Good question! Well, by no means do I plan on being THAT GUY this year… or even NEXT year. I do intend on being THAT GUY. In only two convention appearances, shows that cost me a fortune, I have been able to turn some important heads and garner three free shows! I would not have been able to do more than three shows this year otherwise.
So how do I intend on setting the bar? I have no freaking idea actually. I am still learning how the shows work. I have noticed a very important need in Artist’s Alley. That being one on one interaction. I brought that to my appearances and it paid off.
My first show was Comicpalooza in May. I did not do that well. I had a bad spot. The artist next to be does shows for a living and his showing was pretty bad too. I noticed that first day that the other artists sat there drawing. Never making eye contact. Never speaking. I stood up at my table and talked to everyone who walked by. I would ask them if they were having a good time. I would comment on their cosplay attire. I would compliment their shirt or their tattoo. The most important interaction here was when I would hand them a flier I made up promoting my comic strip. Every fourth or fifth person would stop and ask me about my characters and the pitch was on!
The artist across the aisle from me told me at the end of day one that I was one hell of a pitch man. Truth is, I just love to talk. I love to meet people. I love to discuss my passion.
The entire show went well. I sold merchandise to only 8 people and came no where near paying for my parking for the four day show. My $200 table was in the red. My setup cost was over $500. Setup included racks, fliers, and of course my posters. All left me deep in a hole for which I will need at least a dozen more shows appearances to climb out of!
I was a bit down after Comicpalooza. The next scheduled show wasn’t until September, which is my upcoming Amazing Houston Comic Con. Two weeks after Comicpalooza though, I was offered a free table at Space City Comic Con! They heard about my loss at Comicpalooza and fell in love with my strip. I jumped at the opportunity and agreed to the show appearance in their Artist’s Alley.
What happened that first day was amazing! A hand full of the people I talked with at Comicpalooza came to Space City Comic Con looking for me! I had fans!!! I also found out that fans love commissions. I received requests for six commissions. Now I see why artists are busy drawing at the shows and not talking. five of the attendees wanting commissions were attending the following day so I did those drawings after the show. Yes, I got no sleep those three days! But I continued my trend of talking to everyone. This time I handed out business cards instead of the bulky fliers.
As a result, I again caught the eye of some very important people… four promoters. All telling me they wanted me for their show! All stated they loved my work and loved the way I interacted with my audience. Unfortunately, I had to turn down two. One show was in two weeks in Central Texas. I can’t afford that at this point. My day job would not like that either! The other offer was a show in Galveston, thirty minutes away. I had to turn that down because I was offered a show on the very same day in Bryan, Texas. This Bryan show for some reason is extremely intriguing. Bryan is a college town! Something tells me this show is going to be a very important step in my career. Plus, I am a GUEST at the show… and ADVERTISED guest. Yep, they have a blurb about me and my strip on their site! http://www.stxcon.com/stxcon-guests.html
Could this just be a string of good luck? Yep… very well could be. At Space City Comic Con, I only made $135. I paid for parking and then some…. but I had another $100 invested in posters that did not sell. All profits came from commissions. I still lost money at this show, but I feel confident things are going to change very soon.
Truth is, no one makes money in Artist’s Alley straight out of the gate. Talking with other artists, making a profit is something that occurs after you’ve paid your dues. Show attendees purchase merchandise as an investment. You have to work hard and prove your worth, especially me. I draw ants! How in the heck am I ever going to sell posters with silly, cute ants depicted on them? My work is cut out for me, but I believe I am on the correct path with my characters doing their cosplay thing.
In the coming days, I will showcase my posters for everyone. I need a big variety. I only have a few for this year, but in 2016 I will have a ton. That’s my goal after this awesome little warm up tour I am on.