Back in January I started writing a series of articles for DrinkAndDrawMTL.com titled Petit guide de Survie pour Artiste (Small Survival Guide for Artists) because I thought resources about art were not as plentiful in French as they were in English, and there wasn’t that much specifically about Québec. D&DMtl was derived from the loose networks of artist gatherings around the world where artists meet to socialize and draw. It so happens that in Montreal, people don’t gather to draw anymore, but the blog survived and has a sort of webzine format. I thought it was a great platform for me to work on informing artists and art hopefuls.
You can find my first 3 articles here:
- Petit Guide de Survie pour Artiste I: Introduction
- Petit Guide de Survie pour Artiste II: Le talent
- Petit Guide de Survie pour Artiste III: Le style
And the Google translate versions here (it’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing):
- Petit Guide de Survie pour Artiste I: Introduction
- Petit Guide de Survie pour Artiste II: Le talent
- Petit Guide de Survie pour Artiste III: Le style
Also, D&DMtl has plenty of English or bilingual articles!
Yeah in the last post I said I was too lazy to do more than one post about Illuxcon. I lied. The fact is I was exhausted and couldn’t think of more to say, but now that I had time to sleep I found out I have plenty more to say. So I’m probably going to do this post about stuff I have learned there and one more about people I have met there. I hope I’m just not going to lie again and not do a third post. Sheesh.
About setting up a table:
- Test the pens you plan to use to sign prints on the prints you plan to use them on. I found out over there that my gel pens would not write on the printed parts of the print, so I had to sign on the white part. I bought a felt tip silver pen now, but I still have to test it.
- 12×18 prints take a lot of space and it’s not easy to find frames for them, 12×16 is more common, even if it doesn’t make much difference on the space on your table. I don’t think it made a difference on my sales but I discovered that shopping for frames before the con. I don’t want my clients to have problems framing my art, so the next prints will be 12×16.
- Even if visitors pick up your prints, they still want your business card, they do different things with them (I nearly ran out of business cards.)
- I surveyed people on my different styles, it gave them something to talk about and it was an ice breaker, I made people spend more time at my table than they would have otherwise, without making me look like a sales person. There’s also the fact that I was there not expecting to sell anything, so it helps.
- People don’t read signs, at least handwritten signs. I had a sign saying:”These small prints are free, pick one” but maybe two visitors in the entire show have read it I think. I had to tell them to take one. Some of them didn’t really believe me and kept asking :”Are you sure?”
- You should not expect amazing sales of prints in the showcase, because you are competing with the main show for money and wallspace. I know some people sell originals in the showcase, or books. I only sold two prints and that’s because it was prints of Lily and Notre Dame des Fleurs, a style that was quite unique to me, so there wasn’t anyone in the main show doing the same only better.
About meeting people:
- It’s perfectly ok when the time for meal comes to go see a bunch of people milling in front of the door and ask them if they are going out for dinner and if you can tag along. It’s easier if there is anyone in there you have talked to previously, but seriously, sometimes you think it’s all people who know each other and you’re surprised once at the restaurant to find you are in a kind of spontaneous mob.
- Sometimes you really want to talk to someone at their table but other visitors come along and the person wants to be a gracious host and greet everyone stopping by. It’s fine to show your portfolio and chat, but be aware that you are not the only visitor and some other visitors might actually buy art so they need to be talked to.
- Take your portfolio everywhere, you never know when someone will want to look at it.
- Conversation pieces are good, you want people to remember you. Dorian Iten gave me a beautiful hand drawn business card. It’s the first time I ever get one and it’s a great idea. If everyone was doing it, it wouldn’t be as good an idea however. Find your own thing.
- Wear your name tag, people might have talked to you and subsequently forgotten your name. A subtle glance at your nametag is less embarassing than admitting they forgot your name. They might talk to you more if you wear it! I know I do, and I’m terrible with faces. Nametags are a life saver.
I’m just back from my second trip to Altoona. When I first crossed the border, the agent asked me where I was going, and when I told him his bewilderment was obvious. I had to explain that I was going to an illustration convention. His answer:”Illustration? Like, cartooning?” I debated trying to explain the difference but decided against it and he just waved me through. Yes, it takes a pretty good reason to make the 11 hours drive from Montreal to Altoona, but Illuxcon is all the reason I need.
Last year I did a series of posts on Illuxcon, but this year I’m too lazy. I have to say that I sat on amazing lectures. Jane Frank gave one of her usual very informative business lectures, Robh Ruppel, Jon Schindehette, Zoë Robinson and Lauren Panepinto, I learn how art is prepared for a museum exhibit with Rachel Klees Anderson and many other panels and lectures. I was also in the Showcase for the very first time. It was a very good experience, I got to give away a lot of small prints I had made for the occasion and to get a lot of (good) feedback on my work. I was polling my visitors on which of my styles they liked the best. It turns out that the opinions are very evenly divided, but people who like my traditional work have a more emotional response to it that the people who liked my photoshop pieces better.It seems it just can’t be clear cut, decisions decision!
