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.

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