In my old startup job, I was primarily a designer but on occasion I was sent to booth various events. I was to do the company pitch, give out our swag and offer a free caricature. My trusty co-worker would be pitching abreast and direct them over to me for their portrait. From huge tech conferences (NYC, SF, LA) to non-profit fundraisers and local farmers markets, I had sketched nearly a thousand caricatures simultaneously carrying out conversations and generally charmed the crowds to make their experience memorable. Mom bloggers, health nuts and tech dudes adored me and I made lots of startup friends.
(Random selection of photos from that life...)
Arriving at LAZF, I was confident I could summon my infectious booth babe prowess. I was wrong. It struck me after the first few visitors that this was not going to be as easy and I was feeling oddly vulnerable. Unlike my previous booths, I was representing my collective and artwork I actually cared about (plus, investing my own money).
As a frequent goer of comic-related festivals, I was essentially trying to appeal to myself. A nigh impossible feat as I rarely buy things unless I'm in utter awe or already familiar with the person or product. But sometimes something will inexplicably catch my eye and I needed to be that! Somehow.
As people passed, I tried to find the sweet middle between soliciting and ignoring by throwing smiles and the occasional compliment. An awfully close couple feet away, arty folk flipped through my zines, chuckled some (which warmed my heart), took a free postcard and were on their way (just as I would be).
When people did buy something I quickly got red-faced and a bit too grateful, as though they had just donated blood to my dried up veins. I look back now at my pathetic self in desperate need of pride-coaching from a calm, resolute voice, "Believe in the value of your product! You have awesome art to share, dammit!"
I'll remember to do a mental playback every few minutes next time or have a friend whispering in my ear.
In the end, I definitely came out with my ego a tad brittled (or my soul humbled) and a whole lotta zines unsold (too optimistic). Overall, a learning experience that I can draw from for future booths and I'm thrilled that people took interest at all (next to the amazing Jesse Tise).
Also, for the first time I empathized with my old boss, as crazy as he was. It's hard to put your own idea out there and even harder when the financial risks are considerably higher than a cute, happy zine fest.