Monday, October 6, 2014

Aftermath: Monster Mania Con 29 (2014)

Monster Mania Convention in Hunt Valley, Md (Oct 3-5) was a bit of an experiment in seeing how well horror movie fans would receive my artwork and merchandise. I plan to attend my first West Coast show in California next year- Monsterpalooza, and don't want to spend upwards of a couple thousand dollars on a trip out to Cali if people weren't receptive. Fortunately the folks met at Monster Mania were perhaps some of the most overwhelmingly pleasant fans I have had the pleasure to meet. Even covered in fake blood and brandishing plastic chainsaws. ;)

On Friday as a gothy pop-art pinup.
!? fascinator by Janine Basil
Monster Mania is another show in Maryland where I can save boku bucks traveling down by bus, staying at my parents house and borrowing my mom's car. My partner-in-crime Fenny of Little Asian Sweatshop joined me Friday and Saturday of the show and we split a 6' table between the two of us. It's an intimate hotel convention, at the old Hunt Valley Inn up in Cockeysville (about a 40 minute drive from my parents house). I'm actually pretty familiar with the hotel because of conventions I attended as a fan many years ago and for conferences when I used to sell tvs and stereos back in the day. There are actually 3 Monster Mania shows a year- two in NJ and one in Md. Everyone kept saying the spring show in NJ is way bigger and crazier and how we should come back and do that one. While this is a possibility- attending a show in NJ means getting a hotel room and meals out and that is a GIANT chunk out of our profits. So maybe, but not likely anytime soon.

All set up!
I had planned on creating more horror/monster themed artwork to sell specifically for MM, but time constraints and a crazy busy schedule between Baltimore Comic Con, this and NYCC along with my dayjob was simply too much. Fortunately I had a little bit of monster art to draw people in- but interestingly enough it was mostly my superhero stuff that was the hot seller. I think because there wasn't a lot of that there- so it stood out from the rest of the vendors. Goes to show- even when vending at a specialty event, bring *everything* with you. Within reason, of course. Monster Mania being the weekend before NYCC, which is my biggest show of the year- I was actually afraid I might sell out of stuff and not have time to make more during the week. Oh!, but what a problem to have, amirite? My inventory definitely did take a hit from MM, but I still had a satisfactory amount to bring for NYCC.

Francesca and the Monster's Mate
We had a ton of fun selling at our table! We dressed up every day of the show- including what is possibly our most obscure cosplay to date- me as Francesca and Fenny as the Monster's Mate/ Phyllis Diller from Rankin/Bass's 1967 special Mad Monster Party? (The ? is part of the title...) I don't recall anyone at the show being able to tell who we were supposed to be- not that that is surprising. I only actually saw MMP? for the first time about a year ago. Everyone LOVED our outfits though. Leave it to us to wear something from a kid's Halloween special from the 60's to the blood-and-guts show.

The actual Francesca and Monster's Mate Animagic puppets
Fenny of course was TOTALLY into it.
Really, really into it.
I got my Francesca dress from Pin-Up Girl and my wig from Fifi Mahony's.
These guys were GREAT!!! Frigging HUGE and scary!
They were total sweethearts when I asked for a picture. It's not everyday I feel teeny-tiny.
Jason is Keith. Leatherface is Lance.
This is the reference I sent Fifi's for my wig.
Speaking of kid stuff- and now I'm not judging as much as I'm making an observation of the weekend- I must say: I saw A LOT of small, crying children at this show. Now I'm not a parent (nor do I have any plans to be one anytime soon) but speaking as a former child, I can completely understand where these kids are coming from with bawling their eyes out. Now I'm all for kids having some amount of fear for things in their lives. It sparks the imagination and may feed creative endeavors down the road. Myself, for example: I used to be TERRIFIED of skeletons. To the point that I could not watch any Indiana Jones movies or the second half of Goonies. Nor could I ride Pirates of the Caribbean without hiding my eyes until I heard singing. I was also afraid of Judge Doom from Roger Rabbit, The Greedy from Raggedy Ann and Andy and mere commercials from Nightmare on Elm Street would give me nightmares for weeks. I left the theater during The Burbs. Shoot, I even covered my eyes during the Aliens riff at the end of Spaceballs. I didn't really get a grip on my fears until junior high, when I started learning about serial killers and REAL monsters in the world. And now? I'm writing my eventual magnum opus comic about demons, murderers and vampires and watch true crime shows on the daily. My own wedding was covered in skeletons. I love me some monsters, and the movies I just mentioned are some of my all-time favorites now. All the stuff I was afraid of though, was under controlled circumstances. Movies can be watched beforehand so warnings are issued to cover your eyes. Ultimately, they can be turned off. Bringing your kid to a horror convention, you can't control that environment. You don't know what's around every corner, you don't know what's going to be on display. People jump out. People wear costumes- some amazingly terrifying and gory and relish in being in character. And it's really pretty selfish to think that everyone else at the show who is there to celebrate movies that are rated PG-13, R and worse- should have to take into account the fact that you brought an emotionally unprepared 7 year old girl in a princess Elsa costume. Get a sitter, it's cheaper than therapy in the long run.

