Anime Expo 2014 Artist Alley Report

Anime Expo Day 4 set up taken by LeMishie. This was the only photo of our table because I forgot to take one myself. I’m at the left of this picture, by the way. By the way, the sides of our table was cut off, but our other reports’ table photos are generally similar to this set up.

Hello! Over a month ago, I attended another anime convention’s artist alley after Ninja-con.

Participating in anime expo’s artist alley seemed like a pipe dream a few years ago, but last year I made up my mind and paid for the table for 2014.

Despite the myriad of issues that cropped up during registration (it left a really bitter taste), I generally had a enjoyable first time at Anime Expo’s artist alley. Like the previous convention, I tabled with Le Mishie! Since we tabled together, we signed our studio name as Pastel Crown.

As a warning, I may update and/or correct this report at any time. I finished writing up this report well over a month since the event, so I may have forgotten or even disorganized some details. Furthermore, I’m sorely lacking in additional pictures that would further add depth to my report. In the mean time, however, I can only share my experience nearly entirely in text form.

[ Particulars ]

Anime Expo was held on July 3-6, 2014. We were placed at J38.

Artist alley hours varied, but the first day opened later to accommodate pre-reg attendees and the last day ended early. Otherwise, artist alley generally closes at 6PM.

Depending on transportation, Le Mishie and I would arrive to our table at around 12P.M. haha.

[ Preparation ]

About Prints: I still had a lot of leftover prints and charms, so they carried over to Anime Expo.

  • Due to the amount of products I still have, I chose to only print two new posters and began a new Atelier bookmark set.
  • I also had to adjust the amount of pure blues in my Juvia poster print because CMYK tend to warp the blues easily. I think I ran tests twice before finally brightening it enough to become tolerable to look at. The cons of such attempts are the loss of vibrancy compared to the original intended piece, and the loss of dark-colored intensity the original possessed.
  • This problem also applied to my Odin Sphere Velvet poster print. The backdrop was originally more blue/cyan, but I figured that the trouble was not worth it so I altered the hue into green. It was actually the best solution because the contrast was more probable, and the backdrop emphasized her character and design a little more.

Ideally.. I would have finished all of the above and sent it to a new printer I wanted to try due to its ability to create full-bleed posters… but I figured that couldn’t be done because I know that I would desire proofs before going forward with my singular print run.

About Organization & Setup:

I used the same luggage and packing style as my previous convention visit, lol.

It wasn’t until Days 3-4 when I properly downsized my luggage to significantly decrease the weight of the luggage.

I basically didn’t trust the setting enough to keep my sample products safe from theft. Fortunately, our table was right next to the AX artist alley info booth so there was significantly low chance of offhand theft to begin with.

About Travel:

My brother and I carpooled all four days either with Le Mishie’s dad (and family) or Le Mishie’s friend Yang. We split the costs between gas usage and parking fees in the end.

Apart from Day 4, we all generally left later than expected in the morning mostly due to cosplay setup, haha. xD

[ Anime Expo’s Artist Alley ]

AX’s artist alley was set up in the back of the exhibit hall. Pastel Crown was placed at J38. It’s towards the back, but it was at a corner table nearby the restrooms and artist alley information booth.

Day 0:

I can only describe the frustration I felt when learning that the computer systems weren’t going to be back up on time.

I was unable to stay until they were back up so we all left without picking up our badges.

Oh, and my brother covered parking for the day.

And LeMishie was the only one of the group who brought materials to do. xD So smart!

Day 1:

My brother and I arrived at LeMishie’s house as a rendezvous point. I believe I also traded her two out of three Odin Sphere-themed posters for her wonderful and lovely Zektbach bookmark set. <3

  • I was supposed to give her Gwendolyn as well.. but I had a lower run on that one so I wanted to wait and see if I have any leftover by Day 4. In the end.. I ran out, ahaha ;;. I hope I can give you one next time, LeMishie!!

Yang drove us and parked at a.. kind of unusual lot where rates are kind of odd, haha. Wait, was it on a different day??

We arrived after the exhibit hall opened so the line to pick up artist alley badges wasn’t terribly long. I had no trouble picking up my artist alley badge, but, picking up LeMishie, Yang, and my brother’s badges weren’t quickly processed. It was made difficult by (arbitrary) badge price hikes that weren’t written anywhere in the artist alley materials (ie: site and packet) provided. Apparently AX’s materials defended its stance with claiming that rates were subject to change anytime, but I still seriously think that was unprofessional to implement hikes in that manner without prior reminders to participating artists.

