Some thoughts I wrote down prior to the convention…
I have to be honest, this is not something I thought of doing on my own. My oldest daughter (@menitopia on Instagram) wanted to be a part of a stall at Supanova and so I suggested we do it together. My current art series, I am unsure about showing there as it doesn’t really fit with the target audience, however, my last body of work that saw me enter the world of self representation in online worlds just might.
When I think of the venue, I see superheroes and gamers and all ages and cosplay. I see colour and noise and people looking to be entertained or delighted or be drawn into a reality that is representative of themselves without constraint. It is imagination given voice and freedom.
So, in examining my own work and where I would like to take it and how to monetise it so I am able to make a steady career of my artwork, I need to consider all these things. If I consider this as a project to be managed, and I am the product, how do I get to be that version of myself that fits in with the aesthetic needed here? I really don’t know…but I think I may need to look at this opportunity as a way of trying a whole lot of things and seeing what may or may not work.
Now it is done I have some things to say…
I did not consider it as a project to be managed. I SHOULD have. It definitely would have helped if I had.
Ok…so a few things actually happened in the lead up to this that kind of impacted on what I did and how I did it. Firstly, I came straight off the back of a successful exhibition, into open studios fortnight where I wanted to support as many of my artist friends as I could and then I had about a week or two to organise, get ready and make product. It was a LOT and in all honesty, exhausting. I do NOT recommend this life plan for ANYONE. That week prior to Supanova, I saw dawn a total of FOUR TIMES. I existed on an average of fours hours sleep a night and days were pretty much a blur. The night prior, I had one and a half hours sleep. Again, I do NOT recommend this to anyone. Ever.
Secondly, I did not give myself enough time to research suppliers for things like prints. I went with who I knew. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job. LiveImage at QCA have a 48 hour turnaround, they do excellent art prints and at a really decent price for art prints, but for Supanova and popular culture conventions, I feel like that kind of archival quality is overkill. I will ALWAYS use them for high quality art prints for exhibition or for gallery sale, but after talking to a few people at the convention, I now have the names of some other suppliers and will be looking into that.
Also, I made my stickers myself. This is an excellent low cost way of doing things, and you have a lot of control over it…BUT…It took a LOT of time. MORE time than what I estimated, and I was only doing rectangular stickers. If I had been using the silhouette machine, I may have lost my mind. Watching my daughter use it the week we were prepping together and constantly hearing its beep boop robot noises and the pace at which it went, was quite enough for me. I lost about a quarter of the stickers I printed as well to faults like ink blotches or bad cutting at stupid times of night. Some of them took multiple printings as well to get the colours right. This is something else I wonder whether it may be better spending the extra 20c per sticker to simply outsource to a big supplier.
Next, I did not consider consistency and branding when I went into this…AT ALL. I really should have. I threw a desperate hodge podge of my stuff together and put it out there. This was both good and bad. It was good in that I was able to observe what people were looking at. I had a LOT of people asking me about my art style in regards to virtual photography. A few people really liked the lino print stuff…which they remembered from doing in high school and I sold a few stickers of my ink drawings which was also interesting. I genuinely understand why the She Dreamed Sticker was popular. It suited the context it was in. It was fascinating to me that my more darker, moodier virtual photography pieces were more popular in this context too. The art style of the virtual photography was a draw card, lots of people stopped to look at it…the subject matter though was NOT relateable for this audience. I will need to think about that more carefully for future conventions.
Communication with Supanova…not the best. This is apparently quite normal in the Convention circuit here in Australia. There was no one to call if you had questions. You had to email, but you also had to wait up to a fortnight to get an answer. As a first time stall holder, that was really nerve wracking. There was a lot I did not know and could not find out. I just had to basically get there and see. Luckily, we were able to get advice from my son who had done Goldnova the previous year and also did Brisnova this year.
Sitting on the booth WITH someone…an absolute must. I was privileged enough to be doing this with my daughter and we get along really well and also work well together. I think it is important to do this with someone you mesh well with. It genuinely made this a lot easier and lots of fun. Also, Menitopia did exceptionally well her first convention. She had LOTS of good ideas for setting up, really did her research, knew her target audience and took a chance that paid off. I am so freaking proud of her and overjoyed at her success. It was one of the highlights of my time there, watching her just…take off and be incredible. My son was also at Supanova on a booth with his friends. I am so proud of him too. I was also so happy he was there as well and I was able to visit him at his booth and see how he and his friends were doing and have someone else I knew there as well. I know he was a little disappointed with his sales, but again, that is all a part of the learning experience isn’t it?
Along the lines of sitting on a booth with someone else though…know THEIR product too. Be able to talk about it. I am now going to have to play Cult of the Lamb and Slime Rancher so I don’t look like an idiot when Menitopia is taking a break and I am running her part of the booth. It is also really helpful to be able to know what their prices and deals are. I think if we had a product catalogue of Menitopia’s things or a list even behind the display, that would have been really helpful. I had a product catalogue and the original idea was to have it on the table for people to flick through, however, there was just not enough space on the shared table. It was awkward and clunky out there and I quickly changed it up to simply displaying prints on the table instead.
I want to have a better system for storing and containing products. Ours were literally on the floor in plastic bags. We were constantly worried about damaging them, it was hard to find the one we wanted quickly. Menitopia and I already discussed this and we want to get a file box for the prints and package the keychains and lanyards into individual boxes. That worked well for our stickers and I don’t know why we didn’t do it for other product.
Oh…Lastly, I was so glad we packed our lunches. I actually took my breakfast and lunch. Those sandwiches and snacks were THE BEST when I was hungry and I really didn’t feel like eating overpriced deep fried convention junk food. And then each day I would go on a Starbucks coffee run in the afternoon to both get out of the convention for a little bit and stretch my legs (look…the booth area you sit in is pretty small and cramped with stuff!!!) and treat us to something sugary and caffeinated.
Did I make a lot of money? Nah. I did not to be honest. That’s ok. I am actually alright with that. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed at first, but I feel like I learned a LOT about branding and consistency of art style and choosing art for audience. It was as worth doing as any class I have ever taken and more than some I have paid for. So really, if I consider it that way, I was refunded some of my money through sales and I learned a heck of a lot…how can I be disappointed or mad at that?
I had SO MUCH FUN. Doing this reminded me what I missed about doing the events circuits. The comradery between the stall holders and the support you get…everyone is SO lovely, from the security guards to volunteers to other stall holders. I did not come across anyone I would not want to run into again. I met some pretty awesome people that I hope I get to see again. Sitting at the booth and looking out at the cosplayers…also a BLAST. You basically have a front row ticket to all the entertainment of the hustle and bustle of people. I was able to take photos of cosplayers when I mustered up the courage to ask and every one of them were so happy to be asked and they were fantastic at posing.
Will I do this again? Actually…I am planning on it. I would like to do both Gold Coast Supernova (April) and Brisbane Supernova (November) next year. My partner is trying to convince me we need to do the Sydney one in June next year as well so we can go visit the Blue mountains afterwards but I am not quite sure I am willing to take that one on just yet. I may see how we go with Goldnova and Brisnova next year before committing to one I need to travel for. This is also just one of the projects I have in the pipeline for next year, so I need to be careful about overcommitting my time. Three tries is quite enough to work out if it is something I want to add to my repertoire…
…then I will see.