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20 June 2010 @ 11:47 pm
AnimeNEXT 2010 Review  
 So... phew.  AnimeNEXT 2010 is over, and I don't know about anyone else, but I'm exhausted.  Still, I want to take a moment and talk about some things from the convention.

For one thing, I love anime conventions.  I don't care how ridiculous or awkward or smelly they are (and for that last one, it's definitely less than comic conventions), I love the atmosphere.  Anime fans it seems to me get way more into it than other con genres, and even though there is such a thing as taking it too far, for the most part I love to see how enthusiastic everyone is about their favorite show.  FANDOM IS NOT A BAD THING.  And there is just something magical about seeing a really good cosplay that clearly took a lot of time and effort and attention to detail.

Anyhow.  For me (as well as for everyone else working the Idiot Brigade table), this was our first convention of any genre working an Artist Alley table.  We've all worked the Cartoon Allies table in the past, but 1) that's in the Dealer's Room, which is completely different from the Alley, and 2) it's one thing to be representing the school, which is an establishment in its own right, as opposed to simply representing ourselves.  So this was (essentially) baby's first time working the Artist Alley.  Obviously, there is going to be a huge learning curve between the first con and the next one.

Something that I honestly did not expect was not only the popularity of Pokemon this year, but how it completely dwarfed all of the other followings, with the exception maybe of Hetalia.  I knew when I was drawing my prints to try and focus on currently popular anime, but I didn't realize that the ones that I chose would be completely ignored in the face Pokemon.  So the lesson here is that if you want to sell, you HAVE to be on top of what's current.  I knew that Pokemon was popular, but since I don't care for it I didn't make anything for it in advance.  Now, I wish I had.

In addition, I also didn't expect the popularity of commissions.  I really thought that most of the money would be made in prints, and brought very few art supplies.  Fortunately for me, Jennie and Jason were not only well-prepared, but also kind enough to let me use the supplies that they had brought.  Since I made nearly all of my profit from commissions I really wish I had had my own art supplies with me.  These were my two personal revelations, and mostly affect no one else.

That said, let me be clear in that I NEVER WANT TO HAVE AN IDIOT BRIGADE TABLE AGAIN.  Let's be honest with ourselves; we are not a group of established artists collaborating or even working together towards a specific goal.  We are a group of students who come to each other for advice in the absence of teachers so that we can help each other to improve.  While I am not in any way saying that I dislike or want to leave or am trying to put down or ANYTHING Idiot Brigade, we are simply not suited (as a group) for an Artist Alley table.  Individually, of course, we should definitely all consider getting tables, but that's just the point; as opposed to the Dealer's Room, when people come to the Alley they expect to be dealing with individual artists.  The fact that our table was representing many different people worked against us in more ways than it was helpful.  Let me take a moment to go over some observations that I (and Megan and Jennie and Jason and Christina) made over the course of AnimeNEXT 2010.

1)  Having so many people at one table means that we are all competing with each other.  True, we are technically all competing with everyone in the Alley, but this is more a matter of probability and statistics.  Most people buy one or two items per table, regardless of the number of artists whose work is there.  Obviously, at each table there are different trends as to which item sells the most.  However, if there is one person at a table that sells more of one print than another, the person who designed the least popular print isn't at a disadvantage to the one who designed the most popular, since they are the same person.  However, when you have many different people at one table, often one or two people do quite well while the less popular pieces' artists smolder in quiet jealousy.

2)  We do not have any cohesion as a group.  While it's true that as people we have many similar interests and get along well as friends, in terms of artwork we are all very different.  While this could work to our advantage in some places (say, an anthology piece, where you want the different stories to stand out from each other visually), when someone comes to our booth and sees all of the different styles and subject matters and just general lack of togetherness artistically, it just seems messy and disorganized.  While we may be a group of artists, we are definitely not an art group.

