Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Convention Madness & Mixed Feelings

Everytime I encounter an obstacle in my part time budding career, I can only throw more and more admiration for those who keep up extreme work ethics. I have been juggling the constant balance between my own life and two families. There's only so much of me to go around, but 2 more of me or even another clone might be helpful. I have quite a one track mind which works for thorough work, and an additional few clones would be lovely. After spending time with my mother and grandmother in August, I went into a mad dash to prepare for Anime Weekend in Atlanta. This regime involved an unhealthy diet, building my own display, cutting, sewing, and assembling 39 peas, corresponding pea pods, 25 bear pillows, 29 shooting stars in too many colors, 9 onigiri, and 6 steamed buns.

Beginning of convention prep

Final Display!

After a month of 12 hour work days for days straight with no break, I was quite happy with the overall look and portability of my product and display. It was a great improvement from my first attempt at conventions with dolls in cellophane bags.

This was the second time at an Anime convention, as I am still trying to find my sea legs in the offline crowd. I aimed for a different price range after seeing the price sensitivity at Otakon 2013. I went for a variety of handmade pieces from 11 to 45 USD and then the upper end of 355+ USD for the art dolls. I have yet to crack the code for Anime Conventions and probably will only attempt 1 or 2 more before trying a different crowd.

It is wonderful networking and you get your name out there to people that you would otherwise have not met and you get to spend the weekend with wonderful people and get to tell stories about waking up at 2 in the morning due to convention shenanigans.
Hotel Evacuated!

All said and done, even if you try to find the silver lining in the cloud, it can be quite disheartening to put in all those hours of work and only make 11 sales. I know there are challenges and many artists go their entire lives without making it. Even so, none of this helped to lessen the disappointment. For a while, it made me question if I should just scrap it all and start from scratch.

Something else that was not helping was people meaning well to give me advice. I know they meant well, but I had given my business a lot of thought. It was not an overnight spur of the moment thing. I had thought about how to reduce production cost, thought about manufacturing, balanced my books, thought about my resources and what I can and can't do. After the 10th time someone's told you, "now if only you could have this manufactured" you have to take a VERY deep breath and explain that this is OOAK work, not to be mass produced in China. While I have thought of other branches, I also decided to do research but that it would be a long time before I would have the capital to give it a real jump start.

I really admire those in the art/entertainment business because you only have to wonder how many no's they had to hear that yes. It is really about just sucking it up and picking yourself up by those bootstraps, but one thing is for sure, I cannot cut back on labor costs. This is as cheap as it'll get. If anything, I will be raising prices pretty soon because I am not a factory or a general worker, I am an artist with a specialized skill.

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