My first Con is behind me and I’ve had 24 hours to process things so here are my thoughts.
First the bad.
I have been lied to! I did not make a million dollars in art sales. I didn’t break even. In fact with all the set up expenses and nit-picky costs, I lost money. Outrageous! Blasphemy I say!
Here’s the thing: If I am not mistaken everything I have ever read or heard about being an artist has promised nothing but good times, adoration and best of all wealthy benefactors appearing out of nowhere to shower the artist with money for little or no effort. I stuck with my booth for hours and hours and that benefactor never showed.
Even the classic irony of the ‘starving artist’ turned out to be not so ironic. Everything I learned about irony from that Jagged Little Pill album might as well have been a lie too. I, in fact, had to go many hours without food while I waited for adoring fans to offer to hand feed me. The ‘Pay to Feed the Artist’ nut dispenser in front of booth went completely ignored!
But I’m over it. Mostly. Mostly.
Let’s move on to the good.
I had an outstanding time! I met and interacted with amazing people who genuinely seemed to respond to the quality of my work and more importantly the content. If you spend hours chasing down the images in your head all by yourself in your studio alone it can be pretty easy to begin to believe that you might just be the only person interested in those images. You might even begin to think that the rest of the world thinks it is childish and strange to spend your free time drawing and painting monsters, teddy bears and creepy junk. But when you take a chance and share your personal stories and creations with other people and so many of them respond with the same enthusiasm that you feel, it can be amazingly gratifying. Sure some folks ignored me, some glanced and walked on by. I don’t expect to be everybody’s cup of tea. But for everyone who did that, another would pause and raise an eyebrow, maybe smile and nod in appreciation. And best of all some would come over and take the time to really look at something I had spent hours on and ask questions, want to know the story that was happening in this image or that one. Dozens of these even spent several minutes listening to me talk about my art and my ideas and inspiration. They expressed interest in the paintings and stories dearest to my heart and confirmed for me that this story is worth pursuing. Every one of them made my day all over again. If any of you are reading this, Thankyou. You made a monster drawing art hermit very glad he took a chance.
I also had the opportunity to speak on some panels and kind of teach an art class of sorts to a decent sized and diverse group of people who seemed to really be listening to the strange old child man in front of them. I think I at least kept them entertained for most of an hour and hopefully slipped in a few nuggets of art knowledge that they might benefit from. I haven’t gotten to teach in front of a group since High School and have really only spoken in public since then at funerals. This was a happier occasion and I felt pretty comfortable doing it and I enjoyed it immensely.
None of this would have happened without the help and support of my friends and family. To all who helped, Thank you. The encouragement meant a lot. In particular I want to thank Jeremy Vermilion, who is such a talented pro that he could even help me come off as fairly professional at my first show. You should check out his Art with a capital ‘A’ at http://jeremyvermilion.com/
Also, of all the great artists I met displaying stuff at the con, I had the outstanding fortune to land in a booth right next to Matt Nelson, an absolute class act and all around cool guy who helped finish the job Jeremy started by giving me tons of free advice even though he didn’t know me. He also made the hours that weren’t spent with con guests fly by with great conversation and lots of laughs. If you like cats and pirates and comic books that are genuinely funny you need to check out his independent creation, Catbeard the Pirate. http://www.catbeardthepirate.com/
So that is my take on things. If you are an artist of any sort you probably spend a lot of time alone and creating but I highly recommend taking a chance on people in general and getting your work out there right in front of people from time to time. You will be nervous at times. You will experience rejection. And you will not get a visit from that rich benefactor (if you do, send him or her my way). You will meet some great people from diverse backgrounds who connect with what you are creating. And that is why you are probably really doing what you do in the first place.