Okay...so maybe I didn't set out to do anything specifically legendary (per se), but doing 17 straight weeks of shows WAS a tremendous experience, a notch that I'm still feeling the residual gains from, both personally and professionally. And I'm presenting the details to you, wanting to share as much as I can to inspire/educate other creators to follow their own path(s)!
Now, this is the third (and final) post on this one -- not that I couldn't talk at length about the shows I attended, the people I met and more, but the SECOND HALF of my yearly con season (that's right…it ain't over!) is about to begin and I don't want to dwell too much on what was and not be focusing on what I'm going to make happen next! Still, to make sure you're all up to speed on things, make sure you checkout the first two posts: HERE
We ended things last post in the midst of discussing just HOW in the world one could MAINTAIN enough to accomplish this heptadeca-thalon. In a checklist recap, we hit the points of the pre-reqs:
- The Right Personality: Being able to BE social and handle the various forms of personal and public interactions that are inherent to convention presentations.
- A Materials Source on the GO!: The specific flux of sales can be so varied that if you rely on a single source for your materials, you may miss out on sales opportunities when you're light on product.
- A Foundation of Support: You've gotta have people to lean on, both in failure and success -- make sure your corner is filled with folks you can count on!
And then during the course…
- Passion: Executing something like this, your love for what you do AND your patience will be tested! But having an intense passion, for not only the medium, but what you want within the industry, can keep you focused and motivated to keep your output at 100(+)%!
- A GREAT Experience is your #1 Goal: Despite conventional wisdom of letting making money be your goal, putting yourself in the position of creating a great experience, both for yourself and your (potential) fan-base should be your core! The fun you have will keep your passions high AND could lead to immense returns!
And now the tale continues…
|Instagram Pic of Dragonzord WIP|
Of the twenty events I took part in, TEN were within a mere four-hours drive from my hometown of Columbus, OH. That means half my schedule was spent hitting the same potential sales market -- because just as easily as I can travel, so too can a lot of my customers -- and they did!
As much as I need to build my brand, which requires quite a bit of consistency, I NEVER wanted to have a customer that I'd seen at another show, whether that was just days/weeks before or a full year, look at my setup and figure they'd already been there and didn't need to shop by again! I've seen creators who don't have a flow of new product coming in get left in the dust because customers have heard their pitch or bought their wares at shows prior! To keep that away like the stagnant plague it is, my solution was to have something new (or at least try!) at every show! That's right, crank something out EVERY week!
|Instagram Pic of Maleficent WIP|
No matter what, whether you're hitting the same area or not, getting in that creative grind despite being on the road will ingrain a skill set in you that will become INVALUABLE should you say -- BECOME A HIT SENSATION!!! Being able to balance all facets of your workload will be a tremendous key to your growing success!
Networking and Making Friends:
Remember how I said an outgoing personality is a pre-requisite to this -- where here is where that comes into play! Despite the cosmic magnitude of its characters, the global acceptance of its form or the international pride of its fans, comics REALLY IS an insular community! And as you do more and more shows, you'll start to see some of the same folks over and over and over and over… Considering that you'll be sharing workspace with a lot of these folks time and again, it's a remarkable skill to align and ally yourself with like-minded creators who you can offer opportunities to and can, in-turn, offer opportunities for you!
And I don't just mean on the comic page, either!
|Me, Dirk and Chris Charlton chatting up comic goodness at C2E2!|
Just starting small, being personable can get you the skinny on the best local eateries or the most cost effective places to stay/park/visit!
Become friends and it can do even more -- getting you an invite to an event that will change your career -- get you introduced to PEOPLE who will change your career!
The rule I live by when it comes to networking is because you can't see the future, you never know where the person you meet can take you. I've been the most successful guy in the room, and I've been the least successful -- in either case, though I take pride in who I am and what I've done, my ego was checked at the door and I've made MANY connections because of it and here are some highlights of what it got me during this tour:
- A hotel-mate in Seattle -- imagine flying across the country and not having your nightly stay locked down. I did that, but with the help of my friends I was taken care of!
- Access to unpublished material from two of my FAVORITE creators. I seriously sat and read their 230+ page graphic novel in one sitting…at a hotel party!
- Inclusion to a networking panel in NYC to a number of upcoming creators that I STILL talk to now.
- My first solo gallery exhibit in Pittsburgh at the beautiful ToonSeum!
- Invite WITH GUESTS to Wizard World's VIP parties.
Know Your Limits:
Perseverance and persistence will get you through most anything, but they have their costs! To the intrepid creator, this may seem like the best job in the world and my sharing of my multi-city exploits only confirms their drive and desire to follow suit. But along the way, something happens -- as things are wont to do -- be ready and able to say enough is enough!
If something happens along the way that throws a wrench in your plans, flee and live to con another day/year! The night we came home from Tri-Con (Huntington, WV), we had a break-in and while nothing was stolen and no one was (seriously) injured (don't come into my home uninvited, yo!) -- it called for a serious discussion on whether I was going to fly out to Phoenix Comic-Con just a few days later, leaving my family to fend for themselves! That's that support system at play, both having it to insure that it'll be okay and in needing me to continue working!
|That boy tired!|
I hope you found this fun and enlightening, encouraging and insightful! I had a blast running around those few months, trekking this way and that, all in the name of comics! It makes me wonder what sort of new fun I'll come up with NEXT!!!!!
Stay tuned to V:IP and all that we do!!!
|Final Dragonzord piece -- available in a 11x17 print!|
|Final Maleficent piece -- available in a 11x17 print!|