Con Report: FWA 2010

Back from Furry Weekend Atlanta! Man, that was exhausting. I am so looking forward to a weekend without traveling, even if I’m just going to spend it working furiously on my Senior Project and other things I’ve neglected these last two weeks. But I had a great time at FWA. It was my first furry convention, and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with how organized everything seemed and how friendly everyone was. I met a lot of awesome people and really want to add more fur cons to my convention circuit in the future. If I can only figure out how life after graduation is going to pan out for me, I’d love to put Anthrocon and Midwest Furfest to my itinerary. :>

This picture is an accurate representation of my weekend. (Pictured: a very nice doorman at the Hilton Atlanta and Foxplay.)

THURSDAY

After class Thursday, I had Cat take me out to our favorite print people to pick up, cut, and laminate some reprints of bookmarks I’d sold out of or was running low on post-MomoCon. This took less time than I expected, so we went for a late lunch afterwards, spent more time there than expected, and I was kind of rushing out the door to my ride for FWA. Though since FWA’s Artist Alley is different from most anime cons’ Artist Alleys I’ve been to, and since Cat wasn’t coming with me for this con, I didn’t have too much luggage/bulky table set-up to pack into the car. The party for this weekend would be: me, Mad, Ian, Juliana, Kit (Boneitis), Karen (Talenshi), and Billie. After meeting briefly, we departed Savannah around 6:00pm.

I slept on and off during the trip, partially because Mad was playing a lot of instrumental music, and partially because I was still freakin’ exhausted from MomoCon and figured I should get as much sleep as I could while I could. We arrived in Atlanta around 11pm and around circling around the hotel a billion times, found parking in an eerily deserted parking garage two blocks down (it was eerie because the two garages closest to the hotel were packed because of the con). While Karen checked us in, the rest of us went to registration to pick up our badges. This was where I noted the first of many differences between FWA an the conventions I’m used to. There was basically no line at registration. The smallest anime con I’ve been to is a tie between Ikkikon 2007 and EXPCon 2009, both of which clocked in at around 2,500 attendees. Last year, FWA had 1,371 attendees and it’s the fourth largest fur con in the world.

To be fair, we were also picking up badges at nearly midnight, but aside from the lack of a registration line, there was no real indication that the numbers were so drastically different. There was no shortage of activity around the hotel. There were already various fursuiters running around and a handful of people raving in the main ballroom. And as usual, it was great seeing the reactions of the “normal” hotel guests. I was surprised to receive a gigantic free poster along with my badge at registration; and by gigantic, I mean this sucker was 20×40″ or so. I can’t imagine how much it must have cost FWA to get all of those printed and they were giving them away free! I guess this is a perk of having a relatively normal badge cost ($45 at the door, though I pre-registered for $40) and a much smaller number of attendees to accommodate.

After dumping stuff in the room, I went down to Artist Alley briefly to take a quick look at the space and to familiarize myself with where it was located. There were probably a dozen or so artists hanging out and a lot of unoccupied tables. I liked the room though, and was glad to see that the hotel provided nice water (as opposed to disgusting Atlanta tap) for everyone. Didn’t hang out long because I was tired. Got to bed around 1:30am.

FRIDAY

Despite conlag from the past weekend though, I still couldn’t sleep and found myself inexplicably wide awake at 5:00am. My alarm was set for 6:45am. Goddamnit. I lay in bed for an hour trying to go back to sleep, but eventually decided to just get up around six. After tripping all over my hotelmates that were on the floor, I was down in Artist Alley by 6:30am after deciding that it wasn’t worth it to buy the ridiculously expensive breakfast foods from the hotel coffee place downstairs.

The AA was pretty deserted. There were a few folks hanging around, but only two or three artists set up. Billie was the second one from my party to come down and she set up next to me against the window side of the room:

My stuff on the left; Billie on the right. I had a hard time all weekend adjusting to the small space. Since we weren’t allowed to have large displays, etc, I had no PVC to hang things on and ran out of room really fast. For Friday, I had my Pokemon poster covering my button board and a lot of things just not on display at all.

