Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Gen Con 2022 - The Return

I will be honest, even after over a week, I am still processing Gen Con. So much to think about, so much to mull over, so much to second guess, and so much to learn from. At its simplest, Gen Con 2022 was the most successful Gen Con and convention I have ever had. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but my 2022 sales were around double my average GC sales. To be honest, until this year, my sales at events have always been low compared to many others. Conventions have been something I do to see friends, connect with potential new clients, share my work, and hope to break even. They were working vacations that I hoped would not cost anything. Not the typical goal of most at conventions, but it was what worked for us, and they have been a lot of fun. This has changed. As of 2022, conventions are something that I do to share The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia and turn a profit. Pensacon was 2.5 times my usual sales, Infinity Con saw an increase of over 5 times previous sales, and now Gen Con has doubled (and yes, I report my sales with my annual income tax filings). While there may or may not be external reasons for this, the main change is that I have removed nearly all client work from my convention presence and now only offer my books and related prints and art, and so far, it is paying off.

In many ways, I am starting over at conventions this year. The presence I have established with client-derived work has been replaced with my work on the Grand Bazaar. This was my tenth Gen Con, but it was also my first Gen Con. I had a transitional period for both IX and Pensacon, but for me, at Gen Con, I went from liquidating as much of my client work as I could in 2019 and now fully transformed into the Bazaar. While I assumed I would have lower sales for a while, I reintroduced myself to the public. Not so much in reality. After my success at Pensacon and Infinity Con this year, I had big hopes for GC. It was a record-breaking year, but it did not hit the numbers I had secretly hoped for. There are likely many reasons for this, but that is for another discussion that will probably not happen in public spaces.

With everything in a post-COVID world, Gen Con had a lot of new aspects to it. From mandatory masking, a vaccination check-in and bracelet, and using the marshaling yard for load in and out for the first time, it was a year of new challanges. Being able to get there early for loading did make everything simpler. We could not have asked for a more effortless and straightforward arrival and load-in. We had plenty of time to bring the booth and set it up. We realized that we needed an additional extension cord for the setup. We had it delivered with some other groceries to the hotel now that having groceries delivered is commonplace. Load out was another story and not a pretty one, but we will think about other possible options at a later date. I would like to avoid sitting in the marshaling yards for two and a half hours, waiting for my time to head back to the convention center to pack the trailer. Speaking of trailers, with all four main conventions under my belt, I now have numbers for how many books I need to bring to these events. I over-packed for IX and Gen Con and under-packed for Pensacon. It is hard to know until you have done it. We sold the most books at GC, but we still brought way too many. I tried hard to get the numbers right for GC, but still over-packed, but now with actual numbers in the books, I can better plan for all future events. One of the main things to come of this is that I believe we can now use a smaller trailer in the future and reduce the amount of stuff we are lugging to and from events. This will save on gas and wear and tear on my back. 

Enough yammering. Here are some images from GC and additional thoughts.

Have trailer, will travel.

Just a few books. We did the math and extrapolated from sales since October to try to bring the correct number of books. It is 55 boxes in total. 33 of the main book, 8 of the stats guide and coloring book, and the remaining deluxe edition. We got sold around 17 total boxes. Which is huge and impressive, but it did leave us with many to bring home. Hopefully, I will be able to better estimate our needs.

On the ground in Indianapolis! All the stuff and all those books are now in the convention center, and I am ready to start setting up.

Jump ahead four hours, give or take, and everything is nearly 100%. You might notice that the farthest light on the left side of the booth is not lit; that is what we needed the extension cord for.

Gratuitous photo of Indianapolis from the skywalk to the hotel.

The crowds await the opening of the first day of Gen Con 2022.

Welcome to the Grand Bazaar!

Never corner a wild Steve Prescott.

I only did two artist proof drawings this year.

Let there be balloons!

Different day and a larger crowd.

Not sure I could do better if I tried. This has been a work in progress for around twelve years, and I think I finally nailed it.

There was no shortage of humans at Gen Con.

Speaking of humans, here is one of our favorites, Ralph Horsley!

And in a blink, it is all over, and the booth is packed up.

Where we began, we end. Thank you to each and every one of you that stopped by the booth this year. It was a joy to finally share the Grand Bazaar with you. And many, many thanks to all of you who have encouraged and supported me in recent years as I have gotten the Grand Bazaar off the ground. I could not have done it without you!

Lastly, here are the artists of the Gen Con art show!

That is all for another exciting Tuesday 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: www.christopherburdett.com

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