Unfortunately, LeMishie had to pay extra to keep her badge status as a artist. D: We also bypassed all helper badges altogether because the price hike differences were much too great compared to the badges Yang and my brother had.

From what we heard, the prices were raised (arbitrarily in my opinion) because in the past, some artists would bring in their friends as “helpers” in order to avoid the awful wait times and weather found in the pre-registration line. Regardless, all of us found that ruling unfair, and voiced our disagreement over it vehemently. No offense for the staff employed, but the people who approved this ruling seem keen on seeking profit in every measure they could with no turnaround on improving procedures for participants involved. Yang was the most vocal, having attempted to see to it that her disagreement be heard beyond the level of staff employed to process artist alley badges.

The only bright side to this debacle was that both Yang and my brother got their badges on the spot in the artist alley line versus being denied and be forced to go line up outside for pre-registration, which were badges that were paid beforehand! This was most kind of the staff, thank you!

In the end, I’m most thankful for Yang arguing this matter out because the whole ordeal was most unreasonable. As far as I can see, some artists also had the same badge trouble we faced too.

Afterward, we hurried inside and set up our display quickly. For a brief moment, we waited for LeMishie to climb the stairs because she was wearing her pretty Scheherazade [Magi ~ labyrinth of magic] cosplay. xD

And, due to our excitement, both of us mostly stayed behind the table during the duration of the exhibit hours of Day 1, LOL.

During closing, I packed my entire display sans grid cube frame in fear of being robbed. I left, perhaps, one print hanging, hahaha. The days after this would have the posters and medium-sized prints left hanging on the display since our display would be spared from potential theft most readily by being right next to the artist alley info booth. The artist alley info booth was more or less the check-in point for artist alley staff.

On the way back to Yang’s car, all of us were given free pocky (matcha flavored) and pejoy (chocolate) snack boxes as a product promotion. We also got stamps indicating that we received the gifts, and that we could come back the day after for possibly more.. but I never saw the truck again due to different parking locations. Plus, the stamp wore off pretty easily not too long after the end of Day 2.

Day 2:

If I recall, my brother and I dropped by LeMishie’s house in the morning and inevitably joined in for cosplay preparations. I think I helped out cutting LeMishie’s prints as well to keep myself busy.

I chose this day to cosplay as Phrygia [Sound Horizon’s 6th album Moira’s – a part of the Harmonia goddesses] since days 2 and 3 are considered to be fairly big days for AX. Sadly, I do not have any photos of me in my cosplay.

I made a few small modifications to my cosplay this year. I redid my flower crown band by gluing everything (the floral stuff) on the band~ it looks a whole lot prettier and convincing than last year’s attempt! Next, I tried cutting my wig into a reasonable length. It came out pretty bad (imo), but its passable. Lastly, I made good use of safety pins to pin my multi-layer cape properly form around my shoulders so that it doesn’t spill back all the time, which was a issue I experienced with last year’s wearing. I never got around to it, but next time I’ll glue flowers on a band properly.

During midday, Joel (another friend of ours) and his girlfriend surprised us with food! Uwaaaa~~ waaaa

I don’t know what they’re called, but they were yummy juicy shredded meat (beef??) sandwiches~! I had entertained thoughts of living off of snacks throughout the con experience.. but that did not happening in the end. Instead, not only we got spoiled, spoiled with (real) food, we had lots and lots of snacks as well. The pocky/pejoy snacks were consumed well on this day, too.

Due to the length of this report, I will list the rest of the key points that happened throughout the day.

  • I finally and formally typed out a price list and printed it out. Instead of a public consolidated price list, it ended up being placed behind the table, though. It was surprisingly useful as a cheat sheet for anyone that covers my place while I was away from the table.
  • Met with Sunnyjones, a longtime dA user, a watcher of my work, and a artist alley staff member! She approached our table and gifted me with a really cute brown felt floppy bunny ear hat! *A* I’ll place a photo of it here sooner or later (this report is seriously lacking in imagery.. I’m sorry!).
  • Met with a Laurant who recognized me in cosplay!! I was so so happy someone recognized me as a Harmonia~~ she took a photo of me and bought a small SH print and a few pins. Thank you dear~! <3
  • Earlier in the day, both LeMishie and I were asked for photos together. We aren’t from the same series.. but I guess cute cosplaying girls are cute regardless, ahaha.
  • Took on a few chibi commissions! I shall post a compilation of them here…. eventually.

