Category: convention reports

Convention Report – Atlanta Comic Con

Returning from Atlanta Comic Con this past weekend with an odd mix of disappointment and happiness.

Sporting new vertical signage thanks to Graphic Signs Atlanta!

First off, I just want to say what a joy it was to meet David Mack and Joseph Michael Linsner (again), and now Billy Tucci, who I had no idea would be in attendance!  I picked up a bag he dropped and gave it back to him without even knowing who he was.  For those who don’t know him, Tucci is the author and artist of a comic from the 90’s called Shi, a tale of a half-Japanese, half-American woman out for revenge against the Yakuza lord who killed her father and brother. (Funny how half of my inspirational artists/writers tell tales about women out for revenge)

It was great to yack with some of my favorite comic book creators about what drove them to create their stories and what point in their life they felt that they were ready to tell them.  It was very insightful and inspiring to know that most of them really didn’t know what they were going to write about till they were in their 20’s. Maybe I’m not so far behind after all?

Meeting them was a double edged sword. I found myself surprisingly in tears Saturday night for a reason I couldn’t identify till later.  Realizing how far you still have to go can be traumatic when you’ve not had a lot of sleep, have been on a crazed underpaid work schedule, and meet so many great folks who are ‘there’ already that it makes you feel so incredibly behind in your life.  Even the ‘there’ness is an illusion, I realize. These guys worked hard to realize their creative vision and they are STILL working hard to keep doing what they love!

And so, like many of the cons up until this point this year, I took a financial hit, but learned so much from the folks in attendance.  I can only hope future cons will be a better balance of profits AND advice!  Right now, there’s a definite imbalance between the two.

As for the convention itself, I won’t be going back next year, not as a vendor (unless I have the extra money lounging around).  It was meant to be a 3 day con, but was changed to a 2 day con without notice to the vendors, or at least I did not receive any.  The contact for the artist alley changed several times and I did not receive word back on many of the questions I asked that were forwarded around to the new contacts.  Setup was fairly easy, but I felt like the management could’ve done a better job of keeping us informed.  I found most of the info I needed eventually, but had to dig through a busy complicated FAQ to find it.

The audience also did not seem very interested in what I had to sell (the Angelic Visions book, prints, masks, etc).  I got the distinct feeling that many of them were young artists there to meet and greet with their favorite creators and movie stars and not necessarily to buy things from other not-so-famous artists, something I wish I’d thought of before deciding to drop $200 on a table fee.

A gift sketch from
Joseph M. Linsner

On the plus side, I received a wonderful sketch from Joe in appreciation for the mask I gifted him at DragonCon. It was a great feeling to know he’s mounted it in his room and finds inspiration from it on a daily basis.  Also wonderful was yacking to David about gender and author identity and to Billy about how he prefers writing to drawing (something I thought I’d never hear such a talented artist say! It shined new light on my own illustrator versus writer predicament).

All in all, this con didn’t lack for amazing people to meet, which is why if I come next year, it will most likely be as a con-goer instead of as an artist.

For the usual photostream of interesting costumes and such, check out my Atlanta Comic Con album on Facebook!

Con Report: Anime Weekend Atlanta 2010

It’s that time again! Convention report time!

Personal Stuffs

AWA has been one of the old mainstays for me in days gone by. It was the very first convention I ever attended, the very first Artist Alley I ever sold in. I always get nostalgic when I go to this con. I had many folks who had seen me at past AWA’s  (and from this year’s DragonCon) stop by to show their support and say hello. That made me feel so special and my thanks go out to everyone who came by to see me!

Check out Fev’s amazing

I left the con with some amazingly cool swag! I am the proud owner of a lovingly crafted Assassin’s belt created by the multi-talent Fev, who sculpted it herself! (You can see her creative process here). My boyfriend also gifted me with a book I’d been drooling over ever since I spotted it in the Dealer’s Room, the Granado Espada Visual Guide!

For those who don’t know it, Granado Espada (or Sword of the New World) is an MMO which is an alternate history of the settlement of ‘the New World’ mixed with fantasy elements. As such, the character designs and settings are influenced by 18th century flair with the extravagant stylization of anime and video game design! You can preview the book here to see what I’m talking about. It is GORGEOUS and I intend to use it as a springboard for inspiration for my own characters’ wardrobes.


Where would a con be without amazing costumes? You can see my photo album here!  And now my mini cosplay awards!

Most Creative – A young lady who cosplayed the art book version of a character from Trinity Blood.

Most Original – Taokaka, the creepy cat character from the BlazBlue fighting game that NOBODY cosplays.

Most Humorous – The guy dressed up as bacon! He tortured us all with bacon cravings every time he walked by in the Alley.

The Business Stuff

Despite the positive experience with meeting old friends at this con, I had a terrible selling year here compared to last year, where I made twice as much. I did, however, do better in the art show, no doubt thanks to the art show’s new location at the front of the room.  I barely broke even this time around and I have decided I will no longer be selling in the Alley at this convention.

