So It’s been some time since I’ve posted any convention stuff so I thought I’d do one huge post to get us up to date.
June – Too Many Games –
In June I flew out to Philadelphia for Too Many Games Expo. For me this was one of those ‘make or break’ shows that could have meant the difference between taking a part time job and affording to do more shows this summer. Lucky for me, it went well. I made enough with my tiny operation to pay for the trip and the show and it was a blast! I finally got to meet some of my fans on the east coast and made some new ones too! Made some amazing friends and even got to go to a concert with a cute dude. (It was Psychostick so you know it was fun!)
Sunday of that show I did a panel about my work so far. Afterwards I was told by one of the attendees that I was one of the most natural sounding art speakers they’d heard. It was an honor to receive such a compliment. And my last Tumblr post was an interview from that show if you want to check it out.Too Many Games was pretty magical overall. It’s a risk that I’m glad I took. I don’t remember much of the flight back. Feeling high on life and utterly exhausted, I returned to Portland.
The week after this show I went from having zero shows in august to doing 2 medium size conventions, both requiring travel, and a 20 piece solo painting exhibit in a luxury cannabis shop. You want to know how I did it? Ask the right questions and I might tell you!
July – Seattle Retro Gaming Expo –
July I hopped on a train and headed to Seattle for Seattle Retro Gaming Expo. There I stayed with the oh-so-lovely Friday of Friday Tea. She and her partner were awesome hosts. Especially so since I got very sick that weekend. I don’t really talk much about my health issues but in June of last year I was admitted to the hospital for stomach issues. While I was in Seattle these issues came up again. Lucky for me I didn’t have to go to the hospital this time and my friends nursed me back to health. I’d never been so sick at a show. It felt like hell.
Saturday they helped me run my table while I hid below getting sick. (We couldn’t leave the venue because they had to run their business too and I wasn’t about to leave this show) On Sunday I felt a bit better and was able to run my table without too much trouble. When I came back I was finally able to relax and to my surprise, when I counted my cash (and I’m totally not joking) I had made rent, on the dollar. Like, exactly on the dollar. I counted again and it was the same. I decided to sleep on it. The next morning. Rent Exactly. The universe works in very strange and interesting ways sometimes…
August – Game On Expo –
Flying out to Phoenix Arizona in the dead of the summer heat! Woohoo! In all actuality, I was pretty excited for this show. Not for the show specifically as I had no idea what to expect, but to be able to see all of my friends again. I used to live in Arizona and it’s been a few years since I’d been back and seen everyone. I was staying with my friends Jason and Victor. Jason runs a gaming convention in Arizona called Maricopa Con. They’re Arizona’s only completely Kickstarter funded convention. Their place was chill. I also got to see friends that were involved in my work back in the days of Phoenix Gamer and when I did Phoenix Comic Con (you know, that show where I sold Will Wheaton a pixel moustache?). The show itself was pretty fun!
I searched for some games and never found them, but I did find some amazing art! I recently recorded a video of some of the sweet art trades I did while I was out there. I’ll post it as soon as it’s edited. Since I was missing my gallery opening (Portland First Thursday) to fly out to this show, my friends and I decided to also hit up the Phoenix First Friday Art walk. There I gathered valuable art and gallery information for future use.
When I woke up on Saturday, I had this crazy couch hair and I decided that I liked the style so much that I’d shave the sides when I got back to Portland (which I totally did and now have a thick pink mohawk type style going on with black underneath). I’m diggin’ it.
While I was in Phoenix my phone’s camera decided that it wanted to stop working so I had to add replacing that to my ever-stacking workload for the week between this and the next show. Monday I was back in Portland with less than a week before I’d leave again. Overall Game On Expo is definitely a show I’d look forward to doing again in the future. If these shows weren’t so close together I’d also be doing the August So Cal Retro Gaming Expo. Next year perhaps.
August – Northwest Comic Fest –
Oh boy, where do I even start with this one? Not all shows can be winners. I don’t really like to complain but I felt it important to share my experience with this convention as it wasn’t a good one and I wouldn’t want any other self respecting artists to waste their time, money, and resources on what could only be considered one of the worst shows I’ve ever done on the west coast. I remember having been approached at a Cherry City Comic Con a while ago asking if I’d be interested in doing this show their first year. I remember that they had wanted too much for a first year show so I didn’t do it. (as newer conventions can be risky) It had mixed reviews from the people that I’d talked to about it and I needed another show for August this year so I thought, ‘why not?’ The problems started Friday that I was to leave for Salem. I’d already booked my train, my hotel, and most importantly my table. Over a month ago. As seen here –
I’d thought, well, that’s odd that I didn’t get a confirmation or load in information. So I sent them an email.
