Yaaay happy Labour Day! Just a quick note that we have a shiny spanking new facelift courtesy of orangisque~! All the navigation is at the top now if you want to access Toasted Posts, Resources, etc. but otherwise we’re still the same old aatoast, only better looking :3

Of course, if you mainly see us from your dashboard, you just get to see our bold new toasty yellow icon. Whoohoo!


prototypix asked:

Hello, I don't know if you've been asked this before, but I'm interested in buying a table hopefully next year for Anime North. For the moment, I don't have anything that's worthy of being sold as a print. Do you have any tips / a recommended procedure for someone to go about this? Thanks!

Hi prototypix! This took a while to put together, because we went off on a little (okay, a big) philosophical tangent. Your question is a bit vague/general, so this answer is taking a broader approach.

You know, you’re in a pretty exciting situation. The fact is, the world is your oyster because you’re basically starting from a blank slate!

The short answer:
Research, plan, and draw.

When you say something like “For the moment, I don’t have anything that’s worthy of being sold as a print” that’s a qualitative (subjective) statement - all I can say to that is, keep drawing/making your art till you have things that you would be comfortable making into a print. Look at your work objectively, get feedback from others (bearing in mind that not all feedback may be relevant for your goals/situation), etc. And remember - the more time you spend doing something, the more you are honing that skill. Even if you aren’t 100% happy with what you’re turning out at the moment, it means 1. you have enough skill that you can tell something can be improved and 2. you’re working towards an even more improved state. So keep at it!

The long (and even more philosophical) answer:
But there’s a lot more to your question, I think, than that. There’s a lot of great info about getting started with artist alleys (including tumblrs besides this one!), and I’ll touch on a bit of that, but I always want to cover some thought about attitude and mental approach/frame of mind.

I think many artists kind of fall into artist alley a bit like this: They go to a con, or several, and think, “Wow, look at all the artists drawing and selling cool things at artist alley! Looks like fun!” Then they realize, “Hey, I’m an artist! I like cool things! I could do that!” They might convince a friend to join them, sign up for a local event, think, “Oh crap! I don’t have anything to sell!! WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO” then fall screaming and crying into the next few months (or weeks) figuring out how to get ready (usually lots of asking around and internet research), drawing and making stuff, get ridiculously stressed out, go to the event feeling wholly unprepared, and more often than leave the event ridiculously addicted to doing artist alleys for the next while (or next few years). And the cycle starts anew!

In other words, many people get started with lots of enthusiasm and excitement and not necessarily much vision for the future. And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. That’s certainly how I got started! And sometimes you just need to start doing something to start going somewhere.

(On that tangent of getting started, I posted a rant a short while ago here: http://aatoast.tumblr.com/post/94950934510/maiji-ok-to-whomever-submitted-this-i-dont
howtobeaconartist, another great AA info tumblr, reblogged it inviting people to share their first time AA experiences, and their stories make for interesting reading to get you into a headspace of realistic expectations. We get so caught up in what we are doing and whether we are doing it “right” or not that it’s always good to get some perspective and realize almost everyone is in the same boat!)

It’s usually not till after a few years of doing artist alley events that people start to think more long term or more practically/proactively about sustainability and where/how their artist alley activity fits into some sort of vision for their creative path or personal creative goals. And to be perfectly honest, for some people, maybe you don’t necessarily want or need to go beyond drawing and selling cool things and having fun at artist alley. It’s rare and difficult to make this your whole life, and it’s not everyone who does art for a living. But since you’re asking if we have any recommended procedures, I want to talk a bit about thinking in that vein.
Similar to our post about preparing to make an artbook http://aatoast.tumblr.com/post/89708185124/hello-i-was-wondering-if-you-have-any-advice-guide-on, you always want to start with research and planning: inventory where you are, and then outline where you want to go. Then you can figure out how to get there!

I would suggest starting with this question:
==========
WHAT ARE MY EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS?
==========
There are two main parts to this.

First, why do you want to do artist alley?
What do you want to get out of it? Is it to try it for the experience? To challenge yourself/take yourself out of a comfort zone? To share your work or create a bigger audience for your work? Build your skills? Make money? Meet other like-minded people?

Usually it’s a mix of a number of different factors! And your reasons for doing it can change over time as your interests and priorities shift. But it’s always good to think a bit about it to understand yourself, where you are now, and what you value the most!

Second, what would you like to be known for?
What are you passionate about? What do you like or want to draw / make? What are your own creative / artistic goals? What would you like others to see/recognize about the work that you do? What do you want to work towards?

