Wow it’s been a whirlwind of activity the last few days. Between new freelance gigs, old freelance gigs, and dealing with spring fever at work, it’s definitely been eventful. This past weekend I attended my first show of the year, Fan Expo Dallas! Now I’m no newbie to Fan Expo, but being only my second year selling there, there’s still a lot to experience and learn from the artist front.
Fan Expo has specific time slots for set up, since everything is in one hall of the convention center. Artists were allowed to set up between 7:00am and 1:30pm on Friday. Luckily my setup was fairly simple, as I had definitely upgraded from last year. For a lot of my 2018 conventions, I did the generic thing a lot of artists do, the wall of prints. Now disclaimer, there is nothing wrong with this set up per se, to each their own, but based on some research, and the approach I wanted to take my art, my display changed drastically. I nixed the hanging prints for a nice clean banner, which I got printed from Next Day Display, and moved my prints to the table, having everything on display and tiered to help fill the table space a little more, and completely got rid of my portfolio (for the time being). Not having to hang prints on a cloth or from the poles is a HUGE time saver. I also moved to having an accent tablecloth on top of my black one, in a color that I wanted to associate with myself and my brand. I do also plan on investing in a table runner with my logo and social media icons before the next show.
One of the caveats to Fan Expo’s booths is the small size. Tables are six feet long, and about two feet wide. Which while having an eight foot long table would be most ideal, even a wider space would be convenient. With my new display the space was so narrow, small things like my clipboard for my mailing list would be hanging off the edge, as you can see above. The space behind is also quite cramped as well, as if I recall correctly it is a 6’ X 6’ space, which for people with much more merchandise, could struggle with quite a bit. It seems that end cap booths get the best opportunity for more space, or buying two tables (which many people do), but for Fan Expo tables being $330 a pop, plan on investing at least $700 for that type of set up. I will say, that the logistics of table placement was MUCH better than last year. In 2018, in line tables were placed in common rows, but they were PACKED together. My friend Johnni Kok, who was down the way from me, had to move tables to create a space for us to exit our booths from just to go to the bathroom, which was awful. However this year, tables were still in rows, but placed in cubes of 4, giving each table an exit to leave from.
In terms of sales, it was an oddly slow weekend. Word on the street was mainly because of the con happening on free comic book day, and a horror convention happening at the same time. Friday, weirdly enough, was my best day for sales, Saturday, was slightly less, and Sunday I had only two. That’s right, two sales. It seems I was not the only one, as an artist friend of mine claimed she made a third of her sales last year. In summary, I did make table and profit, but for a few reasons. I increased my print prices, from $15 to $25, which even though I sold less than last year, I made about the same amount. And I also commuted. Dallas is about 30-40 minutes out for me, and while I have always in the past stayed on site, I made the wise decision to not do so this year to spare the hotel cost.
Despite the slow goings, I met up with some old and new friends! I always try to see conventions as a glass half full because even if I don’t always make the numbers, I get the awesome experience of talking with so many cool, like minded individuals in the artist alley. Another thing that made this weekend extra special was this show was over my birthday weekend! It’s not often I get to celebrate my birthday at a con, so Saturday night I got to spend it with some close friends. I had a blast! Outside of that, I didn’t wander the con floor much. There weren’t many celebrities of interest for me so I made the choice to be a hermit and push sales.
In summary, I’m still on the fence about coming back next year. I’m leaning towards yes, mainly because despite the over average booth cost, and slow sales, it is a local con, so it is nothing lost nothing gained as long as I make somewhat of a profit. I did also gain some new subscribers which is also a plus. With a change in dates happening next year, I may give it one more go to see what happens. In the end I always will go to Fan Expo, as an artist or attendee, as this show has become a staple in my year.
What’s done is done though. Now it’s time to rest and gear up for Greater Austin Comic Con!