I'm someone who normally sells at anime conventions, but my art consists of gaming, tabletop, comic, and overall "geeky" content. I traveled from out of state for the con and unfortunately it was not worth it. Artist Alley is situated on the outer edges of the room as far from the entrances as possible, in an L shape that partially borders the large centralized exhibitor section. Plus all of the Artist Alley tables are much smaller and look way shorter than the exhibitors' without any pipe and drape. While there are quite a few people here who like to support small artists, a majority of the traffic is in the exhibitor booths and only occasionally trickles to the outer edges where Artist Alley is. With as many Artist Alley tables as there are here, it really would have benefitted the artists to be put all in one section together, separate from the exhibitors. If we can't be in a different room from the exhibitors, at least have us all in one cohesive section instead of in a weird L shape. It really felt like an effort to push away small artists as much as possible.
Sunday has full hours which is different from other conventions I've attended; however sales were so poor overall that some artists packed up a day early. Personally I just barely broke even, but there were a significant number of artists who didn't even make back the table costs, let alone hotel/travel expenses. An Artist Alley table costed $348.56 with tax, definitely not worth it for the turnout and sales we got.
For those with cars, parking by the center costs $20-25 and the loading dock line is ridiculous, so I'd recommend finding meter parking nearby and wheeling merch in yourself to save time. The meters are two hours max parking and stop charging after 6 pm. For day long parking, there's options at half the cost only two blocks away.
TLDR; I think I would have really enjoyed this convention as an attendee since I love comics, but as a vendor in artist alley, I can only recommend it if you're local or you sell comics.
The artist alley was about 95% comic artists who were only trying to sell their extremely over priced signature to con-goers, and if you wanted to buy anything else, they immediately got pissy. And unless your table is right by the floor entrance, anyone looking for fan art or original art work is going to give up halfway through, because the room is massive. The fact that nearly every vendor was selling the exact same stuff (old comics and over priced anime and hero figures, of course) didn’t help. Honestly, probably not even worth it if you’re a local. The only good th big about this con is that the concessions were affordable. Otherwise, terrible.
I managed to make about a third of my sales from commissions. Most of the people commissioning me had great references, or portfolios for the characters they wanted drawn. (Or the characters were popular enough to have easy to find references.) If you like taking commissions in con, it can be a great opportunity for that.
Our table was close to a wall on the outskirts of the room, and traffic came sporadically. But, it wasn't the worst thing because it gave us a chance to breathe and draw between bursts of sales.
I feel like the layout of the con needed a bit of work, but that was only because they had to fit so much in one room. The tables were also on the small side. It wouldn't be a problem if I was tabling on my own, but it got pretty crowded fitting two of us. Also they didn't have many accessible trash cans for those tabling. We had to take all our trash to the bathrooms.
I have Straight Talk as my phone provider, and my 4G was excellent the entire weekend in spite of the warnings about low signal, so we didn't have any problem making credit card sales.
All in all, I ended up feeling like a good experience for me. There were so many kind and interesting people to meet, and an amazing variety of restaurants and places to enjoy afterward! I haven't decided if I will try having a table here next year, but it is definitely a con I would try again when I'm more prepared!
Yes, it's expensive for out-of-state artists, especially with tables going for $300 a pop. BUT it is so worth it for all the events and people you'll meet there!
I've traveled with friends to this con for over 3 years now, and the people there have such a love and appreciation for artists. An acquaintance of mine was chided by his patrons for his super-low commission rates, and paid him appropriately! Not to say this is the experience everyone has, but it's good to know the con-goers have such heart!
This con boasts many big-names from Marvel, DC, Image, and many other indie comic publishers, so attendance is high. Stan Lee's appearance in the last two years boasted huge crowds and lots of traffic, so big $$$ was made.
I will admit, this year's con was slower than expected, with no Stan Lee and half the usual artists MIA, so between a lot of our friends, it was largely a miss in profits. Lucky for me, I made back my expenses and a little bit more.
That being said, there are many events happening before, during, and after the event. A pre-party BBQ, a Drink and Draw, Art Auction and a huge gathering taking place at the Westin Charlotte Bar and Lobby (definitely a must for budding artists meeting pros), a "Dead Dog Party" (the after-party), and another after-party I haven't time to stick around for. All these events are a plus for those wanting the inside scoop on the comic industry and possibly work for.
TL;DR: Well-worth the time and money!