Supanova problem

Supanova: The Sometimes Toxic Culture of Conventions

Conventions GeekMom
Supanova problem
Image by EG Mum

Editors’ Note: GeekMom writers have been credentialed at (among many others) San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic Con, C2E2, DragonCon, Denver Comic Con, and Boston Comic Con. Some have also been panelists at NYCC and DragonCon.

A wise colleague recently reminded me, “Every Con has at least two levels of ‘culture’; the attendees, and the management.” Most conventions I have been to in Australia are able to balance the fine line between keeping the attendees happy and keeping the management paid. It’s not always perfect; every convention has its strengths and flaws. But when management problems filter through to the attendees, it can sour the whole experience.

Sydney Supernova: Not a Safe Space

I recently attended Sydney Supanova and while I’m pretty sure the following article is going to blacklist me from future Supanova events, for the third year in a row I am in no hurry to return. I love the event as a collective expression of fandom and fascination, but it is marred by the underlying culture behind the scenes.

I love geeky conventions. I love the cosplay, the enthusiasm, the encouragement. It’s about local talent putting themselves out there to catch the eye of the general public. It’s a rare opportunity for ‘out of reach stars’ to be brought to adoring fans and share a little of their humanity. It is a fantastic way to introduce our spawnlings to the creativity behind everything they adore themselves, from writers to artists and actors. And I am grateful for the organisers in providing all of this in a convention like Supanova.

But we’re talking geeky pop-culture. These are conventions within our society, and as such are not immune from contemporary social issues. They are supposed to be safe places to express your passion without hurting yourself or others. And yet for the last three years, Supanova has instead courted controversy like a bad dance partner they either can’t ditch, or don’t want to.

Strike One: 2015 and Adam Baldwin

Two years ago, while in the midst of ‘Gamergate‘, Sydney Supanova invited Adam Baldwin as a guest to complement Nathan Fillion and attract some Fireflies to the convention. Considering Baldwin’s direct involvement in the horrible environment of Gamergate, it was understandable for many regular attendees and returning guests to voice their concerns.

At the time, Supanova management acknowledged but rejected these concerns—instead, they placed ‘Cosplay Is Not Consent’ signs as the deterrent for any bad behavior. There was no acknowledgment of Gamergate as an immediate social issue. In fact, the whole issue was felt by many as being “palmed off” with a (desperate) air of nonchalance. This prompted an outspoken boycott from a number of Australian artists, writers, businesses, and cosplayers, especially after the backlash received for voicing their concerns. Strike one for social insensitivity.

Strike Two: 2016 and Safe Schools Program

Last year, Supanova Head Honcho Daniel Zachariou was publicly linked to a petition against the Australian Safe School program (a program to support anti-bullying behavior and support transgender issues within public schools) because he was afraid of the influence from the LGBTQIA+ community on school kids.

Once again, the geek community questioned the culture endorsed by Supanova management. Supanova responded with a half-arsed attempt at a Diversity panel (you can read all about it in my review from last year). Once again, it was relegated to the “don’t talk about it” folder. Word on the floor was consistent: no-one was happy with the culture or vibe, but no-one really knew what else they could do. The list of boycotts grew. However, Supanova is one of the biggest conventions in Sydney for cosplayers and smaller local artists/creators. You don’t want to willingly blacklist yourself from these events; especially if you are trying to break into the industry as a first-time creator.

Strike two for social insensitivity and lack of enthusiasm to follow through with your claims to change.

Strike Three: Now It’s Personal

This year, I was hesitant to go. After the hassle and interrogation for a media pass last year, I was reluctant to ‘jump through hoops’ again. It was only after contact with a few returning exhibitors and guests, I decided to apply for the media pass.

The exhibitors I spoke with in the lead-up to Supanova expressed concerns about management; predominantly about the changed floor-plan this year (moving the Artists Alley into a second building next door) and the same social issues hanging over from the previous years.

