfortable with making? How much time do you have to make stuff? Are you trying to push yourself, or do you want to stick with what you know? Do you like making many different things, or do you like making multiples of the same thing? For ACen, my needle-felting friend will usually make one or two one-of-a-kind, large, high-price, eyecatches, a few middle-range, mid-price pieces with maybe 1 to 3 dulpicates (or ones with minor differences), and then a fair number of small, relatively-inexpensive pieces. For a different con, she does something slightly different. Also, that's 3D needle-felted pieces. Everyone's going to be a little bit different. A pin-and-button artist might do something different from a print-and-commissions artist, who will do something different from a hat-and-fleece artist.

For those who have been in Artist Alley, what of your merchandise usually sells the best? Depends on the con. ACen, we usually do best with smaller, inexpensive items and with large, high-value eyecatches. For another con, it's middle-range pieces and commissions. Once you know you want to attend a con, finding where their AA regulars hang out and posting questions like this can be a good way to gauge what sells. Sometimes, though, you just have to go there and see, and then make adjustments for next year.

How do you make sure that you profit from a table and not lose out on money? Have you ever lost profit on a table? Budgeting. Seriously. You need to figure this out for yourself, and include ALL the costs associated with a con. Travel, hotel, registration, badges, food, materials, time spent making the pieces, etc. Also, how much profit are you looking to make? If you think you're going to come out of a convention rolling in fat stacks of cash, well, you're probably in the wrong business. My group, we're just happy if we can get the con to pay for itself; if we have a little over that, it's great! That's not to say you can't make a healthy profit doing conventions, just that it's tough and most people get into AAs for the love of the con/fandom and the making of things, not for the money. And I think everyone's come out with a loss from a con at some point or another. *shrug* it just happens.

How do you know how much merch you should purchase/How much should you purchase depending on the con? Depends on the con, what you're making, and your budget. Every con is different, and fads in AA items can and do happen. ACen seems to be all about the cute plush food, but we can't sell that stuff for love or money at a different con. Ponies were big last year, pretty much everywhere. A couple years ago, it was Avatar: The Last Airbender. I think before that, there was a pokemon resurgence. One year, it was barettes; another it was keychains and celphone dongles. One con we go to is all about the commissioned name badges (which we don't do much of at ACen). Keeping up on what's hot in your fandom can help you figure out what to make/buy. As can asking this question at the con's webpage.

How far in advance do you order things for your table? Personally, I think there's no such thing as ordering too early, provided you don't lose the stuff you order in the meantime, of course! We're usually planning for next year before this year's ACen even ends. :)/>

Problems you may expect to run into? Wow, you're going to need to deconstruct this question a bit here. Problems like what? Are you looking for horror stories, or tips on making it through your first AA, or budgeting issues or .... ?

Best places] to order prints, etc from? // How & where do you order your stuff/get your stuff made into merchandise? As my group is all 3D artists who makes their stuff by hand, I can't help you here. I highly recommend your local thrift store and your local hardware store for materials to make your table display, though. :)/>

Average amount of art to draw? How many different pieces do you usually draw up? Depends on what you're comfortable with. Generally, I'd say you'd want enough to showcase your skills and range of abilities. I'm a little unclear how this is different from your variety question above...?

Using a piece of art on more than one piece of merchandise.... how much is too much? Depends on your budget and what you think will sell. Again, researching the individual con might be the best way to figure this out. And experience.

Pricing what you sell? How do you go about pricing your stuff? You can find tons of guides on the internet for pricing your work for art fairs and cons. Basically you need to balance materials costs + time spent on each piece (give yourself a working wage. don't shortchange yourself here) + con expenditures against prices others in your field of work and what the con/fair will support. My balloon animals are fast and generally easy, the materials are relatively inexpensive and I can use them elsewhere besides teh con -- so i usually only charge for complicated multi-balloon designs, and let the congoer pay what they want for the rest (yay, tips!). My needle felting friend had to work up a fairly complicated pricing scheme for her pieces because even the small ones are time-intensive, highly-detailed, and use materials that range from expensive to omfg-that's-a-lot-of-money super-expensive. Experience can help here, as can searching places like etsy (for 3d work) and perusing AAs at other cons and talking with the artists there.

Tips and tricks on how to draw people to your table? Don't be too cluttered, and say hi! Interaction with congoes is important! It makes you look like you actually want people to come by. :)/> You don't need to hard sell anyone, just make eye contact and maybe a greeting. That goes a long way. Also, have your prices clearly marked. Nobody'll read the sign, but at least it'll be there.

EDIT: Fanart (sorry missed this question the first time through). Every con has a different fanart policy, and it is EXTREMELY important that you adhere to the con's fanart policy first and foremost. To not do so could get you anything from snubbed by the other artists, to kicked out of the con, to blacklisted from that con forever. If the con doesn't have its policy listed, ask. Ask until you find it, and then abide by what you're told (even if you don't like the answer). After that, it's up to you. Remember though: all fanart is technically illegal. Are the copyright police going to come get you for that one drawing? Unlikely. However, it is something to keep in mind. Also, how the artists themselves view fanart will vary con to con. At ACen, fanart's pretty well received by the artists (ACen officially has no comment on fanart and leaves the decision to make/sell any at the individual artist's discretion). At another con, the artists were vehemently anti-fanart -- even went so far as to call for a 100% ban on it and decry fanart as "cheating" and "not real art." Research is very important here!

Other tips... bring real food! take breaks! DRINK WATER! remember to sleep! Eat an orange! Seriously, takign care of yourself at-con is just as important as taking care of your table and your work.