I was the only table in the room with a tablecloth! I found this a little surprising since I thought tablecloths were a pretty common AA touch. More people had tablecloths in the Dealer’s Den though, so maybe most people just didn’t want to mess with them in the AA given its transient nature. FWA’s AA is a free-for-all. There are tables. You don’t pay anything for them. The room is open continuously from 7pm Thursday to 5pm Sunday and anyone is free to set up shop. The only stipulation is that you can’t abandon your table for lengthy periods of time; you must take stuff down when you leave, which leaves the space open for anyone else to occupy. Given this, I pretty much planned to camp out in the room for as long as possible every day.

Activity in the AA was very, very slow for the entire morning. The rest of my party set up an hour or so after Billie and I did:

Kit and Juliana.

Mad and Ian.

Karen.

Very empty Alley. :(

Gradually, more people started coming in, but general activity was still pretty low for the day. For a while, I tried to work on thumbnails for my Senior Project while I waited for commissions to do, but this didn’t work out very well because I was too jittery to concentrate on schoolwork. (Seriously, anyone that’s able to get non-con work done at cons is amazing.) Thankfully, there were fursuiters and other awesome people to keep me entertained.

A pretty sweet wolf partial, though I didn’t get his name. I was really bad about getting most people’s names, actually. D:

Two cool people hanging out in the row across from me on Friday. Guy on the right introduced himself as Beowulf, but I don’t remember the girl’s name. D: She had awesome dreads though~.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this wild dog (I’m pretty sure she’s a wild dog, anyway) somewhere [on the Internet] before, but I don’t rememberrrrr, and I can’t read the name on the badge from my crappy photo. Being unable to identify half the people in my pictures makes me sad. Bawww, it was an awesome partial though; the head is especially well-made, I think.

Badass lemur fullsuit! Though I think the best part is the scarf. I’m not sure how people in fullsuits can stand to have extra clothing on over the fur, but sometimes it looks nice. x3 Then again, most of the rooms occupied by the convention were like 40 degrees, especially the Dealer’s Den, so maybe the suiters were better off. >_>

Fullsuit with one of the most elaborate markings I’ve ever seen. o_O Holy craaaap.

There was a sociology grad student milling around collecting interviews regarding opinions and perceptions of the fandom. She stopped to have a lengthy conversation with three guys sitting to the left of us and had a brief conversation later with Billie and I. Eventually, I just started drawing badges for myself to keep busy (left).

I don’t have a fursona, but I have a ton of werewolf characters from one project or another. Tchaikovsky is one of my favorites, even if his name is obnoxiously long and difficult to put on badges. :| Billie did a badge for me too (right). I did a badge for one of Billie’s characters too, but forgot to get a picture before I handed it off to her after the con. Derp. In the mid-afternoon though, I finally got procured some proper commissions from awesome con-goers. Hurray! Something to do! And I think I actually remembered to take pictures of everything I drew this weekend!

This was a commission for an anthro Mew and Umbreon who were to represent light and dark respectively via color scheme and general attitude. I almost never draw Pokemon as anthros, so this was an interesting challenge. I like how the bits of pink turned out on Mew, but I think the black on Umbreon would look a lot better if I could get a proper scan of the picture. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the fellow that commissioned this from me. <_< (If you’re out there, I’d definitely appreciate a scan!)

Sometime in the afternoon, Shannon showed up and plopped down at the table to my right. It was pretty awesome meeting her as she is the first person I’ve met from ‘Souls, a forum RPG I’ve been a part of since 2002 and that I’ve been administrating since 2005. Predictably, most of our conversation was centered around the board and we tried to recruit a few con-goers to the game. :3 I’d actually meant to bring some promo material for the board to pass around but forgot at the last minute. Next time though… next time.

At some point, I made a quick circle around the Dealer’s Den. I was kind of surprised at the number of artists I’d long admired that were present. I didn’t stop to say hello to as many as I probably should have though. SHYYYYYYYYY. <_<

FWA was taking place in the Hilton Atlanta. Our hotel was connected to the Marriott via sky bridge. There was another convention taking place at the Marriott and I’ve heard everything from Future Business Leaders of America to an FBI convention. Maybe both were there, I dunno. All I know is that the Peachtree Mall was connected from the Marriott via another sky bridge. This meant that to get to the closest and cheapest source of food, all the furries at FWA had to go through the Marriott and its swanky crowd of separate con-goers. Obviously, this is a guaranteed amusing affair. I trekked over at some point to find food, joined up with a kinkajou, and we both ended up getting thoroughly lost in the gigantic labyrinth that was the Marriott. Fortunately, we ran into another group of furs who led us to the mall. On the way back, a well-dressed woman stopped me to ask “what in the world [we were] doing over [at the other hotel].” I told her we were having way too much fun.