I’ve made this decision for multiple reasons, mainly the fact that I feel I have outgrown the Alley. While other artists charge $15 for two 8×10’s, I’m selling a single 8×10 print for just as much. While I had very meticulously hand-crafted leather carved masks for $45 at the cheapest, there was another table selling plastic ones for $20. Meanwhile, other artists were selling quick commission sketches for $5 a piece, something which I simply cannot do.

I feel this Alley caters to a younger audience with a limited budget while my art appeals to a more mature audience with a larger income. I’m planning to try for Dealer’s Room next year and if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably be showing up only to put my work in the Art Show and to visit with friends.

I just feel too old for this con. I don’t have the enthusiasm for anime as I used to in college and would rather just watch it in the comfort of my own home cozied up with tea and a few close friends.  For this reason, I have a feeling I won’t be attending any anime conventions unless I can make Dealer’s Room, and even then, I am not sure I’ll do well there either.  I just don’t have the energy for it anymore, especially when it seems anime conventions don’t bring in a decent consistent profit for me.

Maybe it’s my style? (I am very non-anime) Maybe I just can’t compete unless I bring prices down? (Something I am unwilling to do).  Either way, I feel this is a natural part of my business evolution and while I give a very fond farewell to anime cons, I am looking forward to spreading my roots to other events that are catered more to my interests.

C’est la vie!

I sold not a ONE of my X of Swords prints at AWA! Since I can’t sell them elsewhere, I’m having a sale. Check it out! Help me get rid of them as I can’t sell them legally elsewhere. Only a very limited number available!

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!

Back from DragonCon 2010

Back home from DragonCon and oh what a year it has been! Within the first few hours, I met many cool folks from around the net, including a number of awesome folks from DeviantART. Plus countless old and new friends who stopped by just to say hello and offer their support. It made me feel so special to see the world so small and interconnected. It also gave me a warm feeling to see familiar faces from previous conventions I attended this year show up at DragonCon, which almost made it feel like a reunion.

I also met the model for my image, Night Blooming, and was able to give him a print of the picture he inspired. How surreal it was to see him posing before me!  It was wonderful to meet a few local faces, including Lindsay Archer and Annie Stegg. I sense an artsy meetup in our near futures!

Saturday I hosted the Monster in an Hour panel where SHARKTOPUS stole the show!  Many thanks go out to our participating artists who somehow managed to do something with the word prompts Pudding, Facial Hair, Saturn, and Big Feet.  We raised $40 for charity with the sketches, which is always a good thing!  I was plenty nervous hosting a panel for the first time ever as an announcer, so thanks to all the chatty folks in the audience who helped to make my job easier.  Topics of discussion included favorite zombie-slaying weapons, sparkly vs eat-your-face vampires, and other such tidbits of wisdom.

The highlight of my experience at this year’s DragonCon had to be meeting David Mack and Joseph Michael Linsner again this year. I’ve met them before, but always try to drop by to say hello each year.  This year, I gifted Joe with a leather mask I made based on his paintings of Dawn. He loved it so much, he offered to do a drawing in trade, despite my insistence that he didn’t have to. I’m so excited to see what he ends up doing for me!  As always, it was a pleasure to meet the very kind David Mack, who continues to inspire with his wonderful art and writing.

Ever since one of my biggest influences, Drew Hayes author of Poison Elves, passed away, I make it a point to go by and say hello.  I never got to do that with Drew, even though I had the chance, and I don’t plan to let those wonderful people who help to foster my creativity go without showing them how much I do appreciate them.

I left the con with a bunch of cool swag from Stephanie Pui Mun Law (Love love her new Dreamscapes book and my beautiful new tarot deck!) and a few new books from David Mack. I can’t wait to read The Alchemy and find out what’s happened in the time I’ve been away from the Kabuki-verse. I also picked up Joe’s latest Dawn story, Not to Touch the Earth, featuring a new tale of Dawn.  There’s just something even more special about being able to buy all of this stuff directly from the people who created them.

Finally, where would DragonCon be without a myriad of creative costumes to behold? You can see my public album for the few shots I captured whilst running around. I didn’t take many shots this year, but this wicked cool medieval Batman was definitely a highlight for me!

It was also a milestone as far as sales for me this year, but I will cover that in my next entry, as it seems this one has gotten a little long!  I’ve got two more weeks to recover before Anime Weekend Atlanta is upon us.  I think I’ll ride the sunbeams of inspiration until then. It’s been such a great weekend!  There’s nothing like being around so many like minds and artistic skill that gets my gears going for the rest of the year.

Con Report: Faerie Escape Atlanta

I’m back from Faerie Escape Atlanta with a very good feeling about the direction this con is going. They’re tapping a niche for mystical/mythical fantasy that I think will gain them a lot of followers, if they can keep it going!  The con was held in a small Holiday’s Inn, a refreshing break from cons that sprawl across multiple hotels with enough people packed into them to make you feel like a sardine. I also ♥ free parking and light traffic to this location!

