Convention Survival Guide #11

March 23, 2017

 

This post will mostly benefit creators and vendors attending conventions for the first time.

 

We all start out with big aspirations about conquering conventions.  Starry eyed visions of selling out of all comics, raking in tons of cash from merchandise or getting "discovered" by some hip publisher. 

 

WHERE DO YOU BEGIN?

 

The first, and perhaps most important thing to understand about about comic conventions is that they are like living organisms.  Each is unique and needs to be treated as such until you have exhibited for a few years and get a feel for the lay of the land, hence...

 

BRING EVERYTHING!

 

Some conventions, fans will only want comics - single issues or variants, some will only be interested in art prints, some will want original sketches, others looking for new or key pieces of original published art, and some will be a combination of some or all of them.

 

OVER PREPARE!

 

Jesse's Words of Wisdom:

Sometimes artists/creators/vendors, generally new[er] ones to the business side of comics, have a attitude(IE arrogance) where they are "above selling stuff". They don't want to "sell out". "It's not about money, it's all about the art, man..." and so on. We've probably all been there in some form or another and I've found there are a few things that I am NOT above - paying my bills, feeding my family, going bankrupt before I even get started..., to name a few.

 

DIVERSIFY!

 

If you have nothing but your original art.  Scan it in, make black and white(or color) prints, get 10 or so copies made of each.  If you have 20-30[or more] pieces of art finished, collect them together into a sketch book, get 25 copies made with a print-on-demand[POD] service, plus make small batch prints out of 3-5 key pieces, have portfolios with originals individually for sale[young or newly professional artists sometimes get hung up about selling originals, I'll talk about that in another post], and a pile of sketch covers for doing original on the spot pieces for fans.

 

EXPERIMENT!

 

As the business of conventions continues to grow, so too does the range of and aptitudes of the show going public.  Until you have a solid grasp on the energy of a show, bring a variety of products, particularly products with a range of prices, can go a long way towards cementing your bottom line in success VS total failure. You certainly won't get rich selling five dollar prints, but they do add up over the course of a weekend, contributing towards your ultimate goal, which should always be to make a profit. Plus, towards the end of the day on Sunday, when show-goers are just about financially tapped out, you can make a flurry of five to ten dollar sales...

 

WHEN I SAY BRING EVERYTHING, I MEAN BRING EVERYTHING!

 

Banner[s], table signs, display holders, 2X your main art supplies[the stuff you do originals with] scissors, box cutter, zip ties, banner hooks, table cloth[s], business cards, freebies[stickers, bookmarks, handouts etc] sharpies, signing pens, paypal/square reader[or your preferred credit card reader] portable phone charger, note pad, water bottle, warm clothes, cool weather clothes, money in a variety of denominations[to make change during sales.  your first sale of the day might buy $10 worth of stuff, reach for their wallet, sheepishly asking "can you break a $100?" thereby wiping you out of all your change for the entire day[or weekend] I usually have $200 broken down into [16]$5, [6]$10, [3]$20. Note - I don't generally bring $1 bills anymore since i price everything in five dollar increments, but in the past I'd have at least [25-50]$1 for single issue regular comics costing $2-4...

 

IN CLOSING

 

The above list is certainly neither complete, nor is it universal, feel free to add or remove items as it pertains to you personally. It's merely to get you thinking about being prepared as you journey out towards your future success in the comic book world. Definitely hit me up on social media with things that you never leave home without. My list is always evolving.

 

GOOD LUCK!

 

Disclaimer I'm merely sharing what works for me.  As always do your own research to find the best option for you. I take no responsibility for mishandling or improper use of anything recommended.

 

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