My first Designer Con was a blast! I reached a brand new audience and it felt like they got what I was selling without much explanation. My books sold out at 3pm the first day!
I visited Designer Con last year as an attendee after attending CTN. It was a very exploratory trip all around. Here are a few thoughts I had about DCon for those who were thinking of attending or boothing.
The people who come here are overwhelmingly seeking the B Side. Back when we used to buy cassette tapes the hits would all go on the A Side, and the alt stuff would be on the B Side. Fans appreciated even the B Side while the mainstream embraced the A Side. Now that may sound disingenuous to all boothing, but this is the location to come to discover, not to see what's already out there. DCon is the collector's dream, and I saw people drop hundreds of dollars on products. Compared to Anime conventions, where kids find it hard to part with their allowance, this place was very adult, and very catered to specific niches across the board. Art I've never even seen before had long lines attached to them. Their booths were practically empty an hour later.
When I go to a convention, you can usually read the floor and tell by the majority of the artists there what genre they're catering their art to look like. So, Anime Conventions, Comic Conventions, and shows like CTN have you can see what the King of the Hill is and all minions point their swords to the top. But, at most of these cons, you'll see about 10% of artists show something refreshing and different. Those artists stop me in my tracks. Those artists get me to double take. What's great is THAT 10% for me is a different 10% for someone else...so lots of Artists can get noticed and appreciated by pockets of the public.
I found I had to explain very little to this crowd. These hunters are keen on finding what is was they didn't know they were looking for.
So some things I learned at DCon:
1. Japanese Soft Vinyl is the hotness. The vinyl has a slightly soft feel, and the craftsmanship was exquisite. Kaiju and heroes hand painted with colorful gradients, patterns, and sometimes hollowed out with chunks of colorful vinyl bits inside. Those were the chasers.
2. DCon is growing, and the expansion of the Halls felt much needed. I was in the new Hall C, not much traffic was visible in the first few hours, but then the rush came after people trickled through the other Halls. The lighting in Hall C wasn't as great so next time I'll bring some lighting fixtures. As it got dark outside the tall windows that fed in sunlight fed in darkness, and the chandeliers above cast spot lights not on my booth. I'll be better prepared next time.
3. Lots of CTN people on Sunday. Just like what I did last year, I saw what I needed to see the first two days at CTN so I went to DCon. Sunday brought in the casual crowd, not the hardcore that would buy up everything day 1.
4. Sales were good, actually. For my first time there, it will be a nice bar for me to try to beat next year. But I found what I was looking for, most of all, ...distribution. I am mainly looking for vendor partners and distribution channels. So I got to meet a few owners who were looking to stock their stores with unique products. Mostly what drew people to the booth was my wall of stickers.
5. Prints didn't seem to sell well here. I sold a handful, but not my normal amount. People mostly went for the stickers/books/originals. I didn't see many people carrying tubes like at other cons either. Mostly carrying big boxes.
6. D Con is eclectic. All over the place. Some Kaiju Sofubi Japanese Vinyl, wood based sculptures, lots of lapel pins, some plush, lots of custom figures, a large variety of soft line products, gig poster like screens, ...it is somewhat confusing. In other conventions these many of these exhibitors would be kind of fringe outsiders, but here, it seems they found their home.
So in summary, if you'd like to experience what it is like to chase something, come to D Con, the Collector's paradise.