Tips if you’re going to ELCAF 2016

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Hello everyone! So, if you didn’t know already I’m glad to be announcing that I will be exhibiting at this year’s ELCAF on Sunday 12th June. For those that don’t know I’ve been attending as a buyer for the last 2 years and have written about the event here and here. Now tickets and passes are available to buy online, so if you haven’t already pop to the ELCAF site and get some tickets!

Now that you’ve got you tickets, what next? Well, I thought it might be handy to give some informal tips to help your experience of ELCAF that much more engaging. Whilst I will be referring to ELCAF mostly, all these tips can be extrapolated to other conventions or trade type shows as they are all similar in their format. So, without further ado, some tips!

  1. Bring cash (and plenty of it).

    Ok, so I know this may be a bug bear for a lot of buyers, or a bit of a surprise for newcomers, but a lot of vendors will not be able to take cards. This always leaves that pool of people queuing around the cash points/machines and no one wants to stand around all day when there are stalls to get to!

    The truth is most vendors are a one man/woman band, whose main price points never really exceed £25 per item. This makes purchasing by card an unattractive proposition as card companies will take commission on EVERY transaction, which eats away at the already small margins. Plus, you’d be surprised at how much a portable card machine costs just on its own! Bigger companies that will have higher price points will likely have card machines, so you can bring your card still if you want. To put it simply, I always brought a set amount of cash with me, that way I never spent ages queuing for more and it leads me nicely into my next tip…

  2. Set a budget. 

    If you have a bottomless pit of cash then this really need not apply to you, but make sure you come to my stall but I’m under no illusion that most people want to stick to some sort of budget whilst still supporting independent sellers. This is totally fine and sort of goes hand in hand with my previous tip. If you only have say, £70 in cash and avoid using the card, you’re more likely to keep to using the cash only as you’ll see physically how much you’ve spent. (I’m sure there’s a super science research paper on this somewhere.) You’ll feel better for it because you haven’t overspent, whilst still supporting the community, winner.

  3. Bring you own bag. 

    Similar thing to the 1st tip in that you’d be surprised how much a stack of plastic bags can add to the cost on a small time vendor, so most will just have small paper bags not too dissimilar to sweet bags. (Also sometimes vendors just ahem, overlook these kind of things, ahem, totally not speaking from experience.) When you’re carrying a stack of books/comics/badges/freebies etc. you will run out of hands and pockets fast. I find that a canvas tote or rucksack works really well and as a bonus you’d be saving the environment from more plastic bags. 🙂

  4. Talk to vendors. 

    So I know due to the nature of comics/illustration the community is filled with varying degrees of fantastic, socially awkward introverted people, stumbling through life, but honestly talking to vendors is so rewarding for both parties. Being on the selling side (from other markets) I felt people really enjoy and get something out of my work, something in which I think all creators strive for. As a buyer, you feel part of the community and learn more about your favourite vendors, I loved meeting people I admired as well as learning about new favourites! Maybe I’ll be hot, sweaty and tired, with my voice withering away from over speaking, but you can be sure I’ll be smiling all the way.

  5. Follow them on social media. 

    This is a great community to get into, I’ve met so many lovely people through these channels and it’s a great way to connect. On a more practical side, some vendors will post deals or discounts for there stall, exclusive to their followers, so you might be able to grab a bargain.

  6. Don’t forget the other events! 

    Sometimes, amidst all the excitement of visiting the stalls, people forget to check up other events/talks that are also happening. There are always some great, but overlooked extras that are really worth going. For example, last year’s Pick Me Up I went to a Riso Printing workshop hosted by the lovely people at Hato Press. I was the ONLY person attending, great for me because I literally had the printer and advice all to myself. You just never know…This year’s ELCAF has so many good ones, some of my personal favourites which I’m hoping to attend is Vincent Mahe’s (one of my all time heroes!), Katsumi Komagata – One Makes Two and Emily Rand’s .

    So, that’s it for now, hope you liked my tips or found them helpful. Have you got any of your own tips or advice you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below! I’m looking forward to exhibiting and I hope you’ll pop in to say hi on Sunday. Until next time! (I’ll try an make it sooner than a month and a half, eek.)

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