Ok, maybe I did start judging a bit there. 9_9;

So tired on Sunday. -___-;
Overall, MM was a very profitable show- I would def like to do it again, schedule permitting. There was a great party atmosphere, especially on Saturday as the vending room was winding down and most of the convention goers were obviously visiting the bar and starting to ramp up their room parties. How funny just a few weeks ago we were being shushed at our table at Baltimore Comic Con when at MM *we* were the quiet, reserved ones(!!!). And Monsterpalooza out in California is def going to happen, which i am super super excited about. ::starts saving money::

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Aftermath: Baltimore Comic Con 2014

Yay! Another Baltimore Comic Con (9/5-7) for the books!! This year marked my *8th* year vending at conventions! This was also the first year Baltimore Comic Con opened up it's doors on Friday- which omg made setting up the table and getting myself prepared for the show SO MUCH EASIER. This year I was set up in Artist Alley with my BFF Little Asian Sweatshop- we each had one full table and our widest selection of products yet.

Me and Fenny as the Cobra typing pool
Weee! Here's a quick little video of my table!

Every other year with it being a two-day show it's an absolute mess trying to get up to the show with all of my merch, half dressed in costume, all before 10am when the doors open and gads of people start filing through because it's also the BIGGEST day of the show. It was a welcome addition to have the extra day to take my time setting up and even bring my con outfit and makeup to the show separately so I wouldn't get all sweaty and bust a seam setting up. It's actually become my new thing that I do on setup days and at shows that require crazy prep the morning of. I'm really surprised I haven't started doing it sooner.

Tactical error in parking on Friday- 3 trips to the car in 100+ heat.
This year's Baltimore Comic Con continues to become more and more of a successful endeavor for me every year, with this being my most prosperous yet. I think the combination of having done it so many years in a row, along with it being my hometown show- so many of my friends from various stages of my life come out to see me and say hello and support me with purchases and kind words. It is so appreciated. There are no fans like Baltimore fans- once you've earned their favor they will continue to support you every year you make yourself available to them.

Retro COBRA office ladies!
Saturday was our big day where we finally got to wear our retro Cobra typing pool costumes and they were very well received.We've even inspired a few friends to join in, so hopefully in the future we'll see more snarky (or should I say SNAKEY?) office ladies.

Harvey Awards mixer? Or Cobra recruitment meet-and-greet?
Saturday night my husband Phil and I attended the Harvey Awards dinner- he and his team at Kodansha Comics (where I also work my day job as a manga letterer) were nominated for Best American Edition of Foreign Material for the Attack on Titan manga. Everyone else at Kodansha had already been down in Baltimore for Otakon one month previous, so Phil attended on the team's behalf. The dinner and awards ceremony were great fun, my only gripe was that after a full day of working the show in an uncomfortable outfit- I may have gotten a bit snippy with people (mostly my ever loving and patient husband). Plus actual industry parties with big wigs and editors and old comics guard tend to make me nervous. This is why I don't typically do afterparties. I'm much more comfortable socializing in a 'work' setting like my table.

Phil and I at the Harvey Awards dinner
**And excitement! They won! Yay!!**

 Sunday was another crazy day- maybe even crazier than Saturday. So many friends and fans came by to say hello. Baltimore truly is one of my favorite shows of the year. I also have to say a special shout to the Friends of Humanity from the 90's X-Men cartoon cosplayers. I literally laughed so hard I cried when I saw them. And they were IN CHARACTER!!! Shouting 'NO MORE MUTANTS!' in that ridiculous redneck accent from the show. If only they had a Graydon Creed with them in a red suit. It was SO GREAT. You guys have NO IDEA how much my husband and I quote from the X-Men cartoon.

