Hey there friends! I decided to make a larger review of the three conventions I had the opportunity to sell at in Collinsville, Plymouth, and Detroit! These conventions had been pushed back due to COVID, so they were literally back to back to back for me. It was a really stressful couple of weeks, but I'm really very thankful for all the wonderful people I was able to meet! We'll start off with the first convention and end with my most recent convention!
ANIME SENPAI (October 15-17th, 2021 in Collinsville, Illinois)
This con had the usual organization for how they do their vendor's hall, but we were blessed by half of the vendors dropping so the artists could be in the locked room with the vendors. If someone can tell me what the logic is behind making small artists sit out in the hall where they're more likely to get their work stolen, I'd appreciate it. I appreciate being able to set hours if we're in the hall, but not having to tear down and take everything with you every night. Anyway, there was a pretty interesting selection of panels, including a bunny suit panel that wasn't run by yours truly that I unfortunately wasn't able to attend due to my own exhaustion. There were a TON of exhibition folks in the cosplay contest and everyone that was competing on craftsmanship were also confused. Over half of the folks were only going on stage to be seen, but it is a cosplay contest. The folks that competed for craftsmanship were absolutely incredible and hardworking. Our best in show was an armored Bowser and her work was IMPECCABLE. Everyone did such a beautiful job and I was very happy with the results.
They did have one panel room that was curtained off from the vendor's hall that got a little loud, but there isn't much you can do about that when you have to share with a wedding party on Saturday and a dance competition on Sunday. Luckily, those that wandered in that weren't originally for the con were really pleasant to speak with and understanding for prices with vendors. There were a few loud-mouths that don't understand what "handmade" means on price and I had to give them the rundown about not insulting artists within hearing range. If you don't agree with a price, you move on, it's that simple.
Luckily, there weren't many people who didn't understand and I was able to cross off three new pokemon, as well as selling my Water Pokemon painting to a very sweet gentleman who is also ordering the fire and grass type paintings! I can't wait to get started on that, as well as the orders! The convention was pretty low drama, and honestly was a really nice ramp up to the next weekend's con.
ANIME FUSION (October 22-24, 2021 in Plymouth, Minnesota)
First off, this con was very prompt and good about their communication and if you or they have issues with your paperwork. Everyone there was friendly, even the hotel staff. The layout was a little odd, and directions were a bit confusing. They asked before the convention for panels, and I, unknowing in my naivete, submitted four panels, which had a pretty decent turnout for all of them! I was honestly really surprised at how attentive and willing folks were to participate. The only gripe I had is that I had asked if my original table design was fine with a staff member, and got the okay, but when the head came by, they were a bit rude in having me change it. "It's in the con-tract." I feel it messed with my ability to sell the premades I brought to sell and unfortunately, folks weren't able to see how many sets of dice would fit well in one of the 8-pocket dice bags because I hadn't made them myself (the *only* item I hadn't made myself, which I have stated you only get a set when you buy a bag).
Otherwise, I can't really comment on the cosplay contest as I was unfortunately unable to see it. But almost all of the cosplays I saw were incredible and well made. The layout of the hotel was a little odd, but once I got to walk around, it was manageable to maneuver. One thing that doesn't sit right with me is that the con itself doesn't want to grow. I've never heard of any con that doesn't want to expand and grow and bring bigger names to their show. It may be a Minnesotan thing? But the other artists were incredible and I was able to snag a non-binary themed pokeball and "they/them" button since I've been misgendered at every con for the last three weeks, some more blatantly disrespectful than others.
The convention was not as profitable as I had hoped, but again, I was naive in knowing this con. I may need to do a little more research in the future. I personally wouldn't travel more than a few hours as an artist if you're expecting to make money. We unfortunately drove 9 hours through Iowa through possibly the most racist and terrible part of the state. Lots and lots of "F*ck Biden" and "Trump is our King" signs and I felt extremely uncomfortable.
