Kiriska: Personally, I wouldn’t make more than 5 of each thing, maybe 10 if you’re really confident in the piece. When in doubt, always lowball. It’s better to sell out and have to print more than to be stuck with 50 prints no one wants because you overestimated things. Once you’ve been to a few shows, you’ll have a better idea of what works for you and will be able to adjust initial print run numbers accordingly.
HeidiBlack: This is also going to depend on how many different print options you have. if you have 10, 15, different images, then I would say 5 ish of each. If you’ve got 20, 30 different images, maybe 3 or 4. if you have just a few different images, then maybe 10. So really, I guess I would limit the overall number to less than 100 prints total? Its always easier to have too few I feel like, and just go home or even make reprints if you really want than to have leftover stock. But it also depends on the price you’re getting them at and how far you have to travel. Sorry if this isn’t helping at all.
Nattosoup: I’m the odd one out of the three in that I really don’t do prints, haha. I think that if you’re going to sell prints, you should probably have a variety, so that when people come to you, that’s what they’re coming to buy. I agree with Heidi and Kiri that lowballing for a first con is probably a wise idea, and I’d definitely keep track of not only what sells for you, but what seems to sell for others. Take note what demographic is doing the actual buying, not just the wanting, and what the demographic with the money wants. Your first convention selling (heck, your first YEAR as an artist in the artist alley) is going to be a learning process, so don’t feel too discouraged if sales are low.
I also recommend that you have a few smaller items that you can mass produce and sell at a lower pricepoint to attract customers who might not buy prints (I’m one of those people, so I know they exist), or for people to cheap/broke to buy prints.
Goodluck at your first con! I hope you do well, and I hope you learn a lot.
Aaand more experienced artist alley perspectives on the “how many prints” question!
A reminder that the more images/products you have, the more real estate you’ll also need to make sure they’re visible. Prints on display are likely sell more than prints in a binder, if only because people can see them easily.
We collected some thoughts on this topic in a previous ask too: http://aatoast.tumblr.com/post/87244238379/how-do-you-know-how-many-of-each-piece-to-get-printed
And you can find more on this topic here in our prints tag: http://aatoast.tumblr.com/tagged/prints
Print quantities are honestly different for everyone. More popular artists will need more, and smaller merchandise usually requires higher quantities, too.
Personally, I only sell 11”x17” prints, so I calculate based on event attendance. I run about 10-20 of my best-sellers (like Sherlock, Game of Thrones) and then 3-5 of my less popular stuff (like original work). Lower end being for cons about 1,000-5,000 (like ALA, San Japan) and higher end being for cons of 10,000+ (like Otakon).
Certain cons will surprise you though! My style does awful in Southern California, so I print on the lower end for AX. But some venues are just easier because the artist-customer ratio is higher, so I print on the high end for NanDesuKan.
Another experienced convention artist weighs in on the popular “how many prints” question and outlines an approach that may be helpful to consider!
For those interested, we also have some thoughts here from a previous ask:
Some cons, like Anime North, are also dedicating areas to professional artists (e.g., AN’s Pro Plaza is targeted to artists in your situation), though audience awareness and appetite at such events may not be as large yet as the awareness/appetite for fanworks. I agree with you that building a dedicated fanbase will help increase the visibility of your works at such events, so continue pushing that online!
Hope this helps! Please do let us know your experiences as you try different events. If anyone has other thoughts and suggestions, please do share!
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!