Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
One week has passed since Spectrum Fantastic Art Live in Kansas City. This was the first convention I had attended in over three years, and as it turned out I couldn't have chosen a better opportunity to poke my head out of the darkened studio and be social for a couple of days. I was not to be found behind a table displaying my own art as is usually the case with these shows, but rather as an overly excited attendee prepared to be bowled over by what I hoped would be an obscene amount of amazing artwork and artists.
I was not disappointed in either case.
As far as Fantastic Art conventions go, SFAL is without equal. While there are other conventions that have many of the same goals and even feature similar artists, the sheer scale and breadth of this show put it in a class all its own.
This inaugural show was organized by Cathy & Arnie Fenner, the founders of Spectrum: the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. As this annual publication enters its 19th year, these individuals are in a unique position to host such an event. Their love of fantastic art and those who create such works provides the requisite passion to see to every detail in the staging of this three day show, and the results were something to behold. For starters the list of artists in attendance read like a who's who of the industry, including not only veterans but major up and comers as well. Countries of origin included The United States, Germany, Denmark, France and Canada to mention but a bare few, making this the "Olympics" of Fantastic Art.
Many of the artists in attendance rarely if ever make appearances at such shows, making their presence all the more exciting. It was not uncommon to find artists abandoning their tables to study another artist's work or engage them in conversation, not knowing when another chance would present itself. It is a rare treat indeed to see your idols become fans themselves when brought face to face with one another!
In addition to the main hall, there were a number of smaller halls where lectures and demos were held, allowing us a rare glimpse into how a specific artist works or otherwise approaches the business of being an artist. For some of the more prominent talks there was a main stage at the end of the hall so attendees need lever leave the main show and could pop in or out as they pleased.
While one could go on and on discussing the art and the artists that filled the hall to bursting, it is also worth pointing out that there were those vendors in the hall who while not artists themselves, directly supported the Fantastic Arts, most notably Bud Plant Books, and Stuart Ng Books. Gone were the media monsters so omnipresent in the comic conventions today. Re-sale vendors, movie stars and other pop culture icons were also conspicuously absent. While Sunday did feature the bat mobile and the bat bike, they were outside the hall itself and did not infringe on the real star of the show: the art. This distinction is worth noting as attendees and artists alike made comment as to how it felt like "the old days" when conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con first started, and voiced their hope that future shows would continue in this manner.
From a personal perspective, this was a welcome opportunity to spend time with friends, many of whom I hadn't seen in years. As solitary as this vocation tends to be, it is largely our limited time at conventions that provides the opportunity for such interactions, and after so much time away I was looking forward to catching up. I was happy to find that so many friends are doing well and managing to make more art than myself in the process! My presence at the studio being what it is, I am limited as to how much work I am able to take on in my freelance career due to both contractual and time constraints. To see what others have been able to produce in the absence of one and an abundance of the other was humbling to say the least.
Upon returning home, I find I am overcome with a desire to power down the computer, set down my Wacom stylus, let some natural light into the home studio and PAINT. Not in a tentative way mind you. Not with any reservation, or hesitancy. But with a passion and abandon that I have long been missing in my digital work. Luckily I have recently acquired a commission with which to lead this charge, and I am looking very much forward to making full use of it. But that is for another blog post...
I am looking forward to next year, and what the Fenners have in store for us then. In the meantime I will leave you with this assortment of photos from the show.
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (Official Show Page)
header image: Jon Foster
Phil Hale & Andrew Jones
James & Jeanette Gurney
Brom & Laurielee
Virginie Ropars & Brom
J. Anthony Kosar
Volkan & Karin Baga
Petar & Anita Meseldzija
Most of the Artists in Attendance