Lets see… This was written almost about a year ago. I hope to remember enough of the the expo to get the complete picture of my experience during that time.
Whoa, I’m back again from Paris. Technically Monday, but had a lot of unpacking to do and my apartment is looks like it was exploded due to conprep. Omg, I’m still dead tired, and Japan Expo was an amazing experience. It’s an honor to be at the standing at the same convention as the artists I followed for so long at Deviantart! Overall I’d a great time and learned a lot!!
One thing should mention, before I go on with the review. I consider an event as a Expo(sition), when the focus is on famous people and exhibition, aka shops and artists and everything in between. In other words, one big dealer room. Other kind is the convention, also with an dealers room, but a lot smaller. The focus are the visitors and entertaining the visitors.
Sooo, a comic con is my eyes an Expo.
Back to Japan Expo. The one with a huge dealer room. We were like, what the heck why not going the biggest Expo in Europe. It’s my own (and our studio) first time being there as and having an artist booth. That said, we all were extremely nervous.
Back in 2014, my boyfriend and I went there for the first time as a visitor were overwhelmed by the size of the expo. There were a lot of big companies out there with their one space and incredible decorated. My favorite was, of course, the artist area. It was divided into into two part. I’ll come back on that later on. If you wishes to participate in the artist alley, I suggest you visit it first before applying. Otherwise you’ll spend hundreds euro’s or dollars and wishing you would have done otherwise. So learn a lot pros and cons.
JP is an professional organization, not run by fan and voluntarism. You can notice that on the application form. Every little thing cost extra. The application start begin February and ends somewhere in April. The pros of apply asap and pay is that you can choose tables. Though it’s rumored that they reserved the best booth for French artists. Dunno what I should think about it, then again, what can you do about it… We still got the chance to chose a stand on the corner. So I replied as soon as I could.
One more thing about the form, which surprise me is, is that for a big event as Japan Expo that they didn’t have digital application system. Oh well, on second thought, you won’t have the US scenario big con in US of crashing server, because every artist wanna to get in at the same time.
The funny thing about applying, was that I need to send my paycheck and a copy of my ID card. They want to check if I’m earn my income be doing art. If so, I might have to rent an young professional booth instead of an amateur, which is a lot expensive. I never needed included my paycheck in the application in the past, so yeah… it was the first time and though it was amusing.
Table and space
Japan Expo had two kind of booth available, depending how you price you goods and what your main profession is.
For artist who needs a lot of space and prices their items over €12, needs to get a Young professional booth. Which is twice as much expense, but has more space and traffic. I’m hoping to afford that some day in the future.
We just went for a basic Amateur option with two tables (2 m each). We had a back wall. However the wall was too far in the back (2,5m) to see the even an a3 poster clearly. Mental note: bigger of the best selling poster of something decorative. I saw someone has printed a whole fantasy scenery as a background. Impressive!
This is were we stand and our table.
We should get and extra table for the corner. I saw that not everyone did, it but it would be nice to get more space for the next time.
Is was HOT at Japan Expo, extremely hot. Even though, they have air ventilation on, I felt like being in an sauna. Being outside was anything better. Saturday was the worst day, because of the huge amount of visitors. Luckily we have the back wall which give us some kind of shade, not much, but is was a lot better than sitting in the sun the whole day. I have empathy with the artists behind us. The sun was shining through the window on them at noon.
About the extra table and chairs, it seemed you had to pick up your own at the check- in booth, somewhere. We didn’t order any extra but still needed our tickets. After localated our studio’s booth, we went on to the check-in desk. .
It was a little confusing where the check in was, but after a while with the help of the staff, we finally found booth. (Did I said that the expo was huge?) At the desk we bought our parking ticket. I showed desk clerk the form and my ID, in return I got an envelop with vouches for everyone. So basically, we need to show them exchange these vouches for wristband, personally, each day. lol, this was new for me, I’m used to badges with my name on it and no more hassle. When you in the expo hall, you cannot re-enter the expo again. (Can you imagine how expensive the food at the expo was!) We went back to our stand and unpacked some stuff, prepped for tomorrow and looked about around.
Next day, Thursday, the day of the opening of the expo itself, we got out of bed around six am, after having breakfast we went on our way. It seemed that we went through the wrong gate or something, because it should be closed for pass through. A staff pointed us the way through to the security check where we can exchange the passes for wristbands.
