As we get closer to July, the news and updates will start rolling in regarding all the attention and headline-grabbing celebrity panels, surrounding the fly-by-night film and TV content that heads to San Diego Comic-Con. However, one consistent element of the Con that has always been there, year-in year-out, is often the one that gives the most pause to attendees: Artist’s Alley.
Maybe it’s the immediacy that can intimidate: the creatives that that are instrumental in putting together the incredible artwork in your favourite comics, sat right there in front of you. They’re often sketching or painting away… How do you even interrupt them when they’re in the middle of an artistic flow? What do you ask for? And what happens when the sticky subject of money comes up?
End of the day, that is exactly what they’re there for: to meet their fans, to give the opportunity to share their talent with them directly and, yes, make some money to make it worth their while. AEISD Contributor Graeme Mclachlan has visited a number of cons over the years and was able to land some amazing art sketches – here he shares his thoughts on the best way to get the most out of an Artist’s Alley:
The Art of Approaching Artist’s Alley
- Set a budget and stick to it! “This gets to be number one because it is the most important, you don’t want to end up spending all of your budget on the first day! Depending on how big a name the artist is and how detailed a piece you are looking for the price can range from $40 up to several hundred so make sure you know what your limit is!”
- Prioritise. “If you have a specific artist who you want to get something from then make sure you go to them as soon as the show opens. If they are in artist’s alley then you will be able to look up what table they’ll be at as soon as CCI puts up the exhibitor list. Nothing worse than going to them late in the day and finding out their list is full.”
- Pre-show contact. “A few artists will open their lists prior to the show – especially if they don’t have a permanent table in artists alley – so get watching the twitter feeds just in case. You will also sometimes get the companies that handle the original art sales handle their commissions as well, so remember and follow them too (companies like @felixcomicart and @sequenceart).”
- Have an idea of what you are looking for. “It will help immensely if you know what you want, because this will then help you decide if the artist prices for what you are looking for would be out of your range and allow you to tone it down if you still want something from that artist.”
- Talk to the artists (they’re people too!). “I’ve had some really nice discussions with artists over the years and if you like their stuff remember to let them know! It can be a long slog for them just sat at their table with people ignoring them, so a quick chat can help break up their day!”
- Carry a sketchbook. “This should really go without saying, if you want to keep all your art in one place and have no intention of framing them then you should have one of these to hand, plus you never know who will be doing free sketches at the DC or 2000AD booth – I got a V from David Lloyd one year when I just happened to be passing the booth and saw he was there doing sketches.”
- Buy something! “If you can’t afford a commission the artist will usually have either prints or trades that they will be selling, attending a con isn’t cheap and unless they’re one of the special guests of the convention they’ll have paid for their flights, accommodation and to attend just like you! If you’re lucky they may also do a free sketch for you which will be very basic in nature either inside the trade or in your sketchbook.”
Some fantastic advice from Graeme, there – do check out the Special Guest listings for this years SDCC at the CCI website for a full run-down of who you can see in this years Artist’s Alley. Of course, there is also a way to, perhaps, not venture into the world of the Artist, especially when they have sharp pencils to hand, as demonstrated here by Nerdist‘s own Jonah Ray…