Convention Review: Shuto Con 2018

Convention Review: Shuto Con 2018

Convention Review: Shuto Con 2018

Hello everyone! I’m back with another review.

Can you believe this is my FOURTH Shuto Con in a row? Obviously I really love this con if I keep returning.

You can read my previous reviews here:



I generally like to list the sections Rules, Sign Up, Communication, Load In, At the Con, Load Out, As an Attendee, and Final Thoughts. However for cons like Shuto Con or Youmacon which I’ve done multiple times in a row I feel like may of these sections are starting to get redundant. So from now on unless the convention has significant changes from my last review instead of rehashing the same thing I’m only going to list key points in each section and any changes and do a more in depth review of my personal experiences. So check back to old reviews if you are looking for that information specifically!


Shuto Con is a 50/50 con meaning no more than 50% of your stock can be fanart. They have a lot of rules so check them out before applying.

This year was a bit less strict (i.e. no one walking around with a measuring tape), but many of the same rules still applied.

Sign Up

Sign up is still a mix of first come first serve and juried to ensure quality and variety. The sign up window was open 24 hours and payment took place via Eventbrite.


Nancy was the head of the artist alley for the first and last time this year, but I must say she did a fantastic job. She was quick to answer messages and if there was any delays she communicated this. She also responded quickly to a request during the convention to send security my way. I’ll be sad to see her go.

Load In

Load in is still a smooth process. We used the loading docks this year which wasn’t ideal for an artist as we had to move several times to accommodate larger vehicles before we were done. I recommend artists park at the Radisson and carry their stuff through the skywalk for smaller loads and under the Lansing Center and up through the elevators for larger loads.

At the Con

As with the previous year, I paid more for a 10x10 “pro” space. I still think this makes a huge difference as attendees have more room to browse without feeling rushed and we are able to better display our products without crowding.

I personally introduced a backdrop and I think it helped tie my space together better and draw attention by adding height. It will absolutely be making an appearance at future conventions, space permitting, as I think it made a difference in how many people stopped by.

My sales actually started on the elevator in the hotel when a girl noticed a sea pancake in my wagon on the way down and bought him right then and there. I’ve sold things before the exhibit hall officially opened before to other artists or dealers, but I’ve never sold something before I managed to even get there. It made my day and I’ve been telling people about it ever since. So shout out to that person, you are now a BeeZeeArt living legend, haha.

There was some changes to the artist alley this year. More spaces were added all around (pro and regular). Regular tables were given 3 ft pipe and drape all around their booth. I thought this was an excellent change as it looked nicer and more professional, helped artists stay in their own spaces, and kept attendees from walking between or behind tables.

However, the pro spaces along the back were separated from regular spaces and this did not work out as well. In theory it makes sense since vendor booths, also 10x10, have 8 ft drapes. However, in practice it blocked the back of the room from sight as we artists don’t have displays quite as elaborate as dealers which can stand out even when partially covered.

Stefanie (the con chair) and Nancy heard our complaints and walked around to personally talk to those of us impacted by it on Friday. They let us know that they heard what we were saying and that they would try to see if they could get the drapes removed (they belonged to a third party company who set them up, they were not Shuto Con’s). In the end this wasn’t possible so they went and moved the curtains open as far as possible to improve the view and traffic flow.

On Saturday they went around again and explained why they couldn’t get them removed and assured us that next year they will give the pro spaces 3 ft drapes like the regular artist tables.

I appreciate that Shuto Con tried something new and took the time to take us seriously, giving us professional and clean looking spaces to work in. Even though the 8 foot drapes didn’t work out, I felt like the gamble they took with the 3 foot ones paid off and I was a bit jealous of them. Each person had their own defined space to work in without worrying about being in their neighbors way. I also appreciate how quickly they responded to criticism and worked to make what changes they could at the con. 

Traffic was very slow on Friday. I found myself almost falling asleep at several points due to a combination of boredom and lack of sleep. However, sales were consistent  and I was surprised to find it ended up an above average Friday for me.

Saturday picked up, especially at opening. It still felt a bit slow, but at this point Shuto Con is the smallest con I do with most others being double or the triple the size. So I’m not sure how much of that was just me being used to larger cons. There haven’t been official attendance numbers released, but Shuto Con is a mid-sized con so I expect some down time as normal. Again, we ended on an above average day as far as sales went.

Sunday was surprisingly busy and kept up a steady flow until around 2pm when people started to line up for the major closing events or clear out. The last few hours were dead, but it did give me a chance to wrap up last minute shopping and take some photos.

(To be very clear, all the photos I took for this review of the venue and of the hall itself were at about 3pm when it was largely empty, most people who were still in attendance were at closing events, they don’t represent the whole weekend!)

Shuto Con added another new feature this year as well, Shuto Con Con Cash. This was available to people who spent extra ahead of time to help the con. It could be spent as real money in the dealer’s hall, artist alley, or at the Shuto Con merchandise booth. My major concerns were that the con would not honor the exchange or that the tickets would be too easily to replicate.

Shuto Con clarified that we could exchange the tokens at any time during the con. We were also given the option to be excluded from this if we chose, but I felt there was no need to do so.

At the con I was surprised to discover that the “con cash” was thick chips of plastic with a durable, textured coating. The con chair manually created these using a dye sublimation printer. There was no way anyone would be reproducing these to cheat the system. Personally, I chose to use mine to purchase my own Shuto Con t-shirt, but I was tempted to keep it as a souvenir, it was a very nice little chip.

One minor concern personally was the corner by my booth. This corner had the fire extinguisher in it and could not be blocked. So no tables or booths were placed there and there was a gap between the edge of my booth and the one next to me to allow access. However, many attendees seemed to treat this as their personal hang out area. I see this same behavior in empty booths or tables where people sit on the tables, or set their stuff on it, or occupy the floor in that space.

