Thursday, July 19, 2018

Advice For Tabling At Nashville Conventions

A Caveat:  There's a plethora of convention opportunities in the Greater Nashville area.  I haven't tabled at any of the horror or sci-fi conventions, nor am I eligible to table with TACA given the nature of my work (comics are not considered fine art in Nashville).  I also have not shown in any of the competitions, as none accept comic art as a submission.  So there may be opportunities available to you that are closed to me.

I moved to Nashville in 2013, after graduating from SCAD.  I was eager to begin my professional life and felt like Nashville had a lot to offer.  Although Nashville was not a place of opportunity for me or my art, many of the shows in the Nashville area proved otherwise.  During my time in Nashville, I have found the attendees of most shows to be friendly, warm, chatty, and very interested in the comics I have to offer.  It's exciting to engage an audience who are open to what you have to offer and seem to believe in the work you're doing, and are eager to learn more about the process.  I have done shows all over the country, from San Jose to New Orleans, but feel that the attendees of the anime cons in Nashville are the most excited about my work.

I am a co founder of the convention resource How to be a Con Artist and frequently share con recaps to my Youtube channel.

Who am I?



A kidlit/YA comic artist with a manga-influenced style.  I work in bright colors both digitally and in traditional media.  My table has some fanart but is also full of original art, original designs, comics, and minicomics.  I am very involved in the local convention scene, and have produced several workshops and panels for the greater Nashville area.  I am energetic, engaging, and love talking about comics with anyone interested.


My tables are attractive, inviting, and designed to provide a pleasant experience.  I describe my table as 'happy picnic'.  I utilize bright, happy greens, eyelit lace, handmade elements, and lots of pastels.  I also use lights to help draw the eye.



My table uses wire mesh grids, S hooks, photo frames, and magnets to display original art.  My signs have been designed to not only display prices but serve as a bit of promotion for my comic, 7" Kara.  I have various organizers on the table, from file holders (to hold finished commissions) to pie plates and small shelves, and I try to keep the table as hands-on as possible.   I utilize organized zones to make content easier to parse.

Conventions I Have Tabled At (Nashville area):
MTAC (anime)
GMX (geeky media)
Akaicon (anime)
Free Comic Book Day (comics)
Cherry Blossom Festival (family event, outdoor)
Handmade and Bound (books and bookmaking)
Firefly Artisan Fair (outdoor, craft fair)
Taigacon (anime)
Nashville Comic And Toy Day (geeky media)
Putnam County Library Con (comics)
Imaginacon (Gallatin) (comics)

Note:  Nashville does not have a coherent comic-making scene so solidarity and support can be hard to find at times.  I also refuse to do Wizard-run comic shows.

At all of these shows save for Taigacon, the attendees were upbeat, excited to be there, and eager to engage with the work I produced.  I tend to give away a lot of business and postcards as well as promotional stickers for my webcomics, and free copies of Pickin' N Peelin, a short minicomic.  The response at-con is great, but the follow up is generally pretty terrible, even from people who purchased mail in commissions.  I find this to be about the same for shows across the country.

How Do I Find Out About Local Cons?

Convention Scene
Talking to Other Artists- Ask what shows they've got lined up, make friends, and then ask what shows they would recommend
Talking to Patrons at Shows- kids, teens, and parents generally have some idea of other shows happening.  Talking to librarians and teachers, and expressing an interest in workshops has opened up doors to further small conventions
How to be a Con Artist- This isn't where I find out about shows, but I do share my con recaps there, if you're interested in learning more about a particular Nashville area show.

If you're in the Nashville area, you should check out my Youtube channel- I post con recaps for all the shows I attend, including local cons, where I discuss demographics, what sells, and what the artist alley looks like.

Who is my Demographic?
Online: 18-34 year old women, by an overwhelming margin (but this reflects the blog, my Twitter, and my Youtube channel, rather than the comics I make)
At Cons:
Anime Cons: Primarily teenage girls, although a lot of younger boys enjoy my comic as well.
Library Cons:  Primarily parents with younger kids.

Where Do I Find Them?
I find much of my audience at anime conventions such as MTAC or Akaicon, as well as at the Cherry Blossom Festival.  I've had some success at Handmade and Bound, although that can be hit or miss, as that show is primarily bookbinders.  I've had a fair amount of success selling books at library shows such as Imaginacon (Gallatin) and the Putnam County Library's convention.

What Do I Sell/What Sells for Me?
7" Kara (all ages friendly watercolor comic book)
Minicomics (all ages friendly, themed)
Laser cute wooden charms
Handpainted wooden charms
Stickers
Miniprints (original art and fanart)
Original art (watercolor and alcohol marker)
Commissions

By far, my biggest seller in Nashville is commissions.  I find Nashville to be an avid art community that is underserved by government art projects or public school art classes.   Copies of 7" Kara, as well as wooden charms, sell well too. 

What Works?
Be friendly and approachable- Nashvillians love to chat
Design your table the way you would design your art- make sure your books are up and visible, utilize clear, attractive signage, and sell more than just books!  A variety of products appeal to the Nashville area
It takes awhile to build a fanbase, so do several shows in this area, and try to consistently
If you're tabling at MTAC, do your research!  Many of the artists in that alley have tabled at numerous shows, and know how to catch the audience's attention.  Design your table to go up, rather than just a flat tablespace.

Con Recaps: 

Handmade and Bound 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgk88L_AAXI

MTAC 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXH4nAxtWok
MTAC 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcwBzAlsk4s

Free Comic Book Day 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTz2XV-JUno&list=PL_pXBtCqjKy8TmSnznUAgSPluqBQxIulk&index=7

Cherry Blossom Festival 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzoGgerJoMM&t=2s
Cherry Blossom Festival 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdLcK49xqZk&t=338s

PCL CCAF 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsVqsDPbjMI&t=19s
Imaginacon 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JjKMO5rvKw&list=PL_pXBtCqjKy8TmSnznUAgSPluqBQxIulk&index=23

Firefly Artisan Fair 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n3gjZSk_mY