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Pandemic erasing work for freelance artists at comic conventions

Posted at 12:35 PM, Dec 31, 2020

Drawing is not a hobby for John Rodriguez. It’s his passion.

“I was an OK designer. I was an OK photographer,” illustrator John Rodriguez said. “I’m really good at drawing. I rather do what I am good at.”

He can be considered a master. But currently, his palette is empty. His paintbrushes are just decorations on his desk. Drawing is not only something he loves, but it’s how he’s provided for his wife and children for the last five years.

“There was a flow, to pay bills, fix things, put away because we are not getting younger,” said Rodriguez.

Now, the pandemic has cut into his business.

“The summer was rough,” the freelance artist said. “I didn’t make a lot of money. I had, maybe a few commissions. That was it.”

Most of Rodriguez’ income comes from traveling the country and selling prints of his art at comic book and pop culture conventions.

“I went from, 2019 I did 23 shows and this year I did two in March.”

Convention organizers across the country are also struggling. The Wizard World organizers tell us they had to postpone their most profitable conventions in Chicago and Philadelphia. Each event welcomed 175 vendors annually.

For the first time in its 50-year history, the San Diego Comic-Con International convention canceled its event. The San Diego Convention Center had more than 100 events cancel, rescheduled, or transition to online. Those events would have had an estimated regional economic impact of more than $1.6 billion.