My name is Maximo and I’ve been going to Otakon and Artist Alley since 97’. In the recent years I have been left alone because I get a guest spot in the AA but my friends each year have more and more problems do to the head staff, the reckless rules, flagrant threats of banning, and the handling of how those rules are carried out. A few of my friends have decided not to return to AA. Kevin Bolk in particular has been going to Otakon since I have and also could not abide by the rules for AA so he went to the dealers room which apparently gets you treated with much more respect.
Part of the problem is the artists have no Representative to discuss staff, rules, and how those rules are carried out. When there is legitimately a problem such as art theft or the 14 tables crew Ramy and Sylvia Shi, nothing is done during the con. Both Finni and Zimmy are long time friends of mine and they did their best to abide by the rules and still got hammered, worse still Martin Matthews felt like he couldn’t bully Finni so he sent her away and gave a tongue lashing to Zimmy who is a very sweet girl and was not prepared to be treated with such volatile disrespect. Dizzy also holds responsibility for just standing there and watching it happen then playing the “good cop”. I don’t think either of them are fit to head artist alley, if you have someone in the position to talk to artists about the rules they should meet the following criteria.
-They should know full well there are repercussions for their actions, not only being reported to higher ups, but artists are extremely well connected we can spread the word of any injustice at the drop of a hat.
-They should be held to higher standards than the rest of the staff, if you’re going to be enforcing rules you need to know when to be firm and when to gently explain that you’d like cooperation. NEVER threats, or trying to humiliate the artists, if you do it to one of us, the word spreads and we all feel threatened and angry which is the case now.
-You should also be 100% clear on your own rules and not have to fall back on “the rules say whatever i want them to say” - clause.
-They should approve tables ASAP then leave them alone for the duration of the con, because AA artists were under constant scrutiny we felt any staff looking at our art was a threat, someone who was just looking for issues to make us fix things, report us, or ban us, when we’re already trying to deal with a huge amount of customers as it is. This makes it extremely tense and is not good for Artist / Staffer relations.
-If action needs to be taken, they should be able to calmly explain the rule, all the details about the rule, and respectfully ask the artist to comply.
The 50/50 rule is absolutely destructive and sets a bad example for other cons.
-Your essentially telling artists what to draw, many of us do have original work but its not the same as a print, some of it is comics, doodles or sketches. This rule basically forces us to make something we don’t want to make, if we wanted to make it we would have made it already.
-If your lawyers think this rule helps them avoid any sort of issues, they are very wrong.
-If dealers are requesting this because they pay more for their tables. 1. Dealers who don’t make their own products should hold no sway over AA. 2. You’re going to see many artists move to dealers because dealers are getting preferential treatment which is very much the case right now.
-If the 50/50 rule was made to encourage more original work then it’s not helpful. Use incentives like having first picks of where you want your tables for maybe 20-30% original work. Make an entire isle maybe 1/4” of all the tables be dedicated to webcomic artist and comics which is your BEST source for original content. There are many other methods to ENCOURAGE not ENFORCE what you want.
As for the height rule, many artist think it makes total sense HOWEVER, once a table is approved even if it’s a centimeter over then it’s APPROVED. There are too many stories of tables being approved only to have staffers come when we’re already open and VERY busy to take down our site and adjust it. This is a reasonable rule enforced horribly.
My recommendation for this years problems is to remove Martin and Dizzy, and re-evaluate how you pick your AA heads, no one in AA trusts either of them anymore after a few years of these stories happening, they can’t be trusted to be left there and will only tell us there are no repercussions for showing disrespect to artists. Then I recommend installing a AA Representative who has experience in the artist alley as a drawing artist, by vote or solid recommendation to help craft the rules and how they are enforced. Lastly I recommend the current rules be re-evaluated to 1. not create a hostile environment 2. be clear and concise 3. have a method of enforcing the rule while still being respectful to the artist.
Thank you for your time,