Category: conventions

DragonCon Workbench & Reminders

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:

  • I will NOT have a table this year.  I will, however, have a large gallery bay where you can see and purchase paintings, matted embellished prints, masks, and other handmade specialty items.
  • In lieu of a table, I’ll also have a space in the art show’s Print Shop, where I’ll be debuting lots of new pieces never before available in prints (such as Keeper of Secrets, Angel of January, and Dragon Whisperer).
  • I will be hosting a panel on the basics of E-marketing for artists in the Art Track (based on a blog post of mine). Check your D*CON schedules for exact listings!

And now for some image spam of my current workbench, which is full of masks and leather things!

A closer look at that dragon mask. Cuz I just love it!

Tentatively titled “Seraphim” and jokingly titled
“Flouncy Hawkgirl”
 Now, just got to survive till the con! With the power of Greyskull, chocolate, Advil, and coffee!

Upcoming Appearance: Atlanta Comic-Con

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Dec 4-5
WHERE: Cobb Galleria (more info)
Check this out! It’s my own spiffy vendor page!

This’ll be my first year as a vendor! I’ve always attended as the nervous geek hitting up people like Joe and Dave and gushing about how much I love their work. It’s a joy to think that this year I’ll be on the other side of the table!
I’ll be bringing the usual – prints, art cards, mousepads, glass tile necklaces, and remaining leather mask/keychain inventory. If there are any specific things you’d like me to bring along for you, let me know!

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!

Post-Con Aftermath Procedures

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.

Inventory Check!

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!

Almost Theeere!

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!

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!

On the Workbench: Anime Weekend Atlanta 2010

Been a little quiet around these parts, for I am hard at work once again trying to make things for this weekend’s upcoming Anime Weekend Atlanta!  I’ll also be unveiling a new variation on my Ichigo Hollow mask at the con. Probably the coolest version yet!

Here’s a sneak peek at all the new leathery bits on my workbench:

Butterfly keychains/barrettes & domino masks in various stages of
As always, if you’ll be at the convention and want me to bring something specific for you, let me know! I’ll be chilling in the artist alley all weekend with some special hand-embellished prints on display in the AWA Art Show.
Chillin’ like a villain.
I’ll also be debuting my Assassin’s Creed X of Swords prints at AWA, which will be available in a limited number in ACEO (2.5×3.5″) and 9″x12″ sizes.  I’ve been hard at work on this piece for the AC Tarot Project for some time! I hope it will be the first of many cool new digital things to emerge from my attempts at re-acclimating to the Wacom.

These prints will NOT be available anywhere else except from me directly in the artist alley!

After this, I’m happy to report I’ll have a 2 month break till my next convention (Atlanta Comic Con), which means HOPEFULLY that I’ll be able to get some new 2D artwork done and, with luck, some writing! I’m feeling the twitch again to get back to narrative works, which means I need to stop marshmellowing and get some writing done!  I do so love meeting everyone at cons, but it will be nice for a tiny break to dedicate to non-con related work.
Hope I’ll see some of you this weekend! If not, stay frosty, people!

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.

Devoured by the DragonCon 2010

Well, this will be my last post for a little while. There’s much to do and I’m tossing this entry up before company arrives from out of town and a mad last minute dash to tie up loose ends for DragonCon ensues!

I’m feeling a bit more enthusiastic since my last journal (no doubt because I’ve managed to accrue more than 6 hours of sleep at night recently) and I’m just so darned happy to be seeing old friends again.  Conventions are exciting for the prospect of making money, but also for getting out of the art cave for a bit and mingling with like minds.  I don’t know how long I’ll continue to look forward to conventions this way (apparently they have a way of jading you after awhile), but I’m going to try to hold on to this feeling of optimism while I can!

I’m also excited at the prospect of selling my paintings. I have more originals on display this year than I have ever had before and I’ve put double effort into making every piece in my display special somehow.  It’s going to be my best display yet!  I’m also trying something new in terms of display by having little descriptive cards next to my centerpieces that talk about what inspired the piece along with a sticker (if I can get it made in time) saying which pieces will be published in Angelic Visions next year.  Will it help my sales?  We shall see! (Full report to come after the show, as always).

By the same token, I’m dreading the fact someone might buy my originals!  I worked very hard on them and have grown so attached.  I want to just keep them squirreled away in a portfolio so I chitter over them and feel proud of myself for having finished something.   BUT I need to learn to let go some time.  That’s just the nature of the business and perhaps I’ll be more encouraged to make even better work to replace any that might sell.

Meanwhile, I could still use some helping hands at the Monster in an Hour panel at 7pm in the art track (Hanover G in the Hyatt) on Saturday, if any of you are interested and will be attending DragonCon! Just comment here or drop me a line. I have a few interested parties and at least 2 confirmed artists, but one can never be too prepared! The more the merrier.

Now, I’ve a last minute costume to make. See you there!

The DragonCon Rush 2010

A quickie post today because I should be matting and not blogging (and we all know how I will find any reason to delay matting things till the last minute).  I also really like making lists.  I’ve got till September 2nd (roughly two weeks), the day of art show setup for DragonCon, to get the following done:

  • Double-mat about 12 things
  • Embellish said mats
  • Find frames for the last of the original paintings that’re going on display (about 3 more to go?)
  • Replenish stock of leather butterfly barrettes, keychains, and necklaces
  • Possibly create a couple more butterfly domino masks (any suggestions on what species I should do next?)
  • Decide whether I want to go Assassin’s Creed or Linsner’s Dawn for a costume theme. I thought I’d have time to do both, but this is doubtful now!  This is purely optional, but oh so much fun!
I’m really looking forward to this year with a bigger and better table display than ever! I’ve learned a lot every time I’ve set up at past cons this year and have so many new fun products to share (including leathercrafts, mini-prints, and all sorts of lovelies).  I think I’m finally beginning to settle into this convention life.

Just when I say that, I’ll probably forget 15 bajillion things I should’ve remembered for the first day.  I’m also looking forward to seeing old friends again. Hee can’t wait till Windfalcon gets to town so I can kidnap her!

So wish me luck! Hopefully I’ll see some familiar faces there! 🙂

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!