Tuesday, March 4, 2008

17 Things I Learned from the Furries at Furry Weekend Atlanta

Some of the balloons given away at FWA. I really kinda wish I'd gotten the pawprint one.Well, I've been back from Furry Weekend Atlanta for a while already, but there's no time to waste; MomoCon's only a couple weeks away! The good news is the artist's table was free at this one, but I need to actually make money back this time around.

I had a great time and I certainly had plenty of fun beside the point (The posters were awesome!), and fortunately I made sure to take plenty of notes from some of the other vendors, so in the hopes that I actually follow some of my own advice... It's getting posted here.
  1. Bring more material to sell / give away at the next con.
    Selling art at conventions is a given, but as far as actual material for people to take away from the convention goes, there were only two items I really had available: my pre-made buttons, and the Moo minicards. This was a BIG mistake that I didn't account for, and I need to try to at least have more materials I can shed off at the convention itself to have more after-convention influence.
  2. Having loose sketches has a purpose.
    Not having a theme is bad, but maybe having things too 'tightly' organized is also bad. Most people who lost interest in the comic stopped flipping through the binder after the third page or so. And that's not including the big mistake of requiring people to flip their own pages; some general art sitting out couldn't have hurt.
  3. Bring more example badges!
    Most of the other artists I saw offering badges usually had at least four examples of each badge type available. By comparison I had only two -- my own, and Llearch's "Box" badge. This was clearly not enough to encourage badge sales, because the sample size involved was also decidedly low. More examples (and possibly even new badge types) would have been useful.
  4. Next time, get static, guaranteed convention space.
    A good portion of the tables available in Artist's Alley were squatted quickly by those who could wake up extra early to get down there; as a result, I rarely had a chance to work the tables for more than a couple hours at a time. More time to spend at the table -- or more importantly, rented space where I could freely return to rather than having to wait several hours for a space to open up. This is solved for the next upcoming convention (MomoCon), but this may be easier said than done for other conventions.
  5. Adult Artwork -- it's more useful than you think.
    I'm still not about to draw anything pornographic (for many reasons, not the least of which can be summed up in two words: "Hi, Dad") , but one of the more interested passers-by made a good point: drawings involving nudes provide a good 'standard' for comparing a given artist's grasp on general artistic concepts like anatomy, shading, and so on, and let's face it; nothing quite reveals an artist's pathetic grasp on anatomy quite like nudes. Fortunately, it gives me a chance to try out those ideas on pinups I had a while back, so maybe I can still use this tip without having to resort to full-frontal.
  6. Freestanding Price-List
    Letting everything I have lay 'flat' against the table was a mistake; lots of folks had freestanding sheets to help announce their tables, and often had the price lists on them! By comparison, my price sheet was in the back of my binder (so only those who read through to the end or were there when I showed them the list were able to see my prices!) Having made a sheet in advance would have been an exceptionally good idea...
  7. 3D Artwork!
    This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the free-standing price list idea; 3D artwork stands up from the table and provides additional physical presence. This is a little difficult for illustrated artwork, but in my case at least, I have one ace in the hole: I crochet. While I don't want to be known for just crocheting, it does give me a chance to use this for my advantage.
  8. Mechanical Pencils
    Sketching with pens sucks. It just does. Pencils allows me to make my sketches more 'legible', and while pens have their own charm, I still sketch too wildly for them to be easily understood. (read: While I can follow it for later, I draw over my other drawings too much.)
  9. More stuff that can be Made at the Convention
    See the stuff about "Take-away material". The more I can make, the more I can sell to others right there while they wait. Plus, everyone loves to see an Artist at Work, and people walking around with my art already on them is just good advertising.
  10. Moo Cards are good.
    Yes, as business cards go they are a bit more expensive (and all the more so because they come from freakin' England), but they offer several advantages over other business cards in that they have really high print quality and allow you to put whatever images you like onto the back (and they don't even have to be the same image on every card)! As an artist, that can be incredibly valuable in allowing you to show off your work - it even gives prospective card-takers a chance to rifle through them all to take the one they like best. It also worked quite well for referencing with other artists, and helped me stick out that little bit more.
  11. The Binder was good, but...
    So apparently there's such a thing as "making a too tightly themed portfolio". Worse, when people decided they weren't interested, they just stopped reading rather than noticing the improvement in the art in the later sections. Having some random pieces for people to look at (or at least SOMETHING that deviated a bit from the comic pages!) would have been good. This goes in with my earlier statement, but it seems to indicate that I need a bit of both; some fluff stuff for the passers-by, and some real meat for the interested ones.
