Monster Bash 2010

29 06 2010

Busy weekend! As I mentioned before the weekend of 24-27 was quite busy convention-wise  and on Saturday we headed to Monster bash (I skipped one event in Ohio because I was exhausted by Sunday and I wanted no more!).

Monster Bash takes place in Butler, in the Days Inn on route 8. The interest of this convention is exclusively horror, with a special emphasis on old-vintage horror movies. It is the perfect place to find an old and hard to find movie from the ’20s or your unique collectible figurines and meet stars of classic horror films.

Monster Bash 2010-One of the several vendors rooms. (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

The vendors take over most of the ground floor of the hotel, spread between convention rooms, lobby and dining room. There is a room in which they carry talks and show movies, there is a bar/pub in the hotel that you can go to (win!) but it was so cold!! (Boo!), and there is a little food stand that has a small variety of breakfast, lunch and snacks food. The environment is most definitely familiar, very friendly and pleasant, with people in normal every day clothes having fun reminiscing about old movies, talking to scream queens and waiting to get into the small theater room.

Is Monster Bash right for me? Not at all. Its niche is very well defined and it is narrow: Horror, with emphasis on old horror films. No fantasy in itself at all. Is Monster Bash right for you? Maybe so, if you have a good horror stock. Be warned, though, that there is no artist alley and vendors have to pay $200 to get in. But if you are an artist you might do very well, since I saw very few artists and only one good one.

Things I loved: They pass cereal and milk around in the morning during the first movie. They have a huge cake that they share in the afternoon. They have a priest coming over on Sunday morning (a horror fan himself) to give mass, and it is open to all denominations. They have movies outside at night drive-in style. Bewbies!!! horror-girls show their cleavage! All this makes for a great and fun environment.

Things that could be improved: MOAR room! I understand that the con has been gathering in the same place for a long time and they have a relationship with the hotel but frankly there are more people who can be accommodated comfortably, especially in the theater room. We had to leave without watching the War of the Worlds because there was such a lot of people that we couldn’t fit in the room. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to separate the talks from the movies instead of having them all in the same room. If there were a couple of things offered at the same time, maybe the crowd would take care of itself and the space problem would be solved.

And just because it is fun, take a look at the trailer they made!





Anthrocon

27 06 2010

As the Summer gets started the convention season gains strength and the events pile up. The weekend of the 24-27 was the turn of Pittsburgh’s Anthrocon and Butler’s Monster Bash, I will focus today on the first one and talk of the latter another day.

I was rather reluctant to go to the Anthrocon because of the numerous horror stories I have heard about it coming from different people, but then I decided to be a big girl and suck up whatever came my way (after all I am 33, right?), I decided to bring my husband with me just in case… so I headed to the Convention Center. I knew I was getting close to the place because I could see a definite increase in tails, ears and eventually full fursuits.

We registered, got our badges and walked into the art area, which is what I was interested in. I wanted to do some research, look at displays to get ideas, look at products, what sells more what doesn’t, is it all furry art? Is it well organized?

I was very pleased with what I saw. The organization was very well taken care of, they really have their act together and things flow great for the most part. The art area is divided in three and it opens from the morning till 6 PM from Friday to Sunday. They also have a lot of events going on simultaneously, from videogaming to dances to panels. It reminded me a lot of the professional meetings I have attended as a biologist in structure.

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In my opinion AC is very artist-friendly. They have three ways in which you can participate as an artist:

They have the artist’s alley which is free for the artists. The artists get in a lottery and if their number gets in then they can participate and get a table (shared), otherwise you might be lucky the next day. The artists are encouraged to be working on site and they are allowed to sell sketches and other products. I think this is not a bad alternative if you live in the Pittsburgh area and want to take the chance. After all you do not have to pay and the investment of going to Downtown is minimal.

Artist's Alley at Anthrocon (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

Then they have the art show, which is free to enter. In the art show you are required to prepare your pieces for display, either matted of framed (no glass allowed), you reserve a space to hang your work, and your artwork goes to an auction. You can set the bid base price and the price in case it gets not sold at the end of the auction. Anthrocon charges no fee to display your work but it takes a commission of up to 15% if the art sells. The commissions are determined after the convention is done and it will vary depending on how much they have sold and if you were in the dealer’s room, in which case the commission will be smaller.

Finally they have the dealer’s room, this one you have to pay. The entry fees start at $75 for half a table for the whole weekend and it goes up depending on how much space you want. I think it is quite fair, compared to other events. They do give you a table, and you just need to bring your art and any display elements that you would need.

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They had some artist stars too! James Gurney and Jim Martin as the guest of honor, and in the dealer’s room I met Ursula Vernon and I was so happy and shocked that I am sure I made a fool of myself! I might seem confident online, but I am very timid in real life and I am sure I blushed a lot trying to talk to her! I also saw Neondragon Peffer and I am sure that there were a lot of other celebrities that I am not familiar with because of my lack of involvement in the furry fandom.

