Podcast

Comic Cons & Art Fairs

 Art by Tanner Garlick

Art by Tanner Garlick

Comic Cons & Art Fairs

 Comic conventions and art fairs take place all over the globe, with almost every major city in the United States hosting one. With the large audiences  that attend these shows it is a good place for illustrators to show their work and start selling.

 In this episode we will cover what the world of comic conventions and art fairs is like, ways to get into shows, and the differences between them. This is one of the easiest ways (depending on some conditions) to make money as an artist.

 Lee White has experience showing at art fairs, whereas Jake Parker and Will Terry have experience with the comic convention circuit.

 Money range [5:32]

The amount of money an artist can make at a show depends on a lot of variables such as location of the show and the types of products being sold.

 At Lee White’s best art fair show he made $24,000 USD over a three day art fair.

 On the comic convention side, at Jake Parker’s first convention he made enough to cover the cost of the show and for travel. At Jake’s best comic convention he broke $9,000 USD gross. His average is $5,000-$6,000 USD gross.

 At Will Terry’s best convention he made $19,000 USD gross. His average is between $7,000-$9,000 USD gross.

 How Lee, Will and Jake started showing [8:38]

 Lee got his start showing at art fairs with Crafty Wonderland. He was invited to show when a table opened up. Following that experience he started actively looking for art fairs to attend.

In his mid 20’s Jake was in the comic anthology, [Flight](https://amzn.to/2zNv0fY).  The editor of the book purchased a table at San Diego Comic Con, and invited the other artists to use the extra space. Jake went to sell prints and books. After getting a taste of what it was like to table at a show, he decided to do his own show. His first show outside of San Diego was [CTNX](https://www.ctnanimationexpo.com/). Following that success he knew it was possible to be successful at other shows. a

Will Terry’s first comic convention was a disaster even though he spent two years researching how to sell. Through that experience he learned how to be successful. He now has an assistant that takes Will’s art around the comic convention circuit. Will only personally attends 3-4 of the shows.

 Will has a series of YouTube videos where he goes into detail about his first experience tabling at a comic convention.

[Will Terry’s comic convention video series:](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nti31w0lZw0&list=PL7IC3Am6kUZPRoK9CjW9rhTLua3DQVL9I)

 Lee White: “It’s worth it as an experience. You cannot anticipate how much energy these things take. They are really hard.” Having extra people to help you is really helpful because there are so many factors involved.

 Doing this full time as your only source of income can be really consuming. For Lee, Will and Jake they use art shows as supplemental income sources. Artists who do this full time can go to 30-40 shows a year.

 Differences between art fairs and comic conventions [21:05]

 Art fairs are typically during the summer. Usually outside in parks, but sometimes in convention centers. Artists purchase 10 foot by 10 foot booths. The average attendee at an art fair is older (50 years-old to 70 years old). There are not a lot of collectors, it is mostly people looking for artwork to put on their walls. They want to purchase originals.

 Prices for pieces at art fairs range from $50 USD to $20,000 USD (higher end of that scale are people buying originals).

 Lee White: “The more specific the story in my image the less likely it is to sell. The bigger the character in an image, the less likely it is to sell.“ Lee focuses more on environment elements and doesn’t get too specific with storytelling. In order to be successful at art fairs you have to strike a nice balance between illustration and fine art, and create images people want to hang in their homes.

Lee’s Secret Sauce for Art Fairs: “[Illustrate] a moment that people can interpret what’s happening versus showing them what’s happening.” Create images that two separate people can view and come up with different stories. Just give the audience a hint of the story.

James Jean is a good example of this principle. His work transcends illustration and taps into the art fair market.

 [Website](http://www.jamesjean.com/)

 [James Jean Instagram](https://www.instagram.com/jamesjeanart/)

 Comic conventions [30:40]

 Comic conventions are focused on popular culture. There is an artist ally section where artists can buy tables to show and sell their work. Attendees typically have $100 and spend that across maybe 5 different artists. What sells the best at comic conventions are things people already know such as characters from popular films, tv shows or cartoons.

 Comic conventions products typically sells from $4 to $70.

 There is also a commission market, where attendees will pay artists to draw their character or some other character doing something specific. Some artists open their commission list before the show, whereas others only do commissions during the show. Jake does commissions at show and works on them during down times or at the hotel. He can make an extra $2,000 to $3,000 USD depending on what he is charging. Commission from artists at comic conventions can range from $20 USD all the way to $600 USD.

