San Diego Comic-Con 2013 - A Personal Contemplation

Being back at home from ComicCon last week, it took a while to get used to my regular schedule, it was great but also exhausting.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful event, something that was really important to me. Less because of an impact this event would have on my career as it is a personal goal to meet all these great people in person.

First and foremost I have to say thanks to Howard W. Lewis, who made all this possible! Howard is one of my favorite clients, supporter and dear friend!

It was absolutely awesome to meet J. Anthony Kosar, the champion of SyFy´s Face-off recent season:

To exchange thoughts with Jason Felix who shared a booth with Stephen Martiniere.
Todd Lockwood who also promoted P.A.C.T. (Professional Artist-Client Toolkit) was really inspiring in many regards, and I had a short but nice chitchat with Dave Palumbo.
It was also a great opportunity to meet Derick Tsai from Magnus Rex studios and Jessica Grundy, a fellow cover illustrator for Grey Gecko Press.

I was really grateful to meet and talk to Allen Spiegel, artist representative of Dave McKean, Kent Williams, Jeffrey Jones and Phil Hale.

It was a pleasure to meet new artists and having the possibility to not only connect with artists on their booth as a visitor, but also having some people nterested in art at our booth too.

When it comes to the convention as a useful place to promote an artists work, there are mixed feelings: I have to be honest, I wasn´t part of the artist´s alley or Indie-artist-mile and wasn´t even close. Being located in the independent publisher part of the hall was good for one part -to promote the cover art and my profession as a cover artist but foremost for the Daedalus Rimes Saga, the trilogy by Howard W. Lewis, for which I agreed to be exhibitor in the first place.

Sure I had some posters, my portfolio, books and postcards, but without the canvas and big sized artworks it is really hard to set myself apart from the crowd. Especially since everyone is able to publish a book, I couldn´t even compete with the book pricing compared to others, purchased for example the art book of Gary Montalbano, whose hardcover art book comes in 26x28cm size and 160 pages for $35 which is insane (Love his work btw).

I did not have assume that people come to ask for commissions, even if the display and the reference from the author must have been better than every referral of the world to a publisher or author to find a reliable book cover illustrator, but obviously or maybe because many publisher do this at ComicCon, it isn´t that special anymore and people still prefer to frequent the artist alley to meet artists that match their style.

However, I can´t blame anyone for doing so, because the hall is huge and filled with crowds and it still is exhausting to crawl your way through the artistic mile - so it is a special adventure to conquer the hall without losing much time - if not impossible.

Speaking to other artists who had some art books on display, confirmed my thoughts that the market for books in general is saturated. This taught me a really hard lesson, the fact that I sell more artbooks in small regional fairs in Germany than at the International ComicCon might be depressing at the first sight, but realizing the sheer amount of books available all over the place, makes it nearly impossible for someone to pick anything more than a free flyer or pamphlet. Some only come for the freebies, which is more common practice here than on many other events.

The thing is that I really don´t like to invest being part of the regular rat-race of the book publishing industry, yeah somewhat proud to publish my books on demand. Opposed to others, I can freely update my books and order just as needed. Especially the "Skull:z & Idols" series benefit from selfpublishing only, as it allows to be updated as soon as new artworks are added to the series.
Many people might think that this is way to pricey, but you know, when you love something the price doesn´t matter and as many artists, I don´t do my work for the masses, but for those who really dig it! Even if this means the price is a higher but some trees were saved.
In the long run, I foresee that the pricing in self-publishing will drop and the traditional way of printing will become more and more expensive -not just in storage cost that people tend to overlook, but the printing itself and the change in demand will dictate these changes.

A conclusion... Really? I mean, will I ever attend or exhibit again? I don´t know to be honest, the event is huge and people are friendly,  but in terms of a career-push the cost for traveling alone are too high to be profitable. For anyone close to the coast of San Diego it´s for sure worth an investment, even if it´s just the artists-alley.
For traveling from overseas, I´d rather come with the family and spend some quality time as a vacation with Howard and his family and make some appointment with other artists that live in the United States to hang out and meet them personally - without the hustle and bustle of a convention at our backs.

I was really glad to have the opportunity, but the general impression is that I felt like being at the right place at the right time, but not exposed to the right people. I´m not disappointed as all my personal goals were archieved, but for a professional benefit the convention is too far away, sadly.

What is your opinion, any experiences from others?
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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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