The purpose of this question is to identify where it would make the most sense for you to concentrate your efforts, and how to manage your own expectations and evaluate what a successful, worthwhile artist alley experience is for you. If your goals are to have fun and draw fanart, that indicates certain things to focus on. If you want to create your own things and establish your own particular type of work, that creates a different sort of path, one that involves a more long-term approach and possibly more tempering of your expectations.
Here’s a personal example. Artist alley is a fun pastime for me. I love sharing my work and things I love and getting to talk in person about them. I have no interest in making my art a full time job. I love meeting other creative people and being inspired by them. I’ve never really been actively involved in any super popular fandoms, but I’m passionate about some small, older, obscure fandoms.

What does all this mean? For me, a successful artist alley is one where I meet people who like my work, expose more people to my work, have fun with my friends, get to buy awesome things from other artists and chat with other artists. When I make things, I care less about how profitable it may be, and more about whether I want it to exist/I want to make it. Of course I still care about trying to cover my costs and not lose a ton of money, but I’m less focused on, for instance, figuring out what series or products will be most popular event to event. If I don’t break even but still achieved my other goals, then I can still consider that a successful event by thinking of it as paying a fee to go and have an experience.

If your situation and your goals are different, your approach will be different. For example: if you are prioritizing short-term money making, then trying to figure out what is popular/will sell easily and maximizing profit will be more important to you. If your goal is to make art your living and to be recognized for a distinct visual style, then your focus will not only be on developing that distinct style and working beyond fanart, but also on building a business and an audience for the long run.

Now that you’ve set a vision for what you want to get out of this, you can really start to plan and research with those goals in mind!

Take a look around artist alley information resources (our tumblr, other tumblrs we’ve reblogged/linked, artist alley forums and posts). Figure out a direction, and then start working towards that direction in developing your art/craft, making the things you want to sell, creating your display, and also gathering what you need to make sure you’re ready when application time comes around.

I’ll be a bit more brief in this section (or try to be anyways), because a lot of these things are covered by great artist alley guides.
A few things to think about:

The event
You’ve already identified Anime North as a target event. Great! Now you need to do your homework and make sure you know what’s involved in applying for the event. Read up on requirements. Know what’s permitted and not permitted, and what you need to prep in advance. Have back up plans if you need them. For example, Anime North Comic Market is now a lottery system. If you don’t get a table, what do you plan on doing? Just wait for next year, or try other areas of the event or other events? Do you have friends who may also be interested and could table share?

One thing I often suggest for people starting out is to try smaller local events over bigger events. They may be less profitable (smaller crowds, slower), but they are almost always cheaper, closer to home, less intimidating, and great for trying things for the first time. We talk a bit about that in our FanExpo vs Anime North post: http://aatoast.tumblr.com/post/93341701579/hey-so-im-a-total-beginner-at-conventions-and-fanexpo
Not to say that not making any sales at a small event won’t leave you feeling discouraged, but making nothing at an event that cost you $20 versus one that cost you $300 is a big difference in tempering your expectations and the extremeness of a positive or negative reaction over the long term of your artist alley “career”.

The other benefit of smaller events is that you have more time to interact with other artists, which is a powerful way to make new friends and build a great support network as you do more and more events. I’ve often seen many experienced artists comment positively on the vibe of smaller events and how they enjoy getting to chat with people.
(The above actually generated a bit of a discussion for us on small versus big events and the psychology of event scope and event interactions - I think it’s worth sharing so we may put out a separate post sometime with some thoughts on that!)
The goods / The display
As mentioned before, when you start out, you have no old inventory/products or legacy things that might be holding you down in terms of what you want to make or what you want to display.

What is realistic for you to create based on your resources (time, cost, knowledge, experience)? What kind of quality are you looking for in your products? Are there people you can turn to for support/advice/assistance? And of course, if you’re doing something for the first time, it’s always good to have a trial run before doing it for real! Make sure you incorporate that into your plans/schedules!
Hope this helps. And all that said and done about planning - sometimes the best plans go awry, and sometimes you just won’t think of something till you get there and everything is happening for real. Take it in stride and learn from it! We’re all figuring it out as we go along :)
Hope this answer was at least a little what you were looking for, and I hope this is only the beginning of some great artist alley experiences for you! :D
As always, if anyone has more food for thought/things to add, we’d love to hear from you!

Details for the 2014 Doujinka Festival (taking place as part of the Anime North Halloween event) are now up!