This post has been edited by Tokoz: 04 March 2013 - 04:56 PM


#4 User is offline   C2Queen 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:19 PM

Sapphy: I guess certain things can vary depending on the artist it seems like... Thats interesting that your Shadowboxes were selling the best. Do those personally take a lot of time for you to craft? How much do you usually sell those Shadowboxes for? (I looked at your DA and saw your work, it's amazing!) I guess that's the smart way to go, sell your stuff on a website like Etsy, etc if you're left over with merch. $500? That's not too bad to be honest. I see o.o I suppose costs vary depending on what type of artist you are/what you sell (crafts, prints, plushies, etc) I agree with the focus thing... I've noticed that about people's booths. That's amazing! Hearing that you profited even when you were kinda nervous and not sure what you were doing makes me feel a bit more confident about actually getting a table... I figure fanart would draw in the most people. It makes me kinda sad to see certain Artist Alley's like Ohayocon don't allow fanart... It's alright! I'M REALLY glad you took the time out to answer my questions in good detail like you did from personal experience. I'm uber nervous and wanna try out Artist Alley at a con maybe by the end of the year. If everything works out I'd probably attempt doing a table at ACen =]

Tokoz: THATS CRAZY. You just dove right into a big market too? Honestly for my first one I was looking to do a table at Ramencon in Merrillville, Indiana. I've been to the con since it started and had a friend or two do Artist Alley in there... I'm nervous to start out at too big of a con. So basically... look into the cons Artist Alley info to know what to expect because they are all different. I'm a 2D seller (have no idea how to even do 3D art really besides things with construction paper, etc XD) I only say things about profiting because I hear most people make enough to afford whatever con they are selling at which I'm completely content with. Yeah, it really is about having your art out there and others enjoying it. Im just worried because like they say... starving artist... I'm worried I'd end up in the red a bit when I'm already pretty broke XD Not looking to make a huge profit like you said, just want to put my stuff out there and hopefully a small bit of extra profit. Sounds about right. It does seem like every year there's a huge seller (phone charms, plushes, etc) or fandom that everyones looking to buy from. As far as problems go... looking for all of the above. Budgeting issues, making it through AA, etc. I've noticed people tend to get a partner when in AA and sell things/split costs with another artist. Is that the better way to do things? Btw, what kind of signs do you usually get displaying your studio name, etc? And what do you use to put prices on things? Just regular stickers and write a price or a pricing gun or something?

Question for both of you:

If you do fanart, do you find that 'Canon' (popular series) stuff gives you the best sales? I only imagine it does. I want to do some lesser known stuff with a mix of some canon series... Whats your opinion of doing art of lesser known stuff?

Basically... I'm looking to do more print, sticker, keychain, cellphone charm, t-shirt, painting, type work and plushies if I can figure that one out XD I'm actually pretty eager to look into new methods of art like how Sapphy mentioned doing ShadowBoxes. But that's pretty much my main focus. I just draw my art by hand, photoshop color and edit it (or at least tend to). I'm one of the ACen Mascot Artists and that's the way I've done the girls. I do Chibi's, full size characters, comic book/manga art, etc. I'm capable of doing more than just drawing but I pretty much figure I'd put my drawings on merch and do a couple special pieces like unique paintings or something. I can't sew though or anything... agh... I wanna attempt to focus on like half my art being chibis, or more too. That'd probably be the focus of my studio. Just makes me wonder how good something like that does...

Thanks again for answering my questions, both of you.


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#5 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:32 PM

View PostC2Queen, on 04 March 2013 - 05:19 PM, said:

[font="Times New Roman"]Sapphy: I guess certain things can vary depending on the artist it seems like... Thats interesting that your Shadowboxes were selling the best. Do those personally take a lot of time for you to craft? How much do you usually sell those Shadowboxes for? (I looked at your DA and saw your work, it's amazing!)


Thanks for the compliment! :)

I would say for new designs (going from a sketch to a completed box) can run me around 5-6 hours, sometimes more depending on how compicated the design is. The plus side is that once I've got a design down, making additional boxes is a much quicker process. My best seller last year took me about an hour and a half to complete so I ended up making a bunch of them at the con itself. I sell them for $40 or $45 depending on the size.

Quote

If you do fanart, do you find that 'Canon' (popular series) stuff gives you the best sales? I only imagine it does. I want to do some lesser known stuff with a mix of some canon series... Whats your opinion of doing art of lesser known stuff?

I'll be quite honest, I'm not really up to date on a lot of anime. Madoka was the only new series I've seen in probably the past ten years (and I loved it)! I love doing designs for older stuff, or other pop culture designs, but I'm sure the popular series' sell well, too!
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#6 User is offline   infymys 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 08:00 PM

I will give you the other side of it from a potential buyer's perspective.

I will always look through a portfolio (if there is one) of the artist to see if there's any diversity. Is the person's art always the same (poses, expressions, etc.)or is there any variety? I do look for current popular stuff (video games, anime, comics) as well as the old school, so once again, variety comes into play but not too much. As for other items, plushies, shirts and cool one off things are what I look for.

Pricing is always a good thing. I don't expect to buy something dirt cheap but I like something competitive to what other artists are pricing similar wares for. Are you willing to negotiate? Willing to give a deal if I buy 3 or more items? Again, I don't expect it but if it fits into your budget, is it something you are apt to do?

As for fan art, I love it. I have many Street Fighter, MGS, Marvel and DC prints done by talented artists. But as others have said, it depends on convention policies.

Also, as others have mentioned, a nice organized table is very appealing. Too much clutter isn't. I tend to look at the smaller items first then work my way up.

A friendly wave or "Hey, how's it going?" goes a long way into attracting me to your table or seeing that you're having fun just being there does as well. Being knowledgeable about what you're selling, especially the pop culture stuff can help but not always a necessity. If you have something original, a background story (if there is one) would be cool. I don't expect a tale if I see that you are busy and trying to interact with multiple people but if time permits, please do tell one if there is one.

On a final note, if you do commissions, a reasonable turnaround time is nice. Whether it be a couple of hours to a week or a month. If it does take longer than expected, some correspondence as to why there is a delay would be appreciated. My friend got a commission at the 2011 Wizard World in Chicago and took nearly a YEAR for something that in my opinion could have been done in maybe a month or less to finish. My friend initiated the correspondence several times and got excuses, "took too many commissions, real life, real job in the way, etc." There was never a estimated finish time, just excuses. This artist was very talented but due to the bad experience, we'll never purchase from him again and he does attend most of the cons in the Chicago area, so we have seen him at last year's ACen and Wizard World. So, food for thought if you take commissions.

Hopefully, this gives you some insight from the other side.

This post has been edited by infymys: 04 March 2013 - 08:01 PM

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#7 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:07 AM

View PostC2Queen, on 04 March 2013 - 05:19 PM, said:

THATS CRAZY. You just dove right into a big market too?


It's not so odd... ACen's practically local to me. I didn't even think of it as a big con -- I was more surprised by my first small con AA than I was by that first ACen. :)

View PostC2Queen, on 04 March 2013 - 05:19 PM, said:

Honestly for my first one I was looking to do a table at Ramencon in Merrillville, Indiana.


