I am an art school dropout, and I have not sketched anything other than accessory patterns for literally years. There is a reason I concentrated on photography! But last night I attended the Fargo branch of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School, with guest model Bender !Flames! and I really enjoyed stretching my brain muscles a little. My first few sketches were crap, but I got better after I warmed up a bit. It’s still not great, especially compared to some of the awesomeness that was on display, but I feel better about my mental workout the next day. If you enjoy drawing or even wire art (as one original young man did last night) I’d encourage you to check it out in your area. There are at least 100 branches throughout the world! Dr. Sketchy’s new Fargo home is at the Beefsteak Club. The next session will be Dec. 12.
Boy howdy, have we ever been busy lately! Too busy to blog, apparently, but I will start making up for that now.
CoreCon 2012 was the second year of the KEEP con suite. If you are unfamiliar with fan conventions a con suite (or hospitality or party suite) is basically a party room, usually with a theme, that is open to the attendees of the convention. It may be hosted by the convention itself, or by fans who just want to throw a party.
The KEEP consists of Karen, Eric, Erica (me), and Paul. This year, in following with the apocalypse theme, we decorated sort of like a fallout shelter/ossuary for the general room layout. Friday was “Puppets of the Apocalypse,” which included a puppet stage and 3 different puppet shows, each running twice. Saturday was “Doomsday Cinema.” If you are considering running a con/hospitality/party suite here are some things to think about, and how we dealt with them:
Decoration: We used Scene Setters wall coverings this year, which we attached to the wall with blue painters’ tape. We also had a gas mask and warning posters for that special extra touch. That part was not too complicated or expensive.
When planning for decorations consider how you will attach them to the walls. Do not use anything that will damage wallpaper or leave holes in the walls or ceiling. You are liable for any damages. Also, be aware of any impediments like smoke alarms, a/c unit, pictures that won’t come off the wall. You can’t cover smoke detectors or sprinklers.
Activities/Entertainment: Friday night was the puppet show, which also sort of falls under the “decor” category. We were able to borrow a puppet stage from the library, used a backdrop stand to help support it and hung up muslin left over from last year’s circus tent theme as a curtain. Saturday night we removed the puppet stage and set up a movie screen in its place, running apocalypse-themed films.
When planning for activities and entertainment think about if this is something you would like to see or do yourself, and if it would keep you in the room.
Refreshments: We had Kool-Aid, candy, and homemade cookies.
When planning for food and drink consider what is practical and if you have the necessary facilities to pull it off. You will probably be lucky to get a mini fridge and microwave in the room. You may not be allowed to have hot plates. Find out ahead of time. Typically plan to have a serving for every expected attendee of the convention. Yep, that’s a lot. Some people will not show up, and others may take seconds. It should even out. Chocolate goes fast.
New things we learned this year:
- People love puppets. I was really surprised to find we had a full house for all six shows. Rock on.
- People are less interested in homemade cookies than we expected. We thought we’d be bribing people with the cookies in hopes they would stay for the show. It was the other way around.
We did a panel at CoreCon 2012 on this subject, and I would like to say a big THANKS to Karen for writing the outline, and to House, Carrie and Kim for contributing. The following comes from that panel.
Top tips for preparation:
- Plan way ahead.
- Decide on your theme.
- Find out what kind of space you are working with (talk to the con chair) and what is available – chairs, tables, etc. See if you can get room dimensions.
- Find out what the Con expects/requires from you.
- Determine who you can actually count on to help before, during and after the con. Plan for breaks for everyone involved.
- Figure out your budget. If it will be extravagant consider spreading the cost out over the course of many months.
- Look at all of your resources. What do you have around your home or work that already fits into your theme? Do any members of your group have talents for sewing, designing, building, etc that you can use?
- Determine how you will transport and store decorations and props, before and after the con. Will it fit through the door?
- Decide if you will have commerce (selling stuff) in your room. At some cons this is prohibited, and there may be tax codes or health codes to deal with. I am personally biased against commerce because I think of it as a party for your 500 closest friends, not a business opportunity. That being said, if you are selling something akin to a meal, I can’t really fault you for wanting to cover some of your expenses. Use your best judgement.
- Decide if you will have alcohol. YOU CANNOT CHARGE FOR ALCOHOL. And I wouldn’t recommend selling cups and then “giving away” the alcohol. You, not the con, are responsible for checking IDs and badges so be prepared for that. Giving alcohol to a minor is a big deal. Plus it is expensive. But it is also a party and will get more traffic in your room, so choose wisely.
- Test all recipes ahead of time.
- If possible, practice set up and tear down, and a run-through of any activities.
- Design an ad and fliers.
- Consider drawings or prizes.
- Consider a tip jar. You won’t make your money back, but it’s worth a shot.
- Make a checklist of every single little thing you will need, like remote controls, batteries, lights, napkins, cups, serving utensils, doorstop, etc.
- Make sure you know the check-in and check-out times of the hotel.
Top tips at the con:
- Get in as early as possible.
- Be aware of badges. Non con-goers should not be in your room. Check all IDs if you have alcohol.
