1. Choose your subject. If you are submitting at a con, it’s most likely going to have some general connection to Asian culture, anime, manga, or video games. No brainer, right? Maybe. Make sure to create what you enjoy, not just what’s popular, and something you think you can really get behind.
2. Choose your size. Art shows at anime conventions, just like any other art show, has limited space. That fact is magnified by the fact that most shows at cons let everyone in on a first come, first serve basis (no judging to get in) and may not have as much room to spare as traditional shows. Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t mean you have to limit your creativity to 8 1/2″ by 11” sheet of paper. With theme in mind, decide what general size you want to work in.
3. Find your angle. Ask yourself: What about this character or theme do I want to express? Straight up pictures of them are nice, but you can tell so much more. Try to think of a way to express something else about their personality or livelihood.
4. Choose your colors. Find what colors you believe will work with your message or character, and what colors are going to be dominant in your piece. Color is one of the first things people notice when walking by artwork, and pretty much sets the tone.
5. Sketch it out (or at least think really hard about the layout). This step is hard for people like myself to do, because you just want to jump in, but it always helps to have at least some visual plan for what you are doing. At this point, you should choose individual elements that add to your piece, like background characters or other items that help to tell your story.
6. Ask or consult a friend about your work. This is sometimes the most painful part, but it really helps to have at least one outside view on what you plan to do. You do not necessarily need to follow their advice, though.
7. Actually start. Yes, this is a legitimate step. Artists are known procrastinators.
8. Actually finish, even if it means changing a few minor points. Conventions don’t wait for you to finish your art so they can begin. If you have your heart set on an element of the piece that you cannot finish in time, set it aside, but make sure it is ready for the next con. Putting it off any longer than that can result in something that’s never finished.
9. Take pride in your work. It may not sell right away, but if you put honest energy and commitment into it, someone will notice. Also, just because it doesn’t sell doesn’t mean people didn’t like it. Often, con-goers spend all their money in the dealer’s room buying DVDs.