UNIQUE LOS ANGELES - December 5th & 6th
Posted: Nov 01 2015
I'm one of the vendors at the UNIQUE LA Holiday Market the weekend of December 5th & 6th, and I can't fucking wait.
I've taken a serious step back from shows over the past two years, wanting to figure out where I'm taking SEIBEI and to spend time getting Telegraph Art & Comics to a good place, but it's time to get back in the mix. Even if this show doesn't go as well as I'm hoping, you've gotta bet on yourself from time to time. Plus, UNIQUE LA is one of the best shows around, and I met Mike Thacker and Bob Motown (then of Two Rabbits Studios, now each doing big things on their own) at the very first one. I worked this show a lot during its first few years, and even "off" shows are still more than worth the trip. It's only grown since then.
Working as an artist/entrepreneur can sometimes be very isolating work, even if you reach a wide audience. You do your work, you post about it online, people will say nice things, your phone lights up with likes and faves and RTs, but you're still far, far away. Hundreds of people will look at your website every day but you don't see them. It's crazy to think about! It's a good life, but it's weird working this way. A good show puts you right in the middle of it, for all the good and bad - you can hear people's comments about your work right there, see people make faces like they just smelled a fart when a joke doesn't land, see them snap pics with their phone to send to a friend rather tn having it all happen anonymously. It's stressful but ultimately very rewarding. Even a bad show will at least teach you a lesson and help you grow. Even the show where I had $3000+ in cash stolen from my booth taught me to wear a fanny pack at all times, and I'm still thankful that there weren't any credit card receipts in there (this was before the era of Square and Shopify and Paypal and I took carbon copies of people's cards and manually charged them after the show).
Getting to connect with fans in person is immensely rewarding. It's sometimes easy to forget that every person who supports your work is more than just a name and address you ship tees to - they're real people who are kind enough to make your work a part of their life. Even if it's just for a goofy gift to give a friend, the warmth of hundreds of small kindnesses are enough to inspire and keep you at it for a long time (at least until the next show).
The best shows are like Valhalla, the Norse warrior's afterlife. You spend your life fighting, trying to just gain entrance to this fabled hall of warriors. Once you're there, you spend all day fighting and being torn apart and die in the glory of battle, only to pick yourself up and retire to the banquet hall with your fellow warriors, where you drink and eat and do it all again the next day. At San Diego Comic Con, I got to fight alongside Becky and Frank, Tyler Hutchison, and Evan Dahm for five days straight, and every night we'd grill out and do flips into a pool while laughing our heads off and gearing up to do it all better the next day. Not every show is like this, of course...but even just one show a year this good is more than enough. Meeting your fans, working alongside your friends, having a reason to travel and see great friends you don't get to see otherwise...these are all worth fighting for!
I already had San Diego Comic Con this year, but I think Unique LA will be my second Valhalla this year. Bob Motown just moved back from the UK, Lacey from Big Bud Press is flying out, my buddy Jackson who used to work with me at Forward Printing is in LA now, so many of my comics buddies will be in town for CALA that same weekend (and right near UNIQUE, too!)...so many old friends to reconnect with and new friends to make. A real gathering of heroes - it makes me excited and inspired just to think about it!
(I'm also really excited to try out a new booth concept...I haven't been at UNIQUE for years, so Kate has helped me design something big and bold that's gonna help Los Angeles remember who the fuck I am.)
Oh, and I'll be premiering another new collection of tees and sweatshirts. Half of the stock will be coming with me to the show, half of it will be shipped home and will be available online right after the show.