I found myself chasing attendees out of this space all weekend which was frustrating and stressful since I’m not a huge fan of confrontation. On Saturday I eventually messaged staff when there was a large group that had been there awhile and I just had no energy left to deal with it and they were very quick to respond and send someone to ask them to move along. After that I saw staff come by a few times and send people on their way when I was busy which was appreciated.

In the future, I’d like to see more done to discourage attendees from hanging out there so the bordering artists don’t have to police the area, perhaps a rope barrier or something to make it obvious that it’s not a good spot to go.

From one frazzled artist to anyone who may be listening. I get it. I really do. I attend my fair share of cons as a non artist. There’s a lot of walking, there’s NEVER enough places to sit, especially if you’re trying to eat, cosplays are often uncomfortable, feet hurt, it seems like it’s always hot, and any place you can just stop and take a rest seems amazing. But exhibit halls are busy, loud, and prone to traffic jams. It’s generally not a good place to sit. Artists often store stock and personal belongings under our table, at our sides, or behind us. We can’t always keep an eye on attendees loitering around us and help our customers and while you might be honest, others aren’t. It also doesn’t look professional or inviting to have people hanging around. Think about it, if you went to the store and you wanted some cupcakes and there was 10 people sitting on the floor all around the cupcakes that might be a little odd, right? While cons are more laid back than traditional retail, appearances do still matter. And then you get the people who do inappropriate things while they are sitting around and that chases away customers who might not want to see/hear that. As artists we pay a lot of money to be there and see those customers so watching them leave in disgust really sucks.

I’m not trying to come off as a buzzkill or a meanie, but at the end of the day us artists are just trying to do our best to sell our art any way we can. For every group that is polite and quiet there are 10 more before you that weren’t and who hurt our business.  

And if you see a sign that says, “Fire extinguisher, do not block,” probably don’t sit in front of that.

One last minor thing to note, there was quite a few empty artist tables this year. While a handful is normal for any con, I heard many artists from the east coast were unable to attend due to the poor weather grounding flights. It was a bit better as some people came in on Saturday, but I think the empty spaces hurt the artists who were in those areas as attendees might not bother to go down an aisle if there is only one or two people.

Load Out

No issues here except space on the loading dock was at a premium. We had to move the car halfway between taking loads out to let a semi in, it wasn’t ideal. I recommend any artist who can skip the loading docks do so.

As an Attendee

All the issues I had with DK security last year were resolved this year. No one yelled at me to see my badge or denied me entry, even when my helper forgot hers in the artist alley while going out to move the car. A special shout out to basically every Shuto Con staff member who was stationed at the Skywalk. 90% of the time I walked in to two glowering DK security guards and one bright, happy staff member. I specifically remember a girl Friday morning around 9am when I was coming with my wagon from the artist alley who held the door open for me. She was so happy for it being so early and it really set the tone for the morning.

I enjoyed that there was more 18+ panels than last year (or, at least, I feel like there was. I haven’t checked). As anyone who has read my blog knows, I like to especially go to 18+ comedy panels to have some laughs and unwind.

There was a lot of drama this year on Facebook. So much drama. The thing I was most worried about leading up to Shuto Con was all that drama and negativity making the con miserable. I’m not saying this to re-hash more of the drama. Rather, I was just relieved to find everyone was as friendly as last year. Loved some of the interactive cosplayers they really made my day. And every time I had a free second I had tons of people ask for photos which was a good feeling. I love my eeveelution cosplays and I get excited when people like them. The smaller, more personable vibe is still one of the most appealing things about Shuto Con to me and I was happy to find it still had the same feel.

I bought so many cookies from the cookie lady, she’s the best.

My only regret is that I didn’t get enough sleep to really enjoy the con and that I didn’t go check out the game room it looked fun from the doorway. 

Another thing I thought was very cool was the badges this year. The art for them was top notch and kept with the yokai theme. The back included a small map. It was hard to read, but worked well enough for my needs. And there was a QR code that could be scanned to get the schedule which was incredibly convenient. I’ve never seen this on a badge before and I loved it. The photography badges were also a wonderful touch. They were metal and, like the Shuto Con Cash chips they were created by the con chair with a dye sublimation printer which I thought was amazing. I sort of wish all the badges were metal as well, they looked very professional and were a nice keepsake to remember the con with. I also wanted to give a huge shout out to

(As an aside, from an artists perspective I was glad to see the con vetting and charging photographers who were taking paid photoshoot. I’ve noticed this happen increasingly more at cons. My perspective is biased and I know not everyone will agree, but the way I see it if I can’t sell my products and services at the con without paying, I feel it’s only fair that others who are using the convention to sell their goods or services pay for their commercial use of the space as well. It also seems wise for a convention from a safety perspective, you don’t just want anyone walking around acting like they are affiliated with the business in a professional capacity. There are a lot of predators out there and the badges give attendees the ability to quickly identify who is and isn’t “official”. Just throwing my, admittedly biased, 2 cents in there.)

Final Thoughts

Shuto Con continues to be a very solid convention that puts effort into supporting artists. I saw above average profits for the weekend despite what felt like slightly lower attendance. Some changes were made to the artist alley, largely for the better, though there was issues with the large curtain separating the pro tables this. Staff is attentive to feedback to improve for future years. 

While there was drama leading up to the con, most people left it at the door. Shuto Con is a mid size con so it has a more intimate feel while still being able to offer dances, multiple panels per hour, celebrity guests, and more.

I’m absolutely looking forward to next year and hope that the con continues to make more positive changes such as putting their own security in charge of badge checking.