Here’s my big breakdown looking back on CTNX 2016 and forward to 2017.
When considering whether or not to attend/exhibit at CTNX 2017, ask yourself what’s important to you to get out of the event?
Networking? Education? Portfolio feedback? Exhibiting? Fun stuffs? Exposure? Hanging out with all the amazing folks in the animation industry? Snagging some juicy-one-of-a-kind-art pieces? Demos?
What would make CTNX better?
Less emails, more organization.
If you are participating in CTNX at all, you know one thing...there are a bajillion emails (about 200 in 2016 alone.)
It would be great to have an exhibitor packet with all deadlines, exhibitor specific schedules, requirements and any additional information such as table sizes, electricity availability, and basic event expectations.
The Marriott is by far the most convenient place to stay during CTNx. It’s also pretty expensive and books up super early. I’ve stayed in the Marriott, the Courtyard, AirBnB and on friend’s couches. AirBnb is always a gamble. This year we gambled and lost.
There’s a new CTN Facebook Group that helps connect participants looking for housing and opens up quite a few options.
The CTN Village aka the “Tentopolis”:
- Honestly, I found the tent a positive change from previous year’s layouts. As both exhibitor & attendee I enjoyed the spacious aisles, the spacing between exhibitors, the ambient music and atmospheric lighting on the trees. It had electricity, A/C, carpeted flooring and was easily navigable. Best of all, it was PACKED with artists who brought out all the stops. And every single one of them (us?) was accessible to chat with and support their work.
- Sunday’s rainstorm. Tentopolis sprung several leaks, dripping/pouring all over people, art, lights and frying electronics like the sound system (similar to the devastation of 2012’s New Talent Tent, just on a much BIGGER scale). CTN staff closed off the tent to attendees, shut off the interior lights and we waited impatiently in the darkness for a few hours until it was time to pack up. Many exhibitors just packed up early and left. Breaking down and running to the car would have been considered a water sport. It was so wet! The parking lot was riddled with puddled, thunder and pourin rain.
- Entrance/Exit availabilities: In a poor attempt to direct traffic, the CTN volunteers created a panicked traffic jam.
- Air Conditioning, although A/C was preferable over passing out from the infamous 2015 heat exhaustion, it made me appreciate the one scarf I packed in my luggage. After awhile, it was a sore topic for most bemoaning the coldness.
- Having spent most of my time at my table, I didn’t get a chance to attend many of these. With that said, I would warn that if you are attending these, looking for a magic formula to be the most amazing cartoonist/artist/animator/designer ever, you won’t find it. Instead you’ll find out that every pro says the same thing: Hard Work on your Craft, Perseverance, Networking & a tad bit of luck.
- If you are a huge fan of animation and want some knowledge bombs then absolutely attend all the panels/screenings that spark your interest. Hearing about Floyd Norman’s life, or how Tonko House designed Moom, or listening to Eric Goldberg talk about the beauty of 2D animation is an amazing opportunity that you can only get at CTNx.
- Advice for the youngsters attending these panels/Q&A’s: Unless it’s a recruiter, do not ask how do I get hired at [insert studio name here]? Ask specific questions that pertain to the person on stage. Talking to a story artist? Ask about camera angles, or their experience working with a certain director, when they are assigned a scene, how do they start? What’s their process?
- Same thing applies here too. If you are looking for a magic formula from artists, you won’t find it. Will they have some good advice? Absolutely! Will you walk away even more inspired than when you arrived? Yes!
- How could you not be inspired to test out pastels after watching Nic Gregory paint a beautiful LA sunset? Or get inspired to sculpt after listening to Aaron Blaise discuss sculpting while actually sculpting right in front of your face?! It’s things like this that make CTNX unique and worth every hard earned penny.
Selling & Exhibiting:
- Quite frankly, if you broke even for your trip to LA, pat yourself on the back.
- In my personal experience, art books, original sketches, or unique items like enamel pins are in demand. Sometimes, you get lucky if an angel wants an original art piece.
- Sales are also heavily dependent on table placement. There are great spots, and there are lonely spots. It’s probably the same case for many conventions, not just CTNX.
- Prices vary, and change every year. In special cases, CTN has been known to sponsor artists' trips and exhibit tables.
- The exhibit hall itself is a great chance to snag some unique art pieces from your favorite artists and get some face time with those creators.
- Hands down CTNX is the most amazing opportunity to meet animation folks from high school students to 50 year veterans.
- Each year this is one of the best parts - seeing and catching up with my amazing old & new friends that come together once a year at CTNX.
- CTN updated their websites and they look pretty nice. You can check it out here: http://ctnanimationexpo.com/alishea-gibson
- Raise the Bar is a great opportunity to make your portfolio the best it can be by a specific date. At the actual recruiting events, this is an opportunity to make connections, and get some portfolio feedback.
- I’ve heard a lot of (and experienced some) good & bad things about the CTNX recruiting events.
- In my personal experience, just you put your best self and some elbow grease into your portfolio, submit it to all possible options, and someone will notice.
- If you go into each possible meeting knowing exactly what you want to get out of it, then hopefully each meeting will be a successful one.
- If you’re good & lucky enough get a meeting, here’s a few tips:
- Check in with the volunteers early in the day to confirm your meeting times/names (I've learned this the hard way & try not to panic when things get switched around because they will, and sometimes it's for the best...sometimes not.)
- Research the studios beforehand to be informed when you walk in
- it’s best to actively listen to feedback, and ask solid questions regarding their work and how to improve your work
- bring something to write notes with (not your phone!)
- Always leave a business card or resume so they can contact you in the future.
Expect to pay for parking, no matter how you are affiliated with the event. They do not give out special Exhibitor Load in/out Parking passes, so you could easily only spend 1hr unloading supplies be charged $10.00+.
If you have any additional questions, just keep in mind I'm not a CTN employee & don't really read blog comments. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