Announcing the Convention Artist Safety & Health Fund

 

Hi artists and creators, 

We’re not exactly excited to be writing this, but it feels like a necessary step given everything happening around conventions right now. More and more we’re seeing conventions accepting attendees and tablers for their conventions only to retroactively remove protections that would keep them safe.

While we can’t force the convention center(s) to require vaccines and act in a way that protects all attendees, the team at Dual Wield Studio thought there was something more we could do. I wanted to give some insight into the decision making process, some transparency, and next steps if you’re interested in participating. 

What we want to do is set up a $10,000 fund accessible to people tabling at upcoming conventions in the United States (and if funds are left over from con to con, we would roll this to the next convention as this won’t stop). These funds would be paid to artists in order to reimburse table costs, flights, and cost of shipping goods in return for a single commission, so they do not have to attend the convention.  We are not a non-profit company and we cannot give free money to everyone; we can commission at a rate that exactly matches your expenses incurred by the convention.

This would not be accessible to attendees or vendor hall vendors, it would only be for artist alley artists who draw their fanworks (or original artwork). We currently can’t accept artist alley vendors who do photo manipulations, or most handmade goods. While we wish we could do this for everyone, it is not within our means yet..  

Here’s a quick FAQ

How does it work? 

The step by step process is as follows: 

  1. Someone fills out our form and nominates an artist who is tabling at the convention. Artists may not self-select or nominate, but may ask someone else to nominate. (See: FAQ question “Why are you doing it this way.”) 
  2. We reach out to the artist and confirm costs via receipts (receipts are mandatory for reimbursement) and their interest in participating. 
  3. We deliver a contract to the artist that covers the following: 
    1. Cost of flight (if unable to be refunded by airline; please provide documentation that flight has rejected your request for a refund) 
    2. Cost of table and any fees incurred for cancellation
    3. Cost for table assistant flight, if applicable
    4. Cost of any items shipped from your house/storage facility to convention. This applies to international attendees too. 
      1. Please note, we are not refunding: 
        1. Hotel – Please go directly to the hotel, most will let you cancel before 24 hours. 
        2. Product costs – We cannot legally reimburse most artist alley product featuring unlicensed IP
        3. Shipping from manufacturer to you –We cannot reimburse you for the shipping cost of your product from manufacturer to your location. 
  4. Artist and Company sign the contract and Artist begins working with our production team to identify the project, timeline, etc. 
  5. Artist submits an invoice for reimbursement with receipts attached and receives payment within one week. Artist is given check-in points to provide artwork and receive feedback on the work they create for Dual Wield Studio. 
  6. Before product completion, Dual Wield Studio will run a series of promotions for each project and other artists’ storefronts, directing customers to shop these storefronts to make up for lost sales at the convention, where possible. 

Why are you doing it this way? 
We discussed the different options for the selection process because we cannot pay for every single table to get their table money and travel money refunded. The options we identified were:

Self-nomination: How would we choose who received the funds? We anticipate we will have more people reaching out than we will be able to assist, so if it is self-nominated, do we go first come first serve? Random lottery drawing? This is not ideal, because it requires people to essentially write an essay about why they don’t deserve to get COVID at a convention they have to attend for business. 

Randomized: We need to know who’s interested in this as opposed to just looking at the artist alley and randomizing. Also it is legitimately impossible to track down random artists when the table names are “Master Chief’s Catboy Factory.” 

Nomination: The intent behind this is that people who would normally self-select out (that is, those who are bad at asking for help) would have someone else helping them. We all have friends who will grit their teeth and bear a bad situation, and not being able to help them is frustrating. In this way, we hope that people will be able to nominate friends who would be unable or unwilling to ask for help, and artists, knowing this is the case, can simply ask a friend to nominate them if they’re the type who would normally step forward anyway. 

What if I’m sharing a table with someone? 
We know table sharing is prevalent at other conventions. If someone nominates you for the reimbursement, and you accept, we’ll need the primary holder of the table to submit their receipt. If you are not the primary holder, we'll need you to submit whatever receipt or Venmo transaction you have for your half of the table. If you nominate the other half of your table and they also accept, we will group you both together. To prevent ½ of a table from leaving the other alone, we will always accept the other creator (if they want to be included) if one is accepted.

What if I have a table helper? 
If you have covered costs (flight, additional pass, etc.) for a table helper, we will group eligible costs into your total reimbursement if you are accepted. 

What happens if the convention rolls back their terrible decision? 
If so, that’s great! This becomes no longer necessary. We will be processing everything the week before a convention is due to start to avoid artists being hit with payment processing fees if the con decides to reverse their decision at the last minute. This means that these conventions will not receive much notice to be able to backfill your tables, which is unfortunate, but so is their decision to retract vaccine requirements. 

Will you be doing this with other conventions, or conventions in the past? 
Regrettably, no, we will not make this retroactive. We have limited funds, time, and energy to dedicate to this. When it comes to conventions in the future, we discussed selecting a set of products on the Dual Wield Studio storefront which, when sold, go into a fund for this project. See more below.

