MTAC (Middle Tennessee Anime Convention) is generally a 10 minute drive from my apartment in Nashville, so it's imperative that I table at it every year I can. This year was a little nerve wracking, as MTAC is portfolio+first come first serve, and the MTAC site had a few issues with their artist applications. Fortunately, I was able to apply almost as soon as the deadline hit, and able to secure my table payment as soon as I received notice of acceptance.
You can check out some of my past experiences with MTAC through the links below.
MTAC 2015 Recap
MTAC 2014 Recap
The Alley Layout
Since we were allowed a Thursday night setup, I didn't bother to do a demo table, as I knew I'd have all the time I needed.
Our tables were a generous 8', which can ALWAYS be utilized by me, but took a little figuring out, as I'm used to 6'. Fortunately, I brought enough gridwall to add some wings to my display, creating a couple mini galleries for non-anime originals.
Friday I manned the table alone, and despite having a raging migraine, I managed to do pretty decent sales. So decent in fact, that I was nervous looking at my numbers, because they were a little TOO good. Joseph managed to relieve me at 5PM, and after the con closed, we went out for dinner with a large group of con friends. Unfortunately, as soon as I got home, I had to hit the ground running on commissions and making more sassy buttons and ribbons, so Friday was a late night.
MTAC's parking situation this year could best be described as 'unfortunate'. The hotel refused to allow non-hotel guests to park, and would not sell MTAC spaces, which meant attendees needed to find parking on elsewhere. MTAC recommended the Parking Spot, which included a shuttle service, but this added time and money to the attendees experience. Fortunately for me, I had someone who could drop me off and park the car (or take it with them) on all three days, so this wasn't an issue for me personally, but it's certainly something to consider.
As soon as I arrived on Saturday (which was before alley hours, but only just barely), the crowd was already thick, with people milling about the artist alley. we had been warned that this might happen, as the artist alley was not in a locked room, I was just surprised by how many people were already there before 9 on a Saturday.
Saturday sales were bonkers busy, and I barely had time to catch my breath. Thankfully, Joseph was there to help me handle sales, make sure I had time to eat, and give me the chance to take bathroom breaks. He parked my Jetta in the open parking lot across from the MTAC hotel, as the business it belonged to is closed on the weekends.
Saturday night ended with another tasty and fun group dinner, and burning the midnight oil on commissions and ribbons.
Although not as busy as Saturday or Friday, Sunday was definitely still quite lively. So lively that any time I was at the table, I'd become swamped with sales, so I took my commission over to a friend's table, and chatted with her while she made sales. When I finished my backlog, I returned to the table to make sales and take mail in commission orders.
All photos are used with permission
Breaking down on Sunday afternoon
At Con Commissions
Mail In Commissions
Artist/ AA Head Interviews
We were so slammed at MTAC that we weren't able to get any artist interviews while at the con, but Heather Crook, the director of MTAC's AA, was kind enough to give us twenty minutes after breakdown on Sunday. This interview is absolutely perfect if you want to apply to MTAC, as she goes into detail as to what they're looking for, and it's great for ANY artist who is interested in tabling at shows.
AA Head Interview with Heather Crook
MTAC is one of my best shows, and this year did not disappoint, as I made just a little over $1.8k. Of course, sales like that take A LOT of work, and I was fortunate enough that copies of 7" Kara sold quite well (as well as they did at their first MoCCA-fest, three years ago). Other big sellers included my Sassy Buttons, and hand assembled ribbons, both of which take a lot of time to make, but don't sell for much.
MTAC has been a good convention to me over the past three years. It doesn't hurt that I live in Nashville, and stay in contact with much of the community, and many of the other artists. It also doesn't hurt that I can eat two of my daily meals at home, or that I can stay at my own apartment and crank out stock should I run out. Least of all, it doesn't hurt that the community is fantastic and enthusiastic, and that the show attracts people from all over.
That said, MTAC may not be for everyone. The alley is very small, and while it's not entirely first come first serve, there is an element of FCFS to the application process that may frustrate some artists. There's also an element of portfolio- because the alley is small, curation is important to ensure the best mix for customers. Lastly, MTAC has a few heavy hitter artists who have worked hard to make MTAC work for them, relying heavily on repeat customers, and customers who bring their friends around.
What really makes MTAC so great is the fact so many of my friends attend as artists and as audience. MTAC is a lot of fun for me, and I love catching up with people I don't see all year.