The first two of eight normal-sized badge commissions I received over the weekend. These both actually came relatively late in the evening, but I liked doing both of them. I am always kind of nervous about drawing cats without a reference because I’m so much more accustomed to drawing canines, but I think Reactiv turned out pretty good. I really like drawing stripes, anyway. :>

Though the rest of our party packed up a few hours earlier, Billie and I stayed in the Artist Alley until 9:00pm or so before mind-numbing exhaustion hit and we packed up for the night. I think my hotelmates went downstairs to the lounge to work on commissions and things for a while, but I just stayed up in the room, played Pokemon a bit, and passed out around 11:00pm.

SATURDAY

I slept for a GLORIOUS seven hours before getting up again at 6:00am and trudging downstairs. There were more people there than on Friday, but it was still pretty empty. I moved up a few tables from where I was Friday to be closer to the door. I rearranged my set-up a little to better advertise for badges and sketches. Since none of the staff had chastised anyone for hanging things off the table or walls, I moved my Pokemon poster to the front of the table and flipped my button board over to display badges and stuff:

The new display included a few other badges I did for myself:

Laruku is my favorite of all the characters I’ve played at ‘Souls (which is a grand total of four, lol). He’s dead now and I miss him. :< (And yes, yes, I named him after L’Arc~en~Ciel. Leave me alone. It was 2004!) I almost never draw him as an anthro, so I guess this is a good reference? Meanwhile, Tchaikovsky’s name is still hard to fit on my pre-cut 4×6″ bristol.

Predictably, Saturday is much busier than Friday and I had a lot less time to take pictures of passing fursuiters. I had wanted to attend the Fursuit Parade in the early afternoon, but in the end, I didn’t want to leave the Alley long enough to do so. Here are the few suiters I did get though:

Jackalopes are automatically awesome.

My former roommate Growly (right), who graduated last spring, and her fiance Andy (left)! I always did like that gryphon head and schnauzers aren’t something I see very often. Plus that dye job is pretty sweet. :o

It’s a lion (with a freakin’ axe)! Get in the car! >:3

FWA was sponsored in part by Monster Energy, keeping everyone awake on con weekends since 2002.

What’s up?

This is the super talented Luve and a red panda I’m not familiar with. :>

Since movable jawsets aren’t terribly common, few fursuiters can speak effectively while in costume. Most will mime things in a mascot-like fashion and it’s adorable. This guy just squeaked. Like a rubber duckie. <3

Beowulf approves of Monster. 8D

This is pretty much the best sparkledog ever. So shiny. SO SHINY.

I did a lot of work Saturday, so I’ll spare you and just post a few of my favorites. Left is an oversized badge I did for Shannon, who has ridiculously complicated markings on all of her character. Thankfully, for her fursona, most of the details are on the back and I didn’t have to draw the back, so ha! Right is an oversized badge I did for Taz, a pica that stopped by several times over the weekend. Pokemon~. My Pokemon had adventures with so many other people during the con via Pokewalker. It was pretty awesome. :D

A pair of freakin’ adorable badges I did for a couple hanging out in AA Saturday and Sunday. Who doesn’t love fat puppies. :3 (Durrhurr, need better pictures. These are so blurry!) I actually finished these two Sunday morning, but whateverrr.

Billie and I stayed in the Alley pretty late Saturday and didn’t pack up until around 11pm or midnight. I feel like I should have more to say about the day, but I don’t really remember much besides just working on things and talking to all the awesome people who stopped by our table. Oh! Rhunya was sitting to our right on Saturday and it was fun hanging out with her as she peddled her Little Boxes of Tail. XD Ryla was also nearby at an adjacent row and I traded some of my Pokemon buttons for some of hers. I overheard some of her conversations at some point and she’s apparently a student at SCADlanta! Vahn also showed up at some point Saturday, which was awesome because I hadn’t seen him since before he graduated last year. x3 Hurray for meeting new people and hanging out with old people, however briefly!

