Button Making Business: Convention Tips from a Pro February 08 2017
Fan conventions seem to get bigger every year and art buttons are one of the hottest artist alley sellers. Whether you are ordering custom buttons made with your artwork or firing up your own button press to make your own, buttons are a great and low-cost way to get your art in the hands of your con-going customers.
We get lots of requests for tips and advice for selling buttons at conventions and although we dipped our toes in at FanExpo 2013 we asked artist and convention veteran Allie of "Allieeeps!" for her top Artist Alley Button tips!
PPP: How long have you been doing artist Alleys at Conventions?
Allie: I've been doing artist alley for 10 years now and selling buttons for the last 9.
PPP: You sell prints and other art as well, but buttons have become a big part of your art business!
A: Over time they have definitely become my biggest sellers! Which is great because they're my favorite thing to do. People are more inclined to spend a few dollars on a button than many dollars on a print.
PPP: We get a lot of questions about what con-goers are likely to respond to art-wise. What kind of artwork/characters do you find are the most popular ones (original vs. popular characters)? What sizes work best for fan buttons?
A: Pre-existing characters outsell original characters by an extremely large margin. But it doesn't necessarily follow that a popular thing will outsell an unpopular thing. Game of Thrones is extremely popular for instance but my GoT buttons never do well. And some buttons that were popular a year ago are impossible to sell now. At the same time, nostalgia can be a big factor in sales, and if you do something lesser known you might be the only table that has it and therefore less competition. My best advice is to make buttons for what YOU love because then even if they don't sell well you'll have a fun time making them!
PPP: Can fans find your buttons online?
A: Yes I sell buttons online. I'm definitely a smaller seller though, I know many people who are always having to restock because their online store is so successful. I'm not sure what the secret is but I don't mind making very few sales online, it keeps my non-work life from getting too crazy.
PPP: This is really great advice for seasoned sellers and newbies alike! Can we shout out your favorite convention to table at?
A: Favorite convention goes to Calgary Expo. It's massive but not overwhelming and the people are so nice and excited about the artists alley. Plus it's always exciting to get to travel a little for a con.