In Which Aja Talks About Displays at Conventions

I give a lot of thought to presentation at artist alleys. Not only to grab the attention of passersby, but because I want to create a memorable experience between me and the people who stop by my tables. When I have people who come to my table and tell me they’ve been following me since my days at DeviantArt, then well, yeah I’ve done a good job of resonating with my audience.

(Believe it or not, this happens at every show I’ve been to… and I haven’t used DeviantArt seriously in almost ten years.)

This year, I’ve finally decided to update my table cloth to this amazing hot pink color. When I found this color, I knew I had to have it. I’d been shopping around for patterned table coverings, but couldn’t find any that I liked. I had resigned myself to creating my own pattern and making the table cloth for next year and sticking with what I’ve used for ten years, but then I ran across this solid color, and knew it would work. Not only does it go really well with my normal color pallet, it will (hopefully) also draw attention. One glance at the table, and people will know what I’m about– BOLD PINK COLORS.

(Okay, maybe that’s a little too much pink… OR IS IT?)

I’ve also decided to get rid of the “boxed” design that I had been using with the wire cubes, and try for something a bit more open. While the boxed design that many artists use is very effective in showcasing everything you have with you, I always get the feeling of being– for lack of a better phrase– boxed in? Like there is no escape! I had done a set up similar to this at SPX and FrederickCon– although instead everything was on the table. It worked pretty well, except there was a lot of scrambling for things on my end when it came to sales because I had to store everything under the table. Hopefully, the half cube I set up on the left (my right) will alleviate the problem.  I also had to account for the fact that I’ll be selling bags for the first time, and wanted to make sure they were properly displayed.

Why bags? Well, a lot of artists that I follow and love have been doing pins, which are amazing! But my art style doesn’t really apply to the process. However, I wanted to branch out into something that’s not just prints and posters, so I ordered a [very] small amount of bags to give it a try this year. From the early feedback I’ve already received, I did not order enough. Not to worry, you can find the bags for now on sale in  my shop on RedBubble. I was going to wait until after the convention, but I’m so worried I’m going to sell out fast, I want to be able to give an option to people.

And lastly, every year I like to do something a little special for my customers at conventions, so I like to have some sort of nice presentation or a gift saying thank you for supporting me… that type of thing. Well this year, I’ve made folded these origami card holders to display my business cards.

A friend of mine in Japan presented her meishi (名刺 – business card) this way to give it a bit of flair. When I saw it , I was super fascinated by it! I’ve practiced origami since I was very little, and I had never even considered that it could be folded in this way. I told her about my passion for origami, and she offered to show me how to fold it. I thanked her profusely afterward– which lead to a very touching gift later when she game me a small ream of origami paper that was made where we lived in Saga that still makes me a bit teary eyed, but I’m getting off topic here!

I’m really pleased with how they came out, and they add even more pink to an already very pink table, but yep, I’m going with it!

I’ll be leaving for Otakon tomorrow, and my bags still aren’t packed, and I haven’t been able to find my room floor in weeks, so I should get to that. A few people have asked me where my table is, and the truth of it is– I don’t know yet. I’m one of the tables in the pending O section. Once I get my table assignment tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be putting it up on social media.

See you at Otakon! ^_~

In Which There is A Week Until Otakon!

I’m taking my own advice, and charging head first against a blank screen despite the deep terror I’m feeling looking at it. Let’s do this!

For the first time since I’ve returned from Japan, I’m going to be tabling at Otakon’s Artist Alley in one week! I’m really excited to be coming back to what I consider my “home” convention. I was so sad I couldn’t go last year, but by teeth had other plans. Thanks root canal!

I’ve promised myself this year to start prepping early, so I thought sharing my process in prepping for an artist alley would be fun and informative for those of you curious about running your own table in the future, or just wondering what all goes into being in artist’s alley.

This year I’m not focusing on the 8.5 x 11 prints like I have in previous years. In the last few shows I’ve done, people’s interest tends to lean towards my smaller items, or bigger items, but the old 8.5 x 11 are collecting dust, sadly. This year I’m experimenting with having 8.5 x 5.5 prints, which works really well with my watercolors. I’ll be looking for feedback at Otakon about the bigger prints, but if enough people don’t express a want for them, I’ll be phasing the size out of my prints permanently.

