Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Display Stuff And Look Cool

How do you like to carry Artist Alley merchandise around the con?

First productive post!  So yeah. ANSWER THE QUESTION, INTERNET.

Most people seem to appreciate the plastic bags I store my prints in, and you can get them for really really ridiculously cheap. On the other hand, I've been getting some feedback from others that a rolled format would be more convenient, because even though the plastic bag protects stuff like prints it can still be crushed or folded. An alternative would be mailing tubes, and they're pretty easy to find in bulk.  Failing that, there are always rubber bands. Either way, having some way of bundling up your products is really good for business and people definitely appreciate it. 

The best place for a lot of different storage/display options is

I feel like they deliberately named their website this way so artists everywhere could indulge in that little moment of abashment because it's so goddamn obvious.  And yet, it's not. So silly.


Sweet and sturdy design on a budget.  I'll have to track down the artist who came up with this later, but for now, credit goes to anonymous.
Do you prefer hanging prints and overhead displays, or binders on a table? A degree of decor and clutter or something clean-cut and neat?  I always thought hanging displays were the best option because they give me room to draw on the table, but I've been noticing less and less people actually looking up and more people just looking downward on the table. A little perplexing! People also seem to like flipping through things like albums or portfolios, and I do know a number of artists who always have an album handy for people to look through.   You can always put copies of your prints in the album as well as hang it up on a display, because I'm pretty sure a good chunk of people just won't notice it in one place or the other. May as well cover both of your bases, you know? It doesn't even have to be filled with prints for sale. People just really like looking through things!

 A common set-up for stand-up displays is PVC piping+Table clamps. The one I see most and the ones I use are the blue-and-yellow Irwin clamps

I think you can get two for like $15 if not cheaper depending on where you go, so your entire display will probably come out to less than $20.  Grab some PVC piping and those connector bits and things and you're good to go!

Regarding PVC piping...
If you travel a lot or require a fairly large display, don't be afraid to chop up your piping into a lot of smaller pieces! I'd say having a good handful of PVC segments from 1.5'~2' each would be ideal. One of my friends in the Alley has a good buttload of these things so she can customize her display stand to her liking/the table size. Sometimes she has some left over too, which she lends out to people who might need to expand their display stands. She keeps them all in a little drawstring bag and tosses those in her luggage case for easy traveling. Pretty sweet idea!

The diameter of the tube isn't really that important, I think. 1/2" is pretty study on its own and is more than enough to support art prints. If you want to hang heavier stuff on, though, 1" or greater would be your best bet. 

Those connector bits also help stabilize/strengthen longer segments. I brought in two reaaaallly looooong pipe segments for my display stand at Fanime this year and it kinda sucked because it was always leaning back/wobbling/was unstable. It fell like once during the convention, but having to deal with all that (and risking hitting someone) is kiiiiind of a hassle. Smaller segments=sturdier, and if you attach them securely and correctly, the connector bits will help reinforce their structure. It seems kind of obvious, but it's also easy to overlook!

In terms of hanging things up onto your piping, there are a variety of ways of doing that too. Scotch tape is ghetto as hell, but effective. For the most part, if you're going to use tape, stick (Ha ha, pun so not intended) to something transparent because it looks nicer. Scotch/invisible tape is good because it's also easy to pull off. I've also seen artists use paperclips or bulldog clips to hang prints onto each other. This is nice because it makes tear-down easy. Other options are binder rings to hang the prints to the top of your display.  You can more or less ransack your office supply store and find tons of great knicknacks for displaying things. Ikea's photo frame section also has a lot of really cool stuff you can use to display your art for really cheap. Root around! Be unconventional! 


This is my current WIP. I'll probably post these a lot on this blog, both for feedback and to look like a totally hip and cool and productive artiste, which, I'm sure we all know, is complete horseshit! It's a commission of Dr. Raymond Stantz from Ghostbusters! Which... I should...probably watchokayI'mgoingnowdon'tjudgeme.


  1. I don't sell at cons so the only relevant thing I can say is: GHOSTBUSTERS FANART! <3

  2. I want hot TF2 pictures, and please do hang them from a PVC display so I can see them from far away.

    Also, I usually buy my artist alley stuff at the end of the last day, so I don't fuck it up. :<

    PS. I love your art style, please do Team Fortress 2 stuff!

  3. Handy info!

    I don't sell in the AA, but one of my biggest pet peeves when I'm there to buy things are tables with displays that make it impossible to know what's going on, usually because of poor organization or inadequate spacing. I'll skip over a table because of it, even if the art appeals, because I don't want the headache of sorting through their hasty arrangement.

    Your suggestions sound like they'll remedy that quite handily!

  4. Wow! Thanks for this post, I was actually thinking about trying to sell at a con. 0-o

  5. That looks like a cool display. I have a friend wanting to start selling stuff at AA, so I may have to show her this

  6. @Focusing the lens- Thanks for the input!

    @EspA- Awesome! I hope you'll find this blog handy! Best of luck!

  7. Awesome blog! I'll be doing my first big convention this year and I'd love to not screw it up, so I'm really looking forward to more posts :D

    A quick question about the pvc pipe display and the table clamps, how does that work? I assume I clip the clams to the table... then what? How does the pvc framework attach? Do I make sure there's some kind of big flat part for the clap to clip onto?

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