When the floor plan was initially released, the first reaction was “Yay! More space!” However, it was soon realized how this would negatively impact on their participation. Some exhibitors perceived a direct impact on the flow of traffic from the ‘special guests’ and displays to their stalls. They were worried they would be too far removed from the main attractions, and not be able to compete for attention with the ‘big name businesses’ in the Main Area.

On the weekend, the vibe was far from enthusiastic. Many patrons had trouble finding the Artists Alley in the first place. The second building was set up with a stage at one end, sectioned off with a partition before exiting to Artists Alley and the Star Wars 501st display. In theory, attendees would finish a panel at this stage (for example, Chris Hemsworth) and then exit out to the comic book creators and on to the artists. In practice, the attendees easily exited out the same door for entry and were redirected back to huge commercial entities and away from the smaller local artists.

 

From a sales POV, I know one table who usually averages $2,000 on a Saturday and this year made only $700. That covers costs only. Another in the writer’s alley was placed right next to the Stage area but around the corner of the doors. He couldn’t hear what his fans were saying most of the time. He felt completely disconnected and ‘shoved in a corner’. He was one of many who felt like he was considered of less value because he wasn’t a huge commercial entity; despite being an invited guest.

And then there was my experience with the PR of Supanova, which was far from exemplary.

  • Pre-Convention: When I rang to discuss interview requests and general media enquiries, I was reprimanded for not following the email and for disturbing him prior to the event—despite his email saying to call him, and giving me his direct number with no suggestion of “best time to call”. I had presumed normal business hours a few days before the event would be ideal. Instead, I was treated with contempt and then he hung up on me.
  • Arrival: Picking up the media pass on site was smooth and uneventful. However, there was no further information provided regarding rules of the day, who to speak to, interviews to arrange, etc. We attended only one day (as per the allowance last year), and then found out we should have been there all weekend. It is helpful for us to do our job if we can be advised of any updates or additional information, especially since part of our service to readers and event organisers is to share that information.
  • Interviews: I called the media contact, as requested, only to be brushed off and told he would call me back. I waited an hour before trying again, to be told he was busy organising the “real media” and would get back to me. When he attempted to hang up on me again, he missed the big red button and continued to talk to whoever it was with him. His mistake because I overheard him say “some little girl from some little site“.

Wow. Just … wow.

I’ll admit. I was stunned. Clearly, I wasn’t scoring that interview with Temuera Morrison after all. Shame – he at least sounds like a lovely guy.

The first strike against Supanova related to a social issue originating from overseas; it was, unfortunately, easy to think it was not close enough to cause any great problem.

The second strike related to a social issue within our immediate community; however again it was easy to say “at least he apologized and they did try to make the effort with a panel…”

The third strike is personal but also emblematic of overall behavior. If he is saying this about me—how is he treating others? I have since received a few more recounts of their day with Supanova. A number of photographers and videographers were refused entry with their kit. One media representative rejected by staff at the gate asked why and received a derogatory glance up and down her body. Infuriated, this source then fired back “Oh, is it because I am female? Or is it because you know I’m gay?” to which she received the reply “Does it matter?

Now, let me clarify a few things here. Every writer here at GeekMom and GeekDad (and many I know elsewhere) attends every event in a professional capacity. This is our job, our work. And we do it because we know we have readers like you who have passions and interests like us. Despite our fandoms, we are reporters and that requires a level of professionalism.

We go to these events to share information with readers. We go to meet with artists, cosplayers, exhibitors, and find the cool geeky stuff to share with you. We go to these events to encourage others to go as well. It is a job and a relationship. And most of the time: the management teams are professional and respectful.

Making the comment “some little girl” is not just an insult to me but it also brings into question whether this is how the con organizers see all writers who review these events. It makes it sound like only those who are ‘mates’ (nudge nudge, wink wink) with the PR Manager can gain access to the inner sanctum. It gives me the impression I missed something in all of their professional questions on the web page. Some other ‘performing monkey’ task I needed to complete? A secret handshake, perhaps? I know many writers, both Australian and international, who will resent this implication. Resent it with a burning passion. It’s not just sexist; it is downright insulting to our professionalism and our relationship with our readers.

