So I just got back from Aoi Uma Con in Louisville, KY (run by Nostalgia Conventions LLC.) so as usual I’m going to write my review. The usual disclaimer, this review is not about the show itself, it is meant to be a perspective for future artists who are interested in selling at this show.
From my understanding, this was the first Aoi Uma Con however the pamphlet said it was their second one. Not sure which is correct but either way the show is very new and small.
Dealer/Artist Space: Mixed Feelings
A majority of the artists were placed in the hallway and were assigned tables. I was very happy with that. Also, none of the tables were stranded at the end of a hallway alone because the programming rooms were stretched across the hall as well. The tables were placed in small groups of 2 or 3 with plenty of walking room around the sides so you never had to step across someone else’s space to leave your table. Since it was in the hallway, I tore down every night as per protocol and set up every morning.
Unfortunately, a couple unlucky artists were placed in the dealer’s room which was around the corner in a lonely little part of the hotel. Although the dealer’s room was fairly small, the artist tables were easily overshadowed. Also on the poor note, we were given 5 ft tables. While the contract didn’t state what size tables would be provided, I was expecting a 6 ft table minimum. That 12” may not seem like much, but everyone noticed it.
Overall I was lucky and placed in the hallway with easy access to power and a doorway to the parking lot. However, I would say that the few who were placed in the dealer’s room were not so happy with it.
Variety: I <3 Quality Control
This show was great for variety. I met many new artists who had little or no show experience but great products. I will say that nothing was the run-of-the-mill crap which was nice. At the bigger shows you often find the artists/crafters who don’t do quality control because they just want to make the buck. Only a handful of artists had prints but even among the craft items there was a great mix.
This year there were many top hates and Lolita accessories, chainmail and kawaii jewelry, acrylic charms, stickers, buttons, fleece hats, even original paintings and a comic artist. I was very excited to buy and trade.
I loved meeting all the artists! So much great talent for such a small show. Definitely worth the trip for me.
Sales and Attendees: Like a Dead Duck
I do not speak for everybody when I post this. About 3 or 4 of the artists broke even and went home with a little extra money from this weekend but we were the lucky ones, especially since we were the ones who came from out of state. And again, that’s 3 or 4 out of 20ish. A lot of the others I spoke to didn’t even break even.
On Saturday, I know that many artists were talking about how much they’d made on Friday. Now, everyone knows Friday is the slowest day and you should never judge your sales based on Friday, but most artists made enough for dinner and that was it. It was extremely depressing all around. Saturday was a slight improvement and Sunday was… well, about the same.
As for attendance, this was the smallest and slowest show I have ever been to. On Friday there were maybe about 50 people aside from staff and exhibitors. The numbers upped throughout the weekend but I noticed that about half the attendees had one day passes. I won’t try to guess the total attendance of this convention but it was slow enough to where I and other artists were just leaving our tables because we were so bored. I mean the hallways were practically empty half the time so not much to do.
I’d call this one a dead show. I made enough to justify my extremely long drive and freezing hotel stay but I don’t think I’ll be going back next year.
One single complaint. I never received any information about times, loading, badge pickup, nothing. I had to write several emails to get a “We’ll be sending out the info on x day” (never happened). The day before the show I sent one final email and got the load in time, which was frustrating.
With that out of the way, I LOVED THE STAFF! Every year I rave about how great the ASTL staff are. This is pretty much going to be one of those. J The staff were chill and easy to work with, although I honestly only identified 2 of them the entire weekend. No staff shirts of obvious staff badges (everyone’s badges looked the same). One super nice guy offered to help me tear down on Sunday. How nice.
All in all this was kind of a bust. I made about average for a show (probably because of my travel costs) but I even skimped on the meals and shopping so I can’t really make any excuses. I did enjoy the company of the other artists and I hope to see them at other shows again.
For artists who are looking for a show for the bucks, I’d save this one unless you know you can pull in the big bucks. Hopefully this show will continue to grow and become a better experience for future artists.