Convention Artists VS COVID-19

Well. It’s now been over a year since I’ve been to a convention. This past new years was the first time in 10 years that I wasn’t in Austin for Ikkicon.

2020 was a lot, but I’ve always found it better to know concretely how bad things actually are than to merely speculate. Coronavirus numbers locally, nationally, and worldwide are mind-boggling and terrible, but it’s better to have them than to not know. And so, too, I wanted to know exactly how badly artists have been affected by a year without conventions and how they plan to move forward.

Get the 34-page report

Survey Data

As always, the spreadsheet data used for the report is available for free. There are dozens of ways to cross-examine and compare data points, and there’s no way for me to present the information from all possible angles. You’re welcome (and encouraged!) to run your own numbers and perform your own analysis.

Timestamps were stripped to help preserve the anonymity of respondents; however, the month during which each response was submitted was retained to help provide context. Responses were accepted between June and October 2020.

The adjusted spreadsheet made updates to correct inconsistent and/or contradictory responses. For example, some respondents indicated that they “didn’t have an online store,” but then proceeded to provide online store data.

Convention Artists VS COVID-19 preview

Convention Artists VS COVID-19

Features:

  • 34 total pages featuring neatly-presented data, such as:
    • Respondent demographics, including age, region, designation (professional, hobbyist, student), convention experience, etc.
    • Artist preferences and outlook with regard to future conventions, e.g. how soon artists are likely to return to cons, whether they prefer to refund or rollover existing commitments, etc.
    • Financial impact of convention cancellations, unemployment insurance, US stimulus, etc.
    • Online store sales now compared to pre-pandemic, store platform preference, effect of virtual cons, etc.
  • 70 total charts and graphs
  • 7 pages of select artist commentary on how COVID-19 has affected the overall convention community and economy

To expedite the report compilation process, I didn’t include numeric tables this time, so the report is almost entirely charts and graphs. Be sure to check sample sizes! Unfortunately, the survey saw very low representation for artists outside of North America and skews heavily towards the 23-29 year-old and 30-39 year-old age groups.

What the Numbers Say

Well, the good news is that 78% of respondents were not put in financial danger by the loss of convention income, though many were inconvenienced.

The bad news is that that’s still 22% in some financial danger, including 2% overall who reported being devastated by the loss. Roughly a third (32%) of respondents said they made at least half their income from conventions in 2019 and 28% estimated that they lost $10,000 or more in convention income in 2020.

80% of artists get fewer than 50 orders a month via their online stores, with 51% of total respondents getting fewer than 10 orders a month, so online sales aren’t nearly what they’d be at in-person events.

43% of respondents said they would not return to conventions without a vaccine, but quite a few said that they would be forced to because of their financial situation. 4% of respondents said they might never return to conventions. Our community is small. 4% is a lot.

There’s a lot to be taken from the data. Some of the correlations are surprising; some aren’t. I don’t know that the numbers make me feel better, exactly, but I’m glad to have them.

Stay safe out there, everyone.

About the author

Kiri is an illustrator, writer, and (brush) pen enthusiast in Seattle with over 12 years of convention vending experience and an inclination towards verbosity.