Aistear Con 3: A Success Story (In More Ways Than 1)

my artist alley table at Aistear Con 3

Aistear Con 3 happened October 21 through 23, 2022. And for me, I succeeded (in more ways than one!)

Where Was the Show?

It took place in the same place it had in previous years – at Aistear Brewery in Bowling Green, OH. Friday is usually the most relaxed day because that’s the day the vendors set up. The show is small, too – there were 7 or 8 vendors there, including myself. All of us were local and didn’t pay for a table spot. We were, however, invited by the folks at Aistear – so it wasn’t just “show up and set up.” You had to know the peeps running the joint.

What Was the Show?

Aistear Con 3 was small, local, and indie. I mean, it’s run by an indie brewing company, and the vendors are all set up in the back of the house. The crowd we got was small – but everyone who showed up spent money on local indie creators.

a close-up shot of my artist alley table, focusing on my books.

How Was It?

By the end of all three days, I was VERY CLOSE to having a $500 sales weekend. For some that may not sound really high (like, when I worked drawing caricatures at Cedar Point, I could make that kind of money in one day). But considering how relaxed the show was, the sales I got pleased me.

It also helped that I sold out of

  • five sticker designs,
  • ALL of my pins,
  • The remainder I had of Kay the Valkyrie prints,
  • The last of my dragon Baby paintings,
  • and 2 out of 3 original white-on-black ink drawings

My goal for the show had been to sell out all of my stickers, paintings, white-on-black drawings, and prints. So it made me happy to accomplish a lot of what I set out to do.

Also! My buddy Sean made an appearance on Saturday, which helped us sell more copies of his book!

cover art for Danse Macabre And Other Works by Sean McGavin

For folks who don’t know – my buddy Sean and I worked together last year to get his book, Danse Macabre and Other Works, to print. He wrote it, I did the cover art and some editing, and my writer/editor friend Melanie Doan edited the stuff I didn’t. It took us a while to find a distributor we liked (that was NOT Amazon). Eventually, we chose Draft2Digital because it had the most reach compared to other indie book printers.

At Aistear Con 3, we had some copies of his book available to sell and sign. Sean is a regular at Aistear, so the other regulars had been absolutely surprised that Sean wrote a book. By the end of the day we sold 5 copies and he got some good tips out of it.

What Did I Take Away From This Show?

I mean, I’ll give some quick shout-outs to other vendors I got things from at the show. Dragon’s Book Hoard has delightful soy candles, and Peace, Love, Pride made my FAVORITE necklace and bracelet so far. I did not get things from the other vendors, but I’ll mention here that The Crafty Carpenter, Ignition Studios, Rich Bloom, the 3D RPG-mini printer, and the tarot card reader were delightful neighbors. 10/10, would join them again in an artist alley.

That said, what did I take away from this show as a person who sells art?

Well, this show confirmed a trend I have noticed in my sales this year. That trend is: of my best-selling categories, original art takes a larger slot of sales than I anticipated.

For context, I use Square to run my register and track sales. I have my stock split into these categories: Books, Stickers, Art, Prints (for anything 8.5×11 inches or larger), Mini-Prints (any prints smaller than 8.5×11 inches), and Misc.

(A little off-topic, but I’m overdue to reorganize this stuff. Misc encompasses pins, keychains, greeting cards, grab bags, and a lot of other things. The pins and keychains need to spin off into their own category.)

Last year, I took a look at my sales and realized two things.

  1. Books were my top-selling category by a WIDE margin. This was wild because, at the time, books had the slimmest profit margins. This year I raised prices to fix that, as well as cover increased printing costs.
  2. Last year, I carried Zines and minicomics. But they didn’t even appear in my top 5 best-selling categories.

Because of point 2, I took all of my remaining zine stock to Free Comic Book Day and gave them away for free. That actually did WONDERS for sales, because that day I made $500 in one afternoon.

