Saturday, June 13, 2015

Aftermath: Special Edition NYC 2015, also a little con rant

8am is a bit early for full drag, but you do what you gotta do.
Immediately after getting home from Awesome Con in DC on May 29-31, I had to turn around and get ready for Special Edition: NYC the following weekend of June 6-7. A two day show, Special Edition: NYC is the fiesty kid brother of the infamous monster that is New York Comic Con. It's second year in running, I had heard decent-to-good things about it last year (I did not attend) and figured I'd give it a shot considering it's in my own backyard and I wouldn't have to travel far or upset my normal schedule too much to attend. For having very little in the way of expectations, I was pleasantly surprised with how the show turned out! I made a satisfactory amount of money to justify coming out and saw lots of my friends and fans that I normally only see at NYCC, which is too crazy to be able to talk to anyone longer than 5 minutes at. I'm definitely going to attend next year as well, and add this show to my yearly convention roster.

When I'm too tired to deal with my hair- out come the wigs.
 I'm very glad the show turned out to be worth my time and money, as setting up on Friday didn't help my abysmal expectations. I had to push my heavy-ass granny cart full of merch and display racks from Williamsburg, Brooklyn all the way up to Pier 94 in Manhattan on 53rd and 12th in the rain. At least I burned a TON of calories on my pedometer. Pier 94 itself didn't really add to my confidence of the event, as it was basically a dingy warehouse on the Hudson River whose entrance was under an overpass, with barely any signage. I was convinced no one would come out and I'd be in a hole yet again, as my previous two shows this year were a one-two-punch of debt and disappointment. Fortunately I was proven wrong by the amazing crowds on Saturday!!

Bonus tip for you ladies: use an old convention lanyard as a zipper pull for those tiny zippers on skirt/dresses/tops!
Saturday at Special Edition was really crowded which was awesome. Apparently a big reason for this was that it was one of the few (only?) places you could get NYCC tickets after the online tickets sold out in under an hour. There was also a ton of cosplay going on and though I was all the way in the back (something else I was initially displeased about), it actually worked out in my favor because I was right next to the cosplay meetup area and the cafe, so I got a lot of traffic by my table. Almost immediately after I took the curtain off my table Saturday morning people were swarming and buying things. Yessss. This is more like it!! COMMERCE!!!! I even made back table just on Saturday- which for this show especially was a bit steep, but hey that's NYC for you.

The 'I just made table' smile.

A video posted by Paige Pumphrey (@paigey_pumphrey) on


Sunday was a little less crowded, which is fine as it gave me a chance to actually talk to friends who came by. Including some extra special guest stars!!! Like:


I could barely contain my squee's. ^ o ^ 

OMGGGG!!! A rare, surprise appearance by one of my all-time favorite creators, Adam Warren of Dirty Pair/Empowered/Gen13 fame, who was also exhibiting!! I haven't seen him since I used to attend Otakon in the early 00's as a cosplayer- I've even got a wall of his original sketches that I commissioned. He was awesome enough to specially come by and see me at my table, as I was running it by myself and didnt really have a chance to escape except to use the bathroom.

Cuties bein' cuties!
I also was lucky enough to catch a moment with the fabulous fashionista Betty Felon and super sweetheart Lauren Moran, who I always love seeing- both in person and on the interwebs.

Also, something I would like to address:

If you work an Artist Alley: PLEASE don't launch into a sales pitch immediately after someone makes eye contact while idly walking down the aisle. It's obnoxious and off-putting and will more than likely scare them off. JUST SAY HI. Maybe even smile. Let them come over on their own. Quit acting so thirsty!

That exact tactic made me AVOID artist alley at all cost as a fan back in the day. Think of all the potential customers/fans being run off! With over 8 years of experience behind an artist alley table, 18 years of attending conventions as a whole and 7+ years of working in sales as my occupation outside of art- believe me when I say this. Invest in decent signage, look presentable and tone down the aggressive sales tactics. At my table I try to talk about everything BUT my art, it's all already there for them to look at. The most I usually say when people have shown an interest in my product is simply stating that yes, this is all my art and that I make most of the products (jewelry, magnets) by hand. And that's mostly because there are people who are new to the convention scene that do not understand that the person sitting behind the table at a con is usually the person who drew the art on the table in front of them. I still get people who think that I'm either some sort of booth babe, or that "The Art of Paigey" is some faceless storefront entity and that I am but an employee in their service. I know, weird- but don't underestimate how ignorant a customer may potentially be. In my experience, the EASIEST way to get people talking and looking at your stuff is to simply ask them how the shows been for them. Or ask about their other purchases. Or their costume. Or their t-shirt. Its basic sales stuff. Ask open ended questions.

Also, don't take it to heart if a person doesn't buy anything at your table. If they're interested in your work but don't have the means to purchase something at that very moment- give them your card. I get a box of at least 500 giveaway postcards per show and plan to hand out every one. All it has is the address of this here website- because from here you can go to literally all of my stores and outlets on social media. The simpler, the better. Yes you give them away for free and yes, that means you may initially feel that it is a waste of money. Really you should look at it as an investment- as you literally never know who will see it later and whether that person will become a fan who then follows your work and buys something at the next show, or contacts you about a commission, or buys a bunch of stuff from your online store. I even go above and beyond and will keep a small stack in my purse so that whenever I go to a cafe, or a bar or some sort of public space that has a spot for local advertising and leave a stack there. If there isn't a spot for this- don't be rude and leave them, then you literally ARE throwing money away because the employees that work there will throw them away and kind of hate you. I've had people at conventions recognize me from cards I've left at donut places, Thai restaurants and dive bars all over the city and it's kinda cool- you get a wider swath of potential customers. Even better, as me and my BFF and frequent convention collaborator Little Asian Sweatshop have started doing- split a 2-sided postcard with a friend who also shows at conventions (especially if you're near each other or split tables). Double the impact and you save money and paper!

When I quit Joe Kubert School after 2nd year and started working sales/retail jobs I thought I was making the worst mistake of my life. I worked as a commission-based sales person at a high-end tv and stereo store and then later as a part-time manager at Hot Topic. Strangely enough however all the sales training and merchandising has actually been a giant boon to me on the convention floor once I put two-and-two together and started selling something I could actually get behind, being my own artwork and various handmade merch. This is why I try to make as many different things as I can at different price points to cater to different customers. I bust my ass to stay relevant and well-stocked. Yes, conventions are changing. Mainstream attention means mainstream customers. Do I think there are pro's (and "pro's", yes with quotes...) who have taken for granted that conventions will always be the same and thusly the thought of things like market research are completely alien to them? Abso-friggen-lutely. Evolve or die.

My BFF Fenny of Little Asian Sweatshop had a really great article on Pop Culture Uncovered that basically paraphrases several conversations her and I have had over on my Facebook several times:Adapt or Die: How to Earn Money at Comic Conventions

These are pretty great too:Stickman’s Tips for Having a Table at a Comic Book Convention25 Reasons Why You Don’t Make Any Money At Comic Cons

 Haha, sorry I went a bit on a tear there. Hope all this helps!

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