In Which There is a Summer Convention Wrap-up!

With Inktober so close to the horizon (two days away omgerd!), I’m finally sitting down and working on typing up a wrap-up for the last two months of conventions. And yes, this is absolutely a case of me putting this off way too long up to the point that I can’t wait any longer if I’m going to get this done, SO HERE WE GO!

Otakon 2017

Me and my table at Otakon 2017Ah, my old friend, Otakon. I am probably one of the few who was completely jazzed that the convention was moved to DC, because not only is it easier for me to get to, it’s location is prime for delicious foods that I normally don’t get (also, any excuse to get to ride the Metro is a good excuse).

It’s been six years (!!!) since I’ve had a table at an anime convention, so I will admit I was very nervous about what to expect. Especially since I purposefully have stripped all fanart from my table– and knowing that fanart is pretty much the bread and butter of an anime artist alley.

My Dragon Age Nerd ShowingHowever, I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout of sales. They were lower than I hoped, but higher than I expected– if that makes any sense. I had a lot of people stop by the table and want to talk shop– specifically about my watercolors and my technique. This gives me hope for my goal for next year– starting to stream (or at least record) my painting.

I also had a lot of awesome Dragon Age fans stop by my table and talk Dragon Age to me (well, I did have a sign after all). It felt me feel more in touch with the convention– as I am hopelessly out of date with what anime fans watch these days. I like YOI just like everyone else, but other than that? Yeah, I’m probably not into it and/or haven’t even watched it. Most of my fandoms have always been on the outside of what is “popular,” so I’m used to that. But boy, did I feel it more than ever at Otakon this year.

A commission in progress
A commission in progress

I was completely wrong in my assumptions of what items people would want. I thought my holographic posters would have flown off the shelves like hotcakes, but I didn’t sell one. I was completely shocked. Everyone commented on how pretty it was, but no one wanted it. It could of been a case of pricing?

Another thing I thought was going to be popular was the makeup bags. And again, I was completely wrong. Not one sold. People were far more interested in the tote bags, which I sold out of, and just glanced over the makeup bags.

Finished commission
Finished commission

The most popular thing, however by far, were commissions. I got so. many. My only conclusion for all of this is that, my art style was appealing to people– just not the prints I was selling? Or the prices? And it’s not really a case where you can go up to people and be like “IS IT MY PRICES? ARE THEY TOO HIGH?” without having them run away screaming for security.

Walking around the alley, my prices pretty much matched with what else I saw, so it was just confusing. It could also be a case of people willing to pay a price for fanart of a character they know and love, but not so much for an original character they have no connection to.

The whole table, for now, was a lot of space for me. But it was nice being able to spread out, and also having table room for doing the commissions. I didn’t feel cramped in the slightest– and I really liked the idea of not being boxed in by an overhang display.

Final Thoughts

Next year, more totes, less posters. Also, apparently people don’t really go to flip through portfolios anymore, so I have to think up a different display. Commissions were my bread and butter here, so maybe also next year, I don’t need to make as many prints. Utilize your space better, maybe by setting up the stuff for sale on one side, then leaving the other half for a display of me drawing/painting?

Small Press Expo

SPX set-upSPX was a separate beast all to itself. Instead of having an entire table, I had 1/4 of a table– which became clear very quickly was not enough room. The wire set up also blocked me out completely, which made it hard for people to see that I was there, or you know, talk to me.

Back in the Spring, when I ended up not getting a table in the lottery, I pretty much resigned myself to focusing on illustration and portfolio stuff for the rest of the year. And so I did just that, finishing at least one illustration every month. Little did I know, my pal Spenser ended up offering to share his half table. But I got that invite less than three months before the convention. My summer was super busy with a new job and commission web work, which left me with no time to plan, much less draw, a new zine for the expo.

I was zineless at a zine event.

You can guess how well that went.

Spenser peddling our wares
Spenser peddling our wares

I’ll just come out and say it– it was kind of a disaster for me. Sales really were bad for me. The only thing I really sold were, again, the tote bags. I sold out of tote bags within the first two hours of the show!

Since I knew I didn’t have much to offer comics wise, I figured that sales wouldn’t be great, so I didn’t have a hotel room. In trying to save money, I ended up driving back and forth from my house, an hour plus drive. It was really draining to know after a day of very slow sales, I had a long drive to still go home before I could finally sleep. Yeah, it wasn’t great. Not doing that one again. Hotel rooms ftw!

