This weekend I was a vendor at Jet City Cmic Show in Tacoma, Wa. My space was sponsored by Terra Crux Games, a local game shop. At Terra Crux you can try-before-you-buy a lot of the products (board games and RPG style games,) hang out with your friends and have a brew, and get all your Magic the Gathering, Warhammer (and 40K) needs met, along with pretty much any other kind of game around. The shop is very welcoming to all genders, creeds and skill levels.
But this is not about how awesome Terra Crux is. This is about Jet City Comic Show and my experience there.
FYI, these are my opinions and are should not be reflected on Terra Crux.
What is Jet City Comic Show?
Jet City is a comic show (comic con) that runs for two days, usually at the end of October / early November. It is the last comic oriented conventions of note in the Puget Sound area. You will find a lot of local comic artists showing their comics and other art. You will also find several game stores and (gasp) comic shops selling their wares. This year also had quite a bit of cosplay accessories and services. The LeMay Car Museum also donates a few cars to fit the theme of the show. One year it was the Flintstone Mobile, KIT has been a few times, and this year they also had the car from Supernatural TV show.
What am I basing my review on?
I have been a vendor at a few other shows, (Oddmall, Art on the Ave, and Music and Art in Wright Park) so I still have not figured out all the ins and outs of being a vendor and making decent sales. It has only been six months since I have been trying to make a living off art. I have friends that do these events on a regular basis, so I am taking their wise words into account. The majority of it is based off my interaction with the attendees of the show and my own bottom line.
The Review, Day 1:
Day 1 was pretty good. I made quite a few sales. Strangely none of my "nerd" art sold. All that work and, while appreciated, no one purchased. I did sell a lot of post cards. I feel that those were a great investment, and I will be getting more. I also talked to quite a few people and gave out quite a few business cards.
Business wise Day 1 was not great, but there is still Day 2.
Over all Day 1 was busy and fun. There were lots of attendees in cosplay and they had a lot of energy.
The Review, Day 2:
Day 2 was pretty bad. I made 3 sales, postcards and and some greeting cards, all early in the day. After the first few hours it was evident that there were going to be few sales that day.
There were significantly fewer attendees on Day 2. They did not have the level of energy the Day 1 group had. I did hand out a few cards and was able to talk to a few people, but the interest was not there. People seemed to just want to run in, do a lap, and leave. Hit and run kind of attitudes.
The other vendors were quite upset with the Day 2 turn out. A few packed up quite early, others started working on other projects, and many took the opportunity to leave their booths for extended periods of time to wander around. My booth partners chose to wander the show and explore. I stayed behind, hoping for a random additional sale or fun conversation.
At the end of the event (both days,) my income was about half of what my portion of the booth fee would have been. Even at the other events I have done I at least made the booth fee.
Feelings regarding the Event:
The show is too late in the year. People are conserving money for Christmas and they just spent a lot on Halloween, so there is not much to go around. From what I saw most people spent less than $100 on average, and only $20 to $30 of that was on art. Most were from the hated "print wall" vendor.
I will only do this again if I am sponsored or someone gives me a table.
If I do participate in another comic related event I will create some zines or more comic related art.
What I did Wrong:
There are things I know that I did wrong or not quite right.
1. I need sturdier baskets to hold the postcards and greeting cards. It would be nice to get a matching set to hold my three main products, prints, postcards, and greeting cards. Maybe two more, one for whatever zine I am able to create for the event and one for any small random thing I have at the time.
2. I could not figure out a way to get my sign to hang. So I did not hang it. I had some examples of Warhammer 40K war banners in the back of the booth, where I could have hung the sign. I decided the banners were enough of a draw. I am not sure if it was a good choice or not.
3. Something that I could not control. I have been having bad allergies and I was not able to do my usually fun statement makeup. I am not sure if it makes a difference, but I feel like it does.
I am sure there were a few other things, but those stand out to me as being obvious.
Things I did Right:
Yes, I did some things right!
1. Packed light. I made sure I did not bring a huge amount of stuff. I had a box duffel, a tote bag, the roll of Warhammer banners, and the giant four Skull Experiment poster.
I could have gone smaller, I could have left the tote out and half the banners. But this is supposed to be a larger show, so I wanted to have a few extra things "in case."
2. I talked to people. I did not hide behind my table and just doodle. I stood up and greeted almost everyone that walked past my space.
3. I listened to people and had meaningful conversations. I talked about so much stuff that I am interested in. Not just art, but games, goals, and so much other stuff, but only because I listened and let people talk.
4. Marketing. I made sure I did a few Facebook Live videos and even an Instagram Live video. I did the very best I could to advertise where I was going to be and share the experience with others.
5. I helped when I could and only "put my foot in it" a few times. Even those few times were not so bad that I am obsessing over what I said or did. A huge improvement over how things have gone in my personal past.
I learn from every event and all the people that I interact with and work with. I will take these lessons and improve for the next event.
Visit my Facebook page to see the videos I took!
My booth set up for Day 1. I had a young artist buddy hanging out with me for a while.