Dragon Con Wrap: Business & Fan Perspective
If you attend comic or pop-culture conventions, you hear the same thing every year, all year… “Have you been to Dragon Con?” And although I have attended many long-standing and new shows, a few different events unlike conventions, and some cosplay specific activities in the great name of Project-Nerd, I never had attended Dragon Con before. So when the opportunity presented itself this year, we knew we had to jump on it becoming one of the many 2014 Dragon Con Virgins in attendance.
I can easily say, Dragon Con was unlike anything I expected even though I prepared and was warned from many different directions. Spread out across half a dozen main venues, not to mention the many other events of the weekend taking place “off site,” Dragon Con’s floor plan isn’t what I was used to seeing at a typical convention. The main event was spread across the Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton in downtown Atlanta with all three hotels connected via bridges and crowded lines. South of those hotels was the Sheridan, a part of Dragon Con I honestly never got to this past weekend. Vendors were spaced off caddie-corner to the hotels with a few different rooms opened up in America’s Mart. All different right out of the gate.
As a convention attendee the experience was unique and fun. Used to the 10 AM – 7 PM show times and then finding my own way afterwards, I was pleased to see twenty-four seven programming and the Marriott lobby costume filled and active throughout the night. As fun as it was from the attendee perspective it was hard to get any typical convention going activities done. Even though we spend the majority of our time working and networking at shows I do love to shop. But finding my way to America’s Mart was difficult and working my way through the lowest level of the Hyatt to find Artist Alley was even more of a task.
As the current Cosplay Liaison for Project-Nerd, this show was perfect. It’s all about who you know in any business world, and the networking is prime at Dragon Con. I ran into so many familiar faces I had seen throughout the years, reuniting with a handful of greats I love running into. More importantly I was able to talk to a few we had worked with but never actually met, including the very talented and fun Krystle Starr. Even the opportunity of having a few drinks and exercising my arrogance by introducing others to Abby Dark-Star, Adam Jay, Lindsey Elise, Riddle, and of course, Knightmage (unnecessary name dropping now complete for the article) was something I found joy in. Ultimately, hanging with the team from CosAwesome nearly the entire weekend made the work in connecting with cosplay or getting projects done incredibly enjoyable.
As a business owner and representative of Project-Nerd it was a mixed bag. Just like in the cosplay world, the networking was prime. Meeting Gillian and Christie of Cos Couture was a great treat, especially since we had opportunities to talk business, goals, and exchange ideas. Organizing our first ever Guerrilla Shoots with Mig Photography World, Superhero Creations by Adam Jay, and even doing one ourselves with some talented cosplayers was an easy task because everybody we wanted was at the show with stacks of costumes. Even some secret business meetings that will spawn some new projects like short films, partnerships, and even big business moves were capable due to having so many of the right people in the right place.
On the difficult side for Project-Nerd, we weren’t prepared for a show laid out like this. Our bread and butter at conventions is floor photo galleries, artist alley interviews, panel write-ups, and typically a booth of our own to drive brand awareness and move our popular shirts. During prime time, artist alley was impossible to infiltrate for interviews and review opportunities. During down time, the opportunities were even harder to come by. Floor photography wouldn’t have been a challenge; that is if we would have been willing to party with our cameras each night due to the premiere costumes coming out for the evening events. These challenges could all be combated, however we just didn’t know what we were in for with Dragon Con being so different than the many other shows we collected weeks of coverage from.
Dragon Con was a great experience, and even with the small drawback of Project-Nerd not being prepared negatively impacting our coverage of the actual event, I left with new connections, new plans, some great content, and an experience I am willing to take on again.