Hal-Con 2012 was an amazing sci-fi and fantasy convention. I attended as both a fan and an exhibitor. I wanted to share my experience.
The decision to attend began way back in March with a call out to artists and vendors. I fit somewhere in the middle of these two groups. Big vendor spaces were much larger than I could fill compared to the artist set up, but I was lucky to be an artist in the vendor room. Best of both worlds!
[That’s Nelson, the Hal-Con mascot in the picture. His shape is inspired the by the Halifax Citadel clock tower. He is named for the Lord Nelson Hotel, the location of the first convention. In this picture he is playing with a Nelson amigurumi I designed for the 2010 convention.
I knew the available spaces would fill quickly and I had to decide almost 8 months in advance. Here’s what I had to consider:
- Cost: Includes a $178 fee, hotels, travel (Halifax is far from my current stopping ground of Ottawa), food, and other expenses. Could I make enough selling to off set this cost? I had attended the first Hal-Con in 2010, and had great sales but sales are never a guarentee. Recuperating costs is always a worry for crafters. I kept my costs low using credits that I had with Via Rail and Delta Hotels. Once my hotel credit was used up, I used inexpensive hotels and motels.
- Time: A three day plus travel time can be a large time commitment, especially at the beginning of the Christmas craft show season. I have a pretty flexible schedule, so this factor wasn’t much of a worry. Due to limited train service, I only took the two day train trip to Halifax, and flew back on Monday morning.
- New Designs: Normally I design for a broad audience, but for this convention I wanted to make extra special creations. My husband also helps me figure out new designs. A lot of thought went into choosing characters. I didn’t go with obvious characters, but chose to go more with side characters, such as Moogles (Final Fantasy), Goombas (Mario Bros.), Cthulhu (H.P. Lovecraft), ‘grey’ aliens (stylized in the Roswell, Area 51 fashion), and 4 different designs of Weeping Angels (Doctor Who). It was a pleasure spending time researching all the characters! Not all ideas are successes - my design for an Ewok (Star Wars) didn’t really work out but I may try it again sometime.
The fun factor of course had to be considered. I really wanted my husband to be able to join me, and that of course had an effect on the cost and time considerations. He’s a big sci-fi fan and would be able to help me during the longs days [one day at Hal-Con I was so focused on finishing up an order that I didn’t really take time to snack. My hands were full, but my husband kindly helped me by feeding me fruit and a muffin].
I decided that if my sales covered my expenses, I would be satisfied. If they also covered the cost of my husband joining me, that was an added bonus. After all, attending Hal-Con was also going to be a mini-vacation for us. We would be able to visit friends, share a memorable experience, and have bunches of fun socializing with fellow geeks and nerds!
In my next blog post, I’ll share with you some of many perks of selling handmade crafts at Hal-Con.