Monday, September 11, 2023

Into the Dragon's Maw - An Exploratory Trip to DragonCon

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend DragonCon this year while assisting Ralph Horsley at his booth. Ralph visited us before and after the show, and I drove us to DragonCon and back. It was an amazing visit and the perfect excuse to finally get to DragonCon and do some reconnaissance of the convention in general and the art show specifically. We live about 4.5-5 hours from Atlanta and drive much, MUCH further for other events, so it was well past time for me to finally check out this event and possibly add it to the yearly list of appearances. The long and the short of it is that I found DragonCon to be wild, crazy, too much at times, and welcoming. I get why people go, and it did look like a lot of fun. The art show felt like home. There were many familiar faces, and it felt homey. 

For those unfamiliar with DragonCon, the convention is most like 30 different conventions smashed into one, and it is spread out across multiple hotels and venues. The art show that I will be talking about is two levels down in the Hyatt hotel. A comic book artist alley, exhibitor artists, exhibitors, and more are spread across four levels of another building several blocks away. The art show in the Hyatt is more of a traditional art show, as seen at Gen Con or IX that I have attended. I did check out the other art show and exhibitor space a little, but it was all too much - too many artists, too many booths, too many people. I get why it is likely very profitable, but it was a lot and constant - and there can be issues if, say, like on Saturday of the con, the fire marshal randomly decides to shut the building down because there were too many people inside. Long story short, there weren't any attendees in the building for most of the time that there were 'too many people inside", and the vendors lost around four or more hours of sales. Not a fan of that! 

I will break down the show below with the photos, but it is an interesting space. It felt large for what it is. There are booths (8x10) and tables (which are just a 6-8 foot table), and at least all the booths come with additional pegboard wall space. I am not sure if the tables get them, too. There are walls of pegboard running the length of the majority of the show space with gaps to move through. Each artist gets a section to decorate and to use to display art, prints, merch, etc. I find this to be very interesting as it gives attendees the option to see samples of all the art in the show quickly and easily in one place without having any human interactions. Some artists had maps on their section of pegboard so that interested parties could find them in the show, as well as little containers holding business cards. Seeing these types of things ahead of being part of the show is worth the recon trip alone. I like to be prepared and ready for events I participate in. 

Overall, it felt like art home, and the crowds of attendees at the show were impressive. It did thin out on Monday, and sales seemed lower, but there were still people buying art. While I did see originals selling, it definitely felt more like a print show. Books seemed to do well, too. This will again allow me to better prepare whenever I decide to attend.

The interior spaces at the hotels were impressive. It was hard to not be looking up the entire time.

There were delights for the eyes everywhere. This droid talked, moved around, and had articulated antennae. It was astonishing.

There was a small exhibit from the Atlanta puppetry museum in the art show.

I knew there would be plenty of costumes, but I was not expecting fancy vehicles too!

Here is a look at a section of the pegboard before the show opened. The plans I already have for this space...

Looking down a row of tables. It appeared that some artists could get multiple tables if they so choose.
The booths are large and have a lot of space around them. Plenty of room to spread your arms if you need a little more space.

Here is Ralph and I in his booth. The booth is a cloth backdrop, two sidebars and cloths, and a table. You can purchase the grid backdrop and walls for a decent price, and electricity is very affordable. It appeared that the folks running the show were happy to work with artists to allow them to create the space they needed and wanted.

I knew Atlanta had a lot of good food options, but I was impressed by everything I ate. Even the banh mi from a little restaurant in the food court next to the Hyatt.

Another look at the pegboard walls with the art show open.

Here is a better look at some tables with booths along the wall.

More booths and tables. When facing the art show from the entrance, the booths are mainly along the walls, with the guest artists directly in front when you enter. Most of the space to the left when you enter is all booths. The pegboard runs through the majority of the middle. The tables are behind the pegboards. And the anime corner is to the far right.

A full panoramic look out of Ralph's booth.

We ventured out into the Marriott on Saturday night. It was crazy and too much. I was glad to have had a mask with me as I have not been around this many people in this small of a space in over three years. It was great to see, but I was glad we were only passing through.

Again, the interiors of these hotels are amazing.

But I think I enjoyed the views looking down the most. People we were with had access to a higher floor so we excaped the crowds and relaxed above it all. I could have stayed up there are just stared down all night.

Even 18 floors up there was so much still above us.

We did make it to one music event.

The Cybertronic Spree were amazing as always. It was a real treat to see them again. I was not expecting the fates to allow us the opportunity. After CS playes MC Lars came on. I didn't even know Lars was there or was playing. I had never seen him live before and that was a genuine treat.

We can't party like we used too, but it seemed like plenty could.

Everywhere I looked there was some incredible reference to take a photo of.
As I said above, Monday (the last day of the show and Labor Day) was the slowest of the four days, but as you can tell from these photos of the pegboards, but Monday people had sold a lot off the walls.

More photos of the booths with some of the guest artist at the top. Sales seemed to be good for a lot of artist, which is great to see and hear.

These are the droids I was looking for.

And we end where we began, looking up. Overall, I was very impressed with the art show and DragonCon. It looked like the city embraced the convention and worked hard to make it fun and entertaining. It is no longer the big scary show that was in my mind and it is something I will be looking into for next year. We will see if I get in and make it work with my schedule, but I am looking forward to it.

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog. See you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:

No comments:

Post a Comment