 Jake uses fan art he sells at comic conventions to get people to come look at his table where he also has pieces from his original stories. He uses this as a way to expand the audience for his original content.

 How to start [47:23]

 When trying to get into art fairs or comic conventions it is really important to understand the market. Lee tried to sell at CTNX with Jake and Will and his art did not fit that market.

 Step 1: Go visit the shows not as a fan but as research. Take notes, take photos, be detailed and focused.

 Step 2: Make inventory. You can’t do a show if you don’t have things to sell. Start with prints, prints are cheaper and easier to sell. Make sure to use archival ink and paper so your work doesn’t fade. Jake Parker says “every sell is a person you touch.” When you sell a print you are building a relationships with that person. There is a lot of repeat customers, so if you use cheap stuff you lose that future business.

 Prints generally have low overhead cost with a high markup price. T-shirts per-unit cost are higher and they can be hard to sell and keep the proper sizes in inventory. Stickers are also harder (higher per-unit cost and lower markup price). People often just want the image so they will buy the smallest size just to get it. Don’t lose sales by selling products with higher per-unit cost.

 Jed Henry is a good example of this, at shows he only sells one size. [Ukiyo Heroes](https://www.ukiyoeheroes.com)

 Start small and work your way up. Both with what show you start with and with your inventory (not small products but a smaller product list/inventory). Check to see if there is a show within an hour of your home. This is a good way to start small because you have lower overhead costs.

 Lee white: “Stay local until you get your market figured out and then start branching out.”

 It is important to know there are different niche markets in each show. So know your work and who it appeals to.

 Comic conventions are generally easier to show at then art fairs. Art fairs are curated so. For example, Lee only gets into about half of the art  fairs he applies for.

 [List of every convention in the USA](http://www.conventionscene.com/)

 Specifics on how to get into art fairs [01:06:29]

 For art fairs start with craft fairs, they are easier to get into. These shows are usually in the winter and indoors.

 [Art Fair Sourcebook](https://artfairsourcebook.com/). Has art fairs sorted by region, how many people attend and how much they spend on average. This source is expensive, but it is good data to have when catering to an audience with a larger budget.

 [Zapplication](https://www.zapplication.org/) is another good resource.

 Horror and success stories [01:07:55]

 Will Terry: For his first show he printed 1000 of each print, 23 different pints, so 23,000 prints total. He couldn’t even fit all his inventory in his car. Printing alone cost him $5,000 USD. He figured he would be showing at a lot of conventions so he was offsetting the cost. At his first show he only made $1,500 USD. After that he was pretty nervous. But luckily he was able to make it up over time, but it was scary after that first show.

 Lee White: At his first show he sold an original, but didn’t bring any bags. So had to give the customer his original art in a trash bag.  At a different show, Lee was busy setting up his booth, running to and from his car. When he was almost finished he realized the fanny pack he kept all his money in ($3,000 from his last art fair) had been open the whole time. Almost all his money flew into the wind before the art fair even started.

 Jake Parker: At a show in 2018, one of his tables was set up against and facing the wall. So he moved the table. Luckily no one told him to move it back even though it was obviously extending further out than anyone else’s. Also at that convention he had made a display structure out of foam core to hang prints. It kept falling over and he had to keep taping it. Overall it was just bad presentation.

Convention etiquette

 You have to learn convention etiquette. Watch out for ‘booth barnacles,’ they are attendees who stay for way too long and get in the way of making other sells. Jake has a polite way to remove booth barnacles. He waits for an opening in the conversation and sticks out his hand and says “It was so nice to meet you thanks for coming.” After that they usually leave.

 Also don’t just bring your portfolio to show and expect artists to review it. Always ask if there is a time to show them, don’t just assume. A good way to get a very quick and honest critique is to ask “what is the one main thing I should change in my portfolio?”

 For more information on critques listen to [Episode 10: Critiques] (https://www.svslearn.com/3pointperspectiveblog/2018/8/8/episode-10-critiques)

 Gear

 Information forthcoming.

 LINKS

Svslearn.com

Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44

Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These podcasts live and die on reviews.

If you want to join in on this discussion log onto forum.svslearn.com, there is a forum for this episode you can comment on.

Episode 11: Networking for Artists

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 Art by Tanner Garlick

Art by Tanner Garlick

If you think that networking is manipulative, selfish, or all about getting ahead you are doing it wrong. In this episode, we talk about how networking is all about friendship, giving, and the people that you choose to spend time with. We talk about how to network and connect with people above, next to, and below you.