I also know many PR people, in Australia and internationally, who are going to be livid about the negative impact on their profession. There are many hard-working PR staff who are in contact with all levels of media to find out how best to meet your interests. They communicate, they research, they respond, because that’s their jobs. And they are professional and respectful.

This guy just crapped over all of that.

I know I’m not the only one. But right now, I am the only one who is going to speak out. I don’t want this culture oozing out of the management and down onto the show floor. The attendees are better than that. The exhibitors are better than that. The guests are better than that. But there is a pattern in behavior, stretching over three years. Whether or not it is intended, it needs to be addressed before it drags everyone down with it.

And not talking about it, no matter how intimidating this entire process has been… well, that would be to say “it’s okay”. That would be conceding this as the way writers and media and PR work. And I can’t do that. I won’t do that. There is an opportunity for change here. A real opportunity for improvement but first there needs to be some indication they want to change. And a ‘diversity panel’ isn’t going to be enough.

I will miss the cosplay. I will miss the artists and creators and writers. I may even miss some of the guests (that I never really had the chance to meet this time anyway).

I may never be invited back to Supanova. But in the words of someone I respect far more, who would I be if I stayed?

Three strikes. I’m out of there.

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20 thoughts on “Supanova: The Sometimes Toxic Culture of Conventions

  1. Wow! Bits of this are surprising, but then again a lot of it isn’t. I had heard of some bloggers being told they weren’t “press enough” to score a media pass this year when they had in the past, so that is verifying some disappointing news I’d already heard. And yes Supanova management does not have a good track record of being sensitive to diversity, equality and safe environments (and that’s a massive understatement).

    My daughter and I went to Supanova on Saturday only. We go for the cosplay and the artist’s alley. We loved the new layout with more space. Having the outdoor area for cosplayers to wander around and take photos without the crush of the indoor crowds was great. Yes there was a rude volunteer who marched up to my daughter and sternly told her she could not wear her stilts inside when she was nowhere near a doorway, but we put that down to over zealousness. Yes at the “weapons check in” a rude volunteer told us she couldn’t check in her stilts because they were not weapons, but almost immediately a nicer volunteer told us we could because they were part of a cosplay costume that wasn’t allowed to be worn in the halls, so that was reasonable. Thanks! We looked at the map and headed straight to the artist’s area and spent most of our time in there. The extra space and being away from the commercial part was great in our eyes. While we were there (middle of the day Saturday) it was wall to wall people through the whole area, so there was definitely traffic moving through.

    We honestly don’t care much about paying to meet stars, so we skipped all that. We did look around the commercial booths, but we can buy that stuff any time in our local stores or online. There’s no need to get it at Supanova. Even though we came for the cosplay, the competitions weren’t being held until later in the afternoon, and we live about 2 hours drive away, so we went home without seeing them or the panel with Tom Wilson that didn’t start until 5pm. That was a shame but we saw what we wanted to see, bought too much art to fit on our walls, and were totally satisfied.

    On another note, I was considering getting a table or booth to sell comic related merchandise that my business imports from Japan. I looked into both Supanova and Comic Con Sydney. Supanova are very up front and have all the details and prices for stands and tables on their website. I could see clearly the costs and inclusions and they had some good stats on visitor numbers, demographics and traffic I could expect. I had the option of a table in the hall with the artists for AU$550, or a shell scheme stand in the commercial area starting at $1320. Comic Con have very little information on their site. You have to register your interest and wait for a call from an aggressive sales person. They are owned by Reed Fairs who run hundreds of different trade fairs all over the world, and I have dealt with them before with other fairs. They offered me a stand space for $3200 with less inclusions and the stats on their visitor numbers were way down on the numbers at Supanova. While Supanova told me that most of their exhibitors do both shows, Comic Con was aggressive in trying to sway me to do Comic Con only and really bagged out Supanova saying they were a family run operation that wasn’t so interested in profits so they didn’t “understand” the needs of business people like me. That just made me like Supanova more! In the end we didn’t take a stand at either, but if we’d gone ahead I would have gone with Supanova. One of my wholesale customers had a stand at Supanova on the Gold Coast and was very happy with the organisation and his sales up there.

