Dokomi 2017 – review part 2

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This is part two of my review on Dokomi 2017 which was hold on 3 to 4 June in Düsseldorf, Germany. I have written this blog last year, but got now time to finalize it.

You can find part one here. It was about several pre-con stuff, like commutation with the organization, booth prices and con preps. This part will going to the con and being at con itself.

We planned to head out at 12 pm on Friday to be there around 3 pm. So, we would have plenty of time in case of traffic jams. As always everything was delayed. We picked up Superkip on our way (Sorry, girl, to make you all nervous ^-^;; ) and arrived at the congress center around 7 pm. We couldn’t find the exhibitors parking place, so after driven all the place we just parked at the nearest place close to hall 14. It was only 5 minutes walk to the hall and only € 5 a day. It was much cheaper than € 45 for an exhibitors parking for the weekend.

We finally arrived at the site at 7, unpacked our stuff and set up the booth. I had such huge booth space and could display any I had. Initially, I planned to have a grid wall for original watercolor paint, but couldn’t finish the artworks. Instead, I put my new Okami poster and other popular posters there. The other posters were hanging behind me on a backdrop, like usual.

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My booth at Dokomi 2017.

A group of Dutch (and a Belgium ^^ ) artists were at Dokomi. We requested to sit together and they give us consecutive row numbers, but didn’t took in account that the row suddenly broke up. It was unfortunate, but hey they tried.

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The beautiful floor plan was made by Appeltjesgroen.


After everything was set up, we went to exchange our printed tickets for badges like it was stated in the mail. But there were no one to be found who could help us. Not a surprise, because it was already 10 o’clock. (Later, we got informed that the email was valid as tickets and stressed for nothing. They were probably too busy dealing with tickets of the visitors.)

So we went to our hotel, 15 min away by car, but first stopped at a local supermarket Rewe (open till midnight! Awesome) to get some drinks, snacks and breakfast for tomorrow. Finding a parking place in Düsseldorf (at Friday) is terrible! People there parked double and even triple! How the heck does it even works?

To our surprise, the hotel have us in an apartment which was super nice. We had our own kitchen, front door, ‘living room’. Probably because we booked for three people. (Soooo who is willing to come to Dokomi next year? lol) We didn’t have the chance to use the place a lot, because we were at the convention hall most of the day.

The opening hours of the convention:

Saturday: 10.00 – 20.00
Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00

The opening hours are a bit longer than I’m used to in the Netherlands. But I guess it gives people longer to browse things in the massive artist alley. It also meant that we needed to eat behind our stand.

We were an hour before the official opening of the festival. After everything was set up, I had a chance to look around a bit. I brought a fire emblem Sketchbook from Kidura, as a fan of her works I knew it would sold out very fast. I was trying not to buy too many art stuff before I had make the costs back and also because I just can’t decided what to buy, everything looked so gorgeous. Not only I do think so, also the visitors were intimidated of this years Artist Alley.

Dokomi stands for Doitsu Komiketto (German Comiket), which is inspired by the Japanese Comic market (Comiket). The Comiket held twice a year in Japan and its all about Manga drawing by fan. Dokomi is an amazing concept and for all I know the first convention which is not all about cosplay. Of course a convention without cosplay activities is unthinkable. I wish that the Netherlands a such a big artist alley, can easily say that Dokomi’s artist ally is one of the biggest in Europe.

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Photo made by Danny Choo

With the artist alley this size, I can imagine that it wouldn’t fit in the old convention area. This year is the first year that they moved to the halls, because the old congress areas were renovating. The halls indeed lack some ambiance, but I think it’s what it is for now, because they are going back to the congress area when the renovating is done. I’m so curious what will happen to the artist alley. Otherwise, the hall wasn’t noisy, got a nice temperature (it was hot outside) and bright enough.

Looking at the photo’s, even now I’m still feeling amazed,because I was there at this huge artist alley together with over 400 other artist. It was so big that I didn’t know where to look at when I was browsing through the alley. There were too many booth to look at individually, and I needed time to get behind my booth again. When I saw something I like and remind me to get back. I usually couldn’t find it anymore. I should take a business card. The visitors just take a glance at your work for a few second and move on to the other. The artist alley overall lack signatures and indication where the ´I am here´ location. On the floor plan everything looks so small and organized. but in reality even I sometimes had a hard time to find my booth again. It would be better if the corner tables have row numbers for instance.

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Photo was made just before the opening at Sunday.