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Dealer's Room in Anthrocon (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

I saw a lot of traffic, despite having lots of simultaneous events, the art area was full of people constantly, it was not stuffed with people but there was a constant flow, and money wise, there seemed to be a lot of traffic too. I saw many artists with signs reading “Commissions closed, come back later” or “Sketches closed, come back tomorrow”, which gave me a good feeling since it meant that they had more requests that they could deal with. Sketches and badges went for about $20 and above.

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Ideas-wise, I think I like the gird cubes the best because of their low price and high versatility, plus the grid allows for hanging a lot of art in different levels. I saw a guy tattooing on site, and though I’d be very reluctant to get a tattoo in any other place but a super clean tattoo store that looks more like a surgery room (but that is me), I thought it could be a good idea to offer tattoo designs on site. I saw some sepia art that made me crazy about trying some sepia, old-fashioned things myself! And also try to go for some more dynamic artsy framing in my images, besides celtic knots.

While the organization was impeccable, I cannot say the same for the panelists… I will not give names, though, we all have bad days… I went to two art related panels, since I am not very interested in hanging out with the Foxes of California, or the Canada Hoofers. The panels I chose were an introduction to watercolors and drawing expressions. I knew it was going to be beginners level but both panelists were extremely unprepared, they did not have a good management of time, and also they barely knew what they wanted to say making for boring silences and “hey, what would you like to talk about?” statements. I guess I am used to a professional meetings environment in which you better know what you will be talking about almost to the minute! I was very disappointed by that.

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All in all I think it was a really good experience, I learned a lot and got my creative juices flowing. This is a con that I would absolutely like to try to get into next year, I enjoyed the environment very much and the artists-friendliness too. The main goal would be to produce more animal art, which I do occasionally, maybe a la Holy Cow or I will always love you, but more diversity and see what happens.

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Extra-art considerations.

AC is not a depravity environment, yes, there is porn, but it is in special sections and closed folders. I am sure there is a lot of sex going on too…. but it must be behind closed doors and if you see it is because you are looking actively for it. If you stick to the main events and the PG rated things, you can go with your kids no problem!

I was sad to see that while the artists in the Dealer’s Room might have had porn, a lot of it was super family friendly. Sadly, the Artist’s Alley was not the same case. Why would people who do not have the same pressure to sell than the dealers resort to porn? Or maybe the people who resort only to porn do not make it as well as the others and get stuck in the Artist’s Alley?

Furries are super friendly, but no one tried to go beyond a normal demonstrations of friendliness, I got a nice pat in the hand, but that is about it.

OMG, the smell!!! “Coty, it *is* a convention” you might say… but I have gone to conventions for years and I never smelled something like that. “Coty, you realize that these are not 25+ year old professionals but mostly teenagers and YA with poor hygiene habits, right?” you may ask. Yeah… I know… “And you *are* aware that there are people in fursuits that stay on those most of the day and then go dance at night, to put them on again the next morning”. Yeah, you do have a point.

Lack of food vendors. Apparently there was a concession in the artist’s room, but it closed early after lunch time. The organization was super nice providing a booklet with bars and restaurants in the area (booklet that I am planning to keep since I never know where to eat in Downtown!) but the main problem is that most things in Downtown close at 5PM, don’t open on weekends or are overpriced. It would be nice if there was some food int he convention, especially since there are activities planned until 2 AM, plus the artists cannot go out for 1 hour to eat. So if you are planning to go, you might want to pack some lunch to bring with you.





Interview to Joseph Corsentino

22 06 2010
(c) Joseph Corsentino. Reposted with permission.

(c) Joseph Corsentino. Reposted with permission.

Joseph is one of the few people that I’ve met that does fantasy photography. He goes beyond photomontages since he sets up the photographic production himself with the final product in mind. Most of this images keep a great balance between every day life, surreal  and fantastic. Let me introduce you to his fantastic work.

Joseph how did you get started as a photographer? Do you work alone or as part of a team?

I first picked up a camera in high school as a last resort before failing out of school entirely.  After finishing up my class and getting the credits necessary, I promptly put down the camera again.  It wasn’t until years later that I started shooting my friends and compatriots as we lived life to the fullest.  From there, I began telling stories using photography as my medium.

Nowadays, I create Time of the Faeries with my wife Donny and I continue to use photography as my primary medium.

How did your photography evolved into fantasy photography?

I have always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy and I’ve been a storyteller since middle school.  It seemed natural to dress up my friends, stage scenes, and shoot them.  As I continued doing this, I got better and better.  Now, I have a full blown epic mythology in which I can play and shoot.

How is fantasy photography perceived by the rest of the world and by your colleagues?

Do a search on fantasy photography and you may very well get sexy shots of nearly naked women.  That is essentially what most people envision when they think “fantasy photography”.  It’s certainly the bastard child of fantasy art and photography.  When I first started five/six years ago, it was very difficult to get into art shows and when I do, I find very rough fantasy photography pieces hanging in the gallery. Things are very much improved in the last couple of years as technology has advanced drastically and more and more photographers get into the field.  In the future, I hope that I will never get this question at shows, “Oh, is it photo manipulation?”  It’s almost like asking, “Oh, did you scribble something with paint?”

