For the past several years, I have noticed the proliferation of Fan Art booths and tables at conventions. My buddy Dean and I call them the "Wall of Prints" booths. Fan Art is artwork based off of popular characters from pop culture. I have seen dome absolutely outstanding work from seasoned professionals all the way down to amateur beginners. Just for the record, I have nothing against fan art. I put my kids through private school and college with fan art.
The concern I have with these "Wall of Prints" guys is some of their business practices. I seen and talked to some of them and they are very professional. Others however, seem to have no concern for the artwork, or even the artists themselves. They just seem to be selling 11x17 sheets of paper, 4 for $20.
What really is annoying to me is the fans that buy these images are there for the comic con experience. They have a limited amount of money to spend and they decide to buy 4 prints of their favorite characters for $20. Good Deal! Now they have these four sheets of paper, no backing boards, no bags, not even a rubber band. They have to now navigate a crowded dealer room and convention, without damaging their prints. I imagine they will get back home with their damaged prints. I wonder how many of them will buy artwork again at a con. I find it very annoying, but that may just be a personal pet peeve.
I may not agree with some of these guy's business practices, but it doesn't mean I'm against them. Far from it! I think everyone has a right to do business as they please, as long as they stay within the limits of the law. I'd just like you to consider these suggestions when contemplating buying not only Fan Art, but any art at a convention.
1. Is the person selling the work the artist who created the work?
2. Are they pleasant and friendly?
3. Is their booth well planned, or does it look like it was thrown together for a flea market?
4. Can you transport the artwork without the risk of damage?
5. Are you compelled by the artwork itself, or the character it portrays?
6. Is the artwork worth the purchase price to you personally?
The purchasing of artwork is a very personal and subjective experience. Every one has wonderfully different tastes. This is what makes a free market where everyone competes. When you see a booth with artwork at a con, consider these suggestions as you are looking. They may even help you take home some artwork, which is always a good thing!