August 12, 2016

Retro Recap: Indy Pop Con 2016

Indy Pop Con 2016 was mostly a blur to me this year for a couple of reasons. I was giving a whole host of instructional panels (one of my favorite things to do!), but more importantly I had literally gotten back from Europe about 3 days before the show. I was super jet-lagged the day I got back, and never had the chance to actually just rest.

My Day of Rest was actually Re-Writing Panels and
Designing Booklets for 14 hours straight.

Word to the wise, this is NOT a smart idea. I think I still managed to teach pretty darn well at all my panels and much fun was had! But I'll talk about that in a little bit. Time for another Retro Recap (mostly because it happened like 2 months ago and I'm super behind in my recaps)!


I had ended up missing last years IPC due to conflicting events, and I had longed to vend at this years show but stuff and timing just didn't end up working out as I had hoped. BUT! I was presented with the opportunity to present make and take workshops all about drawing and artwork, and how could I resist?

I did spend most of my time in a panel room, or behind a booth helping my art pal Tiny T-Rex Studios watch their stuff. (and making buttons on the spot for people!) So I didn't see nearly as much of the show as I'd like but I have my general thoughts on how it went, and my suggestions and feelings on the show!

I am a great dinosaur babysitter.

Click the READ MORE for the rest of the post!


And now all I'm seeing is that I clearly wanted to photograph that trashcan.
NOTE: all my pictures were taken along the beginning of the last day, when attendance was a little less than the busy day of Saturday. It was also the only day I didn't have panels to give!

The hall itself was pretty spacious (they had trimmed it down from years prior), and afforded a lot of aisle space between booths. Also carpet! There was a whole host of a variety of areas - vendors, artist alley, indie game designers, signatures, and the ever present miscellany type booths that I Can't Categorize.

In front of the artists area, there was a small gaming area set up by Mayfair Games, for attendees to play card/board games.

There were a few more tables not pictured here.

The artist alley area was just beyond that, and while it had nice aisles, the odd break up of traffic with the board game area made navigation as an attendee a little difficult. There were a few aisles that people could possibly just miss because they started adjacent to the game area, and it wasn't a natural flow of traffic.

I saw this as almost a fatal flaw in design, as it meant anybody down those aisles was already at a disadvantage. By having the gaming area just in front of it, but not enough of an aisle gap to push attendees across the whole alley, those tables down the center aisles could get missed.

To the left (not pictured) gaming area


This had its pluses and minuses. I'll admit, I had a WONDERFUL time teaching. I love to teach people about art and how to make it! My grumbles were mostly about the behind the scenes stuff - turns out they kind of... didn't list the panels in the program handed out, nor explained exactly what they were.

This year, there were a handful of make and take panels for attendees to go to, however they all had a materials fee associated with it.

I had to turn away a lot of people who wanted to come to my panel because there was not enough signage/information/notification that they'd have to purchase a ticket. Tickets could be ordered ahead of time, but I had no way of actually taking money AT my panel. So I had to send the poor attendees back to registration to buy a separate ticket.

I really enjoy the concept of make and take panels, and would really like to see them become a feature of this particular convention! It's a unique type of thing that I think would really give the show a little extra personality.


As was started last year, they had a Trading Card collection set out specifically for this year. Since I missed last years I wanted to try collecting some cards this time around!

For those who don't know, IPC lets the artists attending the convention draw up images for Trading Cards representing guests, events and otherwise. I think this is a SUPER neat thing to do - and I'd love for more conventions to do it, but there's still some bumps in the execution that I know over time will get ironed out.

I managed to get 20 some of them this year!

The cards themselves are kind of a mystery where they are at. Which promotes conversation and community, but sometimes the cards were obscurely hidden they were almost impossible to find. Also the number of cards available seems to vary depending on the popularity of that guest - more "popular" guests will have more cards made in general.

Also, another thing is the distribution. You can't always tell when a booth has a card - unless you get up close and see down on the table. I'd love to see them make little standee signs that artists and booths can put on their display indicating a card was there. I get the "mystery" of it, but by Sunday, we're all tired.

And now for the TL;DR part of the post!


I love the Indianapolis Convention Center. It's so nice, and spacious, and kind of feels like home to me at this point. The main halls are really great too.

+Carpet in Dealer Hall.
Yes PLEASE. I loved the fact they still put out carpet in the aisles of the show. It does wonders for my feet (ACEN I'm looking at you), and I'm not hobbled by the end of the weekend.

Oh my gosh yes. The aisles here were pretty wide (probably intending for more traffic) but it's nice not being 8 feet away from somebody looking across at you. Cuts down on my minor claustrophobia too.

+Pleasant Crowds.
From my experience with the attendees, everybody seemed pretty chill? I didn't get run over a lot, so that's a plus.


-Program Problems.
I was a little perturbed that the program was kind of just... missing all the make and take panels, and I know we had settled on them all months prior to the show. It made me a little grumbly, and nervous because I hate confrontation and I hated having to turn away students.

-Low Attendance?
Maybe it was the location, maybe it was the fact it was on Father's Day weekend, I dunno. It felt like there weren't as many people as I thought would show up? I managed to have a lot of people in my panels, which was good, but I worried about the artists and vendors.

-Not the best Dealer Hall Layout?
I know that layouts are tough. So I know there's only so much that can be done, but I did find some areas that were kind of blocked/dead ended and did not encourage the walking path of attendees. I liked that there was the gaming area, but it prevented a lot of traffic and possibly cut sales of a lot of people unintentionally.

-Crowds Still Confused
I loved the crowds, don't get me wrong, but much akin to the first year, attendees don't seem to understand what a convention is. Like, they feel like they've paid the entry fee, why does everything else still cost money? Things like art, panels, signatures. This creates a very low flow of cash for all vending in the hall (vendors, artists, and guests).


~Clean Up Sign Up Process.
As somebody who wants to do more panels in the future, let alone artist alleys, I beg of you. Please clean up your sign up process for panels. Panels are done through attendee voting on Reddit. No. Just... stahp. Get somebody to vet the panels.

~Organize Communication.
Speaking on behalf of friends who were trying to participate in the trading card drawings, please stop using the facebook group as the main contact for everything from artist alley, to panels, etc. Use the emails I know y'all have. Maybe I'm old and curmudgeonly, but I really like email. It's very businessey. And I can keep records SO MUCH BETTER.

~Decide What You Want Your Show To Be
I feel like Pop Con has a whole lot of things it wants to be, so tries them all out, but in the chaos a lot of it gets lost. If you want to have more YouTube/Twitch guests, you need to find a way to tone down or make all signatures free in a way. I passed by the Internet Guests (free signing) where they'd be swarmed by attendees, but passed by freaking NOLAN NORTH looking forlorn because nobody was in line because autographs were $30.

I love Indy Pop Con, and I love the enthusiasm of the creators and staff. It draws a lovely family crowd as well as some of the more Hardcore convention crowd. But I encourage the convention to try to make all their offerings on a similar level, or have very blantant advertising of what exactly attendees should be expecting at the show (cosplay contests, signings, costs of panels) to prevent a disgruntled set of guests and/or attendees.


Yeah! I happen to be fortunate and know a few people in the area of Indianapolis that will allow me to borrow a couch, so I'm not out hotel fees.

Would I recommend it for long traveling artists without that benefit? Possibly not. It is going through some growing pains, so having vendors is good, but don't necessarily expect to be a moneybags when you leave. This is a great show to help get advertised and make connections.

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