Friday, October 24, 2014
7PM (doors open at 6:30PM)
General Admission: $10
AN2014 and JCCC members: $8
Entrance fee available only at the door

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court, Toronto, ON, M3C 1Z5

There are a limited number of Doujinka Tables for artists and Vendors Spaces for Vendors and Crafters available.

The Doujinshi Festival space costs $40* with 1 (one) 6 x 2 1⁄2 ‘ table, 2 (two) chairs and 2 (two) exhibitor’s passes.

The Vendor’s Space costs $90* with 2 (two) 6 x 2 1⁄2 ‘ tables with 4 (four) chairs and 4 (four) exhibitor’s passes.**

* *plus applicable online service charges if you choose to pay online.
** note the website cuts off after the second 4, but I think it is supposed to say passes.

If you are interested, please read the FAQ and check out complete contact details in the link.




Calling all fashion artisans - Toronto Indie Arts Market is now accepting applications to take part in our October 18th Fall Fashion Festival at the Gladstone Hotel.
We have approximately 50 spots for local, independent artisans of clothing, jewellery, accessories and cosmetics/bodycare products. We are looking for cool and unique wares for men, women and children. For clothing vendors, preference will be given to designers who are able to bring the widest range of sizes (petites to plus sizes) to sell off the rack (not custom ordered).
Sorry - no vintage (except for upcycled items), no resellers, no importers and no mass-manufactured goods. All items sold must be created locally and be handmade by the person running the table.
Table prices range from $20 (2ft table) - $60 (6ft table). Garment vendor spots that will accommodate racks are $60. Payment is via PayPal only.
This event will have a $5 admission at the door with 40% of proceeds going to Windfall Basics, an organization that supplies basic clothing necessities to those in need.
To submit an application, please visit www.torontoindieartsmarket.com - full FAQ and schedule are posted under the Info For Vendors section.

Also, if you’re interested in checking out TIAM in advance to do research before signing up in the future, there is a Summer Sunset market taking place this Thursday August 21. The Summer evening markets are slightly different from the “standard” TIAMs (they are free instead of paid admission, for instance, and smaller), but it takes place in the same location and offers a similar vibe. Also, all guests attending that event will get a 2-for-1 admission flyer to the October 18th Fall Fashion Festival!
Full details on the TIAM website! http://www.torontoindieartsmarket.com/

Calling all fashion artisans - Toronto Indie Arts Market is now accepting applications to take part in our October 18th Fall Fashion Festival at the Gladstone Hotel.

We have approximately 50 spots for local, independent artisans of clothing, jewellery, accessories and cosmetics/bodycare products. We are looking for cool and unique wares for men, women and children. For clothing vendors, preference will be given to designers who are able to bring the widest range of sizes (petites to plus sizes) to sell off the rack (not custom ordered).

Sorry - no vintage (except for upcycled items), no resellers, no importers and no mass-manufactured goods. All items sold must be created locally and be handmade by the person running the table.

Table prices range from $20 (2ft table) - $60 (6ft table). Garment vendor spots that will accommodate racks are $60. Payment is via PayPal only.

This event will have a $5 admission at the door with 40% of proceeds going to Windfall Basics, an organization that supplies basic clothing necessities to those in need.

To submit an application, please visit www.torontoindieartsmarket.com - full FAQ and schedule are posted under the Info For Vendors section.

Also, if you’re interested in checking out TIAM in advance to do research before signing up in the future, there is a Summer Sunset market taking place this Thursday August 21. The Summer evening markets are slightly different from the “standard” TIAMs (they are free instead of paid admission, for instance, and smaller), but it takes place in the same location and offers a similar vibe. Also, all guests attending that event will get a 2-for-1 admission flyer to the October 18th Fall Fashion Festival!

Full details on the TIAM website! http://www.torontoindieartsmarket.com/


maiji
maiji:

OK to whomever submitted this … “I don’t want to sound mean” - but you do sound mean, and you are being mean.
I do get the sense that you are wanting to set some sort of realistic expectations for people who think they can make a lot of money at artist alleys. I also get and agree with the sense of frustration for people who complain about sales/how “good” an artist alley is when their work is not the most appropriate for the audience of a particular event.
But your phrasing comes off as elitist, and worst of all, discouraging to the people who have the most to benefit from the artist alley experience.
We all had to start from somewhere. Artist alley is great especially for amateurs. You get to interact in a (more often than not) welcoming, positive environment with other people who love doing the same things you love doing, in the physical world! You get to see in-person consumer reaction to your work! You get to meet and make friends with other artists who can support you as you all grow! You get to learn! This isn’t a professional art gallery for the established or something. I can’t think of many better opportunities than an artist alley for a young artist.
What’s more, people have a hard enough time building self-confidence in their own work. You hear this over and over and you can see it over and over in social media everywhere - artists are their own worst critic. The attitude given in the message above is one of the most disheartening things, another voice in the back of your head wondering if you will ever be good enough.
What is your definition of ready? How do you know when you’re ready? It isn’t a black and white answer. For god’s sake, you will never know if you are good enough. You will always have self-doubt. This happens to professionals who’ve been doing it for decades too.
I have events that I do well at and events I don’t. There are artists whose work sell better than mine, and artists who don’t, and it’s not always immediately obvious who they are based on the subject matter or quality of their work.
Sales happen or don’t happen for lots of reasons - the perception of your art skill is certainly a factor you want to consider. But it is also one of many factors.
So yes, be realistic with your expectations, but at the same time, don’t forget: You will NEVER know if you’re ready for something until you do it.
Also, this is a whole other rant, but people really need to stop selling/buying the myth that original work/OCs don’t sell. I know quite a few artists who sell mostly or exclusively work of original characters (including those with no story behind it). Heck, I probably count as one of them.
Sure, depending on the event, most people may be looking for fanart, and fanart definitely has higher visibility and accessibility to most of the audience. Yes, if you want immediate, short term return, fanart is an easier route to go.
What people for some bizarre reason don’t seem to understand is that when you create and sell original work, you’re building an audience for your own art independent of someone else’s established creation. Building an audience for original work takes longer, so you need to commit more time to it - but it is how you get beyond simply drawing fanart forever and being at the whim of whatever next new thing hits the street. (Also it’s probably a much more acceptable way to build a sustainable art career. :p)
I have a whole other long post in me about this, but I’ll save it for another day. I don’t rant often, so not sure if I will regret posting this later, but this is something that bothers me a great deal. Anyways, had to get this out.

A rant response I had posted a short while back. Some things to keep in mind when you approach and evaluate your own artist alley experience!

maiji:

OK to whomever submitted this … “I don’t want to sound mean” - but you do sound mean, and you are being mean.

I do get the sense that you are wanting to set some sort of realistic expectations for people who think they can make a lot of money at artist alleys. I also get and agree with the sense of frustration for people who complain about sales/how “good” an artist alley is when their work is not the most appropriate for the audience of a particular event.

But your phrasing comes off as elitist, and worst of all, discouraging to the people who have the most to benefit from the artist alley experience.

We all had to start from somewhere. Artist alley is great especially for amateurs. You get to interact in a (more often than not) welcoming, positive environment with other people who love doing the same things you love doing, in the physical world! You get to see in-person consumer reaction to your work! You get to meet and make friends with other artists who can support you as you all grow! You get to learn! This isn’t a professional art gallery for the established or something. I can’t think of many better opportunities than an artist alley for a young artist.

What’s more, people have a hard enough time building self-confidence in their own work. You hear this over and over and you can see it over and over in social media everywhere - artists are their own worst critic. The attitude given in the message above is one of the most disheartening things, another voice in the back of your head wondering if you will ever be good enough.

What is your definition of ready? How do you know when you’re ready? It isn’t a black and white answer. For god’s sake, you will never know if you are good enough. You will always have self-doubt. This happens to professionals who’ve been doing it for decades too.

I have events that I do well at and events I don’t. There are artists whose work sell better than mine, and artists who don’t, and it’s not always immediately obvious who they are based on the subject matter or quality of their work.

Sales happen or don’t happen for lots of reasons - the perception of your art skill is certainly a factor you want to consider. But it is also one of many factors.

So yes, be realistic with your expectations, but at the same time, don’t forget: You will NEVER know if you’re ready for something until you do it.

Also, this is a whole other rant, but people really need to stop selling/buying the myth that original work/OCs don’t sell. I know quite a few artists who sell mostly or exclusively work of original characters (including those with no story behind it). Heck, I probably count as one of them.

Sure, depending on the event, most people may be looking for fanart, and fanart definitely has higher visibility and accessibility to most of the audience. Yes, if you want immediate, short term return, fanart is an easier route to go.

