Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Convention Checklist - Artists

Running tables at a convention may very well be an artist's dream, but it's not easy! There's a lt of merchandise to deal with, convention stress, the whole "You're sitting out here to make a spectacle of yourself" kind of problem... To say the least, artists (and wannabe-artists) have a special checklist the average congoer doesn't!

Only yesterday I managed to get my ducks in a row enough to feel like I can take on FWA, so in an attempt to assure myself I'm doing it right, Here's a good rudimentary checklist for anyone planning to work conventions who wants to know how to run an artist's table:
  • Do you have multiple works to display?
    Not only does having more than one piece of work available make sense (in case any one work sells out), but multiple works allows people to develop a better sense of your style so in the case of commissions, they can go ahead and try to imagine what a piece done by you will turn out like!
    • Know what your table allows! If all your work is on the internet, you're going to be high and dry if the artist's alley doesn't allow for continuous power consumption, let alone an internet connection! Likewise, there may be restrictions on the rating of works visbile, so if you're drawing adult work, you better censor it before someone else censors it for you!
    • Is there a theme in your work? Theming helps create a cohesive identity to your work, which may be important if you're attempting to appeal to a particular segment (comic readers, anime fans, etc.). More importantly, it helps hook passersby into viewing more and more of your work. If you're doing a webcomic, you've already got this in spades - just print out a short storyline (or an excerpt of a longer one, as long as it's all contained) and you're good to go!
  • Are you going to be able to create any art at the convention itself?
    This is a BIG thing to remember. Customers like Instant Gratification. You'll like not having to ship shit after the fact.
    • If you're going to make art on-site... have all your tools available for working. Your convention art shouldn't be lower quality just because you left your nice drawing paper at home.
    • If you plan on shipping commissions out later... have a form available before you even leave home for customers to fill out later so they can receive your work! Ideally you should have forms available for ALL your different commission types just to make sure you produce the right work, but make sure you have them especially for those that require shipping.
  • Do you have a CONCRETE price list for your works?
    Even if you're willing to create a variety of work, people appreciate having a pricing list to look at so they can figure out which actions are worth what. Also, if you have a special commission type (such as conbadges or comic pages), specifying that you can do those things in addition to ordinary commissions may attract more business!
    • Are you making sure to specify what each commission type involves? Saying "Color Commissions $30" is fine, but you need to have the reader assume a certain level of complexity so you don't end up getting only $30 for drawing some 50-character 30-inch poster.
    • Do you have general 'add-ons' for the different commission types, so customers can mix and match for their specific orders?
  • Do you have a contract / terms-of-service available for customers?
    Absolutely Important! You need this so when customers complain (and they will!) you have a concrete position you can negotiate / argue from. The more detailed and professional you are with this, the less likely protracted arguments will occur (not to mention if your unhappy customer decides to try and "summon the internet" against you, you can make your case all the more convincingly).
    • It doesn't have to be complicated. Obviously the more ironclad ones protect you better, but if you're afraid of scaring off potential customers, even a few disclaimers such as "I won't draw pornographic materials" can go a long way to dealing with pesky customers.
    • Make sure you have a general refund system available; if all else fails, you don't want to be accused of keeping people's money for nothing!
Now, even with all of this done (or at least in mind), you'd think we'd be done and dusted. But we're not, because we haven't even started talking about running the actual table yet!

Unfortunately, that one I can't talk so much about yet, because it's still before the convention. But if you're willing to find out how that turns out (and the advice therein), go ahead and subscribe to the feed to keep up a little better.

Have I forgotten anything that I need to know before I go to this convention? Comment, quick, before I take off for the weekend and make an ass of myself!

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