Ever since Geeks OUT announced an exhibitor lottery for this year’s FlameCon, LGBTQ+ creators have consistently expressed concern over the pitfalls of such a system. In the midst of that, lottery-chosen creators have reached out to each other on social media in order to foster a sense of community ahead of the two-day August event. FlameCon guest Jen Bartel also announced a special opportunity: a mentorship program to help less-established artists develop successful exhibitor practices.
“I’m a professional illustrator and comic artist, and my career really took off when I started tabling at conventions in 2016,” Bartel wrote in a statement on her website. “When I was invited to FlameCon as a guest this year, I began to think about ways that I could give back to help other artists succeed, and I decided that this community driven show was the perfect convention to launch a mentorship program. I’d like to share the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained over the past few years with newcomers—my hope is that it will help foster a culture of sharing information and that the artists I work with will pass on what they learn to others.”
— Jen Bartel – WonderCon C-02 (@heyjenbartel) March 1, 2019
Bartel will review applications with the help of White Squirrel founder Andrea Demonakos, who previously served as VanCAF Festival Director and Emerald City Comicon Director of Digital Content, among other positions. Together, Bartel and Demonakos will select two artists who have been approved for half-tables through the FlameCon lottery.
Bartel will cover the costs of a full table for the two artists to share, which will be placed right next to Bartel’s in artist alley. Not only will this give them immediate access to Bartel and Demonakos for help throughout the con, but it will surely drive foot traffic; Bartel is certainly a draw for FlameCon attendees, and lines for her table will give people plenty of time to explore tables nearby.
In addition to covering table costs, Bartel will also cover cost of promotional materials, chat with the artists individually to iron out their FlameCon goals, then work with them to come up with merchandising plans. She will also provide assistance with table display and pricing, as well as additional guidance along the way. The mentorship will run from April through August.
Applications are open through March 20. To apply, visit Bartel’s website.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bustle, The Mary Sue, SheKnows, The Tempest, Rogues Portal, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is also the co-creator of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat women and non-binary creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Rhode Island with her partner and cats.