    On the point of sales being down for the people in the artist’s hall, I can totally understand their feelings. We have exhibited at trade shows for nearly 20 years and all anyone talks about is “getting a good location” within the halls of hundreds of exhibitors. Yes you can end up in a dead spot behind a wall sometimes. Yes some buyers will miss an entire hall because of the flow of the foot traffic, lack of entrances etc. This year all the doors on the side of the dome/hall area were open with free flow of people in and out. It was great! You weren’t caught in a bottleneck at the front entrance, or stuck going up and down the aisles searching for a way out – or back in. There could have been bigger signage pointing towards the artists alley entrance, but we had no trouble finding it. As a business person I can say that retail trade is definitely slow at the moment in Australia and although the drop in sales you mentioned is certainly a huge worry for that seller, it may not be totally the responsibility of Supanova’s new layout. We exhibited at a small local con this year and almost every parent with children that walked past our stand was saying, “I promised you ONE thing. You only get to pick one special present today,” and most of them were steering the kids towards lower priced items. It’s times like these I wish I sold pop figures.

    1. Thanks so much for the insight Jen – always appreciate the extra info and discussion!

      I had not heard about the difference in interaction for stallholders between Supanova and Oz Comic Con. I know there have been changes happening for OZCC, and knowing stallholders attending both, I’m looking forward to comparing the experiences at Oz CC later in the year. There is never any reason for aggressive or rude ‘competitiveness’. If it is truly a business transaction, it should be facts and stats alone; if people are interested in personal experiences they should hear it from other stallholders, not competitive management.

      You’re right with the open area for cosplayers to strut their stuff. This space alone was worth it’s weight in gold for many photographers. I was there on Sunday, not Saturday, so maybe it was a different approach (especially with their big drawcard, Chris Hemsworth) but it was definitely a more aggressive vibe from some volunteers that day.

      It is interesting you comment on the sales; speaking to a lot of people over the last week has shown how many attendees are suffering ‘commercial fatigue’. These are supposed to be community conventions. I know space is at a premium, but more interactive stuff with some sharing-and-caring workshops would be great. You want the parents to buy something for the kids? Give the kids something to DO. You want to create a “safe space”? Provide workshops for supevised discussions on how to work together!

      But some of the sales I heard were very Sydney specific. Huge differences between Sydney last year and Sydney this year; larger than normal differences between Perth and Sydney (a week apart). I’m waiting to hear back from a few stallholders at Oz CC this weekend to see if they have similar issues.

    2. I notice your comment regarding hiring stall space for Japanese import goods and was wondering if you have considered funning a stall at SMASH? It’s a Sydney based convention that has a much tighter focus on Japanese related media and culture.

    1. I hear you! It’s not just sexist, it’s an insult to my experience and my professionalism. It is an insult to any person in the same role. I know it’s a geek convention, but it is still a job and we deserve respect.

  2. After my lengthy reply I totally forgot to mention how horrific that “girl” comment was. WTAF? Who does he think he is? Can’t even begin to discuss that one apart from to say, like you did, if their “PR” continues to act like that, they won’t be getting good reviews from the writers, particularly bloggers (that he was too good for) who would be read by a lot of their target audience of geek/comic/cosplay/pop culture fans. I’m shocked that their stand sales people could be so helpful, and then be so let down by their PR person. I’m totally keen to see Oz Comic Con in the new Darling Harbour venue, although I’ve heard the access is not great and it’s all on different levels with escalators and few elevators (which could be difficult for some cosplayers). Even the Oz Comic Con sales guy was having trouble selling me on it after I mentioned I knew people who’d exhibited there when it first opened and had access issues. I was so impressed with the layout at Supernova. Just having those doors all open with access everywhere was such a game changer for me. I was thinking very positively about them making an effort to improve each year, even if they don’t get it right in one go. Then again, after reading your experience they have a lot further to go than I thought. Opening doors and providing more halls is not addressing the issues in the management culture. And yes to more activities! We liked the archery and patting a “real” unicorn, but the line for nerf was too long. A lot of people are bringing their children to these events because true or not, they think comics are for kids. Then they get there and the kids are bored looking at a hall full of stalls that their parents won’t buy them anything from 🙂

