How To Prepare For A Convention

Fantasy and scifi conventions are great events for fantasy artists to bring their artwork in front of people. I started attending conventions as an artist a little over a year ago. Here are some hopefully helpful tips that I have learned from having an artist booth.

1. Plan ahead

When you have an artist's table at a convention, it is your chance to bring your artwork in front of a lot of people. In my experience, the way you display your products is just as important as the artwork itself. At a convention you have the chance to provide an experience for the convention goers. I start planning for a convention weeks before the actual event, and I even practice building my setup and table at home before the convention. Planning ahead will also reduce the stress you have before a con because you feel more prepared.

Here is my setup from the gaming convention Ropecon last weekend. Because I practiced setting up the table ahead of time, it was much easier to decide how to display all the items. And can you believe I can fit all this into one suitcase!

Here is my setup from the gaming convention Ropecon last weekend. Because I practiced setting up the table ahead of time, it was much easier to decide how to display all the items. And can you believe I can fit all this into one suitcase!

2. Provide a positive experience for people

You will want your table to look professional and inviting. Always bring a clean, nice quality table cloth. Also if you can, bring a backdrop where you can hang your artwork behind your table. Because you never know what kind of walls the sales area will have. And sometimes you don't even have a wall behind you, so you want your table to stand out from the clutter of the convention hall. The photo you can see above is from last weekend's Ropecon gaming convention. My first setup from a year ago at the same convention didn't look this nice, and this is still a relatively affordable convention setup. You don't have to have everything figured out when you start going to conventions, just do your best so that your table looks nice and inviting.

I use a simple photography backdrop canvas stand like this. It's lightweight and easy to carry. It's a great way to build a simple clean backdrop for your convention booth.

I use a simple photography backdrop canvas stand like this. It's lightweight and easy to carry. It's a great way to build a simple clean backdrop for your convention booth.

 

3. Price your items clearly

It is beneficial to have every item on your table priced very clearly. People may be shy to ask what an item costs. I have signs on my table that have the prices of specific products on them, and I have also tried to price every product individually so the price information is very easy for the customer to find. For every convention that I go to, I try to improve my signage. It's still not perfect and on occasion people ask about the price of a particular item. This tells me that I will have to improve my signage for the next convention.

4. Have clear signage

In addition to having your prices marked clearly, if you are able to accept credit cards on your table, have a very clear sign that you can do so. At conventions, people have a limited amount of cash with them. More often than not people are delighted to find out that you can accept cards as well.

5. Bring enough stock

At my last convention, I sold out of my best prints during the first day. Printing out products for convention costs a lot of money, so it's tempting to bring just a few items, or try to sell the items you already have before you order more from the printers. If you are bringing prints and it's your first convention for example, I'd say maybe bring ten prints of your best artworks. That I've found is a good number, you never know which print will be the most popular. The amount of prints you bring is also affected by the size of the convention you are attending, I've found that for the smaller convention that have about 2000 to 4000 people attending, 10 prints of each is a good number.

6. Talk with people

It can be intimidating to bring you artwork in front of people. But in my experience, one of the best ways to improve in art and get new inspiration is to get direct feedback from people. At a convention you can see what artworks people art drawn to most, it might not be the one that you like the most, which is always interesting. I'm naturally an introvert, but after going to a few conventions I've gotten better at saying hi to people as they walk by the booth. This is important, you want people to know that it's okay to say hi to you and they will feel more comfortable to browse through your table. And often the best value you get from attending a convention is the feedback you get from people.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

-Eeva