IMHO, best cosplay all weekend. I cried laughing.
 And now for an amusing story:
Sunday was a cluster of seeing SO MANY FRIENDS that at one point I think we had about 10+ people from various stations of our lives hanging out around our table. It was exciting to see so many people and when Fenny especially sees someone she loves she explodes with unbridled squealy happiness. There was no doubt for that :45-hour that our table was the place to be. It was such a rag-tag gaggle of cosplayers, pinup girls, tattoo artists and punk rockers hanging out with us and having such a good time enjoying each other's company that we actually had to be SHUSHED by an AA neighbor 5 tables down. Which he did so indignantly we initially thought he was joking. No one could be THAT lame, right? But really- dude is 5 tables down from us on the same side. Clearly we're all having a good time. It's a comic show, not a wake. Instead of coming around front and politely asking Fenny or I like people if we can turn down our volume, he goes around behind 5 other AA tables, pops his head out from behind my vertical banner and hisses at us all to 'stop screaming because he keeps thinking someone is hurt!' Because he thinks he'll have to run over here and give us all mouth-to-mouth? I honestly don't know. Fenny and I initially thought he was kidding, he was being so melodramatic about it. My friend badass tattoo artist Hunter Spanks was like 'Holy shit that dude was SO SERIOUS- and I thought tattoo shows had DRAMA! This is GREAT!' Once our pals started to dissipate and Fenny and I were left alone to our tables I kept noticing every time the dude passed our table he would give us a massive stink eye. To which I, in my DILIGAF best- smile and wave back to him with a 'yeah- stop screaming we're so loud, wokka wokka!' Because if he's going to act like a joke then I'm going to treat him like a joke. Fenny couldn't have been happier- she LIVES for people having a problem with her. She loves it almost as much as praise. And if he actually had the balls to say anything to us afterwards (which he didn't) there were SO MANY WAYS we could have played it. There was the standard 'Really? We thought you were joking!' route- where dude has to admit he is a lamoid who can't handle anyone else having fun. Especially since his table? From the looks of it- NOT so much the place to be. (I think someone might have been jealousssss...) There was also my topical favorite- which was 'Excuse me but are you trying to SILENCE MY FEMALE VOICE?' Because yeah, hot button issue of sexism in comics and at conventions. Ready the pitchforks.

Overall, it reminded me way too much of this episode of
Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

Either way, that dude was lame and we are awesome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Art of Paigey! On the Stagey!

OMGGGG you guys!! I'm getting a burlesque tribute show!!!

Thanks to Kita St. Cyr, my artwork will be coming to LIFE on the stage of the Gemini and Scorpio loft in Brooklyn next month!! I am SO excited!! She's been talking about doing this for YEARS (ever since we both worked at the tshirt company after I first moved to NYC) and then blew up my phone last month with a string of texts telling me she had a venue, a date and a string of amazing performers all set to bring my drawings to life. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. Phil was all "This might be too much stimulation for even YOUR ego..." Haha, which is true- it's hard not to get at least a little bit of a swollen head with all these talented and beautiful women all wanting to dress up as my artistic creations and interpretations. Other than the performers list and what piece they plan to an act inspired by, I am just as much of a spectator as anyone else. (Also in case there was any confusion- NO I AM NOT DANCING. Trust me- you do not want to see that.) There will be a raffle with a prize bag of Paigey stuff to the winner as well as a small selection of my merch for sale at the show.

Omg lookit the ARMY OF HOTTIES that have amassed in my honor! 
 Kita is the Nick Fury of Burlesque for creating this line-up of all-stars!

Me and Kita!
I seriously can't wait to see this show happen!! And already in the midst of so much else going on with both Monster Mania and NYCC happening before and after!! What a week this will be! ::collapses::

Monday, September 1, 2014

Baltimore Comic Con 2014 prep!

Baltimore Comic Con 2014 is steadily approaching!! September 5th-7th at the Baltimore Convention Center! This is the first year it's a 3 day convention! How exciting! This marks my *8th* year attending conventions on a professional level!! Me and my BFF Fenny of Little Asian Sweatshop will be at Artist Alley tables 205-206! I hope to see you there! ^_^

Here's a preview of some of the *NEW STUFF* I'll have available!!

Wondy & Supey-G magnet sets! $10 for the pair!

Wondy & Supey-G mini print sets! $5!

NEW STICKERS! $5 each or 2 for $8!

Sailor Moon cameo bracelets! $15!

UTZ hearts BOH prints! $5!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Process: Making shrink plastic magnets

 One of the things that I try to do when I sell stuff at my convention tables and online store is have a wide variety of items at different price points, so anyone who wants a piece of my artwork can walk away with something. Shoot, even if you're broke you can still walk away with a killer postcard with my website on it- for future reference when you're *not* broke.  ::nudge:: ;) I also make it a point to put my art on not only prints and pieces of frame-able art, but also on products which become part of the customer's life that they can take with them on their day. 

