Life As A Con(vention) Artist - Part 1
Want to learn how to be con artist?
A convention artist, that is!
I've been fortunate enough to explore the convention scene in Canada, mostly sticking to comic and pop-culture style conventions but there is an endless list of types out there.
If you play your cards right they can be really quite profitable, not to mention fun!
Let's take a quick jaunt through my convention history.
Several years back, attended a comic convention as an attendee. Was pleasantly surprised to see artists with booths, selling cool and unique artwork. My partner suggested that we should try it, and I resisted for awhile out of fear
A few months out from the convention the following year, the topic came back up. Decided that it was worth a shot, and purchased a singular table
Pushed my introverted self out of my comfort zone for a weekend, and completed Convention #1. I've since blocked our atrocious set-up from my memory (it was that bad - I don't even want to talk about it), but the broke university students that we were at the time were blown away by the influx of cash. Super exciting!
The following year we exhibited again, but this time with a much less cringe-worth display. Great profit, we now were fully captivated by the Convention bug!
Decided that conventions were the perfect way for us to travel the country, so we started applying to exhibit in other shows around the country. Ended up traveling to Montreal (now my favorite city, period), Calgary (completed the 14+ hour road trip in one day, swore off that drive for the remainder of my life) and Toronto, in addition to our local shows here in Winnipeg
Rinse and repeat for a few years
If there is one thing that I have learned about conventions, its that they are fluid and ever-changing, and no two shows are quite alike. One particular design or style will sell incredibly well at one show, and might do terribly at the next show, or even the same show in a different year.
Its been a fantastic journey, but by no means an easy one. There is a steep learning curve to being a con(vention) artist, so I'd like to spread whatever tidbits of info I have to others who are interested in the field.
5 Tips for Being a Con(vention) Artist
These are in no particular order, and will likely be followed up in the future with more tips!
1. Stay fed and watered
Conventions are exhausting, there is no way around it. Long days, high energy, often travel, and if you are an introvert like me, tons of human interaction. Its difficult to be a good salesperson when you are hangry as a starved bear, so keep a ton of snacks on hand! I always reach for healthy snacks like cut fruit and veggies, granola bars, smoothies, trail mix or nuts. Water can sometimes be hard to find at conventions, so come prepared with filled water bottles from home or go buy a cheap pack of water bottles (we've gone through a 12 pack of water in a weekend on many occasions).
2. Large banners are your friend
We used to spend hours setting up our booth, wasting most of the time perfecting our backdrop. We used to fiddle around with attaching small prints to a drop sheet with magnets, wasting hours of our time and energy. We have since upgraded to large banners (printed from sites like Vistaprint or RedBubble) and they have made our booth set-up a complete breeze. Not to mention they look incredible!
3. Friendly Greetings
Greet browsers with a simple "hello" and "let me know if you have any questions", then back off (unless its clear they would like to continue the conversation). Most people dislike being badgered about sales (car salesman, anyone?), so give them some space. By asking them to reach out to you about questions, it lets them take the next step when they are ready.
Extra tip: your art is not for everyone, and by accepting this you will make the experience much easier on yourself. If someone leaves the table, a simple "thanks" or "take care" will leave a positive impression on them.
4. Ergonomic mats will save your feet.
Need I say more?
(Yoga mats work in a pinch, better than nothing!)
5. Technology is all around us, use it!
Thanks to devices like Square, us artists are now able to compete with brick-and-mortar shops with the ability to accept credit and now debit! Not only does this make impulse buys easier, you won't have to worry as much about keeping as much change on you. Plus the analytics are super helpful!
Navigating the waters of exhibiting at conventions can be tricky, so hopefully this has shed a little light on the topic!
Any burning questions or concerns that you'd like to run by me? Shoot me an email and I'd be happy to discuss or give advice!
Thanks, and stay magical!
Want to know the materials I use to create my paintings?
Mediums and other liquids
Winsor & Newton Liquin Original - https://amzn.to/2GmK87N
Mona Lisa Linseed Oil - https://amzn.to/2Tmh1F4
Mona Lisa Odorless Paint Thinner - https://amzn.to/2SfH0kk
Gamblin Gamvar - https://amzn.to/2D2IlRW
Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Size Adhesive - https://amzn.to/2GfEeVH
Gold Leaf (Imitation) - https://amzn.to/2GeWAWZ
Gold Leaf (Genuine) - https://amzn.to/2t1Hlst
Liquitex White Gesso - https://amzn.to/2MM0gAy
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Danielle Trudeau creates paintings that walk the line between dreams and reality, infusing magic into every day life.
Wildlife often graces her canvases, brought to life with a spark of magic and oil paint.