Betsy Peterschmidt and Kiri Østergaard Leonard at NYCC, 2013

New York Comic Con: Lessons for Artists

New York Comic Con has come and gone. I shared a table with my good friend Betsy Peterschmidt again this year. It was a wonderful experience, even more so than last year. We both definitely learned from our convention experiences last year, which you can read about here, and approached the convention with more confidence this year.

Sales

New York Comic Con is a very different experience from IlluxCon that I attended last month. Not only is it massively bigger but the crowd is also entirely different. It is always important to research the convention you are attending beforehand. At IlluxCon this year I brought mainly originals because that’s what the people attending are interested in. At New York Comic Con I brought prints, postcards and booklets and they all sold very well. The crowd at NYCC consists very much of fans; comic fans, computer game fans, movie fans and so on. This plays into which items sell the best, fan art is a big hit here as is artwork with recognizable characters from for instance fairy tales.

Betsy’s main seller was her watercolor commissions on the spot. If you are not shy to do commissions on the spot I recommend doing this. It’s a very unique item for customers, it’s collectible and people really appreciate it. Betsy had so much success with it that she actually had to up the cost of her commissions from $25 to $40 because she was getting swamped with requests. At $40 it was balanced well, so she received the amount of commissions she could handle during the time available.

One of the commissions Betsy did at NYCC. It measured roughly 6"x7" on watercolor cold press  paper.

One of the commissions Betsy did at NYCC. It measured roughly 6″x7″ on watercolor cold press paper.

I didn’t do commissions on the spot because I realized last year it stressed me out too much. I set too high expectations for myself when it comes to providing a piece without a short period of time, so I just can’t deal with it during the high paced hours of the conventions. I think it’s important to be honest with yourself about this. It’s tempting to try to force yourself because you’re essentially losing out on money by not doing it, but stressing yourself out will in turn ruin your convention experience.

To me it’s just not worth it, focus on engaging with potential customers instead and promote your other items.

Table Display

Last year our table display was obviously affected by it being our first convention. This time around we had both invested in easy to transport 6 tier wire racks that made it a lot easier to fit our items on our table and made it look less cluttered. I also purchased a black table cloth and a matching black plastic stand for business cards. I have put together an amazon widget with some suggestions to items you may consider for your convention display, if you are just looking to get started:

Tip: Consider putting a sheet of paper on your table where people can sign up for your mailing list.

Highlights

Attending conventions is really the best way to put your artwork out there and make connections. Not only for networking but also for new friends. The ultimate highlight of my convention was definitely when people who had purchased artwork from me the previous year, had been looking through the artist’s alley in search of my work again. It was extremely flattering and it’s such a confidence booster when you know people like your work so much, that they seek you out to support what you are doing. I’m very thankful to them.

Another great experience was of course hanging out with other artists. William O’Connor who was our table neighbour last year had requested to be so again this year and we had a great time hanging out with him. It was also wonderful so see other artists friends there and meet new ones whose work I have long admired.

Lastly here are some photos from the convention:

Links:
Betsy Peterschmidt
William O’Connor
Marc Scheff
Tim Paul
Scott Brundage
Cory Godbey

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

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