AnimeNEXT 2016 : Artist Alley Review

I’ll start off by saying that ANext was fine, and I almost met my goal and certainly came out ahead. But I’ll then go on to say, “meh”- a meh heard around the alley.
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At this con, I was able to JAZZ UP my display a bit…..which translates to a crappy last-minute banner across the front of my table! But it’s all about dat aesthetic, yknow what I mean? Honestly I’m slowly slowly slowly building myself up to the display I planned for myself at the beginning of the year and so I’m slowly slowly slowly liking it more and more and more haha. But this is not a dissect the inner turmoil Stasia feels in regards to her display review- no! It’s an Artist Alley review!

Logistics

Ok so first of all, this con center is huge, linear and repetitive so it was pretty difficult to find the exhibit hall that housed the (disappointing) dealer’s room and the Artist Alley (same room). Once I did find it, I managed to find the Artist Alley staff table….which is not where I needed to go to pick up badges! Good-o. So we were directed to go “outside and to the left” so we did, right past the regular registration booth because of course there were a million people and nothing to indicate that Artist Alley reg was there. So we walked and walked and eventually were taken back to registration to an unmarked window that was apparently Artist Alley registration. Could I get a SINGLE sign next time? Like, one. Just one. Anyway, I wasn’t able to get all my badges because each helper had to sign in themselves with an ID (I get it but also……why). So I had to register twice basically, once with each helper in tow because I didn’t expect that. Maybe I should have. And then I had to….check out on Sunday…..I don’t know how common that is but I don’t see why someone had to come look at the table and just say “yes, you sure didn’t run off with the table.” Plus side, they provided a trash can! Bless. But we coulda used someone asking if we needed water. Water > trash can.

As far as location, I was pretty far in back, in an Artist Alley that was already far in back of the dealer room. My experience, especially as a plush artist, is that this harms Artist Alley sales and confuses attendees. Lots of “wait…you made this all?” and balking at prices. People expect Chinese factory prices for toys that I made with my bleeding American fingers (which just is what it is) because they don’t understand the room changed to Artists halfway thru. Doesn’t help that there were about 4 artists that bought vendor spots (why yall playin that). Also, becky told me that bandai namco didnt even come thru, they weren’t even there. Basically: boo.

Performance

Ok so like I didn’t meet my goal, which was pretty reasonable considering the reported size of the convention from 2015. I didn’t sell out of certain products that I have NO PROBLEM selling thru by mid Saturday at other cons, which is ?? The sentiment I got from other artists was similar- a lot of “this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense! Don’t see any need to come back 2017!” Generally, people didn’t do as hot as they’d hoped. I heard Dealer’s Room vendors talking about being 10, 15, even 35% down in sales from the same time last year kind of thing (pre-open on┬áSunday).

I am pretty sure this could be attributed to the location change. I didn’t go last year, but any dumb dumb in the tri-state area/general North East could tell you Somerset is more central and easier to access than Atlantic City. And not to be THAT GUY but Atlantic City is weird. I get it, I smell what ya’ll cookin, but what are a bunch of weebs gonna do with an Applebees and 10 empty casinos?? It was far to get to and not a great trip. We tried exploring AC after and we were just confused. I feel bad. But only so bad.

I’m more sure, though, that the big issue was the attendees. No T/shade because it’s totally legit, but they overall seemed younger. And even if they weren’t younger, overall people just didn’t seem hype to spend. Which I get, I’m usually not hype to spend just, like, in life. But when you’re selling at an Artist Alley it’s not ideal. Lots of looking, less spending.

Overall Convention

I didn’t spend a ton of time doing the con-thing at this convention, as I had my non-weeb boyfriend in tow to help, but it seems to me that people had fun because they made it fun. I think the hotel situation (if you chose to spend a ton and stay in AC proper, which was not me) was pretty good for people, and I hear that the panels and events were fun. But it had a bit of a different atmosphere from what I’m used to. Personally, I didn’t like the convention center. It felt like a series of long hallways and I found it unclear and not super great to navigate.

On the whole, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this convention to sell. I might apply and see how my lineup goes, but this conention was a big goal for me this year I was pretty disappointed! The fact that a lot of artists got in off the waitlist (a LOT) means a lot of artists dropped out, and it had us all wondering “what did they anticipate that we didn’t see?” I think in 2017 I’d like to try different cons and see if people are doing better before I trudge all the way to AC again.

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