But that’s not to say the entire show was bad for me. I had great conversations and met some awesome people– like Nilah Magruder, who is an amazing artist, and my new favorite person (psssst check out her art). Also Gale Galligan, who I hadn’t seen since SPX 2015, had some adorable zines that I picked up and just devoured. They are so cute. Not to mention, I made a fool of myself fangirling over HamletMachine and her art (I’ve been a Starfighter fan since it’s launch so many years ago ;_;) . It was also great to hang out with Spenser again. He and I haven’t seen each other since before I moved to Japan, so it was great being able to see him and catch up. I may have also ruined Civil War for him, but shhhhhh don’t bring it up.

And that’s the point of SPX, right? To chill with your friends and get some comics? So, despite how bad sales were for me,  I can’t help but love the vibe of SPX. I look forward to it every year, and I will definitely try again for the lottery next year.

Final Thoughts

TOTE BAGS. I will have at least two more designs for tote bags by SPX next year, if not more. Not only do people want them at the show to carry their goods around, they are a great way to get my art around a very crowded artists’ room. I also saw a lot of amazing zines this year, and I want to be able to have some of my own next year. Short stories/comics are a huge weakness for me, and I need to face that weakness head on, and challenge myself to knock some out before the next SPX. I’m aiming for two, along with a sketch zine, but if I can do more than that, great!

 

So I guess that’s my next year’s worth of art planned out!

October 1st marks the beginning of Inktober. I haven’t decided whether I’ll be posting each illustration every day, or doing a weekly/biweekly dump. I guess it all depends on how busy the illustrations keep me. I’ve made some of my best stuff in past Inktobers, so I am really looking forward to it this year.

So that’s it for conventions for 2017. Until next year…

Have nugs, will travel
Have nugs, will travel!

 

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 I Explain Where I Have Been

aprilprev久しぶり! You may have thought that I fell into a ditch somewhere, or just stopped updating my blog entirely? Or that I had been entirely consumed by Dragon Age: Inquisition? And you’d be partially right? There was no ditch, yes I did play a lot of DAI but I finished my (second) play-through, and I am updating now, so let’s just skip straight to the excuses right? Or the non-excuses, as it were? (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ 

 

If you follow me on Twitter, then this big news isn’t anything new to you, but– when I came home I was contacted by NASA to work on a comic project with them about the GPM. Yes, NASA. It took a few months to get everything up and running, but I’ve spent the last month working on comic pages for NASA.

Just let that sink in there. I know it still hasn’t for me!

Cue obligatory statement of my opinions being my own, and how I do not represent the views or opinions of NASA.

This week, I finished up my penciled pages and sent them off for approval. Once everything is OKed, I’ll be sharing with you all my progress as my pages go from pencils, to inks, to colors. It’s all quite exciting! Although that means you all will see how messy my pencils are. It’s shameful, really. I have to ink my own things, because I could not ask someone to make heads or tails of all my different colors of pencil marking scribbles.

 

I’ve been meaning to post the news about this sooner, but there’s been so much work with getting these pages done, there just has not been any extra time for me to also update on the blog. But, if you are interested, I’ve been posting teasers of my pencils on Twitter and Instagram.

When I know the details of when and how the comic will be available, you all will be the first to know!

 

In other exciting news, I will also be having a table at SPX! After applying to several conventions this year, and consistently being put on wait lists, I was convinced that I would just not be at any cons this year, but SURPRISE! I was one of the lucky ones who was chosen for a table at SPX. So if you are local to Maryland, or aren’t and you are coming to the show anyway, please come see me! I’ll have half a table and will hopefully be watercoloring up a storm! This will be my first indie convention, as all my previous experience has been at been at anime conventions, and even those I haven’t been to in four years, so this is going to be an interesting experience! I’ll have a new comic short premiere there, which will serve as a teaser for my webcomic starting sometime late this year/early next year.

This weekend I’ll be making the final decision on which story to go with– as I have been working on two completely different stories in my downtime for the last few months. Will it be the fantasy epic? Or the shoujo romance? I’m not sure yet! I’ve wanted to do both stories for so long, it’s hard to choose!

 

And tomorrow Age of Ultron comes out, and I know my need to draw Avengers will be strong, but I have to work on pages! Must resist! o(╥﹏╥)o