The Alternative Press Expo (APE) 2015 has been a huge topic for artists ever since the end of APE 2014 when news spread that Dan Vado, creator of APE, bought back his ownership of the expo from Comic Con. The largest discussion subject among artists was and still is whether to hold a booth at APE in future years or pass. I've reached out to the booth holders and audience for their review, which you can read about in my APE 2015 Review. However, I still wasn't satisfied with that and wanted to dig deeper all the way to the source, and learn what was in APE's future. Shortly after that article I got the chance to interview Vado, and after reviewing his response I wasn't sure how to write this article. It took lots of consideration, and it came down to sharing the interview with you all; no alterations. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Interview with Dan Vado
What is your title? For example, is it "Dan Vado, owner of APE" or something different?
Supreme Commander is what my title says
What are your goals for APE's future?
Long term, I want APE to become a more festival-like event that combines comics and art with music and other performance art.
What did you think of APE 2015 as a whole?
The learning curve on something like APE is pretty high. Overall I made some mistakes, which I expected I would (you just never know what those mistakes are going to be). I was happy with the attendance, I feel like giving exhibitors more space to play with did not produce my intended results.
I feel it was a step i the right direction for me though.
What were some positive features/changes about APE 2015?
I think the off-site venues worked out nicely. I also was felt like letting librarians and teachers in for free was a huge positive. I think many people do not realize how many educators or people who work in that area spend their own money on developing their curriculum. They are always looking for new ways to challenge students and get very little support, so letting in teachers free was an important thing for APE to set it aside from other conventions.
What were some things that are considered for change for APE 2016?
I am going to add some sort of second music event for the evening time on Saturday and perhaps do an offsite mini-gallery during the South First Friday Art Walk in the SOFA district in San Jose as well as something during First Friday in Oakland to help promote the event.
Did you meet your attendance goal?
I did not have a specific number i was shooting for., so tough to answer. Obviously you can always hope for more people, but I was happy with what we got.
Did you meet your budget goals? You do not have to share numbers specifically. My question focuses closer to expenses (like using the San Jose Convention Center space) versus profits (like attendance sales and artist table costs). I wrote this same question to exhibiting artists as "Did you break even?" and provided them multiple choice answers for their financial experience.
We fell a little short. I was caught off-guard by the amount of union labor I was required to hire. I had wanted to use volunteers to watch the doors, but I had to hire people from a ticket-takers union to check badges. I also could only use house approved security for overnight security.
the real capper was the close to $1500 we had to pay a union audio/visual person to set up a projector and screen that we used inside of the convention center. The guy did literally 45 minutes worth of work and did not even show up the next day to take them all down, yet we still had to pay.
We also had to pay for union labor to help exhibitors move in and out, even though almost everyone brought their own stuff in. So, lots of this kind of thing contributed to a small shortfall budget-wise.
What is APE's culture as an expo? Another way to view this question is what type of people are attracted to APE, type of art exhibited, type of events if any that take place, etc. Additionally, what type of culture do you want to create for APE?
Like I said, I am aiming for a more festival-like experience for APE where people come for many different reasons and become exposed to lots of different things. I want to see visual arts side-by-side with music, writing and all elements of culture.
I want the event itself to be more visually stimulating and to move away from the Etsy store look and feel that APE had gotten in the past few years. Had I not been given the event back my company would have stopped coming.
Are there any changes potential exhibiting artists should be aware of for APE 2016?
We are going to have a contest next year for most creative use of the space. The winner will get a free space the following year. I would eventually like to see more of the exhibits take on an art installation look. After almost forty years of going t oconventions I can honestly say that there is nothing more boring that a bunch of books and prints plopped onto a table with an artist who seems more engaged with their phone than with their potential audience.
There is a big arts andmusic festival in the summer in San Jose called SubZero. While that is something more like an art show/circus and not something I would want APE to become, I do feel that people need to be more creative in their presentations.
If you've read my APE 2015 Review article, what did you think after you've read my review? Is the article fair/accurate, unreasonable/alarming, etc. Does it spark thoughts of APE's past/present/future?
I did not read it, which is why I held off on answering these questions. I will try and get to it, sorry.