Last year, Heidi Black and I made the trip down to Birmingham, AL, for our first Kamicon. It was a great weekend- lots of sales, plenty of commissions, and entertaining people to chat with, so when Alex Hoffman asked if I'd return, I started making plans to book a table. Last year, I made about $900 at Kamicon, and given the success of shows like MTAC and Mechacon, I had high hopes that I had a formula for success, and hoped to break $1k at Kami.
Of course, to be successful, you need to prepare, and Mechacon 2015 left me low on stock. I spent my time before Kamicon painting new mini watercolors (with improved techniques I hoped would wow the crowds), assembling endless Sassy Buttons, and recreating some of Mechacon's top sellers.
Pre Con Prep
Kamicon Announcement Post
New Stock for Kamicon
New Mini Watercolors
New Prints and Buttons
New Various Cute Things
Pre Show Planning Prep
There's a tutorial video in the works for how to do demo tables and how to pack for cons, so keep an eye out on my YouTube channel!
Producing all these goodies meant I had to PROMOTE them as well, so I made sure to share them to Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram using the #Kamicon hashtag so people would see them. If you guys aren't already following my work on one of those services, you really ought to- I share good stuff constantly!
Check in was easy- I went straight to the AA staff table in the back of the Artist Alley to register and pick up my badges. My table was an easy stroll from there, and I worked on getting the cages assembled while Joseph made trips back to my Jetta for supplies. The fact that we arrived early, and had til 4PM until the alley opened to attendees, made setup leisurely. We even had time for a nice lunch, which meant we didn't have to start selling on rumbly tumblies.
Friday was fairly brisk, although the shorter hours meant shorter sales, and I had moderately high hopes for my weekend sales. Saturdays are usually the big day for sales, but if a Friday is good, that usually means the Saturday is going to be great.
I arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed on Saturday morning, ready to make some sales.
My 6' table looks pretty cluttered in the below image, as my anime convention persona tries to straddle two worlds- anime kid interests and comic reader interests. My goal is always to merge the two, and that requires having comics and minis on the table top, regardless of how well they sell.
The true highlight of Saturday (and all of Kamicon) was the chance to meet Omi (Tennin House, FullMetalOmi) in person. I've followed her amazing work for years, and have chatted with her a few times via Twitter, and I was delighted to find out that she's even nicer in person. If you guys aren't familiar with her work, please take a moment to feast your eyes on her beautiful art, and this Kara piece she drew for my birthday this year.
|Every time I look at it, it is the cutest thing in the world. Here's the source.|
Saturday sales were fairly slow compared to usual Saturday at-con sales, and I ended up hanging out at Omi's table, talking shop, for a couple hours while Joseph and Alex manned mine.
Sunday was slo-ooooowwww. I spent time luxuriating in the sunlight of the loading dock, eating Mexican food away from the table, working on personal illustrations to help promote future commission sales, and commissioning other artists. Slow days like Sunday are a perfect opportunity for artists not to leave early, but to take a moment to go around the alley, chat up other artists, and spend some money. So many alley artists complain that they don't have friends to share transportation or hotel rooms with- my solution has been to make time (when possible) to go around, spend some money, and chat up other artists. It doesn't always work, but the dividends have definitely been worth the effort, as some of my best friends in Nashville are convention artists I've met this way.
At Con Commissions
Mail In Commissions
|Kara commission by Katherine Akers|
|Kara commission by Anii P|
|Kara commission by Sabrina Abrego|
Sales were also slow enough that Joseph was able to collect a few at-con artist interviews, which I recommend you guys check out
Kris Brannock and Anii P
Sabrina Abrego and Joseph Whitt
Used with permission, photos taken with permission
Artist Alley and Dealer's Room at setup
Vendor/Artist Space taken up by vehicles
Line between dealer and artist was sometimes nebulous.
Vendor spaces were separated with red curtains
Main registration area
Artists (photos taken with permission)
In the end, I did not break my $1k goal for Kamicon.
Kamicon is a good convention- the staff is kind, friendly, and attentive, and checked in with me often. The real issue is that the audience has the unfortunate tendency to cycle out every three years- this year, I found myself selling mainly to 13 year olds again, which meant that even though sales were steady, I never made larger sales. I've written before about 'rabbit starvation' and although I've taken steps to end that issue with my business, I'm really reliant on older customers, repeat customers, or parents who are willing to spend significant money on higher grade products, and Kamicon 2016 could not offer that.
Next year, I may take my friend and fellow con artist, Amber Kelso (Cute Loot)'s advice, and do Lexington Comic Con instead, especially if Kami and Lexington overlap as they did this year. The drive is about the same, and I'd have another artist to split costs with, and that always makes a difference.
Should you do Kamicon? If it's local to you- definitely! If not- that's really up to you, your goals, and your audience. I always recommend cultivating an audience in a particular area, so if you plan on attending for the long haul, Kamicon might be the right con for you.