May 20, 2013

Tough Artist Life Decisions AKA Deciding What You REALLY Want to Sell

I’ve talked a bit about Artist Alleys (and have a some more planned in the future!), where I’ve mostly chatted about things you’ll need, and things you can make. For a lot of us who start a table, we have the dreams of doing this as our job for the rest of our lives (maybe even getting something published or out there), so often that first year is a first step of a very long journey.

A long journey that will have many twists, turns, and unexpected successes and failures over the years. To this I am no exception. What I have found is over the years is that things I didn’t always imagine to be popular ended up being some best sellers, and some I had hoped would be popular didn’t pan out as I had wanted.

But that’s okay! That’s part of the adventure of being an artist in an Artist Alley! The best booths are ones who are watching their customers, and looking for what they want (while still keeping your own brand and style with it!).

So what am I getting at here? Well, since I started doing alleys I have made a lot of different products, and my booth has definitely increased in types of products and size. I’ve moved to trying to do art as a full time job thanks to some wonderful coincidences and help from wonderful people.

Which has caused me to re-think my own booth, and my own products. You see, I have an Etsy shop (which coincidentally has been on hiatus for some time due to lack of extra stock I can sell). And I have had to come to a very difficult decision, but I think it’ll be better for me in the long run:

I am going to discontinue making Pokemon Badge Sets en masse.

I know what you’re going to say. “But Karmada! They are good sellers! You make money with them! Money! Real Money! You need to keep making them!”

Which is a very legit argument. I’ll give you guys that. But here’s what you don’t know: I’ve been making these badge sets since 2005. That’s over 7 years of badge making. And now that I’ve moved to doing art full time, I’ve discovered a terrible flaw to this plan…

All I do is make badge sets now.

In fact, I loathe making them. I used to have fun designing them, and coming up with cool packaging and methods of creation. But now, when I look at a batch I have to make, I can’t stand to look at it. It’s such a time sink. It takes me forever due to my lack of desire, and then that just eats more time. When I do have spare time, I think about all the sets I have to make and I stop drawing anything at that point too because I know I have other things I need to be doing (like making sets, or ordering boxes)

I quit my other jobs so I could pursue my comics and sell my artwork and improve my skills so I could make awesome pictures and books and stories to share with people. Instead I am constantly buried in a stream of Resin and Sculpey clay. I haven’t drawn anything in over a week and a half, and the last time I touched my comics was about 2 months ago (as you can see from the dust my webcomics are gathering).

I am no longer able to actually pursue the art I had intended to from the start. And I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of thinking “Oh after this batch I can get back to my comics!” I’m already jumping into the comics game later in life than I should have.

I can still do sets on commission, special orders, but I can no longer do them in batches as I had before. I would like to have my booth survive on my 2-D art and prints, my comics, my books, rather than a gimmicky item like badge sets.

The badge sets were one of those lucky flukes I had for my booth. I had no intention of doing these things forever!

So what’s this post about other than me whining about badges? 

Well, it comes down to deciding what you, as an artist, really want from your booth.

Just because something is popular, if you hate it, you shouldn’t be doing it! It’s so draining being at a job you hate, why would you do that to yourself by making a product that brings you NO JOY whatsoever?

Nobody’s forcing you to make what you do at your booth. So focus on what YOU want to sell, not what everybody tells you to. Your booth is just that. YOURS.

So do what makes you happy, and sell what YOU want to sell!

Because I am of the belief that if you love your products, it’ll show through and then other people will come to love them too! :)



    I'm so glad that you are making this move. Not that I hated the badges or whatever but I want you to be happy with what you are doing. It's something that shows in people's work, whether they know it or not.

    And it's precisely why my friends and I are hesitant to start a booth. We are notoriously bad at doing things we don't want to do (and chafe at some of the alley rules out there since we are a three person team and don't want someone to be allocated to assistant). At this point we don't even know what we want to do.

    I hope that if we do start a booth, we can go at it with this same idea. Thanks for being real.

    1. Thank you for the support! It is a tough decision, and it's even tougher to describe to other people (usually people older than myself) why it's better to stop this product line and focus on doing what I really wanted to do. :)

      On another note...

      I think the hardest part about having a booth is finding something that you enjoy *and* makes money.

      Out of curiosity - your three person team, are you acting as three separate artists, or as a collective, cause then the only difference is possibly in the price of the badges. :) (I have yet to see a convention where an artist badge and a helper badge for a table are different)

      I hope to see you guys in an alley someday! :)