Dos and Don’ts for Meeting Creators/Artists at Cons

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

It can be intimidating to meet creators/artists/comics talent at cons, especially if you don’t quite know what the protocol is. Here is our guide to make sure you have the best time (and interactions) at a con!

DO treat them like people. It can be intimidating to meet creators of the work you respect, but they are regular (hopefully nice) people. So you can say hi, tell them what their work has meant to you, etc. But you shouldn’t touch anyone without their permission, or in any other way treat them as if you own their bodies or their space.

DON’T take pictures without asking. This applies to both the people and their products. For the people, see the previous rule – you don’t want to encroach on anyone’s autonomy or comfort. And as for the merchandise, no one is overly keen on having their work stolen. It’s pretty understandable.

DON’T get overly personal. You know that artist who makes autobiographical comics about her sex life that are so honest and open that you feel like you know her? You don’t know her. And also, she doesn’t know you. You can still strike up a conversation with whomever, but remember they’re still a stranger. If you wouldn’t say it to a stranger at a party, it’s not a good opener here.

DON’T knock their products or their prices to their face. Don’t like what you see? Then just move on. Explaining to your friend that zombies are boring or that you’d never pay more than $15 dollars while standing right in front of the person who made it is not nice. Be nice. Nice is better.

DO ask people to sign what you buy. If you buy a self-published comic from someone you meet at the show, ask them to sign it! That’s one of the joys of buying directly from the person who made it.

DO ask questions about their work. If you’re curious about the product on the table, it’s okay to ask! But the corollary is…

DON’T stay too long. The person behind the table is here to connect with the people who like their work, and to get it into new people’s hands. If you want to talk for a few minutes when they aren’t busy, that’s fine. But keep the conversation brief, especially if other people come up to the table.

Rules for Writers

DON’T assume they’ll have all of their books there. Writers may have copies of some books of their books, but writers brought in as guests of the con might just have a signing table. Either way, if there’s a specific work you loved, bring it with you.

DO know your limits. Some people will sign a crate of back issues, if there’s no line. Some people will limit you to one or two items. Ten or fewer is a good guideline. Even better – pick a couple of items that really stood out to you, and bring those.

DO have the right tools for the job. Maybe you’re not keen on getting a back issue signed, but you have a t-shirt from their comic. Related apparel is fine, as long as you’re not currently in it, but be prepared. Bring a pen of your own if you any non-paper product signed, that way your signature will last.

DON’T pitch stuff to writers. Most pros are specifically not allowed to listen to your unpublished story ideas. So unless they’ve specifically said they’re open to pitches, assume they’re not.

Rules for Artists

DO check their website. Some artists fill their commission list before the show even starts. They complete all the commissioned pieces prior to the show, and the commissioners just pay and pick them up during the event.

DO come by early. If you’re looking to commission a piece, make visiting the alley and early priority. For the artists that do take on-site commissions, their time is still finite. Waiting until Saturday evening to swing by could mean missing your chance.

DON’T forget to come back. A lot of artists have pickup deadlines on commissions. So if you were due to pick up your commission on Saturday afternoon, don’t be surprised if it gets put out for sale on Sunday afternoon.

DO have a reference photo on hand. Let’s say you want an artist to draw Kate Bishop in her issue #3 Hawkeye costume. Then you (by which I mean me, at C2E2 in 2013) should have a couple of pictures – full body images from multiple angles. Even if the artist loves the thing you’re commissioning as much as you do, a few good reference photos will make their lives easier.

DO pay attention to the rules. If the artist offers lineart drawings of your pets for $10, don’t expect a watercolor portrait of your childhood home. If they say no adult content, assume that your tasteful yet NSFW concept isn’t the exception.

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