On my way there I did the only thing I could do, hope for the best. I went straight to the convention center from the train station. There I was able to check in, of course, I wasn’t on the initial list. There was another list and the floor director says, “Oh we just added you this morning.” Confirming that my hunch that they just hadn’t bothered to even see my application in the first place. In fact, I don’t think they ever even had a shut-off on their site to avoid over-booking. (It’s a strange set up they have going on). Speaking of strange set-ups, their vendor’s hall/artist alley was on the second floor of the convention center which was a bit odd to me. I felt sorry for vendors with the larger installations. So I was shown to my table which was waaaaay in the back. During set up they were playing some top 40 garbage over the loud speaker so I put on my headphones and got to work setting up. Here’s a pic of my table at this show –
After setup, I checked into my hotel and ordered a well earned pizza. There is where I saw this email –
Oh dear…Do you understand why I’m a bit irritated by this? How is your not keeping track of your artists and vendors and putting me in the back an upgrade exactly? It only gets worse as you’ll see in the emails later. Saturday morning all of the first 3 panels that they had were all scheduled at the same time, emptying out the vendor’s halls. Any decently run convention knows that you need to space out your events in such a way where they overlap but aren’t all going on at once that way your audience has variety and it keeps people traffic moving through the halls. That’s some con 101 stuff, dudes and dudettes.
At this particular show, they had two stages set up, one in the vendor hall, and one in the gaming area downstairs. Check out this cool barrel arcade cab provided by Coin Jam (Salem’s barcade).
The stage in the vendor’s hall was used to make announcements and for ‘entertainment’. When the ‘entertainment’ was up, myself and other vendor’s had to pretty much yell over their performances in order to interact with our customers. I shouldn’t have to yell at my customers because a con is poorly laid out. As the day wore on, it was pretty slow. Though the vendor’s hall was twice the size, I think I saw more table traffic at GameStorm (which is a cool but tiny convention). I guess they closed the hall early and said that we were ‘now welcome to leave if we wanted to’. As if people aren’t going to just leave unless you give them permission? Please. By that time some of the vendors had already packed up and left. At the end of the day I heard my neighbor’s asking the con floor director if they would move the live ‘entertainment’ elsewhere because of the noise. In a very argumentative tone she retorted that the entertainment was a ‘fan favorite’ and that he wasn’t going anywhere. I think she totally missed the point and took a valid concern as a personal attack. Not very professional. And I have no idea what she meant by ‘fan favorite’ I was there. If a handful of people clapping out of politeness because they happen to be in a vicinity where there is a live performance happening does not make a performer a ‘fan favorite’. Also, the beatboxer sounded like Skrillex if he were choking on a bag of squirrels and then caught pneumonia and went to an open mic night where the bus boy had to set up the PA because they couldn’t afford an actual tech guy. And this is coming from someone who has spent a lot of time in many a Portland music venue. I’m sorry but us trying to do our jobs, we were not entertained. And speaking of ‘fan favorites’, remember that email from earlier about the upgrade? When the event was over I sent some of my concerns to the convention organizers. That upgrade? Well…
Their “special guest” table saw maybe ten or twenty people at it and none of it drove traffic to our tables. When I voiced my concerns, again, the organizers missed the point. Here’s the last one I sent –
I don’t like negativity in my life, and I’ve worked very hard to make my life as stress-less as possible given the sometimes (most the time) stressful nature of my job(s) as a whole. But the reason I wanted to tell people about this show is because of the 20+ shows I do a year, this one in particular stood out to me as a prime example of how to NOT run a comic con. I grew up around SDCC, I follow the wizard world tour, I do most of the west coast comic cons. I got really bad vibes with the whole experience that was Northwest Comic Fest. And I don’t even want to get started on how little marketing they did, or how no one I asked in town even knew the show was even happening.
Or how their lone food truck seemed to be ironically self-aware of the event as a whole…
But marketing, and ironic marketing for that matter, are beasts for another day. Instead, let’s de-stress by looking at more pictures and talking about some of the positive points to this show – I got to hang out with people who have seen my art before! I got to play catch with some bored kids! I got to tour around Salem early in the morning and explored the downtown area and enjoyed the art and sculptures all around downtown!
Accidentally found the game bar while playing Pokemon Go.
Oh and sweet art trades! And I beat some high scores on Galaga! After all was said and done, I made less than $100 after show costs. But that’s not important. What’s important is the experience. You win some, you lose some. That’s just how it goes. But seriously artists, please be careful about investing in this show.
So that’s my coverage of the last four shows I’ve done. It’s been crazy and I don’t plan on stopping or slowing down any time soon. Remember artists, at the end of the day, we all end up at the same place, the baggage department. Obviously.
Upcoming Shows – Rose City Comic Con 2016 (YES PLEASE! ❤ )
Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2016 (HELL YEAH! BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR! WHOO! ❤ )
I love both of these shows like I love this huge cock…statue.
Hope to see you there!