Convention Courtesy (Artist Version)
It’s con season now and over the next few months, so I thought I’d make a post about some courtesy pointers about the artist alley after some discussions with my friends about rudeness I’ve witnessed at cons. A lot of this to most people is common sense, but for every single convention that ever happens - for at least one person there, it’s their first con.
The cosplay version of this post is here.
Most cons will have artist alleys and it’s a great way to find out about and support independent artists. Unfortunately I’ve tabled at a con before and have both witnessed and heard of some pretty rude behaviour.
1. Keep your negative opinions to yourself. I thought it was a given that if you personally think someones art is bad you keep that shit to yourself but I frequently hear of congoers - usually younger teen fans - pointing out an artists wares right in front of them and laughing at how bad it looks. In the tag for the con I tabled at I witnessed a post by someone saying that one of their prints (which was really not that bad) was ‘a mistake’ because ‘several people said aloud how ugly it was’. The artist is right there!
2. Artists are not obligated to draw exactly what you want. Don’t get mad at an artist for drawing/not drawing a series/character/ship that you hate/love. All it does is make you look like an idiot. Artists can draw or not draw whatever they want. I once had this guy tell me that he was ‘sick of’ seeing Serena from Pokemon everywhere. I mean he literally walked right up to my table solely to tell me that. What am I meant to do about that, exactly? Stop selling my print of her?
3. Don’t complain about ‘‘’high’’’ prices - I’ll admit, sometimes during a walk-around of the other artist stalls I have occasionally seen some puzzling high prices on things, but it seems like 9 times out 10 when people complain about prices it’s a perfectly reasonable amount. My friend said that some kid told her that her keychains were a ripoff because ‘they only cost a fraction of that to make’ - well kid, you wanna just buy the raw materials and make your own, then? The artists aren’t selling you ‘printing costs’ and ‘raw materials’, they are selling actual products that they have spent hours, days, even weeks drawing, printing and assembling. That smugass ‘i know how much those cost to produce’ attitude is the worst, because besides being smarmy and rude as hell you’re also telling the artist that the cost of the materials and production is all that matters and their time and talent isn’t worth anything. Telling an artist they charge too much isn’t going to make them give you a discount, whether online or to their face.
4. Artists are not your friends just because we draw something you like - We appreciate it when you tell us you like our stuff or even just want to drop by to say hi, don’t get me wrong. We’re flattered when you buy it excitedly or tell us that you’re a fan. We usually don’t even mind if you want to ask us a few questions or chat with us a little bit. But the thing is, we usually don’t know you. We have not made some magical connection because we drew your OTP or whatever. Don’t hang around our table for ages and ages trying to be our best friend - it’s awkward for us, and having you constantly blocking the view also deflects potential customers. (My sister has been a bigger victim of this than me, particularly from male customers who start acting far too chummy with her.) Even in cases where the person seems like someone I actually wouldn’t mind having a really long conversation with, the artist alley is just honestly not the place for it.
5. and this should be the most obvious thing ever but… Don’t steal. This is pretty much the lowest thing you could do. The kind of things that get stolen at cons are usually always small things that are easy to slip away like badges…the kind of thing that will cost you a few dollars at most. Owning art you got at a con is like a little trophey that proves you are supporting an artist you like. How the hell are you supporting anyone by stealing it? I understand that in all the excitement, people can and have moved away with something still in their hand without paying first, without even realizing. (this actually did happen to me, but she realized her error and paid immediately), and that kind of slip of the mind is not what I mean - I’m talking about doing it on purpose, because you want something for free or don’t think the artist ‘deserves’ to be paid. There’s no excuse for this at all, and I believe anyone who shoplifts anything from an artist is doing it solely to be intentionally awful.
As long as you’re polite, respect the artist and their boundaries and arent a horrid person, you should be absolutely fine! Luckily for me, the vast majority of people that come to my table are absolutely great, but the examples above do happen, so keep them in mind if you’re going to a con this year, or have a young friend or relative who may be coming too.