I was inspired to write this post after reading Chris Chuckry’s post about creating Artist Trading Cards for professional companies (Read Chris’s post here) which I highly recommend. I’ve never attempted to sell cards that way (nor will I) my experience comes from selling them with my booth merch.
I did my first comic con last year and the idea of making trading cards immediately appealed to me. They are small, fast projects that you can produce a lot of in a short amount of time – just a nice small thing to have for sale next to your bigger more expensive items. I went a little overboard I made 50 by the time the convention rolled around but I thought the more I have the better.
Some of these cards I had spent a LOT of time on, like way too much time for such a small payoff. But being the perfectionist I am, I wanted to sell only the highest quality work.
Well the con came and went and I learned a lot of very valuable lessons. For one thing I was very surprised at how easily passed over the trading cards were. I sold several and used some in trades with other artists, but largely people had no interest in flipping through my binder or really even in the fact that they were “one of a kind hand made”.
I’ve thought a lot about my successes and failures at my first booth experience and I think it’s pretty clear now where I went wrong.
It is sensory overload at conventions and if you’re lucky enough to catch someone’s attention then you’d better be able to show them quick what you have to sell. It’s asking a lot of a person to stop and rifle through your binders to see if maybe there is something they would like. Not only that, many people feel very uncomfortable in front of artists, like there’s pressure to buy or they are shy and just don’t want to start a conversation (I mean we are at a comic book convention here).
On top of social issues – I believe there are value issues as well. I was selling my cards for $10 a card, some artists I saw were selling some of theirs for as much as $20-$30 (yikes!). When it comes to products; size and tactility matter. When people see these small (2.5×3.5) drawings it’s hard for them to see the value in that – why there are big posters there that sell for $5-$10! People who don’t appreciate the art won’t appreciate the time and effort put into such an intricate little work of art.
If you’re interested in making some I would keep them in mind for warm up exercises, and have them on hand (great for artist trades!). But don’t bank on them turning a huge profit or generating interest at your table.