The reason why the Artist Alley was so overwhelming is because, the organizes accepted everyone who applied to the artist Alley. They had expanded the Alley 4 times the size it used to be. Total count of booths was at 409. This is the count for only the 2D artists, not counting art and craft. Whether the artist was selling hot cakes or not, depended all on the placement. Hall 14, were we at, was connected to dealers hall (Hall 15) and the rest of the activities in Hall 13. It theory it was quite nice to place the alley in between. But the traffic bend at the alley. So booth near the entrance of Hall 14 and Hall 13 had the most traffic. I also heard from a dealer that the dealer room was full ( I saw some space though) and they had to take a stand in the artist ally. And whole behind the back were the indie artist where. You already guessed, there were barely anyone the whole weekend.

How did sales go?

To my surprise I’ve sold more prints and posters than merchandise, in terms of financial turn over. I think that I could do better if my restock came in on time. The Pikachu and Mimikyu was sold out as well for the fire emblem and the Okami poster. Most of my stuff, especially my charms, were sold out at the previous con. Nevertheless, I did make all my costs back half away Saturday and more. Sunday was very slow and only a third what I made from the previous day.
A few people were asking for commissions, normally I refused them because I’m a snail. But since it was very quite and accept them. I always forgot to take pictures of the commission, but got it mailed back. I’m so glad that she did.

From the artists I’d heard, they got just break even and much less than expected. Some of the artist sold like an average con. This was the same for artists with professional stands. And the super awesome artist who were placed in the back might do better, but not much as they used to. It might be that the artist alley grew faster than the amount of visitor growth. There wasn’t only a competition in art, fandom and products, but also in the wallet size of the visitors. What I noticed was that, compared to two years ago, a lot of people bought less original print art. Some artist complained due to the big influx of fan art. I have to admit that there are more fan art artist this year. (Fan art artist as in drawing almost only fan art just for sales).

I was lucky to have a corner booth and being in the traffic flow, but unlucky for not having time to think about the set up. The problem was the space behind the booth. (Standard problem at cons, though). The problem was that the artist place a wall with sides exactly in the middle of the space between our tables. The rest of the space behind my booth wasn’t spacious either. So we placed our wall and backdrop back to back to each other. The point was that the artists in the middle needed to got to their table behind me. Most of them are friends, so that wasn’t a problem and the other side was open and without any set up in the back. It would be great if the organization keep it in account.

From the previous experience, I expected the first visitors would be in the artist alley at least at 11 o’clock, but it was scary quiet, because the convention was open at nine. Later on, from what I’ve heard was that they had trouble at the registration desk. After a while people came in one by one. I made my table and other costs back before the end of the day. It never felt like the artist alley was like being busy through the whole weekend. It was like a bit on and off in a wave.

Costs

In the end, I spend around 110 euro’s on traveling, parking and hotel costs (2 nights). I didn’t include food, because I need to eat anyway. I think the costs are okay-ish; we split it in three. Good advice: travel with (reliable) people and book a hotel with multiple people.

I’d considered to take a professional stand because of a guaranteed location in front of the artist alley and a corner table. It wouldn’t guarantee huge influx traffic, but it seems better than all the way in the back. The investment to get a professional stand would be € 400 instead of 75. It was too much of a risk for a first set up of an artist alley like this. I took 2 tables because 1,20 m a table was too small. It was financially even better to take two tables if you had a helper. You would pay €40 euros for a weekend ticket and € 20 for a chair. If you take a table plus a ticket and a chair, it will be €135. But is you take 2 tables, then the chair and ticket is included and it would be € 150. So paying €15 more, you’ll have double space.
A several month later they announced that they extends the booth size to 1.80 m. I was in shock, how do I suppose to fill 3.60m?! Why the sudden change? It seems that Dokomi financially supported based on a confounding system. Dokomi have budget to organize a ‘basic’ convention. When visitors are paying for the ticket, they also have the option to donate some extra in an area. A visitor showed me that the artist alley was funded as second in the top ten. Aside from the increase the table size, the artist also get a free fire resistant table-cloth. The artist one melted, the German con visitors love art.

As for the professional stands, I heard that nothing had changed for them. The stand space still was 4 x 4 m2. There was also not much space behind the table. They did a have a backing wall which was very nice.

A few note

  • Because of this many artist and the visitors many spend a few seconds to look at your booth, you need to be keen how configure your booth layout to attract attention. I hadn’t done that because of time issues, but this rather important though. I want to do a big art on the background for the backdrop and move the posters to the front, because every thing is blending away. I also need a new banner in front of my table.
  • Be on time with everything, plan stuff way before the actually deadline to overcome stress. I also needs to make more new posters in my current style, I say during every con, but i need plan it out.
  • It’s good to make notes for improvements, rather trying to remember it. (I can’t find time to write blogs just after cons)
  • There were lot of free hug signs. Is it still a thing? ^^;;

Dokomi 2018 is in a few days. I’m thrilled to be there again. After that I will write another review.

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