I checked out Ramencon's site... doesn't look like it has any of its current-year info up yet and their forums are giving me an error. However, I'd start checking that site and forums regularly so you'll know as soon as possible when their information DOES go live.

Quote

I've noticed people tend to get a partner when in AA and sell things/split costs with another artist. Is that the better way to do things?


Partners/tablemates are incredibly helpful. IN addition to sharing costs, having a partner also lets you do things like run to the bathroom or buy a soda or attend a panel without having to close your shop (another thing that cons have different rules about -- how long (if at all!) you're allowed to close shop for breaks). I'd never survive without my studiomates -- I have a hard time sitting still and need to take myself walkies fairly often. ;)/> Soloing an AA isn't impossible, but it is more work.

Quote

Btw, what kind of signs do you usually get displaying your studio name, etc? And what do you use to put prices on things? Just regular stickers and write a price or a pricing gun or something?


My studiomate handled our signage and its setup, and I think she used a local print shop (she's not much for internet purchases). For prices... they're usually written on the pieces' individual tags in nice black sharpie. Last year, we also made up a cheatsheet of all the items and their prices. We kept it behind the table so we coudl check while talking to congoers, and that was really helpful as well. For my balloon animals, I just use a small handwritten sign in front of my tips jar. I've seen 2d artists put prices on the display prints in their portfolio binder, haev display pieces hanging around their booth with laminated prices tacked on like speech bubbles, have a list of descriptions and prices on a sheet of paper put up next to themselves on the table, all kinds of things. It doesn't have to be fancy, just clear and easy to read. :)/>

Quote

Whats your opinion of doing art of lesser known stuff?


You should make what you enjoy making! With a con ACen's size, SOMEbody will be a fan of your favorite obscure series, and you will absolutely make their day by having dodads from it. It probably wouldn't hurt to do a things in the big popular series as well. I don't really do fanart, and I think my studiomate who does tends just to do a few things... maybe one thing from a popular series, and one or two from series that she enjoys.

Chibis will definitely sell. No worries there. :)/>

#8 User is offline   Gwydion 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:31 AM

Just a quick note on Ramencon, my sis and I were in their AA last year, and it was very laid back and a lot of fun. In case you're not aware, they post on their Facebook fairly frequently, so you could always ask there if you're interested in being a part of their AA - the guy who runs the con was really nice. I will admit, however, that we made less at that con than any other con we'd been to, and it's likely due to it's small attendance. But it's a very easy con for beginners, you get a lot of interaction with customers, and it's cheap if you don't live too far away.
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#9 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:44 AM

View PostTokoz, on 05 March 2013 - 03:07 AM, said:

It's not so odd... ACen's practically local to me. I didn't even think of it as a big con -- I was more surprised by my first small con AA than I was by that first ACen. :)/>

It was a blast to jump right in, too. If I remember right, I think ACen holds claim to be one of the largest AA's in the US?

I'd actually be more worried about doing the smaller cons due to the decreased traffic. It'd all depend on the AA costs of course, but I'd be afraid of coming out of it in the red.

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Partners/tablemates are incredibly helpful. IN addition to sharing costs, having a partner also lets you do things like run to the bathroom or buy a soda or attend a panel without having to close your shop (another thing that cons have different rules about -- how long (if at all!) you're allowed to close shop for breaks). I'd never survive without my studiomates -- I have a hard time sitting still and need to take myself walkies fairly often. ;)/>/> Soloing an AA isn't impossible, but it is more work.


Oh gosh, this. My partner is my wife, and although she's not entirely enthused about using an entire weekend to sit behind a table, she's a huge, huge help. I don't like the idea of leaving my table unguarded, but I like the idea of not being able to use the bathroom even less!

Being able to get up and take a walk around without having to close is wonderful. Your legs and butt need a break from all that sitting.


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For prices... they're usually written on the pieces' individual tags in nice black sharpie.

That's what I'm going to do this year since I'm having a couple different price points.
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#10 User is offline   Manifested Dreams 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:18 PM

Wow! Lots of questions. I'll also chime in and see if I can help. I've been doing Artist Alleys since 2007, full time since 2008. I'm a textile artist(crocheted plush, jewelry, etc), so I can't help as much on the specific merch questions since I don't work with flats much.

animecons.com is a great resource for finding new shows and planning out a convention year, since the shows are arranged by date.

Don't be afraid of large shows. When I started out I was terrified of doing anything but local and small shows. A couple veteran artists really urged me to take the plunge from the start and I never regretted it. They cost more upfront, but you have more exposure and a better chance for a really good return on your investment. Smaller shows, while fun, often mean people also have less money to spend, thus why they attend smaller shows. Shows like ACen and Otakon, people save up all year. They go there to spend money and know they will.
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How much do tables usually run for? (Small cons & larger cons like ACen)


This depends entirely on the convention you attend. For small shows you can get a table for $20. On average, tables run between $50-$75 and may or may not include a badge. Shows like Otakon are $150, things like comic cons can run $200+.

What is the average amount of merchandise you have on your table? (Small cons & larger cons)

I stock for every show in the same manner. A good mentality to have is that back stock is a good thing. While everyone has the dream of selling out at a show, an empty table does not attract attention. As a good rule of thumb, though, 10 copies of each thing is a pretty safe number.

How much variety should you have with your merchandise? (without overdoing it)

I tend to go wherever the muse takes me, so my table can be a bit spread out. I try to make sure I can afford to have 5-10 copies of everything on my table, though. So I sit down and budget out my time and from there figure out how much I can realistically get done in that time. So if an item takes me, say, 2 hours to make and I want 5 copies? I need to budget 10hrs to that particular item. For prints/buttons/etc, it works a little different but ultimately it still comes down to, "How much time do I have? How long does X take to make? How many of X do I need?"

For those who have been in Artist Alley, what of your merchandise usually sells the best? (stickers, posters, paintings, calendar, pins, keychains, buttons, etc)

Items that people can use are usually a big seller, especially in our current economy. As a buyer, I am very picky about prints because my apartment walls are quite full. If I really like a piece and it is a button or bookmark, I won't think twice to buy it since I can use it in some way.

I am also attracted to paintings, especially watercolor.

REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION: How do you make sure that you profit from a table and not lose out on money? Have you ever lost profit on a table?

