wild-eyed girl from freecloud (sunhawk) wrote in artists_beware,
wild-eyed girl from freecloud

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Con Craziness in Artists' Alley

Heyla, this would be my first entry post to this comm and this isn't your typical report of bad commissioner, I was actually thinking back today on my experiences at various conventions and things i've come across while in the Artists Alley and I was thinking - maybe it would be good to toss around some suggestions and/or warnings to keep in mind for those who are new to having a table at a convention. If you have any stories or suggestions to add to mine, please do! I am always looking for solutions to problems :)

1. People stealing from the table

I'm always a little stunned at some of the stories i've heard from my friends at their own AA tables. The best one is probably from a friend who makes ceramic dragons and other critters in varying sizes (from one inch tall to more than a foot tall and all sizes in between). One con we had a table side-by-side and even so, i still missed this incident until after it happened. Apparently, a group of about four guys tried to distract her/ block her view while their other friend grabbed one of the larger dragons from the end of the table and just walked away with it. Luckily she saw it happen and chased him down, got it back without a fight or damage! Sadly, people also like to pocket the wee little dragons, which is why she ended up getting a second-hand windowed case to put them in.

So it's a good idea to not leave your stuff on your table in a way that would make it easy for someone to just walk off with something, even if it's right in front of you. I've mostly done 1" button making in past conventions and our way around this problem was to not put out actual finished buttons but instead put out the paper strips we made the buttons from, which people could pick up and look at (and give to us if they wanted a button of that design, which we would make up on the spot) but would be pretty dumb to steal since they aren't stickers, they are just printed on photopaper. I remember people coming back to the table with a paper they had "accidently" taken after they confirmed with me that nope, they aren't stickers!

It's a bit of a juggling act to figure out how to let people see what you are selling without making it easy to pocket but doing things like using display books or putting things under clear plastic can definitely help.

2. People asking for a deal / free art / some zany trade

I've had people offer to dance for buttons, try to give me twelve cents for one $2 button, come by at the end of the con and beg for free buttons because "you can get rid of them, the con's over!", offer me Pocky for a button or ask me to take 50 cents off the button's price. Obviously, for some people there is some confusion between AA and the Dealer's/Merchandise room *LOL* The solution to that is pretty easy to guess: Be polite and stick to your guns unless they are offering to buy a truckload of something and want a little discount. If they like your stuff enough to buy that much of it, it's good to reward a little fangirl/boy behavior plus they'll probably come back to your table at the next con.

3. People wanting to get their own table and do the same thing you are doing

This is more of a grey area and comes in many forms. For me, it was the people coming up to our button table asking with studied casualness "Sooo... how much does a button maker cost?" and then it becomes awkward. I'm not a fan of telling people what to make/not make or trying to suggest that there can be only one of a certain kind of artwork at any con but it's also a huge pain in the ass to try to be nice and helpful and then at the next con, you find three other tables selling buttons and one in particular is selling direct rip-offs of your work *sigh* And it did make a difference in our sales after that point, so it wasn't just a "hey that's MY idea!" kind of situation *chuckle* But after that, i've tried to be helpful when possible but there's a point when i won't share the specifics of certain things because it's almost become a "trade secret" for me LOL I'd like to think it's possible to share ideas about some things but also respect your own struggles with perfecting something and not being eager to let someone else benefit from your own hard work. In an ideal world, we could freely share information AND also make money at cons, the reality is that there are some people out there so determined to have a table and be successful that they have no problem stealing your ideas if they think they can get away with it. I know this is a touchy subject with a number of people

Any thoughts? ^_^


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