Otakon

Baltimore Convention Center
1 W Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
July 24-26, 2015 | Table Cost: $200
(9 votes)
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What people say... 9 Leave your rating
Only do this if you are local
Otakon 2018... I don't know what to say about this one because this is the year a lot of things went wrong. Right off the bat, there was some negative publicity regarding the alt right March that was scheduled on the same weekend as the con. I flew in from the west coast with extremely heavy luggage, and had to lug it around the block because they completely changed the AA entrance from what was specified in the email... There was just a piece of paper taped to the door saying it changed to another street. Staff wearing an otakon T-shirt were completely unhelpful, they didn't know where it changed to either. We finally found it and got in to set up. Artist alley layout was frankly bad, people who paid 1.2k for an unlimited table were placed in the front, the rest of us were placed in the back, with huge gaps in between the rows. Even with a con this size, artist alley somehow looks dead in terms of traffic. They put us in a room with bad layout, and didnt even bother putting anything else in there that might improve traffic like autographs. Vendors room traffic was packed like sardines, meanwhile every 2-3 min, I saw someone stop by my table. Saturday somehow ended up being 13 hours while sunday was 4. I made back my expenses but overall, it was one of my more miserable con tabling experiences.
I don't know if this is the case every year, because it is my first time attending, but it seemed to me it was just a massive cash grab , you pay 1.2k for an unlimited table to get placed in the front but you are out of that amount of money for a lot so profitable con, you pay 400 for a lottery table and get placed in the back, for worse traffic.
August 21, 2018, 1:47 pm
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4
Brutal hours
I actually read the reviews here before i went and thought, well maybe this year will be better! Unfortunately, a lot of what was stated in these reviews rang true - especially about the disorganization and horrible layout. First of all, they kept giving out inconsistent info about EVERYTHING. From the check in area to the hours of the alley, it was a mess. We had to drag our stuff all the way around the building to even get to the right area. The email was totally off and they changed it at the last minute. Same with the hours, on the website and signage in the center it was suppose to open at 11AM on Saturday, but elsewhere they said it was 10AM. So which is it? This made it confusing for the attendees too. And then on Sunday it was suppose to 3PM, but we get an email saying they're "soft-closing" at 2PM, basically not letting anymore people in. As a result the last hour was just DEAD. Like what is even the point of that?!

Don't even get my started on the layout, whoever designed the layout did a half-assed job. The area facing the food hall/washrooms/rest area was completely dead and empty. The hall is way too big for the amount of attendees and it is sad sitting in the dead zone.