This is entirely trial and error and getting a feel for cost, but BUDGETING is the key. Sit down and figure out how much everything costs. This includes:

Hotel
Gas
Table
Badge
FOOD(a lot of people forget to budget this in and it is crucial)
Time off work(if it applies)
Printing/Production costs(keep in mind, you can sell overstock at another show, so if you've paid off stock from show A, this number won't apply at show B)/>/>

Once you have these numbers, add it up and see what you have to make back, minimum, to break even.(this point continued in next question)

How do you know how much merch you should purchase/How much should you purchase depending on the con? (small cons & larger)


As a general rule, I want to have 3-5 times the cost of attending a show in stock on my table if possible. So if my overhead is $500, I want to have no less than $1,500 worth of stock. For me, a show is not worth it if I just break even. You have to factor in the value of your time, which is very important and you can not get it back.

How far in advance do you order things for your table?

As soon as I know I will be attending. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. You can sell overstock later, you can sell it online. It's better to have stock and not need it all than to play it safe, sell out on Friday and feel like you wasted a good opportunity.

Problems you may expect to run into?

Car issues(This one time at Anime Boston we got rear ended and our transmission blew, same weekend), printing/production delays. Forgetting table layout pieces. Cranky customers/artists/staff. When prepping for a convention, tell yourself that even if everything goes wrong, you will keep marching forward. I have had very few totally smooth sailing shows. It's Murphy's Law out there.


Average amount of art to draw? How many different pieces do you usually draw up?

Enough to make an attractive display. If you are comfortable with onsite commissions, try to mix up your gestures/number of people/etc. Show variety in your work and even if you don't sell a ton of prints, you may get a fair amount of on site work.

Pricing what you sell? How do you go about pricing your stuff?

This is VERY.IMPORTANT. Too many artists undervalue their work because they want it to sell quickly. You can ALWAYS reduce your prices but it is harder to raise them.

For me, I clock the time that goes into each piece I make and charge, on average, $10/hr. I don't factor in supply costs. This doesn't so much apply to prints, obviously.

Tips and tricks on how to draw people to your table? (The way you set it up, merch you offer, etc)

Eye catching displays and friendly smiles. Elevate your work so it is visible from far away, invest in a nice table cloth. Make fun/engaging signs. Wave to people, compliment on cosplays. The idea is to make people feel comfortable at your table.

Policies on Fanart?

Varies wildly depending on shows and goes from, "Anything goes" to "Zero Fanart" policies. It's important to read each conventions rules carefully before applying.

And anymore basic stuff someone just starting out should know...
Go ahead and throw in anything you think I'd need to know I haven't already asked.


When possible, take food with you. Food options can be very limited and if you have a particular diet, this can be hard. I avoid overly processed foods, so I always try to take produce, bread, hummus, etc.

Budget for your food and stick to that budget, make sure you have at least 1 REALLY good meal a day and snack through the day. Taking multivitamins is also a good idea.

TAKE.WATER. Too many people forget to drink water or live off of soda. When you are sitting for 8-12hrs a day you don't always notice you are dehydrated. Headaches are common at conventions because of the stress of so much interaction, the water will help keep those away.

When looking into prints, consider the quality of paper. There are many types of paper and that paper will dictate how much you can charge. Consider as well the difference between glossy paper and matte and which will make your artwork look the best.

Credit Cards: If you have a smartphone, consider getting a Square or something similar. As time goes on more and more people have less cash and will hunt for people who can accept CCs. Things like Square require no contracts, no monthly fees, just a simple fee per transaction that is taken out when you swipe it.

I'll post more points as they come to me. Sorry if some of this was repetitive!

This post has been edited by Manifested Dreams: 05 March 2013 - 03:24 PM


#11 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 04:46 PM

View PostManifested Dreams, on 05 March 2013 - 03:18 PM, said:

FOOD(a lot of people forget to budget this in and it is crucial)

This! Food at the convention is EXTREMELY expensive, so I recommend bringing a cooler or food that doesn't need refridgeration. And if you did what I did and stop for coffee and a bite in the mornings for that extra pick-me-up, it adds up!

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Cranky customers/artists/staff.

Thankfully I didn't run into this last year. I don't know their names, but the two staff members that were patrolling the Alley always seemed pretty friendly.

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TAKE.WATER. Too many people forget to drink water or live off of soda. When you are sitting for 8-12hrs a day you don't always notice you are dehydrated. Headaches are common at conventions because of the stress of so much interaction, the water will help keep those away.

Agreed on the water. After my daily coffee injection I stuck solely to water (I normally drink Too Much soda at home and nowhere near enough water). I also recommend bringing some painkillers in case you still get struck with a headache. My travelling first aid kid includes bandaids (because although I've not had an accident yet, I DO work with razor blades!), Advil, a daily multivitamin, and Pepto/Tums. I also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on-hand to help ward off Con Crud.

Quote

Credit Cards: If you have a smartphone, consider getting a Square or something similar. As time goes on more and more people have less cash and will hunt for people who can accept CCs. Things like Square require no contracts, no monthly fees, just a simple fee per transaction that is taken out when you swipe it.

This is one thing I'm taking along this year that I didn't last year, using Paypal at the suggestion of someone else here. I did have a good handful of people (particularly on late Saturday and Sunday) ask me if I took cards. I figure the reader didn't cost me anything, and if it helps drive sales then it's win-win! :)
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#12 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:23 PM

Thirded on the credit card reader. More and more, it's the way to go, even for Artist Alleys. Especially if you have any kind of high-price items. There's almost no way we'd make the sales we do for the big ticket items without a card reader. The ones for smart phones are pretty darn slick, but even an internet connection with paypal will work. People come with a set amount of cash, often, and don't want to spend it all at one place.

Also cash related -- be prepared to make a LOT of change! ATMs only give out $20s. THere's nothing worse than having a sale in hand and running out of change for the purchaser! It leads to all kinds of frantic scrambling. >_>;

Also worthy of a mention while we're talking money -- taxes. While nobody is going to come after you and force you to give up a portion of your Alley profits to The Man, Anime Central is considered an art fair/special event by the state of Illinois and as a seller-of-things at the event, you are obligated to collect sales tax. You have to make the determination for yourself, but Illinois offers a very nice, easy one-time-use form for out-of-staters and others that qualify. There's also the option of applying for an Illinois business license, which isn't that painful, either. Other states will, of course, be different -- sometimes very different! Nobody but you and your tax lawyer (if you have one) can tell you what to do here, but it's something to consider. Here's the Revenue page on Art fairs: http://www.revenue.s...lated/fairs.htm

Water, multi-vitamins, hand sanitizer. Definitely.

