Artist Alley Tips for Your First Con: Part 1 - Before the Show


If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably already know that I attended my first-ever con as an artist alley exhibitor at Long Beach Comic Expo this last February.

What a huge learning experience! While I had so much fun just attending, the most memorable and valuable part was having the opportunity to connect with fellow artists, and gaining insight and feedback on how to improve my experience next time! Seriously, so much love for these awesome artists.

Artist Alley Tips for Comic Conventions Pt.1

In hopes to pay it forward, I’d like to give my fellow first-time con exhibitors some advice to make your first time a worry-free one. 

Permits & Insurance

Although it may seem like a lot to consider for your first time, it’s a necessary evil that you luckily can set and forget.

California Seller’s Permit | Get your California Reseller’s Permit from the main source: the California State Board of Equalization. Everywhere else is a rip-off. Trust me.

Business Liability Insurance | For most cons, you must carry business liability insurance to be selling anything. For LBCE, I needed at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage. That may seem like a lot, there are several affordable small business insurance companies out there. I recommend getting quotes from a couple, and consider your options based on your level of activity for both online and event sales.

Make sure your ducks are in a row for permits, insurance policies and other requirements.

Some conventions will also provide the opportunity to purchase through a preferred vendor. From my experience, the one-time, per-event cost only makes sense if you go to one con a year (they range $250-$750). If you plan on attending multiple cons, I’d recommend going with a monthly year-round plan ($25-$50/mo) from another company.



You’re there to showcase your art, but you also want to have enough relevant artwork for the show. Think about the type of attendees who will be coming to the convention, and do fun pieces for your audience! I researched which movies are pending release and even looked into which celebrities would be attending the event. 


If you’re an over-planner like me, you’re probably wondering, “Wait! How much inventory should I even bring?” Although we all hope to be an instant sensation, it probably isn’t realistic to bring 50 of each of your prints. Take traffic into consideration as well. Is this a small convention? My first con was a small one compared to San Diego Comic-Con or WonderCon, so I knew not to bring too much inventory.

I would plan to have least 20 different art pieces, and about 20 prints of each piece.

At my first con, I brought an inventory count sheet with me so I could tally which prints sold as the weekend progressed. This will give you a better idea which art prints to stock up on and which to bring less of next time. 

Want more con advice? Be on the lookout for my next article: Artist Alley Tips for Your First Con: Part 2 – Planning Your Setup


To read all parts of this blog series: 

June 21, 2017 — Kim Nguyen


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