Whenever I do a show, I make the rounds after words and talk with the other artists. They all have their favorite scapegoat to point blame at for a weak show. It was rainy, it was sunny, there was a bigger show going on at the same time, the venue had sticky floors, the cosplayers did it with Prof. Plumb in the Lounge with a lead pipe. But what I think is the elephant in the room, is that the Artist alley system is flawed. It no longer works. It’s not selfies and weak economy, it’s Pintrest, tumblr, and other social media outlets that let us connect with our favorite artist 24/7. The charm of the convention was meeting the artist and writers you love and admire, but now we can follow them on twitter. By the way I’m on twitter @BotulismBunny. We give our selves away all the time so the exclusivity of conventions is meaningless. No doubt conventions will continue, but they are changing. They have to in order to survive. We, as the rats in artist alley, have to change with it. I’m no longer doing artist alley. Instead I’m doing one working show a year as a vendor selling toys and games. Any other show I go to will be as an attendee. We’re approaching a breaking point where we will have to find our own way. It’s hard to let go, especially if the thing we have to let go of has emotional value, has memory, and dreams. Once we detach ourselves from the thing (whatever it is) we can keep the memories.
New music time. Discovered Deadmau5. According to my music snob ex girl friends in highschool, I’m not supposed to like techno (now called dance). But I do. I think it’s easier to tell you what I don’t like in music because that list is short yet full of exceptions. If you pick up my iPod don’t hit shuffle. Unless your ears can handle the shift from “Girl from Ipanema” to “Last Caress”.
It’s been three months since my last blog post and my last convention, Appleseed comic con. I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around what happened at the show. To say the least it was a real wake up call.
For five years I’ve been trying to sell my comics and artwork in the various artist alleys in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. And for five years I’ve met with mostly disappointment. I started selling buttons, and that seems to get people interested. But it feels hollow. Yeah I make the buttons myself from cut up comic books, but it’s other people’s art. Most people who are successful in artist alley either do sketches or make some type of unique art, based on other peoples work. Selling your own comic is a hard slog. Few people get to be Scott Kurtz or Mike Krahulik & Jerry Holikins.
So what happened at Appleseed? I made money. It’s simple. Yet I made money by drastically shifting how I did the show. I moved myself out of artist alley and into a vendor’s booth. I sold Lego mini figures, Heroclix, mini comics, magnets, and buttons. In two days I made more money than I did in five years of artist alley shows. I had hoped this plan would work, but I have that hope for every show I do. This time it worked.
I have a number of friends who do way more shows than I do. They do commissions and rely on the income from shows to help pay the rent. They rarely break even and are miserable and crest fallen after every show. Meanwhile another people I know online don’t do shows, and base their whole business model online. They seem happier overall and better off financially.
So that’s the dilemma. Hold on to an out of date mode of promoting comics or ditch it for a more modern method of comic sales. Even though I didn’t sell any Bridgette comics at the show, I got paid by Lulu that morning. If I had a fork, I could eat my cake.
Saturday May 17 I will be at Appleseed comic con in Fort Wayne Indiana. Instead of exhibiting in the usual Artist alley space, I will be in the dealers section with a varied assortment of toys, buttons, and magnets. I’m only doing this once. My prime reason is I need capital to run this website and pay for advertising. After the show I will be posting the remainders to E-bay. So if you collect Lego Mini-figures or play Heroclix, then I’ll be your man…as of May 18th.
Until then I’ll be working hard on finishing up Bridgette’s Belly, and getting ready for my next big project.
Keep reading and I’ll keep writing!