WonderCon 2015: Inside the Artist Alley – The Art of Nikki Abrego

At every convention there exists an entire community of fans and independent artists, coming out to create a marketplace of art and creations that celebrate fandoms of every kind. This is the Artist’s Alley, and they may not be the headliners of the convention scene, but their passion remains all the same. At this year’s WonderCon 2015 in Anaheim, California, we sat down with one such artist to find out what inspires creators to make that jump from just drawing in their spare time, to jumping feet first into one of the biggest comic book conventions in North America.

Nikki Abrego is a California native that has been drawing since the 4th grade, mostly anime, video game characters, that sort of thing, but this was the year that marked her debut into the Artist Alley, with her own booth and her own chance to stand out in the crowd. To start, I asked Nikki to detail her creative history, taking us through her journey from a kid with a pencil to a professional at WonderCon.

“I have always been drawing,” Nikki told us. “It’s something that I have never stopped doing even when it wasn’t a main focus of my life. It wasn’t until I went to college for Game Art and Design however that I really decided that I wanted to take my art to the next level. After graduating, I realized that doing art in the gaming industry is incredibly competitive and there were many times where I felt like I should give up.”

“Then I decided to take the leap and do art my own way on my own terms by starting an art business of my own. That’s when I chose to do my first WonderCon booth. This was not an easy task considering I have never done it before and it was challenging getting everything off the ground.”

Nikki went on to describe a mentor she had that helped guide her through the process. “I have a wonderful friend, Le Tea Leaf, who has been doing Artist Alley booths for years now. We met through a mutual friend a few years ago. I definitely recommend that if you’re planning on becoming an artist in Artist Alley, buddy up with someone that has prior experience because there are so many things to consider when running a booth/business, such as taxes, business licenses, and fees that need to be considered. The best way to connect with these artists is through social media such as Facebook and YouTube. DeviantArt is also a great resource since a majority of Artist Alley artists have DeviantArt pages. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help, the community is a very supportive and excellent resource for your venture into Artist Alley.”

Nikki cites the encouragement of her friends and family as some of the biggest sources of confidence for her, also citing the importance of research to best prepare artist hopefuls for the world of Artist Alley. “There are so many aspects to running a booth and business that you might not ever think of, so it’s safe to say to do all your research to ensure that you are following the right practices.” Finally, she had a few words of encouragement for those thinking of taking the plunge. “Don’t forget to have fun with what you’re doing. There is nothing more rewarding that seeing your artwork appreciated by others. Don’t stress, do your research, and draw.” You can check out Nikki’s art and Facebook page here.