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.

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