Wednesday, October 17, 2012
This past weekend, I participated in The Alternative Press Expo, otherwise known as APE. Prior to this, I had never attended a convention. I wasn't entirely sure what sort of promotional materials to bring, or what I might be able to sell. To be safe, I decided to stick with business cards to hand out, and 2 types of postcards to sell. I also brought a promotional postcard to advertise the release date of my e-book. I considered selling prints, but decided against it. I was planning to make prints of my newer artwork so I could update my portfolio. Unfortunately, as I was preparing to do that, I decided to try printing out a few postcards on my HP printer and Staples standard size postcards.
When I put the postcard in the machine, the paper jammed and there was a sickening burning smell. When I finally managed to remove all the paper and tried again to print, the printer made a horrible, loud ticking noise, and the paper all jammed into one corner. No matter how much I shook it, or screamed and cursed at it, no amount of banging on it, or shedding of tears was going to bring that printer back to life.
Several hours later, I gathered my courage and took my flash drive down to Kinkos. They made 4 extremely dark prints that I regretfully shoved into my portfolio, knowing all the while that they were not good representations of my work, but still feeling the need to update the portfolio. By now, of course, I was really nervous for my convention debut, but by Saturday morning, I was feeling much better.
The only reason I was able to go to the convention in the first place, was as a representative of the Academy of Art Children's Book Club (http://aauchildrensbook.blogspot.com). I shared a table with 3 other girls from the club (Joie Brown (http://www.joieart.net/), Alexandria Gold (http://riablog-art.blogspot.com/) and Kelsey Heckenkamp). It was a bit of a challenge to arrange all of our personal art as well as the book representing the club members on that incredibly small table, but we managed. I settled in and waited for the sales to come rolling in. And roll in they did. For Joie and Alexandria. I sold NOTHING! Nada. Zip. By 4pm, my ego was seriously bruised (as you can probably tell in this photo; I am the one in the striped shirt in case you didn't recognize me), and I packed it in and went home.
I considered not going back the next day. I could not imagine suffering through the doubts and the embarrassment I felt watching people pick up my free items and instead of putting them in their pockets, putting them back on the table!
After tossing and turning, and getting very little sleep, I woke up early on Sunday, and grudgingly decided to go back. Since our table was against a staircase with a nice railing, I decided to take several of my original pieces. They were enormous, but there was a fair amount of space behind us. Selling one of those would have made everything all better!
Unfortunately Kelsey couldn't come on Sunday, and Alexandria was coming later in the afternoon. That freed up a significant amount of space on our table, so after the donation of a table easel from our amazing neighbor Glitterside (http://www.glitterside.com/), I put one of the original pieces on the table. That seemed to make all the difference. There was much more interest in my work (though people still didn't take many of the freebies), and I almost sold the piece on the table.
By the end of the convention on Sunday afternoon, I was exhausted, but happy that I came (notice the vastly different expression on my face). I learned so much from the artists around me about table presentation as well as what to sell and how to sell it.
I met some truly amazing artists (too many to list here), but the highlight was meeting Andrea Alzman, the wife of Christian Alzmann (http://www.christianalzmann.com), one of my absolute favorite artists. She was SO nice, and very friendly. Thanks Andrea!
I am already planning for APE next year, and possibly CTN., as well as the SCBWI conference in Asilomar. I think I am a bona fide convention junkie!