In a nutshell, it wasn’t all that fun. I didn’t really have any help at the booth, so I had to stay and draw all day. I did do a yo-yo performance on the main stage (while Merideth watched the Cartoonist Conspiracy table). That went well I guess.
So I spent the day at the booth, chatting up anyone who stopped by while trying my best not to draw on every single page of the book. Sunday wasn’t my favorite day of the event, but I do have to admit I had some of the most memorable conversations on that day. I met the gentleman how runs 24 Hour Comic Day. I met and drew with many new cartoonists. I met Will, the founder and CEO of Match.com. Actually, we talked a bunch, he was a swell fella to chat with.
Obviously my trip to Maker Faire was far overshadowed by running the Cartoonist Conspiracy booth, but I’m glad we did it. I think we might actually see more folks show up to a meeting than we did through the Alternative Press Expo, and I think the resulting comic is pretty cool.
You can get the 12 page pdf of our work from the Cartoonist Conspiracy page.
I had left a Robot Friend Jr on the table, and of course he worked his way into the comic. Above are some of the panels he was featured in. Of course none of these artists have any idea what a Robot Friend is.
Speaking of robots, Bre and Phil were demonstrating their DrawBot at the Maker Booth before I taught my yo-yo class there. So I got to chat with them a bit and asked if they could have their DrawBot (which is simply a device that draws pictures in real life from digital images sent to it) do a panel for the book. Once they handed me the panel, I knew exactly how I was going to work it in. Since it looks like they are looking at something in the first shot, I thought the camera could pull out and reveal that they are looking at a robot that is drawing them… when in actuality the first panel was really drawn by a robot. Meta.
Many folks came up to the table and asked if they could draw with us, but I sometimes had to turn them down because I was sure they would either not quite get the rules of the project, or just scribble with a sharpie and leave… So what I would try to do was have them “help” create a panel. We’d read the story so far and I’d say “Gee, I just can’t think of what should happen next. Should I just write The End?” and the kids would tell me what to draw next. The above panel was done all that well, but it’s one of those panels.
Me: What should happen here?
Girl: She’s knitting a plane.
Me: She’s knitting ON a plane?
Girl: She’s knitting A PLANE!
The only thing that surprises me about Maker Faire is how few big companies take advantage of it. There’s so much opportunity for marketing at this event, and yet very few companies get it. Yahoo! seemed to, they had a big booth there, but I think they were too “Yahoo!”-y. Marketing to this crowd is far more effective when done subtler I think, but I do have to admit their presence was effective. I would constantly hear people say things like “We are on the other side of the Yahoo! booth.”, which is probably what they wanted. They offered hacking classes and stuff.
I think there should have been more cars and cola companies there, but not at a big booth. More like they were sponsoring a big project or something. For example, Adobe was there pushing their new product, but do you know who they did it? They had a booth set up with t-shirts were people would design an image using a copy of photoshop they had at the booth, then they would print it to a laser cutter and make a stencil of that image. They would then roll ink through the stencil and onto the shirt and get a crisp custom designed shirt.
How cool is that? It wasn’t too Adobe heavy anywhere at the booth, it got people to actually try their new product, and it provided them with entertainment. They even gave 3 copies of their new suite to different designers throughout the weekend. The only mistake I saw was they didn’t have their logo on the shirts before hand. It’s the same mistake I saw those folks at Yaris Works do with their big Yaris promotion last year. If you are giving away hella shirts, spend a little extra dough and get your logo printed on them somewhere small and out of the way. Chances are, if you are promoting to digital artists they would actually appreciate having a piece of Adobe clothing.
Anyways, the instructables booth was sort of a dissapointment (I was really hoping to go there and see some cool new project I had never seen) and the Make booth seems like it could have been bigger (considering it was the MAKER FAIRE and all), but I’m sure I’ve bored you guys enough with all my marketing theory and viral advertising ideas. (edit: actually, now that I think on it, the Maker Boothe was fairly large. They had an ongoing robot lab in one area, and Bre and Phil in another. It’s just that I talked to a bunch of people at the end of the event that didn’t even know that Make had a booth there).
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