My Panels at JordanCon:
I’ll be showing a video, talking briefly about Art Nouveau, and giving a demo on drawing Art Nouveau style hair!
I’ll be showing a video, talking briefly about Art Nouveau, and giving a demo on drawing Art Nouveau style hair!
Here’s a quick peek recorded live of the print shop prep for my next convention! I haven’t done a convention in a couple of years since I took the time to create a new body of work, but getting back into prep has been like riding a bike!
Some advice on buying and saving money:
– BAGS & BACKING – You can get backing made out of spare matboard for cheaper than the white boards. The Clearbags branded bags are also cheaper and have a tiny URL for the bag company on the adhesive strip.
– PRINTING & INK – I bought my Epson printer at Staples where they let me trade in an older printer for a $50 discount. They’ll also let you trade in used ink cartridges which earn you store credit vouchers. The Staples brand paper is also much cheaper than Epson branded paper and has more weight to it!
The Epson Artisan 1430 I have lets me print up to 13×19 inches, which is a nice size! Anything larger I will have printed at http://www.iprintfromhome.com. Tell them Angela Sasser sent you to earn some referral bucks!
(CORRECTION: They DO have gloss photo paper at Staples, but it never seems to be in stock at mine and I prefer matte or semi-gloss for printing my art, regardless.)
– MAT CUTTER – The Logan Compact Mat Cutter can be found in many of the hobby stores in the US like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Joanns, etc. where you’re generally able to use a 40% off coupon on them!
(NOTE: I have a master list of my favorite suppliers with reviews of each online here.)
I’m back from DragonCon and have a massive head cold as a souvenir! Before I disappear with hot tea and meds, I thought I’d post about how my DragonCon went.
This year was an odd duck for me. I had no table, which is the first time I’ve been without one for a couple of years. I was completely okay with that, however, because it meant that I got to actually experience the con by attending interesting panels, costume watching, and networking with people rather than being tied to one place.
I went to a wide range of panels, from the history of Persian dance to indie game development (panel notes forthcoming). I somehow never made it by the dealer’s room since venturing anywhere outside of the Hyatt just seemed like too much effort. The Hilton for the game dev track was as far as I made it.
I also ran two panels for other artists entitled Social Media for Artists 101 and 102! Any event where I can play Duck Army as an ice breaker is a good event. The attendees at my panel were all very enthusiastic and willing to share resources. Thanks for making it a great first run for 102, everyone! (NOTE: You can find the PowerPoint files of my presentations here.)
John, Anne, Heidi, and the other staff ran a tight ship, as always! It was an experimental year for me in that I left my masks and Art Nouveau work at home and only displayed my digital fantasy work in the show this year, an intimidating decision! I was happily surprised that two of my canvas prints (Oathbound and Kushiel’s Dart) found new homes! I did decently in the print shop, though I have a few extra playmats and dice bags still available if anyone’s after them. Use code DRAGONCON to get 15% off at my shop right now!
We walked by a guy in the skybridge dressed as a herald from Assassin’s Creed. He was putting up posters on the walls every few feet. I heard tales of cosplayers dressed as Assassins zipping by and tearing them down later. When we asked him how many posters he had, he said 250. I am highly amused by this kind of clever fun. I didn’t get a picture of him, but I got one of his poster, which was really well done!
I snapped a pic of this amazing pair dressed as Na’vi from
Avatar during the Night at the Aquarium. That baby looked so very real. It was quite creepy (and awesome)! It’s the dedication to full body paint and detail that made this the best costume I saw all con. While the Night at the Aquarium was great for costumes, they had all of the lights turned off in the displays this year, which made it really hard to see any fish. How I wish I’d gone to the philharmonic concert instead.
WHAT DID I LEARN?
I always like to think about what I can learn from looking at the displays and presentations of artists, but this year’s revelation was on a deeper level. Instead, I got a lesson in creativity and motivation from attending the panels on creativity and writing this year.
The advice from a lot of the authors there was that comparing yourselves to others was the quickest way to burn out. Most of us in the creative industry are just trying to get by and/or create something that we love. You can partially measure that success by money, but other times, it’s the victory of just having made the thing since, more than likely, creating art is not really going to pay all the bills until a very long time out. Most of us are in that dreaded ‘gap’ and those who would be at the top are not always guaranteed to stay that way. Focus on making good art and stop comparing yourself to others.
