Sunday, March 24, 2019

Naka-Kon 2019

This year's badge. Me standing on chairs for no other reason than I like to stand on chairs.
Rolling into this show, I had a mix of excitement and familiarity wash over me, and it helped quell the anxiety that I had in the video below.

I'd streamlined my set up even more this year, and realized I could add in some lighting for my set up the day I got there. But more on that in future post.
Once again a proud VIP program supporter. The more refined booth setup with just my current digital work and Ardor comic.
So setup went smoothly, I've gotten it down to just a portable luggage dolly, and an overall thirty minute setup.

That said, I still love getting to the show early to walk around, film stuff, and take some photos of the pre-show set up. I know that a lot of you that talked to me this weekend were talking about wanting to do the show as vendors at some point. So I hope that this, and the previous year's worth of blog coverage give you all a glimpse into the behind the scenes.
For me, it's like a weird Christmas feeling, seeing the items covered up at various vendors and wondering what I will end up finding this year to get.
So jumping directly into the show details. Load in was smooth, no issues getting badges, staff was helpful, and I noticed that the floor layout for the vendor room had some great changes readily apparent. There was a large area filled with tables for visiting and eating.

In that area they also had a photo booth set up (shown below on the right). I did see people using it throughout the weekend.
[Left] Amazing Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands cosplays. [Right] The photo booth set up.
As I talk about the show, I'll pepper in some thank you photos of the people that supported me at the show, as well as some cosplays that I really enjoyed.
I had two favorite cosplays from this year, Belle was one of them.
This was the first year I really started to push the world of Ardor heavily. I had more designs and work based on it available. So far, I've had a few people message me and they seem to have liked the story quite a bit. That is at once a relief, as well as a huge help to my attitude on writing. I sincerely appreciate it!
Can anyone tell me what this is a cosplay of on the left above? I kept thinking it was an Evangelion design...
I'm hoping that with some of the extra area that was in the vendor room, that some creative areas for photos, prop building areas, stuff like that, can be put in place. I know that there are panels that cover some of this, but there were people who I think would have loved tables and supplies to be able to work on cosplays during the show.
I've not played Fallout, but this is clearly a Vault suit isn't it? The prop work on the weapon is so awesome!
I had a blast talking about some new fandoms (that seems to happen every year), as well as a bit on other shows that are out of state.
I was pleasantly surprised which works were popular this year.
The overall demographic of attendees skews towards a younger crowd, which is great. Mainly because I get to see some interesting new things. I saw no less than 4 people total that were streaming to Twitch live during the show.
"Hana" (great cosplay from the mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes) picked up one of the last two art repros for the Day City.
It's pretty wild to see something like this happening. I did manage to talk to one lady as she had just completed streaming. She was using it as not only a promotional effort to bring people to the show, but to also share how the show was going, and was offering discounts and freebies for anyone that would show up Saturday and Sunday and mention a code she had told them on her broadcast.
Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself Jesse!
It's wild how much things have changed in how people promote and connect in just the ten years I've been doing shows.

I mean, it's pretty normal on promoting oneself on Instagram/Twitter for immediate reactions, but taking it to the next level with video on Twitch was pretty cool.
Really dug this Princess Mononoke cosplay.
I didn't hang out super long after the vendor room closed up, although I had initially wanted to, but I have a backlog of freelance work I needed to get work done on.
Just a note, I LOVE when I see parents just as excited to be at a show as their kids.
But I did chat with some of the other vendors and staff members, just about the show in general which was great. There's a couple of shows that I think I may end up trying to do out of state in 2020.
This cosplay of Astrid from How to train your Dragon, was my absolute favorite of the entire weekend!!
One of the interesting conversations I had wished had gone on a bit longer was one I had downstairs near the Konsui Fighter booth. I had a fellow ask me if I had a charging cable that he could borrow for his iPhone. I didn't, but we spoke a bit about diversifying exposure on social media.
Sunday was busy early on as well, with good sales to new people and old friends stopping by.
I think we were both on the same spot with how it's hard to figure out what works for getting people to know and be aware of what you do as creative output.

It gave me some stuff to think about as I left the show and drove home. I know I've covered this in the past in some instances, but there really is a lot to parse.

For those that don't do art shows of any kind, there's a trifecta of things to remember that I think can me summarized like this:

  1. Keep your presentation simple, or at least well organized in how people see it. Both in physical show set up, and your branding / information that you share online, no matter the outlet.
  2. Try to not post the exact same thing across all the platforms (I have been super guilty of this in the past, but follow some super savvy video game PR people on Twitter that had been helpful on helping me understand this better). - Essentially, remember that it's not about the quantity of posts or hashtags, as much as it is making sure that you are pushing forward something that makes sense for that particular platform.
  3. When you are doing a show, YOU are the entertainment. I know that sounds so odd to say, but it's true. The more you invest in the people that are at the show, and HONESTLY so, the more positive reciprocation you will get in return. Take the time to know your own product and how to relate it to possible new readers/collectors/viewers.
I have a feeling I should do a video on the above, because almost every show I get so many questions on set up, how it's like to do art shows, or just to get to where I am at this point.
I'm winding down on the last of these smaller art repros of my older robot art.
I think one of the most profound moments of the show was a young man that spoke to me about finding inspiration to keep going, even when you feel like your creative output is not happening.

The last few weeks had been increasingly difficult for me in a lot of ways, but sometimes, there's only one of two things you can do.
Picked up a Sega Saturn import game, and some Fire Emblem acrylic figures.
You can opt to take a break and step back and breathe, or you can just stand up and keep on going.

I can tell you all what I told him. Everyday can be a challenge if you feel like you are having difficulty focusing on a path to proceed down. But that's normal.

But the good thing that comes out of sometimes having moments of stifling non movement, it can force you to have moments of self reflection. It won't always be comfortable, but if you find a way to work through it, the benefits of figuring it out can be huge.

It's reasons like that, that make me glad that there are conventions like NakaKon, where you can go and be around like minded people. You get a chance to get away from the stressful things in life.

Maybe you don't like your job, or school is tough, or you've got other things going on in life. But when you get a chance to go to a show like this, you can just revel in what makes you happy.

So if you get a chance to attend NakaKon, do it. It's a lot of fun. The staff is really helpful, and there are some great vendors and artists there. Thanks again to everyone that stopped by and said hello and supported me. It made my weekend. Sincerely.

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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