SAN DIEGO, CA - For those individuals who love art, but wouldn't be caught dead within 10 feet of a comic book convention, you might want to think again.
The bottom line is this: the modern day comic con is about more than just comic books. Individuals who believe such or are reluctant to attend a comic book convention because they're "not really into comic books" miss out on something that is much, much more than a collection of comic book vendors and people dressed up in character costumes (as seen in photo 1). Hesitant though many may be to acknowledge it, comic cons provide an exceptional opportunity to the humble artist.
Comic conventions are essentially a place where people who love and connect with something ardently can gather and share what they love with like-minded individuals who appreciate it as much as they do (as seen in photo 2), there were swelling crowds at San Diego Comic Con, the largest comic book convention in the world. Yes, comic books certainly lie at the core of this geek haven (as seen in photo 3), but just as people grew to accept and embrace a more broad definition of what they believed constituted geek culture, comic cons have in turn embraced other forms of fandom and include other industries besides comic books. Comic conventions have become more commercialized over time- for better or worse- introducing content and exhibitions for other media-- including movies, tv shows, books, celebrities, toys, and yes, even art (as seen in photo 4).
And why not?
If comic books are at the core of these pop culture celebrations, it only makes sense that art and consequently artists make up a fundamental aspect of comic conventions themselves. After all, comic books rely heavily on the work of talented artists to be successful. It takes both a writer and artist to make a comic book (as seen in photo 5).
Most comic cons dedicate an entire section of the convention to what is known as the Artist Alley-- a place where artists sell or promote their art, crafts, and projects and display and sell their work in what could be described as a sort of pop culture themed art bazaar (as seen in photo 5-- the artist alley at SDCC).
Artist alley's consist of tables upon tables lined up with portfolio books of prints, handmade jewelry and plushies, crafts and knick knacks, magnets, stickers, custom costume pieces and more. And it's not all stylized comic book art-- fine artists who have a unique or different approach, local artists, and other unique creatives also sell their art alongside these other, more expected con goers. Anyone who creates art and is passionate about what they create-regardless of their experience, style, background or medium-has a place at artist alley.
From outstanding character portraits crafted entirely out of duct tape to hand-crafted fine jewelry sculpted into the shapes of adorable ceramic sea creatures, artist alley is where you can find it all. It's where you'll find a table showcasing gorgeous airbrush prints of comic book villains right next to a table promoting one of a kind steam punk hair accessories-- both of which are across the aisle from a local artist who makes water color paintings of the various coffee shops of the Pacific Northwest. It's a refreshing break from the exhibition hall (which typically makes up the rest of the con) where nearly everything consists of commercialized products such as t-shirts and other such licensed vendor material.
Artist alley offers many artists an outlet and marketplace with which to share their work and receive recognition for what they do. It presents them with an opportunity to share their work with others and the chance to get their name and work into the hands of a diverse network of people. Beyond a seller's standpoint, comic con also offers aspiring and little known artists the opportunity to discover and be inspired by the work of other artists in their community, and gives them an excellent chance to network and become acquainted with other creative individuals who love art as much as they do. Many times the artists behind the tables are more than willing to answer questions, review portfolios, or give helpful advice and personal insights on their own experiences with selling art, techniques of the trade, and the sort of skills it takes to be successful.
The wealth of knowledge and experience that stands to be gained just from attending an artist alley, whether perusing the aisles or initiating thoughtful conversations with other artists can prove to be invaluable.
Attend an artist alley in your area. You'll be glad you did.
Photo 1: Man dressed as Spider-Man at Rose City Comic Con.(2014, July 28). Retrieved from Blogger: http://kdvan.blogspot.com/2013/09/return-from-rose-city-comic-con-recap.html.
Photo 2: Crowd of convention attendees at San Diego Comic Con. (2014, July 28). Retrieved from Almost Nerdy website: http://almostnerdy.com/nerd-news/convention-reports/convention-burnout-how-do-you-deal/.
Photos 3 – 5: (2014, July 25). Retrieved from The Morguefile website: www.morguefile.com.
Artist Alley 2014. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Nekocon website: http://www.nekocon.com/?page_id=272
Sakura-Con Artist Alley Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Sakuracon website: http://www.sakuracon.org/exhibitors/artist_alley_faq.php
Sasser, A. R. (2009, September 22). ShadowScript- The Art Blog of Angela R. Sasser. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Blogger website: http://blog.angelicshades.com/2009/09/evolution-of-artist-alley-table.html
Artist Alley Beginner Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Anime Boston website: http://www.animeboston.com/artists/artists_alley_beginner_guide/
Portfolio Reviews. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from ComicCon.org website: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/portfolio-review
Art Show. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from ComicCon.org website: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/art-show
Wheeler, A. (2013, August 6). What is San Diego Comic Con For? Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Comics Alliance website: http://comicsalliance.com/san-diego-comic-con-review-sdcc-2013/