Angelic Shades at Faerie Escape 2010.
Product placement galore!
This was FEA’s first year in operation and it showed with the lack of attendance for Sunday, when there weren’t as many events scheduled to keep folks coming back.  Traffic in the dealer’s room was all but dead.  What the con lacked in traffic, however, it made up for in the friendly atmosphere and good company. We sat next to Henna Belle, who provided us with lovely conversation and entranced us with her wonderful henna art. She was mesmerizing to watch!
I also met a couple of fantasy authors from Mercury Retrograde Press and was delighted to learn there was a small indy press here in Sandy Springs that catered to underground and character-driven fantasy works. They lured me in with free brownies and I left with two books I couldn’t resist, Secret of the Sands by Leona Wisoker (desert kingdom + prince + thieves=SOLD!) and Shorn by Larissa N. Niec (winged people + angst = Also SOLD!).

Both Larissa and Leona were kind enough to personalize my books for me, which was a treat. I’m hoping that once I get through my huge to-read pile that I’ll be able to work with them on producing some art for their books, which they both seemed highly interested in!  I’ve been wanting an excuse to illustrate something beyond my own stories and this seems like an excellent opportunity for me to expand my subject matter and try more challenging scene-based work.

The Phoenix and Dragon bookstore hosted the event, another place I’ve never heard of local to me!  They also display art in their store on a monthly basis, so will definitely be looking into that once a few more originals have returned from their travels abroad. FAE Magazine also expressed some interest in my art, which I’m hoping to ply my trade with submissions shortly!

So while I barely made more than $150 the whole weekend, it was enough to cover the cost of the Exhibitors table/gas/food and provided a good opportunity to network with people in my area.  Product-wise, my prints were all but neglected in favor of the leather carving, which really seemed to grab people’s attention!  All but one butterfly barrette (the comet moth) sold while half of the keychains and macrame necklaces were wiped out by a single customer.  Surprisingly, not a single mask sold, for as much as people were trying them on!  On the bright side, I won’t have to remake them for DragonCon, which is somewhat of a relief!  I am hoping to return next year to FEA with nothing but crafts and will probably be saving my print/art stock for DragonCon and Anime Weekend Atlanta specifically.
On a random note, with so many faeries wandering around, I feel compelled to make my own fae persona, which I have deemed the Butterfly Eater.  Costume with a ‘captured and impaled’ butterfly theme coming up!  Those good faeries won’t know what hit them. Mua ha ha!
Now, I have two weeks to get in gear for the next (and largest) convention I go to each year, DragonCon here in Atlanta!  I have around 22 images to mat & embellish, paintings to frame, and keychains to make.
So let the mad rush begin!  I’m armed with coffee, tape for my eyelids, and an unhealthy addiction to heavy workloads!
My display (as you can tell from the booth photo) has evolved a bit! A new artist alley booth breakdown is coming soon!

Con Report – Imagicon

I’ve just returned from Imagicon in Birmingham, Alabama! While my personal artist alley sales were modest, enthusiasm from artists and congoers was pretty high all weekend. I get the feeling from the amount of curious and perplexed parents peering in at us from around the corner that the scifi and fantasy fandom is still a little new in the area.

Come buy my shinies! Or my evil eyes will get you!

Or perhaps it’s because the main part of the con was held in the middle of exhibits nestled in the belly of the McWane natural science center in downtown Birmingham? Most people were there to let their kids bounce around interactive exhibits and maybe learn something scientific along the way. This was good in that we got a lot of foot traffic from museum-goers, bad because many of them weren’t interested in the art show or dealers room and had no clue why they were standing next to an Alien in the elevator wondering whether they should cover their children’s eyes or not.

In truth, there weren’t many signs that even mentioned Imagicon was there. No signs outside the building and most of the noticeable signs tacked up by the elevator which said the 3rd floor was closed for Imagicon, sending mixed signals. There was even less signage to indicate the location of the art show, though due to the art staff’s quick thinking, computer printed signs appeared around the 2nd day. Even still, the traffic through the art show was minimal and I only sold a single piece (Archangel Uriel, which persists as my top seller, despite being an old piece).

What really made my weekend was shmoozing with other artists in the show who attended the panels. I felt like we were really able to give people good ideas in the website development and business panels, even if the number of artists hosting the panel on business outnumbered the people in attendance. It’s a great feeling to be around all these other folks making a living doing the same business of art and convincing one another that we’re not insane for it! I took some great notes on art licensing at Ash Evans‘ panel, who is an inspiring professional and outspoken lady.

I met a couple of ladies who also recognized my Ezio mask from the LeatherMaskArt group on DeviantART. Such a small world, it is! I put my mask to a stress test wearing it all day Saturday and even walking down the street to a hotdog stand, receiving many strange looks along the way. It was a good draw for my table, even if only a special few recognized its inspiration.

All in all, the show has a good heart, but just needs to work out it’s advertising and signage a little better. Art show staff was helpful and receptive and I’m sure the show is going to get more traffic as they improve their setup, especially with the enthusiasm of those involved in its management. I hope that if budget allows, I’ll be able to attend again next year!

Stay tuned for a little video I put together on what we packed for the convention. It will be up on my YouTube channel shortly!

This has been your con report from Angelic Shades. Sasser signing off!