Going Plus Ultra Into The Unknown
Ever have an opportunity come up that was a bit out of nowhere but yet you saw so much potential in it that you knew you had to go for it?
We had this happen. And it would challenge us in a lot of different areas.
That was probably one of the best things to occur. Though in ways we didn't expect.
A few months ago I was hanging out with Vincent "DJ R.O.C.K.M.A.N." Banks at a local event where he was playing. He's one of my really good friends and we both roll pretty deep in the VGM, nerdcore, and chipmusic scenes. He organizes Nerdcore Nights and has a pretty big hand in various DJing events here in Austin. I had asked him to take over for me in running the MAGFest Jamspace at PAX South... for which he did an amazing job.
At the event we were just hanging out and talking (and the open keg of Blue Moon didn't hurt either). Somewhere in there we got to talking about Classic Game Fest. This is an event that's held by Game Over Video Games. For a few years they would do small things during the summer like hold movie screenings, panels, and band performances at their various locations. But then six years ago they decided to hold a more organized event over a full weekend. I've been to every one so far primarily to document things with my camera. Vincent has also been rather involved as well to DJ between panels and for various nerdcore acts.
He had mentioned that he was going to have a table in the concert hall at CGF. But he wasn't going to have much in the way of merch. So he wondered if we would be interested in possibly using the space to sell prints and what not.
By this point the team hadn't had any serious discussion on being at an event and selling stuff. But I knew I couldn't turn it down right away.
I brought it up to the group. And they were all in.
Putting The Pieces Together
Can I just say that a lot of my project and team management experience came in handy here?
One of the first big obstacles I realized was that while we had a good chunk of non-holiday related material we could possibly pull from for Allybelle and Phee we couldn't quite say the same for Tacocat and Mermaid Child. Since CGF was right in the middle of summer it didn't really make sense to offer anything from our Halloween or Christmas sets. So we needed new photos for them.
Given that we were about to go deep into the Texas summer one rule I had to put in place was that we were not shooting anything outside. I didn't want to explain to anyone's parents how someone ended up with heat stroke.
I think that ended up being one of the better limitations we imposed on ourselves.
Now just to get past the other obstacles. Some of which I would not expect.
Sometimes You Clear The Hurdles. Sometimes You Get A Physics Lesson.
With Mermaid Child and Tacocat we already had some sets we knew we wanted to shoot. The Star Guardians were pretty much ready to go and only had cons pics at that point so that went on the list. Sailor Galaxia and Eternal Sailor Moon were also really close to completion as well since they were going to be in competition at AKon 2018. They were added. As were Lich King and Sylvanas from World of Warcraft.
Allybelle was dealing with a bunch of life stuff so her ability to build costumes was limited. She already was pretty close on Super Sailor Venus for Akon as well so slotted that one to shoot with the rest of the Sailor Moon material that was planned. We knew having one other new set was a good idea but given the limited capabilities we had to try to figure out something that was simpler but could have a good impact. Somewhere in talking through this I had floated the idea of revisiting Whatagirl in a proper studio setting since we only had the test shots we did last year. We were all "Fuck it, let's get stupid in a studio."
I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with Sailor Moon and Star Guardians. And they both called for similar setups so I blocked off a full day at Soundcheck for shooting. It was a really long day and some things didn't pan out... but I think we got some of the best shots we've done as a team. The same could be said for Whatagirl at Waveform. Though thankfully the time spent was nowhere near as long. Never thought I'd buy that much Whataburger in one shot. Nor did we think it would lead to one of the best MTA in jokes. If you see us ask us about "modesty nuggets" some time.
Earlier I had mentioned doing a World of Warcraft set. Since we had all declared Texas summer as a poison status but wanted things to not look the same as either the Sailor Moon or Star Guardians sets we knew we would need to get creative with backgrounds. We were researching things like using fake trees or long cuts of birch logs to try to fake an outdoor look along with using snow blankets and such to get the ice land effect for Lich King.
Then my truck needed a bunch of repairs in order to pass inspection.
I was still willing to try to work through that to see how we could get a good World of Warcraft set even with the new limitation. After some discussion we decided that it wouldn't be up to the level of quality we wanted so we struck it from the list.
This would leave us with a bit of a gap print wise. So we re-reviewed some of our previous work and thought that some previous pieces could work outside of their holiday context. On the list they went.
As for Phee... unfortunately things in life wouldn't allow her to commit to working the way the rest of the team was. So she chose to leave MTA.
After that we made our final selections and sent off an order to ReadyComics. I had used them in the past for some test runs based off of a previous recommendation so I knew they were capable of doing good work. 400+ prints at a good price with an amazing turnaround time? Highly recommended.
So... how many prints did we end up selling?
Four of them.
At least we weren't completely ignored.
There were a couple of bits that struck me as rather interesting. For one we had a bunch of stickers out on our table that had our motto "Get dumb ideas.. make them awesome" along with our website URL. That did grab people's attention. Will have to keep an eye on the website traffic to see if that had an impact.
Then there were some people who were really struck by the images we had. While it didn't necessarily translate into sales they did generate quite a bit of interesting conversation on our work and our aims on what we want to do. One friend of ours looked through the prints and then asked me why is our work not in larger scale media like magazines.
That on some level describes what we are going for.
This whole endeavor was certainly a learning experience for all of us.
Where some might get discouraged at the lack of sales we focused more on possible opportunities. Not only with things internal to the team but also with other paths that we discovered while at Classic Game Fest.
Throughout all of this there were two things that were apparent:
One: pay attention to what's out there for you may not know where it will lead.
Two: while going for new challenges may not lead to immediate success they will teach you many things about your work and you as a person.
Exploring uncharted territory isn’t easy. But that’s why we’re here.