Tuesday, June 7, 2022

NakaKon 2022 - Almost back to "normal"

It's Thursday evening, I've got my badge, and found my table, so now it's time to get set up!

Thursday Set-Up

I am a sucker for that feeling before a show, especially if it's for a longer three day show, that I'll get during set up. That feeling of mixed anticipation, hope, and excitement. Some of it, because of course, there's the whole, "I'm here to show off my artwork and make some money", but also because, at least for me, it's always been the whole, I'm working for myself aspect.

Before you get too far into reading, here's the roughly ten minute podcast episode I did if you're interested in a quick listen. It's a condensed overview of my thoughts about the show.
Last year I had just started really utilizing TikTok [@theartisanrogue] for promotion, and this year, I was recording media content for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, this blog post, and Twitter, which, was by far the most challenging thing I had to do. I know that sounds a bit silly, but to try and create content that isn't just replayed across the various platforms is very time consuming, and requires me to be able to also edit video and photos when I have time at the show, so the content is put out in a timely fashion. 

It isn't easy, but it has proven to be challenging fun to pull off. I also feel a bit like a news reporter. But without the microphone.
Setup almost always ends up the same in the end, but I added some new things to the display this year.
It took about two hours, of my slowly assembling my setup together, which was fine. It gives me time to think, to go over things and make sure I'd not forgotten anything. And quite to the contrary, I'd brought TOO much to set up. I think things looked pretty visible and orderly, but like any show, and every crowd, you just never know until the crowd comes in, how well it will work.
There were only a handful of people left about 10:25pm or so. I just sat for a while and took in the moment.

Friday - Day One

Friday morning, I got there about an hour early. The showroom floor opens to VIP access thirty minutes before the main crowd gets in, which is around 3:30pm, and then the show is open until 8pm. 

I spent a lot of time before the attendees got in, just walking around, and thinking, looking at displays for ideas, and visiting with a few people I knew. I wanted to approach this year with a more relaxed mentality, and as I mentioned earlier, to allot time for me to be able to get photos and footage as I wanted them.
I was on a tight budget this year, but there is ALWAYS something I end up buying when I do shows...
I play a kind of game every single year I've ever done NakaKon, or for that matter any larger show with vendors in it. I always wonder what the new trend, collectible, or "hot new thing" will be, that grabs everyone's attention and desires. In years past, I've seen it be cute squids, which is the one that really sticks out in my mind, but this year I ended up not really noticing that happening.
Some new things I debuted at the show, the Epic Battle Vest Relics Button Pack 2, and Ardor Issue #1
I have a lot of admiration for anyone that comes to shows in cosplay, and every single time I've done this show, I can count on seeing some incredibly cool creations walking around.
I have no idea who any of these characters are, but I really want to know!
It did really seem like there were far more cosplays of complex and intricate natures this year, and I've heard in passing and seen on some online posts, that during the downtime of no shows, many people really refined cosplays they had been working on to finish levels they may not have normally.
Love all three, but UP's Carl is such a great effort!
Even though I got here early, Friday really seemed to fly by. I made a few sales, but was a bit worried on how the rest of the weekend was going to go. That's a normal thing for me, and I'm sure anyone that tables at a show. It also doesn't help that I got very little sleep the days leading up to the show, as comics, printer ink, and a lot of other things were coming together last minute.

Saturday - Day Two

Show startup is at 9:30 for VIP, and then 10am till 6pm, although, I really wish the vendor room stayed open till 8pm on Saturday. It's something I think I've brought up in years past, but I think I may be in the minority on wanting this. It does make it difficult to find dinner easily after 8pm by the time the booth is closed down for the evening.
I used to cover my stuff at my booth, I still do, but I used to as well. That's a Mitch Hedberg reference.
The day went pretty well, attendees seemed to be in good spirits, and sales started picking up. It was nice to have one or two members of the convention staff stop by to see how things were going. It reminded me of when my friend Beth oversaw the vendor room (it's still not the same without you being there Beth!). But from the get go, from setup till the end of the show, the crew working the show did appear to be making every effort to have things run as smoothly as possible.
Tell me these three cosplays aren't just the most awesome works of art! 
I didn't get a chance this year to play in the arcade area, but man was it nice to see it filled up with people playing and some nice Sega Astro City cabinets with various games on them!.
This room always makes me miss Token Joe's Arcade from my younger days...
Once again, the day came to a close, and tired and fairly satisfied, I hurried to get some posts online, run over to look to see what cool import games one of my favorite vendors had on hand, closed down my table, rearranged a few things, and headed home.

Sunday - Day Three

The last day of any three day show is the one where I do all I can to center myself and remind myself to self promote, engage with everyone, and enjoy myself. Sunday, kicked, ASS. I did the best on this day, and finally got enough perkiness mixed back in to my outlook that I had some fantastic conversations about art, game development, archery, teaching, history, language, SO MANY things. It drove home why I love conventions so much.
Naka had a lot of cool stuff back here to help support the show. I forgot to buy a shirt this year.
I had rearranged my display to showcase some of the original sketches I didn't have on display the first two days, and those began selling quickly. Many thanks to those of you that picked up original art, issues of Ardor and Pagan Zoetrope, and some of the limited large art reproductions I had on hand. I really appreciated it!
Twenty five minutes before the show opened Sunday
There were a few lulls where I had a chance to catch cosplayers that didn't pass my booth, but I wanted to get photos of. I also kept window shopping for just the right import game.
I want to say that the one on the left is inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but I'm not sure.
For those of you that asked me about my shirt featuring Kablam that I wore Sunday, it's the rad awesome company that prints up my comic books. I was running super close on getting my latest issue of Ardor in on time before NakaKon, and Kablam got it to me in plenty of time to board and back each issue for this show. If you want to self publish, even in these times when paper shortages are happening, I highly recommend them. You can find out more at the Kablam website!
[Left] Sitting at the booth attempting to look focused, instead looking tired. [Right] I chose this game.
To the staff at NakaKon, thank you for putting on another great show. I'm over the moon happy that your next show is a go and will be May 26th - 28th. Looking forward to it! For anyone wondering if you should attend this show, it's seriously a great show, and every single person I spoke to this weekend was having a great time.

If you want to see some other clips from NakaKon, you can find them on my TikTok account.
I cover a lot of KC art related things as well as showcase my art on here.
Until next time, remember to support artists and local 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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