Mouse Guard artist David Petersen has a very thorough post on a topic that we haven’t seen explored too much, despite its ubiquity: how to exhibit at comics shows if you are a creator. The whole post is full of very solid advice, from where to get an affordable retractable banner to how to get going. Just some common sense real world advice. Two excerpts on vital matters:

-Your best foot forward:

Make your booth approachable and nice as possible. You WANT people to come browse your goods and work, so make it easy for them.Gather your BEST work to display in a portfolio or on the table. This is work that shows off who YOU are…not who you can emulate. Just like a good portfolio shows a clear message and focus, so should your table. Some conventions provide a table covering, but it’s worth the effort to get your own tablecloth (it can set your table apart and even be a design choice depending on color or material) For the tablecloth, fabric can be cheap at the fabric store if you shop smart, but you can also use a flat bed sheet. And if you can manage have 2 table cloths…one goes on the table under your merchandise, the other is draped over the top of your stuff at the end of the night to prevent things from wandering off while everyone else closes down or before the con opens the next morning.

-The right sales approach:
Don’t be a pushy seller. Everyone’s pitch and technique is different and finding your style may come easy or take some trial and error. I advise saying hello and greet everyone who stops by (which also means making eye contact), but don’t go too much further pushing unless they show more interest or ask questions. Think of it as having a conversation with the customer rather than a sales pitch. I hate being hit over the head with a full explanation of someone’s project & all the prices are & what items are which the minute I walk up to them. You should be proud to talk about your work and to take the opportunity to explain it, but you will turn more people off than you attract doing a hard-sell or carnival barking people over to your table.

Much more in the link! Of course, it helps to be as personable as Petersen and have art as paralyzingly charming, but lots of food for thought for all.


  1. If nothing else, David Peterson is a man who can speak expertly on this subject. I’ve seen him at a half-dozen cons and he’s never been anything less than a joy to approach and speak with.

    He is definitely right about freebies, too. I know I still have all the swag I’ve picked up from his tables over the years. It’s a chore to keep track of why I picked up one person’s business card (I try to write notes to myself when I do grab them), but all of Peterson’s is unique and memorable.

  2. Very cool post. I’d just add that you should always have an easy-to-read price-list on display. Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than asking an artist for a sketch and having to awkwardly ask how much they are charging, then having to decline after it’s out of my price range.

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