Conventions are huge. So how do you find where you’ll have most fun on the convention floor?
Most of it is trial and error. But if you are like some of my friends and have no idea where to start I have broken down going to a convention into basic areas so you can find your niche. Of course with anything it is about exploring on your own to get a feel for it but it is always good to have an understanding of what to expect upon arrival.
Artists galore and my oh my are they talented. From meeting your favourite online artists, discovering new ones, looking for inspiration or buying a bulk load of prints, pins and patches this is the place if you wanna get your creativity going.
I try to suss this area out first, find out where my favourites are and see if anything catches my eye that I’d like to buy later. Then I don’t come back till the last day of the convention. It will be quieter the last afternoon so you can get a proper look at all the prints without the crowds and decide if you really do need another pin (yes is the right answer).
“My favourite area is the Artist Alley. Buying and meeting new artists. I Love purchasing and supporting from a local business” – @theodora_hatzis
Some artist alleys are huge and you need to dedicate a whole couple hours to them for example my favourites have been Supanova and Comic Con. Others are smaller as they are still growing as a convention. But just because it is small doesn’t mean to give it a miss! It’s great to give back to the artists, they are your community.
Autographs and photos
This is where you’ll find me lurking. From the celebrities to the fan-girls and everyone in between. This to me is the back bone of the convention, what gets new people through the doors. If you are looking to meet your idol, show off your art work and have a chat here is where to do it. Sure you will have to wait in a line to do so but I believe that is all a part of the experience.
Plus I’ve met some of the friends I have now due to being in line for someone, if you are shy don’t worry, you already have an ice breaker, you both like the same person/show. Remember with the photos you usually only have a minute sometimes less to get in have a photo and go, so try to breath and remember the interaction. Tokens can also be a bit on the expensive side, so grab a photo buddy and you can usually split the price!
Autographs are the place where you can spend a little more time to talk with the guests and spend more time asking any questions or just having a chat. As long as you remember they are just another human and you aren’t best friends. I’ve seen a few people go up and talk as if they’ve known them for years which is okay but when you start spilling every tiny detail of your life it can get a little aca-awkward for the person on the other side of the table. Keep it relevant. Also remember other people are here to see the same person don’t spend half an hour there. I know we all want to talk for hours but it’s about sharing with the community. Let everyone have a few minutes to see their idol, share the time.
For all the gossip, tips and stories behind the set. Here the cast let loose on everything that was happening, tell you why they acted certain ways, how they created this effect, the feel they were going for. You get to ask them the burning questions and learn in the process, while also finding out who the biggest trouble makers on set were.
Panels are usually half an hour to an hour depending on the con. You get to see new content and hear about projects coming up. You can’t film in these areas usually but photos of the cast are allowed. The good thing these days is that a lot of these panels are streamed through-out the weekend so you could be in line somewhere else and watch a panel from your phone. It is nice to at least go to one or two on the weekend as you get to sit and relax with people who all love the same show as you. Probably the strongest area of the convention where you feel the community spirit.
Hello fellow book worms. Want meet your favourite author, find some new reading material and be surrounded by all of the new books on the market. This is the spot for you. If you are keen to drag your books around for an autograph it is worth it. I have my Eragon book signed and it is one of the happiest items I own due to the memories. It’s really interesting to meet the creators behind your favourite stories and ask them questions that may have been dragging you up the wall.
It is also a great way to discover new authors especially ones who aren’t usually in the spot light but have made wonderful fantasy worlds for you to explore.
I’ve found this area to usually be one of the smallest areas but it is usually around where the voice actors and comic artists are. Voice artists usually come and go as they please so pay attention to their board, they will write up the times they come back.
A main attraction and the thing about the conventions I was least prepared for when I started. I wish I had some one to explain to me what it was and that so many people of all ages were going to be dressed as all the characters I had grown to love. I was in awe.
“The cosplayers are my favourite part. Everyone’s so creative and proud of their costumes and they’ve put so much effort into them to become the character.” – @BecMcGee
So prepare yourself. You’ll see whole families dressed to the nine’s, professional cosplayers with moving robotic pieces, costumes that light up, the works. They will be everywhere but the best place to find them is hanging outside the convention taking photos of their hard work. Make sure you ask permission for photos, remember cosplay does not equal consent. That is still a person under the glam. Do not touch their hard work, do not oogle at them like they are a piece of candy, no insults, just all love. Remember they are here to enjoy it as much as you, we are a community so enjoy it all by being respectful.
You know you need that shirt, plushie and sword. Treat yo’ self. You really get anything from soft toys, shirts you can’t get in store, board games, pops, and yes even weapons. The world is your oyster and it is large, or at least as large as your wallet. Again suss it out at the beginning, dwell on it over the weekend and at the end buy what your heart could not give up.
Saving before the con is key here. You can say all you want that you won’t buy anything, this is a lie.
So the next time you are thinking of going to a convention or not I hope you do. They look big and scary from the outside but once you find your groove you make the best memories possible. Also check out my post on planning for a conventions for other helpful tips!