333 E Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48933
March 20-22, 2015 | Table Cost: $70
We are from a few states away, so even with expenses, the con pulls in a nice profit. People tend to respond to lower cost items. Great place to unload some discounted art and blind print packs.
The staff was very attentive. The chair actually stopping by our booth to make sure everything was okay. I did chat with her in person and she seemed attentive and pleasant.
I didn't find the rules hard to understand as another review suggests. I'm used to stricter cons like Otakon, so maybe that's why I wasn't shocked at all. I clearly mark my fanart. Ratio preferred at this show is 60/40 in favor of original. No banners. No bootleg. It's all fairly standard.
The really nice thing about this show is it's artist first focus. We are the first thing attendees hit before the dealers. That's really refreshing.
I would recommend this show to people who live in the tri-state area. Further if you like to travel. I don't recommend flying yet. But give this show a few more years and I'm sure east and west coast peeps will find it more than worth it.
This is the second year in a row that I have submitted my application on time and haven't even had it reviewed by the staff, who, by the way, will never respond to a single email you ever send. Both me and another artist friend of mine have had this problem, same with messaging them over Facebook. You'll see that your message was read, but it won't get a reply. How nice.
The application process is only open for 24 hours, over the 4th of July weekend, and to make matters worse, instead of opening it in the morning, it opens in the evening, making the actual number of hours you have smaller since by the time you wake up the next morning it's a third of the way done (plus that it's a holiday weekend and many people, myself included, are out of town and have to go out of their way to fit in to short window).
They ensured everyone that it was NOT a first come first served artist alley and that they would review all the portfolios and applications sent in and then choose the best. Sounds good, right? Maybe if they actually did this it would be.
As mentioned, it opened in the evening so I sent mine in the morning. They were kind enough, several days later, to inform me that they didn't even look at what I sent it, they were completely filled up before they even received mine. There were a good 10 out of 24 hours left for registration when I sent mine in- it wasn't like I waited until the last second. So much for carefully reviewing each application and portfolio. Same thing happened last year as well, opened during 4th of July weekend, filled up before looking at all the apps. I understand that they get more than they can accept, but why tell people that it is not first come first served if that is how you are running it? It's only open for 24 hours to begin with, if they say they will review all of them regardless of when they are sent during that time period, they should keep their word.
Maybe this is just what they tell people who they decide to reject, instead of being honest and saying why? Seems like a cop out, and unfair to not let people know what they did wrong so they can fix it next time.. I also doubt that I was rejected based on my portfolio or application, I do many cons in the tri-state area and have a lot of success, both in shows and online. But who knows, if that was the reason, I have no feedback to go by to improve my chances next year.
I understand it was a first year con, but it had staffing problems that were inexcusable given that it was ran and managed by the same exact experienced staff as Shutocon. I will say, the problems were mostly with one person- many of the staff members were friendly and helpful (some seemed a little frazzled and confused like they hadn't been instructed very well on what to do though), however, the biggest problem was how rude and disrespectful the lady in charge of vendors and artists was. Out of three emails sent (in addition to Facebook messages) in the week leading up to the con, she replied to a total of zero.
Once we arrived, it was very very hard to find the person in charge (her) to obtain badges or sign in or anything, and once we did, she denied ever having received any emails and started acting kind of hostile and short tempered. I honestly couldn't even believe someone was speaking to me with the tone and body language that she used.
The next day, when it was time for artists and vendors to set up, the doors to the vendor rooms were locked and we were informed she was the only one with the key. However, she was still asleep up in her room and we had to ask other staff members to go get her! I could not believe that it was past the listed time for set up that morning and she wasn't even awake or anywhere to be found.
At the end of the convention, she went around apologizing to most artists and vendors and offering refunds because of how empty and poorly organized the convention ended up being. Notice I said most- she did not offer this to everyone even though everyone experienced the same convention and same hardships.
Just to touch on the venue, setup etc for other people that might be interested if this con gets held again, I'll do a brief list (keep in mind this was for Random Battle Con, not Shutocon- different convention, same city, same staff).
Awkward setup for vendors and artists:
-Arists were set up in a main room that connected to other rooms (like the gaming room) and thus had to completely pack up every night because it had no way of closing. Was good for getting traffic, but did not have backs of booths up against anything so anyone could walk behind your table at any time.
-Vendors were literally in small coat rooms, which at one point were blocked shut by artist tables and a staff member's chair. Wouldn't have even known they were there if I didn't see people going in- no signs or anything.
-People without badges kept getting in to the convention, made me feel bad for anyone who actually bought one and seemed less secure.
There were a plethora of other small problems I could go in to detail about, but the sheer rudeness and disrespect of the head of vendors/artists was the inexcusable sore thumb.
So it started out with four of them behind the table with their chairs pushed all the way out and they were knocking against my stuff and display. The thing that made me go get security was they were letting people get behind the table that were not AA members. I admit, I should have talked to them first however I was not confident that if I confronted them It would go in a good direction because they were rowdy, high (i could smell the drugs), and knocking into my stuff. The space at one point could only fit me behind the table. My table helper would not have been able to get back with me.
So when I went to get someone to help me, They said they would get security with me. The gentleman who was helping me was busy however ran and did not slow down because I could not keep up because I was sporting a healing broken leg. After taking me across the convention hall and out into the main lobby they found all the security in a bunch. One of them helped me confront them and the other was rather rude to me. The Security, unaware of the fire concerns helped me move my display back to give me more space which is another reason why I was confused when the head of AA had confronted me about having it flushed against the table.
After that the people behind me a half an hour later started letting people come behind the table again. It was like every five minutes I had to turn around and tell people to get out. On Sunday I noticed my display had moved again as well as other things that were tucked safely under the table. Throughout this I kept hearing them talk rudely to customers about me which is unprofessional, uncalled for, and definitely hurt business.
The Head of the AA was rude frequently stopping at my table to call me out on different rules which where not enforced elsewhere, the staff did not enforce rules on displays equally, The staff where sparse and people where back behind the table frequently because of my behind me neighbors. I sent an e-mail after the con addressing all these things and restating what I had already told the AA head in person and I simply got back.
"Thank you for your email."
I'm pretty sure that they will not take my feedback and go forward to improve. I am pretty sure that I might be blacklisted because of being picked on in the alley and noticing that the rules where not equally enforced throughout the alley.
this con needs to
A. Have better and more staffing
B. Debrief their staff on rules in the AA
C. Enforce every rule equally
D. have a printout of all the rules of the alley
E. Be more organized
F. Not treat artists rudely and respect their time and effort to be in the alley.