Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Anime St. Louis Review for Artists

I’ve been an artist for Anime St. Louis 3 times now and I just love the show. The staff are well mannered and organized and the show is one of the most logical shows I’ve been to.

Dealer/Artist Space: Smart People Set Up Here

The artist alley has always, in my experience, been in the same room as the vendors. However, the area is distinctly divided between artists and dealers. This is great because all the artists are together and we can chat during slow times. Another advantage is no one gets overshadowed by the enormous vendor displays.

The tables were also 8’ and I will tell you now, I don’t know a single artist that didn’t appreciate the extra space. Also, there was plenty of room behind each booth (6-8 feet!) so you don’t have to store all your boxes and stuff under the table. We set up a little work station behind us with all our tools out for commissions and fixes.

The only complaint I have, and this is more the fault of the venue than the show staff, was the our spaces were divided into 8 foot sections with 8 foot tables. All the booth spaces were sectioned off with blacks curtains and railings and we had to crawl under the tables to get in and out. >_< Pretty hilarious, but totally worth it for the extra room behind the table!

As for the venue, ASTL was, is, and will be hosted at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville. It’s not hard to get to from Hwy 255 and the place is very big. The center staff are very polite and a few even brought their kids in on Sunday to walk by.

Variety: You Can Find Anything

ASTL is the biggest anime show in the St. Louis area (even though it’s in Collinsville, IL). I think* ASTL is a juried show. Basically they don’t accept on a first come first served basis. They review the applicants to try and diversify what they have. There were comic artists, print artists, button makers, t shirts, knick knacks, plushies. I was the only jewelry artist that sold solely jewelry. It was fantastic!

I noticed there were no major plushie makers or lolita items but that’s ok. You could find a few of those items scattered about the other artists’ tables. Last year there were badge artists, bead sprites, and quite a few other tables so maybe next year will have even more variety.

Sales and Attendees: Best Show Yet

I’m not speaking for everyone, but this (2012) was my best show I have ever done. From chatting up the other artists, it seems almost everyone broke even by Friday evening as well. Sales were amazing. Most shows have several slow periods when big panels or events open up, but not this time. I think the only slow periods were 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there. Other than that, someone was at least stopping by to talk and it was great.

In fact it was so busy for most artists that I didn’t get much chance to talk to them for too long. I might stop by for a few minutes and then move on because a small horde was descending on that table.

As the biggest show for St. Louis, it attracts a larger crowd with a larger age range. More adults come to the show, as well as a greater diversity of fandoms. Aside from anime fans, comics and scifi fans were aplenty. I think I sold more Star Wars and video game fanart than anything anime related. One thing I love about ASTL is every year there’s a nice guy who brings his life sized remote controlled R2D2 (moves, beeps, lights up). It’s my personal favorite part.

Staff Attitudes: 5 Stars

As I have previously stated, I’m extremely judgmental of show staff attitudes. Bad staff makes for terrible shows. Fortunately, this is not a problem with ASTL. I have NEVER run into a convention staff member that has been rude, ignorant, unprofessional, or just terrible. Actually the staff are so great they take an extra step. This year and last year, artists were given a small gift bag with snacks or art supplies. Really. No other show has ever done that before.

I’m not even sure what else to put here because there was nothing but excellence here. 5 stars.


So if you’re interested in ASTL and you think you can handle the excitement, I’d say go for it. It’s my favorite home show of the year. Just make sure you have enough stock because things will sell fast!

Now I know this article is badically about the artist situation, but even if you aren’t an artist, ASTL is a fantastic show to go to. Their prices are more reasonable and you get your money’s worth. They had the 501st Imperial Legion serving warrants to arrest your friends. That was some serious fun!

All sorts of guests and events made a great show with lots to do. I really enjoyed myself last weekend and I hope to be a part of it again next year.

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