The Business of Being an Artist – The Waiting Game

Part of being a commercial artist is running a business. While there are aspects of this that I’m horrible at and procrastinate on (accounting, marketing) and parts that I very much enjoy (comic book conventions, book fairs, meeting fans and showcasing my latest books, and art), I still have to do all of them. This series of my process blog will talk about different aspects of the business.

Fan Expo 2015 has come and gone. It’s a roller coaster of a show, with lots of people roaming the Artist Alley, many looking and buying and many just merely window shopping. It’s also the place where I’ve made a lot of friends, as well as made some professional connections. It’s been a testing ground for my new artistic products, and new set up, which then inform me what I should work on for the coming year and what I should maybe put on the back burner or try in a different way. It’s the show that makes me feel like I’ve gone into the gladiator pit, fought the lions and come out scathed but alive. And this year was no different.

This was the sixth year in a row that I’ve done this show. And as cliche as it is, time does fly. The days flew by and the show was over before I knew it. I feel like I’ve got a good sense of the show by now, knowing how much I’ll make as well as what will most likely sell. That being said, this year through me for a bit of a loop, in that the first two days of the show were what I expected but Saturday was way off in numbers, so because of that I had to reassess my figure for Sunday. It was a bit soul crushing because it meant that the show was going to barely break even for me. But then Sunday blew my expectations and made up for Saturdays loss. Did I mention it’s a roller coaster?

My new set up seemed to work for my prints, but as I’m thinking of phasing them out, I’m not sure that I will use them in the future. It’s also a time suck as they take a while to build at the beginning of the show, and they also block off my view of people coming on by. I don’t think that it affected my sales, but I don’t like the idea of having a display that is that high on my table. It can also affect my table mates, which it didn’t in this case. What I’d like to eventually get is a book display where all of my books are stacked like at a book store. Nothing too high up, but something that will make it easily viewable for my fans. With next year being a big book year for me(possibly adding on a third children’s book, a new comic book called Saltwater as well as the Arcane Awakening Trilogy and an Anthology) I might want to think about getting it sooner than later.


Looking back on the years of being part of this show, if there is one theme or mantra I can
adapt its having patience. I’ve made some great connections at the show, and gotten some work out of it as well. But the earlier version of me, wanted it all to happen immediately, while the older more grizzled (and now leaner) version realizes that these opportunities can’t be forced or pushed. It’s also made me a bit more stoic and fatalistic. If it was meant to be it’ll happen. And if not…oh well keep on doing the best you can.

Because of this view, I’m glad I’ve taken the path that I have. I decided a while a go that I wanted to create my own stories, or self publish with a partner. I wanted to have my own intellectual properties that I could control. And the fact that people seem to enjoy what I’ve created makes it all worth the journey I’ve taken. It’s why I’m probably going to phase out prints and just focus on books. Self-publishing may not be for every one, but I truly love controlling every aspect of what I’ve created, from the pre-production to the printing to the distribution. And it will only get better!

I’ve also noticed that I’m no longer the new kid on the block. I’m seeing a younger wave of artists, who are hungry for work and opportunities, creating their own properties and trying to figure out how to make it work for themselves. It’s an honour to have them come to me and want me to be a part of what they are creating, as I was in their shoes not to long ago. It’s also surreal to see how far I’ve come in just a few short years. I truly hope they continue on their path, because the rewards will come, if they just wait.


(photo credit Frank De Francesco)