After a ten year run, my wife and I decided not to exhibit this year at Phoenix Comic Fest (formally Phoenix Comicon). We're going to miss those of you who plan to attend and were regulars at our booth! At the same time, this year is a big year for some milestones I'm excited to accomplish.
Here's what I'll be focused on instead.
Yes, exhibiting at Phoenix Comic Fest is getting more expensive for everyone. It will continue to do so, perhaps pricing out more and more indie artists as time goes on. But for me, the growing expense was only one part of the consideration.
Most of you know I maintain a full-time job commitment. Exhibiting at cons across the country is not my reality. In view of this, I decided to use resources that would have been put into preparing for and exhibiting at the con back into the business. This means some new hardware, new creative projects, and laying the groundwork for new releases.
Aside from the monetary cost, time is becoming more and more valuable to me. This year, I'm putting more time into developing new skills and expanding my knowledge in two key areas – Kickstarter and Twitch Creative.
Serving our audience
To all of you who have supported our creations at Phoenix Comicon over the years, we can't say thank you enough! You've helped with your great feedback, kind encouragement, and consistent patronage.
After this many years of exhibiting, we know our customers. Most live or have lived in the Phoenix area. Many are young folks or couples with children they're caring for. They have an appreciation for pop culture, but they're just as excited about lesser known, indie creations. We're also proud to know just how imaginative, creative, and hard-working our supporters are.
Listening to our audience is important to me. As an independent artist and tabletop game designer, the items I create are not part of pop culture. I'm not drawing images of Disney characters, anime characters, and famous people to sell. Our supporters value this. And our experiences and conversations over the past three years at Phoenix Comic Fest suggest something important: Many of our supporters are no longer prioritizing this event in favor of other local events which align more with their creative values.
I'll wait to see how this year goes at Phoenix CF. I want to hear perspectives from others. It'll be interesting to hear from our Artist Alley friends this year.
Creating the future
There are additional ways we plan to have in-person time with supporters. Small events like our monthly game nights at Changing Hands in Phoenix are growing. (We're also looking for spaces in Tempe and Northwest Phoenix.) I've also started a series of Doodle School events which have gone really well and been great fun in terms of connecting with people.
The reality is we want to be accessible to our supporters and at the same time invest our resources for long-term success. Can we achieve both of these objectives at big budget pop culture cons? Maybe. Can we learn some things about the value of an event – real and perceived – by stepping back from it? I think so.
In the meantime, I'm in talks with other enterprising creatives in the valley concerning other event opportunities. Perhaps all these conversations will spark something new. ;)
What do you think? Did you attend this event last year? Will you attend Phoenix Comic Fest this year?
(P.S. – I'd like to thank Matt Solberg and the Phoenix Comic Fest staff and volunteers for always treating us with kindness and respect as exhibitors.)