 

I just received these prints from CatPrints and am super happy with them. I even gave their holographic papers a go, which came out great…

 

This new way of approaching my prints creates a conundrum. Pricing. Price too high, no one will buy– price to low and… ulgh, I can’t think of a good rhyme here, but you get the idea. Pricing too low is not good either. While you may sell a lot (or everything), you may not make the production cost + time/effort put into making it back, which will set you back instead of further ahead (which is the goal, right?). This is why at artist alleys you generally see letter sized prints around the same price range. Because these are nice quality prints, some with the special holographic screen, I need to charge more, but what’s a good price? I’m thinking $12 for the plain prints, and $15 for the holographic ones.

But what do you think? To expensive? Not enough? Or just right?

 

The State of Things – Summer 2016

Let’s get the sad news out first– I won’t be making it to Otakon this year. Last week I was having killer tooth pain. Went to the dentist to find out that I need to get a root canal, and due to a stupid insurance loophole, the first day I can get my root canal is August 11th, the day before the con. Not to mention the expense of the procedure (over $1000) will require everything I’ve saved for the con (and so much more ulgh), being able to talk to people will not be in the cards that weekend either. So I made the call to not go this year. I’m really upset about this, because this is the last year of Otakon in Baltimore, and I’ve spent 17 years of my life going (almost) every year (I think I get a pass for the years I was in Japan ^^;;). But here’s to next year in DC~! As long as you can get to the con via Metro, I’ll be there :D

 

Now the serious announcement.

 

About a year ago, I made a choice. I was hot off of finishing the pages for NASA, and I needed to quickly decide what comic I was developing I would start as a webcomic for SPX. I had two projects “ready” and I had to choose which one to go with. I chose Tokyo Heart Story for a number of reasons. Now with a year of work under my belt, and only 13 pages to show for it…  I’m starting to think I made the wrong decision. It’s been a year since I started working on THS, and I’m still in the same corner I wrote myself in before even starting the comic. And it’s completely frustrating to me that I can’t make this story work, to the point every time I start to work on it again, I get stressed out all over again trying to make the pieces fit.

(But to be honest, I was nervous about it before I even launched it– the night before the site went up, I literally had a panic attack on how not ready I was to launch. This has been a constant state. I thought it was just nervous jitters, but now I know better.)

Mix in with all of that a crisis of the state of where my art is, and a drive to try to level up my drawing skills, and well, you get a mess.

Which is exactly what I feel like I am right now.

A hot mess.

So, I spoke with my circle of trust this week, and discussed the feelings and frustrations I have, and how it feels like this is holding up everything else in my life (both personal and creatively). They unanimously agreed that perhaps a hiatus would be a good choice– maybe even a permanent one. I’m not sure about that, but one of my friends suggested working on another project I have cooking for a while, and see if that either clears the block for THS, or takes over and well, then I have another project to work on. And I have to agree that sounds like a better plan. So for the next few months I’m going to be focusing on sharpening my skills, while trying to get some development work for a different series. And if I find myself starting to draw THS stuff again, all the better, right?

This decision was not one I came to easily, and I’m trying to take a positive look on this and not just have it be a project I quit. I love all of the characters dearly in THS (esp the last one that has yet to be introduced, despite being a main character T^T), not to mention the story is a very personal one for me. And maybe this is the root of my issue? Maybe it’s too personal of a story that I’m not ready to share with the world. Hmm.

 

Anyway, this blog will continue to be updated and all of you will be able to see what I’m working on. I’m trying to focus on next year, and the year after that. For the first time, I’m making a life plan. And it seems pretty great.

Thank you all for the support you’ve given me for the last year. I hope you will continue as I walk into this next chapter.

SPX, Inktober, and Web Comics, OH MY!

Inktober Best Of

So much has been happening both in the professional and personal side of my life! It’s been bananas! After SPX, I took a much needed break, as my life since March has been comics and sickness, and that’s pretty much it. But then October started, and that means Inktober! I’m a bit behind on my days, but I’ve sworn to myself I’ll get 31 (non comic) ink drawings done, even if it leaks into November– which it is going to. My running list of completed illustrations can be seen here. Instead of floundering on what to draw each day this year, I decided on a theme of Dragon Age pairings, the usual and the unusual, and it’s been a joy to explore. While I’m not 100% satisfied on how all of them have come out, I want to make a collection of all of these when all is said and done, redo-ing the ones I’m not happy with. Not sure how it’ll be collected, but I’ll figure out something!

