San Japan X (2017) : Artist Alley Review

It’s not a huge surprise that San Japan was one of my funnest cons this year, but I also don’t feel quite right doing a review since I wasn’t able to sell in the alley all 3 days. But hey, it’s my blog after all!

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The reason I didn’t sell on Sunday is because, first and foremost, I was hungover in the morning (sweatdrop emoji). That probably goes without saying though, and to be fair I actually spent most of the day working with the J-fashion team to put on the Kawaii Fashion Party which, if you ask me, was incredibly fun. But let’s start at the beginning! This post will probably be rather long, but again IT’S MY BLOG.

Logistics

Big Captital F PLUS to San Japan for multiple logistical issues. I will preface this by saying that EVERY TEXAS CON requires proof of Sales Tax ID, and they all explicitly state this in their FAQs and guidelines. But EVERY OTHER TEXAS CON accepts this in the form of digital proof- it’s SUPER easy to go online, see that a sales tax ID is active, see the name and address associated, and use one’s brain to reason “oh! the person in front of me with an ID matching all this information clearly has a valid Tax ID! And they definitely used this Tax ID to sign up for the table, which we double-checked online at that time, as well!” There is *no* reason to turn people away at the door if they don’t have a physical piece of paper with the ID- most of us were never even sent this Paper because we opted out of receiving a Piece of Paper because it’s the 21st century and who needs MORE paper.

In any case, that’s exactly what happened- it didn’t help that the woman working was rude and somewhat insulting- no, Ma’am, we’re not literally ALL too stupid to have read the FAQ. But thank you for your help. So there’s a gaggle of dumbfounded and/or pissed off artists unable to retrieve their badges, because we have all done so many Texas cons and never had this problem. Like I’m a person who likes to follow the rules to make things easier, but ho. ly. shit. This rigidity seems so arbitrary.

~LUCKILY~ we were able to- get this- REQUEST a new Piece of Paper online and show proof that we had REQUESTED it to receive a New Piece of Paper in the mail (mine arrived about a week ago) to get our badges. Of course, this is ABSOLUTELY 100% NOT AT ALL SIMILAR TO, you know, showing proof of active Sales Tax ID online- totally different. Asinine, to say the least.

There are other fun tidbits to the logistical side of things! Artists were not allowed to use the loading docks (thanks San Japan!), badges were round and constantly falling out of their enormous sleeves (I used a sticker to hold it closed, this wasn’t a huge deal but come on, San Japan, insult to injury!), and the space behind the booths was literally as large as the aisles themselves. I understand that last year it was so cramped that it was nearly impossible to function, so naturally why not do a complete 180 and make it so attendees can’t tell if they’re walking behind the tables or in front! And the cherry on top- they’re switching to a full lottery system next year, which is a different way of saying “We can’t be bothered to put effort into this where it counts.” So whether I’m back next year is literally not up to me! Fun!

There were some positives! I think the fact that the Artist Alley takes up a hall of its own, and that you MUST go through it to arrive at the dealer’s room, is really fantastic. There were multiple bathrooms and food options nearby, and I never had issues retrieving water. I was not ONCE checked up on by Artist Alley staff- super unusual for a con- but also I had tons of friends and family around so I didn’t even think about this until (literally) right now.

Performance

It’s hard for me to comment on this because, as I said, I didn’t sell all of Sunday which I think ended up being a fairly good sales day for my fellow artists. I was able to sell (almost all of) my leftover stock online in a Flash-Sale, where I priced items at my (super low) convention costs. But the other two days were better than what I’ve done ALL WEEKEND at some recent *cough* not so successful cons. So on the whole, I’m really pleased!

I also think it’s really hard to pass judgement on this year’s sales and attendance for two pretty significant reasons: the gas shortage and Hurricane Harvey. Obviously many artists and attendees alike were unable to attend due to the hurricane, which is completely understandable. I don’t know how many pre-reg and on-site badge sales this affected, but we can imagine that it was a large chunk.

The gas was another, entirely unexpected and completely asinine issue. On Thursday my boyfriend told me “haha, some people say there could be a gas shortage, but most people are saying that’s silly and factually unsound” so I didn’t take much stock. Then, when my Dad said “make sure you gas up!” because we had over a quarter of a tank and he always tells me that, I also didn’t think much about it. Fast forward to Thursday night- literally no one has gas. People had spent the evening filling: paint cans, trash cans, truck beds, etc. with all the gas they could find because, clearly, it was the End Times (I wish). As a result, gas stations ran dry and people who were actually out of gas (read: mine and my boyfriend’s cars) were also shit out of luck. Fantastic! I can imagine people that were planning on attending for only a day or two, or that lived far, what have you, probably just said “Not worth the gas, I have to get to work on Monday.” Also legitimate.

All in all, this section to say: fuck if I know what happened.

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Overall Convention

Finally! A convention in which I did things beyond acting as an AA Cave Troll! Thursday going out to dinner with the 50% Dangerous designers was so pleasant, and then Friday attempting to watch the concert and rave was hilarious. We learned a few new dance moves and my boyfriend was able to come that night and hang out- which means I went home with him and got to sleep in a real bed. Wouldn’t be a San Japan if I didn’t secure crash space for myself at the hotel and then go home anyway!

Saturday was Lit- sales were thumbs up emoji, Sonia bought some Listen Flavor, and of course the fun really began when Marina of Precious Bbyz and I put on the Lolita Horror Stories panel.

By the way, all of you who complained about the lack of ~*LOLIIITIAAA*~ specific programming and then Did Not attend the Lolita panels- Hi! What is your problem for real?

Anyway, I don’t actually care, and you missed out because I think Horror Stories was fun! We heard some stories, we had some laughs, maybe we fidget spinned, maybe we were a bit googly! Who knows, you didn’t come! It’s a mystery. I’m joking- turn out was pretty good, and then after that we just got really drunk and raved which, frankly, trolling the rave with my friends is maybe one of my top 5 favorite things to do, top 10 for sure, so by that logic I’d call my San Japan a great success. (Also, any time I drunkenly remember to do at least 4 steps of my nightly skincare routine is a victory. Go me!)

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Sunday it was difficult getting up and I may (or may not) have just sat in the shower for 30 minutes to heal myself (I definitely did). But I DEFEATED the hangover and ran down to help with the Fashion Party and honestly, I am so glad I did. It was also 100% worth missing the sales that day- I had so much fun and I wasn’t even attending.

Everyone that came to the Fashion Party looked seriously amazing- it was so fun to see everyone be creative in their outfits with different goals/guidelines than our tea parties in the past! The food was great, there was tons of it, tons of candy, tons of prizes, and tons of photo ops with the guests! Hot Potato was easily one of the funnest activities at a fashion event that I’ve been at. I’m not even trying to toot our own horns here, I legitimately had fun watching everyone have fun.

~

After San Japan, Facebook did a thing where it told me all the new friends I’ve added so far in 2017. I realized, I’m really really thankful for the experiences I’ve had over the summer, and will continue to have in the coming convention seasons! I meet so many new friends every time, and it’s really been a heart-warming experience. Ugly Plants is always growing and I have high hopes for the next few years. One of my resolutions was to make things that I wanted, things that were fun for me, things that would grow the brand to be emblematic of a fun, happy lifestyle and I hope I achieve that a little bit more every day! I have one more convention this year (Anime NYC) and a busy Christmas season yet to come, so hopefully I can maintain this attitude and not want to die đŸ™‚

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