Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alternative Press Expo (APE) Roundup

Last weekend was the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. I shared a table with my dear friend Anna Inkyung Lee. Many of my classmates from the Academy of Art University were also there as attendees or exhibitors.

APE took place at Fort Mason, in a gigantic hangar. I was afraid that the isolated area would effect turnout, but as you can tell from the above photo, I needn't have worried. Between the hundreds of eye-catching displays, the thousands of tattooed and dreadlocked and rainbow-haired attendees, the noise and the late summer heat, it was pretty overwhelming.

The weekend was an interesting mix of ego-boosting and ego-crushing. All day long I got to hear people say "I like your art!" and "your art is beautiful!" I felt like some kind of celebrity - especially when people asked me to sign things. But there were also slow periods, especially in the mornings. At one point, 3 hours had gone by and I'd made $3 selling 3 postcards. I was starting to question my life choices. I was also very hungry.

Despite those low moments, overall my sales at APE were pretty good, similar to what I made at Spectrum. The profits didn't cover the cost of the trip, even though I was able to keep my costs down by staying at a friend's house instead of a hotel. People seemed to like my $1 postcards. I hope that someday I'll figure out a way to make these art shows more profitable, because I like doing them.

There were so many things I wanted to buy at the show! Very difficult to hold myself back. I bought these cute stickers of Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope from heymonster. I want to put them somewhere where they can remind me to work hard.

I bought this graphic novel for my brother, who is an Abraham Lincoln fan. Author/illustrator Chris Butzer drew this amazing picture of Lincoln on the inside cover, totally from memory.

Later he bought one of my art books. I drew a picture of Abraham Lincoln on the inside cover for him, even though my book has nothing to do with Lincoln. I thought I being was so clever and funny; Chris seemed mildly amused.

This was the view from the convention hall. At any time during the show we could step outside and see the sailboats go by. Amazing!

San Francisco is a beautiful city. Every time I visit I feel lucky to be there.

I plan to go to next year's APE, if I can.


  1. Sounds like loads of fun!
    Sorry you didn't sell too well, but you seemed to have a good time and met some more people.
    Hell, just to go to San Francisco seems worth the trip.
    Maybe next time, for the hell of it, you should go and see if you can peek into Massive Black's HQ :3
    Anyway... glad to see that it went well and thanks for sharing.

  2. Jealous, your pictures makes me want to expand my convention circuit! (Not that Missouri and Allentown aren't teeming art metropolises, but...)

    Peter Mohrbacher had an infographic a while back about the potential pitfalls of selling $1 items at conventions - might be something to look into if your table is popular but unprofitable:

    Of course I'm not one to talk with my free prints :P

    1. Thanks Wylie. I like Peter's infographic; maybe in the future I can replace my $1 postcards with $5 5x7 prints or something. Something that's cheap enough to win the on-the-fence customers but expensive enough to make me a little more money.


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