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Nov. 22nd, 2006

I'm generally not big on con reports, but MFF 06 was rather noteworthy in several ways, so I should jot a few things down.

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.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 22nd, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
You have my mind noshing on how to improve your Artist Alley scheduling system. How long do artists generally hang around in the Alley? All day? Four hours at a time? Half a day?
Nov. 22nd, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
It honestly varies. We have some people that are trying to pay for their con and other bills, so they're there from opening to close.

We have some that are there as much for the social experience as the money, and might come in for part of the day... or not at all. Still others will come in for short bursts.
Nov. 22nd, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
Could you, say, sell/reserve space in 2-hour time slots? People who want a half day in the room can reserve two slots, etc. If you charge for space, perhaps there is a price break for buying a full day, etc. Have a "will call" list to fill spaces resulting from no-shows.

Charging a minor fee for the space and fixing a schedule could cut down on the mayhem. People seem to be a bit more responsible when there is a schedule and money (even just a little) involved.
Nov. 22nd, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
My only worry about this is.... it kinda smells like a dealer's room. :/ Part of the reason I'm able to get away with some of the stuff I do is because the room is first come first serve, and no one's guaranteed a space (unless they buy a button).

One of the things that was mentioned to me as annoying by one of the artists that wasn't able to purchase a button was that our button holders were coming in at noon, and kicking people out that had been trying to get in since opening. Their feeling was that if they had to get up early and wait in line, the button holders shouldn't mosey in at their leisure.

And I can see that. It would peeve me too. So.. I don't think having a signup sheet for specific time slots would work terribly well (especially considering we usually have about 70 spots available, keeping track of those on an hourly basis, kicking people out when their time expired ect.... ick.)

Good idea though!
Nov. 22nd, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
You could always release rabid wolverines in the room once every two hours. *grin*
Nov. 22nd, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
Ooh, how about this:

The buttons are labeled per day. (You have a Friday button, a Saturday button, etc.) Or perhaps per half-day. (Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, etc.)

You have x buttons per day/half-day. (X being, say, 50 -- something less than the number of seats in the room.) These are distributed to the first people who come in the morning (and/or afternoon). Or, alternately, a certain number get distributed beforehand to VIPs/pre-reserves, and the rest are first come, first serve. This would prevent pre-reserves from kicking people out who showed up first thing in the morning.

People with no buttons get booted before people with buttons (from any day/slot); after that, people with buttons for the current time slot can take priority over anyone who has a button for a different time slot.

The system would need refining, of course... I'm just brainstorming at the moment.
Nov. 22nd, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
My head swims at the very thought. o_O

Can we define the problem we're trying to solve? I'm not sure what the issue is that needs adjustment...
Nov. 22nd, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to figure out a fair, equitable way to get people in and out of Artist's Alley.

Keeping in mind that I am restricted from doing anything that gives the Alley a semblence of a Dealer's Room (assigned seating, ect).

Knowing how other conventions run their Artist's Alley would be most helpful, actually... so those of you that DO attend other cons (sci fi, furry, anime or whatever), if they have an Alley separate from the dealer's area... how do they do it?
Nov. 22nd, 2006 06:37 pm (UTC)
The only other cons I've been to that have Artist's Alleys have all been first come, first serve... no saving of tables.
Nov. 22nd, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
Hey there, it was good seeing you at the con, even if it was mostly in passing. I'm glad I got to hang out with you and Brendan and the gang on Sunday night.
Nov. 22nd, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
It was wonderful getting to see you! I'm just sorry we didn't have more time to hang out. =) Maybe we'll make it out your way again soon. :)
Nov. 23rd, 2006 03:08 am (UTC)
I Dont know about the daily thing. That will open up a BIG can of worms. We have all the trouble of the weekend badge and add the aggrevation of people having to pay 3 times for each day. I would solve the problem of dorks ambling in at noon and thinking they can just bump people, but I can see folks squalling.

I still like the thought of putting a flag on each table with a number. Folks can pour in and grab a space. They then come and sign in at the desk. When they are done, they return the table number flag to us and we can hand to those outside.

A waiting list sounds like a good idea. Sign up and hang around. When your name comes up you are in. If you arent here when called go to the next spot.

All in all though Genet, I think it went well. We had 2 problems the entire con and that was from Drama Queens. Sunday went well when it was clear who was going to be bumped. Granted I was in the dealers room when most of the bumping occurred on Saturday, but when I was bumping non badge holders things were fairly civil.

We can bat ideas around though later. Brain fried. Need food!
Nov. 23rd, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Hmmmmm
I talked to some of the folks that run Anthrocon's Artist's Alley (which frighteningly enough is about the same size as ours) and... I think I've worked out how we're going to do it.

I'm currently working on revamping some of the rules, I want to talk to our Dealer's folks and discuss with them, but I think people will be pretty happy.

I'll discuss it with you in a non public area. :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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