Industrious Illustrating #48 – November Conventions Recap

My Motor City Comic Con Fall 2023 table

Welcome back to another week of Industrious Illustrating! Last weekend I was selling at Motor City Comic Con Fall 2023 in the Artist Alley, which ended up being a lot slower sales-wise and traffic-wise than Youmacon was the previous weekend but still an okay profit. I think that my stuff just isn’t as popular with the comic con crowd, which makes sense since almost everything I draw fanart of is a Japanese or East Asian media property (even including Armored Core). Weirdly enough my Pacific Rim print sold way better at Youmacon than at Motor City, but I think that can also be attributed to Motor City Comic Con’s fall show having lower attendance and buying interest overall than either Youmacon the weekend before. I still hope that I can try spring MC3 in May next year since I’ve heard it’s much better attended than the fall show, but I don’t plan on doing the fall show again since it didn’t really feel worth my time or the table cost.

Something I’ve definitely noticed is that selling big-ticket items (large prints, specialty prints, deskmats) has helped increase my revenue and profits at conventions. My profits at MC3 were salvaged by several people making large purchases of multiple prints or items, and a significant chunk of my far better than expected profits at Youmacon was also people making large purchases of deskmats or multiple items at once. There’s only so many days in a convention weekend, which means that making more money means making more sales or making larger sales. Because my products are mostly for a specific niche (mecha art) rather than a broadly appealing mass market, I can’t count on making more sales at every event. However, I can count on making my art and offerings good enough to encourage larger purchases per interested customer that are worth as much as or more than several smaller purchases. That’s just my personal business strategy, though — other artists may find greater success selling lots of small cheap items that add up into good profits.

In terms of future conventions, I received acceptances for two early 2024 cons within the last few days — Anime Milwaukee and Katsucon (Washington D.C. area) — which means I will finally be branching out from Michigan/Ohio cons and traveling further away to get my work in front of more people who haven’t seen it before. This also means that a bunch of the money I just earned at Youmacon and MC3 is immediately getting reinvested back into the business since I have to book hotel rooms and transportation to get to these cons, which goes to show the importance of making a profit rather than merely breaking even. Without making a profit off of these past few cons and my online sales, I wouldn’t have enough money to both pay off personal expenses and grow my business at the same time.

Anyway, I won’t have any more cons until January, so I probably won’t be talking much more about conventions until then and I’ll focus on other art and art business-related topics. Next week I’ll discuss different ways to make prints (at-home printing, outsourcing, etc.) including a few on-campus or local options for UMich students!


I'm Robin (he/they), a third year enrolled as a User Experience Design student. I'm especially interested in eventually professionally creating artwork for entertainment such as animated films, books, and video games. I want to share my artwork with a wider audience using this blog, and I also want to open up a conversation about what goes into making illustrations and artwork both on the creative and business sides..

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