In the last few years, many conventions’ fan artwork sections have become a little dull; there has been a sameness creeping into the works where I found myself wondering where the personality of the artist was in it. I wasn’t originally planning to do a special post on AnimeNEXT’s artist alley, but once I got to take a look around the quality and diversity made me need to do one. Artist Alley ended up being one of my favorite parts of this year’s convention and helped restore my desire to see what people were doing with fan-art again.
The first thing that struck me was the abundance of unique wares. Instead of mostly prints being sold, of which there were still many, you could find everything from bags to pillows, buttons to cellphone straps, clay figures to magnets, and even paper craft. Below you can see the Kenshin folded paper figure I picked up. I actually have a couple of these from Japan of generic girls in kimonos so it was a treat to find anime character ones. Upon speaking to the artists Lily and Alan they revealed they probably won’t be making anymore because a full day was spent crafting each one. I hope I was enthusiastic enough to change their minds with my urging. I also picked up a funny Zoro standee (and I know Evan at Ani-Gamers picked up a Vegeta one, too) by nakira which adds a little extra by bringing it into the 3D realm. Continuing my way around the alley there were some adorable and hilarious giant pillows like a penguin onigiri, but it was a little out of my price range at $50. Hand stitched bags and small purses jumped out at me as well.
There were still plenty of prints to be seen, but even within that there was more variation of styles displayed; cute or intense, traditional media or digital covered booths which was truly refreshing. And it was rare to walk by and not see many artists hard at work sketching. I picked up a couple of laminated bookmarks as I like a little more function in my prints. It was great to see Katizua displaying delightful Sailor Moon artwork rendering each senshi with an astrological sign (and no I’m not a Capricorn). project Icicle who I picked up the Howl’s Moving Castle piece from was a large team of 8 so they had many styles and seemed more business minded. While not the most unique items in tow, I’m pretty much a sucker for buttons, nothing makes me more happy than adding a few to my already unwieldy collection like a cute, little Prince from Katamari Damacy made by kristilyn. Yoon had some of my favorite stuff and she did a lot of non-anime related pieces. She said she’s been a big DC fan for a while hence my luck in picking up some Young Justice buttons! There were a number of people showing off other series too including a couple of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic artists (and cosplayers) about.
Attendees and artists alike seem to be divided on the move of Artist Alley from the Double Tree hotel to the convention center proper. At first, I found it generally pleasing and thought it gave the artists more traffic being near the dealers room. On the downside, since it stays open later, it also dealt with noise from late-night main events like concerts and the masquerade. Plus, throughout the day the line queue for major must-sees resides next to it. While none of this was a problem for me just walking through, I can imagine artists sitting there for hours were having their nerves fried. Wherever they decide to put it next year, I will be there!
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