But, if you do manage to find your way up to Anime Fusion, there's an incredible Japanese place about 30 minutes away called Akita and it's an all you can eat place where you can get noodles, teriyaki, sushi, and rice all in one. It's so good and for $30 a person, it's really worth it if you talk for 4 hours with new friends. It's all thanks to Tolia for making friends with a few other of the tables.
YOUMACON (October 28-31st, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan)
I'm only going to start on my experience, as I've heard some terrible rumors and some folks have had worse times than others. Our 8 hour drive was honestly not terrible, as we were able to make it through 4 states in record time. We were able to quickly drop off our stuff at the booth before having DnD with my party. I had originally booked a king bed room, but they put me in a 2 queen room. Not that big of a deal, but I did wake up on the edge of the bed a few times. The hotel staff (Fort Ponchatrain) were decent until Sunday, but we'll get to that soon.
Friday morning, we didn't get our badges until about 2pm. Luckily, the vendor head was able to come by and make sure we got them. Masks were not as enforced as they insisted they would, and when I posted about it in the group, people laughed? They announced when they knew they were going to happen that they were going to enforce masks. Some folks don't seem to understand that there's still a pandemic and that just because you're vaccinated, you are completely immune and won't get sick ever. Those same folks also liked to get in your bubble. I'm high risk, so even with my vaccine (and appointment to get my booster) I'm still one ignorant person away from getting sick. Please remember to give everyone space where you can just to be safe, not only for yourself, but others too.
The complimentary breakfast was good, but definitely filled up fast. The gentleman serving us was very funny and sweet and made sure I was fed. They had juice and tea and some of the tastiest pancakes and waffles. The hours were really long, but we were able to cross off 10 new pokemon over the course of the weekend. The cosplays were all fantastic except for the jerks who walked around with signs that said, "Your cosplay sucks." I hope your shoes fall apart and you can't find a pencil when you need it. Everyone was friendly and very wonderful. You could tell everyone missed conventions and just being a nerd with other nerds.
Tolia said the panels he went to were incredible and he made plenty of friends while I relaxed in the room. It did get rowdy in the hotels and after a rousing chorus of "Make a Man Out of You" was ceased after someone shouted "SHUT UP!" it was pretty quiet. One room a few doors down from us had a mountain of trash that they just left outside of their room, so if you're one of those people, next time, buy trash bags. A lot of folks said staff for the hotels were rude, which I can understand part of why, as we're all loud, obnoxious, and even more grating during this pandemic and being overworked. I even got to see a floating, blown up condom rolling around the hall, which probably added to the hostility.
Other than that, the only time I had personal issue with staff and felt mistreated by them was when we put our luggage and computer in the van before starting Sunday. The valet carelessly drove our van out (we just wanted to stop by and put it in, but he insisted on bringing it out to us.) When my partner went to get the van from the hotel, parking was $150, and the computer had fallen and been drug across the van a little. Doesn't make a lot of sense when we were really polite and had secured it the best we could before leaving. When we approached them about even just an apology (This computer costs $1500), the lady at the front desk became irritable and rude. "Well, it works, don't it?" Which, unfortunately, we had to drive home to find out. It was an 8 hour drive and afterwards, we were too tired to check to make sure they didn't break it.
Besides that rude interruption to our weekend, Youmacon was an incredible experience and I absolutely cannot wait until next year. Hopefully most of this COVID stuff will be behind us and we can actually interact and hug and not have to wear the stuffy masks all weekend. If you get the chance, Youma is absolutely worth going to at least once, hopefully when the People Runner is back up and maybe everyone is not so on edge about everything.
I am very happy to be home, and hopefully able to get some good work done before I have to crunch for Katsu. Thank you folks so so much from the bottom of my heart for all your support and showing me that my work really is amazing and unique. I really couldn't be on the journey alone and even if you only purchase one of my onesies or plushies, or even my prints, it shows that what I do and how I do it are awesome and deserves to be seen. That's a wrap on my 2021 convention scene and I cannot wait to see you folks in Maryland (February 18th-20th, 2022) for Katsucon. I may also be last minute accepted to Kumoricon (I believe) which is the weekend before. Because I can't seem to get enough travel time.