    1. I am absolutely in favour of making an effort to improve!! And I am glad to hear Supanova are not downright awful in every field of their business. But it is very hard to muster up enthusiasm in promoting their event when you feel like you are just another performing monkey for them. And believe me when I say, kids notice it too. You and I need to sit down and compare notes after Oz CC!

  3. Incredible article! It’s definitely what I’ll send to people to explain the growing dislike of Nova.

    I’m a cosplayer who just attends for fun and the experience and this article has really made me think. I was already aware of a lot of the things from previous years, but seeing it all laid out like this was what I can only describe as eye opening. While obviously I detest any kind of discrimination, there is a whole new personal level brought to things with homophobia, as I am gay myself (hard to feel comfortable in a community event that doesn’t exactly seem to like people like you). I don’t think I’m quite at the point of boycotting, but I do think I’ll be careful with how I post about it online (ie I used to share their posts I was excited about or post things like “I had an awesome time at Supanova!” but now I’m not so comfortable promoting them like that).

    Thank you for this article! As you mentioned, it’s important to speak out, and hope for change.

    1. Thanks Anilee! I was the same – posting excitement and enthusiasm on social media; seeing the issues raised but questioning how much was true when it was still so generalised; even thinking it was resolved at the sorry… and not following it up myself.

      I’m sorry to say many people need a face, or personal experience, to really kickstart action. It wasn’t until I shared my personal experience that people started talking to me about theirs. When people realised there was someone willing and able to speak up. I know many who don’t feel they can boycott due to work/money or too much attention to themselves. That in itself is indicative of toxic culture. For them, all I can do it bring the issues into the light and talk loud enough for others to hear. Fortunately, GeekMom IS a safe place to have that conversation. 🙂

  4. Agreed with the overall unproffessionalism and rudeness of the staff. We use to run a free gaming area as a service for the convention but after the way our staff were treated last year, they couldn’t pay us to return. We’ll stick with the Oz Comic Con guys. They are at least enthused to have someone make their convention better.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear about this because an interactive play area is EXACTLY what community events like this need. I love the Magic: the Gathering area because it is community building. I wonder if Supanova realise the opportunity they have missed with you leaving. Eitherway, I’ll look for you at Oz Comic Con.

  5. I have been both a Cos-player and a “Small Site” Media representative for Perth Supanova and have encountered exactly the same level of contempt and brushoff, minus the feminine aspect, but I have heard and seen the effects personally.

    Your article is a virtual carbon copy of the reasons why I decided not to attend Supanova this year.

    I shall be avoiding SN from now on. Comicon seems to have a better attitude.

    1. To be completely honest, it really irks me that so many people have shared in this experience. I really wish it wasn’t so because there are some really lovely people who DO work at or with Supanova. But this culture is completely over-riding their hardwork and making it damn right awful for the rest of us. When this happens at ANY convention, it really brings down the experience for everyone.

      Please share your site and cosplay details here. We would love to see more coverage of geek conventions everywhere.

  6. I am really sorry to hear your experiences.
    I have been one of the hard working volunteers at Supanova for about 8 or so years now, doing multiple shows each year, so have a fair understanding than most of what is going on. Though, not being in management, I obviously dont know everything that is going on behind closed doors.

    But, if I may, a few points.

    Yes, Sydney this year was difficult with the layout, but we can only deal with what we have. Sydney is the biggest of the 6 shows each year, and has grown beyond the dome section of Olympic Park. So, as crappy as it may have been traffic wise in the Artist Alley, there really was no alternative. From what I was aware, as much was done to make people aware of where it was, as possible. But there are always teething problems when something new is done. I am sure management has learnt lots, and some things will be done differently.

