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Before taking the leap to sell my art at the local Comic Con this year, I asked myself
Is my art good enough?
Would anyone want original content?
Will only fan art sell?
What would I even sell?
First off, the first band-aid, yes, your art is good enough. Do I need to look at it first? No, I do not. Every skill level, if you create genuine content someone will love it. I know, it sounds like a myth, as I wrote that, I was still looking at my art and thinking, I'm not sure about that, even with having sold art. I saw every technical level of art, and honestly, it is hard to not want to support people putting themselves in that vulnerable place with something so personal, especially if they are local. If you are a cocky son-of-a-gun, I might change my opinion. But, if you sit there and tell me about your art, I will probably end the conversation painfully trying to resist buying something from every single artist.
For original content, maybe it's a little different here in Kelowna, and the fact it is a fairly local event, but I had people specifically requesting original, local content. I had gone out of my comfort zone and had made fan art, and here they were, asking for 'Aleksina Originals,' in which I had to direct them to my sister's art instead (which I was selling for her). What a weird feeling.
It being a 'Comic Con,' I preemptively assumed I had to just make fan art. Yes, I suggest having some, because it is a great icebreaker. Being able to chat with someone about a passion of a character, show, game, or comic is great to connect you to your audience. And, if you want to have all fan art, that is great too. Honestly, I endorse all creating and self expression. Though, I am against full-on copyright infringement or plagiarism, so make sure to make the fan art your own.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE GOING
Even if you don't feel confident with your art.
Being part of a community. Even if you only sell a little or only just cover your costs, there is an awesome camaraderie of these events, especially local ones. Each one of these people is an artist, being vulnerable, putting their art into the world. On top of that, they are sitting with their art, showing themselves physically alongside their art. How brave is that?
As I prepped for the event, my confidence had this constant decline. I even found my desire to create art decline closer to the event, as I became fully convinced my art was nothing of value. And then I got to the event...
Even if I didn't sell as much as some of the amazing artists with tables near me, people still bought my art. I had people complement it, and give me so many genuine smiles, I couldn't help but feel warmed from their kindness. Luckily for me, I had my sister's art to promote as well, art I can believe in without any self-deprecation, allowing me to bring up my selling confidence, which rubbed off on my own art. I even had people do a full turn around to come to my table, just because I smiled from a previous glow of explaining the art at my table. They took probably a solid five minutes looking through what was there, but they bought something.
Your confidence, and attachment to your art is infectious.
IT'S NOT ABOUT OUT-SELLING
I am prone to jealousy, I'm not going to lie. So, there were a couple times, I sat there, seeing tables next to me seemingly doing way better than me, and I got grumpy. But then I reminded myself, firstly that this was my first one, and that I could be proud of them! This is my community, these are people probably more like me than I'd ever know. They deserve success. So, I found myself brimming with pride for every purchase I saw made of neighbours' art, and my sister's at my table.
NOT EVERYONE WILL LOVE YOUR ART
That does not make your art bad or lesser.
It can be hard when you see people glance at your table with a poker face, and proceed to the next table, becoming engrossed. People are different, it might even just be colour preference, fandom preference, or style preference versus anything 'bad' about your art. And if you do find yourself going to a dark place, feeling really self-conscious, use it fuel learning some more art skills, such as colour, anatomy, or framing. Look at the other art, find what is great about it, learn from it.
I know this sounded a bit on the rant side, but I hope you got something out of it. Maybe you might sell some of your own art? Selling art online and in person is quite different. Maybe you've tried online with little traction, this might be what you need to try next.
I went in thinking I would never want to do one of these events again, wishing I could bail, to feeling a great desire to join next year. With most artistic fields, it tends to end up being about the people more than the money. This event was no exception. I hope you know your art is worth something, and you are allowed to be proud of it, no matter how technically perfect it is or not, or how long you've been creating it.