Con Report: DragonCon 2010

My last entry covered most of my personal experiences with this year’s DragonCon. Now, it’s time for the convention report which I try to lean more towards business and artist related matters.

In a word, this DragonCon was a LIFESAVER.  I’ve heretofore done horribly at most conventions this year, as far as sales (but wonderfully as far as networking).  Not only did I break even, but I made a good little chunk of change to put towards my table fees for Atlanta Comic Con in December, and then some!

My display at this year’s DragonCon, 2010.
Introducing Shay, the Sassy Mannequin Head!
I attribute my success this year to a few changes in my table and gallery display. Last year, my table had barely more than prints stocked on top of it and no vertical motion at all. This year, I was able to project products from the table surface with the help of gridwall cubes, my new mannequin head (lovingly named Shay), and a couple of velvet necklace forms. I’ll be doing a post later with a more detailed breakdown of the evolution of my table and where I got my supplies, for the curious.
You can see more views of my gallery panel at my Facebook fan page.

As for my gallery display, my experiment of description cards next to the big pieces added a level of interest that enticed people to stay longer, as I suspected they would. None of the framed originals sold, but I did sell a decent amount of matted embellished prints, which proves that adding a special touch to your display really can make a difference! I don’t think I’ve ever sold that much out of my gallery panel in the few years I’ve been displaying in the show.

I also tried a strategy of marking up my after auction prices higher than quick sale or minimum bid prices, which made the need to bid more immediate lest one be forced to pay more later. This year I had a minor bid war over one of my matted limited edition pieces, which has never happened before.  A losing bidder actually came to my table to buy the print directly from me after he couldn’t bid higher, which proves having a bazaar table presence in the Alley is also a smart thing.

Once again, it seems my usable art sold better than my prints. The addition of my hobby items, including leather masks and keychains, was the driving force behind the majority of my higher priced sales.  I all but sold out of keychains and half of my masks, the most expensive being my limited edition January Mask at $135. (Amusingly, this mask sold to a tall bearded gentleman in handsome red leather armor. It actually suited him quite nicely!). This once again proves that people like art they can use.

Speaking of higher priced sales, I would not have done as well without my credit card terminal, which accounted for nearly half of my sales.  It’s made back its cost many times over by now!  I’m currently using First National Processing with a $22 fee while my terminal is active and a $7 statement fee when it’s deactivated (with low cost transaction fees and no limit on total sales).  I have a Nurit 8000 which I got for $200 included with a new member special offer when I first joined (a steal really!).

I had considered using my phone for running transactions, but reception has been very poor at nearly every con. Since the Nurit connects with satellites directly, it has no problem with reception and batches and authorizes cards wirelessly without having to call everything in via a phone. I’m bound to a 1 year contract, but if things keep going well, I’ll be sticking with First National for my credit card processing needs.  The only thing I don’t like is you can’t turn it off and on each month, you have to leave it activated for a few months at a time to be considered ‘seasonal’ before being able to turn it off without being charged a fee.

My charity “Bag of Holding”.

Anyhoo, back to the show!  As always, DragonCon’s art show staff was amazingly fast, helpful, and organized!  The addition of a traffic officer to help direct artists during load-in was a godsend.  Many thanks go out to John and Anne for being completely amazing organizers!  This year we did charity fund-raising for the Lupus Foundation by decorating Bags of Holding. How lucky for me that the Lupus symbol was a purple butterfly!

Things I learned this year:

  • Draping canvas over a backdrop frame lets you pin images to the back.
  • Banners hanging in or above gallery panels look really good AND give extra exposure for your name!
  • Never hurts to have signs in your gallery panel saying you also have a table in the artist alley/exhibitors hall.
  • People came to my table first and bypassed the panels. Seems like traffic is drawn to where they can meet people before they ever head to the panels.


Things I want to do next year:

  • Move to the exhibitors hall. Looks like the sales would be even better there! (Anyone in need of an exhibitor booth buddy? I’m in the market to share!)
  • Find a groovy way to display my books which will be out by then!
  • Find a better way to display my banner. Backdrop set is a minor pain! Those knock down ProPanels look super professional AND would fit in my little hatchback.
And that about wraps things up for this year!  I’ve left the show with many ideas for the future and the usual inspiration to do better next time.  Thanks for a great show, everyone!

2 comments

  1. Colossal says:

    Even with you having a table there, I honestly didn’t expect to find another of that particular print. I mostly dropped by to pick up prints of pieces I had liked but didn’t bid on because of the expense of another piece I was trying to win. Figured maybe the limited run stuff was reserved for auctions and the like. Finding another pretty much made my day/con. 🙂

  2. Angela Sasser says:

    So glad I could help you out in that respect! I like to keep a stock of things at my table, if I can help it, just in case the print shop or the panel runs out. The only limit on Limited Editions, of course, is that once they hit that set number, they’re gone for good!

    Thanks for being a patron at the show, it’s much appreciated 🙂

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