A magnetic front door is a great place to take inventory on finished packs as I make them.
 A staple of my merchandise selection for the past few years has been my magnet sets. I usually package them in 2 character sets for $10 each and they are cut, cooked and assembled by me in my 'free time'. I've been messing around with shrink plastic since I was a kid playing with Shrinky-Dinks in the 80s. My mom, a retired seamstress- even helped me as a small child sell my first Shrinky-Dink jewelry (under the eponymous banner of 'Paige's Cute Things') when she would go to sewing shows. I distinctly remember my mom handing me over my earnings afterward and getting a jolt of greedy excitement. It was just a few bucks but that satisfying feeling of receiving money for something I enjoyed doing was something I would chase for the better part of my life.

 I rediscovered the awesomeness of shrink plastic a few years ago after I started selling my work at conventions. Looking for new ways to present myself, I came across printable blank sheets of shrink plastic paper and went to town creating jewelry such as necklaces and brooches. One of my first pieces of jewelry, my roller derby girl necklace, landed me my first interview and product review on a roller derby blog. I even sent a giant shipment to the gift lounge of the Oscars back in 2009 to be touched by and given away to real, live *famous people*. It was pretty neat. Aside from jewelry, I also sold them as magnets- but it being the early days of conventions I didn't know what I was doing. Instead of packaging the magnets as sets I would have them all loose on a giant magnet board I clumsily propped up on my table, which would get knocked into and pushed off the table as customers would grab the magnets they wanted. It was a bit of a mess. Especially in-between shows when I had to put them away stacked in tupperware containers where unprotected they could chip and break. But still they sold well, even better than the shrink jewelry- I think because they are something EVERYONE can use and appreciate. Shoot I even know people with kids who like to play with them on the fridge while sitting on their kitchen floor.

 I've had some concern from well-meaning but misguided people in my life who don't understand why I would want to tell my 'secrets' of how I make my products. Honestly, there's a few reasons for this. Making these magnets and other shrink plastic accessories is one of my more labor-intensive processes of creating merch. If anyone else is crazy and determined enough to get themselves elbow-deep into doing all the things I have to do to make these then by all means- go for it. I just ask that you are as generous with your processes as I have been with mine and perhaps we can all learn from each other. Also I am not threatened by other people having similar merch as me- since I believe people are buying my magnets and merch because it's features my artwork, not simply because it is a magnet or a bracelet, etc. I mean really, if you're that hard up for magnets just to have magnets- there are plenty of places you can get some for way cheaper. I also wanted to share my processes so that people can see exactly how much work goes into making them- this is one of my products which is almost 100% assembled by me, all I buy are the blank sheets, magnets and packaging materials. Some products like my stickers (Stickermule), prints (Overnight Prints) and artbooks (lulu) I pay to be produced by an outside company who then sends me the product that I sell. Though if I *did* have a print shop of my own I'd be a very happy girl, haha. Really though it's just nice to be appreciated for the hard work I do making the products I sell and hopefully this will educate people on my processes, whether they are simply curious as to how I make all this stuff or want to try their hand at making their own shrink plastic creations.

My process:

Step 1: print
Step 2: cut

Step 3: cook
Bonus video:

Step 4: spray

Step 5: glue

Step 6: attach
Step 7: wrap

Step 8: admire
If you want to get some of my magnets for your own, check out my convention schedule to see if I'm coming to your town! If I'm not, or you're a hermit like me- be sure to check out my etsy store!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Aftermath: Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival 2014

My art on the lanyards! Pretty neat!
 Last weekend (7/25-27) was the 2014 Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival in Asbury Park, NJ! This was my second year attending the show and I definitely had some mixed feelings this year. Like last year, I did all of the art and branding and in return got hooked up with vending space at the show. I invited my best friend Fenny of Little Asian Sweatshop to come out with me and was hoping for a repeat of the insane success I had at last year's show. Which is kind of the thing about conventions and vending, you really have no idea year-to-year how it's going to pan out. The spot I had last year next to the entrance had been bought out, so I was given a more Artist Alley-style set up of a long row of tables (3 6' tables- an 18' super table!) in the corner by the stage. From my perspective on the floor it definitely didn't seem as busy this year as last year- the weather wasn't as nice and the upper deck was unaccessible to the show due to construction, so the main floor was crowded with artists and vendors. Fenny and I also busted out our new Victorian swimsuits for the affair, with ridiculous poof-ball hats to boot. They were a hit and we will be absolutely be wearing these to more shows in the future. We're already planning a spooky rendition to wear to Monster Mania this fall, which will include skull makeup, 'RMS Titanic' labels on our hat bands and ribcage corsets. I am super excited.

