Photo: Samantha Aronson
What is your name, age and university?
Lauren Costanza (online name: Gummy), 22. I am a recent graduate of FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I've been drawing my entire life, and I've never wanted to be anything but an artist.
Do you think a college degree is important for selling art at conventions?
Really, I think the only thing I learned going to art school that helps me now for conventions is discipline and meeting deadlines. Other than that, it's not really important to have one to be a convention artist.
Describe what sets your art apart from others.
I simply draw what makes me happy. Whenever I draw something self-indulgent and fun, that's when people are drawn to my art the most. The main word I would use to describe my art is light-hearted. There aren't usually any big meanings behind what I make—I just draw things that are cute and simple, and people seem to enjoy it!
What made you decide to sell your art at conventions?
It's something I've wanted to do since high school! But back then I didn't really have the means to, so it was just a dream. It wasn't until my second year of college, [when] my friends and I were talking in class about how fun it would be to table and sell our art together, so we just spur of the moment signed up for a convention. By some miracle, we all got accepted, and I'm so grateful for that because I have no idea if I'd be doing conventions now if we had not gotten that jumpstart of a chance.
Describe the convention process, from getting a table to figuring out how much of each product to buy.
First, you need to be accepted into a conventions artist alley, which, in my opinion, is the hardest part of the entire process. Every convention accepts based on different criteria and you have to be constantly evolving to meet that. Some accept you based on luck, some are first-come-first-serve, but most are juried.
The first thing I do after being accepted is figuring out how I'm getting to the convention, where I'm staying etc. Next, you need to plan out what new merchandise you have to make, and what you need to reorder, then lay out all the deadlines you must meet in order to get all your products on time. Then I need to buy new supplies for tabling like baggies to put my merchandise in, new displays, table decorations, etc.
Next, all expenses must be added up so you know how much you need to make back in order to profit. I make a spreadsheet of all my products so I can keep track of how much I've sold and how much I've made.
About a week before the convention you advertise that you’re going to be there on all your social media, then you pack everything up and head over!
Describe your typical day tabling.
On a typical day tabling, me and my table mate usually arrive early so we can set up and be ready the moment the convention opens. We like to leave extra time in the beforehand so we can also take a walk around the artist alley and talk to the other artists. Once the convention opens it starts slow; I appreciate this time because after this it gets a little hectic. I offer commissions so most of my day I have my hands busy. You also have to do a lot of talking to customers, and that can get quite exhausting by the end of the day, but it's always very fun I enjoy every moment of it. It feels much worse to be at a convention and not be busy the entire time.
How do you pick which prints to sell?
I think the best thing prints to sell are ones with a good concept over anything. If a print has a fun or clever premise, people will be more inclined to buy it, even if they don't particularly care for the art itself.
Any advice for other artists looking to get into conventions?
Work hard and makes lots of art! Don't quit if you get rejected at first. I feel like if I didn't get lucky and get accepted that first time, I would’ve been discouraged and quit. Just keep always improving your portfolio!
Follow Lauren Costanza on Twitter @puffaluficus.
Samantha is a soon to be recent graduate from Fordham University. She is a communications major and creative writing minor. When she isn’t in school or working, she can be found watching Netflix, YouTube, or coming up with ideas for new TV shows.