3)  Physical space.  The more things there are on a table, the less each one is likely to get noticed.  Like I said earlier, at one table we all end up in competition with each other.  In addition, trying to get everyone's things on one table can get very crowded and (again) look messy.  One of the most effective tables I saw at AN'2010 had only a stand displaying stickers and a print book on it.  This was all that the artist needed, since she made much of her money through commissions.  True, depending on the wares sometimes more than a print book is necessary.  Comics, for one thing, definitely need to be out so that people can pick them up and read them.  Still, the more people at a table, the less space each one gets.  Also - and I realize that this is more an issue of HAVING many people at one table rather than REPRESENTING many people at a table - the space behind and under the table becomes crowded quite quickly.  The more people there are, the more we all bump into and step on each other.

4)  The (potential) customer doesn't know who to talk to.  Since, again, it is generally one, maybe two people per table, when ordering a commission (which, as mentioned above, ended up being a huge source of revenue), it seemed to be a turn-off when we asked people to choose an artistic style that they liked.  Many people didn't even realize that we were a group, and thought that we were a single artist with drastically different stylistic changes.  When someone ordered a commission and were asked who they wanted to draw it, this was generally only met with confusion.

Anyhow, I'm sure there are more reasons, but like I said I am exhausted and would really like to go to sleep.  It seems to me that the only advantage to buying a table as a group is the decreased price, but that is countered by the fact that there are more reasons not to have a group table than there are to get the lower table price; in the end it just works against you.

ugh I need sleep.  Good night, everyone.  Please consider my thoughts; I'd still like to go to conventions and work with other people, it's just that I think getting tables together at conventions are not a good idea.
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Meganmegalosaurus on June 21st, 2010 04:55 am (UTC)
while I'm still not finding anime conventions to be my favorite kind of con, I did really like the atmosphere in the dealer's room - it's way different than at other cons, people seem genuinely excited just to have you draw them something/own fanart of a show they love. it was a nice contrast to the uncomfortably serious/calculating way people sometimes browse comics at say, MoCCA/comic con/whatever.

and now stuff I've said before in person: with all your points, I agree completely~ especially about how cluttered the table got. I think maybe two people per table works (we saw a lot of people we knew who knew their way around cons doing this) but any more gets way too congested. I was looking at my photos from the weekend, and while I think we did well for our first con, our table was RIDIC full and chaotic in a confusing way. Honestly, we might have all sold a bit more prints/other premade stuff if they weren't all visually competing with one another :/

WHY AREN'T I ASLEEP IDK IDK also do you think I should edit together some kind of brief con picspam for tmw? or was the facebook album enough?
Meganmegalosaurus on June 21st, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
also thank you for posting this, it organizes all my thoughts about it really well for everyone who didn't go. way better than me rambling and waving my arms around...
nmicciolanmicciola on June 21st, 2010 11:01 am (UTC)
-Wow Rel that was a good post I didn't go but there is one thing you did point out that I really hate the less room on table. I just hate it when working with Cartoon Allies that we have thousands upon thousands of mini's and very little room to store them (so you hit a point there).
- I still want group tables though I mean sure it's a little discouraging to have so many at a table but on my own I really couldn't afford one and I know at Mocca that there were 2 to 3 at a table and people seemed to be okay with that. Megan makes a great point to only have 2 people working a table (less people means more room).
- Last things is I guess to alleviate clutter we could have less bells and whittles and more content by that I mean less things to attract people to our table sure we could have small things such as commissions and handmade shit but too much it crowds the table. I think in the future if we have 1 or 2 things that are popular for people to buy then we make those and nothing else then focus on our stories i.e anthologies.

