Animazement 2015 (and my struggle with fan art) / by Kasandra Murray

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Mix 16 hours of driving, sold out prints, an awesome artist alley and vendor’s room and you get my experience with Animazement 2015. 

It was nice to speak with some of the artist. I still like to think of myself as new to this and I am learning what many of the con goers respond to and how I can improve as an artist. As of late, I have been struggling with the concept of selling fan art and, quite frankly it has caused me to stop drawing because of how frustrating it is.

90% of my products are original.  I was nervous about this because most conventions are 90% fan art. This is for good reason, people buy what they know, and if you are trying to make a living, you have to sell.

I have been breaking even with little attention being drawn to my originals at most of my conventions due to this. I don't mind, because I fortunately have a job I love and helps support my efforts as an illustrator. 

Animazement turned out very differently. I had a huge positive response to my original work. Reflecting on this, there was two things I noticed doing differently:

1. I asked for people's purchases to help support me as an artist.

2. I told people the stories behind my prints and how I came to illustrate them.

I wanted to speak a little further on each subject.

1. Asking to support me.  

I think every artist needs to watch, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. It is a beautiful Ted Talk that address the uncomfortable situation of asking others to pay for your work as an artist.

I am sure you may have noticed my sign, "Support my (drawing) habits, buy my (art) babies". It is low quality, because I haven't dedicated myself to something since nothing has worked particularly well. 

This sign made people stop, many pointed and got a good chuckle, but quickly became engulfed in my world. This gave me the perfect opportunity to welcome them to my nursery and explain how all my babies were looking for a good homes.

My brand is fun and light hearted and I was able to convey this. I gave out cootie catchers to anyone willing to take them and explained to them that I am just looking for support. I wasn't focused on their money, but their hearts. I want others to love my art as much as I do. Even if they never buy one thing from me as an artist in my lifetime, having them share and complement can be just as powerful (if not more powerful) than spending a few dollars on me that day.

This took me away from the salesperson script and let me be who I love to be: me.

 2. Tell a story

My favorite question to hear at a convention is, "What inspired this piece?" 

Most of my art work is inspired by different obstacles or events in my life. In this moment of explaining that to the onlooker they get the opportunity to pick my brain and connect with the art on the same level as I. 

Halfway through Saturday an idea struck me, "What if I told people there are stories behind everything they see?"

Turns out people love stories.

I started to tell people who stopped that most of the work they were looking at was original and they all had stories. This made a lot of them pick out a piece that caught their attention and ask more about it. 

I even had someone "quiz" me on my statement and she pulled out 3 pieces. I gave her the story to all of them then she proceeded to buy all three.

I started to find myself having in depth conversations with those across the table. It was AWESOME!  

Having someone stand by your table for a long time not only made me feel welcomed as an artist, but makes your table look like a hot item to passers-by.  

At one moment I had a long conversation with someone about my process and how photoshop has evolved. While unknowingly two other con goers listened in and shopped. 

It was a no - pressure sales situation and my conversation lead to the fellow buying 4 items, then the two other con goers purchasing right after him. (I wish I had that guy’s name, I appreciate his enthusiasm for my work).

One of the con goers that followed him had previously been at my table and I also told him the story behind one of my pieces. He made his way through the entire AA and back to me because he developed a connection with my art. 

 Conclusion

Thanks to anyone who made it this far. Lol

I am going to start to weed out fan art. I love many things, but I want people to know me, not just the things I love. Someone put it perfectly over the weekend,

"It is like being in a band, you play a few covers to get the crowed going, but then you bring out the original songs to blow them away.

I am going to keep rocking out to my originals and hope I can see many of you in the future for new and awesome jam sessions. 

Until then, keep on embracing the unexpected.

Your biggest fan, 

-Kasandra