October 29, 2011

Convention Advice: How to get the most out of your Convention Experience

Also Known As: How to keep yourself from getting burnt out and/or disappointed

Most conventions are big, noisy, full of people and chaotic.

Okay, well, maybe it's just the ones I've been to - but I'm okay with that kind of atmosphere. When you get a room full of nerds about anything, it's like an EXPLOSION of creativity, gushing, and the sudden realization of the fact that you are indeed NOT the only person who likes this stuff. 

It can cause you get EXTREMELY overwhelmed sometimes. Or excited. Or perhaps act in ways you didn't think you could or normally would.


Is that how you really want to remember your convention experience? HARDLY.

There are other things going on at the con that just running around like a kid in a candy store (despite the fact that at some conventions, you may actually BE in a candy store).

Most conventions will have: Panels, Entertainment, Dealer Hall, Artist's Alley, Autograph Signings, Contests, Photoshoots, and possibly more! I'll explain what these are later. probably in another post.


I gotta bring stuff for this? What? Really?

Yes. Really. You'll be glad you did! (and all your friends will probably want to borrow some of them to help them plan too!)

Things you'll want to have on hand:
  • Highlighter (preferably 2 or more colors)
  • Pencil (to write on your schedule/booklet)
  • Permanent Marker (if you want things signed - just in case the autographee's pen dies)


Let's be realistic in our expectations

There is so much to see and do at conventions, but only 3-4 days to do it in. 

The first thing you need to get your hands on is a schedule and a list of guests. Most conventions will have a website - check there first! If their website is lacking - it's time to delve into the forums. Sometimes they'll require you to sign up to see items, but most don't bother with that. Look for topics like "Guests" or "Events", or possibly a search feature.

...it shouldn't be that difficult to find a list of guests or events, but some conventions are not as diligent with their websites as we would like. This is usually because those running the convention also have real life 40 hour a week jobs.

ANYWAY, I digress! Check the list of guests. See if there are any of them you'd be particularly interested in meeting/seeing/etc. If not, don't worry! There's still a lot to do at the convention.

Next, get your hands on a schedule. This could be tricky. Depending on your convention, you may see a schedule out weeks in advance or you might see it two days before you leave. Regardless, you'll want to find a copy of it.

Now, take out your lightest color of highlighter (probably yellow), and start highlighting the titles of panels, shows, entertainment, photoshoots that interest you.

Don't highlight the ENTIRE schedule. It will defeat the point of the exercise.

There's a good chance that you'll have panels that overlap, or ones that are too close to each other to get to effectively, or perhaps fall at times you're not there. Now is when the hard part comes in: deciding which panels are the ones you REALLY want to go to.


At this point, you've chosen all the items on your "if I had a time turner in real life and could be in two places at once, what would I go to" list. Unfortunately some of them overlap, or are inconvenient to go to.

From this list, you need to figure out what are your ABSOLUTE must-sees. This is very hard to do. Because now you have to determine where you want to be when.

Here's some tips on determining what to do/see:

  • Give yourself at least half an hour before and after panels or events for traveling time, waiting time, getting lost time. (You will get lost. I still do!)
  • For bigger/more popular events - Masquerade, Rave, Autograph Signings, you'll need to allot even MORE time to travel and wait. Sometimes you have to wait in line multiple hours ahead of time - check the forums for advice, or if you're lucky they'll do ticket distribution for big events.
  • Double-check the location of all your events - are they near each other, or are they all the way across the convention center in another hotel? Make sure you're realistic in your walking ability. 

Use one of the other colors of highlighters if you have one - mark the ones you really want to see. This will illuminate them on your schedule and make it much easier to know where you'll be next!


You will not be able to do EVERYTHING you've ever desired at a convention. It's just a fact. These things happen, and the best you can do is to roll with the punches!

I like lists. So here's a list on how to keep yourself from dying/being disappointed/annoying your friends:

  1. Do NOT overschedule yourself. It's tempting to book yourself back to back to back of panels, workshops, events, and the like, but DON'T. You need "me" time. You need times to eat. You need to sleep, and you need to rest and clean up.