It’s that time of year again where conventions are creeping around the corner! This means everything ever is due for me, from paintings to paperwork, which is why I’ve been so quiet around these parts of late.
I regret to inform you all that I will not have a table this year! I will, however, have a gallery panel in the Art Show where you can still see my paintings and masks and a section in the print shop where you can buy books, prints, and postcards.
|On the left – Limited edition wrapped canvas prints.
On the right – Leather masks and jewelry.
I’m going to miss the hustle and bustle, but I just needed a break this year from the convention madness! I’ve been enjoying the ‘down’ time from cons this year by spending that time painting and creating all new works instead. Check out my latest works in progress over at WiPnation for a sneaky peek of what I’ve been doing in the meantime.
I’m also one of the lucky ones to acquire a Showcase table, which I’ll be manning Friday night at the con. I’d love it if you stopped by and said hello, if you’ll be in attendance too! I’ve never been to this type of non-fandom con before and I’m looking forward to reporting back here about my experience there for everyone else who might be curious about it.
This question has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially considering that I have chosen to take this year off from conventions, with the exception of Illuxcon in September. After all the money, blood, sweat, tears, and coffee, are cons worth your while to sell at? Here is what I have learned after 10+ years of doing conventions as a hobbyist and 4 years as a professional artist:
This is the number one reason anyone thinks to attend conventions not as a fan, but as an artist. You get valuable face time with people who might like your art and start getting your name out there on the tongues of people, which is an especially good move if you are the kind of artist who plans to make their income selling art directly to their fanbase.
Face to face selling is also far more effective since your fans can get to know you as a person so they have more of a reason to buy your art. Sounds weird, but having a personal connection to a REAL living person can be very powerful! Meeting someone in person allows us to want to emotionally support them even more than if they were a faceless artist online whose art we merely consume without consideration for the human behind them.
2. Marketing Yourself
The other main reason we as artists choose to attend cons is to meet with the folks that can put us in touch with jobs. Art directors, game developers, publishers, etc. You’ll probably never meet these awesome folks who lead you to professional opportunities unless you go to conventions! The downside, these folks may not be at smaller cons so you’ll have to attend the larger ones which may not be local to you. True, you can still email in a portfolio, but I consider face to face interactions to be more memorable/powerful.
3. Meeting Kindred Spirits
After spending months in the quiet darkness of the art cave, getting out into the world again and talking to people who are just as geeky and passionate as you are can be such a gift!
4. Valuable Selling and Setup Experience
Every artist needs this! You need to know the joys of being juried into a show, meeting the deadlines of setup and application, the proper way to set up your display, etc. Most of all, you need the ever-important skill of dealing with people. A lot of us spend a lot of time alone without knowing how to market ourselves with confidence. This is an especially handy skill for when you want to start showing your portfolio to the folks that can get you jobs opportunities beyond selling to your fanbase.
1. Selling Too Early
Notice how I didn’t put ‘Making Money’ as one of the Pros of conventions? It’s my belief that most people who try to sell at conventions (including myself!) start selling too early. True, it’s good to start building a reputation, but if you start doing that before your art is at a professional level, you start building the wrong kind of reputation. Chances are if you start selling too early, you won’t have an established artistic identity or direction to your artistic vision. People will get to know your art by the lower quality and lower prices we all have when we first start out as green, wide-eyed wanderers in this grand art world.
One might argue that fans enjoy seeing you grow as an artist. I’m sure they do, but wouldn’t you rather impress people right out of the gate? Starting too early can also lead to demoralization when you aren’t making the kind of sales to justify your expenses because everybody else is levels higher than you, skillwise. If you’re not sure if you’re ready, ask your friends or art professionals you know whether they think you are at the point you need to be to take the risks of selling…because there are a lot of risks and a very high chance of burning yourself out when money is involved!
Chances are that 99% of you are going to lose money when you first start selling at cons (especially if you start too early). If you’re lucky, you’ll break even. There are countless expenses involved, including, but not limited to, gas, hotel, travel, inventory, food, art show fees, table fees, etc. While most of these expenses are tax deductible, it can really put a dent in your wallet and leave you with a hollow sense of failure after all the effort you put in.
And we haven’t even talked about the sleepless nights spent prepping your inventory, making travel arrangements, setting up displays, eating badly, descending deeper into the anti-social art cave due to all the prep work you have to do, breaking down displays…the list goes on and on and on and on.
