2016 GenCon recap

The TLDR; won an award, landed huge clients, no headaches, and didn't make any money.

The Good

So I tried to take some inspiration from my previous blog post and really cast selling out of my mind and the result was having zero headaches. Usually I find having a booth stressful and it gives me headaches that leave me too exhausted to do anything after show hours beyond sleep. This year I had a lot of great conversations at my booth about books and the craft. I was able to do all of the after hours socializing and do it on fewer hours of sleep.

I made some new friends thanks to all of that socializing and that's awesome. Also, it is much easier to remember names when you don't have a headache.

I enjoyed giving artists advice and critiques. Hopefully I see them all next year and their portfolios are even better.

  • I won a Juror's Choice Award from Tyler Jacobson which was unexpected and awesome!

  • I got some work from a huge client that I had pretty much given up hope on getting work from and didn't think my portfolio really targeted anymore. That was completely unexpected and exciting.

  • My booth neighbors Nez, Brian, and Jessi were all great.

  • The frames on the pictures were nice.

  • I sold out some older prints I was trying to get rid of.

The Bad

I was really trying to unload my stock of prints so I was selling things really cheap. Despite prices my sales were pretty awful. It was as if it were my first GenCon so the whole thing resulted in a record low as far as money earned. Meanwhile price of booth,etc went up. Luckily I was pretty timid with expenses for this show so I really didn't lose much money. Below I ponder possible reasons for the disaster.

I think the artwork appealed to artists but not GenCon attendees. That could be because the work I was pushing wasn't attached to any properties or because it was too surreal (although other more surreal artists seemed to do well).

Playmats sold WAY less than normal.

My booth was rather sparse compared to normal so maybe that minimalism hurt me.

Only Hext TCG fans stopped by the booth (I don't make prints of monsters though) and their game is digital. So none of the players of L5R, The Strange, Noble Treachery,  Gods of the Fall,etc stopped by. There are so many games on the show floor which I have created artwork for and nobody stopped by to get anything signed except playmats.

 My wall display maybe looked a bit fancier with the frames although I know I still didn't handle that as professionally as I could. I didn't have anything vertical on my table which is different but in the past it was ALWAYS images on the walls that got people to stop and not stuff on my table. 

In the past I have always had one image that was HUGE and that helped to get people to stop so perhaps having all prints on the wall nearly the same size caused there to be a lack of focus.

This year I made matte finish prints rather than metallic which could have hurt sales. Basically I went for volume rather than selling a few more expensive prints. 

I need to trash my banner. I suppose I will have to create something without art that just has my name on it because I hate spending money on banners with artwork that I won't like in a year.

I had one low price point which I thought would simplify things but perhaps turned people off.


 Contrary to my expectations the newer and prettier personal work does not interest people as far as prints go. I hate to abandon prints of them entirely. Might have to make extremely fancy prints of those to sell at high price points so that I can sell only a few.

The trend seems to be towards LOTS of stuff on the walls and table rather than less. Personally I found many booths to be sensory overload but it seems to be working for others so I should at least try that next year.

There are too many people selling playmats. They are dead.

Lots of people trying to sell functional things so perhaps I should move towards that. Lots of books too but I do not have a large enough catalogue of personal work which I'm happy with. Something to work towards I suppose.

Joe SlucherComment