I’m writing to inform fans about my decision to hang up my hat at Anime North after this year. Having had quite a journey all these years doing this convention, it is both sad and disappointing that I can no longer consider the environment of this convention, one that I can continue to enjoy or thrive in.
There have been many changes in Anime North that have gotten mixed reactions from vendors and artists. For the most part, my brand is one that has always been able to adapt because of my passion to share my art and designs to people who appreciate them.
When they split artist alley into two sections making a crafter’s corner, I was forever pushed into the dealer’s room due to the variety of my merchandise. This wasn’t such a big deal since I had moved into the dealer’s room a couple of years back to get more space. When they capped the amount of people who could attend the convention, it limited the amount of potential in selling to new people or a larger crowd, but I was understanding in regards to their volunteer staff being short and not being able to handle the volume. When they announced they would enforce the no fan art rule into the dealer’s room, I didn’t care much due to my merchandise being 98% original work, but understood that in order to make room for waitlist dealers, limiting fan arts to the artist alley made sense in that perspective.
When they upped the price of the booths for this year, re-organized the floor plan but didn’t mark the tables with actual booth numbers which made it difficult to find tables for setup, switched the dealer chairs to cheap elementary school plastic chairs, and didn’t give enough floor space to fit the two tables I paid for, I still gave Anime North the benefit of the doubt. That is until we were approached by a staff member on Saturday to move our tables to comply with their floor plan rules. Now my helpers and I have no problems complying with the rules if asked respectfully. But when we are talked to as if we are completely at fault for trying to workaround the fault of the floor planners and not even given a simple apology for the screw up, that’s where I knew everything had gone downhill to the point I couldn’t overlook.
I was in the middle of a transaction with a customer when one of my helpers had abruptly told me we had to move the tables back. Confused and frustrated that this was happening in the middle of servicing a fan, when I asked why, the staff from Anime North turned to me in a confrontational manner stating we didn’t pay for the extra space we were taking up (which was one of our tables pushed in front of the other due to the spacing issue). I was then told in an unapologetic manner that the floor planners were at fault, that other vendors had already brought up the issue of spacing, and that it would be addressed by next year. Due to the way this information was presented to me, I had asked what would be done to compensate for this year, and I was given a cut response of “absolutely nothing”. At the end of it all, I would rather keep my fan from having to be in the middle of such an argument so I stopped the conversation to focus on my customer’s needs. My customer couldn’t believe what she was hearing from the staff and stated to me how petty the situation was.
Even after emailing management regarding the lack of respect in handling the situation, I was given no proper acknowledgement or apology for the rude behaviour given but instead a justification of the staff member’s statement. It solidified the fact that they did not feel the need to apologize for the way they handled the situation nor should I expect one.
And now here we are. Like FanExpo, Anime North to me has lost many personable aspects it once had years back. Growth is good if done correctly, but when the artists and vendors start getting taken for granted merely due to volume, it becomes nothing more than another cold, faceless organization. We enjoy interacting with neighbouring dealers and visitors to our booth, talking to them about art and cute things, and seeing their reactions to receiving my art pieces or merchandise. We love interacting with returning fans each year and being able to know they enjoy coming to see my work. But the way things are running now and from other warning signs seen years back, it doesn’t give me the joy I once had when preparing for this convention. This not only put a very sour note to our weekend but it also made me realize that I could no longer overlook the sad reality that Anime North has many difficulties with how it handles growth. At the very least, if issues cannot even be handled in a way that is respectful, I cannot support such a convention.
So to all my fans at Anime North, both new and old, you may no longer see us within the walls of Anime North in years to come. Please stay tuned for future updates on maybe potential conventions in the years ahead. I cannot guarantee if I can make it to many conventions due to scheduling, but I would like to take a more active role in finding new conventions that can spread my wings as an artist. If you have any that you’d like to see the PandaPad.Com booth in, please feel free to suggest some 😉