Akicon is an anime convention held in Bellevue, Washington. It was held this past weekend at the Hilton Bellevue, Oct 26-28. It’s a smaller con, with around 3k attendees, and has been around for maybe 5 years. It is a for-profit venture, opposed to cons like Sakura-Con, Kumoricon, and Otacon.
This is my first time both attending and selling at Akicon. I have previously sold at Sakura-Con and Anime Expo.
Now that that background is out of the way, I will proceed to explain all the ways the Akicon 2012 Artist Alley sucked BALLS, in the chronological order I encountered them.
1. Table Cost
9. Location, again
Warning: Expletive use, length, extreme rantiness. TL;DR: IT SUCKED. A LOT.
1. Table Cost
The tables were $75 each, for a 6 foot x 1 foot (approx) table with short black skirting. Imagine a regular table, sliced in half length-wise. Rather pricey just considering both the size of the con and the physical size of the table, and astronomical when considering the TERRIBLE TERRIBLE location, which I will be going into further down. For comparison, Sakura-Con and Fanime charge $75 per table while providing full-size tables, more attendees, and an AA that is not in [spoiler alert] a FUCKING PARKING GARAGE.
Artists were expected to set their own hours, and the tables were first-come first-serve. The location wasn’t locked overnight. This was a pain in the ass because there’s no set time where everyone is ushered out of the alley & it gets locked up, so artists concerned about theft must pack up and transport their merchandise every day.
Ok, this is the part where it starts getting good! I had looked at videos of the previous year and talked to friends who’d sold before, and it looked like the AA was situated in a hallway. “Well,” I thought, “that’s a bit odd, but it looks cozy and a lot of people will be going by on the way to panels!”
hahaHAhaaHAHAHhahaAHAAHHAAH HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAA i was so naive to even dream of a warm, carpeted hallway
I GET THERE AND it’s in a
Now that things are in full swing, let’s talk about the COLD! For the amount of pure FREEZING-YOUR-ASS-OFF COLD Akicon graciously provided us this year, we should have each gotten our very own shota Jack Frosts to go with it! It was fucking COLD! Heat was piped in INTERMITTENTLY throughout Friday and Saturday (I don’t know about Sunday, since I bailed, but the temperature had risen by then anyways). Any artist without the foresight (which should not have been necessary) to bring a very warm fluffy coat made from the skin of a pureblood Alpacasso and probably 100 blankets proceeded to freeze to death.
Ok, now that we can all agree that it was as cold as Laufey’s frozen ass, the Artist Alley (henceforth known as the Wretched Piece Of Shit (WPOS)) was also LEAKING FROM THE CEILING! Akicon is situated in Bellevue, which is situated in Washington, which is situated under a giant unrelenting raincloud. So, yes. It was raining outside, and that rain was apparently a welcome guest at the Akicon WPOS.
There were buckets attached to the ceiling to catched the leaks, but they weren’t very good at it and soon enough the buckets overflowed and water started dripping onto the floor, and apparently, onto some poor artists’ wares. I repeat. Some poor person paid $75, along with a $30-$45 attendance fee, to get their prints DRIPPED ON AND WATER DAMAGED.
Management placed some miserably festive Halloween cauldrons on the floor to attempt to collect the major drips, but the drips were going through long cracks in the ceiling of the WPOS and the cauldrons couldn’t catch all of it.
Also, the electrical outlets and boxes were getting dripped on. haha. ha. Safety is top priority, right? right?
With a wonderful leaking ceiling comes humidity! Or possibly not, but there was humidity anyhow! After a few hours in the WPOS, paper started feeling odd (you know that feel), prints done on lighter paper began to curl (I have prints done in 100lb gloss cardstock and even that curled), and attempting to take scotch tape off prints had nasty, paper-shredding results. A fortune cookie left on the table became disgustingly malleable.
We were told, in the contract, that electricity would be provided on a first-come first-serve basis. People snaked extension cords to the power boxes, attached power bars, and everyone in that “table island” would use it. That worked out decently enough on the first day - the power was a tiny spark of hope in the howling darkness of the general shittiness of the location.
And then they turned it off early on the second day. ◉‿◉
Apparently the sheer amount of people siphoning the electricity (well no shit!) was causing a fire hazard or something (this, I am unsure of - all heard secondhand). So we had no power almost all of Saturday. And I assume Sunday.
With all the shining virtues listed above, it’s no wonder the WPOS got very little traffic on Friday and Saturday. (It appears traffic did pick up a little on Sunday, but they had to deal with #10). Aspiring customers had to walk through the rain from the warm, cozy main hotel area to the parking garage, whereupon the shitty conditions made sure they didn’t want to stay long. Oh, and there was also almost no signage to point out where the WPOS was even located, or that it existed.
When I sold at Sakura-Con and Anime Expo, I made around $1000-$1400 from each before costs, and that’s including my very first AA at Saku. Not amazing, since I’m not exactly an awesome artist with a following, but enough to cover costs and make a little extra.
Akicon is a smaller con, yes. I moved from selling entirely crafted items (which I knew would sell), to 1/2 unproven prints 1/2 crafts, yes.
But I still stocked up on hot sellers from previous years…. and I barely scratched $150. [Timeframe: All of Friday to 7pm on Saturday, at which point I bailed]
And this is not just me being a whiny incompetent wannabe artist. Every single artist I talked to at the WPOS said this was a bad, bad year for them. I’m just a hobbyist artist - I don’t depend on my art as a significant income stream, so I can write off this weekend as just being shitty. But for professionals that may have needed the extra cash a con would usually provide…
Location gets another callout here because
it was a fucking parking garage. A cold leaky humid miserable parking garage. That artists paid $75 + attendance fee to use. I had never considered a hard carpet under a table to rest on briefly to be a luxury. Well, now I do.
Also, I’m sure drippy parking garages with moldy walls put people in buying moods. Totally.
Parking garages naturally smell of cars. We got used to that pretty quickly. Compared to everything else, it wasn’t so bad. But…
As I mentioned before, I bailed on the WPOS at 7pm on Saturday because it simply wasn’t worth it anymore. I showed up briefly on Sunday to drop off some supplies for a few of my friends who decided to tough it out, and the second I stepped in the door I was greeted with a heady wave of B.O. Sunday was quite a bit warmer, traffic had increased (I guess people finally figured out where it was, or they had been putting it off till then?) and parking garages aren’t exactly ventilated…
You get my point. I got out of there ASAP. It did not smell of flowers.
TL;DR AKICON ARTIST ALLEY (AKA GARAGECON 2012 WPOS) WAS HORRIBLE. NEVER AGAIN. NEVER.
I poured hours and hours into preparing for this con. I had 2 hours of sleep on Thursday night due to last-minute prep. I had expected fun. I could have dealt with mediocrity. This was just something else.