Photo courtesy
Our 18' SUPER TABLE! So much stuff!
 Much like at Baltimore Tattoo Convention earlier this year, the attendees also seemed to be more interested in looking and hanging out rather than buying stuff. There was an overall attitude to the crowd this year that kind of rubbed me the wrong way- like 60% of the people attending had no interests in anything. Guys that were 'too cool' to get excited about stuff. Indignant boyfriends who got annoyed if their girlfriends stopped to look at our table. Lots of teenagers who obviously spent their whole 'allowance' getting to the show so they have a place to hang out with their friends all day unsupervised. People were also being, for lack of a better word- cheap. Like agonizing over purchases that were less than $5. And people trying to haggle over single item purchases right as they came to the table. And believe me, I'm all about value and deals at my table- if you engage me in healthy conversation and build a rapport with me and then end up buying a few items- I will most likely throw an extra few buttons or a sticker or other goodies in your bag. But to just roll up and demand an item clearly marked as $18 be $15? I'm sorry, but no. Also with my attempting to make vending at conventions a viable portion of my career, I need to take a serious look at the numbers and economics of this endeavor. I keep records of how much I sell and break that down into what I would consider an hourly rate. Shows with especially long hours like tattoo shows eat into that rate as there are longer lulls in sales and an overall lack of urgency when compared to shows with shorter hours.  If at the end of the day I don't reach a certain monetary goal with my table, I may as well pack it in. There comes a point where if I do not make back my expenses such as travel, hotel and table costs then I am hemorrhaging money and would actually be making more money staying at home. Which is actually what ended up happening on Sunday at Visionary, plus Fenny and I were going to drive all the way back to Maryland and wanted to beat beach traffic.
Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy
 I got a lot of the reseller assumptions as well- where people literally do not realize that I drew and made all the merch I sell until I tell them. And for every person I tell, I'm sure there's another 3 people at least that I don't explain myself to who just assume I just get all my merch from somewhere and flip it. Which can be frustrating, especially when I've already invested a lot of myself into maintaining a table and all the merch upon it. While most people are out getting blasted on Friday/Saturday nights- I'm at home drawing and cutting and making in preparation for shows like this. Maybe it's that I'm used to working comic shows for so long- when the attendees are all nerds who by nature are obsessive they tend to come in to a show with an understanding of how conventions work (like artist alley is where artists are...) and with a clear set agenda that includes making purchases. Even the most jaded fan is still a fan of *something*.

 With all of that however I will say there were some very nice people that I met at the show as well as people from last year who were kind enough to swing by and say hello. I discussed portrait commissions with some potential clients and hopefully will see that come into fruition in the coming months. I also greatly appreciate all of you who came by and bought stuff or made my day go by a little easier with some engaging conversation. Also I liked the hotel we stayed at- The Empress and the area around it on the boardwalk that I had the chance to visit- especially the crepe and Korean taco stands. My only gripe about the hotel was the price (hella pricey for what it was...) and there was no little store in the hotel (only a vending machine- which sold snacks, soda, Alka-seltzer and condoms. No water. WTF?). But the balcony was delightful- GREAT people watching. Especially on a Saturday night- we must have seen at least 3 separate people get busted and hauled off in cop cars, it was great. My husband and I plan on taking an actual trip FOR FUN down to Asbury soon so I can actually enjoy everything there without thinking about work. 

 So with this in mind I may have to rethink my venture into tattoo shows- I gave it a shot and it has it's ups and downs but for as expensive a venture as it is to do these, it may not be entirely worth the risk. It seems my true home as it always was is among the nerds. Also those 12+ hour days kinda destroy me.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bi-Coastal! My art is in both Image Comics and Sailor Moon tribute shows this month!

Two group art shows opened up this month, one in Los Angeles and another right here in New York City. 

Out in LA, the Moon Crisis 2014 Sailor Moon tribute show opened at the Rothick Art Haus to a massive crowd of cosplayers and fans. LA Weekly has some amazing photos from the event. I unfortunately couldn't make it to the show as trips to LA are expensive, but if you are in the area there will be a second opening for the show on August 9th, and then the show continues running until August 30th.After that, you will be able to purchase a print of your own from my Society 6 page or through me directly at my upcoming convention appearances.

You can see my piece all the way to the left on the end.
My Sailor Moon poster!

Back here in New York City, I'm also taking part in One-Shot Gallery's From Spawn to Saga: Image Comics at 22 show. The micro gallery is in St. Mark's Comics in the East Village, NYC- one of my most favorite neighborhoods in the world. My Ladytron piece is available for sale either at the store or over the internet via the online gallery.

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