Artist Alley Con Review: Anime Boston 2014

March 26, 2014 at 6:14 am 5 comments

The front of the  Hynes Convention Center, the home of Anime Boston.

The front of the Hynes Convention Center, the home of Anime Boston.

I had heard from a lot of people that Anime Boston had one of the best artist alley’s around. I’m part of a Facebook group called Artist Alley Network International (AANI) and everyone on there was always talking about Anime Boston. So this year, in an effort to expand my cons, I decided to give it a go.

They have two levels in the AA – pro-row where for a higher price (2014’s was $300) you can get an 8ft table and prime placement. This level is juried and requires you to have mostly original artwork (vs. fan art which makes use of existing characters like Pokemon or other popular animes). Then, there is the regular level which is cheaper, but you take the chance of having to fight a first come, first serve system and could get a smaller table. I figured since I tend to do pretty well at cons that I would just spring for the pro-row. I also wanted to guarantee that I had a good spot since there was going to be the added cost of flying cross country. Flight schedules also meant that I had to take two extra days.

This was my first time ever being in Boston period – con or otherwise. I was feeling a bit apprehensive in the days right before con. All of a sudden, my nerves hit like a Mack truck. I would be on my own, relying on public transit and my hotel wasn’t the one attached to the con. Plus, the AA is a 12.5 hour alley two of the days. LOOONG hours.

I knew I wanted a ton of product so I would be in position to sell as much as possible so I packed up my suitcases to their max limit of 50lbs and loaded up my carry on and personal item. I also shipped a box out via FedEx as I had heard that there was a location in the Hynes Convention Center where AB is located and I could do hold at arrival and pick it up there. Sounded easy peasy, right?

Ok, that was a HUGE mistake. FedEx apparently doesn’t know which locations don’t do hold at arrival and let me ship. Long story short, they delivered it only to have it denied and I had to spend most of my first day at con manning my table while being shuttled around the FedEx phone tree, getting increasingly frustrated only to be told that there was nothing they could do and it was in Connecticut ready to head back to California. And this was after they had told me that it was going to be taken care of and dropped off at a FedEx near the convention center. I really wanted to cry when it was all over cause it was so frustrating. I was also saying a lot of Very Bad Words in my head (and I admit, some out loud). They will be getting a very angry message from me and owe me a refund on my shipping.

Inside the box, were a majority of my bucket bags, nearly all my deco jars and all my Samsung deco cases. I also had some display items in there. At least, I had the presence (or paranoia) of mind to not put all my eggs in one box. I had split most of my inventory just in case something happened to the box. Good thing I did. If I had ended up in Boston with zero inventory, I would have been even more incensed (though not sure how that’s possible). I do estimate that FedEx’s incompetence cost me a couple hundred as I had a lot of people asking me about Samsung cases as those are harder to find.

Despite that hitch, Anime Boston turned out to be an AMAZING con. First day was crazy and nonstop. I had made back my table fee in little more than an hour. My previous first day

The Kimchi Kawaii table on Day 2 at Anime Boston.

The Kimchi Kawaii table on Day 2 at Anime Boston.

sales record had been $400 and I was amazed at that at the time. My first day at Boston, I made what I bring in at some cons for the entire con. The second and third days continued to blow me away. It was incredible. I felt like I was in some crazy dream. I remember a few nights before Boston, I had a dream that someone came up to me and wanted to buy 500 prints from me. I woke up feeling super excited and then immediately bummed that it had been a dream. This con was like that dream, but in reality.

One of the signs that I was in a good artist alley were the comments of con goers. I heard ‘The artist alley has way better stuff than dealer’s’ and ‘I’m just gonna spend all my time here (in the AA)’. I also had con staff coming to my table to buy things and then returning or referring friends over. I had many repeat customers which is always flattering.

One of my FB friends who lives in Boston came to the con to meet me and brought me lunch which was greatly appreciated (and tasty). I also got to meet some of my fellow artists from AANI. The group is largely made up of east coasters so most I only knew from correspondence on Facebook. I was doing this con alone so I didn’t get to get out and explore much, but a lot came by my table and I was next to Nancy from Lucky Squid Studios. Everyone was super friendly and another brought me green tea every day. I did explore the alley a bit in the mornings before con would open, but artists are notorious night owls so most didn’t get there til right when it opened or even later. I’m hoping to have a helper next year so I can explore a bit more.

The location of the con was also great. The Hynes is attached to the Prudential Center which had a nice food court (yay for no overpriced subpar con food!!) and also had a T station inside (the subway). My hotel was about a mile away and some days I just walked it, but in the evenings, I would take the T which was really convenient.

One of the many old buildings close to my hotel. This one was facing Boston Commons.

One of the many old buildings close to my hotel. This one was facing Boston Commons.

I got to explore the area a little as well. I got up early on Day One so I could walk and take pictures along the way. I also did some exploring Sunday after con wrapped up at 3. One thing I regret was that I didn’t pack my zoom lens in the name of luggage space. There were so many old buildings there and I would have loved to capture some of the architectural details. Especially on the old gothic cathedrals I saw. Will not make that mistake again!

I had intended to explore some more on Monday before my 12:30pm pick up to fly out, but the temps plummeted. It was a bracing 20 degrees with wind in the morning and this CA girl just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t have a scarf or earmuffs so I felt like my ears were going to fall off when I took a short walk to the bank to deposit the cash from con. I was also feeling pretty exhausted after all the prep, nights of 4-5 hours of sleep and nerves, so I just took it easy in the hotel. Am actually tying up this review on the plane back. We are somewhere over the Great Plains right now (though by the time I publish, I’ll be back home).

All in all, it was an amazing experience and I already knew halfway through Day One that I will be adding this to my list of cons to do on a regular basis. This one will actually be considered a ‘drop everything and do it’ con, even if it trumps a CA con. Even with travel expenses, I suspect this one is going to rank as one of my highest net cons. I need to compare notes from last year.

Next up will be Fanime in San Jose, CA which was my first con ever, my first artist alley and this year, will be my first foray into the world of the Dealer’s Hall. I’m gonna take a few days off to just sit and slack off as it’s been a warp speed start to 2014 already. Then it’s time to hit the production super highway for that one. I am also prepping a Kickstarter to fund a plushie that I’ll be selling at future cons and in my Storenvy shop.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mabel Sterritt  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    You had a great table and I’m really glad you enjoyed your first AB!

    Reply
    • 2. kimchikawaii  |  April 4, 2014 at 6:39 am

      Aw, thank you! I had such an awesome time at Anime Boston. I can’t wait til April, 2015.

      Reply
  • 3. minionme  |  June 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Thank You for writing this blog. It really amazes me how you’re willing to share this information. I am just starting to branch out to outside California this year and reading your blogs reflects some of the very ups and downs I had doing some California Cons. Anyways, just wanted to say that you’re awesome for doing this! See you around the scene!

    http://www.instagram.com/minionmoi
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/minionmeshop

    Reply
    • 4. kimchikawaii  |  June 13, 2014 at 2:25 am

      You’re welcome! I noticed that no one seemed to write con reviews from the standpoint of the artists. I would be searching around trying to find a review that would tell me if it was worth a try at such and such con and found nothing. I know some artists like to keep things super hush hush, but I figure, we all started the same with nothing and whatever I can do to help people out is all good 🙂

      Reply
  • 5. The Kimchi Kawaii Year in Review! | Keepin' It Kawaii  |  January 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    […] Anime Boston blew all artist alley sales records out of the water. This was my first year there and despite a hiccup with FedEx not shipping 1/3 of my stuff, I still had amazing sales there. […]

    Reply

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