Tuesday, February 21, 2012

RadCon 6 2012

Last weekend, I attended RadCon 6 in Pasco, Washington. I've heard about it for a few years now, but finally had the opportunity to attend as a visitor. My girlfriend's family lives in Pasco, and I happened to have the weekend off. I arrived on Saturday, February 18th, around 4pm. My main goal was to see what the show vibe is, how the dealer and art gallery is, and to see a panel discussion about Using Etsy and Ebay for Artists.

So, the show is at Red Lion, and Red Lion is a very unusual choice for a convention, at least in my own experience from conventions. The layout looks like a spider, with wings that go off into different directions, and several floors.

The last time I stayed here, I ended up getting lost trying to find my room. I felt the same with the show. I imagine that people who have gone here over the years has the layout memorized though. One thing I worried about for dealers and panels is that not everyone can find it.

When I first entered the hotel, the first thing I saw was a large booth for SpoCon, another Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Spokane. Since it wasn't a registration booth, I kept walking in. I walked around, and headed upstairs, and found a wing with shops. Rooms have been converted into mini shops of all kinds, from game stuff, to clothing, chainmail and armor, weapons, tarot, and everything else under the sun. After doing some browsing, I found where the panel discussion was going to be. I was about 30 or 40 minutes early, so I came back down to the main floor to do some people watching and browsing.

A view from the second floor of one of the wings.

A view from the third floor.

Right before the panel was going to start, I headed to the wing to go upstairs, and finally was stopped and asked for a badge. I asked for the directions, and found the booth, it was in the back, to the back right of the entrance of the hotel. I think the registration booth would have been better suited where the SpoCon booth was. I wonder how many people never paid.

When I registered, they said the badge was $35. Yikes, especially when I was one day late for the convention so far. I asked for a day pass, and the woman said "The city of Pasco doesn't allow us to give out day passes." Odd, I don't understand what Pasco really cares about one day passes. Well, I wanted to see that panel badly, so I paid.

One of the shops and people in costume.

I think the guy on the right in the suit is supposed to be David Tennent from Doctor Who. I had a difficult time recognizing many costumes.

This was a room full of dealers with booths, instead of rooms. It was really interesting, mostly selling comics, books, dvds, rpgs, cards, and some art.

There was also two game rooms. Heck, if I decide to attend next year, I might pack up Hero Quest and Talisman, and try to strike up a game.

So many people carried around guitars, I wasn't sure what the deal was. I didn't get a memo to bring my acoustic guitar, bass, or ukulele.

A game room full of giant screens and video games.

A room full of sexy fun time clothes. I didn't enter. The room across smelled of patchouli.

A group of kids, I think they were playing some sort of variant of rock, paper, scissors.


I guess a con is never complete without a furry. He was holding his head.

The art gallery was really impressive, and gave me some ideas on displaying art at a convention.

I actually got talked to by the guy in the center left for taking photos in the art gallery. I didn't see a sign, so it was just a tad uncomfortable. Plus I wasn't interested in the art so much, as the layout and gallery walls.

For some reason, if a girl didn't fully dress up, then she would wear a cat tail and ears. I think 30% of the females had this pseudo costume.

These guys are a gaming store from omewhere else in Washington. This place was the only store I bought something from, they had cheap miniature accessories made from molds for sale. I bought a few to use for Hero Quest, like desks and book shelves.

Apparently there is a convention in Spokane for miniatures gaming.If I'm off, I may attend for some gaming. I don't get to play games very often any more, so this could be fun.


Alright, so I found this sign all over the hotel. I returned Sunday to find the guy, and he already packed up. I really wanted a Nintendo in a cartridge:

So that's my essential experience with the con. It felt a little off, but I'm used to comic conventions. I was impressed enough with the art that I think I may enter the art auction, maybe even do a dealer table.

As for the panel discussion, I felt it was a little off balanced. There were three speakers, Tiffany Toland-Scott, John Gray, and Herb Leonhard. Of the three, Tiffany was the most knowledgeable. The discussion was about artists utilizing Etsy and Ebay to sell and promote their art. Of the three, John Gray felt the least useful, he even stated that he is a Luddite, afraid of even using his bank's website for fear someone will still his money.
Tiffany championed Ebay, and said a few key points: have a loss leader, something small like a postcard print that can be sold cheaply and raise views of your Ebay store. She also suggested to mail art flat, instead of a tube. Apparently tubes can fill with water if the piece is left in poor weather. She also said she really has to put a lot of effort in every day, filling orders, posting new work, and anything else to stay up top in searches.
From my personal experience though, I have never once sold a painting on Ebay. All my art has been through Etsy. I imagine it really doesn't matter who you go through, as long as you are really putting a hard effort into making sales. I really enjoyed the panel, it's nice to be around creative types who are dealing with similar situations as me. Not a lot of people understand the plight of the artist trying to make his or her way.

