In my last article, I talked about prepping for your first convention, specifically about banners and getting prints made of your work. This week I’ll talk about various table display stands. This will definitely be more of a “learn from my mistakes” sort of article, so I hope you get something out of it.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TABLE DISPLAYS TO USE?
If you plan to go to many conventions, the best table display stands would be one that is portable, portable, portable. Did I mention they should be portable? No? Ok. Make sure they’re portable.
BOOK DISPLAY STANDS (THAT ARE PORTABLE)
I made a lot of little “mistakes” when I started doing conventions. Nothing detrimental to getting my comic out there, but little enough where I had to spend more money later to correct them all. (like the banner I mentioned last week.)
I initially bought some very big, very rigid book display stands that could be on a table or mounted on a wall, much like what you see at a doctor’s office. They worked great and each one held five books that I used as my backup supply to replenish the books that were sold lying flat on the table. The problem was they took up a significant chunk of space inside my travel bin. They looked and functioned great, but they were just too big to pack.
I now use these smaller displays that I can stack together, and they take up a fraction of the space in my travel bin. There are other types that are foldable so you can save even more space.
Do you even need to use book displays? No, not at all, but much like having a very tall vertical banner behind you to get peoples attention from a distance, having the books shown upright will help bring these people closer to your table.
One other tip: Buy a generic designed banner that you can hang your artwork from. Use magnets on the front and back to keep the art in place. I saw another comic artist do this and it was a brilliant idea to get your work vertical in peoples faces. (edit: what I mean by “generic banner” is something that doesn’t have your name or your characters on it. It could be a solid color or some abstract art going on. It’s something that you won’t mind covering up with your artwork when you attach that artwork to the banner using magnets.)
You will soon realize that one 6 or 8 foot table is simply not big enough to show all of your work. Sooner or later you’ll need to go vertical. I’ve only recently started using these Wire Storage Cubes, and you’ll find a lot of convention artists use these. They are fantastic and break down into manageable pieces that you can store in your travel bin. The big sell is you can configure them numerous different ways. They don’t have to be just cubes. I have the top part higher like a wall so I can display my Demotivational Posters.
MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCT DISPLAY STANDS
You don’t even need to buy the displays if you’re handy, you can make them yourself! I couldn’t find a display online that fit my needs with my goblin balls, so I just made it. All this is is scrap wood with a slot in the base to fit pegboard wood, and a glued shim on the back to allow me to put a sign in it. I then spray painted it black. The only thing I had to buy was the hangers. (Incidentally, goblin balls are an item that is sold at the restaurant that my main character, Frik, works at. Here they’re bubble gum, in the comic it’s what you think they are.)
One other display that I had made was a standee of the Keeper Of The Ketchup. He’s a supporting character in my comic and I wanted to tie him into my overall table layout. One of the things he loves to do in the comic is “share his wisdom”, so I created 50 different graphics with various sayings, almost all entirely not very helpful for those actually seeking wisdom, and created a random script that would pull one graphic up when you scanned in the QR code he was holding.
For reasons I’m still uncertain of, this really didn’t go over well. I only used him for three conventions, and I think I can count on one hand how many times the QR code was scanned by people. I guess I just didn’t sell it enough or the speech bubble saying “Let me share my wisdom!” was too vague, so people didn’t try it out. In either case, I no longer use him because I had to free up space for my wire cubes so I could sell my Demotivational Posters.
One thing you will find is that table layout is constantly fluid. You have to adapt to fit your needs, and you have to adjust what works and what doesn’t from one convention to the next.
Incidentally, as I was looking for images to use for this article, I ran across the example of one of the 50 pieces of wisdom that the KOTK gave with the QR code. This image was a test image sent to me from a friend so I could make sure the alignment was right. This made me laugh given how I mentioned this experiment was more or less a failure. Looks like the KOTK actually gave me wisdom all along and I just didn’t realize it at the time!
In my next article I will discuss things like handouts and business cards and whether you should invest in them, so please come back. Thanks for reading!
Prepping for your first convention – Display Stands by Todd Tevlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.