What Happened in June

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Post  Ellen-Natalie on Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:49 pm

I’m posting this wall of text to talk about June. I avoid posting about my personal life online, but I also believe artists should share the hard, uncomfortable experiences that come with building a career in art. I encountered some of these last month, and I hope sharing my experience can help other aspiring artists. This post is about why I had to cancel the trip to Anthrocon.

First, I’m sorry about not announcing the show cancellation earlier. Finding the words to talk about it has been more difficult than I thought. If anyone is at Anthrocon right now and disappointed we won’t meet, know I’m also upset about that. Anthrocon is an amazing show, I know you’ll still have a great experience, I wish I could be there.

When I got notified of being accepted into Anthrocon, I kept re-reading the email to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood anything. It’s one of the biggest furry conventions in the country, has a long amazing history in the fandom, and it was their first year of doing a curated selection for their dealers - meaning dealers were being chosen for the quality and diversity of their work. Being selected for this show was one of the most validating moments of my career. But it would also the farthest I’d ever travelled for a show, the biggest show I’d ever attended, and ultimately the most expensive show I’d ever prepared for.

The key to making a profit at a convention minimizing expenses. Carpool to the event, share rooms, learn how to make instant ramen with a coffee maker, etc. Any decreased expense you can manage will contribute to a larger profit margin from your sales. I didn’t know any other dealers well enough to make arrangements to carpool or share hotel rooms, but I could still cut down expenses by driving to the convention, book a cheap motel by the airport, and commute into the city each day for the show.

However, at the time when I would have been putting down money on these things, I found out I owed taxes for the previous year. A lot of taxes. Paying the taxes right away wiped out my savings. It was the right choice for my situation, but the consequences from it spiraled into what ultimately would make me to cancel the show months later.

My art business is currently able to cover all my living expenses except rent. The original plan was to use my savings to pay rent for the summer while I went to conventions, then use the convention sales to replenish my savings and use contacts from the conventions to get more work for the fall months. If I couldn’t get more work, the contingency plan was to get a temp job, then save my paychecks over the winter to travel and try again the next summer. But with my savings wiped out, I had to re-enter the workforce right away. It was the right choice for my situation. But it made prep for an already expensive show even more so.

Instead having a week to drive my merch back and forth from Anthrocon, my new employer would allow two days. This means I would have to fly out, and either ship my merchandise to the show separately or pack it in another suitcase and pay the luggage fee. Since I wouldn’t have my car to commute, I’d either need to rent a car upon arriving or book a hotel within walking distance of the convention, in the middle of the city. Fortunately I was able to reserve one of the discounted hotel rooms the city offered show attendees, but even with the discount the hotel bill would be much more expensive than I’d planned.

Despite the dramatic increase of travel costs and having less money to pay it with, I didn’t hesitate with moving forward. This was Anthrocon! I had make this work! I compensated the pricier travel by cutting the expenses of merch. Fortunately, I always keep a small inventory on hand for online sales. I could sell that instead of buying more inventory, and use the art supplies I already had for show commissions. There was just enough money to put down a reservation deposit for the hotel right away, and with each day job paycheck I could slowly purchase one or two of the smaller travel supplies. And if I stuck to my savings plan, then I could buy a plane ticket the following month, June.

Everything was coming together, until it was time to buy the plane ticket. With the timetable I was shopping for, even the cheapest flights were more expensive than I’d planned. Big city. Holiday weekend. High demand. However, I could still afford it. I could get out there. But the small savings I’d collected the past few months would be wiped out again. The only way the hotel bill and state taxes would be paid was if I sold enough to cover them during Anthrocon.

In a comic book, this is when the artist would choose to belief in themselves, take the risk, then be rewarded with sales and success to pay all their bills. But in business, your success does not come from taking risks on blind belief. It comes from taking calculated risks, beliefs gained after research and preparation. Before buying the ticket, I had to at least know how many bills needed to be paid when the show ended. How much I would need to sell to make back I’d paid into the show. Learning these numbers are what made me decide to cancel.