Since I’m too lazy to type a more complete repport, I’m leaving you with Chris Burdett’s posts.
This is one of those years when the summer holidays (June 24th and July 1st) fall on a Friday, which means 3 day weekends! In Quebec, most people who move, move on July 1st or just before, so it’s mostly a moving holiday.
Well, not for us! We already moved last year and I want to stay put for a bit longer. Consequently, we headed to Quebec City to see our friends and visit one of our favorite museums: Musée de la civilisation. In the past we have seen stellar exhibits there, like one on Russia called God, the Tsar and the revolution, one on Egypt and one about South and Central American mummies and treasures titled Gold in the Americas. This time, the main exhibition is called, straightforwardly enough, ROME. From the Origins to Italy’s Capital.
The exhibition was vast and covered over two thousand years of history. From an astonishing antique mosaic of an athlete taken from a therm to baroque furnitures, from pieces of plumbing of ancient aqueducts to 19th century paintings, visitors can trace Rome’s ups and downs through history. I was able to see a small original Raphael painting and some sketches by Michelangelo. I confess my disappointment with the Raphael. It was not anywhere close to what I was hoping. On the other hand, I saw plenty of amazing paintings by artists whose names I had never seen before and my favorite of the whole show had to be a plainting of a carnival in Rome by Franz Theodor Aerni, a german painter. You can see it here, thanks to Wikipedia.
We also got to see an exhibition called God(s), A User’s Guide about religions across the world and see super cute Dias de los muertos crafts and scary Hindoo statues. The other one we saw was Hungry Planet where you could see pictures of families along with the food they will eat in a week. It made me feel very privileged to see what families in other countries have to last them a week.
The Museum’s description of the Rome exhibition.
Sometimes I see it in people’s eyes, I tell them that I make video games for a living and they get all glassy eyed and assure me that I have such a great job. They don’t ask if I have a great job, they TELL ME. Because they know. I’m not sure what they think I’m doing all day long but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with what I really do.
(As an aside, it was worse when I was at Ubi because then they would also tell me how awesome Ubi is as an employer, and how great of a company it is, oh, and they always know someone who works there, but most of the time, they either don’t know the name of that person or that person was a contract tester for 6 months. I’m not saying Ubi isn’t great, but getting people who have no clue telling me how great my employer is gets old.)
That’s not to say that I’m complaining. But clearly, it’s hard to imagine what I do for a living, except if you are my long suffering boyfriend who hears about it everyday. Imagine having someone explain the challenges of encoding text in Thai using a proprietary font tool and the unicode standards over dinner. Yes, in the wonderful world of video games, we still get to make fonts “by hand”. And sometimes you get to make these fonts in languages that no one ever used to make a game before. So you are pretty much on your own to figure out how to do that. That happened to me last week and the programmer (hi Nara!) and me ended up working closely and figuring out how to handle some of these more exotic languages. I whipped out my Google Fu and sent resources to Nara who parsed the info I sent her and together we made it work. I’m actually quite proud of that even if it doesn’t have anything to do with knowing how to draw. In my job I also have to use After Effect and last week I even got my first request for a file created in Illustrator (in 11 years of working in games, so you can guess Illustrator isn’t that popular.) It did make me swear a lot. Sometimes I get requests that go “you know that image that’s 960×600, well it needs to be 1024×600, and you can’t stretch it” so I have to “paint” the new bits of image to fit what we already have.
Every once in a while I get to design completely new stuff and do neat illustrations but most of the time, what I really need to do is make old stuff look better. Back when I did a lot of DS work, a lot of our time was spent trying to figure out how we could make as many images as possible use as few colors as possible, specifically, wrestling 16 colors palettes until we could reuse them for many images and reuse some images by swapping the palettes. And then we’d have to wrestle the images until they worked with those palettes. The DS is a very finicky machine. (But as far as I can tell, the 3DS is not!) But hey, that’s my job and I do it as best I can.
(Title to this post after Tim Minchin’s “If you really loved me” )
My blogroll was in dire need of an updating, so I did that this morning. Plenty of new sites for you to discover. This is post 108 (yeah I missed it when I reached 100) and I started this blog in June 2007. I think I hadn’t updated the blogroll in 2 or 3 years.
I’m also thinking of ditching L’Album and moving all my art posts here. I tried having L’Album as a collective place for a lot of people to post together and get some momentum, but it seems that while other artists posted a few times, I am the only one who stuck to it and I feel like I’d rather have more updates here than split up my efforts.