Oh, yeah, and SPX happened! There where so many of my old SCAD classmates, we had a mini SCAD SEQA reunion, and it was marvelous! I also got to finally meet so many people face to face, like Trungles, Paulina Ganucheau, Kevin Panetta, Kata Kane and S.M. Vidaurri. I also made a slew of new friends, like Gale Galligan, Rachel YoungNgozi Ukazu, Sarah Dill, Larry King, Kori Michele, Ray Nadine, and Denise Clamors— not to mention, I got to meet my personal hero Kate Beaton, and got to make my idiot of myself in front of her while babbling to her about how important her work is for me. Because it is so important. I got one of my books by her signed, and still grin whenever I see it on my bookshelf.

Sadly, everyone was busy, so I didn’t get to spend too much time with anyone! We all had our own tables to attend, so our conversations were just stolen free moments out of the weekend. I think next year, I’m going to head down a day early, even though it’s so close to where I live, if only to spend actual time with people and talk for more then ten minutes! Things went better than expected for me table wise. I didn’t have much to offer comics wise, but I did sell out of a few things. Next time, I’ll have more comics available! Also thank you to everyone who came over and talked Dragon Age to me, because yes I love being a DA geek, and can talk about it endlessly, as some people learned!

 

And now webcomic things!

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October 15th the official web launch of Tokyo Heart Story happened! You can finally read it on the internet with your very eyeballs. The comic will be updated bi-monthly, starting with a (very small) update this Sunday. I have one (hopefully) final medical procedure for the year tomorrow, so while I was hoping to have more pages done this Sunday, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this time. I will make up for it in later updates, I promise!

And finally, in other web comic news, the GPM comic is now up on the NASA website! Go take a gander at what I’ve been working on since March, and talking endlessly about! It’s an adorable comic, and I learned so much from it, it’s amazing! I also received some print copies of the comic, which holding in my hands feels so surreal. I worked so hard on those pages, and to see them so nicely printed and beautiful, it was just amazing.

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It’s crazy that November is right around the corner, but here we are! I have so many things planned for the end and the beginning of the new year, I can’t wait to share it with all of you in the coming weeks. I felt like I have grown so much as a person and as an artist this year. I am still in a phase where I am not happy with my art, but that means I just have to keep pushing, right? ONWARD!

SPX!

Blog, let’s stop meeting like this okay? But I guess it’s good that I’ve been too busy to write? Right?

 

SPX IS IN THREE DAYS, EVERYONE!

Ever since I finished the GPM comic, I’ve been fully focused on getting things ready for SPX. Namely…

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TADA! The first seven pages of my new webcomic will be making it’s debut this weekend! Tokyo HEART Story has been something I’ve been working on for several years on and off, so it’s really really awesome for me to finally have printed pages of it in my hands that I can share with the world X3

I finished the final touch ups of formatting the book this weekend, and spent Sunday evening collating, folding, and stapling. That’s right, every one of these books was hand crafted by me (like 95%, since I didn’t print them personally, but I did everything else lol). This is the first time I have prepped my zines myself, as I’ve always had the printers do it. I feel very attached to this comic, so I wanted to oversee the presentation myself, which meant even folding everything page by page. Yes, it’s a little crazy, but the books look so cute, so it was totally worth it.

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I have a very limited number of these books, so if you would like to buy one from me, please find me early! I also made some fabulous Tokyo HEART Story postcards to give away.

Along with the preview, I will have postcards of my paintings, prints, and copies of the SugarNinjas volumes I’ve appeared in, and I’ll also be taking commissions at the show. I’ll have some watercolors, a selection of Copics (maybe?), and I will have blank paper covered Moleskines and a few shikishi if you are interested in a commission on one of those.

If you are coming to the show, please stop by table 83 and say hi! I even made a map!

 

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This will be my first comic convention I’ve ever tabled at. In the past, I’ve always tabled at anime conventions. I cannot express how nervous but excited I am about this weekend. I finally get to meet people I’ve been talking to online for year(s), and be a total comic nerd the whole weekend.

P.S. you can also talk to me about Dragon Age, but I may never shut up about it so… do so at your own risk!