The following day we were allowed to use the same (wrong) entrance, near the parking place for exhibitors and get our armbands. That was so much easier!
We could build up at 8 am, the visitors are allow to the expo at 9. They still need to get all the way through the temptations of the shops. So yeah, it was very quite at the start of the day. We didn’t mind and just relaxed.
Like I mentions before, the artists where divided into two locations. The young profession where near the big companies (Hall 5) and the amateur booths where in the back of Hall 6. Even though it was in the back, amateur exhibition was, you just simply can’t miss it.
Before we went to the Japan expo, I did my homework thoroughly. It wasn’t a shock that the price of artist products were so cheap. The quality was decent to very good! Many artist lower there prices due to increase in competition. We kept our prices as it was, because it was cheap enough and we don’t make hundred of each, like some well known artists do. These go to almost every convention and expo like if its they main income.
Price samples I came across:
– A3 Poster for € 3 to 4
– A4 Print for € 2 to 3
– A5 Print for € 1 to 2
– A6 Postcard size for € 1 or a set for € 1
– Buttons/ Badge mostly for € 1
– Bookmarks for €0.50 to 1,50
– Acrylic charms for € 3 to 6
– Laminated charms for € 1 to 2
– Sticker sheet (kiss-cut) for € 1 to 2 (depends on how big the stickers are)
– Tote bags for € 4 to 8
It depends on different factors, like languages. Overall, I did had good sales, even subtracting the costs, I got break even. For the first time an expo of this sized, it was okay. Most costs went into food and traveling expenses.
Almost every visitors don’t know English. It was hard to have a conversation with them, but more importantly was that you understand a few sentences (“How much is it? I want that one!”), can count aloud, and ask about the size (for posters). Just some basics. However I would do better if I knew more French, though.
Thursday was slow. Friday was better (we left early, because my boyfriend got sick). Saturday was amazing. Sunday was okay too.
One of the big sellers were commissions. My friend did them, so we made a big sign with samples for her. She drew all the four days non stop! In the end, she had to decline commissions, because she had no time to finish them and her hand/arm hurt!
(One of the reason, I don’t do much commissions on spot and I also just a slowpoke).
The only commissions, I did:
I sold a lot of buttons, though they were pricey (€ 2 ea) for Japan expo standards, but were discounted if you buy more. That attracted a lot of people. One visitor bought even 10 buttons at same time. The second place of best sellers were the acrylic key chains and the posters. Unfortunately, I didn’t many key chains left from the previous conventions. After Japan Expo, I have sold out on them.
Fan art! There is a lot of fan art and they sale, like expected, very well. My originals designs, didn’t do any good. Luckily, my products are a mix of fan- and original art.
We didn’t sale much of our booklets. When the visitors knew that it was only in English, they put book down and look for something else. Hahaha, we should include a translate sheet.
Things I noticed / Learned
- Find lots of friends and travel by car! If we decide to go back to Japan expo again, we need to rent a van and split the cost.
- Buy a parking ticket before hand.
- Rent an apartment with air-conditioning! Japan expo is in the middle of the summer and will be hot. We rented a simple 3/4 person room and paid like € 30 a night. Super cheap. There was no breakfast included.
- Take a cool-box with you and do groceries at a cheap supermarket for breakfast. Also do groceries for lunch and snacks. Don’t forget to bring a lot and a lot of water.
- Yogurt or cream-cheese are very good as snack in-between meals.
- Don’t everyday go out eat. It’s very expensive (other than fast food)! Maybe we could do a BBQ as for dinner or something.
- Better booth layout.
- More stuff. Buttons, key chains, poster, prints, everything!
- Better use of the corners (rent another table)
- Bigger poster(s) on the back wall.
- Include a translate sheet for our booklets.
- If you want to do commissions, make a huge sign with samples!
Before the day starts:
I made lot of photo for references, but can find a lot pictures by google it.
Yes, definitely! It was fun, especially with friends. It was tiring to get up at six every day, but worth the experience being at the larges expo in Europe. The sales were good, could be better though, like having more different designs and so on.
We have to something to reduce the cost and something to make our booth to stand out.