I've spent a lot of time behind the table in the Artist Alley, but Anime Weekend Atlanta was the first opportunity in a long time to wander the artist alley purely as a customer. Doing so really opened my eyes to a lot of problems that I hadn't noticed before, which will hopefully help me improve as both an artist and as a seller. I'm taking a break from my blogging hiatus to share these with you. Don't worry, this isn't my AWA review, and I do still plan on writing up an Interventioncon review as well.
I should state before beginning this list that I found AWA to be a fantastic convention, and the Artist Alley was well organized, well curated, and very friendly. All of the artists were talented individuals, and I spent A LOT of money (intentionally!)
Pet Peeves of the Artist Alley
1. Baby voice
Sadly, this has been a staple of anime cons since I started going to them when I was 13. I can make some assumptions as to why adult women think this is cute, but really, it's not. It's grating enough coming from other fans,but it's insanely annoying to have the artist behind the table talk like that. It usually loses you a sale (at least from me).
2. Ignoring customers with MONEY IN HAND WHO WANT TO BUY FROM YOU to converse with potential customers who aren't actually showing an interest in your work, but in your persona.
This usually ties in with the baby voice. I can't stress this enough- Don't assume you've made the sale until you've actually made the sale. As a customer, if I just want to chitchat with an artist I know, I stand aside when new customers come up, so that the artist can make money.
3. Rows upon rows of look alike.
This is really true for people who specialize in 'cute' stuff (myself included!) Being a fan of cute, I tried to buy from ALL of them, as everyone does have their own style, but eventually I just couldn't afford to. Relying on cute can work really well for smaller shows, particularly if you don't like cranking out meaningless fanart prints, but at large shows like AWA, the competition is fierce. There's a lot of girls who really specialize in cute, so you need something special to stand out.
4. The McDonald's Drive-Thru Setup
I think I've ragged on this before, but if I can't even see the artist's face, I'm not going to want to buy from them.
5. Rude Sellers
Doesn't this go without saying?
On the Plus Side
So as not to end on a sour note, I'll list some positives!
1. Down to earth, popular artists.
I've been a fan of Celesse's Sugar Bunny Shop aesthetic for years, and have always sent a con-bunny to pick up her wares when we table at the same cons. I won't lie, I'm pretty shy. This year, her stand was in the dealer's room, and it was as professional as it was adorable. Though she had an assistant helping on one side of the booth, she worked the other, and when not making sales, she was sketching. As an artist, it's so nice to see that the art is a driving force for her and continues even when it isn't making her sales.
2. Well Organized Booths
Although you can't sell to everyone, a little variety is necessary to bring in sales. It can be hard to organize all those wares, especially with the limitations of a 6'x2' table. When artists take the time to do so, however, its much easier as a customer to find what they're looking for.
3. Unique Wares
Heidi and I met Julie Wright (hey, check out her awesome webcomic!) at Interventioncon this year, where she told us about one of her booth's most popular items- popular media driven Pillow Pals. When we actually saw the product at AWA, we were blow away by how cute they really are. Things like this require a lot more planning and financial investment than buttons or charms, and may be a huge risk, but sometimes that risk really pays off. In a crowd full of pins, charms, and prints, Julie's booth offered something unique.