Networking

The What and Why of a Network?

Your network is your connection to a broader world, to opportunities, and to new ideas. Your network consists of your friends in the field that you work in. Your network is so important and who you surround yourself with will influence the type of person that you are and the person that you will become. This applies to your creative life as well as with every other aspect of who you are.

Every jump in Jake’s career came from his network: animation, comics, publishing. Your network is your gate to so many

Jake and Will started to get connected over lunch. Lee was deliberate and tried to connect with Will and Jake.

Networking is like cycling, there is strength in staying in a group. Bikers encourage and support each other, and they draft off of each other. It is hard to break away and do it on your own. Choose friends and to spend time with people that push you to be better.

A true network is not your “job hotline” it consists of your real friends, your buds.

Put yourself in the right place and good things can happen [13:40]

It is true that there are some places that are creative hubs where its easier to find people to connect with but ultimately your network is a result of how much time and effort you put into it.

How much time do you spend getting to know other creatives that are like-minded, how do you make the first contact, and how do you deepen a creative relationship that you have? Consider these things as you learn more about creating your personal network and how to grow it.

Question: Do you need to live in a creative hot spot to be successful [14:54]

Many people have the false impression that it’s all about the location of an artist. Although each area has its own creative hub you can find creatives that are like minded just like you anywhere.

You create your network and you can reach out to people in the area through web searches and hashtagging your area to find people that have the same goals and values as you. Instagram is a great platform to do research and learn about the people in the area and there will be people.

How to build a network of friends in your area [18:00]

  1. Search online, check hashtags, follow & Like

  2. SVS Forum or general online forums

  3. Facebook groups

Through these interactions online you begin to develop relationships, give feedback and receive feedback, and engage with others. You can make the effort to not only find creatives online but create the friendships and start conversations to grow your circles.

SVS Forum

Online interaction is good, but you’ll need to meet people in real life [22:54]

Online interaction has its pros and has reach but there needs to be face to face interaction to solidify the relationships and contacts. This face to face interaction develops the real friendship aspect of networking. Go to networking events, Comicon, conferences, and presentations allow you the environment to meet people face to face with similar goals, values, and ideals. Often time if you have a clear vision of where you want to go you find people in the same boat as you.

How to get over being nerves [24:06]

Starting a conversation with a stranger is not easy but in the industry of illustration and artist, there are comfort zones that need to be broken.

Talking face to face can be hard but there are many things you can do to overcome the fear of talking to someone you have never met. Put yourself in situations to interact with others. Sit next to people or stand next to them in line and create a beginning point of conversation like drawing next to them or talk about why they are there.

Introduction and exit strategies [27:48]

The more and more you stick your neck out to meet other people the more and more you will learn how to ignite conversations and end a conversation. You can begin by pointing out something on their shirt, comment about something that they have or ask about what they are doing here, or what awesome things they seen at the conference etc.

Jake’s foolproof exit is “It was so good to meet you!” hint I gotta go.

Form: Family, occupation, recreation, motivation(or message) [29:44]

You can follow these guidelines to create conversation

  1. Family: Are you here alone, where are you from, are you the only artist in your family?

  2. Occupation: What do you do for a living, is it a hobby?

  3. Recreation: What do you like to do for fun?

This then warms people up for this question:

  1. Motivation: What motivates you, why are you here, why did you decide to draw ….?

Don’t forget the best questions: what is your worthless superpower?

More ideas to meet people [33:11]

  1. Attend a lunch or dinner, or host your own

  2. Create a critique group

    1. In critique groups, you find artists that are motivated and like-minded. This group can meet once a month or once a week and help challenge you personally and grow with each other.

  3. Draw Lunch

    1. Go to the mall and get something to eat and draw. It’s as simple as that. This is a great opportunity to get face to face action.

  4. Set up one-on-one meetings [35:44]

    1. This is a very deep level of interaction and creating your network.

What does your network look like [37:03]

Your network is composed of mentors, friends, and followers. Mentors are people that are farther along and have more experience than you. Friends are the people at the same stage of life you are in and have similar experience level. Followers are people that look up to you.

Keep in mind this quote: It’s not who you know, it’s who you help - Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t starve [38:27]

Real Artist Don't Starve

Give and you will grow your network.

