It was both a very good and a very bad con for me, and I'm still not really recovered. Artist's Alley far surpassed my expectations for usage. I was expecting it to be busy, not to be jam packed.
It was hard. There were easily 100 people in the room at any given time, and managing them, their art supplies, and trying to tactfully deal with all the people that couldn't be bothered to read the rules was both annoying and exhausting. I checked the large board of rules (as well as the conbook) after I had to ask a fursuiter to give up his table, and .... yeah. I guess I need to go through things more thoroughly, clarify with each artist individually, and so forth.
I bounced some good ideas around with tarinfirepelt for 2007, one of which was doing away with the Artist's Alley buttons entirely. I like the buttons. They generate revenue for the con, they're fun, and I had an awesome idea for artist interaction that involved them. On the down side, they generate a lot of stress and headache both for me AND the artists, and some of the button holders really acted inappropriately (I was informed that a button holder was boasting that s/he could kick people out, and two other button holders made me boot people from tables... only to stay an hour, and trashed the table they were sitting at).
I've been looking at the two other major conventions, and how they handle their Artist's Alley... FC's Furry Marketplace, as I understand it, charges $40 for the weekend for space. I'm not clear on how precisely that works, I'll probably contact their coordinator and ask. I know AC does a lotto system which... urgh. Annoying.
The other option is to start selling buttons on a daily basis (at a lower cost). I've resisted this strenuously in the past, because it seems like a lot of work, but... if you're limited to one button for the weekend? Maybe? It would be more fair, cycle people in and out? It would mean more paperwork and more policing, which would mean more staff, which means finding people I can trust to help.
Another unrelated idea was to create a waiting list, and put numbers on the tables... much like a restaurant. When someone 'checks out' of their table, call the next name on the list. If they aren't there, the next person and so on. I like the idea of numbering the tables themselves, because if someone leaves a mess, I know who to yell at... but I can see where having an 'assigned' table would be both annoying to the artist, and would further blur the lines between the Alley and the Dealer's room.
I suppose in the end, I'm the one that has to make these decisions, and stick with them. Every year I have the majority of my artists come tell me how great MFF's Alley is, so I guess ultimately I'm doing something right, I just.. yeah. I don't want to do this forever. This year left a bad taste in my mouth.
There was other things that hurt/were hard. What I thought was a smoke break with a much-loved friend turned out to be something much different. It's been a long time since I had to hold a friend while they wrestled with the tough decisions of life, and it hurt only because I couldn't take their pain away. I wish I could have done more.
The good bits... Friday morning, moryssa let me play dress up in some of her clothes (I still have them, hon. Let me know when you want me to drop them off or whatever)- she had a leather/brocade waist cincher, a lovely maroon blouse, and a black skirt. colliedoc laced me in, and... wow. I wanted to wear the clothes longer, but a) I was afraid of getting them stinky with cigarette smoke and b) I was wearing glaringly white socks that showed through. And the blouse was laying crooked, but... anyway. I had tons of compliments, and it just.. made me feel vibrant and attractive and sexy. So I really want to get my own garb now. I'm not sure if I'm going to need to wait til Faire season, or if I can start peeking around earlier; I'm sure the local rennies will be more than happy to help me find something that suits my body style and gives my bustline a bit more support than the waist cincher did. (I still can't believe Straif got my waist that small. O.o)
I was frazzled and stressed out beyond belief by the end of the con on Sunday, so I'm afraid I cried when Redkam handed me a beautiful drawing she had done as a thank you. I'll scan it ASAP.
I also got a trade from K'Sharra, a badge from Shannon, and various inquiries about doing trades. I met alot of really wonderful people, and saw old friends. It was fun seeing beerhorse again... and some of the things she and Tarin said really struck me as profound. I definately need to make some changes.
To the one gentleman whose name I keep forgetting- email me your information. I'll do that sketch for you.
To everyone else that used the Alley? Thank you. Some of you were real turkeys, but most of you were great to work with. I look forward to seeing you again in 2007.