SUNDAY

Got up later than usual on Sunday at around 7:00am. Since I’d packed all my AA stuff with my clothes in my duffle bag anyway, I didn’t have much else to pack up in preparation for check-out. The AA was a little more crowded than previous when I got down there around 7:45am, but this was apparently because a bunch of people just stayed up all night. Billie and I settled back into the original table we had had on Friday and I got to work on some commissions I hadn’t finished yet from the night before (including the Shesta and Spite badges above). Unfortunately, the communal laminator had a meltdown that morning. Our party set up Juliana’s laminator briefly so we could still get things done, but there was a gap in the morning when no one really wanted to fork over their laminator for group use for fear of someone screwing up their machine.

Time really flew on Sunday. I was restless and jittery as soon as I finished my commissions and made several trips to the Dealer’s Den and circled the Artist Alley debating whether I should commission other artists or not. Most of the artists I was interested in were understandably expensive though, and in the end, I didn’t really go through with much. As it was also Sunday, I was anxious that it was likely that anything I commissioned wouldn’t be finished by the end of the con, or at least, when our group would left at the end of AA’s hours at 5:00pm. I did pick up a pair of awesome Pokemon ACEOs (Ivysaur and Croconaw) by Sparky though. I’m really looking forward to gradually expanding my ACEO collection.

5:00pm approached far too quickly. Even though Sunday was almost as slow as Friday in terms of sales and commissions, I really didn’t want to go. ;_; (Because come on, what did I have to look forward to back at school besides an 8:00am art history class?) We hung around until staff started booting people out and even a little bit after that. We were on the road by 6:00pm though and I slept most of the way back to Savannah.

My badges and stuff on Friday. I had more than that, but I didn’t feel like bringing everything. :O A few people inquired as to whether my fursona was seriously a paper crane. Next time, I think I’ll just say yes. XD

All of my badges. Only three of them weren’t done by me though and of those, only one was done at the con (Billie’s). The top left was a badge Lixa did for me as a trade two years ago and the bottom middle (of Tchaikovsky smoking) was one FishyBoner did for me as part of a trade around the same time. We apparently didn’t need to turn in our room keys at check out so I ended up just keeping mine? Derp. The Hilton was such an awesome hotel. *_*

We got back to Savannah just past ten. As I said, I really want to go to more fur cons. FWA was much better organized than almost every anime con I’ve been to, probably because 1) there are only a fraction of the attendees, 2) the average age of the attendee is older. Less people meant I was able to recognize and remember more people over the course of the weekend since many of the same people came by multiple times. An older group meant there were less little annoyances such as younger kids running around screaming about whatever and less inconsiderateness. (There was a bout of howling down the in the hotel atrium Friday night, but this was more lulzy than annoying.) That the furry community is centered around personal characters rather than various specific fandoms meant there was pretty much no excessive fantarding. It was nice. :O

I know Kit and Juliana are headin’ up to Anthrocon and maybe MFF. Shannon may also be at both. I wish I could figure out my post-graduation plans so I could work out if these things are feasible (along with other things like Otakon, AX, NYCC/NYAF, etc). For now though, I really ought to just wrap up this report and get back to my Senior Project work.

tl;dr: I HAD AN AWESOME WEEKEND. THANKS EVERYONE WHO STOPPED BY AND TALKED TO ME. I HOPE TO GO TO MORE FUR CONS IN THE FUTURE.

CHEERS.

Oh, almost forgot. The volunteer security for the con was Animal Control.

3 Comments

  1. If you come to AC I will totally actually try and attend. WE CAN HANG OUT DUDE.

  2. Duh, Mel, one of the biggest reasons I want to go to AC is to hang out with youuuuuu~. 83

  3. Bwahah. Yeah, I wasn’t gonna be mean enough to make you do her back markings. I’m sure you’ll put requirements on anything I get from you if I had made you do that. :D

    The boys are still drooling over the badge btw, it was stolen from the headboard of the bed Saturday night.

    And I might be going to AC, will be at MFF. I don’t have anything arranged for AC so I don’t really know. MFF is always arranged for me. <3

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