The Business of Being an Artist – Toronto Comiccon and ECCC 2015

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.

Whew! Wow! Those are the words that pretty much some up the last few weeks of going to cons. Both Toronto Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con were successful and exhausting both in it’s own right. I’m happy to be on the other side of them, so that I can focus on Arcane Awakening for the next month, and so that I can gear up for the next wave of cons in May and June. But I’m also still absorbing the lessons learned from each one, and that’s what I want to go over in this post.

First is Toronto Comic Con. I had my best year at that con since I started it about 4 years ago. Each year I seem to do a bit better, and this year really blew my expectations. What’s causing this increased financial gain? I believe it’s a factor of a few things. The most immediate is that I’m gaining a fan base. People start recognizing that I will be there and so they start looking for me. Repeat business is where it’s all at and marketing where you will be and what you will be bringing, is good to do a few weeks prior on social media sites like Facebook. Which is what leads to the next factor- new products. Each year I try to have at least a new children’s book or comic, and having them be continuations or based off of the same universe, gets people excited about what’s next.  I only discovered this with the creation of my second children’s book last year. And that’s the last thing that I discovered at the con. With the finishing of Concrete Martians Part 2, people automatically bought both parts. What surprised me was that I thought I was going to have more people purchase Part 2, because they already had Part 1. What ended up happening though was I sold a pretty even amount of both parts, which either means I have yet to see a majority of people who bought Part 1, and/or a lot of people were interested in buying both parts together, therefore they waited last time they saw it.

Emerald City Comic Con was also financially more viable this year then last, for much the same reason I had mentioned in the previous paragraph. But ECCC also has the added value of being a great place to pitch books. Last year we had a few meetings and made some connections, which we followed up with this year. The difference between last year and this year though, was that we now have finished Concrete Martians, and know we can sell it. Which means that we could continue to self-publish our creator owned project, Saltwater, and still do well on our own. It would be great to have a publisher attached to what we do, but it’s not necessary, which is very empowering. I think that it has made Mitch Cook, my partner with KikaMika Comics and writer of our books, a lot more confident that we can do this at least on a part time basis.

The last thing I want to mention is that I now have a picture of how I want to push the next series of cons. Since we’ve got a new property called Saltwater in the works, a sci-fi adventure that takes place on Mars, it’s a good idea to start marketing early on. Make sure we keep on getting people’s names and emails, as well as pitching those who buy Concrete Martians and want to know more about what we are doing. We’re also thematically going to be known as the “Martian” publisher, so I think we’ll have to figure out a way to market that. A new logo, some swag as well as our website will reflect this focus. We’ve got some great ideas and will share all of them soon!

photo by Jnk Imagery

TorontoComicCon2015ECCC2015-1ECCC2015-commissionECCC2015-tableAbove 3 photos by Mitch Cook