Attending a convention as an exhibiting artist is a really fun and thrilling experience, but if you’re new to showcasing your work in person, it can also feel intimidating. I have exhibited my work for more than 10 years and with that in mind, I have compiled some tips that I hope will help you, as you venture into the convention scene.

Artist’s Alley Tip #1: Avoid the Cluttering Your Table

When preparing your convention table you want a nice clean presentation that elevates your artwork and makes it stand out. If you have too many items on display, your work may be competing with itself. This can cause visual confusion and overwhelm your potential customers. Keep that in mind when you design your table.

“If you have too many items on display,

your work may be competing with itself. “

Artist’s Alley Tip #2: Tell Stories

As human beings we LOVE stories! It is everywhere in our culture: movies, comics, books and cartoons and so on. Therefore it comes to your artwork; consider the story.

There are several ways to go about this: Consider the story in the image. Does it tell a clear story or is it focused on aesthetics? If there’s a story behind the illustration, engage your potential customer in it, they’ll find the artwork all the more interesting.

If your artwork focused on the aesthetics, rather than illustrating a story, the story is about the emotion and about you as the creator. What inspired the artwork? What are you trying to say with it? What do you want your viewer to feel when they look at it? Again, try to convey this to your audience.

Are there ways in which you can tie your illustration in with stories? How about making booklets where you have illustrated a story you love? Fairy tales are all public domain for instance.

Ruby of the Sea Cosplay Gen Con 2019

This lovely woman is cosplaying as Ruby of the Sea (Critical Role)

Fan art immediately hooks us because of the story, we already know and love.

Artist Devin Elle Kurtz at Gen con 2019

Artist Devin Elle Kurtz with her assistant at Gen Con, 2019. Photo by Kiri Leonard.

Artist’s Alley Tip #3: What are you offering?

This ties in with #2 – consider what you are selling. Our collectors only have so much wall space. Extending your products beyond original art and prints might be a great way to entice them, if their walls are full.

Some alternative uses for your artwork can be: postcards packs, calendars, books, booklets, portfolio zines, magnets, bookmarks, or key chains.

Be creative and have fun making your line of beautiful items that showcase your unique artwork!

Artist Allen Panakal at his Gen Con table, 2019

Artist Allen Panakal, Gen Con Artist’s Alley, 2019. Photo by Kiri Leonard.

Artist Mike Sass at his Gen Con table, 2019

Artist Mike Sass, Gen Con Artist’s Alley, 2019. Photo by Kiri Leonard.

Artist’s Alley Tip #4: Business Card and Leave-Behind

After attending conventions for many years, I noticed I would discard a lot of the leave-behinds I received from artists.

Instead of making your business card or leave-behind something easily discarded, put some thought into it and see if you can’t come up with something people will want to keep. Make sure to showcase your artwork beautifully!

If you are making postcards – don’t cover it up with huge font containing your name and information, put that stuff on the back and let the artwork stand alone. That way someone may want to put it on their wall or fridge.

Artist’s Alley Tip #5: Wear Comfortable Shoes

Convention days are long. Really long. Wear comfortable shoes. I made the mistake of not doing so before and OUCH! Suddenly the day feels even longer. You can also invest in cushioned floor mats to stand on behind your table. It makes a big difference after 8 hours.

Kiri Leonard's Artists Alley Booth at Gencon

My table at Gen Con 2019, there is a little bit of visual overwhelm going on here. Something to think on for my next display.

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