Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Illuxcon 2010, the big "RESET"

I'm now officially now back from Illuxcon 2010, which just took place in Pennsylvania this past weekend. Personally, this convention is a giant "RESET" button; the event serves to refocus, re-energize and reward my efforts at my goal in becoming a successful fantasy illustrator. If I was getting sidetracked or lazy, this event puts a stop to bad habits and introduces me to new techniques, friends and opportunities.

Illuxcon 2010 was even more fulfilling than the 2009 version. The highlights of my experience fall into 3 categories: socialization, appreciation and motivation. I met with old friends and made new ones. I am motivated by seeing the great artwork, and realization that the attainment of similar results is within reach. I appreciate others, their processes, and was appreciated myself in turn.

Not too many tradeshow photos made it onto my camera this year. It was basically the same set-up as last year so I didn't record the room much.

The first artist I made my way to at the show was Ralph Horsley. Listening to him for the past few months on the Ninja mountain Podcast talking intelligently with his British accent I was expecting Richard Attenborough with a paintbrush. I have immense appreciation for his effortlessly crafted and minutely-detailed scenes of mayhem. At the start of the show I figured him an elder statesman of the genre, but by the end of Illuxcon, he was buying me drinks at the hotel bar as we enjoyed deep discussion on our art and a burgeoning friendship.

I was infatuated by the Hildebrandt's work years ago, and it was a real thrill to meet Greg and his partner, Jean. I started my convention with an hour's chat with Greg which was quite interesting. at 71 years old, he still gets up early everyday and paints 7 days a week. His personal energy is truly amazing and points to a roadmap of longetivity and success. Here is Greg working on a dragon painting...

Travelling to the USA, you just have to embrace the food. American cuisine can be truly wonderful if you are a connoisseur of various meat products. I watch alot of "Diners Drive-ins and Dives" on food network, and its a mission to find that sort of stuff when I go. This breakfast consisted of:
A Bacon, of course
B Token healthy stuff
C Fried applesauce
D Reconstituted sausage product
E Breakfast onions
F Breakfast cake
G Corned beef hash
H Finale of biscuit and sausage gravy

One of the great things about Illuxcon is discovering artists I've never heard of who I end up adoring. Patrick Jones' works immediately struck a chord with me with their old-master's craft. He is a rare illustrator who intentionally mutes the contrast in his work and pursues a soft, unified and painterly quality for the purpose of the longevity of the aesthetic object.

On the last day I reaquainted myself with Todd Lockwood. He went through my portfolio thoroughly and we discussed the topic of thumbnails. To repay him for the generosity of his time I helped him pack his wares up. I didn't know what I was getting into at the time, and the way we reinforced his packing box, it should last a few hundred more conventions.

Most artists understand the purpose of the thumbnail, but Todd's demonstration and his thinking behind it gave me a new outlook on the process. Perhaps a later blog post will go into more depth on what I learned...

The socialization at Illuxcon is one of the best things about it. Its basically the size of a big wedding, and the artists are your family. You are always an arm's length away from someone you want to talk to and someone who can enrich your passion for art.
A hotel bar in the middle of nowhere needs the action brought to it in the form of a $30 fooseball table and some tape. It was fun until the stink-bomb incident.

I booked a table at the Friday night showcase event, basically a mini-show within the show for up and comers. At the last minute I made some prints to sell and give away, and gathered some art that would fit in my luggage. This was a great experience, being on the artist side of the table and talking to fans, buyers and friends. It was a real thrill to have the tables turned for a brief moment with Donato, Greg Hildebrandt and others appreciating my work.

My friends Laura and Chris chatting with Donato: the man.

I finished off my trip with a "Chicago style" hot dog at the airport. I was really hoping for sausage gravy on it, but no luck...

Illuxcon is over and I'm back at my lonely house in the woods. I have new motivation based on new knowledge and confidence.

Time to paint.


Mark Harchar said...

Awesome blog entry, my good man. I didn't realize that you were such a food connoisseur. Really? Diners, Drive-ins and Dives? Yeesh. Now go accept my invitation, will ya? :u)

Cacodaemonia said...

That fried applesauce sounds truly terrifying...

I found Illuxcon to be really artistically energizing as well! I can't wait for next year. :)

Glad you made it home safely!