Wednesday, June 14, 2006
You paid what for that!
Ah yes lets get back to the A-kon art show and auction that I promised to talk about. By midnight I had thought Buaku and his felinoid henchwomen had been active and were running the auction.
The art show was on the third floor of the convention center, just like it was two years ago. The quality and subject of the works presented varied greatly. From one-of pieces of art like the water colour rendition of Kingdom Hearts characters to artwork on acetate cels [Yuna from Final Fantasy] to the usual naughty fan-service [oh look! its boobies!]; it was all present.
While the art show was open, people could register and bid on pieces of art. If an item received four or more bids, it would be put up at the live auction held later in the night. There was a set of four small prints that were very tempting to bid on, three russet coloured kitsune and one snow kitsune in traditional Japanese garb. But with bid prices ranging from $10 to $25 ea, they were simply outside my budget if I was going to have a chance later at the auction. In hindsight I should have snagged them all; something like Pokemon but of far better artistic technique and quality. What was amusing to watch, as the art show rolled to a close and the staffer was counting down the time, were all the bidders doing last second bids in an attempt to snatch a peice from some unsuspecting bidder who thought they had the high bid. Was akin to eBay in this resepct. It also backfired on a few since their bids tipped those pieces over the four bid threshold and the item went to auction. Whoops! :)
Out of the three items I had bid on, only one I won outright. Another got snagged by someone with deeper pockets than I had. And the last went to auction. So I did reseign myself to attending the art auction at 9:15pm to see if maybe I could win that one piece.
And lo, as the costume contest raged two floors below, there was a mass of people awaiting the opening of doors to the auction. Some were in costume like the chap in the bright yellow suit, Beck from Big O or the young woman in a red uniform and purple hair, Misato from Neon Genesis Evangelion to another young woman dressed up as Pickachu to list a few. Then the doors opened and everyone sought out seats while clutching their bid numbers. Arranged on chairs to the front were a few of the pieces up for auction with other items behind the chairs.
The first piece to be put up for auction, after the auctioner explained the rules and methods of payment - credit cards accepted along with cash and cheque, was that water colour of the Kingdom Hearts characters. Being the first, the bidding was spirited and the item sold for $140. This set the trend for the rest of the night as incredibly high prices were commanded by pratically everything. Misato was bidding on fan cels from one series and she only had $40 in cash on her, as Misato bid $25 someone slammed her with a higher bid of $50, thus knocking her out of the running. She never won a single one of those fan cels because they all topped $60 - $100 in price. She was not the only one to suffer that fate. For a digital print, meaning there could be more copies of this piece, the bidding grew fierce between a Sailor Scout and a guy, when the gavel pounded that art piece had sold for $210. Finally the one piece I was waiting on, the cel of Yuna in its matte frame finally went for auction. I was soon knocked out of the bidding as two guys vied for it. The price had soared past $100 when the artist, in the audience, commented that the top was not fixed so Yuna could shown a bit exposed. It was then one of the guys quit bidding and I think I heard him say to Beck's comment of 'It's convertible' 'No, it's pervertable.' The piece finally sold for $130. Money was being tossed around like water during this auction, very unlike A-kon 15 where some of the art was of superior quality and the prices much lower; there were several items that sold for over $200, one of them being a 1930's retro piece called 'Female Airship Pilot' that was an original. Guy dressed as Beck was bidding on it but it was a three way war to see who would win. Beck did not emerge the victor as the piece went for $230. I think the ability to use a credit card, even when the bidder pays the 3% charge, allowed people to get wild with their bids. At midnight I walked out of the bidding free-for-all when I had proof these bidders were nuts. The final straw being an art piece smaller than a piece of standard letter sized paper. It was described as being from FLCL of Haruka in silhouette. The auctioneer described the method artist used. Before had heard Photoshop or digital print. This time we heard 'spray paint and template.' The spray-can art special ended up selling for $60.
As I said, on that weird and depressing note I walked out while being reminded of something from Dominion Tank Police talking about how strange things can become extremely collectible but if it suffers the least amount of damage it becomes worthless. I saw that at this auction, the crazy bidding frenzy. At A-kon 15 there was some stiff bidding, but there was also comradeship when some of us contributed money to one bidder so they could actually win the bid of the item they so desired. Do not get me wrong, the interaction between the audience and the auction staff was fun to be part of - it was like a game show, but it was more intesne than what I had seen in previous A-kon art auctions when the bidding happened.