Day 3:

I entertained the thought of dressing up as Phrygia again… but ended up just donning the wig and flower crown. I wore a sleeveless blue, loose dressy top and casual pants. Later I would swap flower crowns with LeMishie’s, though. On this day, she wore her Ib cosplay for a supposed gathering.. but somehow the times changed, and the whole thing dropped unfortunately.

  • I was surprised with a gift of home made sugar cookies by a Laurant named Sharon from tumblr~ thank you!!
  • I wasn’t there when she visited my table again though ;;. I was told she bought my single Roman print during my absence. To be honest, I printed a single copy on a whim. It was originally going to be a limited run print for AM^2, but I never finished it on time for it so, I suppose it worked out in the end. Thank you~~ <3
  • We were once again spoiled with food for our midday meal ahhHH so much kindnesss~~
  • .. but LeMishie couldn’t eat hers since it was too spicy.
  • A group of Laurants visited my table and bought a few Marchen charms.

Day 4:

It was a slow day. Both LeMishie and I just wore ordinary clothing.

It’s probably due to waning excitement, and that AX ends in the middle of the afternoon.

  • Anyway… OH! I should out ALL of my Sound Horizon pins~!!! These pins. Aside from the reasonably cheap price point I ended up going with versus suggested value. I also heard they were bought because they’re cute. Thanks to all who thought so!
  • Today, a longtime watcher from deviantART visited me. I know this because he introduced himself as such. Meeting people in real life who followed my work/progress is a delight~~ I also received a digital commission on the spot too. Hopefully I can work on it soon.
  • I was on the receiving end of two print trades. Thanks for coming up to trade with me~~~
  • I traded a Gwendolyn poster for a gorgeous (PMMM) Madoka-themed poster and a print of acrylic Masinowa Malchut for a original mystical line art and stipple piece. Both of them are on my wall and will stay on it for the time being, haha.
  • I most subsisted on snacks since it was a shorter day.

[ Feedback ]

If I were to voice my complaints again, it would be the poor handling of the registration lines.

Systems collapsed on Day 0, and Day 1 was not only mildly long, but also had a lot of sudden price hikes I wasn’t aware of, and that artists and helpers after 2014 will be required to purchase $80 artist alley/helper flat rate badges. It’s such a shame that a convention with high esteem would bungle on logistical matters that could have been easily prevented.

[ Overall ]

Overall, experiencing this convention was worthwhile! Setting aside some snags, of course.

  • I broke even and was able to profit near the end. Thank you all so much that bought my prints and/or appreciated my artwork!
  • In the end… Pastel Crown arrived fabulously late to artist alley on all four days! XD
  • On the morning of Day 4, I bought my table for AX 2015. It was the same price as last year’s preordering for 2014 artist alley.
  • It’s restricted to just AX artists this year apparently?
    • I believe I mentioned this earlier (turns out I did not in this report; I just bemoaned about the lengthy and costly badge processes), but a new screening will be implemented to new artists.
    • I heard it’ll screen based on submission of artwork samples. I have mixed feelings about that.
      • UPDATE (1/21/14): This impression on the new screening process turned out to be false. According to SunnyJones during my ALA 2015 Artist Alley Experience, the “screening” is merely to have artists include a URL to a portfolio (deviantART or something like it is fine!).
    • Due to the debacle as experienced on Day 1, aside from the table price, artist/helper badges are going to be fixed and capped at $80, which I found weren’t applied to tables bought on site because a helper or additional artist badge remained at $55. I even made sure to make that distinction too when I purchased it.
      • I bought a helper badge because it’ll help avoid another debacle with my brother’s badge status. ^^;
  • Anyway~~ highlights of this convention were meeting with all sorts of people, seeing friends (it was super cool meeting you at AX!), acquaintances, fans (especially those that were able to tell me that they’re a fan ahhhh), receive such nice gifts (ahhh), and being able to sell off all of my buttons! xD

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