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Artist Alley – What to Sell at a Convention

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Artist Alley is a hub for conventions, where talented artists and creators showcase and sell their unique artworks, crafts, and merchandise directly to fans and attendees It’s a creative and diverse space to celebrates the passion and creativity of independent artists.

Are you also an artist looking for ideas for your Artist Alley booth at an upcoming convention? 

You can sell prints illustrations, drawings, decorative accessories related to comics, anime, manga, superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, horror or interesting genres.

Discover how to strike a balance between variety and simplicity, cater to different budgets, and make informed decisions that set you up for a successful convention experience.

Tip 1: Sell what you are good at making:

A good idea is to sell your best work at Artist Alley. You can express your passion in your work by creating what you feel confident about. 

As an artist, you can build a following base by focusing on your greatest skills and expertise.

If you want to increase your chances of making a sale, do extensive market research on what items, designs, themes, and genres have a larger fan base.

However there are variety of ideas to sell on Artist Alley

  • Original Artwork vs Fan Art:

As opposed to mass-produced prints, original artwork represents the artist’s unique vision and creativity.

It can attract art enthusiasts who appreciate the skill, craftsmanship, and authenticity that original pieces bring.

Moreover, selling original artwork provides artists with an opportunity to establish themselves as reputable and skilled creators, gaining recognition and building a dedicated fanbase.

Fan art, based on popular shows, movies, video games, characters or books, is often in high demand. Create artwork inspired by well-known fandoms, but remember to comply with any copyright or licensing restrictions.

Fan art often sells better than original works, but make sure to have knowledge and genuine interest in the series you’re creating fan art for.

Be aware of the convention’s rules on selling fan art, as most have a 50/50 rule of original work & fan art.

Research the legality of selling fan art for specific intellectual properties (IPs) and check if any IPs prohibit selling fan art.

  • Prints:

Prints are copies of illustrations, typically digital, that are commonly sold at artist alleys.

Posters(prints) are essential for conventions, especially comic and manga cons, as they catch attention from a distance and appeal to a younger audience who enjoy decorating their walls.

It’s recommended to keep at least five prints per illustration and consider printing in bulk for larger conventions.

Pricing should be based on the size, paper type, and market prices observed at other artist tables.

  • Keychain, Pins & Buttons:

Decorative accessories like custom keychains, pins and buttons are small, affordable items are always highly in demand. 

VOGRACE is a leading provider of high-quality and personalized merchandise, offering customized products to individuals, businesses, and organizations worldwide.

Artists can transform their art/designs into cool merchandise like keychains with holographic or glitter effects, enamel pins, buttons, acrylic paints, and shimmering stickers, standees, washi tape, and phone grips.

Vograce makes it easy for artists to create and sell their artwork on platforms like Etsy or at conventions.

  • Stickers:

Custom stickers with your artwork are a fun and versatile product. Stickers are trendy and affordable items that suit various uses, making them popular at manga and comic cons. They can be used to decorate laptops, phone cases, notebooks, and more.

  • Postcards and Greeting Cards:

Compact and affordable, postcards and greeting cards featuring your artwork can be popular items. They make great collectibles or gifts for fans and provide a lower-priced option for customers.

  • Art Books and Zines:

If you have a collection of your artwork or want to showcase a specific theme, consider creating an art book or zine. These publications allow you to present your work in a curated neat angible format. 

  • Apparel and Accessories:

Expand your product range by offering wearable items such as custom body pillow, t-shirts, hoodies, hats, or tote bags featuring your artwork or designs. Well designed & quality apparels & related products can help you earn more, as they costs much more than small items.

  • Commissions:

Offering commission services at the convention can be a great way to engage with fans and provide personalized artwork. Prepare commission sheets with different options and price ranges to accommodate various requests.

Tip 2: Assemble a variety of options:

Whether to offer a variety of products or focus on a single item is a choice that depends on your artistic vision, market demand, production capacity, cost considerations, and available space on booth design.

Offering a variety of products increases the chances of appealing to different tastes and preferences. A diverse range of products can showcase your artistic skills, creativity, and versatility in different mediums.

Aim for a variety of items in your table setup, including high-hanging prints to grab attention from distancepublic , physical decoratives on the table.

This can potentially attract a broader customer base and increase your sales opportunities.

For example: Using the same design for both a print and a button, to make your work more accessible.

Offer a range of price points, including both expensive and cheap items, to cater to different budgets. However, don’t compromise over product quality.

By having multiple products, you are less dependent on the success of a single item. If one product doesn’t perform as well, you still have other options that may resonate with customers and generate sales.

However, don’t feel pressured to have a huge variety of items. Too many choices can overwhelm customers and lead to decision paralysis.

Tip 3: Consider your budget:

Your budget also help you decide what you should sell at the Artist Alley convention.

Start with items that are cheaper to produce at your first convention, and use it as a test run to learn what sells well and what doesn’t.

Be realistic when setting a budget for your items and consider whether you will be able to recoup that money at the convention.

Don’t overwhelm customers with too many choices, and be open to rotating your stock for different seasons.

Mistakes new artists should avoid at Artist Alley:

Lack of preparation: It’s important to start preparing well in advance(at least 1 month) to ensure that everything is properly organized and ready for the event.

Lack of knowledge about conventions: It’s important to research and understand the dynamics of conventions, including display setups, payment systems, and other logistics.

Inadequate inventory planning: It’s essential to accurately estimate the demand and have enough inventory to meet it.

Limited display setup: Having an appealing and professional display can help draw more visitors to the booth.

Lack of cash on hand: Must have a variety of payment options for the ease of customers.

Ignoring market pricing: Underst the market(fellow artists) and adjusting prices accordingly to help optimize sales.

Not utilizing promotional tools: Utilizing tools like QR codes or other promotional materials can help drive more traffic to your online platforms and build a following.

Insufficient time management: Proper time management and planning are crucial to ensure all tasks are completed efficiently and deadlines are met.

Lack of assistance: Having someone to assist with sales, interactions, and logistical tasks can greatly improve the overall performance.

Limited post-convention analysis: It’s important to reflect on the experience, gather feedback from customers, and identify areas for improvement in order to enhance future convention participation.

Conclusion:

When preparing for an artist alley convention, It’s crucial to find the right balance that aligns with your goals and resources.

By conducting market research, evaluating your capabilities, and understanding your target audience, you can make an informed decision that maximizes your chances of success in the dynamic and exciting world of Artist Alley.

Good Luck!

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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