Anime Expo 2008
by Sara Pocock,
Anime Expo's crowded artist alley is full of energy as hundreds of artists sell drawings, paintings, clothing, jewelry and even animation. Conveniently located adjacent to the Exhibit Hall, Artist Alley provides an accessible outlet for artists and patrons alike to buy and sell fan-created artwork.
With roughly 200 tables set up and elaborately decorated with wares, this year's Artist Alley sellers ranged from the run-of-the-mill (not to mention wildly varying in quality) fanart printouts to elaborate homemade Lolita fashion items. While the majority of the artists opted to sell 2D art, many tables offered other goods such as magnets, jewelry, bookmarks, T-shirts, and pins. Quacked! Plush featured an adorable display of painstakingly created custom plushies—guaranteed to soften even the hardest of hearts. The cosplay buffs of Goddess Boutique exhibited a table full of frilly skirts, wigs, chokers, and other accessories. Mecha Fetus and Paul Robertson, in addition to selling stickers and comics, displayed their animated short film Kings of Power 4 Billion % and offered copies of the DVD for sale. Commission signs were abundant as well, and many artists spent much of the time behind their tables hard at work, drawing commissioned requests.
The mood in the Alley is amiable and the con attendees chat enthusiastically with the artists and express general admiration for the artwork. Business has been brisk and the artists compared sales favorably to earlier years at Anime Expo. Business was more or less steady in the first three days of the convention, but picked up on Saturday, with the increase in convention attendees.
In addition to the artist tables, the Anime Expo Art Show is displayed nearby. Made up of work submitted by Artist Alley vendors and other Anime Expo attendees, the Art Show provides a space where artists can display larger and more intricate works. Each piece displayed in the Art Show is marked with a bid price and potential buyers can participate in a silent auction over the course of the convention. Once a piece of artwork is bid on four times, it automatically qualifies for a live auction, which will take place on Sunday at 11:30 am. The work here covers a wide variety of styles and starting bids were marked anywhere from $3 to $120. Many of the fan favorites—including a series of “squishy” renditions of Gurren Lagann characters—were quickly marked for live auction.
GOFA (the Gallery of Fantastic Art) hosted its third annual art contest, which awarded a cash prize to the best Art Show submission on Saturday. Another contest, the Anime Expo Model Contest, judged a number of high-quality model kits based on technical and aesthetic merits. In addition to the art contest, GOFA featured an exhibition titled “The World of Takada Akemi,” featuring several works from the artist's celebrated career. Takada's character design credits include Patlabor, Kimagure Orange Road, Fancy Lala, Maison Ikkoku and Urusei Yatsura. Prints of Takada's work were available for purchase and Takada herself was in attendance on Saturday afternoon to sign autographs. She is also signing work on Sunday morning.
Also on display in the GOFA gallery is artwork from acclaimed Japanese artists such as Range Murata, Mahiro Maeda, Takuhito Kusanagi, Yutaka Izubuchi, Takayuki Goto, Okama, Go Nagai, and Shigeru Mizuki. Prints from these artists are on sale as well, just in case an Artist Alley attendee decides to supplement his/her fanart collection with some industry work.
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