#13 User is offline   Manifested Dreams 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:31 PM

View PostTokoz, on 05 March 2013 - 07:23 PM, said:



Also cash related -- be prepared to make a LOT of change! ATMs only give out $20s. THere's nothing worse than having a sale in hand and running out of change for the purchaser! It leads to all kinds of frantic scrambling. >_>;


THIS. I have lost track of the number of times I've had someone walk up, almost immediately after opening and whip out a $100 bill to buy something that is $5-$10. On average I bring $100 in $5s, $50 in $1s.

On the note of cash/change. Make your prices round, coins are a pain to deal with and no one likes carrying them around. Also on this note, invest in a cash box. You can get nice ones for under $30. I personally use a SentrySafe that I've had since 2008 : http://www.walmart.c...sh-Box/14644651

The clips are especially nice because it keeps things orderly and makes change giving very easy :)

On the note of what to make:

When looking for ideas for subject matter, start at home. What do *you* personally like? Beyond that, look at forums, FB groups, etc to see what people are talking about and what people are cosplaying. Most people cosplay as characters from series they really like, so if you see a bunch of "Fairy Tail" cosplay photoshoots, it's a pretty safe bet that people will buy "Fairy Tail" art. It doesn't always work, but it's a really good gauge.

This post has been edited by Manifested Dreams: 05 March 2013 - 08:36 PM


#14 User is offline   Agatha 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:37 PM

I'm a buyer, not a seller, but I saw people mentioning card readers and I really just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. I love it when people are able to take cards. I really prefer it to cash. At a con, although I plan to spend money, I don't want to carry around lots of cash all at once (in case it gets lost, stolen, etc.) Unfortunately, especially at ACen, a lot of people have the same idea, so there can be times when it's not possible to take out additional cash from an ATM because it's empty.

I'm a terribly indecisive person, so I tend to make a couple walk-arounds of the Alley before I buy anything, and when I do I look to see who's got a sign saying they take cards - those tables usually get a closer look first!

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:09 PM

Make sure to compile a check list! I've got one going already here: http://www.ACen.org/...etup-checklist/
Attending since 2005 ~ Artist Alley '06, '11, '12, '13, & '14

Cosplays 2014: Friday: Ness(female version) Saturday: Chell Sunday: Myself
Cosplays 2013: Friday: Major Motoko Kusanagi(picture) Saturday: Chell(picture) Sunday: Ness(picture)

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#16 User is offline   LiL Moon 

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:17 AM

I have a question about the CC readers. Do we need to make paper receipts as well? Is that what most people do?

#17 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:25 PM

View PostLiL Moon, on 06 March 2013 - 10:17 AM, said:

I have a question about the CC readers. Do we need to make paper receipts as well? Is that what most people do?


I don't think it's NEEDED, but it's definitely a good idea. People make a lot of purchases throughout the con, and giving them a paper reminder that yes, they did buy from your studio, is a good idea. The theory is that giving them a short paper receipt with your shop name, the amount, and the item they bought will help eliminate the possibility of chargebacks.
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#18 User is offline   Manifested Dreams 

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:04 PM

View PostLiL Moon, on 06 March 2013 - 10:17 AM, said:

I have a question about the CC readers. Do we need to make paper receipts as well? Is that what most people do?


The benefit of the CC readers(at least the ones like Square) is that you can send a receipt directly to their phone or e-mail. I personally don't bother with paper receipts unless the customer asks for one, which is almost never.

#19 User is offline   Karmada 

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 11:02 PM

WOW. There's a lot of awesome advice in this thread, and I wanted to add my two cents in. My table's Crash Bang Labs, and I've been doing Artist Alleys since around 2002, and I think I've been vending at ACen since around 2006 - if my number of badges I have saved up is correct. :)/>/>

I also apologize for adding a wall of text here...

A lot of the obvious has been covered, so I won't necessarily rehash that (like table prices, etc), but I did want to add some advice from my own experience.


What is the average amount of merchandise you have on your table? (Small cons & larger cons)

My strongest recommendation is to fill your space to the best you can. If your booth looks "empty" people will not want to come up to your booth to look at it. The less empty space you have showing, the better. (I'm going to put some further merch advice down at the bottom of the post too)

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For those who have been in Artist Alley, what of your merchandise usually sells the best? (stickers, posters, paintings, calendar, pins, keychains, buttons, etc)

This will actually vary from year to year. When I started it was prints and bookmarks. Then it was buttons. Then charms/keychains. Intermixed in there it also added in "items" like beadspriting which took off around 4 or 5 years ago (there were TONS of bead spriters), then it was fleece hats, then amigurumi.

I just got back from Katsucon not too long ago, and discovered that prints were big again (at least on the east coast. I'm going to Shutocon in April, so I want to do some more observation to see if the theory holds.

Truthfully, I suggest walking through artists alleys of any con you go to prior to vending at any (I still do this). Look at what the stalls have. Take business cards. Look at what people are carrying in their hands.

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How do you make sure that you profit from a table and not lose out on money? Have you ever lost profit on a table?

Like everybody else said: BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET. Make a little excel sheet of everything you buy to see just how much it costs you, and in the long run, this will help you price your products too.

For your very first alley, you will most likely be lucky to break even. Between the initial set up of the booth (table cloth/display, print costs, manufacturing, buying your supplies, cash box, etc) and things like convention costs, hotel costs, and gas, breaking even on a first con is FABULOUS. After that, your stock is built up and you just have to keep adding new things, and "retiring" old products.

I actually just barely broke above even at Katsucon this year, and I blame the VERY expensive hotel. I'd love to go back there, but I'm looking for less expensive housing.

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How do you know how much merch you should purchase/How much should you purchase depending on the con? (small cons & larger)

This comes from experience, unfortunately. It also depends on if you're doing other conventions or having an online shop after. I live by the thoughts of "better too much than not enough", and as you do more cons you figure out what's a good amount of stock to keep on hand. Some products are easier to keep on hand than others (and will depend on how you store them).

Example: I have little cell phone charms. I bought one of those cases with smaller cases in it in the scrapbooking area (Large Photo Keeper (Click Here to See) - and I separate each little container into two. I can hold up to 32 different charms, and at least 25 of each (but could fit more). The container is easy to move, and store. Prints, prints are harder for me to store right now, so I usually only bring 10 prints of any image at a time.

