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Little disappointing but still solid!
My first year was 2019, so I can't compare it to previous years. Not much to say- it's established, staff know what they're doing, it's in a nice venue (with a starbucks!), and it has a high attendance! That said, it's a pricey area, and sales were good but not fantastic (for me at least). Also some artists ended up in a MUCH darker area than the main area under this layout, which didn't look... ideal. Still, if you're in the midwest and do well at anime cons (and maybe can find a way to cut costs one way or another), I'd say it's a go!
July 23, 2019, 2:41 pm
2018 was great.
Thought i would give an updated review since they've made some changes. It was my first year vending there and they moved the AA to hall D which was very accessible from the lobby. You literally walk in to the convention, head straight and voila you're at the AA, super easy to find. There was a good amount of people around and I did very well on all 3 days, even better than Anime Boston and that is one of my better cons. I loveeeed the hours of the hall, it went from 10am - 6:30pm and that was perfect, there was time to hang out and eat diner afterwards without feeling like a trainwreck.
May 28, 2018, 9:13 am
Only complaint is that there were barely any space behind us, made it hard to move around especially if you're not on a corner table, but i was lucky and got a corner so it wasn't bad.
Sorta of Meh
It's a good con but unless you specifically have a good fanbase, it can be hard to make a high "profit" especially if you're coming in from a different state. Lots and lots of artists so people might not even realize that you're there at all! This means, of course, that one section of AA will get higher traffic than another and people will often look through with their eyes only on one side of the row rather than both at the same time.
May 23, 2016, 5:32 pm
Getting badges was a /hassle/ for me. For con artists who are also panelists, I'm sure you had similar issues (I didn't get my badges until Friday morning because of how panel system and exhibition system aren't crossed together to see which artist was a panelist and therefore had a comped badge). If you're coming for Acen's AA, you might want to just pay the money instead of panelling in the future even if you enjoy panelling. It's just not worth the trouble.
My main issues with this con was that 1. there was no easy entrance and exit for artists. You can exit AA near the restaurant (Expoteria?) but you can't GET BACK IN from that side (so you have to literally do the whole roundabout to get in). 2. Tables (depending on which side of the row you are on) were placed directly underneath lights so some tables had wonderful lighting and others had a lot of shadows. My table had a good amount of shadows so our prints were pretty dark. Only items (like our buttons) placed flat on the table looked as bright as they are.
Mm, profit wise? I think people can do an overall of "okay" but not much. Unless you have a variety of things (and even then, sometimes it just doesn't really matter), you might not have a hot selling. I've done the same amount in a day at ACEN with more wares as one day in a local university con in Chicago with less wares. I recommend starting artists (and those who are looking for just a chill con with less costs) to consider other cons before trying out for ACEN's AA because the price of $130 dollars for a table is a little high if we're considering how it only costed $65 a year ago.
But of course, I think everyone should try it once! Just don't expect it to be an AA that will give you an extremely huge return (mostly due to the size of the con and the number of artists as well!! )
P.S Attendance was great!! But oddly enough, it felt as if most people attending didn't drop by ACEN's AA at all? I think I saw more fandom cosplayers at shoots/gatherings than I ever did behind my table all three days.
Swiss Army Artist
So.... Cool con but there's a lot of flaws.
My few experiences with their artist alley have been special. Staff that don't work in the vendor hall or artist alley are pretty amazing! (Well, except security but that's a different post) Otherwise.... Not so great. The staff have no problem just bowling through people and knocking them over. I think the placement of the artist alley itself is good but if you're in a weird spot in the layout.... good luck making any money. I've done their artist alley and their vendor hall both a few times and it was kind of always a hot mess. Getting badges is an adventure every year. They are NEVER ready during setup and sometimes not even the next morning. We made an okay profit but not when you consider the headache of actually doing the con. Its a fun con but its not the greatest for doing business. I won't recommend it but if you have a loyal fan base and they can actually find you there its worth a shot.
December 9, 2015, 10:33 pm
Best Show of the Year
The AA is traditionally located between industry booths and the greater Dealer's Hall area, which means traffic has to go through the Alley to get to Dealer's. This makes for an especially high-traffic convention and it has always been my highest-selling convention of the year. Layout is generally good, but the last few years had some major issues with pillars being directly in front of or behind tables, which is not acceptable.
December 6, 2015, 8:49 pm
Tables are 8x2' long.
Unload can be tricky as artists are not granted use of the loading docks (it's a dealer-only perk). It requires use of the circle drive at the main convention center entrance, but cars aren't allowed to stay parked there. I come with a table helper to unload and load so I unload to the curb and my partner drives off to park; I'm not sure how feasible it would be for a single person.
Staff has always been helpful and the DH seems to genuinely care about the artists. As of 2015 ACen has started using convention center security inside the con center and keeping its own security force to the hotel.