  12. Need to make a new Jigsaw Model Sheet!
    In trying to gain some of my own artwork, I forgot one of my own rules: I didn't have good references for my own "personal character", Jigsaw! Granted, I had comic pages with her in it, and I had her face on some of the business cards, but I didn't have a full-body character sheet. More to the point, when I tried to direct folks to this sheet, one artist didn't read it closely enough and put wings on my character without realizing that she had not only drawn them improperly, but that they were a later development; she had considered it a mistake later on and refunded me the $3 for my trouble, but this was still something that could have been fixed if there was an updated sheet for only the "current" form that had left these wings out!
  13. Offer Model Sheet commissions
    Well, if I need a new one, other people probably do too... plus, it isn't like I don't need the practice / don't do this already, even if I don't always color the stuff in. Even my concept sketches for commissions seem to trend towards this sort of thing anyway, so it's basically taking more of the sketches I already do anyway and pulling them into a finished product, right?
  14. More variety in merchandise / commissions!
    Statement speaks for itself. More variety gives the consumer ideas, so they take credit for finding some great use for your talents when you planted the suggestion in their heads in the first place. Also, having different price ranges for different items also makes the cheaper crowd more willing to part with their monies.
  15. Photo Viewer worked quite well!
    Well, when it got used anyway. It was slightly impressive, since it was something most of the other artists didn't have (if only because they weren't allowed to have devices that needed to be plugged in), and it did show off some of the later pieces in a flattering format, the same way as the Moo cards did.
  16. Wear the right thing to the right convention.
    The stupid thing about conventions? If you're not dressed up for 'em, you tend to turn invisible; and there is still a definite switch between "Normal, mundane outfits" and "what you wear to a convention". For more general conventions, this is pretty loose, but for a niche convention, the rules are tighter. This doesn't mean "get all dressed up in a fursuit", but it does tend to mean that the more you look (sort of) like everyone else, the more likely folk are to remember who you are among the crowds.
  17. Furry cons are not like normal conventions!
    Sci-Fi cons are all about running around to see the movie stars. Anime conventions are all about the merchandise and the manga-ka and whoever else we can throw in. Furry conventions... everyone's running around to see what everyone else is up to. There are so many artists / creators there that everyone is basically trading around with everyone else, and there's a huge level of community there that other conventions just don't have. It's tightly-knit, communal, and really it just reminded me more of what would happen if you mixed a hacker convention with what people usually think of cons. It's a difference I wasn't counting on, and it's one to definitely keep in mind.
Some other ideas I'm probably going to try out given the chance (which given my likely workload going into the next couple of weeks, may have to be trimmed down a bit):
  • Tip Jar: Maybe not in the literal sense, but having someplace where I can let funds accumulate is good, and ties in with the website nicely. Plus, it allows me to keep the $50 per update thing going, so it might spur some folks to buy more if they know I have a general convention goal.
  • Getting my hands on a laminator: Okay, having one (or at least access to one) would really open up what I can do with art stuff. I know that there are some portable ones I can get for about $50-100 and so it may just pay off to go ahead and get something reasonably professional. The main thing keeping me from asking for one outright is that I know how little use my scanner gets now and I'd want to be reasonably certain the laminator would get enough use to justify its purchase.
  • More Personal Commissions/Badges (for me!): This may have just been an artist's Alley thing, but a lot of the artists there were using their badges to hang off of the tablecloths there to better announce themselves... and it's certainly an idea worth trying. Besides, it's not like I'd mind a few more personal drawings like that.
Now, the real challenge is to see how much I can turn around from what I did at FWA... and it'll certainly be a little more difficult to prepare for this time because of midterms. I have a decent baseline, though, so I can 'probably' coast on what I did for FWA along with what I do special for this one, but it'd be stupid not to at least try a few new things.

On the other hand, if anyone's got a special request or two, now's the time to speak up...

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At November 13, 2008 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

moo cards aren't terrible but the novelty definitely wears off after a little while...i much prefer a full sized card that i customize myself...PrintsMadeEasy has a design tool that lets you upload your own artwork and arrange your cards however you want, i generally go to them for all my printing needs


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