DragonCon Diary 09: The Aftermath

Diary Entries Thus Far:
Dragon Con Diary 09: Pre-Con Prep
Dragon Con Diary 09: To Charge or Not to Charge?
Dragon Con Diary 09: The Rush Begins
Dragon Con Diary 09: The Calm Before the Storm
Dragon Con Diary 09: Matting Madness!
Dragon Con Diary 09: The Aftermath
Dragon Con Diary 09: Video & Photo Stream

It seems I have survived my first Dragon Con as a vendor! This convention never ceases to amaze me with its enthusiastic fans, wonderful costumery, and sheer size. Statistics say that over 30,000 people venture to this convention, a number which grows every year! As for being a business venture, I have mixed feelings.

The Good

I can’t describe how heartwarming it was to meet so many people I haven’t seen in so many years! Many old college friends stopped by my table to express how happy they were to see a colleague of theirs succeed, and even bought items to show their support. I also had more fun sitting and chatting at my table with con-goers and other artists than I’ve had in years past rushing to panels, standing in mind-numbingly long lines, and otherwise running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It was so nice to just sit and talk, which I find also helps you sell your work. All in all, I must have given out over 500 of the business cards I purchased in bulk from vistaprints. I even met a couple of artists and professionals who seemed very interested in commissioning work or collaborating on future ventures. I am hoping this bodes well for my future!

The Bad

The strained economy really showed this year at the art show. Barely any pieces went to voice auction and many things did not get bid up as much as they had last year. For instance, the community art canvas where all the artists get together and draw on a huge canvas to be auctioned for charity sold for $400 last year, while this year it went for half that much. By the same token, many folks seemed to be buying at Quick Sale prices just to be sure that their item wasn’t bid up, which can be advantageous for artists.

I personally did not sell exceedingly well in my gallery panel, and yet, I had so many folks buy directly from my artist’s table where they could talk to me and be persuaded to purchase something. Unfortunately, my table items were small and did not equal the amount of profit I would’ve gotten if more expensive original art had sold. This means I’ll either have to raise prices on small stuff, lower prices on originals, come up with higher priced items for the table, OR lower my convention expenses so I can break even more easily.

The Ugly

I operated at a loss this time around thanks to some bad decisions on my part. The cost of food, a hotel room, and parking really ate into profits and I am considering driving in next year (as I am only 30-45 minutes away from the con). After going for 5 years as a non-vendor, I really have no interest in the night life and was far too exhausted after a day of peddling my wares that I really have no interest in staying at the hotel during this convention to party anymore.

I caught one concert that I enjoyed and had much fun chilling with my artist hotel roomies, but all in all, it was exhausting to try and combine vacation time with trying to sell things. With the art show hours ranging from 10am to 8pm, it was murder to stay up late and get up early for 3 days in a row after already pulling all-nighters just to get things prepped in time to stock the table, the gallery panel, AND the print shop. I just don’t have the energy to do it all anymore (oy makes me feel old saying that!).

Things I Learned:

  • GET A CREDIT CARD PROCESSOR! Many people moved on once they learned I only took cash. I suspect my sales would have been very much higher with a processor. I saw folks using their phones to process things. I may have to try that!
  • Bring your own food! It’s never priced reasonably at the hotels. We asked for a fridge, but it was never brought to us and therefore we had to subsist on overpriced sustenance.
  • People like small things that are not just flat art! I had many folks say they are avid collectors with walls too full with art and closets overflowing with art they have no room to hang anything anymore. My best selling item, hands down, were my art tile pendants. I even had requests for post cards as well. Seems to be a trend towards art they can use.
  • People want to talk to the artist. If they can connect with you on a personal level, they are more apt to buy your stuff.
  • Don’t put a business card in each print package. People buying multiple prints end up with multiple cards when it’s much easier (and cheaper) to simply use a mailing label with your info on it for each print instead.
  • Ugly pegboard can be covered with a variety of creative material! I saw people using canvas cloth with velcro so they could easily attach it to the boards. I used silver velvet which isn’t slippery, but still resilient enough to allow me to poke through it without damaging the cloth overmuch. It greatly improved the look of my panel.

    In the end, it was a sobering and enlightening convention. As with every year, I’ve left the art show feeling inspired to really pull out my big guns and do all I can to improve myself and my work.

    Till next time, Dragon Con! I will miss you and your $4 hamburgers:)

    Stay tuned for some picture and video spam from the con. It should all be processed and uploaded by the end of the week!

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