  2. If you do not make it into a panel or event you really wanted to - take mental notes on why. Did you arrive too late? Did you have the wrong time? Was it overly popular and you had no idea? Conventions are not out to get you, and they're certainly not out to exempt people because they "don't like them." or purposely put large panels in small rooms. Conventions will be just as surprised as you are when that upcoming fansub panel has 200 people trying to get into a 50 person room.

    Use this information when going to your next event/panel. Alter your schedule to react to the convention atmosphere. The convention will not change itself to match your schedule!

    You can also let the convention know on their feedback boards on what panels or events might need larger rooms! They should be able to take stock in that for next year, and alter themselves accordingly.

  3. Traveling in a group? Be aware of other's schedules. Let's say you're carpooling. Your ride needs to leave at 4 pm on Sunday to drop you off and make it home at a decent time. It's probably not a very good idea to plan on going to a panel that's at 3 pm, Sunday afternoon. Ask your carpool about attending said panel - see what they think (they might want to go to it too, so then BONUS for you!).

    Just be courteous to those you are traveling with. Besides - being courteous will ALWAYS get you bonus points in a group.

  4. Check the forums ahead of time. This is mainly for things like cosplay gatherings, meetings, finding new people and the like. You might find that there's a group going as "really obscure series XYZ" and you would have had no idea unless you checked there. It's not a requirement, but it's certainly helpful. You'll meet a lot of new people that way too!

I hope this has been helpful! Check back in case I add/change anything. Do you have any good advice on scheduling? POST IT HERE! I love feedback.

October 28, 2011

This is why we do what we do.

Brief interlude y'all!

I was poking around CNN, and came across a lovely little article that actually talks about serious costuming and cosplay and how much wear and tear costumes get.

If you want to read, it's here: The Price of an Awesome Costume

Anyway, in the article they have some quotes from some apparently very famous costumers/cosplayers, and one really stuck out to me:

I don't even know how I would make that. But because I don't know how I'm going to make it, I'm going to make it.
- Yaya Han, in regards to making a Vampire Hunter D Camilla costume

Because seriously, this is actually what goes through our heads. Okay well maybe mine.

But then again, I love learning how to make bizarre stuff.


October 27, 2011

Convention Advice: Living with Other People

How to Survive Living with Other People for a Weekend
Also known as: How not to kill your friends.

Chances are likely that if you are going to a convention you are PROBABLY going to be sharing a room with other people. If you're like me, you like having your space, and not having to share it with 5 other people. Here's some helpful advice on co-habitating with others for a few days.

You will be one of two people: either the coordinator or attendee. Coordinator is the person who reserved the room, and the attendees are people who are staying in the room (other than the coordinator).


Are you intending to stay with other people? Then you should TALK to them about where to stay. Often, smaller conventions will have ONE hotel to choose from, so that makes it easy. Larger ones will have multiple blocks.

Chat where you think the best place to stay would be, and be frank about room costs. Don't sugar coat it. Let them know what they're getting into so they aren't surprised. As long as everybody comes to a consensus nobody gets complaining rights because you all agreed on it.


I don't care how many times I have to say it. DO NOT OVERFILL YOUR HOTEL ROOM. And by overfill I mean 7+ people. It's enticing to see that you'd only be paying $12 a night, but you pay in other ways: No Space, Bad Sleep, putting up with 7+ people. Sure you all like each other now, but after 2 days of stepping over everybody's crap, a fight's bound to break out.

It's also illegal. If a hotel finds you overfilling your room, they can technically toss you out. No refund. It's a FIRE HAZARD.

Just....don't do it. Please. 


Paying ahead of time, what? Yes. With the advent of things like PayPal (where you can send direct money gifts), there's no reason why people can't pay their share to the coordinator ahead of time. 

I find this the easiest way to coordinate and attend, because then I won't have to shake anybody down for cash when they're there, and everything's been paid for so I don't have to worry!

If you cannot pay ahead of time, PAY WHEN YOU ARRIVE. Don't wait till the end, don't hold onto it in your bag. You will be tempted to spend that money, and then you're all out of luck when the coordinator has to shell out an extra $150 for your blunder. You'll most likely NOT be invited on the next trip either. 


