madshutterbug (madshutterbug) wrote,

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Con Report, Regrouped

Might seem a bit redundant to do a Con Report what with the mini-reports done on the days. On the other hand, might not since those are, after all, mini-reports. On the Gripping Hand, my blog, my dime as it were and so this is how I'm spending it. Y'all read along if you care to.

Travel Report: As mentioned, what with things going on on the Ranch and my own procrastination, it got late enough and I felt tired enough I opted not to drive after dark on Thursday. Instead I got a fairly good nights sleep after loading most everything into Sydney Subaru Outback on Thursday, exception being cooler with some foodstuffs and my carry-on bag. Up more or less regular time on Friday, coffeed, showered, dressed and out the door by ten to seven. Bit later than I'd thought. Not late enough to worry me at all. Stopped twice on the drive down, once for petrol and both for fluid pressure relief. Coffee. Yes.

Arrived St. Pete Hilton right on near to 10:15, and the Con opens at noon. Thus I arrived before start, unloaded artwork and moved car to temporary parking. Hauled artwork into the Art Show and set up. Now, Stone Hill (the club) sets up the display panels (one of the things I keep shooting to help with by getting down on Thursday). Artists do their own setup. The panels are nice, wood frames providing about a 4.5-foot wide by 4 foot high display, using half by one fencing wire for hanging the artwork.

I put a solid colour fabric up, something learned from tinne as part of making a professional display. See, that wire fabric has someone else's artwork on the other side, so in between your own pieces the viewing audience sees the backs of other peoples artwork. Solid colour fabric hides that. Last year was the practice year for this. This year setup for the art show, including hanging seven framed pieces, the framed 'Artist Blub' and business cards, took 45 minutes. Then check in the pieces for the Print Shop took about 10 minutes. All of this facilitated by completing the requisite paperwork in advance. Print Shop would probably of been half that time except I'd not put the price stickers on the pieces yet. D'oh!

Then over to Registration, picked up my Guest Pass, 30th Anniversary Messenger Bag and badge holder. Forgot to get my Name Tent Card for the panel, had to go back for it. Checked in with Skippy (of fatfred) in the Dealers Room, got her some ice for her drink. Then off to gawk and gander and just have fun.

Panels I attended... hmm, well, see, I'm a note-taker. Always have been, though I've gotten better about that over the years. And in one way, Con (as in Necronomicon or other genre cons) is not much different from Con (as in AORN Congress and other genre cons). Sessions/Panels, Things to Do, People to See. Ahem. I digress. So, I'm a note-taker. Cryptic notes. Sometimes I understand them afterwards. Sometimes I don't. Either way I get something out of it.

When I first started using a PDA I used that for my note-taking. Way easier to get things from the notes into things like this blog. SmartPhones are what we use now. Good time to say (again) I remember Niven & Pournelle making pocket computers a plot device. SmartPhones are pocket computers. Hence this note:
Really is interesting how possession/use of smartphone impacts Con attendance. Put some sessions into G-calendar. Auto onto phone. Make notes in panels, cut & paste into e-mail. Don't actually need to do that if am willing put up w/redundant info, just e- note. Or, post to G+.

I think posting to Google+ or Facebook is a bit too much the Lifeblogging thing for me. It would work, though. Anyway.

Friday Panels:
Promoting Yourself: Your work is published. Now, how do you sell it to the public?
Right, those cryptic notes? Something like this -- Web site social media. Maintain Blog. Exchange site banners. "No such thing as too little publicity or publicity that doesn't matter."
Panel mbrs displaying their books 2. Previous panel also.
Blogspot, Goodreads, Smashwords, free blog sites. Do Not Spam FB. Exchange services. HARO: Help A Reporter Out x3 daily email list. Easy Google. Google + Circles set up for appropriate info. Extended sends to every one in circles of Circled. Trade-off Production Time vs Promotion Time/ 1@ 5 hrs write 4-5 hrs promote. 2@ 8 hrs/day 5/wk managing promote. 3@ limits 1 hr/day promote in favor production, looking for single spot that auto loads other. 4@ ~1 hr/day varies a bit, depends on item, blog & column spend as much as product important because could be 1st impression.
Not 'Net time: hrs? Business cards BYO/ next day fliers dot com / vistaprint dot com free pay shipping / Give-away mini games @ events / 1st chapters free via cd web
Free is Popular. Give away. OWN your URL.
(Note to self: web site links on Necro page chk out)

Got that?