Profit-wise, i still did well. But the brutal hours and terrible organization is not really worth it, i make the same at conventions with half the hours. Really don't recommend unless you can put up with their bs.
August 13, 2018, 12:20 pm
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5
Nightmare
After being a veteran Alley Artist for almost a decade, and having been in the AA at Otakon before, I was excited at this prospect of a new location in 2017. I paid for the table, paid for badges, booked the room, took time from work... and found out that there was a 'Printer Error' on their part for my badges, so I never received them and would have to wait to get them at the convention, which messed up the arrival/check-in times for my table. Then they had a quite ableist 'hands-only' policy in regards to your table, supplies, and set-up; you have to carry everything, nothing can be used with wheeled transport. And, if you wanted strangers to handle your delicate merchandise, you had to pay a $100 loading dock fee, or suffer having to cart every single box by hand, which is not friendly for someone with a motor disability.
They have a 50/50 rule on fanart and original art, which, as someone else pointed out, unless you are an established artist with a huge fanbase, just bank on half of your products not selling.
They would not allow the table to be transferred to another artist, or refunded - yet they sell the tables to other people when you tell them they have horrible policies, and keep your funds.
Then I see that they apparently had the alley shut down for part of Saturday due to rain cascading from the ceiling onto tables and even causing a fall for someone.
Poorly handled all around, and I will thankfully never seek out to return to this convention. Bullet dodged.
August 16, 2017, 6:31 pm
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4
first otakon experience
This was my first time selling in the AA at otakon, I split a table with a friend.
I have heard horror stories about the checkin line, and the staff must have taken that into consideration because it was not bad this year at all. I was there before checkin time on Thursday, and waited no more than an hour from when the doors opened, to getting badged. People that came in later on Thursday didnt have a wait at all!
I split a table, but still had to buy a $95 badge. I was able to find a fairly cheap Airb&b within walking distance so that helped.
As far as sales went, they exceeded my expectations. It was my highest grossing con and i only had half a table so i was happy with that. But the hours ARE very long, and just to buy food or drink will require alot of time away from the table so a table helper or friends willing to do food runs is definitely a bonus. (or if you pack everything with you).
I sell mostly traditional original art, and did very well. I did wish there was a little more enforcing of the 50/50 rule but overall it was a tiring but positive experience for me.
August 17, 2016, 1:52 pm
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Has potential but needs work as it moves to DC
This is a show that we have sold at for several years. This year featured a new Artist Alley Staff and with it came a few changes, and some things remained the same. Artist Check in was much smoother and much faster than it has been in recent years, The staggering of stations acted as a regulating mechanism that minimized wait time (At least for us and the time we showed up) Staff engagement once the con was underway was minimal at best, and I don't believe i actually saw any AA staff presence all weekend (this isnt anything particularly new, but it would have been nice for the new staff to come around an introduce themselves so we knew who they were. There are no identifying badges, etc to show who is AA staff) Rule enforcement felt spotty as there were numerous tables in violation of the 50/50 rule and almost no tables appeared to have marked their original/fanart offerings as required in the rules packet, so this was a frustration. Attendance rebounded from last year (2015), but minimally (As of writing this the estimated attendance was 28,000, roughly 2k more) and with it was a minimal increase in revenues. Its recommended to watch this one carefully before committing to sell at because of the move, which could potentially bring about another reduction in attendance. Right now, the alley is too big for the shopping attendance, and this is an attendance that isn't rebounding well.
August 14, 2016, 9:14 pm
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Avoid like the Plague
This is definitely one of the biggest shows in the Baltimore/Washington area, but not much about it recommends. I'm sure it's a good show for vendors, but not recommended for artists, especially not new artists. The overhead is ridiculously high. $200 minimum if you want to sell fan-art (which is practically the only thing that sells at shows like this) and your table cost does not include badges, which add another $80-$100 per person. Add $50 on top of that to use the loading dock, plus food, room, and additional miscellany, and poor placement for the artist alley, and I've heard more stories from artists who failed to break even than artists who profited. Rules state that at least 50% of all tables must be original content, but unless you've already built up a large fanbase, or have something absolutely exceptional, it won't move. Adding to the fun, tables are doled out by lottery, making getting in entirely a matter of luck, especially because the lottery submission period lasts for all of an hour. There are better uses of your time and money.
May 3, 2016, 7:48 pm
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My Favorite Con of the Year and biggest Payout
I've sold here several years now and this is my favorite con of the season. It gets a HUGE turnout, lots of foot traffic, the staff are always helpful and introduce themselves every year and help with the rules and regulations. I like their rigid rules because it helps prevent problems in the alley, like too many people behind tables, and unsafe unstable structures, and it encourages artists to show personal and unique work and not just fan art.

The computer system at the convention center, and the center itself is older and gives them trouble every year, but the staff themselves do all they can to help and make things as easy as possible, but now that it's moving those issues might be rectified.

Otakon is a 3-day con, and day 2 (Saturday) is a VERY VERY long day in the alley. I think last year it was open longer than ever before and we had a 13-hour alley day. If you're tabling with a friend or have someone with you that can help it's great to take shifts so you can get a break, but going solo can be really really hard. (Like I do) But the staff are really helpful and there are always water coolers close by to keep you hydrated.

I always make a lot of money at this con, and I always gets a lot of connections, plus (when I do get a free moment to go to a panel) I always have a lot of fun. This is my favorite and most profitable convention and even though it's moving, I'll keep on following it and applying!
April 6, 2016, 4:23 pm
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A very profitable week of hell
The check-in is ridiculous for the size of the alley. A lot of people (including me) come in Wednesday just to be ready for Thursday's check-in and set up. You to pay for 5 nights in an expensive hotel room instead of 3 just because they can't get people processed in reasonable time.
Staff are helpful, but hindered by a bad system. Hoping the new venue will be better. The current one has a bad layout, is in disrepair and the convention center's staff are rude, unhelpful and clearly don't want us there. The alley's hours are insane, 10-12 hours days on Friday and Saturday, but you do many money late into the evening. Be kind to yourself and be sure to bring a helper.
Anyway, every year I manage to get into the alley, I make more profit than the previous year I was there. It's a very profitable week of hell.
December 9, 2015, 9:50 pm
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It's Otakon.
This show is pretty much mandatory if you live on the east coast. The venue isn't great. They are moving soon so that might improve.
The staff is mostly helpful but disorganized. It takes half the day just to get checked in. They should open up more stations or find a better system.
The layout is terrible. Forget having any space behind you if you have a corner table. This might improve with the venue change.
The show is expensive. Tickets are expensive. Parking is expensive. Hotels are expensive.. Eat in, pack your room with people, and take one car.
The attendance was down this past year.
December 7, 2015, 7:22 am
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