So, Animazement was two weekends ago, (I’ve been trying to write this post since then and between resting after a busy weekend and then getting the con crud, well…here we are now) and as you may have heard, it was my first time selling at their Artists Alley. I’ve been going to the convention since 2011 and pretty much since then have dreamed of being able to sell there with the other artists. Since starting Illumine Artistan Works last September, I’ve had that goal in mind as a focus for what to work towards; it’s a con I’ve been to several times so I’m comfortable with the atmosphere, it had started getting a little stale so I was ready for a new “con experience,” and the kinds of things I was making would have their best audience with the crowd that attends. All in all, seemed like a good first venue for me to sell my wares to the public. So obviously, I was pretty stoked to get accepted, and ever since February have been working even harder to make sure I was prepared for my first show!
Flash forward to Friday. I got up early and headed out of the house to make it to the convention by 9AM when registration opened and artists could begin setting up their tables. I’m lucky that I have never experienced the long wait lines for picking up preregistered tickets – when I was in college I got special badges through volunteering with my school’s anime club, and last year I only attended in the evening so I picked my badge up after the rush – and I’m glad I got to miss out on that this year too! Artists, for the first time ever apparently, had a separate line for badge pick-up, which honestly makes the most sense and made getting into the convention a breeze. I didn’t have very much stuff with me so I was able to easily fit everything onto a little hand cart and wheel it through the convention center to the hall that housed the Artists Alley. Setting up took no time at all, and after that it was just manning the booth for 11 hours! woo!
The first day I really plugged my custom patches, taking commissions all day that I promised to fulfill all throughout the weekend. This ended up being a bit of a mistake – I spent ALL DAY Friday working on commissions, and it was super exhausting and I think I gave myself serious eyestrain from embroidering all that time. I did get 5 custom patches done for people though, so that was certainly cool! Saturday and Sunday I did not offer to make patches at the con, because I knew I would get extremely tired if I did and I didn’t want to make any promises I couldn’t reasonably keep. I continued to let people know that I do take custom orders through Etsy, though.
All in all, though I hate to admit it, I have to say that I did not have a particularly good time. Two 11-hour days in a row (followed by a 5 hour one) where I didn’t really get to take a break was very, very exhausting. I had my boyfriend there to take over for me every so often, but for the majority of the time I was there all by myself. It got pretty lonesome, especially considering I knew that all of my friends were out and about having fun at the rest of the con’s activities. I was definitely expecting that the majority of people would either pass by or look and not buy, but it got very wearisome after a while to see people look for a few moments and then walk away. I did make some sales, and I managed to recoup the cost of my table/badge and even make a little bit of a profit, but when I consider that the majority of the people I sold to were my friends and acquaintances, that number isn’t very encouraging to me.
To be honest, I kind of expected going in that there isn’t a huge market for my products. While a lot of people think my badges are cool, spending $12 on a little piece of decorative fabric is just not something a lot of people want to do. Considering the amount of work I put into my badges, I should be selling them for 3-4 times that amount anyway, so making money off of them is not very viable, no matter how aesthetically interesting people may find them. I like making them, but I can’t make a living off of them (or even begin to attempt to).
As for my future as far as conventions go, I’m undecided. I’d still like to sell my artwork, but I don’t think the things I’m currently making are very marketable. Also, I realized that I really want to be able to enjoy the convention more – being a merchant isn’t my idea of fun, I suppose. I have a friend that was also selling there this year, that I may potentially team up with next year so we can both have more free time to go out and explore; also, hanging out at the table all day with a friend beats sitting there alone! I haven’t made up my mind yet though. I have to re-organize and put together a new game plan.
I feel guilty about admitting that I didn’t have a very good time, considering the outpouring of support my friends and family have shown for this endeavor. However, I will say that I do not regret doing the convention, because it’s something I have wanted to do for years and I’m proud of myself for accomplishing a goal that I set for myself – something I don’t do enough of. If I didn’t try to get accepted into the convention, if I did not go there and participate, I would have been down on myself for years to come for not trying. So I tried it, and I have that experience!
Illumine Artisan Works is probably going to be shifting focus from here on out. It’s not going away by any means, but I’m probably going to be focus on making new things from now on. I want to get back to fiber works, and I have many new cosplay ideas I want to try. Keep your eyes open!