Kiri Østergaard Leonard at Wizard World Austin 2016

Comic Con Questions & Advice for Artists ft. Wizard World: Austin

It’s convention season! Last month I attended Wizard World: Austin for the first time. This past weekend was New York Comic Con and next week is IlluxCon. So very fitting this morning I received a terrific email from young illustrator Allie Briggs. Allie is going to attend her first comic con convention as an exhibiting artist and had some great questions that I think will be of help to many of you, so with Allie’s permission I am answering this here on the blog.

First the email:

Hi Kiri,
I have been following your work since I saw you on the first time on 1FW. I love your style and your colors and your con setups. I was hoping that I could ask you for some advice since I just saw that you were at NYCC.

I am taking a dive into conventions this year and selling for the first time at RICC. It has grown immensely over the past two years and it seems like a good time to start. If you have any tips and tricks I would love to hear about your experience/ be pointed to a blog post if you already put something up covering most of your con experience.

Do themes help attract people to the table? I noticed you always have some decor to keep the table cute.

How tall are your metal table top displays?

I found a decently priced set on amazon that is about 15 inches high with three tiers. I wasn’t sure if that was too short. Do you find your taller ones getting in the way sometimes when communicating with people?

Do you have prices listed immediately where people can see them, or do you prefer to put them on the back and hand them out so people can hold the item and inspect it?

How much cash should be ready for change? And would it be easier to deposit the profit after each day and keep the drawer at a flat amount, like a store?

Would it be wise to have on spot commissions? I have a table helper, but I am worried about table crowding. I know Pete mentioned something about that being a problem even when it comes to showing available prints via a portfolio. Thoughts?

I could probably go on forever. But that seems like a good chunk of my worries. Thank you so much for your time! And I wish you the best with all of your amazing adorable work!

best,
Artist Table Display at Wizard World: Austin

Do themes help attract people to the table? Yes they do! Themes help your table stand out from the masses and attracts like-minded people who are fans of your theme. Match your theme to your artwork, make it a full experience for people to visit your table, even match your clothes to it! (I usually do this though I didn’t get to at Wizard World: Austin because we were in the middle of moving into a new house so everything was in boxes.)

How tall are your metal table top displays? I found a decently priced set on amazon that is about 15 inches high with three tiers. I wasn’t sure if that was too short. Do you find your taller ones getting in the way sometimes when communicating with people?
Most of my table top displays are about 18″, a great place to pick these up is at Displays2go.com, here are links to some of my favourite displays:
Wire-rack.
Rotating Postcard Display

Do you have prices listed immediately where people can see them, or do you prefer to put them on the back and hand them out so people can hold the item and inspect it?
Yes, put clear prices on each item so it is the first thing people see. When I shop myself I get annoyed if the prices aren’t clearly displays and I will pass by booths where I can’t see the price.

How much cash should be ready for change? And would it be easier to deposit the profit after each day and keep the drawer at a flat amount, like a store?
I usually bring about $200 in change. $30 in 1s, $70 in 5s and the rest in 10s. I keep it in an envelope but a cash box would be a better option. I deposit after the convention so I can get a total on my sales. It’s also important to offer the option to pay by credit card. Your cellphone can easily help you out with this, look into Square or Paypal Here to accept credit cards. I personally prefer Paypal.

Would it be wise to have on spot commissions? I have a table helper, but I am worried about table crowding. I know Pete mentioned something about that being a problem even when it comes to showing available prints via a portfolio. Thoughts?
It depends how good you are at drawing on the spot, my trusty convention buddy Betsy Peterschmidt makes the majority of her convention income on commissions on the spot because she’s quick and awesome at doing this. I personally do not do commissions at all, because I don’t draw well in a convention setting, I get stressed out and it ruins the convention experience for me.

Spot commissions can serve to both attract people and be a great conversation starter, but it can also turn people away if you are sitting and looking down, instead of making eye contact with people who pass by. Experiment with it though and find out what works for you!

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I hope these tips were helpful, if you would like more convention tips please check out the Convention & Shows category here on the blog and feel free to drop any questions you may have in the comments!

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Kiri Østergaard Leonard is an award winning illustrator and artist from Denmark, currently living in Austin, Texas. She enjoys working on projects within the fantasy and children's illustration genre.

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