The Big Draw Review

It is already a week ago that I traveled to Nijmegen to participate in The Big Draw‘s Artist Alley at the Mariënburg Library. After doing OK at TomoFair, I was curious how this would go: I expected a different kind of public here.


big draw table saturday

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t good: I arrived with a wet suitcase and a soaked coat. This must have had it’s effect on the visitor’s count, though it’s hard to say to what account. On the other hand, hosting the Artist Alley in the library, we also had people browsing who didn’t know about the event at all and just came to lend a book. In fact, at the start of the day, there was only a A4 taped to the door about the event, it wasn’t advertised very clearly, so I wonder how many people visited the library with the intent of browsing the Artist Alley vs. regular library visitors who stumbled upon us.

big draw artist alley
Following the arrow I drew here is not intuitive at all, you probably would go straight ahead where most tables are.

To be honest, I also didn’t have the best table spot in the library. Most tables were in the large space in the center of the building, and we were kind of behind that between the bookshelves. There must have been visitors that have missed us because of that.

Nevertheless, I sold a few prints, one of them to a little girl who kept telling her mother that she really really wanted that print. Those are the best customers! I also met a lot of new fellow illustrators and creatives that are still studying or just graduated. I think half of tables were from artists from the St. Joost Academy from Breda / Den Bosch. A different community than Rotterdam, and fun to meet!


big draw table sunday

The weather was much better now and we could move our tables outside. That was the good news! I suddenly had to flip my table design as I now expected people walking past from right to left instead of left to right, though. I had thought I needed half an hour max to prepare my table, now the library was already open and I was still setting up. Stressful!

Instead of being tucked away, now were were right at the entrance, no one could miss us! There were banners about the event too, it felt like a much larger event now. And The Big Draw is actually quite a big event with workshops and expositions all around the city! The Artist Alley is just one thing on the program.

Unfortunately though, I only sold one print and two stickers on Sunday, despite the weather being much better. In my experience Sunday is always more quiet than Saturday on two-day conventions, though, although I hoped differently now we had a better spot. It proves once more how much uncertainty is involved in this business.

The Verdict

The Big Draw is much more than just the Artist Alley and being part of an event about all things drawing is rewarding in itself too. I wish Rotterdam would get its own edition, so I could see more of the event myself instead having to leave early to travel back home.

If I sold one more sticker, I would have hit break even. Tables were free but traveling from Rotterdam to Nijmegen both ways is around 45 euros. That’s a shame, but on the other hand this is the cheapest convention I’ve attended, the location was great and there was even lunch and snacks provided at no costs. No way you get something like that at a regular convention. I probably would attend again if I got the chance!

Nevertheless I will take a break from conventions until I have more original prints and merchandise to sell. Tables were only 120 cm wide and I worried if I would be able to display all my prints, but in the end I had actually quite some spare space. It made me realize I actually don’t have that much to sell, and simple business sense tells me that I automatically will sell more if I simply have more to offer. Conventions take quite some time to prepare, so I think it isn’t a bad idea to step back once more and use that time to create more personal work. After all, I should do that more regardless of creating merchandise of it!