How to Grow as an Artist, Businessperson? Become an Entrepreneurial Exhibitor

By: Elisabeth Stanis, DePaul University animation major ‘20

Working as an entrepreneurial exhibitor at comic and anime conventions is one of the most valuable experiences an artist can have. Having sold art at four separate conventions, I can say with certainty that it’s one of the best ways to not only grow as a creator, but as a businessperson as well. Needless to say, in my tenure as an exhibitor, I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade that are important to reduce your learning curve and maximize your success.

Keep track of your costs

Taking on the responsibility of a booth at a convention or exhibition is no easy feat. Most events ask that you sign up months in advance and require you to pay a table and convention pass fee that can be hundreds of dollars for larger conventions. Keeping track of expenses—such as material fees and sales revenue—is an important part of staying organized and turning a profit. I personally keep track of sales and commissions in a notebook that serves as my ledger; this is where I write down which items are sold and for how much. By keeping track of my expenses, I am able to examine my sales at a later time; specifically, I can assess which items within my inventory were most popular and determine the types of prints I should further invest in.

Research the market

Similarly, an important part of selling to a wide audience in an open and competitive environment, like a convention, is assessing the market. In the months leading up to a convention, I research the likes, dislikes and behaviors of the expected audience, and allow that data to influence the products I offer.

Know your target demographic

There is a delicate balance of selling items for enough money to turn a profit and at a low enough price to attract buyers. Since I gravitate toward a more colorful, cutesy style when creating convention merchandise, I tend to attract younger customers, usually in the 12-18 age demographic. Therefore, I tend to keep my prices lower and more affordable, as most of my buyers do not have a steady income and have only a fixed amount of money to spend. I offset this by investing in small magnets, boxes, and digital art that I can print more copies of later, instead of, for example, devoting a lot of time to creating acrylic paintings or crafting handmade jewelry.

Working at a convention is by no means easy or cheap; however, it can offer valuable experiences and opportunities to test and grow professional skills. Conventions are a must for artists seeking practice in combining art with business. With a city like Chicago as our classroom, there’s always a convention in town providing you with the perfect space to develop your entrepreneurial and artistic skills. Start exploring, your next adventure may be right here in Chicago at an upcoming convention!

What Employers Want to See on Your LinkedIn Profile

At this point, you’ve probably heard from friends, professors, and supervisors how important it is to have a presence on LinkedIn. Employers from all industries are now turning to LinkedIn to communicate their brand, post jobs, and, most importantly, find talent. Even if you’re not actively searching for a job or internship, having a LinkedIn profile gives you an advantage over people who don’t; employers will continue to connect with you to network, or share new opportunities you may not have been aware of, simply by being an active member of the LinkedIn community.

Understandably, creating a LinkedIn profile can be daunting if you’re just starting out. The good news is that LinkedIn makes it easy to create a profile from scratch, and their handy Profile Checklist is a solid starting point. Read below for additional tips that employers have shared with us in the Career Center on creating a strong profile.


One of the first things visitors to your profile will see is a headline, which is placed directly below your name. This headline is intended to be a few words that quickly establish your brand. If you’re a current student, it can highlight your academic status; e.g. “Accounting Major at DePaul University.” If you have a firm grasp on the type of job you want after graduation, feel free to lead with that; e.g. “Aspiring Public Relations Specialist.” For anyone currently employed in an internship or job, you can list your current position title; e.g. “Graphic Design Intern at [company name].” Regardless of your experience level, you can use the headline to quickly identify yourself to new professionals who visit your page.


The headline will only provide a quick snapshot of your professional identity, so it’s important that you take advantage of the Summary section to provide a lengthier introduction to your profile. One of the greatest benefits of a LinkedIn profile is that you can highlight as much information as you want; in other words, anything you can’t fit onto a one-page resume such as relevant courses, volunteer work, awards/recognition, etc. The summary, then, is a way for you to bring it all together.

Consider this: Introduce yourself first by talking about major/minor information, followed by some of your experiences, and concluding with the types of opportunities you’re seeking in the short-term, such as an internship or a full-time job. If you decide to pack a lot of information into your LinkedIn profile, employers will appreciate that you’ve created a summary that provides insight into the types of experiences they will find.

When browsing LinkedIn, you may notice that everyone’s summaries vary in length; some people may only use one sentence, others may have three paragraphs. A happy middle ground is ideal. The example summary included in the Profile Checklist is a good template to follow.

Skills & Expertise

This category allows you to list a variety of different keywords that describe your professional experiences and identity. LinkedIn has a pretty deep vocabulary to choose from, so if you were to type in “marketing,” you will also see more specific examples you can add to your profile such as “social media marketing,” “product marketing,” “marketing strategy,” etc. Identify keywords that are most relevant to your background and start building out this section of your profile.

The other benefit of building out this section is that anyone you’re connected with can endorse you for those skills. An endorsement from a contact is like a mini-reference; if you receive an endorsement for the skill “social media marketing,” for example, it means the contact is vouching for your expertise in that particular area. These endorsements can be a powerful way to visually represent your skills and expertise, as seen here, and to prove that not only are you saying you have these skills, but that your contacts can verify that they’ve witnessed these skills in action.

Professional Photo

Even if you are brand new to LinkedIn, it is important that you include a photo of yourself. Recent employer feedback suggests that people who don’t have a LinkedIn photo give the impression that they don’t know how to use LinkedIn. So, adding a picture right off the bat is recommended. While a professional headshot would be ideal, this isn’t always feasible to achieve quickly or cheaply. These 5 tips provide additional considerations for taking a profile picture that’s professional, whether you go the selfie route or ask a friend to snap one for you.

Next Steps

The Career Center offers two workshops dedicated to making the most of your LinkedIn presence: “LinkedIn Basics for Job Searching” and “Leveraging LinkedIn: Using Your Profile to Create Results.” You can search for workshops on DePaul Handshake through the “Events” tab.

Alternatively, you can meet with your career advisor to learn how to customize a profile for your industry of interest. With more and more employers turning to LinkedIn as a hiring tool, we can share tips to help you stand out from the crowd.