» BronyCon: The Artist’s Perspective

Setting Up

Vendors were due in at eight AM on Saturday to set up, and since I couldn’t be at the show on Friday, I had to set up on Saturday. BronyCon provided a table (for the cool cost of $35) and I got to work laying out my buttons, prints, and banner. I had a handful of big prints as well as my supply of small prints to sell. This didn’t take very long, and I wound up waiting and listening to some tunes before the doors opened up to the mass of people waiting outside.

My table neighbor was tsitra360, a fellow artist, and a really fun guy. We got to chat a bit during the two days, and we took care of each other. You should always mind your table neighbor, because artists have to look out for each other, especially when things get busy. Sharing sticky notes can turn into something big, and helping each other out is never a bad thing to do.

Art Table

Buy My Stuff! Buy My Stuff!

Even though my table was prepared, I wasn’t really prepared. I was still wondering just how many people would be coming by to say hi and buy art, and just how to get things going on the right foot. Before I knew it, a huge crowd streamed by my table. I was located in a row right in front of the entrance, and traffic was high. Before long, people started stopping by and the prints and buttons were snapped up. The really big posters sold out within an hour, and I clearly underestimated their popularity, even though they cost double the amount of a little print. Most often, people would buy a print and a set of buttons together for a discount, and lots of people left happy.

I met people of all types and walks of life. BronyCon was full of so many different people, and it felt like any other convention I had been to, like San Diego Comic Con, or PAX East. Some were kids, some were old, some were shy, others bold. A common theme was how friendly and nice people were, and I received many compliments on my work. Several people stopped by and thanked me for making my color guides, which was a real shot of happiness. It’s those little things that really matter when you’re an artist, and I appreciated every friendly comments and conversation.

A real highlight of the time I manned the table was when Andrea Libman visited. She was the only guest of honor that stopped by and chatted with me, and I was very appreciative of it. Her praise for my Smile poster was the highlight of the con for me. The guests were very busy between panels and signings, and any stops at all were welcome.

Of course, not all of the time was fun—I had to work. If you really want to sell things, you can’t sit back in your chair and wait for people to buy. You’ve got to be active and talk to people and look like you’re into it. Enthusiasm can be hard to keep up during a con, especially when you start losing your voice from talking and yelling, but I powered through it. I spent a lot of time bagging buttons into sets, and thanks to my chief executive lackey, Snakeinabox, I had a much easier time doing that. Several members of our group also helped out, like Electric_Pony, Octavia, BartonFink, and others took turns watching the table with me. Having someone to help DOES make a difference, and if you have a friend it will help pass the time. Make sure to make it worth their while, though!

Even when the con was disrupted by a light fixture catching fire, it was handled pretty well despite the mass of people who had to be moved out in short order. I boxed up my prints (just in case the sprinklers turned on) and made it out post-haste. Vendors were let back in first, and the table hours were extended, so we did not miss out on much at all. Though the crew running BronyCon are still new, they handled the emergency pretty well, all things considered.

I believe I was very fortunate to have my table located where it was. Situated at a corner at the end of a row, it was the perfect spot. In addition, the row I was assigned was also the first row in from the entrance, which means people were always streaming through. At the busiest times on Saturday, the crowds were so thick that people could hardly walk by. I wound up taking my banner from the front of the table and putting it up behind me so people could see. Next time, I’m bringing two banners.

As the two days went on, my supply of posters and pins dwindled. Even though I was not a popular artist at the con, I still had a brisk business. The minutes blurred into hours, and I lost track of time quickly. Tearing down on Sunday felt a little surreal—was this over already? I mulled over the weekend on my train ride back to Boston, thinking about how I could improve, and maybe how they could improve as well.

Continued on page three…

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  1. Hey! I remember you from the con, even if we didn’t really talk!

    Great article. I always enjoy reading and hearing different perspectives on things I’ve participated in in some fashion. I’m glad you learned from this experience, but I suppose it would be difficult not to, no? :)

    You probably don’t remember me, but I was a tall-ish (6’3″) Caucasian guy with dark hair, usually having a Nikon DSLR camera hanging from his neck, and always accompanied by his “Asian-looking” girlfriend (usually holding hands or joining arms), and we were wearing Applejack and Apple Family buttons. We checked out every single vendor… six times? Probably more than that! Anyway, I almost filled my entire lanyard strap with those buttons!

    I really liked your stuff, and I remembered them from seeing them in your dA gallery, but I wasn’t really looking for those kinds of designs. This is the first con my girlfriend or I have either attended in person, and the dizzying (in a good way!) effect it had on us, among other things, made it a bit tough to strike much conversation with many vendors.

    As for Tsitra360, I picked up one of his many business cards. I’ve loved a good bit of his prints for quite a while now, but couldn’t justify too much out of a certain price point, so I had to let it go.

    I wish we spent more time trying to actually talk with you artists, because I was having little “fangasms” inside when coming up to your booths, but I also didn’t want to disrupt the flow of traffic too much or keep you from customers. Next time, maybe!

    Anyway, thanks for this writeup! I enjoyed reading your perspective… and thanks for that colour guide! I first heard about it on your interview in that episode of the Bronyville Podcast — my favourite podcast — and made some use of it after. I remember shouting out “YES!” when you brought up those points about night palettes on that episode.

    Best wishes! :D

    – Graem and Patricia

    • I think I remember you guys, thanks for stopping by. I remember the handholding, you guys are a cute couple. ;)

  2. Hi there neighbor. Nice article, I basically had the exact same success and struggles too haha. Yeah if you do more cons I do hope to see you there as well.

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