Fan Conventions and Fan-Art: Learning Experiences

This weekend I did my second ever Convention, DevCon at Plymouth Guild Hall. I did an animé themed convention earlier in the year and didn’t have very high expectations that people would either like or buy my work, given that it’s not particularly manga-ish – and I was pleasantly surprised. I had higher hopes for DevCon, as I was expecting it to be more generally fantasy-focused, and therefore have a higher likelihood of attracting people who were into fantasy art. I’m treating each of these as a learning experience, and here’s what I’ve found so far:

1. People don’t look up.
I had a wall of art behind me, but most of the guests were walking along looking down at the tables, and when we occasionally pointed out the prints on the wall behind us, they just hadn’t seen them.
Action: Make a sign to put on the table saying ‘look at the wall’.


2. My work is striking.
I got a ton of compliments and would regularly hear people say ‘wow!’ or ‘this is fantastic!’ before walking off again. Several people stopped and chatted about the quality of it, and I’m feeling pretty good about how it looks at the moment.

3. People may not have realised the work was mine.
I ended up chatting with one of the guests who asked me if it annoyed me that people probably didn’t appreciate the time that had gone into the production of the pictures, and whether they actually realised the work was mine and not just images I was selling for some ‘company’, or that I’d downloaded off the internet. Again, it was flattering, but it just never occurred to me that people wouldn’t realise the work was mine. Having looked again at my display, and compared it to others’, I’ve used a trading name (3D Fantasy Art) rather than my own name on my banner so it may not have been immediately apparent that it was my work. We ended up sticking signs up all over the place saying ‘artist’s originals’.
Action: Possibly change my banner to say ‘The Art of Deedee Davies’ or something similar.

4. People generally don’t know about 3D Art
Something that became apparent throughout the day at DevCon was that people don’t generally know about or recognise 3D art. Because it’s been such a huge part of my daily life for so long, and because all my online interactions, social media feeds etc are saturated with it, I tend to forget that it’s not a massive part of mainstream culture – despite being used in a huge proportion of films, music videos, adverts, games etc.  I had a few people ask me how the pictures were made. Even after I’d explained, I’m not sure they got it, and a few of them asked repeatedly what media / paper was used to produce the work.
Action: have a computer on the table at the next convention, showing the process in a speeded-up, morphing sequence from start to finish.

5. It’s a fan convention. People want fan-art.
I could go on for hours about this at the moment but I’ll keep it short and sweet. 90% of the artists at the convention were solely selling fan-art. I ended up chatting with a few of the other artists there, only one of which was also doing solely original work, and I get the impression that not very much sells except for fan-art, generally. I felt a bit better after that as I did sell a good number of prints and postcards, plus one of my medium-sized framed prints, so it’s not all bad. I shall therefore go away and wrestle with my moral / legal dilemma for a few weeks.

A question to all artists and readers: What’s your opinion on selling fan-art? Do you think it’s OK because everyone else does it? Or would you never chance it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Greg Long says:

    I would be worried in case some heavy with an official merchandising contract tried to stir up trouble. But then i tend to over worry. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Greg Long says:

    Ps: it looked cool and thanks for the insights ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Connie says:

    D… keep doing what you are doing. You are WAY too talented to worry about this. Educate your audience on your current art and offer CUSTOM pieces of fantasy art. Collect a deposit and contact info. Connie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jon Conway says:

    I think fan art is fine. I have a friend who does some artwork and a lot of t-shirt printing that she does all of the artwork for. She has looked into the legalities and manages to produce fan art that is all her own work, either via charicature or thematics that allow her work to stand alone, despite being linked to particular franchises.

    As long as you don’t reproduce an existing image you should be ok.

    If you want to look at some of her stuff, drop me a line and I’ll send you her company’s details.

    Liked by 1 person

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