Convention Booth Hot Seat – Conclusion
This is the second half od the Hot Seat critique session focusing on convention booth displays. Participants have submitted photos of their convention set-ups, and I’m going to discuss some points. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
As a preface, here’s what I personally look for in good booth design.
- Plenty of visuals placed as high as possible.
- Unifying visuals, including “sandwiching” — branded imagery in front of and behind the table.
- Distinctive look
- Assertive branding
- Decent variety of merchandise
Gina Biggs / Red String
This photo sums up beautifully what I find so challenging about convention-prep. You can plan, you can study a con’s floormap, and you can try to be prepared for anything. And then you show up and you have a situation like this — there’s absolutely nothing behind your table.
On one hand, it’s kinda nice because you aren’t crammed into a small space. But on the other hand, there’s always something distracting the people who come up to the table to talk to you. You see their eyes darting past your head, and you know it’s going to be a challenge to keep their attention.
Worse yet, you have to be very careful about storing merchandise and money. This kind of set-up makes theft very easy.
Gina chose to display her banner out in front of her. And it was probably a good move. If you look closely, you’ll see that she gained a little more height for her banner by placing it on a wire crate — which is also a good idea.
But anybody who’s coming in from the right hand side of the table (Gina’s left, in the photo) is going to be hidden from Gina. If she’s the sort of person who likes to make eye contact with someone as they approach and/or hand our flyers, this may not be an optimum set-up.
And if you’re bothered by not having a little protection behind you to block out distractions (and possibly worse), you might be better served by having the banner behind you.
It’s for this reason alone that I never throw away an old banner. Unless it’s absolutely, inappropriately outdated, I always pack them (unless I’m flying, and it becomes cost-prohibitive). In a case like this, they’re useful as heck to have — even if they’re serving the purpose of a wall more than anything else.
Overall, however, Gina’s display works well:
- Lots of visuals up high
- Prices clearly marked
- Colored tablecloth helps her stand out
- Signage matches, helping to unify the table presentation
- Visuals pointed in several directions to attract people coming in from different angles.
Margaret T / Decrypting Rita
This is an interesting situation to talk about as well. Mararet is sharing an exhibitor booth with another cartoonist. The table is split 50-50, so the challenge is to makes use of the space you have to brand yourself — and separate yourself — from the other person at the table.
But there’s almost no branding going on here at all. The uninitiated passer-by may not even realize that there are two separate properties being represented here. In a situation like this, having a simple vertical banner stand would have really done wonders. And a tablecloth, folded over your half of the table, would also send a signal that there are two different things going on at this table.
Rich Lauzon / Space Pest Removal
What’s the first thing you notice about either of these photos?
For me, it’s the clutter.
It’s a cacaphony of pop-culture images, mashed together and thrown up in a way that — to me — seems to defy order.
Rich is at the convention promoting his webcomic, Space Pest Removal (you can see the vertical banner in the second photo, angled into the side aisle) as well as “posters, cards, caricatures and commissions.”
And the philosophy seems to be to throw everything out there in hopes of one of the images connecting with someone as they walk past.
But it’s too much. It’s cluttered. It looks sloppy. And it doesn’t send a message.
At the very least, I would take that horizontal banner and reduce it to one image (instead of a montage of several posters), and let that be at least one area of visual calm.
Also, when you use the rig from the first photo, it might help to take a black tablecloth and stretch it out behind the entire unit to give those prints a solid, consistent background. Take a look at Gabriel’s backdrop in the next photo to see what I mean.
In regards to the top photo, Rich offered this:
Here is the booth that I had for Toronto Comicon last weekend.
I tried for an end cap table in the hopes of getting more traffic. I think that it did make a difference.
I have three distinct goals for the event:
#1 Promote my webcomic.
#2 Sell my self-published book.
# Sell Posters/Commissions. This is where I make most of my income.
Your Number One goal was to promote your webcomic, but it’s not represented visually anywhere in your booth. In fact, if I didn’t know that Space Pest Removal was a webcomic, I’d think that it was just a quirky name that this artist landed on to put his posters/carticatures on the Web. (In fact, before I followed the link, this is exactly what I was expecting to find.)
Gabriel Dunston / Funny Thing Comic
In general, this is a good convention presentation. The black tablecloth and the black backstand unify the visual presence. The signage is consistent, and the prices are clearly marked. Visuals are nice and high, and the personal branding is very good.
But I really have to question the illustration choice on that horizontal banner.
First off, the male character looks like you. Are you suggesting that you’re accepting kisses from women at your booth? And if you are, that brunette does not look as if she’s enjoying the experience. In fact, she looks downright sad about the prospect. I’m trying to put myself in the midset that says, “THIS! This is the image I want to represent myself with!” And I just can’t do it.
Beyond the vexing choice of visuals, there’s a lot of wasted space on the right hand side — in which you take great pains to tell us that you’re an ILLUSTRATOR and CARTOONIST (kinda redundant, no?) and then list your three URLS so small that I can’t make them out.
OK, so let’s fix that horizontal banner. You need one powerful image that sums up your talent as a cartoonist — one, boffo comic that relates visually (or with very few words) and carries the entire horizontal banner. The, you put your name up there, big and legible… assume that people walking into a comics convention will get that you’re a cartoonist, and (in my opinion) don’t bother with the URLs. No one is memorizing URLs with that many letters. Besides, that’s what flyers are for. Feel free to use the Critique section of the site if you’re having trouble nailing an image down. I’ve seen your work. You can do better in a banner.