Okay, so I thought I was being original with that title….turns out, many convention artist call themselves “Con Artists”….back to the drawing board. haha
I wanted to make a post that describes what it’s like to be a Con Artist, because there seems to be so much confusion. Of course, I’m really just starting out, so I’m sure I’ll have to revise at some point. For now, here are my thoughts.
There are a couple different types of artist:
- Spare Time Artist – this is the artist that has a full time job and does art and conventions on the side for the love of it and for some spare cash.
- Full Time Artist – this is the artist that lives, breaths and eats art. This is their full time job and their primary means of living.
- Local Conventions Artist – this is the artist that only attends the conventions they can drive to.
- Anywhere Conventions Artist – this is the artist that will travel to the ends of the earth if they here it’s a great convention.
Then there are different types of media/style:
- Comic Book Developer – the artist that’s creating and marketing their own comic book.
- Comic Style Artist – the artist that tends to stick with comic book style characters
- Anime Style Artist – the artist that tends to stick with anime style characters.
- Crafter Style Artist – the artist who’s main medium is something like jewelry, plushies, clothing, keychains, clay figures, buttons etc.
- The Author – the artist that’s trying to get exposure for their new novel.
- Fan Art – the art that only really covers characters that are already have major fan fare – like comic book characters, or popular movies/tvshows etc.
- Original Art – the original, non copyrighted work of any artist.
Some artists can be a mix of some, and they usually are. For example, I sell buttons, charms, bookmarks and art prints of both original and comic book style characters.
My Fav Part About Doing What I Do.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of artist you are, what matters is that people understand what it’s like to be an artist. I think my favorite part about being a Con Artist is when children (with their families) come up to my table and ask for advice on how to be a professional artist! Especially when you can clearly see that the parents are supportive!!! One kid I talked to had an entire portfolio of anime style characters to show me. It was awesome!! Normally, I give them tons of advice, do drawing demo’s and when you can see that their brain is about to explode from all the incredible info, I send them off with a free pin and a smile! Even though I’m not making hundreds of thousands of dollars (yet), I absolutely love what I do, and I can see that I actually touch people with my art.
The Many Hats of an Artist
The down side (sorta) of what I do, is that I sometimes encounter people that don’t really understand the amount of work that goes into my job. In order to be successful, I have to be the following things, often on a daily basis:
- An artist! Duh! – I have to have a product to sell. This doesn’t just mean I sit and draw all day. I also take classes to continue to better my skills.
- A marketing specialist. – I have to be able to get my product out there for others to see, otherwise I’m just drawing for me (I do this too). I also research new trends and new color schemes (did you know that every year a new color palette trend is released – notice how everything is pastel pink and blue this year???).
- A business woman. – I have to register for conventions, work with printers, research permits, book flights, book hotels, book airport parking, plan logistics, organize appropriate display setups (this list could go on and on and on!!!). You get the point.
- An accountant. – YUP! There’s a LOT of tracking to do with expenses. Did you think you just get to pocket the cash you made at those conventions? Nope! I have to account for everything. What I spend, what I make, the mileage on my car, the phone usage, the processing fees, etc etc. I also have an actual accountant, but I’m the one that logs everything, not her.
- A webdesigner. – A lot of these conventions actually vet and research the artists that they select for the conventions, if your sites look horrible, you may not get selected.
- A social media expert. – This might be part of marketing, but I still consider it a job on it’s own. I have to learn to be an expert at Instagram posting, Tumblr Posting, Twitter Posting, Facebook (we currently have beef) Posting…and lets not forget any new popular apps that suddenly develop! Yup, I’m looking at you Snap Chat!!!
- Commissions – Lets cover this separately!
There’s enough here to make a person go crazy. So, if you think that being an artist is all daisy’s and drawing, you’re cray cray!!!! And if you have a full time job (not as an artist) on top of this…..wow!
Even as a beginner con artist, I can’t explain how many times I get messages or requests for commissioned work. This is awesome right!!!!? Normally, I would say so, however, most often, those people don’t really understand what it takes from the artist to do those commissions. And because I’m still small potatoes (with few followers), my prices are cheap!!! Here are some notes!
- Yes! That art print that you loved so much is only $15 dollars! NO! I cannot do an personal commissioned piece of you, your 10 family members, 8 pets, all hanging from a family tree, in three different colored schemes for the same price!!! Why? Because two weeks of my time is not worth $15 dollars. My art pieces are priced low enough so that people can afford it. That way I can sell more than one and it covers the time it took for me to make it.
- A typical commission (for me) is usually a back and forth project. Sometimes you want changes, and I’m happy to do them!! I want you to love your piece, but all of that takes time. And as you’ve seen above, there are MANY other things I could be doing with my time. So the prices are set!
- If we agree to work on a project together, that doesn’t mean that I drop everything for your project right now. I’m always very clear about my time lines upfront. Fortunately, I’ve had some awesome customers who are very understanding!!! THANK YOU!
In the digital age, I know that I’m going to get ripped off eventually. But another fun part about being an artist is dealing with it if/when it happens. There are a couple of ways this works:
- Someone blatantly steals from my table….it happens, and I’m not about to chase after you (assuming I even notice it before I do inventory counts). Ugh!
- Someone gets right up to an art piece and snaps a high res photo. I’ve seen 6 different people do this at my last convention. I’m glad that you like my art enough to want to take a piece with you, but that’s why I’m selling. Otherwise, I’d just upload all the high res images on the web for you to download for free. Really, what you’re saying to me (to my face) is that you like my art enough to steal it, but not enough to pay me for it. Ugh!
- Then there are online takers. There are many places for me to post projects that I’m working on. Heck, this website is one of them. It’s marketing! I want to be able to post great photos for you to check out, but there’s always the worry that it will be taken. And I’m not talking about copying it and using it as your screen saver. I’m talking, stealing it, sending it off to the printers, and then selling it on your own!!! Yes, people, that’s a real thing. How do they sleep at night!!! Ugh!
There are many other aspects of being an artist, but I think I’m going to do a whole new post on what you need to consider if you want to be a Con Artist specifically. It will/should cover things like:
- Are you ready?
- How to register.
- What do you need.
- Where do you print your images.
- How many should you print.
- The different booth styles.
- What to expect when you get to the convention.
…and many more.
For now, thanks for reading!!!