This is a follow up of sorts to the article I posted with several convention directors from here in the Grand Canyon State. This was planned to be a four participant article that featured different types of exhibitors but one bailed and I just didn’t have time to reach out (I’ve been in the middle of a move). You’ll still find the answers from the participants to be diverse. Speaking of, here will be answering the questions:
Alex & Sai – Pixel & Graphite
Michael Scruggs – Motto Glass
Jake Justice – Justice Comics
How long have you been exhibiting at Arizona conventions? Roughly how many cons do you exhibit at in AZ a year?
Pixel&Graphite – We’ve been exhibiting since 2013. We do an average of 5 shows per year ranging from anime, gaming and comic conventions.
Motor Glass – 2 years and do 6 shows a year.
Justice Comics – I have been exhibiting in AZ since 2013. I usually do 4 big cons in state a year, plus 2-3 smaller shows. Now with Amazing AZ cancelling, it is down to 3 including Tucson Comic Con.
What’s your feelings on the amount of conventions in Arizona?
Pixel&Graphite – We feel that Arizona is an untapped market, especially for small and grassroot conventions. There’s a huge fanbase that we feel that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Most of the artists and vendors we know drive to California to attend cons because there are very few opportunities here.
Moto Glass – I could go for more in Feb – Mar and Sept
Justice Comics – I would love to see something pop back up in place of Amazing Arizona Comicon, this state definitely could support a replacement. Phoenix con is phenomenal, Tucson is under new management so I expect big things, and Fanfest hopefully is about to hit a growth spurt.
Do you consistently exhibit at the same conventions each year or do you mix it up? Is it worth the financial risk to skip one convention you’ve exhibited at previously in favor of attending a different/new one?
Pixel&Graphite – We actually do both! We tend to stick to our regular cons (Saboten & TaiyouCon) and branch out to other shows when they come to our attention. Sometimes it’s a hit or miss.
When you do conventions full time as we do, a bad show can make or break your business. As a result, the financial risk is too high to replace a show that has proven itself with a show that is brand new. We only attend new conventions if they have had a successful previous year.
Moto Glass – Yes I do the same ones, but am always looking for new opportunities. At this point I’m just adding new shows to my list.
Justice Comics – I do all the local shows I can do, it is a great opportunity to show people what we have to offer at our shop “The Toy Box”. I also do shows in Las Vegas, California, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Hawaii, and I am always looking to do more. I feel like the more shows I do, the more opportunities I have for growth and visibility.
In your experience in the past several years, are tabling costs continuing to rise or have they been consistent each year? How much do table costs factor into your decision to exhibit at a con or not?
Pixel&Graphite – For our regular cons tables have been roughly the same price. The costs of the table is a huge factor for decision making since we want to make that amount back. If it’s a new con and table costs are high we’ll usually see how the show does in terms of traffic before making a decision to attend.
Moto Glass – It factors some. Yes they have been going up.
I personally like the cons that will trade my con logo’ed etched pint glasses for my booth
Justice Comics – Cost of booths always play a vital role in my convention schedule, along with, gas, truck rental, food, and then hotel expenses, that is why local shows have a distinct advantage for me.
As an exhibitor, what is one thing you wish convention management would/could do better to improve the overall experience for exhibitors?
Pixel&Graphite – It honestly depends on the convention. For example, Saboten’s staff is good at doing as much trouble shooting before a show starts. They do their best to inform the artists and vendors when any issues pop up.
However we have had shows where there was absolutely no communication between convention staff and vendors. We believe that most of the problems between management and exhibitors can be solved by clear communication and a willingness to listen.
Moto Glass – Make Friday nights longer…..it seems counter intuitive to shut down on a Friday night earlier than on a Saturday night.
Justice Comics – Loading and unloading usually present the most problems for vendors. In terms of growth, I am looking for as much promotion as possible, along with a strong guest list. Some show runners are great at promotion and communication, and others take it for granted that people will show up.