I should be working on the Isaaks Cathedral right now but headache and monumental detail horror aren't best buddies I guess.
Last year (and the year before) I've been at the Spiel fair in Essen and of course there's always the Comic Action as well. I've been there... 7 (?) years ago as an artist myself and know the visitors and the "regulars". Tillmann might be somebody most people might know.He's a legend.
Anyways. What really surprised me was the fact that so many artists prefered to hide awkwardly behind some books or not even trying to make eye contact. It felt a bit like everybody coming too close to their table might bite. Or worse: buy something.
Some people did (more than) fine but at least 75% of the artists made the whole artist row pretty unappealing.
- smile and make friendly!) eye contact with people strolling by
I'd like to stamp that as a mantra into your brain. You are attending the fair to SELL something so invite the people to chat a bit, come closer to your artist table and have a look at your art. You have to appear friendly and open. Awkward artist geek crouching like a hunchback over books might work for hardcore geek fans but not for the 99% who might not know you. And yes, you should take these into consideration as well.
Smiling does not hurt (well, maybe a bit after 3 days but alas...) and small talk is like a free crash course in soft skills. And let me tell you: Small talk comes handy in business. Always. So grab every chance you get to chat with strangers and get comfortable doing it. This is a great opportunity!
- keep your table organized and tidy
... I don't have to elaborate, right? Imagine a neatly sorted sales table and a cluttered SALE table where people got grabby hands and nobody picked up the mess and reorganized it. It looks awful. This is your presenation table and again you want to sell something so keep it tidy.
Chewing gum paper, water bottles and so on please down or hidden behind something. It's not a snack booth.
- zombie look
Well, I'm sorry if girls have a bit of an advantage here because you can swap concealer on. Tons of it. Drink a lot if possible because we all know the fair normally mummifies you and sucks out all the water. If you don't have a table buddy you trust at least drink moderatly. But drink.
I know after the second day the panda look (dark circles around the eyes) and being constantly tired starts. Been there, done that and got a lot of shirts.
Again: You want to sell something. And you are part of the presentation because you happen to be there. Make the best out of it and take care of your appearance.
I know some people who wore the same shirt for three days and gosh it was hot in the fair and it was unpleasant to be close because these guys smelled. You can wear the same shirt for three days... if your deo is strong and trustworthy enough.
Keep also in mind that garlic breath is unsexy for strangers and that unbrushed teeth can be a pure nightmare. I talked to one artist who smelled so bad I really wanted to throw up. This is not okay. Chewing gum is not a myth. It helps. Use it.
I realized I forgot something REALLY important:
If the fair has regular staff taking care of the toilets: chat these women/men up and charm them (bribing with sweets helps as well). You DEPEND on these guys loving you if you don't have access to the VIP/business toilets. They work so hard on fairs and cons to keep the toilets tidy and clean and you should always thank these kindly and praise their work- because honestly they do great work. If they take money for their service consider the generous tip you give them the BEST investment ever. Talk to them, ask them questions about how they like the fair so far and if they have any idea when's the worst time to pee.
No kidding. The restroom staff should always be your best friends.
If sombody acts stupid:
Well, there are a lot of idiots out there and many people behave like they got a green card for idiot behaviour with their con entrance card. Try to ignore these. If somebody asks you a stupid question for the 2479134282 time answer it friendly for the 2479134282 time. This person has no idea about the 2479134281 other idiots who asked the same question.
If somebody tries to mooch you can simply say "sorry but no". You don't need to explain. Stay calm. If the fucker doesn't leave you can still glare and scare him away with psychopath-talk. But at least try it the friendly way first.
I could add a bit more but that's it. Mainly. I bet the regular con folks can add tons more. Feel free to do so in the comments.
I know this is the best case scenario and we all know con/fair time is never best case but always "I'm so tired I could sleep with open eyes". The problem: Nobody - and especially not a potential customer- has to care because you choose to do it. So don't complain. It was your decision- make the best out of it. You want their money... seriously, this should be motivating enough to make the best impression possible.
I could also write a lot about "how to be friendly to an artist BEHIND the table". We had this weird experience of a busty girl shoving her barely covered cleavage pratically on the table every time she strolled by and by god, I always prayed the top would stay on. While it sounds hilarious it is annoying if it happens 50 times a day and I'm not into boobs which made it harder to ignore these two tumbling out and all over my comfort zone. O_o
Furthermore I have some partially bad news:
No idea if this is really bad news but... I applied for a project two years ago. I would have given my left arm (am a leftie) to do it. I wanted it so badly.
I finally got a chance to do it now and I'm still drunk on happiness because I worked my ass off to get this project.
It means less time for private stuff. I tell myself I still have the rest of my life for these things but opportunities like this one pop up only once.
I am still working on the goodie stuff because I think it's a nice thing (and I want a frog keychain myself) but I will be slowed down a lot.
Oh and I missed last Friday's comic page because my hubby and I went to "visit family and drive 300 km around in Germany". The page will be uploaded latest Thursday. Promised.