My First Tabling Experience
Well it's not my first first tabling experience. I tabled for fundraisers and event sign ups at my university, but this was different. This was the first time selling my own creations at a paid booth among other vendors!
I knew I wanted to do more to spread word of my work more instead of sticking to the Internet. I simply didn't know when. The ideas really spurred after attending my local comic convention and soon thereafter an arts and crafts festival. I saw a young boy tabling to sell scarves for dogs, and I was like, "if he can do it, what's stopping me from doing the same?" My mom suggested for me to look into tabling for the Taste of Soul event in California. The price was a bit steep for a beginner and the logistics would be a bit difficult for my first table, so I've decided to forgo that opportunity.
I was still interested in tabling somewhere!
Comic con season is coming to a close, so I researched for local events in the newspaper and online. Many of the events required me to have registered in the spring, others were too far, and a couple were still a bit steep. I found a farmer's market that had open registration. Unfortunately, the organizers didn't get back to me. Maybe next year!
Instead, I went to a flea market instead! I spent a few weeks researching and gathering everything that I would need. Jojo's tumblr blog was where I started, and it was super helpful. A packing list was even provided to help me figure out what I needed! Additionally, I watched Jennifer Charlee's videos about tabling which also provided some sweet tips! It was a bit of a waiting game for online orders and prints, but everything came in time for my first event!
Mom and I loaded in Saturday morning. I wasn't entirely sure if I was allowed to load in Sunday, the day of the event, so I brought everything just in case. The coordinators were really nice to help me find a spot with a lot of light to show off my art. Sunday, I had more items to display so we loaded in, and I was surprised at how many more vendors there were! I was excited.
People were coming in to browse/shop at the flea market early which was a sign that people knew about the event or were roaming about in the area at 10:00 AM. I was a bit concerned about the turnout, but learned that I had no reason to fret since a good number of people were floating about. It also wasn't crowded like a comic convention. People weren't shuffling about and riding the wave to get down the aisles. xD;
I definitely geeked out about all the firsts with my mom. People were actually looking at my work, complimenting the art, asking about prices, and opening up the opportunity to network!
I noticed a lot of people lingered on the side of my stickers and landscape prints. This made sense since I was at a flea market. The demographic was looking for things to spruce up their homes or to decorate a laptop or scrapbook.
My bug art did attract the attention of one woman and a sticker, don't quite know which, reminded another vendor of a collectible doll she had at home and forgot to bring. I didn't sell a lot, which I expected, but I treated this first time experience as a gallery to showcase.
I also gave people business cards when I noticed the lingerers would leave without taking something with them. I'm a shy person at heart, but all throughout college all I heard was "networking is the name of the game." Guys I networked, and that was my proudest moment! I was so excited to speak to a game developer since he was interested in my art style. Another customer told me he was interested in doing an animation for work. A teacher had a friend who was attempting to have her students work with digital media and may reach out to me as a guest speaker. I was given awesome advice in investing in enamel pins! They have a bit of an upfront price, but the markup and returns would be there! As a button collector from my run in high school robotics competition, I can understand the allure! Maybe one day! A fellow artist talked with me about how my art came from my intuition. It was amazing!
Everyone who stuck around with enough time for me to grab a business card received one! I even offered them to children.They received a sample of my artwork too, so I consider it a win-win!
Many were enamored by my animation, and it actually turned into a talking point for many visitors! I told them I went to school in NY for Mechanical Engineering and Animation so drawing static characters came naturally for me as well!
Others wanted to know my process. I dabble in a variety of mediums, so the explanation was a bit long. A couple of my art pieces are collages done in photoshop.
Others are scanned in paintings I did by hand. The paintings I had on display were from a landscape painting class I took in university.
Similarly I scanned in sketchbook pictures and maybe touched them up a bit digitally.
On the other hand, I may have done a greyscale sketch, so I splash in color like with my bug drawing! For the most part, I either scan in sketches and digitally line art and color those or I do it all digitally with a tablet and Corel Painter 2015 as my main raster program and using either Inkscape or Illustrator for vector art projects. I have been leaning more to sketching traditionally and digitally finishing the artwork since I feel more free sketching traditionally. I become caught up in technicalities and crashing programs than the artwork.
By my mom's recommendation I brought in my original paintings to show where the prints came from. The prints were cropped to fit the 4 x 6" size, so it was also great for people to see what the painting looked like uncropped.
In one case, they were used as reference for a customer to pick between one of the landscapes. Customers really lingered at the landscapes which made me proud. I'd like to get into painting again since it's a lot less stressful than digital painting in my opinion.
Another customer was interested in the original seaside painting which I loved too much to part with it. #noregrests
Everyone loves compliments, and I was happy to receive them face-to-face. I received word that my art was unique and I danced in my head! Another visitor complimented my art style! I like to think I aim to define myself with themes, but I'm happy to know that I have an art style!
The art style managed to catch an eye of my first commission! I was so nervous. Since it was my first sale after a few hours, I was flailing with the square hardware. I did do a test run before the market, so I knew how to use it. I was idly drawing for a bit, so I wasn't ready. xD;
My mom had gone out to acquire food, so she didn't know I had been commissioned. I must have looked like a madwoman. I drew upon my art class experiences to nail down that figure drawing. Since the request was to draw the client's daughter in a Catwoman costume, I spent a portion of the time gathering references. I'm more of a Marvel girl. I had a vague idea of what Catwoman looked like, but I wasn't sure of the colors. Turned out that she was a deep purple in some comics and black in others. I did a mix of two. I had colored pencils which stressed me out a little bit because they didn't have that color range, but I made it work in the end. The client was satisfied!
Next time I'm extending the lead time for coloring commissions. I declared it would take me 30 - 45 minutes for drawing since that was about the approximate drawing time if I wasn't distracted by TV and other things. This commission to me about 50 minutes. They were nice enough to allow me more time after visiting my booth three times. Thanks if you're reading this!!
Overall, the flea market was a great experience. I learned a lot for next time!
People like to touch things. They pick them up, turn them around, compare them side-by-side. I was at a flea market. People like to check out the items before they part with their hard earned wages!
I plan to bring another table to open up space since my 6ft table was already filled to the brim. I need to find shelves to help stack things especially if I plan to attend conventions where I am limited to a table and not a 10 ft by 10 ft space. I wasn't going to play with wire cages since there seemed to be an overwhelming review that they were hard to put together. Prints are light, so I wouldn't have to worry about a collapsing problem, but I have had enough stress! I went with foam boards and displayed my artwork that way. It definitely added to the gallery feel aesthetic.
On the new table, I would have a place for sticker and digital print perusal. A customer wanted to see a sample of the stickers to see if they were vinyl or not, and now people would be able to hold them in their hand. I'll have some stickers that have only be touched by me in case people like that. I'd also like more space to display my paintings. Some were hiding behind the table while others were on the floor. I brought a TV table as a temporary place for my paintings, but it could only hold three. With the orientation of the prints on the foam board, artwork was hiding behind or covering other artwork which wasn't good.
Hopefully the addition of an actual table would help free up the space.
Another learning point: I was at a flea market and not a comic convention. The culture was a bit different. Only a couple people flipped through my preview book which I am going to redo since a lot was added last minute. A few people had picked up my business card from the business card stand. I don't know if people weren't interested in a business card or if they didn't see it. As I said previously, I did my best to not cover my other artwork. No one touched my comic book preview, but I could guess that was because 1) I wasn't pushing for people to read it, and 2) it wasn't labeled as a comic or a comic preview super well. I'm hoping the extra table would help promote it.
All in all the whole event was very fun, and I'm looking forward to doing it again in November!