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Fantasy and comicon conventions advice wanted

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everett1313's picture
Joined: 06/17/2008

I recently started exhibiting at conventions. I have been realizing that the patrons are not very interested in "fine art" but rather would have a smaller, simpler composition of something they recognize and like. Since I'm new to conventions, I wondered who has experience with sales of artwork at conventions. Any advice?

Here's what I think I learned...

  1. Keep the composition simple
  2. Use only enough fine detail to flesh out the image, dont make it too busy
  3. Make a "ready to go" product, like using simple precut matts and art bags
  4. Make your pricepoint more than resonable
  5. Bring a helper
  6. Selection, selection,selection

Any input?

Edited by everett1313 on 07/10/2013 - 15:46
skarbog's picture
Joined: 08/15/2006

I think you covered the most important things there!
My experience with these kind of exhibits is that people often do not want to buy originals (they intend to email you about that later etc ), but cards and prints are very popular.

everett1313's picture
Joined: 06/17/2008

Ok, I posted this on Linkedin, with no feedback yet. Im so new to the convention circuit, it is very expensive to have a vendor booth and I want to do everything I can to make this worthwhile. Success is not an absolute need but I would like to be moving in the right direction. Any input would be very appreciated!

While everyone is going to SDCC, I am at work producing artwork for El Paso Comicon
El Paso Comicon is coming up at the end of September. This will only be my second convention I am exhibiting my work. A question for the veterans.....What kind of work is most successful at a comicon in way of artwork or illustration? Here is what I have and what I am considering.

I have a figurative fantasy portfolio, consisting of museum grade limited edition prints. No one was interested in the work beyond admiration( no sales of those pieces ) and I realized it was my prices which reflect the investment in them. I wanted to provide high quality products. Is this a mistake at conventions?

I am considering a few things.....

I have 75% of a graphic novel/comic book series written. Should I focus on creating issue #1 for the con?

I WAS going to make a portfolio of beasts and monsters for the next phase of my portfolio. If I did, what kinds of creatures are most coveted? Vampires, werewolves,dragons,fairies trolls,nymphs,elves, unicorns? Any noticeable gravitation by patrons toward any of those or something else?

EPCON's guests include many many cast members from "The Walking Dead". Should I create Zombie and Undead images?

SWAG...Keychains and other little do-dads printed with images of my work?


Any other suggestions? I realize I need more art which is single subject and more of a simplistic environment rather than making every piece a masterpiece. I need inexpensive, 8x12 and 11x14 posters I can market for 10$ or less.

All feedback would be appreciate, please feel free to relay your experiences or contact me directly. Thanks!

everett1313's picture
Joined: 06/17/2008

Thanks Skarbog! My prints are museum quality with UV coatings and limited editions of 100. I got so much positive feedback and even donated #1 of "AMRITA" in my galley to benefit child literacy. BUT I didnt sell any other than some posters of my concept artwork from Starwars: KOTOR III. I believe people are more interested in inexpensive lower quality prints/posters around the size of 8x11 or 11x14. At least that is my experience from my first Con.

laurapelick's picture
Joined: 08/06/2013

Since I'm on my way to GenCon for the 8th time, and did a ComicCon in Kansas city, as well as gallery shows, and outside fairs:

1. Simple comp - this depends on YOUR style. Mine does not lend to simple. Complicated stuff sells well, doodles sell well, it all depends on the buyer.

2. Use only enough fine detail - again, depends on your style. And again, depends on the taste of the buyer.

3. Make a "ready to go" product - yup! People will also buy unmatted prints as well, I sell both. The matted stuff is new for me, never had a problem selling prints OR originals without. The bigger paintings come framed (anything over $150 I frame)

4. Make your pricepoint more than reasonable - Prints for me range between $5-60. The 4x6s I even do a "buy 3 get 1 free". Matted are 5 more than unmatted, but I only mat 8x10s in 11x14. I also sell watercolor paper prints for more than the photographic. Some people like the textured look but don't have enough for originals. For originals, small range from 20-100. I have a few that are between $500-2,000. I have sold at this price at GenCon. I find the sweet spot for originals for people looking to buy an original is $150-400

5. Bring a helper - if you want to eat, bring your husband, wife, sister, brother, best friend. TRAIN THEM TO SELL YOUR ART! My husband tends to rake in cash for me at GenCon if I want to go demo a game, or show an art director my portfolio

6. Selection, selection,selection - At GenCon, people bring money to buy originals or have a budget for only a print. I sell both equally well. At the Kansas City ComiCon, I only sold one original, but the other 1,000 I made was ALL prints. 8x10's the best seller, 11x14/12x18 is the next good seller. I bring a few little things like buttons and bookmarks for kids that only have a few dollars. At art fairs, I sold a lot of tiny originals, and a lot of prints.

Now to add:
Make a banner with your name, website.

Have a sign up sheet for a mailing list if you have one.

Be sure to have business cards with your name and website. Make sure your website is up to date - people will jump on and join your facebook page within the first few days during/after the show. This is the best place to get commissions afterwards.

Take all the business cards from people that offer them to you, and be very wary of people trying to sell you print services, book deals, etc. Most of the time, they don't contact you.

Have commission information ready, only offer commissions for the show if you KNOW you can finish them off. I will not accept commissions if they want it done by the end of the show. I'm there to sell my art, not bury my head in a sketchbook.
If you want to get some jobs as well, bring a binder of 8x10 prints with you to show clients. You can carry it with you to authors that are there, art directors, etc. The goal is to sell at the show, but to pick up clients afterwards, that way you have more OOMPH behind your name:)
Be nice to everyone that asks you a question. I gladly tell art students how I do my watercolors or stain paper with tea. They will not steal your ideas, they're just curious and might be struggling with how the medium. I bring two of my sketchbooks too, specially of newer works, to show how I came up with an idea. The more you talk to people, the more likely they'll be interested in you and buy something.

laurapelick's picture
Joined: 08/06/2013

And my husband still drums it into my head after doing this for so long

Laughing out loud

Repeat that over, and over and over.

laurapelick's picture
Joined: 08/06/2013

Also, be careful of fan art.

A lot of companies will fine you for selling their characters.

GenCon will ban you if you take cash at the table (they have registers), and sell fan art in the art gallery section.

Art at its best.