Akropreneurs | What Andy Hopp Wishes He Knew Before He Started Oddmall
by Kelcie Erbse
Andy Hopp is probably one of the wackiest dudes you’ll ever meet. Known for his stories and strange illustrations all over the country, he started as a freelance game designer in Columbus, and from there he created a world for fans everywhere. Andy now has dozens of games, children books and works of art out in the world such as the acclaimed Low Life RPG by PEG, “The Wanderers Guild,” and his newest book, “Holy Crap: The Great Sects Change Operation,” will be released this September.
Andy loves sharing his weird with people so much that he created a place where people could be weird and have fun. This place is Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird, an art-craft show/comic con/gaming festival with live music, toys, cosplay, fashion, food, tattoos and maybe even a wedding or two.
Occupation: writer, illustrator, promoter and organizer at Mutha Oith Creations and Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird
Hometown: Green, OH
Current neighborhood: Green, OH
How did you get into the work you do now?
Back in the last month of 2008, my family and I attended a really neat art show in Cleveland called Bazaar Bizarre. It was totally sweet, but was held in a facility that wasn’t very friendly to people who needed to change diapers. We needed to change diapers (not because of impending geriatric incontinence but because our second daughter was a baby at the time). I thought to myself, “Andy, how awesome would it be if there was a show not too far from here where people could see incredible and unique works of art, chat with amazing people, and also change diapers?” Such a thing became a reality in May 2009, then again in November 2009, then twice a year every year since then. Now we host Oddmall in Ohio six times a year, with shows in Akron, Canton and Toledo (also multiple shows in the Pacific Northwest because, as everyone knows, they don’t have any resident weirdness in the Pacific Northwest). Our next and newest Oddmall show is Oddmall: Rubber City Rumpus, which happens September 16-17 at Derby Downs in Akron. There will be over 100 fantastic vendors and artists, a fire stunt show, a car and auto show, derby car racing, live entertainment, food trucks, guests from TV’s Face Off, and all sorts of other snazzy jazz. Oh, and it’s absolutely FREE! Donations, of course, are appreciated. Vendor space is still available.
What’s one thing you wish you would have known before starting out?
That is a fascinating and incredibly handsome question. I love exploring and learning things along the way. It’s always an adventure. However, I suppose it would have been useful when starting out as a freelance illustrator, that employers sometimes take a considerable span to pay their debts. Freelancing was challenging. I never knew when, or even if, I was going to get a check. Unscrupulousness is rampant—epidemic, in fact—so watch your butt and make sure you learn what you can about prospective employers before you turn in any work.
I have also, on occasion, found myself in a situation where hiring freelancers became necessary. Those same scruples and the lack thereof can be found among artists as well. Who would ever guess that people who spent their days in school doodling in their notebooks instead of listening to teachers might have trouble maintaining discipline? I know I do.
What’s something you’re glad you didn’t know when starting out?
Everything. Part of the journey is the journey itself. I mean, the whole journey is the journey, but sometimes the best part of that journey are all the great encounters and lessons along the way. I started out completely ignorant and wide-eyed. Now I am a little less ignorant, but increasingly wide-eyed. I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but I know what I mean.
What’s something you think you’ve done right from the beginning? If there is one credo by which I live my life it is this: Nobody is a nobody. Everybody is somebody and everybody has a story. Treat people like people and all will be well.
We’ve tried to hold to that dogma since the beginning and I think people take notice. Oddmall (and everything I do) is open to all people, regardless of where they come from, who they love, what they believe, how much cash they have, or what they look like. We had three weddings take place at Oddmall in Akron last May. In fact, according to the lie I am currently writing, Oddmall is now the word for “love” in six world languages.
After years of creating characters and fiction what are some of the best lessons you have learned along the way?
It’s not always important to be better than the competition. Sometimes just being different is good enough. The publishing world is a veritable overflowing cornucopia of amazingly talented artists whose art all looks the same. Stand out. Shine and be noticed. There are a thousand peeps who draw dragons better than I can. If, however, you’re looking for a cremefillian danged wrangler waving a flaming spork into battle while perched atop a mutant land fish with a pompadour haircut and a mustache I’m your guy. In fact, I’m your guy either way. Free Andys for all!
*Andy will be opening an Oddmall store in his hometown of Green, Ohio. Oddmall Outpost: Assembly of Odd opens this October at 775 E Turkeyfoot Lake Road. See you there!*
(photos courtesy of muthaoithcreations.com)