3. Time Consuming Distractions
On top of the dangerous levels of demoralization, conventions have a way of sucking up our lives. By the time you’re done with one convention it’s time to start prepping work for the next one! It’s all about sell, sell, selling and sometimes you get so fixated on selling that you forget to make new work. A year (or two) later, you might realize you have the exact same work you’re showing to fans and art directors and you’re not advancing, artistically, because you’ve spent all this time making a short term dime instead of preparing for long term opportunities, like that portfolio you keep ignoring so you can SELL, SELL, SELL at conventions.
Bottom line is you need to balance conventions with creating new relevant work for your portfolio or you might find yourself stuck in a fruitless loop of selling.
4. No More Fun Times
After a few cons of selling, you realize that you aren’t able to go to all the late night parties or stalk all the Jack Sparrows for your photo album or Pin the Tail on the Anthro. You’ve got a table to man and unless you have backup, you’re going to be stuck there for 80% of the con. You’ll probably need to be there relatively early too. Some of us can handle partying AND selling, but that’s a recipe for a health nightmare!
Worse yet, you stop having fun at cons, altogether, because they are nothing more than selling opportunities for you rather than a place to be passionate about what you love with other people. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with making money, but attending only to sell can sometimes sap the soul out of the whole experience, especially if you don’t sell well and end up demoralizing yourself instead. I would personally rather be in the studio painting something for my portfolio that I can be excited about rather than selling at a convention I’m not really interested in. (Which is the exact reason for my break away from conventions this year)
This year is going to be my biggest year yet at DragonCon! I’ll have a table in the artist alley, a large gallery bay, and a 3D display table in addition to all the rest! This will also be my first year giving a panel on the basics of leather mask-making (Saturday at 7pm during the con). I thought it would be a good exercise to share my tentative to-do list for this year’s con just to give everyone an idea of the hecticness.
– Shoot and edit videos of segments for the mask-making demo.
– Finish “War Prince” and “Lotus Dancer” paintings.
– Craft 6 leather masks to add to the displays.
– Create head displays for masks (touch up ones from last year that are damaged).
– Double mat 10 art cards and embellish each mat with a themed drawing.
– Order canvas prints of centerpieces.
– Order bookmarks (order vinyl sleeves and tassles for bookmarks).
– Make prints for the print shop and table (what a time to break in a new printer!)
– Make sure I have enough bags and backing for all the prints.
– Program barcodes for products at my table. Train with the new scanner between now and Dragoncon.
– Compile portfolio for black and white interior artwork and full color character art for tabletop game companies.
– Sign up for portfolio reviews. Still need to research which companies are represented at DragonCon and what kind of art they’re looking for.
– Make some kind of freebie for any interested AD’s. A sketchbook? Bookmarks? Mini Calendar? Brochure? Not sure yet…
|I almost always lose my layout during setup so it’s nice to have a backup
here on the blog just in case I lose it.
To be honest, I’ve never pursued portfolio reviews at DragonCon before. It’s always been too intimidating and I never felt like I had enough of the right kinds of pieces. Now, I feel I have a better idea of what I am trying to be hired for and better work, to boot. We’ll see, though! I suspect I will be in for a cold splash of reality, but it’s one I hope that will help me to improve my presentation, overall! I’m also going to experiment with presenting my portfolio on an ipad. Yay for hand-me-down electronics!
The saga of ‘Angela why did you decide to have a book signing and a gallery show just before DragonCon and then start your gallery panel stuff too late?’ continues! Spent the last 3 days painting like a madwoman! You saw the naked leather masks, now see them with COLOR!
|Behold my PRETTEHS! That’s a little pile of stuff to be turned into jewelry and
bookmarks at the end.
|A Black Swan mask. Heavily inspired by the look of
the movie with Natalie Portman. Still need to add
crystals to the crown in this one!
|Seraphim mask. If my brain wasn’t broke before,
it was after this mask. Possibly adding gold chains
|Tarot: The Moon mask. Or also “Moon Bonnet”.
She’s going to have a ‘necklace’ of fresh water
|And finally, the DRAGON Mask! Totally dig how this came
They all still need varnishing, which will add an extra layer of candy-like awesome, but are otherwise done for the most part! Stuff I still need to do:
Pulse check since I have been too busy working to post here! I am alive, for the most part. Neck deep in DragonCon prep! Just wanted to remind folks of a few things:
|A closer look at that dragon mask. Cuz I just love it!|
|Tentatively titled “Seraphim” and jokingly titled
|Check this out! It’s my own spiffy vendor page!|
In addition to my usual fair, I’ll also have an advanced copy of Angelic Visions there for folks to flip through and will be taking pre-orders personally! If the mail gods are with me, I’ll also have some Angelic Visions Calendars on hand!
