May 2, 2013

The Post Con Post

The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo has come and gone for another year and I just wanted to take some time to reflect on my experiences. I think I might turn these post con posts into a personal ritual for myself, as they form significant checkpoints for my artistic development, giving me a chance to both reflect on the results of last few months of work and map out a plan for the next half of the year. While I do that, I'll drop a few of the original pieces that I brought to the con so you can take a look at anything you may have missed.

First off I wanted to say that I had a ton of fun at this years Calgary Expo. I met a lot of amazing people, and had some great conversation. What I really enjoy though is getting to spend some time with the folks who have come by my table in years past. It seems crazy to think that you can get to know someone in five minute increments over the course of years but I've gotta say I really look forward to those few minutes each year and I'm finding they're quickly becoming the highlights of my convention time.

On a personal note, I had a rough time leading up to the con. 2 funerals, a cancer diagnosis in the family, extra shifts because a co-worker lost her husband unexpectedly, taxes, and a rather depressing realization that my new monitor was displaying images that my printer was incapable of reproducing. Pretty much April sucked. I had been working 12-16 hour days for the previous couple of months and so with all this bad news swirling around me I quickly hit a point where I needed to step away for a while. As such I didn't get the Wonder Woman piece done for the con and I'm a bit disappointed in myself because of it. That said I did learn some new tricks in terms of color control and the like and managed to get the prints that I had done into a functioning state. I picked up a Spyder and started into the world of color correcting and during my week of down time I caught up a bit on some of the great games that dropped last year and put some time into a project I've been picking away at in the background. It was a rough month, but I made it to the end and had a fantastic time at the con and so I have to put a big thanks out to my always supportive wife and the great people of the Calgary Expo.

On the business side, I pushed the changes that I made to my table for the Edmonton Expo a little farther, pulling my portfolio book off the table, and instead replacing it with a book full of original art pieces. This was amazingly successful for me, and contributed a great deal to my still being able to say that every con I do is more successful than the last. Another change we made at the table was a redesign of our print organization system. This had a less obvious impact on the experience, but it was nice to be able to help every customer that walked up without having to spend time rifling through 2 different boxes with a bunch of prints stacked on top of each other. It eased a bit of the stress of the experience and for those out there who exhibit in artist alley, or are thinking of doing so next year I've gotta say it's worth the time and money to put together a proper, easy to use system for this kind of thing. My wonderful wife also took some time to put together a fancy spreadsheet to use for tracking sales during the con. We could both access it from our phones, so it was quick and easy to use, but even better was that it's pretty damn comprehensive, so I can look at it now and see exactly what was working and what wasn't. On the list of things that went well is the black background paintings that I've done up over the past year. These accounted for about two thirds of the prints that I sold so I was quite happy with such a positive reaction. The book of original works (as opposed to prints) was also hugely successful, bringing in almost half of my total revenue for the weekend. Ideally I'll put together enough work between now and Edmonton to properly fill the book, but even at 2/3 full it proved itself.

Of course no con comes without teaching some lessons and this one was no different. Right off the bat I found that the amount of time that I put into the new prints of this year didn't at all translate into sales. In fact, the best sellers (by far) were the pieces that I would have considered the most raw, and were certainly the ones that took the least time to complete. the takeaway there for me is to focus on  speeding up so I'm not relying on just a few new pieces for each expo. On a different note, I also picked up a little trick from the booth next to me (Jamie Tyndall). When Jamie and his wife were setting up I noticed that they were taping down their portfolios to the table. This allowed them to be pretty specific with their table layout as there was no worry that the books would be sliding around. From that point on I did my best to keep an eye on what they were up to in case there were other great ideas to... borrow.

Next post I'll go over some of the plans I have for the coming year, but I've created a big enough wall of text for today.

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