Saturday, April 1, 2017

WonderCon 2017 -- Artist's Alley, Guest artists, Making Art Work (1 of 2) UPDATED 4.19.17

TWO POSTS ON WONDERCON -- Click on photos to enlarge for more detail
UPDATED 4.4.17 -- updates in Blue. This post is a recap of the con... and an outreach for educating fans and indie artists. If you find this post helpful, please share it. We're all in this together to protect indie art life!
WOW has WonderCon grown!
For 2017 the show returned to Anaheim (thank goodness!) and seems to have expanded even further at this large convention venue.

I had a long list of artists to see ... and didn't mange to find them all on the first day.
Here's a peek at the attendee crowd gathered at the entrance....
Meanwhile.. the Exhibit Hall Floor Map...
and final set-up before the show opens...
Stuart and his dedicated team were busy putting final touches on the
booth at space 1509

During load-in on Thursday.. the team assembles the shelves 
Unboxing and placing the books... 

 On Friday morning -- prints and posters are added..
Along with bright "goldenrod" yellow signs to highlight features of the books...

Collections from popular artists ... Like Brianne Drouhard's "Harpy Gee" books..
New releases....
Signed books are especially popular with Stuart's patrons. Stuart appreciates being able to provide this connection between artists and fans. It's a delight to follow the career growth of so many artist friends. .. and see them reach milestones. Illustrating a book in the "Little Golden Books" imprint is an art life goal for many artists.

Thanks to long-standing relationships with artists who are now advanced in their fields -- Stuart is able to offer in-print art books with the special perk of signatures from many of the collaborators on the films.  
The bookshelf end-cap below is a showcase of SNB team's Jim and his artful arrangement of these popular Leporello series fold-out books... 

The booth is there to sell books... but Stuart is there to meet up with artists. He always wants to get out of the booth more. He likes to shop the show and find new talent as well as meet up with longtime artist colleagues. Artists will also come to the booth to show him their sketchbooks. Photo below catches one of these encounters...
Once the show opens... I'm off to the races..... 
Checking out old friends... and finding new discoveries... at Artist's Alley... 
Here's indie artist AMBER HARRIS .... 
Indie artists are fighting the internet culture of "free art." This culture undermines artist rights and threatens the exchange of images we all enjoy! Social media thrives on sharing images -- without credit to the artists who own and provide them. Worst of all -- the chronic problem of stealing artist owned images for commercial use by others. Fans are helping to combat these threats.

Art theft is an updated topic here on the blog:
Some thoughts on Fan Art:
Copyright Info for artists and fans:

How can indie artists fight back -- and make a living??? Create. Original. Art. Your most valuable work is original content and characters -- IP that you as an indie artist can register (Copyrights and/or Trademark). Promote. Produce product. And profit from. (Infographic below by artist Lili Chin

Booths and tables at conventions allow fans to discover original art. Artists need to connect with fans -- and EDUCATE fans about protecting artist rights. Awareness and education are key. Protect online art. Everyone benefits when artist IP (intellectual property) rights are respected.

Artists have the strongest position to protect their rights when they create original characters and content. Fight anonymous art. Brand your work with your name and contact information. Help your art help your fans find you... so you can get more work!

Below are examples of some indie artists who are branding their art.. building their careers...
and making their art WORK!

Cute plush and art at this table...
"STUPIDFOX" character by artist EMILY CHAN .
Here's some of the fun swag I got a the StupidFox booth:

Sending greeting cards is one of my favorite ways to promote indie artists.
"THE LITTLE RED HOUSE" decor brand by artist AGGIE CHEUNG
Artists should appreciate the promotion power of their "smalls." Items like buttons, stickers, charms and greeting cards -- even prints -- should have your NAME and CONTACT INFO clearly displayed. You never know when a card, image or button might end up on an inspiration board. Let your art speak for you in your absence.... 

Below is a quick candid shot of one of my favorite artists --
Sho has sold out of her previous books... and has this new book out now.
A collection of the art she did for her show at Wonderland Gallery at Downtown Disney.