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How far in advance do you order things for your table?

As early as humanly possible. :)/>/>/>/> The earlier the better, and the less in expedited shipping you'll pay. Check with any online ordering to see how long it takes to receive and order. The print place I use to print my comic books takes at least 1 month for the initial printing batch. When I got my printed charms, those took at least 6 weeks from overseas at the UK to get.

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Problems you may expect to run into?

Not knowing where to check in. Staff being a little discombobulated. Try to get as much info as you can, and be as patient as you can. Sometimes things are just out of everybody's hands.

Cranky moms/dads/customers who look at your things and say "I could make that." Don't be disheartened. You'll get a few of those, just smile and be as pleasant as you can. Also include cranky parents coming up to your table with their kid and saying "You don't need any of that crap." (I have had this happen). They'll often skulker off real fast anyway, so don't even worry about em.

People trying to barter with you or haggle you down. Stick to your guns. (Unless you've some how managed to price yourself exorbitantly high.) This is your artwork, and not only are they paying for the product, but your knowledge, experience and expertise in making your product.

This is important when doing commission AT the booth. I used to have large color commissions set at $15. I would get SO MANY requests that I had to turn people away and my arm died. It also was NOT indicative of the time it took me to make one image. (I would be making like $5 an hour per image at that price). If they are confused, tell them WHY your prices are set that way: Usually due to the time and effort it takes to make your image.

People asking for off-the-wall commissions. I draw mainly lighthearted things, and I've had to turn away customers for asking me to draw obscene things that made me uncomfortable or things I just plain don't draw. Just smile and tell them why, and in my case I usually point out that I would not be able to do the picture justice. :)/>/>/>/>

That's most of the big "problems" I can think of right now. I've got some funny stories of things people have asked to barter with.

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Best places to order prints, etc from? // How & where do you order your stuff/get your stuff made into merchandise? (Websites, stores, etc)

For prints, I go to my local FedEx and have them printed on bright white smooth cardstock (80# i think?). I am looking to eventually find a local print place to make even higher quality prints for me (I just haven't had the time or cash at the moment).

BUSINESS CARDS. I don't remember if anybody mentioned this yet, but BUSINESS CARDS. This is important! Have a business card with your shop name, your name, a website if you have one and possibly an email they can contact you for future commissions. Preferably with a picture of the type of artwork you do. DO NOT USE A TEMPLATE PROVIDED BY THE COMPANY. Take some time, create an image unique to you! You want people to remember who you are, and you're using the same template the guy down the row is, how could they tell you apart?

I use Print Place for my cards, and they came out beautifully! Click Here to go to Print Place

Charms and Stickers I've gotten through Zap! Creatives: Click here to view Zap!Creatives

And my comics I get printed by Ka-Blam! Printing: Click to view Ka-Blam! Printing

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Average amount of art to draw? How many different pieces do you usually draw up?

Your first alley will be a slog of artwork (so stretch those hands a lot). Draw as much as possible, draw on old artworks you like and would possibly want to sell. (assuming you've saved it in a high enough resolution for printing - re-scan if needed).

Biggest suggestion? If you're drawing from a series, and you have separate images of characters, try to either hit most or all of the main characters of the show. Then you can arrange your product by series! :)/>/>

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Using a piece of art on more than one piece of merchandise.... how much is too much?

I would say using the exact same image on more than 3 things would be excessive. I draw little chibi characters, which I can make an 8x10 print, Cell Phone Strap Charm, Button, and/or Stickers. However, I vary each one. The print has a cute background I've added. The charm has the full body of the character, the button only shows their face. Stickers I add other shapes and multiple characters on the sheet.

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Pricing what you sell? How do you go about pricing your stuff?

You want to price your artwork to make it worth your time, the cost of supplies, and enough profit that you can make some money (and make more products from). This is where that spreadsheet with your costs on it comes in handy!

Also, I strongly suggest looking at your level of skill and compare it with other prices of people's prints in other alleys. If you are a newer artist and maybe not as honed in your skills, selling your prints (on printed thin computer paper) for $10 a pop will probably not do well. The money comes with experience, exposure, and quality level.

Don't under price yourself. Try to resist selling things like 8x10 prints for $2, or sketch commissions for a dollar (unless they're super small/super fast). Doing so not only devalues your own artwork, but creates a weird economy in the alley.

Looking back at this, it's kind of vague. I would say, look at other alleys (or try to recall them), see how their things were priced. Look at your artwork, and try to objectively say, "would I by that for X amount?". Ask others when you come up with a pricing scheme.

Like others have said: Use rounded up dollars. Things in multiples of 5's work well. People like particular numbers and $1, $3, $5, $10's work well for lower priced items.

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Tips and tricks on how to draw people to your table? (The way you set it up, merch you offer, etc)

I agree with the others on having a large, high profile item/image/etc to bring em over, and then they'll see the rest of it. My other main advice is go vertical! Whether it's interlocking cubes, wire panels, or pvc pipe, upwards is the way to go.

#1: Almost all the booths have vertical displays. If you don't have one, you'll get somewhat buried in the tables around you.

#2: More real estate to place your products!

#3: They need to see you over the heads of the other attendees.

I like to keep my main products close to eye height. I rarely have things down on the table (people hardly look down). I put my big pictures up above eye height to be seen from a distance to draw them in.

Oh, and make sure they can SEE you. People like to see the artist (usually working on something is the best way to start a conversation), and if you can see and talk to them, your are more likely to make a sale.

Have a variety of products ranging from small $1 items, to your larger things. If all you have are $50 plushies, you don't catch the people looking for a cute impulse buy for their friend.

Have deals! I sell buttons and cell charms at $3 a piece. However, I offer two for $5. People like saving money (even just a little bit) and if it's cost effective, DO IT.

DON'T have a Sunday "I don't want to take it home with me" sale. As tempting as it is, I find that I feel like I've cheated all the other people out of a good deal and it creates a mentality in the customers that they need to wait till Sunday to buy ANYTHING.

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Policies on Fanart?

Like everybody else says: Follow the rules of the convention. If you don't, you'll get shifty eyes from artists and if the staff find you breaking rules, they'll have to have words with you. (If you were unaware of a rule, just apologize and take the piece down, it's much easier than making a stink and getting banned)

I myself actually tend to follow about a 50/50 rule at my booth, as I'm finally getting into the world of webcomics and printed comics. (Trying to make a living as an artist finally!). I use the fanart to draw in the customers, (I make pokemon badge sets), and then when they're there, they find my comic and will flip through it and more often than not, I've made another sale.