This year, books are still my top-selling category. The margin is even WIDER this time. But the second best-selling category? Stickers.

Even more surprising for me – original art may move around in its position in the Top 5, but it’s still consistently in the Top 5 best-selling stuff. So clearly, I gotta make more original art for sale.

I’m surprised by this. In the convention circuit, artists make a BIG DEAL out of selling prints. (For good reason – profit margins on prints are HUGE). But in my experience, people don’t buy prints because they just don’t have the wall space to hang new work.

I took a lot of other insights from this show. But I don’t want this post to get super long, so we’ll talk about that in another post.

In Short…

Aistear Con 3 was a relaxed but successful show this year! I took a lot of good insights from how the show went, and I can’t wait to implement the stuff I’ve learned.

Also! The guy who runs Ignition Studios (Alexander) inspired me to revisit how I run commission offerings. So keep an eye out for new changes on that front! I hope that once I’m done, it’ll be more enjoyable to buy commissions from me.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Comicon at Home – An Archived Twitch Live Stream

This originally aired on my Twitch channel on August 14. Why a Sunday? Because I had plans to be at a local, one-day comicon…but they canceled the show without notifying me.

So I went, “FINE! I’ll set my work up at home and stream it online! We’ll have more fun, anyway!” And then we did. Comicon at home was a success!

Everything (or dang near everything) I show in this stream is available on my Ko-Fi shop!

By the way – I extended the Dragon Baby Pride Keychain campaign! You now have until Sept 18 to get one of your own. I go into why I extended the window in a recent campaign update.

Thank you for watching.

You. Are. Awesome.

New Ideas All At Once – The Genghis Con Mini Pop-Up Event

pictured is an artist alley table set up at a mini pop up event hosted by Genghis Con. This event happened at Superscript Comics and Games in Lakewood, OH.

This past Saturday, I showcased my work at the Genghis Con Mini Pop Up Event. Being surrounded by comics readers and fans…talking to other creators…it gave me so many ideas, all at once.

It just felt GOOD to be back in the comics scene at a live event.

But How Was the Show?

We got a bigger turnout than expected! I sold out of a handful of small things, like stickers. And The Case of the Wendigo was the most popular book on my table!

I want to give a quick shout-out to my friend Deci Belfry. They designed, printed, AND cut my new business cards. Plus they printed and cut new Mr. Dino postcards for the table! (This reminds me: I’ll be sending a portion of proceeds to Margie’s Hope. They’re a local nonprofit serving the trans and nonbinary community).

New Mr. Dino Postcards! A portion of sales of these will go towards Margie's Hope in Lakewood, OH. On the postcard is a dinosaur holding a transgender pride flag.
New Mr. Dino Postcards! A portion of sales of these will go towards Margie’s Hope in Lakewood, OH
Here's one of the business cards that Deci Belfry designed for me! Pictured is a stylized velociraptor jumping on a business card, with the text "You. Are. Awesome." Below that text is IG: @mrdinoandfriends as well as kelcidcrawford.com
Here’s one of the business cards that Deci Belfry designed for me!

What Kind of Ideas Did I Get?

SO MANY.

I’ve mentioned on Instagram that I have a personal project, called the Character Compendium. I’ve decided that the first batch of compendiums will be zines. They’ll be easier to assemble, print, and share that way (instead of making one large book. The book was the original idea, but zines are faster).

Speaking of zines, I need to give a shout-out to Matt, aka haberfish on Instagram. His perzine inspired me with the idea of a Mr. Dino “anthology” zine. He also makes delightful cartoons, and you should follow his work.

Not only am I thinking of a Mr. Dino perzine…but Matt and Deci gave me another idea…

My personal project, Kitties By Kelci? What if there’s a comic strip with those witch kitties? I will say: if I move forward on a Kitties By Kelci comic strip, they’ll post once a week on my email newsletter. That’s how I first published Thoughtful Dinosaur and Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc. I think it’s high-time that another email comic strip happens. Don’t you?