Artist pal JILLIAN ALTMEYER is another brand-building indie artist who has made great strides in her career the last few years and her SQUIDBRAINS brand.
She killed it on Kickstarter with her 2016 plush art campaign for her trademarked Banjo the Unicorgi.
Jillian (left) shared table space with KANAE FUKUDA  (r) and Kanae's NYAZILLA art
They were celebrating a super successful recent Kickstarter campaign which helped them produce a series of popular pins.

I backed the project, and stopped by the table to pick up my pins!
Fun to see fans crowded around their table..

I am especially loving this Jillian Altmeyer pin...

Attn artists: Here's an idea -- check out this fantastic You Tube video tour of this table! What a great way to showcase your art. Video by Anthony Vincent. 

Moving fans from "liking" free on-line art to supporting artists is essential to artist success. Patreon is a platform that allows artists to connect with many fans. Sheer numbers mean that even minimal contributions can help support the art and artists they "like" and want to see more from! 

Indie author and artist ELIZABETH WATASIN is using Patreon to connect with her fans. 
Exhibiting at conventions is a way to promote your brand as an indie artist. Elizabeth also sells merchandise that are exclusive to her convention appearances and not available online. Fans love a con exclusive! 
This nifty pendant necklace comes with your choice of interchangeable art...

One of the reasons to go to conventions is to find new artists.. you end up following for years. 
FLAT BONNIE is another example of an indie artist branding themselves with original work. They also do a fantastic job of using social media to engage their fans. Here's the helpful WonderCon show map they posted on social media to help their fans find them! Brilliant!
Patrons buy their handmade plush art.. and send back photos of the plush pals on adventures. These fun pics are shared on Flat bonnie's social media sites. 
Flat bonnie is also very active with pet rescue... donating a portion of profits to different animal charities throughout the year. See more on their website:

Indie art life means embracing your inner entrepreneur. Exhibiting at shows is a way to meet new fans and connect with colleagues. A number of the artists featured in this post are people I've met at conventions... via other artists... or at educational events and workshops.

A good mantra for fans and artists: Never. Stop. Learning.

The profiles here showcase how indie artists are making use of various platforms like conventions, Social Media, and Kickstarter. They are building their brand and expand revenue streams.

Indie artist and instructor.
She has a new Sketchbook... SIGNED COPIES now in stock at Stuart Ng Books!
She's used Kickstarter to launch projects, has an Etsy Store, and is active on Instagram.

JOIE BROWN (l) and ALEXANDRIA GOLD (r) shared a table at WonderCon.
Artist Joie Brown was interviewed on a podcast I follow: The Business of Art.
I met her last year, after she was a panelist at a convention I attended. It was a panel where the guests encouraged attendees to visit their table space after the talk... so I went over to Joie's table after the talk to hear more from her about her new projects.
Fans explore Artists Alley to discover artists. Images connect fans with artists on that platform. But educational platforms... like panels and podcasts.. are also a way to reach new fans.
Corgi buttons by Joie....
Minature crochet art by Alexandria...
 Make your art work for you... see how she extends the return on her hand-made crafts by using them to make postcards.
 These cards are a way to share her art.. and contact info! Very smart.

Here's the always busy table of character designer and comics artist Sean "Cheeks" Galloway....
Stuart has carried all of Sean's art books:

Charming card art always catches my eye...
I always find some fun items at the booth of this Visual Development artist..

It was this image (here as a print, but I first bought it as a postcard from his table at CNTX)
that made me a fan of this TV animation and Visual Development artist...
His just launched his first-ever Kickstarter project "ArCanis -- A Modern Animal Art  Tarot  Deck" It quickly reached its funding goal and is active until April 18th.
Full disclosure.. Yes .. I was an early backer of this Kickstarter!

Quick Tarot Card readings are just one of the offerings at the table for this indie artist. This option is a brilliant way to engage convention attendees. Easy social interactions can be challenging for artists.. but they are a vital skill for indie artist life!
Christie's art and books tackle monsters familiar to creative types...

I met Christie because she's the cover artist of the book I consider a MUST READ prior to any Kickstarter campaign...