Arriving is a very important time, because you can't check into your room until the person who has reserved a room is present. Try to keep in contact with the coordinator to when you will arrive so they're not confused, waiting, or totally miss you when they get there.

It's just a nice courtesy to know when everybody is expecting to show up.


If you're very comfortable with each other you can share bed space. If there are a lot of you in the room who don't like touching others, then rotate who's using the beds which day.

Don't whine so you're the only person who steals the bed EVERY NIGHT while the others sleep on the floor (Unless they're obstinate and insist on sleeping on the floor each night, some people dig that.)

Clothing. Dear lord. Please. I don't care if you go to sleep in some lacy teddy every night, DON'T BRING IT TO THE CON. Be respectful of your friends and dress modestly when you sleep. Wear covering sleep shirts and sleep pants. Not everybody is a comfortable with their bodies as you may be.

Also covered under this category - be mindful of how much and when people need sleep. Some people go to bed at 10 (I crash out at this time because I work all day), while some don't sleep until 2. Try not to blare the TV or Computers when somebody else is trying to sleep. Same goes for waking up.

However, if you are somebody with very (non medical) specific sleep needs, be aware you WILL need to compromise a little bit so everybody survives, and if this bothers you too much you may need to get a room yourself.


When the guests arrive to the room, gently try to allot space so each person is represented. They may have their own food, their own costumes, and their own toiletries. Let them get their space, and be respectful of others.

Side note: Don't steal the entire countertop for yourself. I know it's tempting if you're the only cosplayer in the room, but the others need to brush their teeth too.

If you all have your own little "home" area, you'll be a lot more comfortable sharing space with others.



Heck you don't even have to eat at the same time the entire weekend. Just because you're sharing a space doesn't mean you all have to go out to McDonald's at the same time. 

Feel free to plan a night when you all go out for pizza, but don't expect everybody to do the same thing the entire weekend of the convention. 

Also: Don't steal your friends food, unless they tell you something is "free game". It's just common courtesy.

When I travel with groups of people, everybody brings something to donate to the room's "food supply" to give that "party atmosphere". It's very fun and interesting to see what people bring with them from all over.



Much like food, everybody goes to cons for different reasons. Some like to see panels, some go to workshops, others like the dancing and entertainment. Regardless of what you like to do, be aware that you may not always be accompanied by all your roommates.

Be able to entertain yourself. Read your maps, keep cellphone numbers on hand, and don't be afraid to go to the panel nobody else wanted to.


There is a good chance you'll all be leaving at the same time on Sunday or Monday depending on how you've planned your trip.

As a guest, it's a smart idea the night before you leave to pack as much as you can, and only leave out what you absolutely need on the last day. This is so when you're packing up to leave and check out, you can all vacate the room before checkout time has passed (usually 12:00 noon, but the earlier the better - and smaller lines).

If you all leave at the same time, you can utilize a cart much better by putting as many peoples things on them as possible and making multiple trips all at once. More hands = more stuff that can be carried!


Going to a convention shouldn't be an emotionally taxing experience. You're there to have fun, see panels, shop and the like. All it takes is a little compromise and courtesy. Just because you do something one way doesn't mean everybody does it that way.

Treat others how you want to be treated and you'll have great friends to travel with, and people will definitely be more apt to invite you to further events as well.

October 25, 2011

Convention Advice: How Much Money Should I Bring?


I cannot count how many times I see this on forums. I know there are a lot of people new to the convention scene and possibly traveling on their own, and are intimidated by wild numbers they hear through the internet. Well, it really doesn't have to be that scary or unaffordable. There are a lot of ways to cut down on cost, as well as getting a better grip on what you plan to take with you.

What I will show you today is how to determine the MINIMUM amount of money you should have to allot for a convention. Here is the equation I use - I am a math nerd, and I apologize for that RIGHT NOW.

$Hotel Room + $Parking + $Ticket + ($6 x # Meals/Day x #Days) + $Gas

For veterans, this is pretty easy to figure out. But what if you're new? What does all this mean?