Next panel, What Has Social Media Done for You Lately: Can social media enrich your life in more substantial was than just playing games and poking friends? Well, yes, it can and it all depends on what one does with it. Which is pretty much the gist of the discussion.

More fun than that was the next 'panel', Creating Costumes From the Things You Find at Home (Closet): Can't sew? No money? You can still costume and here's how. (The parentheses around Closet are mine, from my original notes. I've expanded to the titles from the program book here) Now this one was indeed fun, and a good bit pointing out to people that simply looking around their digs can provide materials for a con costume at multiple levels. The most significant question is probably are you willing to destroy/deface what you find or not? If not, they offered means to use the item and not destroy it. If yes well then you need at least (or maybe need at least) a wee bit of sewing skills or know someone who does. Still, some good tips. And for something to look for if one wants to work on dying fabric. Find an old pressure cooker at a garage/yard sale, use that.

Next panel chosen as a possible 'networking' venue and might prove to be, Cover Art & Editing for Self Published Writers: Maybe you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but we all do. Panel discusses what a good cover does and how to get one. Panel did discuss what a good cover does, somewhat less about how to get one. Still, put some feelers out.

That ended the Friday sessions, and met up with Skippy and an old acquaintance from SCA days, and we headed out for Thai dinner. I'd previously moved my car from temp parking on the road into a nearby garage, and figured out after dinner that the parking rate is a flat fee for the entire weekend, so we left my car there rather than driving over to Skippy's which is where I crashed each night for Con. Made things easier on Sunday as well.

Saturday panels: How Science Literacy Affects Your Perception of the World, and What Makes Fiction Science Fiction? are the two I attended in the morning. The former proved to be a series of somewhat anectodal examples of how science impacts our lives, and I decided I could potentially have been part of this panel as well from two positions. Just a bit to file away for thought, myself, in future. The latter was a bit fun in hearing how the different writers comprising the panel felt about it, with opinions ranging from it is mostly a marketing ploy to it is a necessary plot point providing significant turning points in the plot. For myself, a big high point here is the opportunity to meet haikujaguar in person, after reading a bit of their work in their blog.

The next panel is a fun one, and why I go to it, the annual Trivia Contest! Four (impromptu) teams meet and compete to answer trivia questions from a long, punny list of categories.

Lastly for me this day was Training to be a Professional Artist: Pros tell you how you make the move from hobbyist to professional artist. This is the panel I received the invitation to sit on, and I'm happy to announce I didn't make a fool of myself during the course of events.

After that, off for a bit of beer and conversation Networking with several of the panel members, then back over to Con to again meet up with Skippy for dinner. We ate close to the hotel this time, Italian, the name of the place Gratzi. Used to be a seafood restaurant. Skippy got duck. I got a goat ricotta cheese and red sauce over penne, wonderful dish and so big took leftovers home which provided breakfast for me Sunday morning and some dinner additions for the Bros later Sunday evening as well.

Back over to the Con for the Costume Contest and then NecronomiProm. I just enjoy watching the contest. One of these years may start wearing Hall Costumes again... or have been depending on how one defines a Hall Costume. I mean, what would you think if you saw someone with a towel hanging out of their shoulder bag at Con? After the Contest while the judges judged the costumes and before the announcements of the Contest Winners, Art Show prizes were announced which is when I learned that Dryad Dreams received Third Place in Black and White. This gets significant later.

Sunday... Liquid State of Publishing, Starship Smackdown, and Visions of Mars. On the latter, Mars being the theme this year in big part because the Guest of Honor was Ben Bova, and Mr. Bova was one of the panelists in the Visions session. That discussion looked at what from literature and movies/video about Mars influenced or inspired the panelists, and several of the classics were mentioned: Bradbury, Burroughs, Wells. Bits and pieces from other areas as well.

I chose the publishing one because, again, I'm looking at possible networking for art sales and I'm interested, and I wanted to hear something else than writers on self-publishing. The latter is good, and I've learned a bit from those sessions, yet this one the panelists are working for or own small publishing business'. Interesting to hear things from that side.

