Spectrum Fantastic Art Live: For The Very First Time
It was only last Friday, that I was driving up to a convention, with expectations of visiting with an artist I knew somewhat personally, meet a few people, and maybe look at what other artists create. Upon entering the Convention Center in Kansas City, I walked into the conference hall packed with artists. I roamed around, and did a quick glance at all the booths, each covered in the art of the artist or studio that claimed the space. While it felt like I was in any other convention, it didn’t take very long to find out I was completely wrong.
When you are an anti-socialite, who loves art, but is horrible with names, only one scenario can play out; as the agoraphobia starts to settle in, you find yourself surrounded by many people you do not know, or so you think.
After finding the one name I was incredibly familiar with, Tim “Vonn” Rueden, I was able to finally plant my roots into the con. I gave him a hard time about “his IP”, due to my natural instinct to play like a child, before telling him who I was, because really you only have this opportunity once. After telling him who I was, his face glazed over with a surprised look as my overly common name registered, followed by an extremely polite manner, and a hug. Shortly after, I met others related to the CGCookie / Concept Cookie crew, like Pui Che, and of course Joe Chico.
After establishing a “safe zone” in the convention where I could chill out, and prepare to face the rest of the artists, I did exactly that. The very first day, I missed every single presentation, conversing with the CGCookie guys, and running into an artist that was local to me. Prior to this con, I did not know a single person that lived in the same city I did (Springfield, MO), and was amazed that it required me to go elsewhere to do so.
After the main part of the con ended, and I followed the guys to a restaurant to get dinner. As we walked to find a place to go, Pui invited every person with a con pass around their neck to join us. It was at this point that I met several others, and had just as many different conversations, and ended with a collection of business cards.
My “safe zone” had grown tenfold, and outside of the convention center. It was after dinner that the Spectrum “Opening Night Party” was being held, where every artist was no longer behind a booth, as well as all of the art directors. Everyone was the same, and any intimidation was self-created. I met a lot of artists that I would soon know, and later find out were featured artists in the show. The whole time I was talking to them just like anyone else, without any fear, or self-loathing, and strictly talking about our passion, and how we treated it.
This was when I realized that there was no intimidation at all, and that the vibe from the entire population was nothing short of fantastic, just like the art. I was even so bold as to show my sketch book to one great artist, and was told to bring it back when I was done with a piece. This was a great eye opener, and the one thing that just opened up the can of snakes for me. Not only did I look at my sketchbook differently, I knew what even I should expect from myself; not a book full of doodles, but a book full of pages, where each page was a different story.
The very next day as the clouds constricted closing off the light from the sky, the rumble of thunder started to interrupt the sounds of the city, and the rain started to fall. I knew that this was going to be a great day. The sound of the calming rain, and bass of the thunder let me know it was my time to shine. I went to as many presentations given the last two days, while meeting more and more artists I can now call friends. Like a sponge I soaked up every bit of information I could, and any bit that I couldn’t I wrote down so that I could read it later.
In between all of this, I was lucky enough to have personally met many great artists. The first was Frank Cho, a very well known comic artist who was more than happy to sign a copy of his Jungle Girl Season 3 for me. It wasn’t until the end of Saturday, and Sunday that I attended the presentations from both Iian McCaig, & Karla Ortiz that I was just absolutely blown away. Two of these presentations Iian McCaig was part of, which were not only perfectly informative for every artist, but also comically realistic in terms of when artists are exploited. Karla Ortiz gave a presentation that had everyone on the edge of their seat, wanting to hear even more, so to regurgitate what they had been creating their minds onto paper right away.
In the end, I left the con speechless, and a pocket full of business cards, an arm full of signed prints, and a backpack full of swag. I keep thinking back, that I wouldn’t have gone had it not been so close, and possibly not at all if there wasn’t someone I knew at all, like the CGCookie crew. Regardless, I went, and I could not believe what all I saw and learned. I went in an artist with an uneasy feeling of his own art, but came out an artist who felt like a real artist, and no creates like one as well. It was a life changing event, and I always think back about what would have happened if I didn’t quit art all those years ago. I don’t think I would have had the experiences I’m having now; the ones that are driven by today’s age, and the power of a huge collective of experience.
In short, if you ever find yourself with the chance to make it to the annual Spectrum Fantastic Art Live convention in Kansas City, MO, take it, and don’t look back. Jump in, and immerse yourself with the talent that is presented to you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start going through this stack of cards, and email everyone.