Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review for Artists: Aoi Uma Con 2013

Disclaimer: opinions expressed are mine alone and review the artist alley or exhibitor's space only.


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This was my second year at AUC. Last year was their debut and I'd say it was pretty slow but I did well enough to give the con another chance.

Venue
This year the con was held at the Ramada Plaza in Louisville. That's a step up from the dinky place last year, right? So I chose to stay in the con hotel since they actually had a rate cheaper than the con discount. The Ramada Plaza is located in a great part of the city on the southeastern side far from downtown. The area was a nice commercial suburbia type place with tons of food and shopping. There's a DQ right across the parking lot too!

Since I didn't use the con discount I was hoping my room would be a little separated from other attendees. Nope. Well I don't recommend the hotel for lodging. For the price I paid, it was pretty disappointing. The rooms were clean but it sure didn't feel like it. That might've had something to do with the fact that we were right down the hall from the giant laundry facility and it was really hot and humid unless the air was on high. Ugh. No mini fridge, microwave or mats in the bathroom. I didn't realize Ramada didn't have those things but I could've paid half the price for the same experience.

My biggest complaint is the housekeeping staff. The front desk clerks and bartenders were fantastic but housekeeping... meh. I woke up at 7 am on Saturday to the sound of techno, laughing and shouting. I thought some con kids were up making a ruckus but nope, it was a dozen women dancing in the laundry room. For real. There are tons of other inns and hotels within a mile that are more worth your money.

Artist/Dealer Space
Two words: poorly planned. Last year artists were split between the hall and dealers room. This year we were broken up again, between the hall and this cubby near an event room. There were 4 artists in the hall and 8 in the cubby in the corner. The cubby was right by the main events 1 room, but I honestly don't think people knew it was there. The main events attracted only a couple dozen people. Talk about a small show. Total lack of traffic.

Artist space was all open so that means tear down every night. Unfortunately it was pouring rain Friday night so everyone just left their things boxed up and covered behind the tables. No problems reported.

Artists in the actual hall got 8' tables while those in the cubby got 5' tables. Don't know why but damn it's hard to cram onto a 5 footer. Poor setup.

Variety
I met a lot of new artists and the variety was pretty good. Between a dozen artists there was jewelry, plushies, prints, chain mail and other fun stuff. There were quite a few new artists and I hope this show didn't put them off.

The dealers room was also small. There was a decent variety but nothing I really cared for. Maybe I'm just jaded.

Sales & Attendees
Let's start with the good. Attendees ROCKED! I always enjoy shows in KY and IN cuz the people are the best. Unfortunately there aren't enough of them, literally. This show was severely lacking in warm bodies. I'd be surprised if 200 people showed up.

Sales were terrible all around. Artists and dealers all felt the pinch. Last year only a few artists broke even and this year was the same. Hell I broke even by jusr a smidge, taking home about a tenth of what I did last year. This show is not worth another trip next year.

Staff
I had minimal interaction with staff. I has applied back In March and heard nothing from anyone until 2 days before the show. I sent them a message asking for hours, docking, loading, location, table assignment, etc. I recieved an email with the time the doors open on Friday. Useful.

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The artist alley at AUC could use a lot of work. Two years in a row just flat out tanked for artists and dealers but I don't know why. I don't have plans on returning next year and wouldn't recommend it, especially for out-of-staters. If you want a table just to earn back your badge cost, the con is really fantastic with great panels and guests.

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