Starship Smackdown is another just plain fun one. Herself wanted to know about this and I sort of figured out my descriptions are lacking, so I'm streamlining it a bit here to the principles. First the full title from the program: Starship Smackdown: Experts in SF and audience members choose the Starship most likely to win in a whiz bang space battle.

So. The panelists name some famous fictional starships and then the audience tosses in more names, and an elimination tree is established for three rounds. Ships may come from either literature or video/movie sources. (In fact, they don't even need to be 'starships' per se, though it probably helps... the House from Up became one of the contestants this year.) In Round One, the panelists are asked which one of four pairs would win the postulated battle, then the audience provides more feedback, often quite off the wall humourous. Then the panelists vote; if the vote is a tie (either due to even number of panelists or someone abstaining to make an even number) audience vote is the tie breaker.

In the second round, Captains are named. Not, mind you, necessarily the captain usually associated with a given famous starship, either. In the third round, the Finals, a sidekick is tossed into the mix and if you've not figured out that the sidekicks are ditto the captains in relationship to the ships, catch up now, eh?

So. Not providing the specific 'Universe' for each feel free to ask if you don't know, in Round One we saw Talon vs. Lexx, House from Up vs. Discovery, Tardis vs Mogo, and Enterprise vs. Heart of Gold. What with the results of all that and then the suggestion/selection of captains, in Round Two we saw Talon (Captain Nemo the James Mason portrayal) vs. Mogo (Captain Marvin the Martian), and Enterprise (Captain Duck Dodgers) vs House from Up (Captain Mal Reynolds). Now, with the Sidekicks kicked in in the finals we saw Mogo (Captain Marvin the Martian, First Officer Bullwinkle) vs Enterprise (Captain Duck Dodgers, First Officer Mr. Spock the Nimoy portrayal), and can you guess who won?

I'm going to be mean and make you ask.

After that, oh, a few more panels but time moves along. I moved Sydney Subaru Outback out of the garage to closer parking, checked out of the Art Show and loaded that into Sydney, and went back in for the Eye Scream Social and Garage Sale. The Social is a nice visit, the Sale is a fundraiser for Stone Hill. Last year I got some books and other odds and ends, this year not so much. Ate some ice cream (what, you didn't get that from the name?), last bit of visiting with some folks, and then hit the road.

Departed St. Pete at 16:01, arrived at the Ranch at 19:15. Since I'd recorded times both going and coming I could compare notes, and indeed the trip home took about 15 minutes less. I attribute this to two things: Friday traffic on the way there rather than Sunday traffic on the way home, and fewer fluid pressure relief or petrol stops.

Looked at from strictly financial aspects, this trip better than last year and still a bust. Necronomicon's Art Show is not (by anecdotal evidence again) a big photography buying venue. Indeed, three years showing and this is the first (and only) year I've made a sale. I'm very convinced that sale is due to the 3rd Place in B&W ribbon, likely someone who waits for the results to buy then collects the annual prize winners.

I did make a sale; a 5x7 print, matted, of Dryad Dreams. If I'd not put into the Print Shop but the 8x10 print than the dollar value of the sale would be doubled. However... I'm happy. I made a sale. This year establishes more 'presence' and I will not be surprised if I don't receive something, as I did last year, from someone following up after the Show. We will see.

Overall, I feel like sales this year were down from last year. I did see sales happening; bid tickets marked 'Sold' in the later afternoon on Saturday. Pieces gone from the displays on Sunday both the ones marked as noted and others. Sunday morning is when I counted my pieces in the Print Shop, just counted, and knew there to be one less than I brought in and that it was Dryad Dreams as noted. Thus not only me, all the artists.

It is a good example of one of my points made in the Panel, one of my lessons from a mentor who sold books he wrote on a variety of subjects. People will be sure to pay the Necessaries (mortgage, rent, food, utilities). That isn't the money for which an artist is 'competing'. It's the 'beer money', the funds available for fun after the Necessaries are covered that we compete for, and right now I don't think there's a lot of fun money out there for most folks.

So off I went to Con and home I came from Con, and Herself brought the Bros out for Evening Rounds timed to meet me as I arrived on the Ranch. Squrrl and Houdini came around one of the corners of our private road with Squrrl in the lead, until Houdini saw me waiting by the Horses and then there was no contest. Houdini got to me before Squrrl by about nine Border Collie lengths.

It's nice to be missed.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: art, con, life the universe and everything, photography, travel

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