This Saturday and Sunday I'll be at the Comic Geek Speak Supershow! I had a great time at their last show and I look forward to going again this time (at the very least just to see the next installment of Charlito's puppetshow). At this show I will be signing books (bring your own I will not have copies to purchase), Chatting with fans & free buttons, and I'll be doing small sketches. They will be on 6" x 6" bristol and sell for $40.
***EDIT: I wanted to clarify that the following is not a fans vs creators rant. I love conventions and I love meeting fans. My goal here is to look out for fans so that everyone has a good time***
With the con season starting up, I wanted to talk about etiquette for convention attendees (I also plan to do a similar 'setting up at a show for your first time' post down the road that may cover some etiquette for those behind the table as well)
Most of these suggestions will fall under this idea, but it bears repeating, whether dealing with other attendees or guests, you will get farther being nice and humble rather than being annoyed and demanding.
Every artist is different, but the key is to follow whatever rules the artist puts out for their sketches/commissions. Even if you think it's unfair or too pricey, they made the rules for a reason. Some artists don't do this type of work at conventions, and no artist has to. They are not art-monkeys there to do the bidding of fans. Be glad you get the chance to interact with an artist and collect their original work. If something is out of your price range, simply & politely say that it is out of your range or say that you will consider it for later. It is a good idea to check with creators before a convention what their policy/rules/prices are so that you can be where you need to be with the correct amount of money.
-Convention Guests are people:
As an attendee it can be frustrating to get to see your favorite comic person, but remember that they have to eat and go to the bathroom. They may also have other obligations (being in panels, meetings, interviews, etc.) Often either the guest or a convention volunteer will post a message or have someone table watching who can tell you when the guest will be back. If you see a guest outside of the convention (in line at the food stand, in the bathroom, outside having a cigarette, etc.) It might be ok to say hello and that you appreciate their work, but limit it to something VERY quick and simple...use good judgement: would you approach a professor you recognize from college in this situation? and how much of their time would you take? Never ask for something to be signed in this way.
-Be mindful of a guest's space:
The table a guest sits at, and the space in front of it is their workspace. They are there to do a job...even if the only job is to have meaningful interactions with their
fans. Be very careful of the items they have displayed. Don't set your items on top of their table or display. Don't lean on those items either. And when you form a line for mega-star-guest, be mindful of who you are blocking with that line. Can that guest still be seen by convention goers? if someone wanted to buy their books/items could they fit between the table and your line? When I was in London, I found that the line (or 'queue' as they call it) stayed a good distance from my table, giving only the next person in line the personal time & space with me. It felt wonderful to not be crowded or have someone 4 people back in line interrupt the first person with a question for me.
-Asking for Critiques:
Many attendees go to conventions to try and 'break-in' to the comics industry. I think that is great and it shows a lot of courage to share your work like that. However, critiques (at least good ones) take time. So for a guest to give you anything meaningful means taking time away from other attendees. So try and ask when the guest does not have a line and offer to stand to the side if anyone comes. Also, a note on critiques: they are not meant to be flowery or praising. They should point out what you may be doing right, what you may be doing wrong, and how to perhaps reconcile the two. Don't try and lean a critique the direction you want it to go. Listen more than you respond. Don't make excuses for your work.
-Limit your time:
Don't occupy too much of any one creator's time. If there is a line, remember, each person should be able to get the same amount of time you have. To do this, you may have to cut conversations short (following up later if the line dies down) and limiting the amount of items you want signed. I'm always fine with someones collection of books or comics...because I only have 12 issues..but when you approach someone who has worked in the industry for decades, a stack of all their 1985-1994 issues is too much. Also signing more than 3 of the same book is a red flag that an attendee is planning to either e-bay or resell the books in their shop. Some guests frown on this, I tend to be ok with it so long as I don't have any fans in line and/or I'm not working on a commission for a fan.
This one always comes up a a joke, but it's always a factor at conventions: wash! Clean yourself every night, use deodorant. With the number of attendees who show up to conventions, it doesn't take to many stinkers before the whole place has an odor you can taste. On that same note, once you wash, keep washing! Throughout the day, it doesn't hurt to wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser. There is a lot of money handling, eating, and glad-handing that goes on at a convention, it's best to get rid of those germs every chance you get.
Ryan Estrada who attends the Ypsi Ink & Stein group, gave this to me at our last meeting on Saturday. I overheard Ryan saying that he really enjoys Ink & Stein because it reminded him of how much he likes to draw, and I think it shows how much fun he had with this piece. Thanks Ryan!
CGS Supershow: March 27-28
C2E2 (Archaia Booth): April 16-18
Graham Crackers Comics Chicago, IL May 1st (FCBD)
Motor City Con: May 14-16
San Diego (Artist Alley): July 22-25
Baltimore Comic Con: August 28-29
*more 2010 dates may be added