The story of how we ended up as convention artists in Artist Alley is a little convoluted. Okay, I guess that can be said of just about every part of our life story in general, so it’s really not just this part. Anyway, I digress already.
Let’s look back a few years.
Harrison was already an artist, mostly just doing stuff for fun and himself, with occasional commissions and contracts. I was just beginning to help him with the business side in terms of web presence, contracts, and promotion. Conventions were already a big part of our life as fans – it’s how we met, and we got engaged at one.
We were attending one of our local cons, Gallifrey One. In fact, we were on staff. Also, we had put Harrison’s work up in the art show for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, the way that particular art show at that con worked at the time, the art show wasn’t getting a ton of traffic and the silent auction was not really bringing him a lot of bids (side note: the following year the con blew up attendance-wise and the art show has gotten better each year). So we were a little discouraged.
Regardless, as usual, we spent a decent amount of time in the main dealer hall, and entirely separately both spent a rather large amount of time at one booth, where we not only each spent a decent chunk of money, but we also (again, totally separately) struck up conversations with the booth’s proprietors. Fast forward a little, we discovered that we had each made friends with the same people without realizing the other had done the same thing. Fast forward a little more, and we all got super close and ended up having a lot of conversation about Harrison’s art and us trying to get him off the ground.
And So It Begins…
And then something incredible happened. Our new friends invited us to share space with them at Emerald City Comic Con the following month. We were a little bit…surprised? Mostly that we hadn’t really thought about applying to bigger cons and artist alleys. The few things we’d looked at were of the more “art show” variety, not personal artist tables.
Despite having no real idea what we were doing, we accepted, and with no time to spare, we researched convention setups and prepared prints and makeshift displays and packed for Seattle. That was our first convention, and while we pretty much just broke even on our costs, we were bitten with the bug. We got our own table for the next year of ECCC. We added Rose City Comic Con and GeekGirlCon.
It’s Not About the Money
Yes, part of doing shows, obviously, is trying to make some money. Because, gee, we like paying bills and having a roof over our heads. However, that’s not the real reason we fell in love with doing conventions. It’s the community.
Over our table we have formed bonds, shared secrets, learned histories, and talked about everything from cosplay to politics to mental health to all things queer. We’ve made friends with fans. We’ve found a tribe among other vendors and artists. Some of the closest people in our lives now are people we met in the halls.
It’s been a few years now, and our convention offerings have expanded and this year will be undergoing some big changes as we promote more of Harrison’s original creatures and our two webcomics.
What’s Coming Next
We’ve applied to more new cons this year. We’re traveling farther than we have to table at a brand new convention in Baltimore (Universal Fan Con). We didn’t make it in to a few cons we really wanted to do this year, and there’s a few we’re on the waitlist for. We’re still waiting to hear on some others. Even if we aren’t making it in to every con, that isn’t discouraging us from trying. We’ll keep trying.
There are ups and downs. Some shows we do well, some we don’t. Some inventory sells out, some is still sitting in our apartment. Neither of us would trade any of it for the world.
We’re also branching out into more online sales, working on some passion projects, and Harrison is pursuing his Master’s degree in Visual Development.
We’re still learning. And growing. And my goal in sharing our story is to encourage someone else. Whether you’re just starting out and sharing a table in Artist Alley or you’re established and have your own double booth in the vendor hall selling your creations, it’s a constant process of growth and trial and error and we’re all one big family of convention creatives.