Over all, I finally got to scratch my curiosity and met up with friends that I other wise wouldn’t see.
I’m writting this post with a open observation of my experiences with Otakon and going to a very pure anime con. I didn’t realise that most cons in florida are mixed cons and what it means to my sales. This con reminded me of why I don’t go to AWA and just how much I’m losing touch with most of anime fandom.
I’m also pretty business orientated because as I’m accepting adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it, my priorities change and what I once thought to be fun, I find as time wasters and vis versa. I go to convention shows to make money, network, and promote, not to cosplay, watch amvs nor stand in line to get into the dealers room.
I don’t want you to read this as a complianing post as I’m not writing how I ‘feel’ just simple ‘facts’ of my experiences. This is mostly to my followers and know that I appericiate all of you. This is also to other artist who want to make a living with their art work that falls with in the fantasy/games/genere works.
Location and Traffic: Even if you like something and would buy it, if you don’t know that it exhist and can’t find it, you can’t buy it. Its that simple. So when I found out my table location prior to the con I knew I’d get a major hit to my sales. At con, my area was definitly a quiet zone compared to the entrance and the more well known DA artist grouped in the back. My area was not convient so if you weren’t an AA fan that would go through the whole hall like most would do for the dealers, you didn’t see my booth. For the most part, people who passed by my space did buy something, so I’m left with assuming how many sales I lost from many who didn’t see my booth.
Another part is the basement location. Had I read about this anywhere, I might have thought twice about attending this con. AA has to be in an area where most attendies have to pass by through, not tucked away in a horrible reception (most of us couldn’t use our square card reader) downstairs room with no other events going on in there. This is not a specific thing to Otakon as I’m assuming they can’t change the spot because of limited space. I mean this in general because very few new eyes will walk into AA. This ends up making the AA mostly an area for those known online to have their followers meet them and AA fans to get commissions. I’ve never seen people line up to get into the AA. I’ve seen lines go on for 2 hrs for dealers room. I do not expect this to change, this is an observation that professional artist need to keep in mind about their market.
Target Market and Attendies: Just because I draw in an anime influcend style does not mean my target market is the general pure anime lovers. Most of my sales are by women around 30+ and males 25+ who attend cons because they are there with others. When its a pure anime con with little to no mix programing, there’s a lot less of my target market and my sales hurt. Otakon had a lot of attendies that didn’t fall into my target market, added to the fact that many didn’t bother to go to the AA. I don’t know how fan artist fared, I’d be curious to know how fan art of older series or series for older markets fared (who don’t have a large following). The current attendence count for Otakon is 32k, it didn’t seemed that high if you stayed in the AA.
Compared to a similar sized mixed con, Megacon, the AA is in the same room as the dealers, small presss, food court, guest sign in, ect. As a mixed con, it has a lot of different people passing by. There is usually another conference or 2 going on at the same time, to add to the mix. So there is more people with in my target market that opens more potential sales. Its also a much cheaper con to attend.
Cost to attend and Economy: For the most part, I don’t think economy was a major player at Otakon since its the con that people save for the whole year to spend at. I heard people spending hundreds to $4100 on items at the art actions, many electronic neko ears customers, and many commissioners. I saw a lot of people caring shopping bags and I belive my sale per transaction was about 10-15$. At the same time though, in my case, less of my target market will attend a show that cost 80$ when they have little to no programing for them. Though for those who did came by and bought from my table, usually bought more then one item and not neccesarry the cheapest thing.
Food was cheap to find, so its good to know attendies didn’t spend all their money on overpriced food.
Products and Customer Feedback: I have to say this con really supprised me in what sold. Usually my Tea Time print is a big seller, Hers practially sell out every other con, Demask and Buttercup are becoming favorit sellers. Yet I sold no print of them. This, with out a doubt, tells me how different the market is for Otakon. Lady in Red and Fashion was the only prints/posters that I sold (plus 1 No evil). I”m still supprised that Koi sells so low though by now, not expected. Every con I’ve been too, few people seem to care about it.
I thought that I would have too much competion for the cosmetic bags since many popular artists had them at Ota. Well that end up being a major seller of mines, especially of chocolate, No evil and Peocock. I will be ordering more of them for NYCC. I didn’t sell any tote bags and only 1 cross body. There wasn’t much intrest in them, only 3 people inquired about them, 1 bought and the other may or may not buy one online. Coin purses sell like hot cakes, and I”m happly supprised that my notebooks sold very well. I assume this is because of the timing as it gets closer to the school year and holidays. Also to add that since my prints cost 7$, getting a notebook version for just another 1.50$ and have a functioning print insteand of another thing to post on your wall, its just a good deal.
I also recieved many requests to have extra large posters. I belived I lost about 4 sales because I didn’t have them. Lesson learned. When people buy non fan art, its because they really love the work, the same way that larger paintings are more popular in galleries, art print collectors want the large wow factor. So tiny 12x18in prints don’t cut it.
Non monetary factors: This is for things that didn’t make/lose me money. Finding out that our hotel had extra rolling beds and really huge rooms (and close to 24 hour convient stores) made my stay better. My flight got held back for 2hrs so I got to Baltimore to late to pick up my pre reg. It flash rained while I was walking looking for my hotel carring about 100 lbs of stuff.
Friday, I had to ask 3 people why I should stand in the very long pre reg line since I’m an artist/ panelist. Finally I was usered pass the line to get in. Many artists weren’t so lucky. Hours for the AA wasn’t great either. The AA should open before the dealers and closing at 11 is too long. People like to last min shop so shorter hours create an urgency. Friday was busy and sunday was busy, saturday a 13hour day was not.
I loved the fact that there was a bathroom in the AA, portable water fountains and lots of space behind the tables. Now if the tables were 8ft instead of 6ft for all the cost of them. More people would be willing to share the tables too. I had too small of a table, though I don’t mind shareing with Mayshing, it was my fault for not signing up for 2 tables. Though I didn’t sell much posters so I could have left most of it at home.
This is also one of the few cities where I felt safe walking around at 1am. There were city guides (people) posted around and plenty of police men that were helpful.
Verdict: even if I continue to do cons, I wouldn’t sign up for Otakon. Not untill I’m popular enough to support my expenses and make enough worth my spending 4 days off work. The AA isn’t set up for impulse shoppers and your sales depend heavly on conintuing to show up at the con and/or web presense. Its also a hassel just to participate with lottory sign up, miss informed staff, horrible location, high overhead, and weird hours. I’d only go to this con if it was my hometown con.