Research before reaching out [41:00]

You need to put the work into researching before reaching out to mentors and peers. Before contacting a someone that you admire purchase their material, watch their YouTube videos, read their blog, follow their social media. However, beyond that make sure you have put the time and effort into learning about the field you are interested in or researching about the questions you have. For example, if you are wanting to be a children's book illustration do your research before asking a professional for help and looking like a deer in the headlights.

How to ask questions [41:56]

Before asking a question to a mentor think it through. Ask the question AND provide three solutions to your question. This demonstrates that you have thought things out and have done your research.

How to get a great mentor [43:26]

Jake’s experience with Rachel Everette-  First, Rachel went to a workshop Jake was hosting. Then they met again at ComicCon and she asked Jake to create one of her characters as a commission. This was great because it allowed Jake to be immersed in her art and get to know her. At their next Comicon, she created fanart art of Jake’s character. She also reached out to help Jake with Skyheart because she had time during school.  All these connections allowed Jake to become invested in her. Jake had a contact at Marvel and reached out to them on behalf of Rachel and she is now at the beginning of her career working with Marvel.

Rachel Everett

How to make friends in the industry [48:06]

It feels like common sense but find common interests- be a friend. Interact in thoughtful ways and then dig deeper. When you find people with the same artistic values and ideals stick with them and make time to connect with them.

Being a friend also means being invested in other others success, find the situations and environments that help you all grow, interact with people, and plug into groups and communities.

Finding followers [56:15]

Don’t neglect your follower network. Take time to create your follower network by creating work and allowing your “tribe” to naturally manifest. Build and maintain and network. Connect and be authentic when interacting with your followers. Some things that help people feel connected is Sharing your process, ah- ha moments, and screw-ups. Allow people to be involved in your world. Promote projects and do shoutouts.

Have a shared purpose of collective power i.e. Inkober- drawing in ink!

Building a universe one drawing at a time- Jake Parker. Build your brand around your shared purpose.

When building your network consider these things:

Share Freely [1:00:38]

People with good networks share freely. They don’t hide their secrets. This shows kindness, love, and authenticity.

Create a mantra [01:01:56]

Jake’s is Finished Not Perfect - independent creators that are finished

I.e. Draw every day

Learn and Listen [01:03:43]

Pay attention to feedback. Shift accordingly.

Host meetups [01:04:31]

You build a network by giving more than you take [01:05:14]

This is essential, give and share. This way is the right way to develop real lasting connections. 

This is the key to networking- give. Be a giver more than a taker.

Connecting other people together. Elevates the scene that you are a part of.

If your group is not challenging you to find different friends and

NETWORKING Challenge [01:07:46]

At least one time this next week invited someone to do something related to illustration. Be the inviter.

Post on the forum about the outcome of this challenge!

LINKS

Svslearn.com

Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44

Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

If you like this episode, please share it, subscribe, and we’d love it if you left a review! These podcasts live and die on reviews.

If you want to join in on this discussion log onto forum.svslearn.com, there is a forum for this episode you can comment on.

 



 

Introducing 3 Point Perspective!

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  Drawing by  Tanner Garlick

Drawing by Tanner Garlick

Welcome to the 3 Point Perspective podcast! This is THE podcast all about illustration. We talk all about how to do it, how to make a living at it, and how to make an impact in the world with your art.

Your hosts are Jake Parker, Will Terry, and Lee White. For the last 25 years, they've all worked with just about every major publisher and every publication in the biz. They've collectively published about 50 books, and have all taught at universities.

Each week, they're going to tackle a subject related to illustration from their three different perspectives. Sometimes they'll agree, sometimes they're gonna argue, but you are gonna learn something new every time.

Here are some of the questions that will be discussed:

  • How do you get discovered as an artist?
  • Once you're discovered, how do you negotiate a deal if you've got a job?
  • How do you get an agent to represent you?
  • What are the tools that illustrators use (computers, software, pens, pencils, brushes)?
  • Why do you create?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • How do you battle creative block?
  • How do you balance work and life and still have a successful career and have a successful family life?

Message from Jake, Terry, and Lee:

Thanks for checking out 3 Point Perspective. We'd love it if you would subscribe to our podcast so you'll know whenever new episodes drop and you'll be able to listen to them right away.

We would also love any sort of feedback you have. Did you like how the topic was presented? What's your perspective on the topics? What are things that you wanna learn about? What are questions that you have about illustration?

Please hit subscribe and join us for future episodes of the Three Point Perspective podcast, and we will see you in the next episode.

Our best,

Jake, Will, and Lee