Cool! But Don’t I Have a Lot Going On?

Honestly? Yeah. That’s why I’m going to make some of these new ideas small projects, like zines. (Actually, this ties in nicely to one of my 2021 goals: make more minicomics). Small projects are easier and faster to finish.

When it comes to making and finishing things, I just need to remember: One Thing At A Time. It’s been my mantra for a while now, and I find it helpful in times like this.

That’s all I have for now. Be sure to stay up-to-date by hopping on my email newsletter, where I talk about current and upcoming projects. Like new books.

And be sure to check out Deci and Matt online! I also want to give a shout-out to a few other artists from the pop-up event: Caleb from Village Comics (he has a KickStarter next month!). Lindsey J Bryan. And Quill. (I know I’m forgetting other cool peeps, so tag yourself in the comments).

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

MatsuriCon: or, Why I Want to Sell at More Anime Cons, but Can’t

artist alley table layout

These last couple of weeks have been bananas for travel, from personal vacation time to selling my work in artist alley at MatsuriCon. My first anime convention in over 5 years (as a seller).

First, I was in Philadelphia for a personal vacation with my mom. My 30th birthday is this month, so we wanted to celebrate by going to a city neither of us had been to. We had a blast!

After the train ride back home, there were a couple of days for me to get ready for the next thing, MatsuriCon over in Columbus, OH.

So the headline of this post might make it sound like I had a bad time. This is not true.

MatsuriCon was freaking GREAT! For an anime convention, I was surprised how many people wanted to see original stories and art. I was a bit concerned, because of my 20+ products, only 3 things on the table were fanart.

Ok, I’m going to have an aside about selling fanart, because this is a hot-button issue among creatives wanting to sell their work.

Here’s the thing: if you can do something new and put your own spin on the fanart, then by all means, do that. I actually did that with this piece, taking a Kingdom Hearts bad guy and drawing him as an incubus:

incubus xigbar from kingdom hearts
Also on Tumblr.

The problem with fanart is when an artist does something BORING and makes money at it. Portrait shots of a character would fall under the “Boring” category…for me, anyway. If you’re new to artist alley, a portrait rendition of your favorite character from another artist might be exciting for you. But go to enough artist alleys, and you’ll begin to appreciate the artists who do unique things.

(Also a few of the portrait artists/people who do boring fanart are actually plagiarists. So keep that in mind, too. I’m glad some artist alley organizers are catching on to this.)

MatsuriCon actually had a rule in their Artist Alley contract that fanart could only take up 50 percent or LESS of the table. Any more, and that was considered grounds for having your table revoked. So there was a refreshing amount of original stories, products, and ideas in artist alley, which is REALLY FREAKING NICE.

Here’s a peek at the stuff I found in Artist Alley. Keep in mind, these are just what I traded for/bought:

matsuricon artist alley convention haul

Regarding sales of my own work, I made back 3 times what it costs for a table…or rather, half of a table. I was splitting a table space with my comics buddy Ben. We also stayed at his house, so we didn’t have to spend on a hotel room. And the both of us packed lunches, ate breakfast at his place, and just in general shared food. So all of that kept costs down for us.

I can’t speak for Ben because I don’t know how much exactly he made, but it’s fair to say the both of us made it in the black.

Plus, nearly everyone at the con was just a LOT of fun and very cool.

10/10, would go again…except…

Here’s where the headline of the post becomes relevant: the thing about artist alleys at anime conventions is that applications fill up FAST.

As in, within half an hour of opening, all open table spots are filled.

So, by the time I find out about a convention and check for artist alley spots, none are available. You either have to have that shit bookmarked so you can jump on it the INSTANT the alley applications open, or know the organizers of the con personally in order to get a spot.

As much as I want to go back to MatsuriCon next year, I’m just not sure that I can. We’ll see what happens.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.