Saturday, 7 July 2012

The fanart trap

It is really hard to sell an original idea. There is no doubt about that, even mainstream comic companies know that, thats why all these movies are being made of old stories and characters.

But remember Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man and all the rest were original ideas once too.

We are sitting at minicomi, a small one day comic festival (mostly manga/anime), at our table trying to sell our original ideas, art and comics.
Across from us is a table selling 13x19 prints for $5 more than us of My Little Pony and various animes I'm unfamiliar with.
Beside us is some Princess Mononoke fanart, down the aisle is Zelda and some Adventure Time and Pokemon plushies.
Table after table is people making a profit off of other peoples ideas, hard work, and imagination.

It makes it even harder to sell an original idea, when you are surrounded by the familiar.

What we also see are some tables trying to sell their original ideas by selling fanart at the same time, this is what we call the "fanart trap".

Often these are artists that have been trying for a long time to sell their original ideas, or were fanart artists before and have a new original concept.
These people have often thought that they could gain an audience or fanbase by having familiar characters peppered in their displays. They very often have been struggling to make a profit for a long time and just sold out, or they are too afraid to jump in all the way.
Admittedly, with the right audience in the right time and the right place, this can work, but the reality is that most of the time all those ingredients just dont come together.

Once you go down that path it is hard to get out, this is why its a trap. People tend to get addicted to the sales at the end of the day and forget that their original story or characters are still ignored, hidden and lonely.

Having an original story or idea is only 1/2 the battle, most artists and business owners spend more time marketting and pushing their ideas than they do working on them. A sad fact for sure, but I asure you its true.

The only real way to get yourself known for your ideas is to make sure that your ideas and your face are what are out there. Yes, it is harder, but it is also much more rewarding down the road and you wont have to dig yourself out of the trap.

I find it very annoying to hear someone at a table with fanart and their original stuff, complaining that no one looks at their original stuff. DUH! You've distracted them with pop culture, familiarity and memories.
It's your own fault.

Im not trying to preach about the immorality and disrespect of selling fanart, what I want to convey is that its not an easy money making solution. It will make things harder for you, and its already hard enough.

For everyone who is trying to sell their original stuff, dont give up, dont sell out, and keep pushing yourself!
Your original idea today could be the next generations super fandom and immortality will be yours!

Some advice, pick your conventions wisely, research and see which ones enforce fanart rules and which dont.
Most larger corporate ones will be stricter on those policies, as they are a business. Though the corporate ones do have a lot of official mainstream stuff, stick to artists alley.
If you are in the greater Vancouver area, Vancaf was a great original artists con.
Vancouver Comiccon is surprisingly good for that as well, its small and bi-monthly, but you can earn back your table cost easy.

Minicomi is very fanart heavy, as most anime cons are because Japan is more fanart tolerant.
You can go, just remember what your competing with and dont let them sway you or discourage you to falling into "the trap".
If you have a strong anime style, obviously an anime con is where you want to be, but its going to be easier to sell a generic obvious anime image than a generic slightly anime influence image, so keep those kinds of things in mind.
In some cases it may be better to be an attendee and just hand out postcards advertising your stuff than trying to sell at a table. Make sure they are graphical and clearly show your style.

The last peice of advice is to join your local comics community. Connect with other original creators, art jam with them and form bonds.

Create on!

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