Fanime 2013 Review: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Am trying to get caught up here after Fanime this past weekend in San Jose. Lots of inventory to assess and restock, but taking a little break here to write up my review of this year’s Fanime.
Let’s just say it’s a bit like the opening lines of ‘Tale of Two Cities’: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.
Due to the ongoing renovation of the San Jose Convention Center, Fanime had to do some shuffling around of stuff that normally all takes place inside the one location. Registration was about a quarter of a mile away at the Fairmont Hotel. I’ve heard nightmare stories about people waiting for 7 hours or so to get their badges. Registration there has always been a bit rough (who remembers the Day 0 power outage of 2012??), but I guess it was worse this time due to slow WiFi and less check in stations. I was lucky to not get caught up in that mess as I was selling in the Artist Alley and they FINALLY had a line for artists this year to speed us through. I got checked in with my first helper and then we walked back to the convention center.
Artist Alley was in South Hall this year behind the center. This is the part that wasn’t so great. Despite assurance by the staff that it would be promoted that the AA was not in the main building and how to get there, it really wasn’t. Some artists heard from con attendees that they didn’t even know there was an AA this year. When I was going through the center trying to find the best way to get out to South Hall, the volunteers I asked didn’t seem to really know. Signage was pretty minimal. There were signs outside the hall where the AA usually was, but there were no directions posted on the signs. The AA wasn’t even on the map in the program guide. I feel like the staff really dropped the ball on this one.
It was especially frustrating to hear that we got moved for construction reasons only to see that the hall was perfectly fine and they decided to put the swap meet (which only happened two nights) and a lack luster food court which was one stand and some tables. I’m guessing there were some reasons, but this was not communicated to us much. I think the artists would have been less frustrated if we had been given a REASON why we were shifted out of the main center.
South Hall was…well, let’s just say if I die only having done one AA in there, then I die happy. It is essentially a semi-permanent tent behind the convention center. They said that putting us out there meant that there were more artists who got tables and we would have lots more room. In my opinion, that did not outweigh the negative factors of being out there. It was cold and windy. For some reason, the fire marshal had said that when we were in there, we had to keep the doors open the whole time. This meant that artists near the doors were constantly getting their displays blown over. For those of us further down, we had to deal with a mysterious grime that coated our tables. I suspect it was from the air ducts that probably hadn’t been cleaned since the tent was put up. By the end of con, my deco stuff was all grimy looking and my displays had a layer of grit on them. My helper was having trouble with her allergies which was triggered by the dust in the tent. I heard many reports of other artists having the same problem. When I got home, I had to wipe down all my displays and clean off all my deco stuff. Luckily, most of it is water proof, but I’m not sure if I can do much to salvage the cake boxes.
You could barely hear the announcements overhead and the bathrooms were outside the building in a portable building. The lighting in there was super dim. The floor was dusty cement. South Hall was just dingy. What can I say?
Sales were pretty slow on the first day. First days are always slow as most people are either still at work or school or mostly browsing and planning what to buy later. However, I could tell that sales were being affected by the remote location (Dealers and the gaming room were still in the main building). Normally on a first day, I can fill up two of my inventory sheets. I barely filled just one on Friday. Saturday was better. Sunday and Monday were actually strong for me as I think people were finally finding us.
This year, I sold prints at Fanime for the first time. I’ve sold them at other cons, but I started doing that after Fanime 2012. I’m getting better at knowing what attracts people so I made sure to post my punny prints up first. I filled in with others as they started to sell out. I also displayed my acrylic pins better and they sold well. In addition, I had some more expensive items and all this combined to give me very good sales despite the bad location. I was actually surprised that I did as well as I did.
I had some repeat customers, some who came back many times during the con, others who remembered me from last year. One girl always buys buttons from me each Fanime and she asked to take a picture with me which I was super flattered about. Another customer said that they had come to the AA specifically to find my table. I’m always humbled when people like my stuff well enough to spend money on it and actively search me out at cons. I also got to meet an artist I follow on deviantART who makes some amazing polymer clay jellyfish pendants. She was super excited to meet me too so that was really fun. I bought a blue jellyfish necklace and was thinking of getting this gorgeous sea horse, but she sold out before I could get back to her table. I got my seating request and had Ai Kawaii as my neighbor. She makes really cute plushies and
I keep giving her all my money we met at Anime Expo last year so try to meet up at cons now.
I’ve heard that the renovations will be done at the convention center by November and we’ll be back in the main building again for 2014. I sure hope so as I would like to continue selling there, but if South Hall is the new home for the Artist Alley, I will not be returning which is sad as Fanime was my very first con to attend and a few years later, first con to sell at so it kind of has a nostalgic place in my heart.