Artist Alley at Naka-Kon provides creative hub for graphic artists

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One of Naka-Kon’s many offerings is Artist Alley: the collective graphic artists who share their wares at the convention’s Vendor Room.

Naka-Kon’s 2017 convention boasted a wide variety of artists, from big names such as Louisiana-born Amelie Belcher to smaller, developing artist such as Epic Design Revolutions. Here, these artists offered their newest prints, sketches, keychains, bookmarks and pins to thousands of Kon attendees, providing a ripe opportunity for self-promotion.

Undyne, from the indie game Undertale, appeared at Fynd’s art gallery at this year’s Naka-Kon. Art by Fynd.

“You get to see how people react when they like your work, and you gain lots of feedback on how you are doing as a artist,” said Fynd, a graphic artist. She was first inspired to contribute art to conventions at the 2008 Naka-Kon, where two artists encouraged her to try it after explaining how simple it is to run an art stall.

Ever since the 2009 Naka-Kon, Fynd has contributed and sold art and cited the Kon as an ideal place for fellow artists to gather. Fellow artist Jessica Nguyen agrees, crediting Naka-Kon as an opportunity to network with other artists for updates in anime, manga, and games. This year, she says, a big new name for art was Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch. Also, “I was able to make new friends and share tips and tricks to drawing,” she said.

As a pop culture convention, Naka-Kon’s art scene showcased a wide variety of fan art and original pieces. Popular series such as One Piece, Hetalia Axis Powers, Naruto, and Fullmetal Alchemist had widespread representation. A number of Western franchises popular with the Naka-Kon crowd appeared, ranging from Marvel’s comic book movies to BBC’s Doctor Who to Dan Harmon’s Rick and Morty. This reflected the multi-cultural cosplay crowds at the Kon, and suggests that pop culture from around the world can bring together people of different fandoms.

Graphic art can appear on many mediums, including these coffee mugs. Photo courtesy of Jessica Nguyen.

Becoming an official vendor ar Naka-Kon’s Artist Alley can be a challenge, but both Fynd and Jessica Nguyen encourage aspiring artists to try it. Nguyen worked for five years to be accepted into Artist Alley.

“I almost decided to give up, but I rebranded myself and went for it one more time,” she says. “It goes to show that persistence can pay off.”

Fynd was accepted into Artist Alley right away in 2009, and said that while artists can become discouraged and lose their way, “The most important thing is to keep going and watch the magic of the journey.”

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