Hope to see you cool cats there!
Quick! Duck and Cover! Roll on the floor! No wait, I’m talking about what to do in the case of finishing a convention, not a disaster (though the two can be easily confused). Right now after doing a few conventions in consecutive order, I’m home, finally caught up on sleep, and deciding what should be done first now that I have a small break before the next event comes along.
Cleaning and MORE Cleaning
First, after cleaning up the disaster zone that is my bedroom turned office and studio, I lay out all the collateral I’ve picked up (or had left for me at my table) from other artists and convention pluggers. I’ve been trying to do this right after cons since my goldfish memory will insure that if I do it later, I’ll have no idea why I even saved that artist’s card or what the event I’ve been invited to was about. Most of the time, events are time sensitive as well so it’s best to be right on top of those! I can’t count the number of people at AWA and DragonCon who handed me flyers to things that were within the next couple of months OR who had cutoffs for vendor singup that were rapidly approaching.
Business Card Pet Peeves
Just a note about business cards for artists. I personally hate the heavy gloss covered or plastic kind I can’t write on. I tend to write a little note saying where and how I met someone along with any other useful info right on the business card itself, so this gloss varnish thing, while pretty, is annoying for me. Also, I will probably throw away your card unless I picked it up for a specific reason or like the art on it. Sorry, but this is just a harsh fact of life. I just cannot keep up with the piles of things that accrue after each event. Anything useful, I file in a business card holder or a file in my filebox dedicated to flyers for events of interest.
Even if I do throw away business cards or event flyers, I try to keep a record of the interesting/important ones in an Excel spreadsheet noting where and why I took an interest in any particular card/flyer/etc. I also have a large list of bookmarks in my internet browser where I sort the websites of artists and conventions. Keeping records of contacts in Excel also helps me avoid papers piling up, a MUST when you don’t have a huge space to work with!
Follow-Up! OR ELSE!
Following up with other artists and events is also a must after each con! This is the time I contact people to thank them for stopping by, especially those who offered to exchange services, collaborate on future projects, or to network beyond the scope of the one con. You never know when you might see each other in the future, which is highly possible, especially in local circuits. It’s always good to make friends at events especially if you run into trouble later and could use a helping hand.
Trading is Okay..but…
A note about trading between artists at cons. I don’t generally do them unless I really genuinely like your work. Your work could be wonderful, but still not the kind I like to collect. In my opinion, one should never force a trade on another. It is very rude. I’m more likely to gift a piece to someone I admire rather than to ask for something in return, though a gesture of appreciation would never be turned down, of course! Politely asking for a trade, being sure to say that it’s acceptable for you to refuse, is one thing that is totally acceptable, but shoving your print at another person and ganking one of theirs before asking is unacceptable (and yes, this HAS happened to me before).
Tax Time! Not as fun as tea time
Moving on, I try to take care of my taxes during this period by taking a percentage for self-employment tax out of my sales and putting it into Savings, where it can accrue interest till tax time. This is also the time for filing receipts in Quicken and filling out one time MISC EVENTS form Georgia requires for any events where you are a vendor. I like to send this out along with a check for state taxes owed so I don’t have to worry about owing the state at the end of the year or about my goldfish memory forgetting that I owe the state. I store my con-related receipts in their prospective convention expense and income in envelopes marked with the name of the convention and the event’s dates.
THEN (you thought we were finished?) I make sure to go through my inventory and make sure all the numbers match the quantity of each product in my Access inventory database. With the craze of conventions, its easy to sell something on the fly and lose count of what you do have in stock. You mustn’t forget to do this or you could end up in trouble with last minute restocking, especially if you run multiple stores online that need to be continually stocked! Even moreso if you are penalized for being late on shipments, like you are if you have a shop with Amazon!
Once cleaning, follow-up, tax pre-prep, and inventory maintenance are complete, then it’s generally back to ye olde grind for me! I’d love to know how my procedures differ from others, especially since this is a rather new thing for me! I am sure I will grow and change what I do after each con as the years pass, as well.
What do you guys do for after conventions? Do tell!