Anime Expo 2016 Artist Alley Report

Taken on day 3. I'll replace this with a better photo later.
Taken on day 3. I’ll replace this with a better photo later.

Anime Expo 2016 sure had lots of ups and downs.

Although it’s lengthy already… I feel that I will make a few edits and amends to this report later on. This report is more or less complete, though.

[ Particulars ]

Anime Expo 2016 continued to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA. The event ran from Friday to Monday from July 1-4, 2016. Artist alley hours were largely similar to past years’.

  • Day 1: 12PM-6PM
  • Day 2, 3: 10AM-6PM
  • Day 4: 10AM-3PM

Unlike past years, artist alley moved to Kentia Hall, which is a parkade below the ground level of the convention center. There was a massive sign in the front of the main ground level indicating artist alley’s new location, but otherwise.. that was the only major signage indicating the artist alley’s move.

This year, I shared my table with lemishie and Chu as “Pastel Crown.” We were located at I-09, so right in the middle somewhere.

Last minute map indicating where "Pastel Crown" is located.
Last minute map indicating where “Pastel Crown” is located.

[ Preparation ]

Oh dear, I nearly flopped on preparing for AX 2016. I had ambitious ideas on producing new artworks and prints for this year… but after several unexpected mishaps (which I will explain in detail shortly after this section), I was admittedly feeling quite sour over what was to come. It was only a few weeks before AX that I finally hunkered over into producing new artworks.

I had several plans lined up, but I only managed to finish a new RWBY artwork commemorating season 3, and a Cardcaptor Sakura artwork inspired by the anime’s second opening  “Tobira o Akete.” I ended up having to abandon finishing my persona 5 portraits for AX, because I didn’t want to print overly rushed portraits of a portion of the revealed cast. I may finish the entire set in time for my next artist alley event, though.

Much like my previous event,  I used the same luggage to transport my products and tools. Unlike last time, however, we opted to use a new display for our table. With the help of a visual guide, we managed to get a PVC display working in our favor, haha. I appreciate the taller display, because there was three artists sharing the space this time.

We also had one wire cube stand built to house some of our things hidden from view, and to further display lemishie’s buttons, acrylic charms, and stickers, and my bookmark display. I used the vacant display to hold up two of my posters (Juvia from Fairy Tail, and Velvet from Odin Sphere).

[ About the New Stipulations… ]

Apart from the separation of artist alley from the exhibit hall, during May, Anime Expo imposed anyone participating in Anime Expo (staff, exhibitor, or artist) several new stipulations. This involved having everyone complete a mandatory background check with the company/agency of their choice, completing the brief youth protection policy program, and to sign additional paperwork in lieu of the new stipulation.

Instead of a smooth, favorable outcome AX expected, many artists, exhibitors, and staff were vocal about how ill-initiated these stipulations were… The demands were many (some unreasonable), delivered under short notice, and for a number of participants… a hefty, unexpected additional expense as not all background checks were complimentary for everyone involved.

AX pulled back on these policies for artist alley folks in the end, but I am not totally sure if the same went for everyone else. The only benefit resulting from this was the free internet access given to primary artists, but that’s a limited return for the frustrations it caused for many. For the record, I am very grateful for the complimentary internet, haha. It helped make my AX artist alley experience more bearable.

Should AX persist with this, I dearly hope they improve on the timeliness of its demands, ease of completing these processes, and to not turn it into a hefty expense for many.

[ Report ]

[ Day 1- Friday ]

We arrived a lot later than planned (it’s honestly largely my fault)… so we ended up paying a premium for parking. $30.

Entering the convention center was most unpleasant. There was a singular entrance this year with no unique entrance for exhibitors, dealers hall, and artist alley folk. Therefore, we merely skirted inside in confusion. Later, I heard that the entrance was for everyone… so anyone trying to purchase a badge for the day sorely spent hours in line under the sunshine.. and possibly navigating from beneath the highway no less.

Much to my dismay, the indoor ground level was obscenely packed. Unsafe even. This should not be happening at all, but it did nonetheless. Due to the threat of possibly forfeiting our table due to checking in quite late (deadline was 12PM), we urgently tried moving across the throngs of people in the tightly packed hall.

By the time we found ourselves at Kentia Hall… we realized that the check-in was NOT by Kentia Hall. Rather, it was at the same place as last year. Since we had all of our luggage on our persons, I volunteered to pick up our badges somehow, since I was the primary artist. This didn’t end favorably. Instead of being able to pick up badges for my entire table, I was sordidly informed that they had to be here in person too. In the end, I could only pick up my badge.

Afterward, I tried jogging back to Kentia Hall in the shortest possible way, but event staff (which are decidedly different from volunteers-) refused to let me across the shortest path… despite possessing a unique badge that arguably should at least let me across. Like a regular attendee, I was encouraged to climb down from the farther end. This easily wasted 15 minutes for me.

I managed to reunite with lemishie, but we lost my brother (the helper) with our luggage (oh noo). I hauled the display luggage and managed to enter the hall. I encountered Chu, my table’s third artist and had the foresight to check in much earlier (bless her soul). I left that behind as I bolted outside to search for my brother and our luggage. Lemishie came back just fine.. but both of us hadn’t found my brother. I managed to find him after a period of running across the connecting hall back and forth, frantically yelling for him as I went. I then handed over his badge registration printout so that he could secure his badge. However.. he didn’t return…

After lemishie came back, we spent perhaps the next 20-30 minutes looking for him… again. We kept in contact via phone and sms, but like… our exchanges was awful otherwise. Lemishie and I checked in with several nearby info booths… but to no avail as to where our luggage went. My brother informed us that he dropped it off at a info booth inside, but hadn’t let us know which booth it was. I can’t blame him, though. In the end, lemishie and I checked our table.. and discovered our luggage was already secured, and our display was partially up then. What a relief, haha.

