By Emma Dykstra
Surrounded by her art, Megan Wernimont, better known at her table as ShoujoHavoc, is one of many artists here at Grand Rapids Comic-Con.
At 26, Wernimont has already attended many cons as an artist, most recently Anime Weekend Atlanta and Ramencon in South Bend, IN.
Wernimont has been selling her art at conventions professionally since 2018. A typical booth for her consists of digitally drawn anime prints, buttons and stickers. Her inspiration for art was sparked at a young age.
“My mom would always bring home anime,” Wernimont recalls, “She was a really, really cool mom. I would watch ‘Card-Captor Sakura’ everyday after school.”
Though Wernimont was too young to read the subtitles, her mom would read them out loud for her. This also sparked an interest in art for her as well.
“I was like, ‘I love anime! I wanna do the anime!’ And my mom was like, ‘Sure. I guess, go for it.’”
Wernimont’s mother also brought her to cons, she recalls her mom bringing her to the Japanese Animation Film and Art Expo (JAFAX) back when it was still held on Grand Valley State University’s campus. As she grew up, her mother stopped going with her, but Wernimont continued attending.
“I really got interested in artist’s alley and the people I met there,” Wernimont said. “They were all my personal fan favorites. I met a lot of my big art inspirations at that age.”
Wernimont’s first booth was at JAFAX. She had black tablecloth, a handmade sign she made the day before, a few prints and a few boards of buttons. She remembers that people said they couldn’t see her goods very well as everything was so dark.
The experience was pleasant, which sparked her to want to do more. She now does booths at cons – what she referred to as “boothing” – for a living.
“It’s back-breaking hours,” she said. “You don’t get paid for a lot of them. When you’re first starting out, you might not get paid at all. Stuff is hit and miss. You may lose money, you may make it back, which is the goal.”
Though there is risk involved, Wernimont loves what she does.
When asked what her favorite part about having a booth at cons, Wernimont said, “It’s really like, meeting other fans if you want to really boil it down.”
She loves having conversations with fellow fans, getting excited when people recognize her art and what it’s from.
“I love it when customers come up and [say] ‘Oh! You have this (insert show here)!’” She said, “I like to have conversations, and some people aren’t up to that and that’s okay.”
She loves making fan art and selling it at cons, though when asked if she was currently in her dream career, Wernimont said,
“As much as I would love to be an old lady boothing, I don’t know if that is like, a reality I can accomplish.”
Rather than doing the heavy lifting boothing requires, her dream career would be doing art for official merchandise for franchises and independent properties.
The way she comes up with her stock usually depends on what she’s watching or playing at the time she starts drawing.
“I consume things very fast, and I feel like that’s what a lot of people are doing these days, they binge. So “Good Omens” for a hot minute, then “YuYu Hakusho” for another, then the new “Demon Slayer,” then the next. I dabble, then I pick and choose what I want to focus on.”
Wernimont said she feels she’s “better at things if (she’s) doing them.”
“It’s hard for me to just sit down and fill a sketchbook,” she said. “I need to be doing it for a reason, and if that reason is, ‘oh, this show came out, I know people will enjoy it, I wanna have those conversations. I will sit down and draw it. It’s a way for me to actually do work.”
She still finds that having a booth at cons is sometimes surreal, even when she’s been doing them professionally for a year now.
“It’s also just so wild. And I can’t even comprehend it. Every time I’m like, ‘they bought my art,’and it doesn’t really click with me until I see it in the wild. Like I was going down the escalator at a con and someone was wearing my entire set of buttons and I was just like, ‘Those are mine! Like what? My art exists in the world?!’”
Though she’s been featured at a number of cons in the Midwest, she still is thinking bigger. Wernimont also finds her art inspiration in other artists at cons.
“I wanna be with the big kids over on the West Coast someday.”
If you want to visit Havoc’s booth on Sunday, you can find her at booth C-1 in Artist Alley at Grand Rapids Comic-Con.
If you would like to view her art or purchase some, you can find her at:
Personal Site/Portfolio https://www.shoujohavoc.com
Etsy Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShoujoHavoc