Three local artists head to Denver Comic Con. Do they walk out with any money?

At face value, Denver Comic Con seems like a no-brainer for artists, but even with more than 100,000 participants, they’re competing for scarce dollars with 700 other exhibitors.

staff photo

At face value, Denver Comic Con seems like a no-brainer for artists. When’s the next time you think more than 100,000 people could walk past something you made? On the other hand, there were over 700 exhibitors this year, including at least 300 local and regional artists.

How do any of these people make money? Let’s follow three of them.

Our contenders

From left, Tanner Padlo, Katy L. Wood and Mary Carman. (Megan Arellano/Denverite) Denver Comic Con 2016, Katy L. Wood, Tanner Padlo, Mary Carmen, Artist Valley

From left, Tanner Padlo, Katy L. Wood and Mary Carman. (Megan Arellano/Denverite)

Tanner Padlo, selling original oil paintings, prints and more

How many conventions have you sold at before? This is my third.
What’s your goal? I’d like to make a couple thousand. I don’t want to say exactly how much because I’m superstitious.
Tell me about your start-up costs: I like to keep costs low. I’m selling out of my uncle’s booth, which was probably expensive, maybe $2,500? But I help him out [in exchange] for a quarter or so of it, so I’m kind of grandfathered in.

Mary Carman, selling prints and sketches

How many conventions have you sold at before? This is my first big one.
What’s your goal? I don’t know, my biggest hope is to break even.
Tell me about your start-up costs: I spent $130 on printing and various display items, $225 for the table and $635 for my hotel room.

Katy L. Wood, selling sketches, cards and buttons

How many conventions have you sold at before? This is my first.
What’s your goal? Networking, working… I’d like to recoup the costs for the table, but I probably won’t.
Tell me about your start-up costs: I probably paid [in addition to the table costs of $225], I want to say somewhere between $250 and $300, just for all the printing and the display stuff.

Friday, mid afternoon

Tanner Padlo
How is it going? Pretty good, I put up an Instagram post and it got like 100 likes in an hour… we’ll see. People mostly browse on Friday.

I’m at Denver Comic Con this weekend. If your here make sure you visit 477! #dcc2016 #denver #starwars #fineart

A photo posted by Tanner Padlo (@tansie_padlo) on

Katy L. Wood 
How is it going? I’m happy having enough of a body of work to fill a table.

Mary Carman
How is it going? So far, people really like the Walking Dead stuff. I’m expecting more tomorrow Some people aren’t going to get here until Saturday.

Saturday afternoon

The crush of people inside the exhibit hall sounds like a roaring human ocean. It takes a full five minutes to walk all the way back to Artist Valley, and I didn’t even get lost this time. This is prime time.

Tanner Padlo
How close are you to your goal? I met my costs this morning, and have made a couple hundred. I’m below my goal, above being broke.
How is your experience different from a normal comic con attendee? Lots of people have been buying me beers this year. I think that should definitely be a thing. 

Katy L. Wood
How close are you to your goal? About 50 percent.
How is your experience different from a normal comic con attendee? I spent three years being a patron, and it’s more exhausting to me [to be a patron.]

Mary Carman
How close are you to your goal? Maybe 11 percent. I don’t think I’ll break even. It it what it is, but I’m getting good experience.
How is your experience different from a normal comic con attendee? It’s nice to have a seat. I get overstimulated sometimes. Plus, I can see a lot more costumes this way.

Sunday

It was a full house on the last day of Denver Comic Con. June 19, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  denver comic con; convention center; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty

It was a full house on the last day of Denver Comic Con. June 19, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Tanner Padlo

How did it go? Feeling tired but happy with the show. I was told many times my work was the best there. True or not, it feels good to draw people in out of the 300 plus other artists.
Did you make your goal? I was just short of my goal. I wanted around a thousand pocketed profit and I landed about 8.5 after cost. I may have follow-up commissions that weren’t included.
Will you be back next year? Next year will be even better.

Katy L. Wood

How did it go? Pretty good. I did make my goal, since it was just paying off the table.
Will you be back next year? Yep.
Anything you’re planning to do differently? Find someone to help me load in so I can bring a bigger display set up to show stuff a bit better. This year, because parking is so expensive at the convention, I parked at I-25 and Broadway and took the train in. But since I’m only one person, I could only take so much with me.

Mary Carman

How did it go? It went okay, I made a lot of really good connections. I didn’t make a lot of money, but from what it sounds like, nobody makes a lot of money their first year. … I even slashed my prices pretty low and still no takers. But they say as you do it, it gets easier.


Mary made about 15 percent to her goal.
Will you be back next year? Yes, I already tried to reserve my table for next year. 
Anything you’re planning to do differently? My game plan next year is to have a lot of small things and have more variety of what I have. … [Also] not to really get my hopes up, and then if I make money, I’m surprised and happy.

 

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