I want to help/donate money/ensure more artists are added, how do I do that?
Hey, awesome. The best thing you can do is shop from the individual artists’ storefronts instead of attending conventions and purchasing direct. 

However, if you would like to add to our fund, there are a few ways to do that: 

  • We have a specific collection where the proceeds/profits of these items get added directly in to that fund. We’ll do a quarterly blog post breaking down these finances if/when they are used and are not our own internally generated revenue.
  • We have a tip jar function attached to the store. If you utilize it, we will assume it is intended for this specific purpose and not a donation to DWS specifically. Please do not donate to DWS specifically, we are doing okay right now and will update if something changed. 
  • The collection of items whose sales benefit this program is found here

What level of transparency will you have in this process? 
Since we’re simply refunding based on the amount presented on receipts, and initially we’re not using any community generated funds (but instead our own income) to fund this, no transparency outside the above situation is really necessary. If we wind up receiving sales from the collection we set up, or donations through the tipjar function, we will provide an accounting of those funds and their use on a quarterly basis via a blog post.

What if I’m traveling from out of the United States to a US con?
We can work with artists outside of the country, but it’s more difficult and we’d want to do some research into commissions and payments. If you’re an artist living in another country on a work visa or something similar but live in the US, this can be easier than a fully-international artist. If you are an international artist, we will ask for you to do legwork on double checking whatever tax requirements or freelance requirements your country has to be able to do this and what paperwork you would need.  

Covering my table, shipping, and flight isn’t enough – I make money at a convention and if I don’t go I can’t make money. What do I do? 
We wish we could help everyone and pay for your products, your booth, and your lost expenses but unfortunately this is not something we’re able to do. However, after discussing with many artist alley exhibitors, we would like to open up the following additional option. If you are nominated and selected, but otherwise wouldn’t partake because of the financial impact of missing a convention, we would also like to speak to you about additional commissions we could set up in order to compensate for those missed funds. These will be on a business-need basis (that is, the commissions we request would be based on art styles/items that best benefit the business and what we need to launch upcoming, as well as our amount of time and energy we are able to dedicate) and at our discretion. 

What kind of artwork or item would I have to produce as an artist? 
To be clear, we’re not looking to have you spend months on a project in return for this. We simply need an item to be able to commission you for, so the accounting works out. Certain item categories are most appealing due to their ubiquity and ease of creation, which is what we would default to. You would only have to create an item you know how to make or are comfortable making. 

Item categories include but are not limited to: 

  • Print goods (illustrations)
  • Enamel pins (predominantly hard enamel, with backing card.) 
  • Techpacks (apparel, bags, etc.) 
  • Apparel or tote designs
  • Acrylic charms and standees
  • Plush toy designs
  • Other items: if you specialize in something not listed here, we’d be happy to hear you out! 
  • Not allowed: stickers, handmade items, perler beads, and other very small items. This is because the margins are too small to be worthwhile, or handmade items are too difficult to easily QC while working remote.

The contract goes over full details but in effect, there are a few stages: sketches, inking, colors, and finalization/branding. In the contract, there are up to three rounds of revision before further rounds of revision result in an hourly fee paid to the artist for further changes. 

Here are the details: 

REDEMPTION:  Only when a convention swaps to a no vaccine requirement policy, or a no mask policy in full.

QUALIFICATIONS: Self-submission is not allowed. Another party may nominate you (or you, and another artist alley tabler may nominate each other).

REQUIREMENTS: As much as we’d love to just give free money to everyone, that’s not feasible. We’re a business, not set up as a charity organization. Instead, we intend this money to act as an overpaid commission. That is, we would commission you for a single piece of artwork, merchandise, or related item, and would pay for your convention expenses through that commission. This would allow for us to set up whatever paperwork is required for tax purposes and ensure this is all above board legally. 

SCHEDULE: If an artist opts to take advantage of these funds, the artist would have a full 6 months to finish their artwork/commission for us unless the item is very complicated, in which case the timeline would be reasonably extended.

USE RIGHTS: We would be performing a full buyout to the artwork you create which would deliver full rights to Dual Wield Studio for use in perpetuity.

In the interest of full transparency, we've also included two additional documents for you to review before you contact us. 

Dual Wield Studio CASH Artist Service Agreement - This AN EXAMPLE of the base contract we'd be utilizing. If you've worked with DWS before you will notice this is different from our normal agreement. Please make sure you review this document in full. The most relevant part to call out is that DWS will own all rights to the product you create. As much as we wish we could set up a royalty based system in perpetuity, this would require hiring a new staff member which is currently not within our abilities at this point in time. Please do not fill this out and send it to us. It is for your review, we will customize yours if you are selected. 

Dual Wield Studio CASH Information Doc - This goes into a bunch of legal information about expectations, use, and general TOS as part of this. 

In both cases, these are intended to be living documents. We put this together within about a week, and fully anticipate there are tweaks and changes we'll want to/have to make based on the needs of the community. If you have feedback, we welcome it. 

If you have read all of this information and would like to nominate an artist, please utilize this form and fill it out in its entirety. 

If you have more questions, please write to us at rowan@dualwieldstudio and give us a few days to respond

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