2019 Convention Artist Survey results & conclusion

The official end time for the 2019 Survey has passed, and the raw spreadsheet of results is available here. With that, this project is mostly concluded, though there are still a few loose ends…

2019 Convention Artist Survey

This year, a mere 484 responses were collected, fewer responses than every previous year other than the first, in 2014, when I only collected responses for a month and only for 13 specific conventions. I haven’t gone through to check how many unique conventions were represented, but only 6 conventions had at least 10 responses (Anime Expo, Anime Los Angeles, Emerald City Comicon, MAGFest, Otakuthon, and SacAnime Winter) to qualify for an individual report.

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Total Responses 670 650 782 987 484
Cons Ranked*
16 14 18 18 6

* Number of conventions with at least 10 responses.

When the report for the 2018 Convention Artist Survey was finally completed, I mentioned that 2019’s survey would be the last for a while, and that there would likely not be a corresponding report to dissect the data and present it in charts and graphs. I imagine that this killed a lot of the incentive to respond at all, which is understandable enough. I’ve also promoted the survey comparatively little in the last year, mostly because I felt bad pushing the 2019 survey before the 2018 report was finished, and the 2018 report wasn’t until July, when the year was already half over.

Still, it’s a little sad to see the numbers drop so dramatically. I’ve left the 2019 survey open, so you can still contribute responses if you’d like. I’m still not planning to do a 2019 report, but on the off-chance the survey eventually gets to ~750 responses, I think a 5-year report might be fun.

Artist Census

The Artist Census I intended to end in October, but it didn’t end up collecting enough responses there to make a report feel worthwhile. So that’s also still open. I do still want to do a report with the census data though!

I’m hoping at some point the census will hit 350 responses, which is roughly the minimum for a statistically significant sample size assuming there are 3,000 convention artists in the world, lol. As always, more is better! ;) Is it too much to hope for 500 responses? (As of this writing, there are 100 responses exactly!)

2019 Convention Artist Census
I should update this to say 2019-2020, I guess??

Report Takeaways

The most important takeaway from the last several years of surveys is perspective. This was included in the introduction of almost every report, but I think it’s worth repeating.

In [over ten years, now] of vending at conventions, I’ve found that there aren’t really many reliable trends.

Factors that seem to dramatically affect one convention won’t reliably apply to other conventions. Changes that affect one convention in a positive way will affect a different convention in a negative way. There’s always too many other factors at play, no matter how much you narrow the dataset. Patterns are misleading and everything is a lie? The fan-run nature of most conventions contributes to a volatility that isn’t found in other industries.

Still, numbers and figures are what they are, and I think statistics and analysis remain valuable for insight, even if it’s sometimes hard to apply that knowledge predicatively.

It’s important to have a frame of reference to which to ground expectations. Having an idea of how much you can make at a con, given various factors, helps inform decisions about investing into a con, and having other numbers and metrics can help determine where you stand in the crowd, and what’s realistic for future growth.

Sites like Artist Alley Confidential exist now for general artist-perspective reviews of conventions, and huge, active communities like Artist Alley Network International are easy to ping for a quick opinion. It’s not hard to find out what the general opinion of certain shows are, especially large ones. Every now and again, you can still find some good ol’ fashioned con reports on artist blogs for some in-depth info and drama.

Financial data is still hard to come by, but I think averages from the past several reports are likely to hold true for the next few years at least, so they can still provide various baselines to compare against. And for whatever the reports don’t specifically cover, there are still thousands (3,573!) of individual responses to reference in the annual spreadsheets. I’ve always thought it was nice to be able to compare numbers between artists of different disciplines, different experience levels, and so on, so I hope folks continue to utilise these resources.

I’m really grateful to everyone who’s reached out over the years to say that the reports have been helpful to them, but with the past reports and survey data perpetually available, I don’t think it’s a huge loss that the survey is coming to an end.

Stay Updated

I’ll continue to maintain the survey mailing list, so feel free to subscribe for updates, or to unsubscribe if you’re not interested in the census or whatever else that’s related that I end up doing.

Many thanks to all who’ve contributed their sweet, sweet data to this project over the years. Ya’ll the real MVPs. ♥

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About the author

Kiri is a Seattle-based artist, writer, webmaster, and (brush) pen enthusiast with over 12 years of convention and event vending experience and a lot of opinions.