Finally starting to recover from the weekend craziness that happened at MoCCA Fest! A very intense weekend - there was a great turnout for both days of the convention. This year it was run by the Society of Illustrators and I saw lots of improvements in compared to previous years: the red curtains not only divided the space nicely but provided some "wall space" for exhibitors to pin artwork to. There were nice banners clearly marking the aisles. There was a super delicious free dinner for exhibitors and volunteers on Saturday (much needed, since everyone was exhausted and starving by the end). They were also very helpful to me when I had a problem (more on that, read on) Basically, the Society of Illustrators rocks!
I shared a table at this con, because it was pretty expensive. Had as much space to work with as in NYCC (about 3 feet wide). I learned the hard way that even though you do save money up front in table cost for half a table, you sacrifice visibility and accessibility, which results in not as many sales. It so happened that a group of exhibitors in my area was blocking my table for most of Saturday. Their strategy was to have 3 to 4 people standing in the aisle, getting people's attention and driving traffic to their table. Some of them were right in front of my space and some in the middle of the aisle but I saw people going around them and missing my table. While this strategy worked well for that company, it really hurt my sales (I've done enough cons to know I should've been making more money for a con that size on a Saturday). I kept asking each of them if they could please move, and they did, but the same thing kept happening all day. I know this group didn't intentionally mean any harm to me, and they seemed like nice people, but the fact was they weren't mindful of their neighbors and were hurting my business.
At one point I got in the aisle in front of my table and did the same thing - tried handing out free cookies but people didn't want any. I tried holding some mini comics out and had a few people interested, but it was very stressful and I felt like one of those people in Times Square that hassles you to buy something on the street - I didn't like it at all. Most importantly though, why was I paying $200 for half a table when I'm not even at my table?! There were some people just walking around with their comics on a tray and sold stuff that way - all for the price of admission - $15.
The next morning (it was a 2 day con) I explained the situation to Anelle Miller, who organized MoCCA Fest and is head of the Society of Illustrators. I love this woman - she was able to track down an empty table and had 2 volunteers help move all my stuff there! I felt like Anelle and others that ran the fest really cared about me and wanted me to have a positive experience. I'm totally thankful to everyone that had a part in helping me out!
I did AMAZINGLY WELL that day! I made over twice the amount I did on Saturday (enough to cover my table cost and a small profit!), and Sundays are supposed to be the slow days at cons. Made me wonder how well I could have done on Saturday if I had my own table. One guy who saw me both days pointed out that my sign was much more visible at the bigger table - he didn't even notice it the previous day. I think the best part was that I was much more happy and relaxed because people had plenty of space in the aisle to walk up to my table casually and browse my merch without any pressure. An added benefit was my friend Ellen got to expand her corner of our previous half table to all of the half table, and she sold some stuff that day. I also helped exhibitors next to me at the new location just by occupying a previously empty table (vacant tables pose loitering problems and dead space - people tend to not look at things near empty tables as much). So it worked out for everyone in the end :)
I learned from that experience that life presents you with all kinds of obstacles and challenges that you have no control over, but you CAN control how you react to them. If you find yourself in a situation like this, don't just sit there and be like "oh well, there's nothing I can do." First talk kindly yet firmly to the person/people interfering with you. If the problem persists, get help from a person running the convention/art show/event and they'll find a better solution. This situation isn't all that uncommon - I had a little bit of it at NYCC too (mostly friends of one exhibitor next to me just hanging around), but not to this extent. I'll add this experience to my lecture "Get Started: Selling Your Comics at Conventions!!!" on Saturday, April 20th, at Super Heroes for Hospice in West Orange NJ.
Here are some sketches I did. This guy is writing a story about tiny people. He wanted the artist to draw themselves in the picture as a giant doing something mean to a tiny person (him in the picture).
This girl wanted me to draw her driving a monster truck. I love random fun requests like that!
Thank you all very much to everyone who stopped by my table! MoCCA Fest was a success thanks to all you peeps :) I had a great time overall and am looking forward to next year's fest!