Part One of a Probably Infinite Series
San Japan, in San Antonio, is a brand new anime and Japanese cultural convention--this was its first year. My partner in craft and I had a booth, since it's a quick commute to San Antonio from our place.*
San Japan may be San Antonio's first anime con, but I'm ten years into the practice. And with that experience, San Japan really blew me away! It IS a first year con, which means it's very small. But for a small convention, the business was amazing-- I don't disclose profits here, but Friday and Saturday would have been solid days for an established convention. The customers, many of them new to the scene, were friendly, inquisitive, and very eager to buy. What more can an artist want?
There were NONE of the organizational issues that usually plague beginning operations. The artist's alley (where individual artists, hobbyists or pro, sell, along with non-porfit clubs--think of it like a convention craft show) was very nicely laid out, with big wide aisles for wandering shoppers and lots of room behind tables for artist swag. There were even water ninjas, making sure the artists weren't going thirsty-- and towards the end of the night, a hot rice distributor stocking us all up on vital starches.
The Alley even a had a BETTER location than the dealer's room! Near the reading library, on level ground, in a comfy spot..it was obvious that for San Japan, the alley was big part of the proceedings, not just a grudging afterthought.
The Art Show was, if anything, given TOO much enthusiasm-- a really welcome change from the usual run of things. Settled between the dealer's room and the cosplay photo area, it got fantastic traffic. The layout was open and wheelchair friendly (are you listening, AKon?). Most shocking of all for an old conhorse like me, the auction was held ON TIME with great presenters.**
In short, the only thing keeping San Japan from rivaling Animefest as the artist's con is, well, a lack of artists. The art show was sparse, the alley was small and still not completely full. These things of course happen, but I'm going to be beating the drum for my fellow artists next year-- Come on, folks! Let's all sign on! We've finally got a show that treats us right, so take advantage of it!
There's still room for improvement, because there always is. There's a few issues of space division (i.e., the music/dance booth really really does NOT need to be so near the alley, where artists are trying to converse with customers--please, guys!) and handicap accessibility, especially, needs work. But most of these issues have to do with the city itself, and the con is already making efforts to address these things. In general, it was run with an astounding level of professionalism and friendliness.
If you do comic cons, anime cons, or general fan culture conventions, I absolutely endorse San Japan! If you don't know about selling at such places, but you'd like to find out, check out their blog and website.
See you there next year!
*Keep in mind, all travel time is Rural-Texas-Relevant. "Short" means an hour. "Quick" is under two hours.
**If you aren't part of the con scene, you don't know how awesome this is. Standard joke at an anime con:
"When is the art auction?"
"Oh, it's scheduled for 8 tonight."
"Ok, midnight it is!"
And this is ALWAYS true. For this alone, San Japan rocks my socks.