5 Tips on Running a Comic Con Artist Booth
Eve Valenzuela (Eve's Treasures & Trinkets) & Jennifer Lockhart (JJLockhart)
So you are interested in setting up a table at a craft show or comic con, but don’t know where to start? Here are some tips that I have learned having a table at VA Comicon.
- Research!: If you have never been to a comic con or craft show before, I suggest going to one to see how they are. Take a look at how other artists setup their tables to get ideas on how you will display your work. If you have an event in mind, check out the event’s website for dates and times plus registration fees for purchasing a table. Also look at the rules for running a table at their event. Be sure to follow the event’s Facebook page for updates. Also look into being able to accept credit card transactions. I use Square Magstripe Reader for accepting credit card payments. It attaches to your smart phone and you just download the app and connect your account to your bank account. Square does charge the customer a small fee (so be sure to let them know). The best part is that the reader is free!
- Share a Table: I’m lucky to have two great artist friends that also want to purchase a comic con table. By sharing a table, you split the costs and have additional help during the event. Even if you don’t share a table with others, I would still suggest having one extra person there with you so that if you have to step away from your table (i.e. bathroom and food breaks) you will still have someone there watching the table.
- Plan Ahead of Time: Once you’ve purchased your table, setup a schedule leading up to the event. Setup due dates for when you need projects, like purchasing prints, done. Also keep an inventory list of everything you are selling. It’s a great way to keep track on how much you have sold and if you’ve sold out on a particular item. Also come up with a list of supplies that you will need for the event. Some common items that are easy to forget on the big day are:
- EXTRA CASH and money bag (You’re going to need mostly $1s and $5s for change for your customers. Be sure to have a protective case/bag to hold your money throughout the day)
- Business Cards (or some kind of contact sheet to give out so they can find you later). I got all of my business cards from vista print for $10.
- Price signs
- Credit Card Reader (I use Square)
- Something to put the purchases in: I’ve purchased inexpensive sleeves to put my prints in whenever someone purchases one. It’s a little customer service that will give some protection to my prints. Link to the sleeves
- FOOD/DRINKS: It’s really important to keep these on hand while running a table. If you do forget, there’s usually a concession stand at the venue but you will have to pay concession stand prices (which can be expensive)
- Display Matters: There was a huge difference in my display from my first comic con to my second comic con. My first con all I had was a portfolio book, business cards, and a sign with my name on it. It was really simple and it didn’t attract a lot of visitors. So for my second comic con, my table purchased these black metal storage cubes. These were great because they opened up and we were able to display our art work on there (see photo above). Having artwork visibly displayed like that helped drawn in more people to our table. 1st Comic Con (Second one pictured at the top of the article)
- Have Fun!: If you’re having fun at the event, it will show and provide a more pleasing atmosphere around your table. I’ve been to a few cons, where I’ve encountered people behind the table that appear like they don’t really want you there. They don’t really smile and just have a glare that makes you go:
So SMILE and say hello to people that come up to your table. I’m not the best sales person, but I at least do those two things. If I see an awesome cosplayer near my table I ask if I can take a picture of them. This also doesn’t have to just be about the “customers”; be nice to your fellow vendors. I love chatting with my fellow vendors and learning new things from them.
So my final bit of advise is to not to give up. I was easily discouraged by my first comic con vendor experience, but the second time was SO much better (so glad I listened to my friends). I’m planning to do it again at the end of October (So stay tuned for that announcement). I’m just going to keep going and just have fun with it.
If you have any advise that you would like to add, please leave a comment below.