Ever considered selling your work at conventions and artist alleys? It can be a really rewarding experience and it's a great way to meet other local artists. If you give yourself enough time, it's a great kick in the pants to finally print out your own business cards, make prints, get your name out there, and so on! Lately I've been getting a bunch of notes asking about how to get started, so here are a couple of things tips and observations I've picked up to help you along the way!
Find AND BOOKMARK ALL YOUR Local Comic Cons & Conventions
First and foremost, if you've never been to any of your local comic cons, GO TO THEM! See how they're organized, meet some artists! Their experience can come in handy if you need future advice! I bookmark all of my local comic cons so I know where and when they are. In order to get registered as a vendor, you need to apply MONTHS in advance, so having a list like this will come in handy!
Also don't forget to follow/subscribe to the individual websites because they usually send you updates about when you can apply for an artist alley / vendor's table!
Locate a Local Print Shop
I get all of my printing done at a place called Rayacom
, but there are LOTS of professional places you can get your printing done for relatively cheap. I wouldn't recommend places like Walmart or Staples, personally, because they won't actually sit down with you and work out how to make your product look as good as you want it to. If you go with a professional print shop, chances are they can do EVERYTHING for you including banners, business cards, posters, flyers, etc. The key to ordering prints from places like these are to order in BULK. Choose a small selection of specific prints in one or two sizes, and print LOTS of those. Don't spread yourself too thin because their discounts won't apply to 500 prints of DIFFERENT images, but you'll get it for 500 prints of the SAME thing.
Another really useful secret -- AND I MEAN REALLY USEFUL -- SERIOUSLY I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH -- is to find the most cost effective print size and price, then make all of your future artwork in that size. I found out that I can make 11x17" prints for 75 cents each, (if I order a large amount of them) so considering I try to sell them for about 15-20 dollars EACH, I make a very good profit. Finding a cheap supplier will allow you to keep up with competitive pricing from other artists and make sure that the time and money you invest in your business pays off.
Get a Square Reader or a 'PayPal HERE' DEVICE:
It's always a good idea to invest in a lock-box and cash float of at least 50 bucks, but these allow you to take credit card payments on-site with your smartphone, and they're FREE so you have NO EXCUSE not to go and sign up for one!! PayPal here is only available in the USA. These both take a small percentage (2.75%) from every transaction you make, so you won't get the full amount of the payment in the end, but at least they allow you to take payments that wouldn't even exist if you didn't have them!
HOW TO BUILD YOUR TABLE STRUCTUREs
Cubes: $21.00 for a pack of 4,
$120 for enough to make an arch on your booth.
Fun Fact: Make sure to scour your local dollar stores, because I've heard-tell of these showing up for a DOLLAR!!
I started out using mesh cube frames that you can buy for about 20 bucks at WalMart, Home Depot, etc. In the end, I didn't like this method because they were very heavy and tedious to set up and take down compared to the PVC pipes I use now. The upside to having them is that they're very adaptable and you can get pretty creative creating displays for your merchandise. One package contains about 4 cubes that snap together. I had to buy 4 packs to make an arch shape over my table to hang artwork from, so expect to hunt around for these things! I needed to go to three different stores.
PVC Pipes: ~$120.00
(with 4 clamps included)
- How much do table singnups cost?
Depends on the size of the comic cons, but the Edmonton Expo charges 160$ for a full sized artist alley table. A half table (3 feet) at Taste of Animethon costs me about 35$. Full 6-foot tables went for $70. Vendors tables are usually a few hundred dollars. This is a pretty standard price, but some tables can be as little as 45 dollars. Bigger comic cons and conventions tend to be more expensive. For example, the San Diego Comic Con's tables can cost as much as $800! ...But keep in mind that event is like 5 days long and the traffic you'd get there would be insane compared to a little local event.
- What kind of art is popular and sells the best?
I've never had any trouble selling Pokemon or Zelda-related artwork. Fan art in general is always a safe bet. It's pretty widely appreciated. I seem to stick to video-game and Cartoon related stuff. Depending on the comic con or artist alley you're at, it can differ. Just try to sell comic-book related stuff at Comic Cons, and Anime-related stuff at Anime conventions!
MORE HELPFUL JOURNALS AND BLOGS
Artist Alley tips, tricks, and other stuff learnedThis past May I sold my art at Anime North Artist Alley, or as it is now renamed, Comic Market. It was literally like taking an entire business class practical exam squashed into three loooooooooooong days. Not counting the month of work I sweated and stressed over. But it was definitely worth it, and I recommend it to everyone. Less because it's a great opportunity to make money (DEFINITELY NOT, unless you have previous experience), but because of the amount of stuff you will LEARN.
There are so many things I would do differently next time, all of which are pointed out on the list below. But the idea is that by doing it, I now know what exactly it is like, and things I hadn't thought of beforehand and now known to me. Not to say the entire thing was a disaster; rather, it really went 50/50. Below are tips, but also examples from my own experiences. This is written for the newbie, but anyone's welcome.
I'd like to stress that "everyone is different". I think the outcome of your experie
Artist Alley for BeginnersHave you had a table at Artist Alley before? If you haven't I'm going to give you a list of suggestions for manning your table for the first time. These suggestions are not in any particular order.
1. Do not go overboard.
You may think your artwork and crafts are really great, but it always pays to be just a little bit cautious when having your first artist alley table. The reason for this is simple, you have to test your work in the consumer market. If you become really excited and buy 100 prints for your first convention and only 5 get sold... well you are out a lot of money. If you have many prints have small quantities printed, such as 5 - 10 prints and keep track of what prints sell this will be a good indicator for what prints are most popular.
2. Be reasonable on your prices.
If you are new to the art world you may think you can make a killing selling anime/manga prints. It can be tempting to want to charge $5, $10, $15 even $20 for one of your