- If you have food and drink consider getting self-adhesive painter’s plastic for the floor. It has paid for itself in our suite for sure! As I said earlier, you are liable for any damages to the room. We bought ours at Lowe’s, but I can’t find it on the web site. It’s in the flooring section.
- Make sure to schedule breaks for everyone involved so you don’t miss the rest of the con, and you can check out all the other excellent suites!
- Get a contact for security in case you have any trouble, and do it BEFORE you open up the room.
On a personal note:
- Don’t take it personally if you don’t get much traffic. Some days are good, some aren’t. Maybe nobody was in the mood, or another suite stole your thunder. It happens.
- Taking into account the above, do this for yourself first and foremost. If nobody else shows up at least you will have fun.
- Be realistic about how much time you actually have to dedicate to this project, both before and during the con. When we started out with the puppet show idea we were talking about doing a different show every half-hour all night. Eventually we got real and only did hourly shows that lasted about 5-6 minutes. Don’t burn yourself out.
- As I said earlier, this is not a money making venture. We figured we spent around $700 amongst the four of us over the course of the year leading up to CoreCon 2012. Much of that expense was for things that we would have bought eventually anyway (portable movie screen, for instance). We had to pay for the room, decorations, food and drink. We also have a lot of puppets left over that we may never use again, and we had a prize drawing each night Friday and Saturday. We got $6 in tips. You do NOT have to spend a crapload of money on a suite! You just have to get creative.
Even though it was a lot of work we had a blast this year, and we won second place for our suite! That means we get a full-page ad in next year’s program! Now we have to figure out how to top this year’s success in 2013. I’m sure we’ll sort something out in our spare time.
Props to Puppets by Margie for our custom-made puppets! If you have any questions or suggestions please put them in the comments.
I was recently tagged by Karifur for the Elevensies meme. So in keeping with my Spare Time theme, I’m going to give you eleven spare time adventures I have tried:
2. Sewing – I constructed the coin bra and harem pants in the above pic.
3. Photography. I don’t get a chance to do this as much anymore. I miss it a lot, but I only have so much spare time! Check it out here. NSFW!!!
5. Soapmaking. I had to give this one up, so I buy hand-made soap on Etsy.com.
6. Papermaking – that was particularly short-lived.
7. I went back to MSUM and took art classes several years ago. I prefer photography.
8. NaNoWriMo – I have completed two novels and given up on two novels.
9. Collecting art by local artists.
10. Travel – this also combines with photography, but I have a separate web site for travel.
11. Fused glass – Actually, I start that in earnest next month. Wish me luck!
And now for Kari’s bonus questions:
1. In retrospect, what hair and/or fashion trend do you most regret following? Was it caught on film? Neon. It was the 80’s, and I only bought one shirt. My dad probably has a picture somewhere.
2. What is the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? Did you like it? Probably beef tongue. Good flavor but the texture was hard to get used to.
3. What would YOU do for a Klondike bar? Not much.
4. Whistling: awesome or annoying? Annoying
5. Rock climbing, deep-sea diving, or spelunking? Rock climbing, if the rock was not taller than me.
6. Blanket Forts or Snow Forts? Explain. Blanket fort – I live in ND!
7. Who would play you in the Lifetime TV Movie of your life? Monica Bellucci, because then my husband would totally watch it.
8. Would you rather have a TARDIS or a time machine made out of DeLorean? (If you had to click either of these links, go to the back of the class) Tardis
9. Can you drive a stick shift without dropping the transmission on the road en-route? Yes!
10. Which movie do you most wish you could un-see? Battlefield Earth
11. DisneyWorld/DisneyLand: Magic Kingdom or Overrated? We went to Disney World for our honeymoon. It rained a lot. Epcot was fun. The lines are too long for rides, which over too fast.
So now you know a bit more about little ol’ me. Coming soon: How I made that coin bra! To be published when I get some more spare time.
Well, it has been a couple of weeks but I’ve been keeping busy. Last weekend Eric and I were working on free-form sculptures that will, eventually, become panels for a spaceship interior (think MST3K). This will be for a photo narrative project that we have been working on. The story itself was Eric’s idea, and being the creative and artistic sort of person he is I just had to ask him to collaborate with me!
I can’t be sure how long it has taken him, but Eric has amassed heaven knows how many caps, bottles, cups and miscellaneous found objects for just such an occasion. And thank goodness for that! Last weekend we glued a lot of his collection to mat boards in whatever way we found aesthetically pleasing and over this week I have been working on painting them. This has been tremendous fun! There was something really Zen about this sort of non-representational art. No expectations or rules, just whatever we felt like doing.
I ran out of spray paint pretty early on so I’m behind schedule. I am using Krylon Fusion in hammered silver. It’s a great paint for plastic, but it has to be non-porous plastic. If you try to paint rubber it will never dry. I tried it on a pair of rubber boots and I ended up throwing them out. We used E6000, hot glue and double-sided foam tape depending on which type of material we were trying to adhere.
I just can’t wait until they are all painted and hanging up!
In other news, I am trying to tie dye a pair of jeans, and as if I don’t have enough to do, I have volunteered to teach a belly dance class this fall. I’m really excited about teaching actually. But I’ll tell you all about that when I get more spare time.