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Otakon 2012: Artist Alley

August 14, 2012

Last year, I didn’t spend very much time in the Artist Alley which I felt rather unhappy with myself about. So this year I made a point to get down there early and give it a good walk-through. I am exceedingly happy that I did because it ended up being one of the many highlights of Otakon.

In 2011, I wrote about AnimeNEXT’s budding Artist Alley with its increased variety of styles and offerings. I’m pleased to say this trend has extended to Otakon’s alley as well. People’s styles were emerging and more apparent. There was a robust nature to the artwork that made booths pop. There was really so much to see that even when going down an aisle for a second time, I end up stopping some place new or seeing a piece I hadn’t noticed on the previous tour.

And thus I ended up buying more than a few items, so much so that I banned myself from returning after finishing my once through on Saturday morning.

The styles littering Otakon’s Artist Alley were wonderfully diverse from simple iconic pieces to deeply detailed pencil sketches. Stylization on the characters we know and love was fairly common, people were having fun with their individuality. Gone was the homogeneity of super shiny bodies and soulless eyes.

Who and what people were taking creative license with ran the gamut. Beyond anime and manga, I saw plenty of things from live action TV like Sherlock, big movies like The Avengers, and cartoons that are all the rage like Adventure Time. Though what surprised me most was the multiple people creating Motorcity fan-art!

There were also quite a few professional and webcomic artists in the alley which added another layer to the room as well.

Prints and postcards will always be in abundance at any anime convention artist alley. They are instantly attractive and even if you don’t buy them, they are a quick way to see the styles of the artists laid out before you. They serve as wall art for the artists to show who they are just as much as they are a product for sale.

I picked up at pair of vibrant Sailor Moon postcards from Bonnie Tang. Plus, Bryan Turner was there selling fun G.I. JOE standees so of course I went for Snake Eyes which ended up being the last one he had and it was only Friday night. As well as a cute little Link sticker from Sheila Machicado who happens to be a student at my alma mater.

My favorite kind of multifunctional print is a bookmark so I snatched up this lovely one of Haku from Spirited Away by Lauren Brown, the flow of the image really works well in this format.

If you’ve been to an Artist Alley at an anime convention in the last couple of years, you’ll have noticed a number of more crafty people popping up. This has most notably been for various hats with ears/etc. Well, at Otakon this year’s crafts were more expanded than ever. I saw a wonderful variety of bags some hand sewn and some made from imported Japanese fabrics with adorable prints, plenty of jewelery makers from beading to polymer clay, people making all kinds of 3D pixel art, and even a guy who created sculptures out of old video game wares and other electronics. And there were still plenty of hats, hair accessories, and even wigs.

I picked up a little pouch for my iPod from Note Happy, though it could be used for other things, and barely resisted some of the more expensive offerings other places.

And of course I have a great weakness for buttons though this time I contained myself to just one button per artist I liked. I tried to grab a variety of art styles as well as characters.

I couldn’t resist such a cute Sky High button by Erica. While the unique style of Kristin Wight drew me to the Sailor Moon one. The more graphic nature of Laura Langston’s Zelda button was great. And the Toneberry by Jeannie Lee was a quick impulse.

Since the surprise of the alley was so much Motorcity love, I couldn’t leave without something from the show so I picked up a button of Mike by Ellen Alsop. There was also a great number of people cosplaying Tsuritama at the con which made me happy too, so I also picked up a Natsuki button from Mookie.

One of the big surprises was WXY Zell who was doing Japanese-style doujin. The Tiger & Bunny book I picked up had a glossy cover and included to postcard prints. The story is a silly little episode with cute BL moments. I wish I’d had enough to pick up her other Tiger & Bunny doujin as well.

On a similar note, I saw a couple of fanzine type of books in the alley, too. The one I ended up picking out was a very thick black and white collection of many, many artists drawing Sailor Moon called In the Name of the Moon (#2). Some were just one-off images while others were short comics.

As a side note, Sailor Moon had always remained popular but with the rerelease of manga in English, I saw so much more Sailor Moon stuff in the Artist Alley.

In general, I saw a few more people than in the past selling original comics mixed in with their other wares. Or at least a little short story collected into a thin volume with a paper cover.

There were even more established artists in the alley like Lora Innes who writes the webcomic The Dreamer which has started to be put out in collected form by IDW. It was rather a coincidence seeing her as just a few days before I’d read a LA Times article mentioning her comic. It seemed like fate, so I went ahead and picked up vol. 1. I reviewed it in the last Ongoing Investigation, but the short version is: it is great, go it read now!

There is a huge volume of work to look at in Otakon’s Artist Alley and I’m not even including the Art Show, so it is really a feast for the eyes. I was so pleased to see variety in style and offerings this year. So thank you artists of Otakon’s Artist Alley, you truly made it memorable.

More Otakon 2012 posts:

Otakon 2012: Tweets
Otakon 2012: Pirated ANNcast
Otakon 2012: General Impressions
Otakon 2012: 15-minutes with Gen Urobuchi

Otakon 2012: Guests

Otakon 2012: Fan Panels

Crime Scene Investigations #004: Otakon 2012

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4 comments

  1. Hi. I saw that you purchased a button at Otakon 2012 from the same artist I did and I was wondering if you picked up one of their cards or knew their name. I lost my button and I’m trying to find them to see if I can buy another one before next Otakon. It’s the one with the purple and white polka dotted background with the blond character. Thanks if you can help me out.


  2. Hi! I was doing a random google search and saw a picture of my own Haku bookmark on display! I got so excited when I read this post; I wanted to thank you for sharing your findings and taking the time to link back to me and everyone else who sold you merchandise! I’m going to be back at Otakon this year, and I hope to see you again, as well! Thanks again-

    -Lauren


    • I’m glad you found my article. I look forward to see your work this year!

      ~ kate



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