Yeah sounds like you guys had fun it sounded like an awesome learning experience
Meganmegalosaurus on June 21st, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
-MoCCA is different from anime cons, but I still don't think I'd want more than one or two other people at my table, and I'd want to clearly separate whose stuff is whose, I mean, I know at the CA table people end up asking which is yours a lot, and it's confusing to have to like, wave your arm around towards it. We had that problem with only four(ish) of us there. and commissions got even more confusing with so many people, and that was the main source of commerce for us.
-I really don't want to do an idiot brigade table/group of tables. our work's styles are all too different, it's more confusing to explain why we're a group than to just all be at the same con. we could all totally sell whatever anthologies we make, but it wouldn't be the only thing I'd focus on. we sold comics, but they weren't by any means the main draw; I was surprised to sell ANY at an anime convention. other cons might be different.
-the random stuff WORKS. jason's friend amy had these adorable sweat drop hair clips selling for 10 bucks. they sold out on the first day. if you find something cute/quirky that's unique and well priced, it'll probably sell (at anime cons)
-I think my main thing in response to your comment is that I think all of us need to focus more on selling ourselves/our work than selling a group that isn't really cohesive. this is kind of what we all need to talk about in the future but, idiot brigade (to me, and rel and jennie at least)is more of a way to show each other what we're doing and encourage us to keep going during the summer. I don't think what we've got (no continuing comics or anything, different styles/approaches) is sellable/worth trying to promote right now. but obviously we need to talk about all this more in the future. but that's how we feel.
Meganmegalosaurus on June 21st, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
I should clarify my first comment (I switched what kind of con I was talking about above): MoCCA is more expensive than anime conventions tablewise(barring the need for a hotel) so I would like to split a table with someone. but no more than maybe three people at maximum, because three people behind a table for so long is a LOT, especially if any of the two have similar things for sale, and thus have to compete. This is ESPECIALLY true at anime conventions (where from what I can tell, a table costs less, but obviously splitting with maybe one other person would help), where we were doing way more commissions than we sold anything we had premade, and thus need more badly to make it clear whose stuff is whose.
nmicciolanmicciola on June 21st, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
No I agree then we'd be our own independent agents who try and peddle the comics we make as an collective
nmicciolanmicciola on June 21st, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
No I agree there shouldn't be more than 2 to a table you got a point there. Then fine maybe it's just the fact that I wasn't there but I feel that this group could work and make some things that sell (IDK this a point of contention we REALLY need to speak about once Andrea comes back for her visit).
I will agree with you that the random shit does sell anything extra does sell but then if more "things" sold than comics maybe this is a sign we should take a step back a really re-evaluate the way we tell stories and how we go about telling stories (I mean if they're not the main draw, which I believe they should).
My response to your last answer is that we NEED to talk about this in more detail.
Meganmegalosaurus on June 21st, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
I don't think many comics will sell at these things (anime conventions), it's just not what people are looking for. at other (comic) conventions, I'd totally drop all the pins/etc stuff.

I think once we actually have ongoing comic work, we could talk about some kind of affiliation, but right now I'm struggling just to work out the comics I'm planning. I'm trying to give it time, since my problem is how much I rush things. That's just what's going on with me.
sexyvinnytsexyvinnyt on June 23rd, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
I'm not trying to really make any points or counter points, but do you think we could split ourselves up in pairs? That way not only is there enough space at one table, but also there will only be two artists' products at one time.

For anime convention I think if two people have a table together they should sell only specific products pointed out ahead of time. For example, let's pretend Jemma and I had a table. We would decide ahead of time that we were gonna be selling prints, pins, and commissions ONLY at our table. No comics, no other trinkets. That way it's organized in a not-so-overstimulating way to the customers eyes.

I find it as a frequent customer at artist alleys that I enjoy when a table doesn't have too much variety or shares a common theme. I'm more likely to buy prints from a person who's only selling prints, than I am to buy prints from someone who is selling prints, buttons, bags, bookmarks, earrings, etc.

For an ARTIST ALLEY, as a customer I am only interested in artistic crafts such as : jewelry, plushes, handbags and of course fan art. For an Anime one esp I am interested in things that are familiar to me. A game, a show, a character. The more unfamiliar it is the more uninterested I will be in buying your wares.

I believe that selling your OWN comic with your OWN characters is best reserved if at an Anime Convention SOLEY to the DEALER'S ROOM, but preferably at independent comic conventions. The reason why you can sell your comic more successfully at a Dealer's room is because there you are trying to sell YOUR product among other products. If you try to sell your comic in an Artist Alley, it kind of doesn't fit with the type of service the alley is supposed to provide. The artist alley more focuses on your skill level and style, rather than your own creations.

Make sense? Hope so.