2014, youve been one weird cat. As many artists, I suffer occasionally from Depression. Last year was really pretty smooth, few deep dips and I kept at a pretty even pace throughout it.
Skip to #At Akon if you dont care about my personal pre-Akon prep and prepare dramas as its not really "feedback for Akon" its just storytime.
But through February, March, and April I was not at all well off - as bad as Ive been in a long time, really. So prepping for Akon, or even keeping up with the current Etsy and Custom Orders was all I could handle and even then I had a supportive help with that stuff. As the AA staff stuff lingered here and there, I spent much of my available energy on that, as well, its terribly important! Of course I did other things - certainly not implying it took months of tasks to prep for the Staff side!
Finally all that got wrapped up - and we certainly learned some things through there to do better next time. But then, it was time. I DID have a plan from the beginning of the year to not spend months on end prepping for my table with total focus as it just knocks me out and even when I get a massive to do list completed I still feel like I could have done more. The plan was - have a tight planned schedule and work for the month before solely on Akon (and the occasional custom order).
So four weeks out I get started on that list. And then, oh and then. There was still - unfortunately and rather outside our control or preparation - still AA staff stuff still to do so that was juggled along with the rest. We really do aim to get Signups, Jury, Artist List, Map, and then the Wait List when we can out as soon as possible. Not only so everyone ELSE can prep but so its off our plates so we can prep for our own tables!
I ordered my supplies after a careful counting. Products to be prepared: a new collection of Sailor Moon based Lip Balms and Solid Perfumes, a line of buttons for my 1.5" button maker I had not used for my own stuff yet, and a serious focus on the display so it was better, easier to read, and a test of the corner booth.
As an aside, I heard some grumbling about myself having a corner booth. Yes, being allowed that is a part of me being the Lieutenant of the Artist Alley. Last year I split the corner with another artist - as that corner is forcibly created by Alain Viesca's grandfathered and permanent addition to the alley of his corner booth. As I am really more of a Crafter now (trust me, Im surprised by that too!) than a "Print and Button" artist, we tried it out. Yes, that is my reward for my work in the AA, and Ive heard some drama about it but while yes - we do all directly compete for the available funds in each attendees pocket - I dont really compete for posters, or even really buttons. I have few fan art buttons other than the big ponies and some (really old, really bad) Eevees and some moogles. I have focused on other things for many years now.
So, back to the build up. I promise! It relates!
I ordered things, and then magically of course my old standby magnificent printer popped up this "Haha, Im perfectly fine but I need a official Epson repair and I wont work til you do". So a $300+ repair, or just get a new printer. Oh, and I had -just- restocked ink for my Ink System so that was expensive. We looked into it and decided to buy a brand new Epson R3000. With a brand new, new Ink System. And then new ink on top of that. Expecting it to be the big prep purchase not only for my own art, but custom buttons as well. As I print labels on the laser it doesnt affect those, but I felt it was a good investment.
But then! Supplies started to arrive, and yet my solid perfume base (part of my formula and would be difficult to replicate on my own) was backordered. No big, although stressful to pump them out at the "last minute" I just worked on other things. But wait! As the final supplies arrived, I began to finish up the label artwork. I had decided to go back to Vector to do the labels - sailor scouts details being too fine to try to watercolor brush it out on paper (Im lookin at you, Saturn!) - I got out my relatively new Tablet. As I was beginning to paint them over and scan in the new button designs, the tablet pen broke. On the Sunday before Akon!
We ordered one overnight, and I went onward with a sigh. Then my computer started turning itself off whenever Photoshop was open. Loading Photoshop on my laptop, it turns out one of those reboots corrupted my print files. So I got to start all over on THOSE. Label-less, all the restock and new Lip Balms and Solid Perfumes would be made essentially unsellable and prep basically pointless!
Then the new 1.5" supplies arrived (also delayed) and the WRONG MYLARS were there! So, yes, my pre-Akon prep was pants - on - head - crazy. But with help and support and lack of sleep I managed to get most of the plan done. New display, the new collection, buttons and posters dropped by the wayside as it must be.
We dont generally drive down to setup Thursday night as we'd prefer to just finish prep at home and if we arent 100% set up when the folks arrive it is what it is! So we finished up and came up Friday a bit early.
Load up was fine through the Dealers Room as we had been told it was acceptable - and started to set up. Volunteers were beginning to circulate - omg the water faeries had it DOWN this year with check ins and introducing themselves. Super impressed by that. I had to turn down more water than Ive ever had to wish for before! - and we set up with a minimum of drama or concerns and sat back....
... and watched them all just stream into the Dealers Room and skip the Alley. Minor stress attack activate! Luckily many appeared to wander the Alley (some didnt seem to get it wasnt the Dealers Room I told several to their shock when they were like "wow this is the BEST Room!" Yes, yes it is! <3
I did ... shockingly... well on Friday. Usually Friday for me is pretty slow as folks race about for their favorite amazing artists with their fabulous posters of omg why cant I manage to draw posters ever. But they really seemed to not only remember me but be super excited to get their favorites again. I had - no idea - anyone cared about the Hair and Body Spray - I only had a handful left from earlier in the year and didnt restock on their components so I couldnt easily go home and make them either. Lesson Learned!
Friday was loooong but good. SO much great cosplay this year! And more boys in cosplay! And folks were happier to stand around and chat, which was great. Akon usually seems to be the "run at top speed" and Afest seems to be "stand around in super cosplay" but this seemed more of something in between.
Saturday was oddly slow in the morning - photo shoots or events I suppose - but steadily grew to be utterly amazing. With all the equipment-repairs-and-replacements before Akon I was really worried about *having* to make sales as I dipped really low in supplies. The problem with making the perfumery stuff is the supplies are much more expensive than, say, buttons or prints - but not as much as, say, those cute bags that everyone had. (Obviously, as they sell for less!) So I cant as easily super stock up on that as I can as paper.
We went out to dinner late with some friends on Saturday and returned to Sunday! Hooray! Typically Sunday does really well for me, and I did well again that day. I finally got to walk around a bit - we were busy busy and didnt get to visit as much! If you walk by my table and I look busy at least wave! Im always happy to see folks and want to at least seeeee you!
Wasnt so nuts about "If you arent an Artist GET OUT" at the end, so I will be bringing that up to Hastur about "lets still be polite in our yellings even if we all -have to go right now-".
Im not sure what was up with the strict deadline to get out, perhaps the hotel had another event or they were charged a "Youre here late!" fee of vast proportions? Either which way there was some major drama about loading docks and other things that my marvelous husband just adjusted too and we got on out of there. We hit up some bubble tea and the Holy Grail and then were super sad Akon was over.
All the Cosplay was super inspiring! I really do need to learn to sew.
For next year as staff, we really want to try to smooth out signups (less errors at critical moments, omg). The map and wait list were just delayed this year due to the whole "its the 25th, everything is fluid!" mostly. So, we arent pleased at that and will attempt to do that way better every year. The Guidebook (NOT something we do, just something we give information to) is amazing. Love it!
As an artist, man, I do have a list of things to do better but really. I showed up, I had most of what I wanted, and had a wonderful time and cant wait for the next one <3