$Hotel Room
Cost of Hotel Room

What is your room rate? Are you sharing a room with other people? Are you only there one evening? There are a lot of factors in how much it will cost you to stay at the convention hotel of your choice. I will tell you right now - sharing a room is a lot more accommodating to your pockets than staying alone.

Things you'll need to know:

  • Check the CONVENTION website to find their special rates. Each convention is different. A lot of them will arrange "discounted" rates for their attendees. The website for the convention should have a link to lodging, and will give you instructions on getting said discount. Follow directions accordingly.
  • Hotels charge a much higher tax rate than you may expect. Sure the convention site says $89.00 a night, but once you tack on a 13% hotel tax, that goes up to $100.57 a night. I always estimate at least 15% before I budget if I can go to that particular hotel. When you reserve the hotel tax rate will appear on the confirmation.
  • Factor in the tax rate when splitting hotel charges. It is NOT up to the person making the reservations to pay all the taxes. That's not fair to them. And above all, be HONEST to your fellow roommates about the cost.

Cost of Parking

Believe it or not, parking is not typically free at conventions. The hotel you are staying at as well the convention center's website (and if it's a really diligent con, they'll have this info on their own site too), should have information on where you can park your vehicle. Rates will vary from hotel, city or center, so check ahead of time.

If all else fails, budget $20 per day for parking if you are driving by yourself. $10 a day if you are carpooling.

If it ends up being less, then woohoo! More for you to spend on other things.

Why did I put this in here? Well it shouldn't be up to the driver of the carpool to have to foot the bill for parking. You're all using the vehicle's space, it's only polite to help pay for it's storage. Don't take advantage of your friends.

Cost of Convention Badge

More often than not, you'll have this taken care of ahead of time. Pre-registering for conventions is the BEST thing you can do, regardless of the event. It will be cheaper, lines faster, and often times you can pick up your ticket the DAY BEFORE the event starts to make the most of your money.

This is part of the equation if you have to buy your ticket AT-CON, and if you ever have to estimate how much you spend on conventions later.

A convention's website will have the ticket prices listed. 

Picking your ticket up AT-CON? No matter if you are getting a full weekend badge, or a single day - Get there EARLY. Please.

$6 x #Meals/Day x #Days
What you should expect to spend on food

Food? I have to worry about FOOD?

Yes. Man cannot survive on pop and pocky alone. While annoying to have to shell out cash (and usually more than you like) for meals, it's a necessary evil of conventions.

Many centers and conventions will be near local fast-food type places (or if you're lucky, have food courts), and smaller restaurants nearby. You may only eat 2 meals a day, but plan for at least 3. This way you'll never be that sad poor convention goer who looks like death warmed over begging for a sip of ramune.

To cut down on this cost bring your own non-perishables. Things like granola bars, small 100-calorie bags of cookies, bottled water (which can be refilled at drinking fountains for FREE), bread, peanut butter, and so on. Anything you can easily store in your room for quick meals to give you energy. Prevents you from living on Burger King all weekend. Good for your heart, too.

REMEMBER - multiply the daily food amount by the NUMBER OF DAYS you will be traveling. This includes the day arriving and the day leaving. You have to eat those days too!

(Sorry I forgot that part of the equation - it has been edited to reflect the PROPER amount)

Cost of Gas (A.K.A. be nice to your carpool)

I'm gonna say it again. Don't take advantage of your roommates. If you're all sharing a car (bless you for not bringing giant props!), it's polite to contribute to the cost of gas for the entire trip. There and back. (Unless you're driving with a different person back, then pay them some of the money too).

You can make this an arbitrary number like $20, if you're not sure. What I'd do is contact the person who is driving to give you an estimate on how much gas might cost. Find out how many people are going, divide the total by that many people.

This is much easier when the driver has been to said convention before and would have a solid estimate on the cost.

But what if I want to shop in the vendor hall? Artist's alley?

Everything Else
What you are willing to spend?

This is a very hazy area. Spending money will vary from person to person. Do you visit many conventions or is this the only one you visit?

If you visit a lot of conventions in the same area, you'll find a lot of the same vendors at each show. So shopping is a little easier (and often times you'll find on their websites/facebook pages where they'll be next).

What if you've never been, or never get to go and this is your ONE CHANCE?! 

