A beginner's guide to Artist Alley: Tips on how to talk to customers
How to talk to customers in Artist Alley
The community of individuals who attend comic and anime conventions are interested in the same things you are. So sparking up a conversation with a stranger is a lot easier in an artist alley setting than anywhere else. If someone at an anime con walks up to your artist alley table, that automatically gives you another thing in common: they're interested in your artwork! That's where the stem of most conversations will start, your artwork.
So how do you talk to customers if you're an introvert like myself?
Here are some tips I learned on how to feel more comfortable talking to customers in artist alley!
Change your mindset.
When your main objective is to sell your artwork, it creates a lot of pressure on yourself and will feel very overwhelming. Instead, think of your main objective into having a conversation with every person that stops by your artist alley table. By changing your mindset from selling to creating connections with customers it allows you to interact with people in a more personable manner.
Set mini goals throughout the day.
By setting mini goals throughout the day you 'll gain more confidence after you complete each one. Some examples include:
Say hello to every person that stops by my art table.
Compliment 5 cosplayers on their cosplay each hour.
Invite at least 15 people to flip through your artist portfolio each hour.
Hold a conversation with a person for at least 3 minutes.
Always greet your customers.
The first thing you should do when a customer comes up to your table is to greet them with a smile and a friendly hello. It takes a lot for a customer to walk up to your table at artist alley, so in order to ease the tension be the first to break the ice. You'll both feel more comfortable and it gives you an opportunity to start a conversation. If you're talking to a customer and another person comes up to your table, be sure to greet them right away. No one wants to feel invisible, so make sure to acknowledge their presence by letting them know if they "have any questions about your artwork to feel free and ask" then you can carry on with helping the first customer.
Too many times do I see an artist hunched over their table, too focused on their drawing that they don't look up for hours at a time. Most customers will feel like they are intruding your space if it looks like you're busy and therefore won't stop by your table. If you're working on an art commission, look up every now and then to greet customers. Sometimes it helps to set a timer on your phone to remind yourself. If you have the space for helpers, bring a helper to help talk to customers as you work on a commission.
Open with a question.
After you greet the customer, immediately follow with a question, compliment or suggestion. The ultimate goal is to keep the attention of potential customers at your table for as long as possible because the longer they're there the more likely they are to purchase an art print. I usually greet the customer with a "Hi, feel free to look through our art portfolio!" or "Hi, are you guys enjoying the [insert comic/anime con here] so far?". These are simple openers that you can use to invite people to your artist booth.
Don't be afraid to talk about yourself.
Con-goers are one of the most friendly and welcoming group of individuals I've ever met. Everyone is there to support you as an artist and are genuinely interested in you and your artwork. If you can't think of anything to say to a customer, remember they came up to your table because they saw and liked your artwork, so let them in on how you created it. If you enjoy drawing fan art, let them know what inspired you to draw that character or what your favorite episodes were from that anime or comic. By sharing a little bit about yourself with your customer, it shows that you're not just a person trying to sell them artwork but a real person who whats to connect and network with people.
I hope these tips on how to talk to customers were helpful as you continue on to your journey selling at conventions! If you have any questions about selling your artwork at artist alley or need more tips on how to handle certain scenarios, let me know in the comments!
- Jana Rae Pascual