I spent the last week or so in Orlando for Megacon 2019 and had such a blast! Now I am here to tell you about my experience and kind of review how it is being an artist in their Artist Alley.
Orlando is a little under a 14 hour drive for me. So, while the con is 4 days long, I had to dedicate a day to driving there and driving back. As an artist, you are only allowed to set up on Thursday, the day of the first day of the con. I personally try to avoid this as much as I can because for me it just stresses me out and puts too much pressure on me to set up and sell in the same day. However, load in was a breeze for such a big convention center with so many artists and vendors setting up. The first day is not over until 9 pm. I personally did not enjoy staying that late because the con starts at 9:30 AM the next morning. By the time you walk out of the convention center (it's HUUUUGE!!), get some food, get to your car, get ready the next morning, and get to the convention center by 9:30, you're lucky to get 8 hours of sleep. I swear, I'm getting to the good stuff!
They moved the con to a different side of the convention center this year. While you have to walk about a half a mile from your car to your booth (not even kidding - my phone tracks my steps!) the exercise is nice and there is a TON of parking right in front of the entrance. I definitely prefer the con to be on that side of the Orange County Convention Center, and I hope they keep it there for years to come! Parking is $10 for attendees and vendors, so you're looking to spend about $40 in parking unless you get a hotel within walking distance. I did not do this because I could get a hotel 20 minutes away for half the price. I have done cons in the past that give you parking slips for the their vendors and artists to give them free and discounted parking. I wish they would start implementing something of that nature to help their artists and vendors out! While there is plenty of parking right in front of the entrance this year, traffic can get VERY congested right outside the pay booth and about a half a mile or so in front of the convention center. Just plan to leave 15 minutes early.
As always with a con of this size, the foot traffic was continuously heavy with no slow periods. While foot traffic was good, the flow of foot traffic was not. The layout was wonky and I feel like a lot of people missed going down multiple aisles. The aisles to the artist alley were not labeled, so it made it very difficult for even those looking for my booth to find my booth. However, there was a large overhead sign that read "Artist Alley" that helped a bit. Even with the flow of traffic not being the best, the foot traffic in general was constant from the minute the con opened to the very last minute.
The food in the convention center was solid and only slightly overpriced. They have various food vendors set up and you can choose from your traditional convention center food (think pretzels, chicken tenders, hot dogs, etc.) all the way to Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, and so much more. While it is a little overpriced, the food is actually good.
Load out was pretty simple for me because I did not use the loading dock. I just left a half hour early Sunday morning, parked as close as I could to the entrance, and loaded out through the entrance in one go. They did send out an e-mail stating that you could not enter the limited space in the loading dock until all of your things were packed up and ready to be loaded into your vehicle, so hopefully it was a painless experience for those who needed to use the loading dock.
As an artist, it is definitely a con where you might have to do a little more talking and sales-person-ing than normal. It is so big and people are rushing around trying to see every single thing, that they might miss your booth. I definitely spent a lot of the time standing vs sitting behind my booth, and I made sure to greet and interact with anybody that so much as glanced my way so that my booth stood out and did not get lost in the sea of booths.
All in all, it was a good con. So many fun cosplays and so many people to talk to, so there was never a dull moment. From a business perspective, sales were good and I made back all my expenses and then some. The profit margin wasn't huge because my expenses were so high (table fees are $350 for a 6 foot artist alley table), but I did make my money back and then some. I was also able to give out a ton of business cards and network with far more people than most cons. I do recommend this con, but I must warn you it is not for the faint of heart. It is four days long, very crowded, and and energy must be exerted to socialize. This was my second year in a row selling here, however I will not be returning next year due to a small con starting up in my state I'd like to support next year. There is a high chance I will return to Megacon Orlando in the future as an artist in the artist alley because it is such a fun con!
Finally posting a review for my 3 Rivers Comicon experience as an artist in the artist alley! 3 Rivers Comicon is probably in my top 5 favorite comic cons to vend at, and this year made no exception.
This con used to be held at the Century III Mall in West Mifflin, PA. However, due to unforeseen circumstances with the mall, they had to change the location in a short amount of time before the event. Even with short notice of changing the venue, the staff still managed to pull off an amazing and well put together event.
The staff is more friendlier and helpful than any other event I have work, table prices are inexpensive, and they provide refreshments for the artists and vendors. Load in was a breeze and parking was free with plenty available. When I got there, I was surprised and delighted to see that I had a corner space. I talked to some of the staff and was able to buy an extra table from them ($25, and I knew they charged extra for tables so I brought one of my own) so I could maximize my table space.
Hours are not too long, so I was able to skip the hotel, drive back and forth for the event, and still manage to get sufficient sleep. In my opinion, foot traffic and sales were slightly lower than in previous years, but with being forced to move the con to a whole new location on a different side of town with very short notice, it is to be expected. The new location was in an old Macy's building. I have done a few other cons that were in old department stores that did not execute layout well causing the flow of foot traffic to suffer, and I was nervous that this might happen here. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case. While it was easy to get a little lost among the booths, because traditional aisles could not be formed, I feel like the flow of foot traffic was just fine.
My only complaints are that if I knew I was going to have a corner booth, I would have been more prepared and have packed another table(which is half my fault. I should have known better at this point in my artist alley career to have packed an extra small table just in case) and the number of vendors. I think the number of vendors increased from previous years, which isn't always a good thing because when you increase the number of vendors and not the amount of attendants, sales will drop. With that being said, I still think I did well even with the drop in sales. However, if you had to get a hotel for this event, I might reconsider because there may be a chance you will not make enough sales to make up for your hotel costs.
All in all, it was a solid event and I do plan on returning next year. I'm excited to see what the folks at New Dimension Comics are able to do with this event in the new space, and I am excited to see this event continue to grow over the years!