Award-winning author MADELEINE HOLLY-ROSING (below L) is also an outstanding teacher. She hosts popular workshops on crowdfunding and is an in-demand guest speaker on the topic. She is a frequent panelist at conventions... and has lectured at studios like Dreamworks Animation.
Madeleine has used Kickstarter to publish her popular "Boston Metaphysical Society" comic and is expanding the brand!
Check out these nifty pins I got as a pledge reward for supporting her most recent Kickstarter campaign.
I met Madeleine after she was profiled on a PHYSICS TODAY site I follow! Science and art are a great combo.. with more in common than you might think! 

Madeline has also been a guest on The Business of Art podcast:

Indie publisher and author at Wannabe Press
and host of the podcast that "demystifies business for the artist."
Russell's convention appearance schedule is daunting!!! He is a moderator of panels as well as a guest panelist. He has a fantastic "Crush it on Kickstarter" series on his podcast

His most recent Kickstarter project surpassed funding goals and is an anthology

Another artist I follow who is expanding her brand! Alina is a well-known illustrator. She's also used Kickstarter to launch her art book... and she has illustrated childrens books.
Last year, she debuted these new items: unique, hand-painted dolls. Check out the mirror display to show the 360-design without subjecting these items to excessive handling!
This print I picked up is pure Alina.... lovely art that reveals more the more you look at it...
She's a frequent contributor to Gallery shows... and her work will be included in this upcoming "Peter Pan" themed event...

Here he is in action selling another print from his popular table. He's used Kickstarter for several book projects!

GENEVIEVE SANTOS (le petit elefant)
When a table space catches your attention at a crowded convention...learn from what they are doing right! Vertical displays make creative use of table space ..... risers and spinning racks help maximize sales!
Several items I found at this booth..


PURRMAID plush art is another Kickstarter success story...

art by Kikidoodle (Christine Knopp)
Christine is below center in a photo for fans who came to visit her at her booth at WonderCon.
Christine was ready for her success.. and it's paying off now. Her story shows artists can protect their IP (Intellectual Property) and be smart about the business of art.
Christine has made her brand accessible to a larger market by offering a variety of items... and price points! Price is important. Small items can be entry points for new fans.
Branding those smalls becomes an educational opportunity for fans --- hey, this art is created by someone.
Career support comes when fans are invested in an artist.. in their story as well as their work!
Christine's packaging also reinforces her brand!
Notice how she has included "TM" for Trademark on her brand!

Legal steps like Copyright registration and Trademark make sense for indie artists. Think of all the WORK that goes into creating a successful design... brand... and product line. Protect your work!

Copyright exists from the moment of creation..... but artists must learn to take the extra steps: register their copyright for the images you create! This legal step gives greater protection. It helps the fight against art theft. Creating a trademark has to do with goods and services. Trademarks must be more aggressively protected, to help maintain clarity in the market and avoid confusion for consumers. Learning about these artist rights is an important part of artist life.

The Graphic Artists Guild has several website pages with general info that is an excellent starting point .

Here's a great article on Brand Building that was recently shared on the Graphic Artists Guild Facebook page:
This link to website legal services website "Upcounsel" article on Copyright, Trademark, and how they protect IP assets:

Conventions offer panels on Copyright for artists. Fans benefit from attending these as well. Make time for your education... and there are chairs in the panel halls if you need a break from schlepping around the show...
Protecting artist rights is not just for artists..., but for fans too!

Fans are the superheroes -- alerting artists to online theft of artist owned images.

Guest artists are a big draw for conventions --- and the table space for guest artists are always a popular area. Below is a line of fans waiting for the arrival of WonderCon guest artist Marguerite Sauvage.
Marguerite has a background in law and communications -- two handy skills for all artists! Her art career began in commercial art, but she always loved comics, and has been working exclusively in comics for the last three years at places like DC and Marvel. She's known to many current fans for her work with the characters Wonder Woman
Her upcoming project is contriubuting to this fully funded anthology of ground breaking women: "Femme Magnifique"

WonderCon programming on Friday included a one-hour "Spotlight" talk with Marguerite (below right) and moderator Nina Taylor-Kester (from the Cartoon Art Museum).

See next post for Cosplay and  Around the Con