With the plan ticket purchase, the expenses would rise to a point that to break even I would need to sell all the books I was bringing - over a hundred - and complete thirty commissions on top of that. I have never sold quantities that large, even at my most successful conventions. And when I got back, I would still have business expenses unrelated to the show to take care of - restocking inventory for the next convention, and paying quarterly taxes.

I could to get there. But even if I sold out of everything, even if I could somehow get thirty commissions done in a weekend, even if I could pay off every expense and use every resource at my disposal, I would still not be able to pay rent when I got back.

I knew what the right choice was for my situation. I sent an email to the show, apologizing and asking cancel my registration. Then I gave myself the rest of the evening to cry.

June is not a good month for my mental health. It’s filled with sad anniversaries, sleepless nights, and dark, lonely thoughts. But I know it’s coming each year, and May is used to prepare for it. I schedule time to reconnect with friends, events to take me outside, projects to keep me busy and weather the worst of it. This year, the project was preparing for Anthrocon. Getting ready for Anthrocon became so important to me that I’d avoided events and meeting friends so I’d have more time to prep and earn money for the show. That was not the right choice for my situation.

The depression of cancelling the show, plus the depression of June, compounded with having nothing else in place for self care, drained me. I turned into an old battery - unable to hold a charge. I could function enough to get to the day job and get along with people, but doing so would take up so much energy I was exhausted by the time I got home. I started taking a nap to recharge before doing comic work. Then I needed a longer nap. Then I needed more than one. It seemed no matter how much I slept, I was still tired when I got in front of the computer.

So, I started taking time away from the computer. Going outside. Meeting up with friends. Cleaning up the area I’m living in. Venting about what’s going on in my head with people I trust. It didn’t fix everything, but it’s helped. I’m not as tired all the time anymore. And I can sit in front of a computer and think about what I’m about to create, instead of what I failed at. And there’s still Furry Siesta happening next month, a convention much closer to home and I now have more resources to invest in it, more energy to be excited for it.

I’ll be posting more updates about Furry Siesta and other projects as I’m catching up. Thank you guys for your patience and continued support. I was expecting to receive a lot of anger and resentment from being absent, and instead got several messages concerned about my well being. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly kind you all are.

Whatever your situation is, you know what the right choices are to take care of yourself. Even if they’re heartbreaking, you have the courage and wisdom to make those choices. And you will be better for it.

Posts : 2012
Join date : 2011-03-24
Age : 32


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Post  The J.A.M. on Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:37 pm

The J.A.M.
The J.A.M.

Posts : 752
Join date : 2011-11-11
Age : 47
Location : Somewhere in Mexico...


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Post  MiketheTexan on Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:40 am

You sure are a strong person. That's a lot to go through in one month, but you made the hard decisions instead of just letting things happen. I'm really glad you have friends who you trust and find comfort with.

Hopefully TFS goes well.

We're all rooting for you.

Posts : 2
Join date : 2019-02-06

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Post  Cutekitty on Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:41 pm

Oh goodness. That's a lot to deal with. I'm so sorry you had to, and I'm glad you're starting to recover. Thank you for taking the time to share what's been going on and let us know how you're doing.

In case this is of any use... are any of the things you do with friends physical? If not, and if you can find the resources and time, practicing dance or a contact-heavy sport or martial art might be helpful. It's no more a magical fix than any of the other self-care strategies you mentioned, but for me personally, practicing aikido helped me get out of a terrible headspace. I think it worked so well because it attacked depression on several fronts at once--endorphins from exercise, friendly (albeit martial) physical contact, a community to provide a sense of belonging and emotional support, a focus on my own body and how it was moving that forced me out of my own head, and a sense of achievement that wasn't tied to finances or popularity or even to completing a project. It took a while, but it worked. I practiced two to three times per week and still do.

I understand if your circumstances would make something like that difficult, though, or if it wouldn't do for you what it did for me.

As MiketheTexan said, we're all rooting for you.

Posts : 478
Join date : 2011-03-25
Age : 25

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