The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Preparing for the World Fantasy Convention

A particularly rough patch of assignments are turned in, my half-marathon has been run, and I did my little trip out to Richmond and Roanoke VA where I met lots of great folks. Next on the agenda: the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs NY this year (it moves each year).

I have basically a month to figure out what I'm doing there. Essentially, I'm going to show and hopefully sell some art and connect with some artist friends at a much more laid back event than the big media conventions I do in the summer. Whereas during the day at Comic-Con or GenCon you are busy all day and can only mix it up in the evening, really, conventions like WFC (literary conventions with a stronger emphasis on fantasy fiction than, say, anime) are very, very laid back. Also, whereas the media conventions have you behind a table all weekend meeting people, these conventions favor the art show, or gallery space. Your art is up and presented in a large room with tons of other art...and no artists. Quite a different experience. It's nice to tour the art show as an artist, but it definitely doesn't have the...friendliness (?) of a media con. It definitely looks nicer though!

One main reason I haven't been as involved in big literary conventions has been that since I've felt like doing them the last few years, I was far away in California or abroad. Because these shows often insist on attendance, you bite the bullet and fork over a grand in flights/hotels/food or don't show. Added to that are the expenses involved in framing art, since the art needs to be framed or, minimally, matted to be displayed. A few hundred more bucks, and now you've got shipping issues involved since you can't bring it on the plane easily or at all. So, big literary conventions can be a considerable amount of money and effort to get involved in.

How will I solve these problems? First off, I'm on the East Coast already. I'll drive up. This will save me a little money on flights at the expense of time, and save me all the headaches involved in shipping to and from. I get to see some friends along the way, too. Secondly, I will resort to driving in a half hour to an hour each way, each day I attend, staying further out in some probably terrible highway hotel. This will easily knock a few hundred dollars off of more nearby hotel options. Lastly, I'll have to frame on the cheap. This becomes the hardest part. Nice framing jobs--all acid-free double or triple mats, nice frames that really compliment each piece, UV plexi--are expensive. Considering this will be the only time the pieces I take will use their frames, it seems a waste to go all out on them, especially since I'm not at the level where I can expect everything I bring to fly off the walls in mad bidding wars (these shows operate as auctions).

When I have to do this sort of thing, I typically will go for functional and presentable. Single mats, all uniform black, and probably simple frames, probably uniform black. Not the most creative, but inexpensive and consistent.

I purchased a 4 by 6 foot display panel. These are typically pegboard. Some artists can go all out and fabric-cover their areas for maximum presentation control. I will not, and most won't. The issue now becomes: what will I show? What will fit?

Using Photoshop, I quickly put together a 4x6' file at 72dpi. I could then pop images in easily, to scale. I tossed around them some generic frames I found online and was able to quickly mock up my space. The white cards are for the "bid sheets" which are required.


My wife chuckled at my method in doing this. Not actual frames.

It was helpful putting this together. It's a tight fit in places. I'll need to keep the frames fairly thin. I suddenly realized a couple of things. 1.)There is a blank spot under Undertow that would not fit one of my standard 11x14" paintings once framed, and 2.)There is not a single male on the entire wall!! Someone also threatened to purchase Aethermage's Touch last weekend. If it goes, I'll replace that image maybe with Anachronism's Chimalli. This would add a male to the wall--I may even swap them for the purpose! As it stands, Aethermage's Touch is a replacement--I intended Mesa Enchantress to fill that space. I was very happy to have it sell at GenCon, though.

Where Sprite Noble is, up in the center, I had pasted in a black-and-white study for a painting I was going to do specifically for the show. Guess what--another female. I don't have any small paintings I want to show in that blank space below; I haven't done many smaller illustrations lately. I am now forced to do a new piece for that smaller spot--roughly 8x10". I don't think I'll have time to do the 11x14" female piece for the time being, so I'll put it away. And one thing is for sure, the new 8x10" will have to have a male figure in it, or something.

So now it's time to start frame hunting and getting some custom mats done for the larger pieces. I'll be sure to post a photo of the final setup, hopefully. And there are more illustrations to do this month. Ay yay yay!