(edit: not just thinking, I copied my old Album posts to this blog, so everything is in the same place, the old Album posts are in french, but the important part is the images)
Careful, cuteness ahead
If you have never heard of Zooborns, head there right now (ok, finish this post first.) Zooborns is one of my daily reads and a great source of inspiration to me. It’s a blog that collects pictures and news of baby animals born in zoos all over the world. Not only is it a great window into the conservation efforts of many organizations but it’s a very entertaining way to discover many weird and wonderful animals. I don’t think I would be drawing anteaters and aardvarks today if I didn’t discover their babies on Zooborn.
For the second time in the history of the convention, there was a second art show at Illuxcon this year: The showcase. Contrary to the main show where artists are handpicked, the showcase was open to all on a first come first serve basis. It was open during limited hours (Friday night and Saturday until noon) and there were no lectures or other activities going on at the same time.
35 tables were available and pretty cheap too (30$ a pop) and the show was held in the ballroom of the Altoona Ramada hotel, which was the hotel where most attendees were staying in the first place. Friday night was packed! The tables formed a rectangle and on the side opposite the door where the people who started right and the people who started left met, it was a pretty big traffic jam.
It didn’t help that Petar Meseldzija was showing off the art or The Legend of Steel Bashaw right in that spot too. I think it’s safe to say that Petar was the surprise star of the showcase and by the time I made my way to his table, his book Bron Van Verbeelding was sold out.
I met plenty of other artists in the showcase, some of whom I knew from forums but had never met in person such as Joe Wilson, Noah Bradley and Kirsten Zirngibl. Noah had probably the best promo scheme of the showcase, he was giving away fantastic prints of his grandiose environments which made everyone else look like a cheapskate. I chose the End of Sorrow one.
I also discovered many new artists. It’s not possible to name them all here (admittedly, it was a sensory overload and there are people I would forget.) Here are a few highlights for me.
Sam Burley, who also does enviros with an amazing sense of scale. You might have seen his turtle shaped mountain when browsing forums, everyone seems to know it!
Chris Burdett and his amazing Mutation Nation creatures, seriously, an angler fish and an elephant? That’s badass.
Lauren K Cannon, I only got the talk with Lauren later in the weekend but I had seen her art in the showcase. Eerie stuff.
All in all, the showcase is a fantastic opportunity, I hope I can have a table next year.
Bear with me, this is going to be a long one.
So, yeah, the IMC (Illustration Master Class) will be holding it’s forth iteration next June; again on the beautiful Amherst College campus. And I will be there, I registered the day the registration site went live. I missed the first 2 years, and I was not about to miss this one.
I could tell you that it’s awesome and that you need to get your ass there, but it wouldn’t really help. Instead I think I’ll do a recap of how it went for IMC 2010. I wanted to do that right after it but I was a bit overwhelmed and wanted to paint and not type.
So, when I saw the first iteration announced on Conceptart.org, I thought it looked cool, but I didn’t plan for it and couldn’t afford it. The second year, I missed registration and it was sold out by the time I found about it. The third year, I was determined not to miss it so I put some money aside and I registered, taking advantage of the reduction in price for people who pay early. The same is true this year, you get a 150$ break if you registered early and do just one payment. If I remember correctly, last year it was sold out in January or February, for an event happening in June. So yes it’s popular. And the proof is, a lot of the students are returning from year to year. If it sucked and was over-hyped, they would have to find new suckers every year, which is not the case here.
The class is 7 days long and food and board is included from the night before to the night after the classes. There is an assignment that you are supposed to work on before getting there so the preparatory work is done and on Day 1, they split the classes and everyone gets a very thorough critique of their preliminary drawing. I moved city just before IMC so I didn’t get my e-mails for a while and I only found out about the assignment at the last minute. So I only showed up with a handful of thumbnails and character designs. Luckily, it didn’t slow me down too much. That day was exhausting but it filled my head with more art information than what I had learned in the past few years, in just one day!
The following days we had lectures and worked on our assignments and had demos and had the faculty in class with us to guide us in our pieces. There really is something to be said for having classes small enough that the faculty can learn our names, know what we are working on. Some stayed on campus with us. Most took their meals with us, so we could chat with James and Janet Gurney at breakfast and then pick Donato’s brains during lunch, then go back to the class and have Dan Dos Santos do a paint-over on our piece and then go for a little lecture with someone else for the faculty, and then go back to work, rinse and repeat until you collapse.
Also, a surprising number of attendees are already professional illustrators and can provide valuable feedback and information. It’s also a wonderful place to make new friends who are super excited about art and just as motivated as we are.
Next year promises to be even more intense with more instructors and guests. I can’t wait to see the friends I made last year and to make new ones.