I'm gonna put my extra advice in a second post, so that way it's not so long.

#20 User is offline   Karmada 

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 11:17 PM

In a continuation from the previous post, here's all the other advice that didn't have a specific question attached to it. (in no particular order)

[edit]

0.) FRIDAY SALES. You will not sell much on Friday. Especially not in comparison to Saturday or Sunday. This is for multiple reasons

A.) Everybody's still in line on Friday, or just checking in.
B.) They will more than likely head to the Dealer hall first thing, THEN the alley (even if they have to walk through us first)
C.) Most people will browse for a good day and a half, then start to buy things on Saturday.

So whatever you do, don't get sad on Friday when you don't see a lot of customers, or not a lot of people buy things. Use Saturday as a better estimate. And typically Saturday after about Noon is when things pick up (because by then they've all woken up and come to the con, and the rest of them got their badges that morning).


[end edit]

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1.) Quality. Quality, quality, quality. I cannot stress this enough. Do not rush your work. Do not try to sell something you are not relatively experienced in making yet. Clean lines, no strings sticking out, no glue marks, nice paper, accurate printing colors, packaging all fits into this. I've seen some people with really great ideas for products, but with poor execution and unable to sell them at the price they'd like.

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2.) Packaging. Selling prints? I strongly recommend investing in plastic art bags with matte boards to back them. Nothing's worse than buying a beautiful image, only to accidentally crush it inside your swag bag. I use clearbags.com for all my print packaging needs. (go to the "backing boards" category for the matte boards)

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3.) ONLINE STORES.

Okay. This one's new to me. I've started up my own etsy store to sell things like my badge sets. But just recently have found that telling people I have an online store is an instant KISS OF DEATH to a sale. I don't know if anybody else has had this problem. It was SO incredibly frustrating to tell people "I have an online store for things too", to see them go "OH I'LL JUST BUY IT ONLINE" and then walk away never to be seen again. I suggest having the website on the card, but DO NOT advertise you have an online store. Just give them a business card.

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4.) Read the supplies thread mentioned earlier, if I recall it has like EVERYTHING you'll ever need. (and probably didn't think of - like having a small "trashcan" behind your booth. Or a rolling cart/dolly to carry your stuff in)

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and last but not least:

5.) WHAT DO I SELL?!

Sell something that's uniquely YOU. I know it's kind of vague sounding, but you don't want to directly copy somebody else. Not only does it look sloppy, but if you're blatantly copying their product you'll get a lot of comparisons and run the risk of angering the other artists. Sell things based on series that you like (mixed in with a couple of popular ones if you really want). The more you can gush about a series with a customer, the more likely they'll want to buy it.

This goes for drawn artworks or physical crafting too. (Even beadspriters that use the same techniques - all their booths feel different).

Don't do this just for the money. Do it because you love the art/crafting/creativity first and foremost, and the money will follow (though money IS important). The more love you have for your product, the more it will show to the customer and the more they'll want to come back or drag their friends by it.

as a side note, the more money hungry/desperate you look at your booth, the quicker you scare people away. Even I'm still off put by booths where you walk up and the person just chirps "please buy something?". :(

Okay! I think that's all the extra information I can think of at this time.

This post has been edited by Karmada: 09 March 2013 - 11:21 PM


#21 User is offline   frzndaqiri 

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:33 PM

I've got a writeup already that covers most of that: http://disjointedima...og/archives/177

I'll come back and check out the questions in detail shortly. But hope the above link helps!
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#22 User is offline   thatreevesgirl 

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:00 PM

View PostLiL Moon, on 06 March 2013 - 10:17 AM, said:

I have a question about the CC readers. Do we need to make paper receipts as well? Is that what most people do?


As Manifest said, if you use square, the seller automatically receives an email receipt of the transaction, and you can send the customer an email receipt or a text receipt in the same way, and you can even detail it. BUT!!! You can also just send receipts for cash transactions too (square won't charge anything for it, so don't worry about them tacking on a fee to a cash transaction). You just select cash in the screen and then put in the amount and who to send it to.

This is rather handy as I hate giving paper receipts. (I have a few in a box just in case.)

This post has been edited by thatreevesgirl: 03 April 2013 - 11:03 PM


#23 User is offline   C2Queen 

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 11:17 AM

Thank you all for answering my questions and giving information based on your experiences. I really appreciate it and I'm shocked at the amount of feedback my thread has gotten. There's some really great advice and tips. I've gotten a lot out of what everyone has written and that trying to start out at a big con is actually the way to try and go. I hope this thread will help people other than just me who are just looking to start out in an Artist Alley. I love that artists who have responded all seem to vary with what they sell. Before I even asked, someone already answered the question about what to do when it comes to sales, receipts, taking cards, etc. It seems like the best thing you can do is take cards and cash. I had forgotten about taking cards... because usually I come with cash already and just use that to pay for stuff I might see.

Karmada, not surprised about not having many sales on Friday. I'm sure that bums out first timers because they don't think their stuff will sell... If you hadn't have said that, I probably would have thought something was wrong first day of the con. Then again, usually Sunday is an ideal day for people to buy stuff... Usually because they know people are looking to get rid of it and mark it down. Is that what artists usually do Sunday? Mark down their stuff to be a little bit cheaper so they can clear out some stock? Yeah, business cards definitely seem like a great idea. I saw a really cool one on DA an artist did and it really sticks in my mind because she did the artwork on the business card and it was really creative. Guess I'll have to go around and collect a few business cards. I'm curious to see how each artist varies and what type of info they put on their cards (Deviantart, website link, etc).

It's pretty crazy how there are art fads (or so it seems) and how certain types of merch tend to sell better and vary from year to year from what everyone has been saying above. Manifested Dreams, JEEZ! That's crazy! People giving you big bills and what not... I imagine you need to bring extra money to the con so you can break big bills and have change for people. Yikes. So you bring like $300 alone just to make change with buyers? x___x I guess thats not so bad since you're technically not losing money, just making change. Man you really do have to save and budget things out pretty far in advance.

Tokoz, you can get a business license for selling your artwork? There's something I didn't think about, sales tax. Makes me wonder if some artists just include sales tax in their set prices.

Man there's so much to know and so much you have to make sure to do if you don't want to end up a disaster x.x I never realized how hard artists work up until cons and how much work they put into having a table.


