I had a great time at the Origins Game Fair, though this year was a very different experience than previous years.  The main difference stemmed from the artist program that GAMA introduced this year.

The way the program worked, the artists provided artwork for the site book, taught classes, participated in “upgraded play” events (artists were brought into a scheduled game as a surprise, and the gamers were given free refreshments), and helped to promote the show.  In return, we received a dramatically reduced rate for our booth, and our booths were situated in the main exhibit hall.

On the whole, I think the program was great.  I loved being in the main exhibit hall this year.  In previous years, the art show was held in a side room, somewhat off the beaten path.  While the old room created a quieter, “art gallery” type of feel, it also caused us to have less foot traffic through the show.

This year, the overall feel of the show was much more like I’ve come to expect from shows like Gen-Con, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  More foot traffic generally means more sales.  While this was good for me, it was absolutely essential for those artists whose sole source of income is art sales.  Many of them had better shows than normal this year, and I was very happy for them.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of the events, there were a few points where I had to break away from my normal convention routine.  I had to maintain booth coverage at all times, including those times where I was participating in other events.  This meant that I had to bring an assistant.  Normally, I share a room with other artists for the show; this year, I had to get a room of my own for my family.  So the cost reduction of the booth was more than offset by the added cost of the room.

Now, one of the benefits of keeping a blog is that its reflective nature allows me to open my eyes to things that I might have missed.  In fact, right up to the moment that I started writing this paragraph, I was thinking, “there’s no benefit to participating in the artist program if it’s not delivering a positive value to me.” While this is true, I realize now that I need to look at the program as an opportunity rather than a cost.

The reality is that I was able to share the big convention experience with my family in a way that I had never done before.  Sure, they had attended small conventions with me in the past, but there was nothing quite like this one.  This experience was made possible, in part, by the artist program, and for that I am thankful.