Recently I went to GenCon, the best 4 days in gaming! It’s a total nerd-fest of gamers, and is a lot of fun. I went for the fun, but also to help out my friend Marc Scheff who had his first booth in Artist Alley. With us was Jeff and Caroline Himmelman, and Aaron Miller.
I sat there amongst all these awesome fantasy art illustrators. I was a little apprehensive at first. But that didn’t stop me from talking to them. Marc, Jeff and Aaron all introduced me as their friend and as fellow illustrator.
More then anything, that meant a lot. I’ve been calling myself an illustrator for the past two years, with confidence. No, I’m not fully supporting myself yet doing just illustrations. That’s probably several years off. It’s actually how I see myself these days.
When I got to meet other artists and talk with them, I was able to talk with them on the same level, a professional illustrator, and all that goes with being an illustrator, getting work, where to look for work, how to deal with clients. When you are a commercial illustrator, there are lots of area that are common, regardless of what kind of illustration you do. And I was able to say, I do editorial illustration and that was cool with everyone, there wasn’t any sense of “oh your not a fantasy illustrator…”
I gave out several copies of Kool Aid Gets Fired, and got a really great response towards it. Saturday, I got a text from fellow cartoonist Monica Gallagher, saying “Dude, I’m in a comic book store right now and this guy is totally gushing over Kool Aid!”. Then about a hour later, and email from someone that picked up Kool Aid from Midtown comics, telling me how much he enjoyed it (and how sad it was at the same time).
I left GenCon feeling really energized, and I wasn’t even there to promote myself or get work, though I did leave my comic with several art directors. You never know when a game company does a silly game and needs whimsical illustrations.
It also reinforced that being an illustrator is something you have to pursue actively. Marc was there to get his work seen, and hopefully sell some prints, which he did. For a first GenCon, I think he did pretty well. He got great reactions from people to his art. In particular to his animal prints. Sales are always great, but sometimes feedback is better, even though it doesn’t have any bankable value. Feedback guides you to make better choices.
Marc got to talk to lots of art directors, getting direction and possibly some work. We both got to talk shop with each other, and other artists, and it felt great. Actually it felt amazing to be honest. For me the moment that stood out most was one night (I can’t remember which night), before going to sleep. Marc, Aaron and I shared a room. It was late and we were just sitting around talking, and it wasn’t about art, just guys sitting around being guys (I’ll spare the guy talk details). But under that we shared the bond of having the same struggle and goals.
While a lot of the time was socializing, hanging out, watching Marc take his first nerd steps (He’s totally into Magic, the card game, thanks to Jeremy Jarvis), it was still networking.
Now, here is a list of the awesome artists that I got to meet and talk to besides the ones mentioned above.
While sitting at Marc’s table, I did some drawings, so here is a couple of them.