Since 2011, the American Library Association has hosted an Artist Alley as part of their Annual Conference. Located on the exhibits floor with numerous publishers and library vendors, the Artist Alley is hosted by ALA’s Graphic Novel and Comics Round Table, ALA members who are fans and advocates of comics! They are now accepting applications for this year’s conference, to be held in Chicago, June 26-29, 2020.

What’s required? Fill out the form located here. Follow the instructions copied below. If you’re selected, your payment for the table is a piece of original art, which is part of ALA’s scholarship auction. (You’ll need to send in a rough sketch with the application. If you are accepted, a finished piece is required.)

American Library Association scholarship art auction
A selection of the donated artwork for the scholarship auction, ALA-Anaheim 2012

Who should apply? Well, as with any convention or trade show, you should know your audience. Here, it’s librarians of all sorts, about 18,000 in attendance! Some are Big Fans, others are librarians searching for titles for their patrons, which can range from pre-Kindergarten to adult. (Most librarians know that graphic novels are popular; they want to discover more amazing stories!)

This is like most Artist Alleys: you can sell your own books (as long it isn’t “adult material”), artwork, prints…as well as hand out freebies. Some librarians aren’t there to buy (lugging a suitcase or shipping a box home is not always worth the time and effort), so a free download or webcomic URL helps.

Ideally, your books are available via the book trade. Librarians have purchasing budgets, and usually they purchase items via an approved vendor such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor. Super-ideally, you have a book due to-be or just published, and your publisher has a booth at the conference where you can do a creator signing. (Perhaps, you have titles at multiple publishers, and can do multiple signings!)

Wonder who has attended in the past? Click this link for a listing of annual posts from Yours Truly! Lots of amazing talent!

Full Disclosure: I have been attending this conference since 2010. I have been a member of the American Library Association since 2018, and currently serve on the GNCRT Conference Planning Committee. I have no input into the selection of creators for Artist Alley.

The fine print:

Artist Alley includes the best from all genres. Past exhibitors have included many of today’s leading artists, illustrators and creators of comics, games, graphic novels, and books, showcasing original artwork. 

Located on the Exhibit Floor, included with Exhibit Space:

  • One skirted table
  • Two Chairs
  • Backwall Drape in a carpeted area
  • ID Sign
  • Two Exhibitor Badges 

To participate:

Participants provide ALA with an original piece of donated artwork to be used in the Artist Alley Silent Auction in exchange for a free table exhibit space. All submissions are reviewed and entries will be notified in April. 

Submissions are Now Open!  Submit your Artist Alley application.

Participants will provide ALA with a framed original piece 8×10 or 11×17 of art on canvas or cardstock (by the applying artist) that is library, reading, literacy themed or appropriate in a library setting to be used in the Artist Alley Silent Auction. The Silent Auction raises funds for ALA scholarships and grants. 

Participants may not submit if they have previously participated for three or more consecutive years with at least two years since they have last participated. Note that there is no table sharing unless the work is a verified collaboration, this will be decided on a case by case basis.

Artist Alley is limited to 30 participants. Those not selected can participate in a paid space consisting of a 4′ skirted table in the Artist Alley area for a discounted rate. These additional paid spaces are limited.

NOTE: ALL SUBMISSIONS WILL BE REVIEWED. Art deemed to contain adult material will not be accepted. Submission does not guarantee a table.