*Quick Update* - The RadCon group on Facebook just said that a lot of visitors and guests came down with a stomach bug, most likely Noro Virus. I figured that's what has been killing me last night, but I imagined I picked it up a work (I work at a hospital), not the con. Makes sense though, things like that take a good day or two to come into full effect, and I only had been back to work since yesterday evening. Alright, back to bed for more rest. The image below is how I felt last night, I was about ready to call for a young priest and an old priest.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sending off the Bride

Two nights ago I finished the Bride of Frankenstein portrait for my client who also bought the Frankenstein's Monster portrait about two months ago. It's so great to have a returning customer who is so happy with the work. Now that it's done, I'm pretty excited to ship it. It almost feels slightly romantic, having drawn Frankie, and now finishing his Bride like the good doctor, and now mailing her off to join her husband at last. I'm a sap, I know. Here's the final piece:

18"x24" acrylic on canvas

As always, I added a little touch to the packaging. I drew a big Sharpie sketch of the Bride:

The box is pretty huge, so it's nice to have drawn so large. The last piece of packaging art I did was on an envelope when I sent off a sketch card based on the 1958 film, The Fly.

Now that this commission is complete, I have two more commissions for friends that I need to wrap up. They are more traditional style paintings, one of Bob Marley, and another of a beloved dog. When they are out of the way, I will be starting a couple new portraits. I currently have Vincent Price, Edgar Allan Poe, Tor Johnson, Bruce Lee, and Zorro in mind. Besides "fine" art, I am also finishing up a storybook, and I need to work on an eight page comic book for the upcoming convention in May. Speaking of conventions, today I am going to RadCon as a visitor. I've never been to it, and I am very curious to see if it's the type of con for me and my art. I hope so, it's only a stone's throw from where I live. I'll be attending a panel discussion on the Pros and Cons of Etsy and E-bay for artists. Hopefully it will be a good discussion. I plan on taking photos, jotting down notes and relaying them in the blog, and maybe even pass out a few business cards.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Packing and Shipping Art

Alright. I'm fed up. It's been a year, and about a dozen paintings later, that I feel like I'm getting overcharged every time I send off a large painting. I have been going through Postal Annex the last two times I have mailed an 18"x24" painting. The first time, I stepped in with the painting, and said I needed a box to ship that would fit this painting. The woman stepped in the back with the painting, and came back with an ultra packaged, bubble wrapped, package peanuted, super protected box. I wasnt expecting all that, I just wanted a box that would fit it, and I'd do the dirty labor. They charged me nearly $20 for all that madness, and I swear that on the itemized receipt, it stated "SMALL ART BOX $2.99." So today, now that I'm shipping off another painting, I prepared myself. I didn't bring the painting, I just stepped in and rattled off the dimensions. She said the art box would be $12.00 this time... Whaaaat? I even said, "I would never have imagined a hunk of cardboard could cost so much." This is definitely the final time I will ever step into a Postal Annex.
You know, it would be one thing if I were charging five times the price I do for my paintings, but I'm not. I'm trying to be as fair as I can to my clients, without seriously cheap-skating myself. Currently I charge $25 an hour, plus price of canvas and a new tube of paint or two for paintings. Then I add a $25 shipping fee, which covers about $20 from the Post Office including shipping confirmation. I think it would look very suspicious if I bumped the shipping fee any higher than $25, just because places like Postal Annex are charging me an arm and a leg for corrugated cardboard.

So now, I am asking all you great artists and creative thinkers, what do you do when you ship a piece of art of this size? Where do you get the box? I've once made my own box by cutting down a giant tv box to fit. But it looks a little Frankenstein-ish. I don't want to give the visual impression that "I'm going to send you a work of art in a very scary box that could fall apart at any given moment in route." Where else does this leave me? Should I check Office Depot, or Staples for a more fair price point on boxes? Or should I just charge $37 for shipping? That makes my stomach sink, just typing that large of a number.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What People Think I Do meme

I decided to put together my own "What People Think I Do" Artist meme, after looking at a few that didn't completely speak to me (for example the street artist, contemporary artist, and artist):

I thought I'd share this. I'll have a more substantial post later on today, or tomorrow with the completion of The Bride of Frankenstein. I've been working all morning, and took a lunch break. Hopefully I get some good lighting for photographing the final piece.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Selling sketch cards...like hot cakes?

Well, after having filled my Etsy shop with a decent buffer of sketch cards six months ago, I'm finally seeing a jump in sales.
While paintings are my focal point on Etsy, I also like to do sketch cards and larger illustrations simply because they have a quicker creation time. I'm also told that the larger store you have, the more eyes you get browsing your shop.

As an added bonus for fun, I like to doodle on the envelope of the sketch cards I send off. For example, I sent this 1957 Fly sketch card with a mock movie poster drawn on the envelope. I think it makes the experience a little more exciting and personalized, I hope my customers do too.