» BronyCon: The Artist’s Perspective

What Could I Have Done Better?

This thing was one Hell of a learning experience. As mentioned earlier, my last stab at an art table was nowhere near as serious as this. I learned quite a bit, and realized that not all of my choices were the right ones.

In hindsight, I should have chosen different prints, like Loose Lips Sink Friendships and Make Some Friends. They were earlier works with more rough edges than things like Forever Beneath Her Watchful Eyes, but they do have recognition, and people kept asking for them. Next time (if there is a next time), I will vary what I bring and see how things work out. Sometimes what is popular on DeviantArt doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. I think the best plan is to have something with characters on it, because even though you might miss out on something by not having somebody’s favorite pony, you’ll probably appeal more to someone who loves a particular character.

I should also have brought more big posters. The large 18×24 posters were printed on a wide format, and cost more to make and sell, but they were all gone within an hour. Either I priced them too low or underestimated how interested people would be in the big stuff. Transporting big posters can be problematic, since they are more likely to get damaged and are more awkward to carry around. Lesson learned—I’ll have more the next time.

Buttons were popular, but I should have surveyed prices a bit better at first. My price was a bit too high compared to other button sellers, and I cut them pretty quickly after having my scouts check out the other booths. Once I lowered to the prevailing prices, they moved quickly. I also introduced a combo deal, which helped a lot, and I should have done that sooner. The Smile buttons were more popular than the others, but not by much, and the complete sets sold well.

How Could The Show Improve?

As well as BronyCon went, there were a few things that went on that I felt could be improved for the next one, from a vendor’s point of view. The show should have opened an hour earlier, as ten was a bit late in the day. I also felt the tables closed too early. There are reasons for this, but there was little time for tables that didn’t have panels or autograph signings going on, and that really took a lot of traffic away from the artist’s alley. For a two-day con, this was pretty important. Especially on Sunday, when the tables closed early and didn’t have any breathing room for the popular panels to clear out and let people peruse the area unencumbered.

I also wish there was some time built-in to the schedule for guests to wander around a bit. Those of us who manned tables didn’t have much time to wait in line for autographs or for the guests to see what artists had done, so it was a lot harder to see the special folks at the con. Overall, this is pretty unlikely and likely wishful thinking, but it would have been nice to have.

I also think that the general fan artists should have been a little more segregated from the merch dealers, though the distinction between the two was probably pretty blurry and such a thing would be difficult to pull off. I can’t complain much about my positioning, but in terms of organization I thought it would have made sense to keep fanartists in one place and the plush/merch folks in another like most cons I’ve been to. Next year, a new venue will be necessary, one that can shield the tables from the crowds and especially noise of the main halls. It was quite difficult to talk over cheering crowds, and it would have been nice to not have to shout. My voice was destroyed by the end of Saturday, and if it wasn’t for the old “honey in water” trick I learned from voice actors, I would have been unable to speak by Sunday.

The End, My Only Friend, The End

Would I do BronyCon as a vendor again? Maybe. Who knows where the fandom will be next year (or when the next one rolls around). I considered attending other cons as an artist, but with attendance estimated around 500-1000 people, I’m not sure if I’d be able to make money traveling. I didn’t mind missing out on the panels and such because I’ll be attending Everfree NW as a guest, not a vendor, and I’ll be able to see a lot of the same guests then.

It’s still a bit of a blur, this whole thing. It was over and done before I realized it. Knowing what I did right, and what I did wrong, I definitely came out with a new perspective. Anybody who is an artist should try to do a con table at least once, just for the experience. A smaller convention like BronyCon is a perfect way to get your feet wet before diving in to the really big ones, and with a more focused crowd, you’re likely to appeal to more people. The experience is one that is just so different from the normal con scene that you just have to feel it to believe it. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, talked to me, bought things, and made my BronyCon experience great.

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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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