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#24 User is offline   Washu Takahashi 

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:14 PM

I'm not an artist, but an avid buyer in the alleys, so just wanted to throw in my two cents about how to attract customers. ^^ It was MUCH more attractive if I can see your work from a distance because you have it placed up higher. The booths that have those stands with posters or even just a banner saying their name grab my attention first. Posters and other colorful things draw attention better than just a banner with your shop name though. Also, I find it much more appealing to view artwork that's displayed up rather than in a booklet. And if you've got pins or buttons, sticking them up on a rack or corkboard looks better than just laying on the table. Same for jewelry or cell phone charms.

So in short I prefer things that can be seen at a distance to draw me in, and it's easier to have multiple people look at the same product if they're up rather than sitting on your table or in a booklet. (Or have two or three booklets) The second part doesn't apply as much to smaller cons where there are lesser people, but it's a REALLY important factor at big cons like ACen. If I have to wait in a line to see your stuff and try and dodge around other people, chances are I'm skipping you. I'm the type of person who goes through artist alley multiple times so I don't miss anything, but there are people who only like going through it once and you'll miss those sales if your products aren't easily displayed.

EDIT: Oh, and I didn't mean for my post to come off as binders of poster/things displayed on table = BAD!!! I just meant you want stuff up to attract the costumers. If they see something they like hanging, they're more likely to look through the rest of your stuff. ^^

This post has been edited by Washu Takahashi: 23 April 2013 - 12:24 PM

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#25 User is offline   Washu Takahashi 

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:18 PM

View PostC2Queen, on 23 April 2013 - 11:17 AM, said:

Then again, usually Sunday is an ideal day for people to buy stuff... Usually because they know people are looking to get rid of it and mark it down. Is that what artists usually do Sunday? Mark down their stuff to be a little bit cheaper so they can clear out some stock?


Again, only speaking as a buyer, not a seller, but I've never really seen things marked down on Sundays. Artists aren't so desperate usually that they mark down their products. I've had a few offer like bargain deals (Sunday, buy 2 get 1 free! Or "you buy that I'll throw this pin in") but not really lowering their prices. Just my experience though.
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#26 User is offline   Manifested Dreams 

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:03 PM

View PostC2Queen, on 23 April 2013 - 11:17 AM, said:

Manifested Dreams, JEEZ! That's crazy! People giving you big bills and what not... I imagine you need to bring extra money to the con so you can break big bills and have change for people. Yikes. So you bring like $300 alone just to make change with buyers? x___x I guess thats not so bad since you're technically not losing money, just making change. Man you really do have to save and budget things out pretty far in advance.


On average I have $150 for cash. $100 in $5s and $50 in $1s. If it is a larger show, I might bump it up to $200 but I've never really needed more than this. A trick for making sure you don't run out of $1s is to find a button artist or someone that has low cost items. Those people will usually have a TON of $1 bills that they'd happily trade for say, some $5s or $10s.

I have never given discounts on Sunday and honestly don't know any artists that do. The only time I've really seen this is when I've run into people who don't really do AAs except once a year, in which case they'll do it just to get it out of there. Most artists though won't discount since that is stock they have ready for the next show. Don't get seduced by the instant dollar, especially if you do multiple shows. You'll kick yourself in a couple weeks when you realize that $100 worth of merch you sold for $50 needs to get remade.

#27 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 11:20 PM

View PostC2Queen, on 23 April 2013 - 11:17 AM, said:


Tokoz, you can get a business license for selling your artwork? There's something I didn't think about, sales tax. Makes me wonder if some artists just include sales tax in their set prices.


Yup! If you're selling something, the state wants its cut. ;) It's pretty easy to calculate tax, you just have to find the rates for where you'll be selling... and the Illinois Dept of Revenue has a nice lookup program here https://www.revenue....il.us/app/trii/

#28 User is offline   Sapphy 

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 12:26 PM

View PostC2Queen, on 23 April 2013 - 11:17 AM, said:

Tokoz, you can get a business license for selling your artwork? There's something I didn't think about, sales tax. Makes me wonder if some artists just include sales tax in their set prices.


Registering as a DBA is really easy in Illinois, thank goodness. And yeah, it's really easiest just to throw sales tax in with the cost of the art--that way both my customers and myself don't have to deal with pesky change and I can keep my prices at a nice, even dollar amount.

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Man there's so much to know and so much you have to make sure to do if you don't want to end up a disaster x.x I never realized how hard artists work up until cons and how much work they put into having a table.[/size][/font]


It's really not too bad. I guess it is a lot of work when I really look back and reflect on it, but it's something I love and really enjoy so it never seems terrible. :)
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#29 User is offline   railas 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 04:05 PM

Everybody has covered it~
I just wanted to chime in about prices. Do what is best for the time and materials you spent on it. You can always lower the prices if need be, but it would be awkward to raise them, especially if somebody came back for the first price.

And its been said, but having straight prices $1, $5, $10, $20, and not a ton of big ticket items.

It was funny, I hand make mini plushies, and one girl came over to my table and asked me how much they were.
I promptly told her, and she made a hideous disgusted face, said "Thats ridiculous," and walked off.
Hilarity then ensued, when the very next girl to stop by my table, picked up a plushie, and said "Hmm, thats a reasonable price!"


@ Haha, kiss of death for online stores. That is so true, I made that mistake a few times before I realized.

Manifested Dreams~ Did you by chance sell Drifloon crochet plushies?

This post has been edited by railas: 15 October 2013 - 04:08 PM


#30 User is offline   Manifested Dreams 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 07:38 PM

View Postrailas, on 15 October 2013 - 04:05 PM, said:

Everybody has covered it~
I just wanted to chime in about prices. Do what is best for the time and materials you spent on it. You can always lower the prices if need be, but it would be awkward to raise them, especially if somebody came back for the first price.

And its been said, but having straight prices $1, $5, $10, $20, and not a ton of big ticket items.

It was funny, I hand make mini plushies, and one girl came over to my table and asked me how much they were.
I promptly told her, and she made a hideous disgusted face, said "Thats ridiculous," and walked off.
Hilarity then ensued, when the very next girl to stop by my table, picked up a plushie, and said "Hmm, thats a reasonable price!"


@ Haha, kiss of death for online stores. That is so true, I made that mistake a few times before I realized.

Manifested Dreams~ Did you by chance sell Drifloon crochet plushies?



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