There are a few projects that I am supposed to be working on this weekend, but I feel like procrastinating…
So I’m writing the blog post that I should have written about my experience at Megacon, to make up for the whiny I’m-so-lame-that-I-duct-taped-my-booth post from last week.
I call this, “procrastinating with purpose”. I’m working, yet not working. =P
After doing the show in Orlando, I learned a great deal about myself, my art, my customers, and the art world in general.
1. People Like My Art.
Well, if you’re reading this post… you probably like me, and my art, and see this as stating the obvious.
But artists are always second-guessing themselves. I do get random sales from strangers on Etsy, and have regular customers at the Westminster Farmer’s Market.
At the local market, I am a small fish in a small pond…
I watch as people pass my booth ~ some ignore me, some stop and browse my table with curious disinterest, and others excitedly pour over my items and gather a handful to purchase.
But all on a relatively small scale.
The Carroll County Farmer’s Market (one of the oldest farmer’s markets in Maryland, active for over 40 years) draws maybe a few hundred people each weekend.
Megacon, on the other hand, draws thousands of die-hard sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fans from all over the eastern US.
I would estimate there were nearly 20,000 people in attendance March 15-17.
If you’ve ever experienced the frenzied zombie crowds on Black Friday at 5AM, the Convention Center reminded me of that chaos…
Um…. Literally. Zombie Crowds.
Some ignored me (….customers, not zombies), some browsed for a few minutes with minimal interest…
And others squealed from across the aisle: “Oh my GOD, it’s a Dr. Who Cat!!! How freaking awesome is that?!”
(Thanks, Mary, for commissioning that piece, by the way. LOL)
The same reactions to my work, on a much larger scale. I was a small fish in a big pool.
But I was noticed, and people liked my art. So I’m doing something right.
2. I Am the Newbie Who Gets Star-struck
The entire cast of Star Trek: TNG was there ~ Patrick Stewart, Jonathon Frakes, Gates McFadden, Will Wheaten, et al ~ signing autographs and getting photos taken with fans.
Although I grew up watching the show religiously, and hung out with Trekkies all my life, even the presence of these television celebrities was eclipsed by the awesome artists that I finally had the opportunity to meet in person.
When Carrie Hawks told a customer that “we’ve been friends for years on Facebook”, I almost fainted.
Okay, let me explain. hehe
When I first toyed with the idea of selling my fire-breathing dragon cat art prints online, I did a Google search for “fantasy cat art”.
And, naturally, the first website to appear was http://fantasycatart.com Duh!
The second website to appear was http://tigerpixie.com (Carrie Hawk’s site)
And if you scroll down the 1st page, you’ll see other links to Carrie’s Etsy shop and Zazzle shop.
She and Google have a special relationship ~ she is ubiquitous. If you look anywhere online for cat art, you will find Carrie Hawks.
We have different styles, but we both paint cats (some of hers even wear costumes)… so after having found someone in my niche who was successful, she became my first guidepost.
I watched her everywhere, not to copy her work, but to understand where she came from and how she ran her business…
She has her hands full, especially as a mother of two human children and many fur-children, including her two recent adoptions ~ Anakin “the two-legged cat” and his foster brother Mika, who is missing his hind feet. She has dozens of adorable YouTube videos posted of these two handsome kitties, as well as a Facebook page for Anakin’s many admirers.
She was completely unaware that she had a newbie stalker… or so I thought. =P
One ordinary day in 2009, I logged into Facebook and found a new friend request: from Carrie.
She… found ME?! Why is she friending me? Does she see me as competition, and want to keep tabs on me?
Or more likely, we had a couple of mutual artist-friends in common, and she noticed my cat avatar…
I didn’t ask, but I accepted the request. And so we became “Facebook friends”.
…And we make small-talk like everyone else.
…And I embarrassed her by rabidly defending her work when Regretsy featured her cardinal cat painting on their Facebook page.
…And I asked her about archival printers (before discovering Jessica Doyle’s blog and Epson review, which led me to another awesome artist and friend)…
Carrie praised her printer, the now-discontinued R2200, which is the predecessor of mine and Jess’.
But never in a million years did I assume that she would remember my name (without my avatar attached), or consider us actual friends.
Until Saturday, when one of my Megacon customers (who coincidentally grew up in my hometown ~ Bowie, MD, and whose brother attended the same grade school that I did. Weird, huh?) mentioned that there was “another cat artist” to Carrie, and she replied,
“Yes, Tara Fly… we’ve been friends on Facebook for years.”
I tried to play it cool, but my inner fan-crush bubbled to the surface to embarrass me. =P
Um… Will Wheaten who?
She was very sweet, and after I confessed that my first show wasn’t fully living up to my expectations, offered sympathy by saying her first show wasn’t a huge success sales-wise either. However, she gained so much valuable experience ~ what to do, and what not to do ~ that she felt better prepared and more successful at future shows.
She was patient as my uncle played paparazzi, continuously taking pictures of her and her family at their table in Artist Alley. LOL
Looking at this from her point of view, it makes me wonder how I would respond if crazy aspiring artists started fawning over me.
I haven’t dealt with any fan-crushes yet! Someday, maybe.
Sometimes life throws an unexpected gut-wrenching twist into your predictable routine, and like the first ice-cold blast of water shooting from the shower faucet – in that instant when your mind is cruelly jarred into alert panic, you realize the water heater is not working….
Then the dread creeps in, frozen fingers tickling your spine, as you contemplate how long you’ll survive without the comfort and convenience of warm water.
Freezing water is just the tip of the iceberg, pun poorly intended.
We take nearly everything in our lives for granted – the things which give us pleasure and amusement, the things which keep us safe and healthy, have all become such an integral part of our environment that we cannot imagine life without them.
We may romanticise life in Colonial America or Regency England, but I doubt whether any of us would survive one week in such primitive conditions, without having a nervous breakdown and subsequent re-evaluation of our priorities.
When we strip all the excess finery away, we’re left with humanity’s basic needs. One of those needs is companionship and social interaction with other human beings.
The greatest technological achievements of mankind were developed specifically to connect people to one another.
Transportation to bridge the gap between towns and families, telecommunication to send messages farther that people could easily travel, and the invention of various appliances meant to ease our workload – presumably so that we would have more time to socialize.
People need people.
Yes, it’s corny… and I cringed writing it, because I can just hear Barbra Streisand’s voice crooning in my head:
“…are the luck-i-est peee-ople…”
(Go ahead, I won’t tell… you know you want to sing it!)
But it’s the truth.
And sadly, people are one of the ‘things’ we tend to value the least.
We get short-tempered with the incompetence of our sales clerk or waitress.. and vise versa.
We belittle our spouses when gossiping with our co-workers… and vise versa.
We lose our patience with our children, our parents and in-laws, our supervisors and “The Man”… and sometimes even wish
We could escape from them all.
We desire a quiet island or mountain-top, to sit and meditate, to commune with our own thoughts.. a place free from those blasted people who dare intrude into our lives and demand our attention.
However ignoring people comes with a heavy price. When you shut people out, it’s like turning off the hot water heater.
You don’t notice anything has changed, until… you turn on the faucet to take a shower.
Then it hits you, the icy frigid water, the lack of heat…
The lack of human company.
Suddenly everyone is… gone.