Tracon VI is finally over – or at least the actual convention part is, and as I had no other Tracon related obligations aside from my own task as a graphic designer, I’m beginning to be pretty much done. I don’t have much to say about the actual convention, as it was mostly a blur that passed really quickly for me, but what I can talk about, is my overall experience as an organizer to the convention.
I joined the organizing committee during Spring 2010. Back then, I did a little helping on the graphic front of Tracon V. It was fun, as I didn’t have too much to do and the committee people were being very nice towards me – as they have been to this very day. I wasn’t employed at the time, so I had time to do a little something on the side of school. And during the summer vacation (2010), after Tracon V had been held, I was chosen to be the head of graphic design for the following year’s convention, Tracon VI. Things started slow and steady and the committee seemed organized in the beginning.
However, as I was employed on Febuary 2011, my time for the convention begun to grow scarce. Not only, because I was working, but because I was lucky enough to be employed as a game artists, so all of my time, free and working, was spent in Photoshop.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda
In retrospect, I think continuing the task at Tracon expressed poor judgement from my part, which I am sorry for, but I didn’t want to leave my work unfinished – I wanted to complete what I had started. Further in retrospect, I also have a lot to learn about sharing responsibility, as I executed majority of the graphics for Tracon VI. This was due to feedback Tracon V’s graphics had gotten prior to VI. There had been many suggestions from the congoers that the graphics of Travon V weren’t as coherent as they maybe should have been. So I took to heart that everything that was put out, should look like it belonged to the same convention.
This proved to be surprisingly hard when several designers worked on the same product, but do not necessarily see each other in person at all. This again, is something I could and should have helped, since I was chosen as the leader of the team. Instead of doing everything myself, I should have actually lead my team, which didn’t happen until the last stages during the past summer. I do blame my somewhat timid and insecure personality for this. However, getting more into practicing leadership gave me some space to grow as person as well as a designer. I feel as though I’m no longer as afraid to state my opinion as I was prior to my Tracon VI experience. And this is a huge deal for me. It has helped me lots with my work outside of Tracon.
But All in All
Tracon VI was a very colorful spectrum of different emotions for me. At times it was fun and at times it was exhausting. It was also very rewarding on a personal level – the feeling of your work getting printed out and seeing (for example) the congoers carry it around the convention centre in the forms of cosplay competition badges and convention pamphlets, is something I find hard to describe. But it feels very nice! You feel like you’ve done something to help thousands of people have a good time, which is the one of the major reasons why I enjoy what I do.
And even if I don’t necessarily think myself to be the best person to offer aspiring convention organizers advice, I wish to address something! Earlier on, I addressed Tracon as a project people ‘do during their spare time‘. While this is true, and it usually shows somewhere in the organizing process, don’t be fooled. Before taking part into convention organizing (which is a world that can be accessed more easily than you’d imagine), people should consider that while the organizers are not often professionals, the level of the produced product is always expected to be just that – professional. Thousands of people attend these conventions and they pay actual money for their experience. My opinion is that it is the organizer’s responsibility to offer them a convention worth the money they have paid, and more, so that they keep coming back. This doesn’t mean that convention organizing can’t be fun, which it also is in many ways, but this is just my two cents as a congoer and an organizer.