    The Adam Baldwin thing should have been handled so so so much better. I cant argue with you at all on that point. Except for the fact that the cosplay is not consent banners were around at least a year or so before this happened.

    With no names being mentioned (for obvious reasons), I can only hazard a guess with who your media contact person was, but I am 99% sure who you are talking about.
    He is an archaic dinosaur who really needs to move on. For him, its all about image. I know many people who really hate having to deal with him at the convention, and having contact with is one of the only downsides of volunteering.
    Not much I can say unfortunately, except we all hope that he isnt around for much longer, but cant see that happening soon.

    As for Daniels facebook post. Again, handled badly, but also blown out of proportion. It was something he linked to, on his own private facebook account, that is only available to be seen by people he has added. So yes, we might not agree with his beliefs in that regard, but he also had his own trust violated by the person who then screen shot the post and shared it. I have never seen a single time where Daniels beliefs, have ever impacted the convention any differently.
    Disagreements in ideals and thoughts are chances to open dialogue and educate. Not times to yell over them so they cant be heard.

    I’m sorry that you wont be attending Supanova again. I do understand why you feel this way, and I hope that one day you do feel safe enough to come again.

    1. Well said Nonrude Volunteer,
      Thank you very, very, very much for donating your own time and effort for the good of other people.

    2. Thankyou “Nonrude Volunteer” for joining the conversation. It is great to be able to discuss both sides, and I apologise for not replying earlier (life elsewhere in the EG Lair).

      First up: Thankyou for your contribution to the geek conventions. Many of the volunteers I have encountered are equally (or more) geeky than myself and the other attendees. Your commitment to the event and its passion is always appreciated.

      And thanks for the insight about the layout. The extra space was desperately needed and appreciated. Perhaps this was ‘teething problems’ and if so, then speaking about them will encourage management to find better ways to handle it in future. But this should also encourage communication as a whole because many of the stall holders I spoke to on Sunday were still upset a week afterwards. In contrast, one of the comments above (from Jen) shows great communication with the marketing group. If this is a consistency issue, then I can only expect Supanova to take note from all of this and talk about it more openly next year.

      On the PR person: again, sorry to hear I’m not the only one who has had negative dealings with them. However, if this is CLEARLY an issue without resolution for a long period of time, what hope do any of us have in Supanova changing anything in their management? Be it communication with stall holders, treatment of media staff, dealing with conflict in social affairs. They may seem like individual issues, but they are all treated with the same contempt and ‘brush-off’ as received from the PR person.

      Now, disagreements in ideas are fair and normal in a diverse society; however, Daniel’s comments were about the fear of influence from the LGBTQIA+ community on school children. No matter how hard you try to compartmentalise your life, once comments like that are made they will always ALWAYS be sitting in the mind of attendees, especially from the LGBTQIA+ community. It is this same community who are in such need for a safe zone to feel included in the more general community. And now many of them feel like Daniel (and the whole Supanova PR team) brushed over it like it meant nothing.

      It’s not a question of whether Daniel has allowed his beliefs to impact the convention. It’s that he didn’t even realise what he had done WOULD impact the convention. And without addressing it, without addressing ANY of the issues I mentioned in my article, there is no evidence that he (or the rest of the management team) even want to acknowledge it or learn from it.

      Thanks again for joining the discussion. But it’s not a question of if I feel safe. It’s a question of whether I feel welcome, as an attendee (or media rep) and NOT as a consumer with a wallet. I want to be able to talk about the community feel, the inclusivity. And I just don’t see that anymore.

