Monday, November 26, 2018

G33kmas 2018 - a lot of no show for a first time show.

The very cool and unique show badge, and my show setup.
G33kmas 2018.

I feel a bit of a mixed mind on this review. I think it comes down to expectation versus reality. For many of you that read my blog and have thanked me for reviews of shows over the years, in factors of honesty, of visuals, and of both ups and downs, I have to say that it's never enjoyable to write a non-favorable piece on a show. But if there is anything I made a promise I would do with these, was to be as honest as possible.

So, G33kmas is a show that was very much trying to cover a lot of bases and expectations, with what I saw, to some limited success. First the good things. Let's start off on a positive note.
From breakfast cereal, to chips, water, candy, and juice, this was pretty damn nice. Not diabetic friendly, but still great.
The staff interactions during the whole sign up process were wonderful, friendly, and fairly informative. Set up at the show was painless and quick. Two great signs of people that are trying right off the bat, manifested in the admittedly stunning and very unique handmade show badges (see first pic), and the fact that there was a great snack and beverage room for the vendors.
Setup time.
The vendor room was spacious, plenty of walking room, and with the exception of one huge anime display in the corner, was open and welcoming. Set up was not an issue, I managed to get a luggage trolley to get my stuff to my table. Again, the staff was super helpful in getting me to my table area, and throughout the show did come by and check on me, and other vendors.
It was like Deviant Art threw up in an IKEA...
The hours were long. I wasn't too concerned at first, as I've done shows previously that had long running times, both indoor and out. But I was concerned, what with this being the first show date, and on Black Friday weekend. 

For those of use who have done shows, or even more so, created and run any sort of event, especially a convention, Inaugural shows can be an unsure bet. In this case, to use a gambling metaphor, the cards were stacked against it in a lot of ways.

G33kmas was held at the Adams Mark hotel here in KC, just across from my old temp job place, the KC stadiums, so just off the highway, but oddly off the beaten track just enough that anyone whom I told about the show replied, "Is that hotel still open? I thought just the water park inside it, was." Not a fault of the convention's, but not a great sign off the bat.
This should have been posted all over twitter and facebook. I wasn't sure where the front door was.
I came into the show late, signup wise. I believe I got the last booth that was available. The booth which was 5'x8' was purchased for $125, and I opted to rent an 8 foot table for an additional $30, bringing my total to $155 for the show investment wise. I didn't have to get a room as I live not that far from the hotel.

The show.
A shot from the angle of the room furthest from me.

See my booth down at the end of the room? That was still within migraine range of the performance stage.
Okay, with all of that out of the way, let's get down to the happenings at the show. I spent a good bit of time talking to friends that came by (thank you, SINCERELY, all of you that did, you saved my sanity), and fellow artists and some vendors that were near me. I also managed to get started on two new story block illustrations, did some black Friday deal shopping on Amazon, talked to my parents in Warrensburg for a bit, reorganized my display plans, ate some snacks, oh and sold $7 in items.

That was Friday.

Saturday I did all the same thing, for the most part, except instead of wood blocks, I did some warm up sketches, and sold nothing. And Saturday was from 9am till roughly 7:30pm.
A dragon named Toby, and a convention attendee who was nearby.
So lets break this down.

  1. I know that according to numbers I was told, and the fact that I did see people in and about the place, that at least a thousand people came to the show, but I would wager more than that did over the two days.
  2. My prices ranged from a handful of $1 art reproductions and $2 comics, to $80 original artworks.
  3. There was a large stage in the middle of the room set up for School of Rock, which when onstage, did make interactions with what few possible customers that did come by akin to being a member of a School for the Deaf. Because we couldn't hear each other on either side of the table. I think acoustic performances would have been much better.
  4. There seemed to be a varied amount of items there, from handmade to mass produced (I'm looking at you Anime banner/pillow tower, no your art was not all original and done by you, and none of it was hand assembled by you, unless it was insert slot A into tab B). That said, the crowd did skew oddly enough to more of an Anime crowd, which I am still trying to figure out how that happened. 
  5. The crowd that did attend seemed to be made up of three distinct types. Anime fans (nothing against that, I am one as well, just surprised to see so many). A few comic and toy collectors. And hotel guests that had looks on their faces that ranged from wild befuddlement to bemused confusion.
  6. Number five is not that surprising, because the show was free to attend. Free shows will always get an eclectic mix of attendees, but not necessarily shoppers.
  7. The hours both days were long. Which, I can see where this may have been an effort to make accessibility to the show easier, but it also can lower the immediacy or urgency to attend the show. It lowers the hype meter.  

So speaking of hype, there seemed to be a lot in the form of the Facebook page, but I didn't know of much else the show did to garner interest. Even I didn't really know who or what else would transpire at the show, and I was IN it.

If you don't believe me, take this instance for example. I am a fan of Shire Post Mint. They make incredible coins for many fandoms. (Seriously, check out their site after you read this blog.) I had been interested in getting an interview with them, AND picking up some of their coins.


Look, like any show, there are ups and downs, because it's a creative effort, mixed with planning, and financial, and social media presence, boiled down to a few fervent days or hours. It isn't easy, and nor would I claim to know more, or how to do this show better.

But here is the thing. I have said this before, and I will say it again. The convention and art show market is growing and swelling, with new shows practically coming up every year. So many of them want to be all of it. Toys. Comics. Video Games. Manga and Anime. Art Show. Board Games. And sure, there is a cross pollination that does occur across the fandoms that are out there that most major larger shows are often able to cover.

The reality is that while shows are no longer the special events they once were, and they are expanding, two other things are shrinking. One, disposable income. And two, very literally, wall space. G33kmas had that going against it as well, on a weekend from Black Friday to Small Business Saturday to Sink in to Depression Sunday (that may have just been me) to Cyber Monday (where I burned all my art supplies and went west to sell $@%&-ing anime pillows in the lands beyond Overland Park, I hear those things sell like hotcakes).

Now all that said, I will be the first to admit, perhaps my works and my art efforts are not the hot thing of interest. I can live with that. I sincerely can. One cannot always "drop it like it's hot". It doesn't stop me from making art or from looking for new outlets beyond the show circuits to sell art.

It could also be the infusion of a lot of vendors that are doing the scene because the whole "Geek" thing is trendy right now.

So many things are what could take a few weeks of prep, and smash it into two days, and press out $7 in sales.

Here's a $7 shot of rum to finding out what those things are, for myself, for my art colleagues, and for the hordes of shows that need to focus on identity, mission, and execution. We in the creative field can use shows to help us make money, but shows need artists to even be a show. 

Until next time, support your local artists and businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

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