Monday, July 29, 2013

ConBravo - the review!

Welcome to the creepy haunted Artist Alley!
This was the lights, at their best on Sunday. It was darker on Friday.

I wish I could say that I had nothing but great and wonderful things to say about how ConBravo went.
 I'm very happy to also chat about the fantastic and lovely things that did happen.  The show was in fact, quite a dichotomy for me.

Yes in fact, if you did not see me there at Artist Alley for ConBravo, it is because I was in the darkest, dead endingest corner of the convention to start off my weekend.  Small shows are great: you get to spend a lot of time talking to people.  There is nothing worse than sitting in the dark and dreary, cramped, dead end corner and watching those people pass you by.  

The layout of this convention was disastrous.  Narrow aisles with very little room to pass by, yet large voids of space behind the artists creates a rather unappealing presentation.  The artists were mixed in with the vendors--and the only ones who profited by that...well, it wasn't the artists.

There was no pipe and drape, anywhere in the convention floor. No visual breaks. 
  The show resembled a flea market.
Separating the show into two rooms where the retro gaming/arcade alley/tabletop gaming were distinct entities from the artists and vendors was another bad move.  

There is only so much that can be blamed on the venue, if anything at all.  The logistics, organization, and yes, the advertising of the event to the general public are up to the show organizers. It would be nice if they had taken some blame and offered an apology, if they had done something. Every issue that we had with our space was a butting-head-aching-battle and we were constantly told it was the venue's fault. 

I'm not expecting that at every or even any event I will walk in and earn a hundred thousand dollars or even a hundred with my artwork. 
 However, give me a fighting chance!  
Who in their right mind sets up an alley to dead end at a wall with only about six feet for an aisle way?  The only reason anyone could ever have to do that is to restrict access.  Convention layouts should always be about movement of traffic and featuring each and every one of your vendors.  I think that this was all about the sale of weekend passes and yeah, in that respect it was a success.  I also feel that that is really all that they cared about.  On top of being in a dead end to start on Friday, the lights were not working. 
 Welcome to the haunted alley where all the carefully drawn artwork cannot be seen because it's so freaking dark.  Ugh.  Had that gigantic wall been open and pipe and drape been run all the way behind the entire artist's alley, this would have been mitigated from the start.  Light and air would have been allowed to pass through.  

Fighting to make things better was a constant throughout the weekend.  Saturday morning was supposed to start with me finding the alleyway no longer a dead end.  Instead there was a shift of my table down from the wall, still no lights, and a table turned to form yet another dead end--forming a square.  No change.  Traffic still couldn't get through.  Fine, I'll lead the way and we'll restructure it so that people, the ones attending the con who want to see everyone can walk through the area.  Finally a bit of success.
 But then, they decided to open the panel behind us, to allow the AC to better flow into the space. 
This at least allowed light through while creating a huge gap where people simply stare through and pass all of the artists--it was the next headache; an open wall directly behind the table was an incredible distraction to the people who did manage to find me in the dark.  Add to that the people who for some strange reason thought that they should just walk through to the back of the vendor table on the other side, only made it worse--that is like having people climb over your table to get to the next aisle.  
Thankfully on Sunday a curtain was set up and the visual distraction of the gaming room and people thinking it was a walkway stopped. 
We were still in the dark, however. The lighting never did get solved.
 Everyone has a bad show. This was the worse show ever for us--its hard to imagine how it could have been worse--but it was also the most horrible event we've ever attended.
 I was simply defeated before the doors even opened and the organizers did very little to help problem solve or come up with a solution to make any of this better. 
 I did talk to them about being compensated for spending three days in the dark and the eventual reply to that was, "Maybe. It will take a month to issue a refund."
 I'm positive there is a cheque in the mail. 

To all this, as my new friend Hugh would say - "Bravo!"

There were some bright spots in the darkness. 

I still met a few people and chatted with them in the cozy and not quite so romantic dark.  It's always the people that make the cons, and there's no doubt about that when it's a very slow and quiet con.  My neighbour, Hugh Rookwood.  Hugh was fantastic in adding his support and voice to our quest, check out his awesome intro done with sumi inks, it's so freaking cool and makes me want to go back to draw some more in that style.  Hugh is a great guy and if you see him at a future show, make sure you chat with him and buy his art! You can find him here: 

Have you heard of Jack and Pookie Publishing?  I met Rich on Friday, great guy. 
 It was nice chatting to him and Craig off and on over the weekend, they were both incredibly supportive and kind. 
Have a look at: to find out more about them!  Craig commissioned me to create a drawing based on his character Oracle from their comic Manifest Destiny:
And this is what I presented him with:

My friend Julie was there with her Promises Promises webcomic and merch, at least for Saturday.  If you haven't checked out her comic (and even if you have), then go here:  
She had Gingerbread Ninjas!

And my good friend Alfonso Espinos was their along with his work in Studio Comix. Alfonso is always generous with his support and his frequent dropping by our table kept our spirits raised. 
 If you've not seen his books, then you definitely should seek them out:  
I'm really looking forward to working with him in the future. 

I had some dear friends drop by on Saturday and their daughter was so sweet to buy one of my new buttons.  I gave her a copy of my twelve hour comic "Time Spanner" with a sketch of her favourite character on the back: 

An Iron Man commission from Saturday.  I was really digging those Sharpies!

This one was a lot of fun.  I haven't drawn very many Pokemon characters, and my knowledge of them pretty much evaporates after the first season with Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket.  Also Squirtle, because he's just awesome.  A commission of Hilda decking N.  

I just started drawing this piece out on Saturday afternoon.  I was having fun with Sharpies and laying down some black lines with a brush.  Larissa stopped by to chat and I ended up trading this with her for one of her works.  

On the back of another Time Spanner book; a dude of the mythological type - she liked Scorpions and Unicorns - and they run a webcomic, too.  :)

A drawing of Storm that I created to while away some spare moments.

 This was a cool commission.  It's Aizen (I believe) from Bleach and an OC.  

Another of the images I created to pass the hours.  And in the last hour of the con I was asked to create two more commissions.  That was so nice and a great way to cap the show.  I'll post them once I've drawn them! 

My personal bright spot at the con:

One of the absolute coolest items at the convention was hosted by Unplugged Expo 2 - and it was the Sword of Omens from Thundercats!  It wasn't a prop!  It was a real, usable, hand forged and deadly accurate sword!  And I got to hold it!  

Will I be back next year? Its very unlikely at this point. Never, have I had an experience quite like this where everyone who was in charge of a con/event was so uncaring and so willing to pass the buck to the venue. 

 It makes me long for Calgary Expo--those folks are absolutely amazing!