  7. I agree with this article so much. As someone heavily involved in the Star Wars costume clubs (There were three clubs there, all equally participating in our display – the 501st, the Rebel Legion, and the Mandalorian Mercs) I was surprised to find we were off against the wall in the second hall. Though we had more room for displays, we had far less people than usual come through – and as a result, despite the huge raffles and the world record attempt Friday, we actually raised slightly less money than last year – which was donations alone. It was difficult to get too and from each hall to see my friends working in the main hall, and this year staff refused many of us the option to wear our wristbands on our belts – something that may seem small but when you need to take off all of your arm armor and put it back on each time you leave the hall quickly becomes a lot more than a small nuisance. Supanova is failing in its communication with exhibitors – we didn’t actually get access to our change room till about 4 on the Friday, hours after the convention opened! – and if there were more than two large cons each year that we exhibit at in Sydney, I would be the first to stop attending.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Was the Carrie Fisher in Memoriam wall from you guys? Because that was a beautiful touch for the community.

      I think you have nailed it with your comments: the key is communication, or in this case lack thereof. Some people are stuck on the archaic belief ‘knowledge is power’. That doesn’t work anymore, and definitely not in an event built on community.

      My intent from all of this is for Supanova (and other events) to see what others are saying and take note of the vibe. I would hate to see people like you feel like you are no longer part of it.

  8. I was a first (and last time) artist alley exhibitor promoting my YouTube channel (biggest gamble I’ve ever taken). Lost a lot of money. We were in a corner of The Alley in the ‘Bytes & Backlots’ section. This section was’t actually altogether as intended, whoever made the floor plan buggered up and we were actually spread out.
    If you’ve still got a map of the floor plan, have a look and you’ll see what I mean.
    We were wedged between some people selling cards and another booth selling jewelry (who were meant to be in the Market section).

    BEFORE THE EVENT
    I had some questions (because I was new) to ask, sent off an email to the Nova email, and never heard back. I was surprised they didn’t screen us to check for if we were quality enough for the convention.

    SETTING UP
    When arriving for Bump In it wasn’t clear where to go to collect the Hi-Vis vest and wristbands, where they marked on the map to enter was actually an exit and the security guard (a nice lady, doing her job not blaming her) said I couldn’t come in without the Hi-Vis vest. She was unsure where it was I had to go to get it (again not her fault).

    Certainly won’t be back as an exhibitor (I haven’t got the coin to throw away like that) and probably won’t be back as a paying customer. There’s other conventions popping up now which is great.

    The reason we took out a booth was that most of our audience is overseas and we get hardly any clicks inside Australia so we took a gamble and brought our YouTube channel to the people and tried to sell prints to recover some costs of the booth.

    I never expected to break even, I was always running this at a loss. But I thought I could sell ONE. We didn’t.
    We didn’t sell ANYTHING. Maybe that’s because my art sucks (again we were promoting a channel and not so much the art, also marked it a lot cheaper than the really good artists) but I was really shocked that in the roughly 21 hours of standing there we didn’t sell a thing. Although we did get interest and a lot of people took cards but not a single sale (which knocked me down about 50 pegs).

    My advice for anybody wanting to take out a Nova Artist Alley booth – be prepared to lose all your money.
    I really wish we could have recovered some money only so I could justify going to Adelaide or Brisbane Nova, because we do have some people there who would have loved to come to the booth. But with a all up cost of about $1000 (the booth, insurance, stock, eftpos etc) and $0 return – I can’t justify it.

    Again – we knew it was a gamble – and we lost.

    1. Man! That is awful!! It’s one thing to take a calculated risk, and accept whatever may come. But it is another thing entirely to be hit so hard from miscommunication. Supanova is very popular with artists wanting to use the event to break into new areas, just like yourself. But artists still need consistency in communication to protect THEIR interests.

      This isn’t just Supanova; read some of the above comments and it sounds like this can happen with any event. The line is crossed when we no longer have the original soul of the event. The community. It happens in a lot of areas: take a look at Mordechai’s article about copyright and licensed merchandise.

      Don’t give up just yet! Take a look at some of the smaller events: Wollongong has a very popular and inclusive Con in May or April (one of the prev commenters was there this year). Haven in Mackay (Qld) has also been raved about. GeekDad has produced a few articles about local cons better than big names.

      Good luck!

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