What people for some bizarre reason don’t seem to understand is that when you create and sell original work, you’re building an audience for your own art independent of someone else’s established creation. Building an audience for original work takes longer, so you need to commit more time to it - but it is how you get beyond simply drawing fanart forever and being at the whim of whatever next new thing hits the street. (Also it’s probably a much more acceptable way to build a sustainable art career. :p)

I have a whole other long post in me about this, but I’ll save it for another day. I don’t rant often, so not sure if I will regret posting this later, but this is something that bothers me a great deal. Anyways, had to get this out.

A rant response I had posted a short while back. Some things to keep in mind when you approach and evaluate your own artist alley experience!


krusca

dedicatedfollower467 asked:

So I've had this question for a while: how does an artist become a vendor at a con? More specifically, how have YOU gotten tables at cons in the past? (I'm not really all that great an artist, but I do write a webcomic, and there are a couple of smaller cons in my area and I've been wondering.)

krusca answered:

All you need to do is buy a table really! Go to the websites of the cons you’re looking into, and see how to buy an AA table. Prices vary from con to con, and some states require you to get a sellers permit so make sure to read the con’s FAQs cause they cover whether you need one or not! 

There’s some really good tumblrs for AA resources that cover pretty much everything here ya go:

http://aatoast.tumblr.com/

http://artistsalleyinfo.tumblr.com/

http://howtobeaconartist.tumblr.com/

Wah thanks so much for the plug krusca! The other tumblrs listed are also fantastic resources that we’ve featured and frequently reblog from too :D For anyone following us, we’re Canadian-based (with a bias for cons in the GTA), so please note that many of the suppliers we will talk about are Canadian. But we share lots of general artist alley information too!


pijenn
pijenn:

I made my display piece for my buttons!
 I made it using a wooden frame, fabric and an industrial stapler (scary..). Zip ties are connecting the frame to my wire grids. It’s small because I don’t think I’ll have a wide variety of buttons for the convention, but for Katsu I plan to remake it. I tossed in a photo of my new charm display  I like the BG A LOT.
*Psst the fox button just came in last night :D I know lots of customers ask about more fox goods!

Cute and pretty! Some ideas on making appealing backdrops for your products … Make the look your own with different fabrics! :)

pijenn:

I made my display piece for my buttons!

I made it using a wooden frame, fabric and an industrial stapler (scary..). Zip ties are connecting the frame to my wire grids. It’s small because I don’t think I’ll have a wide variety of buttons for the convention, but for Katsu I plan to remake it. I tossed in a photo of my new charm display  I like the BG A LOT.

*Psst the fox button just came in last night :D I know lots of customers ask about more fox goods!

Cute and pretty! Some ideas on making appealing backdrops for your products … Make the look your own with different fabrics! :)


zeekayart

zeekayart:

Zeekayart’s Button Making Service For Artists - August Convention “Pickup”  File Submission Deadlines

Hello all! My button making service is currently taking orders that can be picked up at Otakuthon and FanExpo Canada.

If you are picking up your buttons from me at the convention, these are the dates I need your button designs by. If I receive your designs after the date I will be charging the “rush” order fee.

  • Otakuthon - all designs received by Sunday August 17th 2014.
  • FanExpo - all designs received by Sunday August 24th 2014.

The sooner you email me and let me know you are going to do an order, the higher you get placed on my list, (and your buttons get done quicker!) so don’t delay!

As always if you have any questions about the service please email me at zeekayart [at] gmail [dot] com.

http://zeekayart.weebly.com/button-making-service.html


Toronto Indie Arts Market has recently completed a very pragmatic series on marketing tips and advice for artists/crafters doing local shows! We posted a link to the first one a short while back, but now all of them are up.

Examples and situations are sometimes very specific to the setup of TIAM’s own events, and depending on your work/situation/personal experience not everything may be appropriate or relevant, but there is a lot of great food for thought. It’s also an excellent peek behind the scenes from an event organizer’s perspective!

Quick links to all of the articles:

  1. Marketing Advice for Makers: introduction, online shops, considerations for your website/web presence, skills needed
  2. Using Your Mad Skills to Apply For Markets - And Get Accepted: Understanding how curated events work and what the organizers are looking for.
  3. Being the Best Vendor You Can Be: being an organized business professional, human interaction with customers
  4. Maximizing the Visual: Optimizing your displays, including tips for different types of products. Note that this section focus on table-top setups.
  5. Knowing Your Place - Selling Niche Items: Finding the right audience for specialty wares.
  6. Pricing & Follow Up: Marketing and financial considerations, including maintaining your customerbase even after an event is over.
  7. Resources: Links to small business resources, including info made available by the government, small business courses, marketing tools and more.