As we said back on January 9, Ariela and I were both at Arisia this year. I attended* panels, went to a party, spent way too much money on really fun things, had some awesome conversations with Ursula Vernon (the writer Guest of Honor), and we both had a stake in the Art Show.
This year, Arisia completely changed their art show format. In past years, pieces were entered at a starting auction price with a "quick sale" price option.** If you wanted to sell multiples of your work, you had to put them in a separate area of the show referred to as Print Shop. This format is largely a holdover from when most of the art brought to a show like this was original pieces, rather than print reproductions. There's still a whole lot of original art at these shows, but since quality prints have become much more accessible to a small-scale artist, it's less common to bring your original paintings.***
The new format did away with auctions altogether, with every piece of that was art for sale entered at a fixed price. Multiples of any piece were permitted. This means that if you are primarily a print based artist, you could bring up to 10 of anything you could fit into the panel space you paid for. We brought a couple of some pieces, more of others, mostly as a test run to see what would actually sell at Arisia. Last year (with the auction format), only two pieces from a single panel full of art sold. This year... Well, they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so have a picture of what the display looked like before we checked out.
In retrospect, I should have seen this coming when art starting growing legs and money during the Friday night reception for convention staff and Guests of Honor. At various points during the weekend, I would wander into the Art Show to "be nervous at the art." This was my shorthand for going into the display, straightening things and surreptitiously counting what we'd sold. Every time I went in, there was less art to be nervous at. By Sunday, we had 5 or 6 prints left (and lots of greeting cards). We had brought 74 pieces of art (this includes the cards). By Monday morning checkout, we had sold 38 pieces, mostly prints.****
We are still somewhat stunned at the results of this. The con crud hit both of us hard enough that the sheer jumping up and down for joy has not yet been able to happen. But I'm starting to make plans for us to be at other art shows, and both Ariela and I have some confidence that people actually want our art and will pay us money for it. That this isn't just a pipe dream, but a viable business proposition. We thank everyone who bought a piece or told someone that they should buy a piece for helping us know this.
See you next year!
*This being the 4th year of having a certain Small Human at the convention, but only the second year having her in the convention's full time babysitting, actually getting out and doing the things I wanted to do was kind of a novelty.
**Rather like eBay's "Buy It Now" pricing on auctions.
***For one thing, the prints take up way less space and transport far more easily.
****It turns out that people in the Northeast want Valentine's Day cards and cards telling people to take care of themselves, but not much else. People in the Midwest are nicer and like sending cards for all sorts of occasions.