We managed to finish setting up after the artist alley opened. I sat in daze for a while before checking into the internet, haha.

For the rest of the day, I meandered back and forth between artist alley and the exhibit hall. I believe I subsisted on some snacks, haha. My appetite wasn’t particularly great after the ordeal from earlier.

Later on, I procured a third chair from a vacant table, and sat by my table for a time. After that.. not much happened. I managed to sample some Canadian candies Chu brought from Canada though. They were so good. ;A; It’s a shame that these are varieties that aren’t sold in the states. I sampled Coffee Crisp and Smarties, hehe.

This tasted so good. ;v;
This tasted so good. ;v;

Day one ended up being my slowest day to date… and thus performed quite horribly to be honest. I was kind of worried about my performance, but I still had three more days left before I could properly judge.

Although I was free to leave later, we all left quite early after the artist alley closed. I was technically  too exhausted to stick around, and I remained quite bitter over what proceeded in the day. For much of the day, I honestly ran on excitement, because I only felt fatigued after settling down at home, haha.

[ Day 2 – Saturday]

Being more rested, I legitimately felt more excited for the day, haha. I reprised cosplaying as Ayano Tateyama from “Kagerou Project.” I left my home much earlier, and parking was less silly, though still paid quite a bit more than I liked. $25.

I manned the table by myself for a few hours in the morning, though being unsure with freely selling Chu’s products in her stead, I only helped sell for lemishie. Sorry Chu. ;v;

Like yesterday, I wandered to and fro from my table. AX began to routinely put their policies into effect, so the switches occurred more often. Eventually, I took the opportunity to wander off for much longer, partly because I spent time at the Kuretake booth demoing their watercolor markers. I doodled Mercedes from Odin Sphere.

A doodle of Mercedes drawn and colored with Kuretake watercolor markers. Later pinned on the contest wall.
A doodle of Mercedes drawn and colored with Kuretake watercolor markers. Later pinned on the contest wall.

Oh, I also checked out the Kinokuniya booth upon the exhibit hall’s opening.. but none of the lovely doorstopper sales materialized. If my observation is correct, I feel that some exhibit hall industry booths are more modest with their promotional wares this year.

For lunch and dinner, my brother helped me purchase a footlong subway. I also finally sampled a Mr. Big candy bar. I normally am not a fan of caramel, but this amount is quite acceptable, and it tasted delicious~

Pictured: Mr. Big candy bar. In the background, I was attempting to draw and line a doodle.
Pictured: Mr. Big candy bar. In the background, I was attempting to draw and line a doodle.

Performance wise.. I felt like I performed as well as a day from my first and second year selling at Anime Expo. It still fell short, but otherwise it improved my spirit. At this point, I pretended that day one didn’t happen, because it was majorly lackluster…

Another highlight of the day is encountering Sunny, who reprised as a artist alley staffer. :> Thanks for visiting my table! And thank you for the cute homemade gift! It now sits on my small wood shelf.

A con for the day was the temperature! I didn’t feel it in the morning, but by afternoon.. it was unpleasantly warm. I wandered to and fro, so I didn’t make a clear observation until Sunny suggested that my table go file a written complaint regarding the air conditioning. I later researched that the AC was indeed shut off in parts of the convention, and that a number of artists had filed complaints about it. This is unacceptable, because there were several cases of heatstroke.

[ Day 3 – Sunday ]

Unlike day two, I helped man the entire table, including Chu’s products. I managed to keep up somehow. I managed to happily take a photo of our table display then, too. Sunday was Chu’s last day as well, so she held some print sales later in the day.

Much like yesterday, I wandered around the exhibit hall at intervals. I procured some sample pocky boxes, and received some pens for demoing the Le Pen booth. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish my doodle, because I wanted to return to my table before the artist alley closed for the day.

[ Day 4 – Monday ]

This day went by much too quickly. I would have liked to wander around, but I largely remained at my table to work on commissions and conducting sales. We left some of Chu’s displayed prints up for sale, and some did get sold. Congrats! <3

I wandered around artist alley more intensively this time around, although a bulk of that was to try doing Chu some artist alley shopping favors.

After closing, I didn’t think of doing some print trades, but my brother goaded me to try anyway. And I did. I raced up and down my row seeing if there’s any that caught my eye. In the end, I made a lot more print trades than I imagined. I would’ve been fine with smaller prints, but I repeatedly was offered to trade for one of their posters aaaa

These artists are much too kind to me, omg. Thank you all so much for trading with me. ;A;

Such gorgeous prints aaaa
Such gorgeous prints aaaa

On a unrelated note, I updated my small wall of posters with new ones, haha. So lots of Natsume Yuujinchou in my face now~~

[ Conclusion ]

I held reservations for doing well at this year’s Anime Expo, and I suppose, I could have performed a lot worse. I ended up breaking even somehow, but I wish I could have gained a bit more profit in the end, especially because of how expensive this event is.

I booked for a table next year (without my hassle fortunately), though. I hope that improvements are being considered, because a number of unexcusable and arguably disrespectful things happened this year. Otherwise, I am eager for next year despite the downturn, fortunately. I hope next year’s planning agrees with me, too. :>!!

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