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We are once again in a mad dash to pack up all our stuff for the Gen Con Art Show. A trip to exhibit work at Gen Con is not possible without a lot of advance planning. Simply attending any busy convention can take some preparation (or at least a few tips) especially for new con-goers. I've come up with a few after participating in conventions in some capacity for the better part of two decades. Most of the following tips are specifically for Gen Con, but many apply to any convention.
DOs and DON'Ts at the Gen Con Art Show
Please do:•Talk to the artists. There might be vampires at the convention, but I promise the artists won't bite.
•If you like a particular artist's artwork, strike up a conversation even if you can't or don't plan to buy something. Feel free to ask questions about their work. Artists come to the convention to show their work and interact with people, so they will be happy to talk to you. I know this can be harder than I make it sound. Though I'm used to sitting behind the table, I myself feel bashful when approaching another artist at conventions or art shows.
•Look through stuff! Unless for some particular reason you're asked not to, it's perfectly ok to touch all the stuff on the table–it's there for you to view and buy!
Please don't:•Take photos of booths (or the people sitting at them) without asking. Some artists prefer that their work is not photographed.
•Line up blocking the aisle in front of someone else's table to get to the artist next door.
•Put your bags on top of an artist's table–they don't want their work or product to be damaged.
Paying at the Art ShowGen Con has a payment system that's different from most other conventions. Rather than paying the artist directly at their table, there is a cash register set up for customers in the central area of the Art Show. The system works like this: the artist you're buying from fills out a slip that describes the item you're purchasing and the price. You take that slip up to the cash register and pay. You will receive a copy of the slip stamped "paid" that acts as your receipt and you bring this back to the artist to pick up your item. While this might seem like a hassle, it is helpful in that it allows you to pay with a credit card instead of just cash and the artists don't have to worry about handling plastic or providing change.
Tips for New Attendees:•Buy your tickets/badges in advance. These days, popular cons sell out weeks before the start of the convention. If you're sure you want to go, buy your ticket or badge as soon as possible.
•If you aren't in a rush to get into the show, if you need to buy your ticket the day of the convention (assuming there are any left) it's usually less crowded at the ticket booths later in the afternoon.
•Bring a backpack especially if you're going to buy a lot of stuff!
•Plan to do a lot of walking. And a lot of squeezing between people and navigating crowded aisles.
•Maybe this advice is outdated in the Paypal and credit card age, but when I used to walk a convention floor, I would keep spending money in a separate place from money meant for food and other essentials. This would help me stick to a budget. (Once it's gone, it's gone!) When I used to attend a lot of conventions in high school and college I would carry my spending cash separately in an old brown velcro wallet with a white line drawing of a Cabbage Patch Kid on it for some reason. I wonder what happened to that wallet?
•Eat outside the convention center. Con food=blah. Sorry, conventions! Get better food!
I hope these tips might be of some help. Have a great con, where and whenever it may be!