Well, here's some basic costs of items I've found:

Dealer Hall
  • Manga $8-$10
  • DVDs $20
  • DVD sets $35-$65+ (depends on size/age/out of print)
  • Artbooks $20-$75+
  • Candy $4 per bag/box
  • Smaller items - $5-$15
  • Small Figures (Including blind box) - $5-$15

Artist's Alley
This will vary from each convention, but here are the averages I've noticed in working there:
  • Buttons $3
  • Charms $3-$5
  • Bookmarks $2-$3
  • Prints - Small $3-$5
  • Prints - Medium $5-$10
  • Prints - Large $10-$15
  • Earrings $10 pair
  • Handmade (Crochet, Sewing, etc) $10-$25+
  • Commissions - Varies per artist. Check for their particular rates (pencil, ink, color)
Prices will of course vary per con, demographics of attendees, and the area it's in. The best thing you can do is plan ahead of time - you will have more time to save money for your trip, and you won't be caught empty handed when you find that figure of Sailor Moon you've been aching for forever.

And remember, a convention is not about how much cash you can spend in 3 hours. Go see panels, visit the entertainment, view the artwork, and admire the costumes. There are game rooms, contests, shows, you name it. EXPERIENCE IT.

October 24, 2011

What time is it? CONVENTION TIME!

Last year it was OVER 9000!!!

If you've been following me here on the blog - you'll know that Youmacon approaches. It's probably the second biggest show I visit all year, and it's kind of got a special place in my heart.

SO, while I toil away at finishing a LOVELY commission (and hopefully finishing my own outfits), I wanted to make a small "guide" on how to plan and experience conventions. I'll probably put it up on my website at some point (once I get time to update that), but I wanted to start it here.

Every couple of days, check back and I'll have a new posting on "How to Convention".



October 19, 2011

Off the Grid

So I have this bad habit.

I will drop off the grid for a few weeks. I might only reachable by email (and sometimes AIM).

I'll stop posting on all my sites - my own, Deviant Art, Tumblr, Livejournal and the like. I'll forget to update my Crash Bang Facebook page...

It's not even a conscious choice! I'll just get so focused on whatever's coming up, or what I'm working on (like in this case commissions and con prep) that I'll just plain forget the internet exists.

That's right folks, even in this day and age, I can forget that there's an internet.

There's something to be said about being connected and overly available 24-7. I find it exhausting after a while - trying to keep up with all the status posts, journal posts, art posts, and the like - and sometimes I just need to hunker down, focus and recharge.

I actually have like 3-4 posts in draft form I could put up here, but they're just not done yet. I have to edit them a little bit.

So really, this is a longwinded apology of "THIS IS WHY I HAVEN'T POSTED PLEASE DON'T HATE ME."

Also can be translated as: "October is one of my busiest months!"

I'll be back soon with some fun pics - I just gotta finish some projects first!

October 6, 2011

Adventures in Charms

A convention approaches! That's right, Youmacon is coming up, and while I'm working on a splendid commission this month for it (pictures coming soon!), I also need to make more products. So, some of my own costumes might get put by the wayside (I plan to have them for Anime Crossroads anyway), since I would like to have more things in my booth. :)

So I have ventured into the world of ShrinkyDink Cellphone charms. To expand my amount of items I can offer to congoers.

I chose charms because:

a.) I like cell phone charms (I have a ton on my phone)

b.) I can use the pictures for all sorts of things - pins, badges, etc!

c.) Depending on what I make I could make charms of various sizes for other things! I like using stuff in multiple ways.

Here's the finished (test) product:

It's Tear from Tales of the Abyss!

Not too bad, I must say for my very first try. Yes, I did actually draw the picture too. Found some inkjet printing ShrinkyDink paper, which was weird to work with - I'll have a tutorial later? Maybe? Is anybody interested in this process?

Each piece is also covered in a clear coat of spray lacquer so they should in theory be waterproof. Testing comes tonight! Mwahahaha. Poor Tear.

Since it seemed to work, I definitely want to make more. I am clearly making the Tales of the Abyss cast - but are there any other characters/series that people would want to see? Just let me know!