I saw you evolving from on site props, to Photoshop. What is the advantage you see in using Photoshop? Is there anything you enjoy more about props?

I love using real backgrounds and real objects that the model/actors can interact with.  Nothing creates that sense of realism more than the real world.  However, there are many magickal effects that I envision that can only be created using “green screen” technology and tools.  When I first started, I used and built real wings exclusive to each individual characters.  I learned quickly that the wings limit the models’ movements, therefore limit what we can achieve.  Now, I judiciously use props where appropriate, real settings when possible, and create the rest using my imagination.

How much of what we see in the final image was there in the photoshot?

(c) Joseph Corsentino. Reposted with permission.

(c) Joseph Corsentino. Reposted with permission.

This depends entirely on which image you are talking about.  Some images are nearly untouched except for some lighting and the addition of wings on the faeries.  Some images look NOTHING like the original image, if you can even say there was an original image.  I’ve been known to combine 20+ photographs to create one completely natural looking background of nothing more than a moonlit meadow with trees and mountains in the back.

Do you work with professional models? How is that?

I prefer to work with people who have the “spark” of the fae in them.  I keep an eye out for people I meet in the real world who embodies the characters I enjoy writing about.  I do work with professional models, not simply because they are models, but because they have the “spark” that I want and they have experience.  ModelMayhem.com has become a great networking site for me to find the faeries that I’m looking for.

Could you tell us about how you select the stage? What about the outfits?

I’ve been working on the Time of the Faeries graphic novel series.  The story is mostly written.  Photoshoots now support the story, so the setting and the stage is determined by the scenes that we are focusing on.  Ditto for the characters and the outfits.  It’s an exciting project, but at the same time, I’m saddened by the fact that I can’t just throw something random on a model and go out and discover the characters as I once did.

Tell our readers about your project “Time of the Faeries”.

Time of the Faeries is an epic retelling of the faerie mythology in order to bring them to the modern world and answer the question, “How would a faerie fare if she should return to our world?”  Our answers are dark and adult and meant to provoke thoughts and discussion about the world in which we live in.  A prologue book was published by Imaginosis in 2007.  Since then, we’ve been slowly developing the graphic novel series.  We are at the exciting point where we can almost see the finish line, a beautiful graphic novel in our hands within the next few months.

Why do you include angels and vampires together with faeries? How do you consider them similar?

(c) Joseph Corsentino. Reposted with permission.

In Time of the Faeries the angels and vampires are sub-species of faeries.  They are all magickal, if not winged feminine creatures.  It just seemed the most natural evolution to me.  I created this mythological evolution so that I can compare three aspects of our modern day human life: internal growth, stagnancy, and outside control.  The faeries represent our capacity to change ourselves and become something better, whatever that may be.  The vampires represent our human tendency to stagnate, stand still, and do nothing with our lives.  The angels represent the outside forces that, if we’re not careful, determine our fate without our awareness.

Your style is dark and urban, yet not heavy or oppressive. How do you achieve this balance?

Trial and error.  Trial and error.

Is there anything else you are working on at the moment?

Oh, you’re so funny!  I wish I have time to work on something else.  The writing takes up a lot of time, that’s true.  What also takes up an incredible amount of time is the images themselves.  Each image can take anywhere from one day to two weeks.  In order to finish the graphic novel anytime in the near future, I’ve tied myself down to my computer chair and have given up on the idea of having a life.

What is something that you would love to do and have not done?

I would love to travel to many different countries so that I can, what else, take lots of photographs.  Once the graphic novels are complete, the first order of business is to visit Japan.  What I wouldn’t give to have that magickal world become a part of Time of the Faeries.

Where can our readers find your art?

You can find Time of the Faeries at http://www.timeofthefaeries.com , http://www.facebookcom/timeofthefaeries and many specialty stores.

(c) Joseph Corsentino. Reposted with permission.

Will you be doing conventions?

This year, we are limiting our convention attendance in order to focus on the graphic novels.  We will be at Dragon*con, so if you are heading there, be sure to look us up!

Elizabeth Maxwell
I’ve been a fantasy model for six years, and even with all of that experience, I don’t think I could portray a traditional, classical faerie. I don’t know what it’s like to be pretty and perfect, and live a pretty, perfect life. But what I think Joseph has done (and why I think he’s received such tremendous response to his artwork) is created faeries and other characters we can identify with. What sets his faeries apart from other past and contemporary renderings is that they are flawed, and through these flaws we can see glimpses of ourselves. I see the hunger of his vampires, the arrogance of his angels, and the chaos of his faeries and I understand them. Joseph’s art isn’t just a window into a mystical realm; it’s also a mirror that reflects our own image and our own world back at us.

Priscilla Hernandez
Joseph has the ability of the world-traveller bringing the magic of the magical creatures and realms into a reality that is closer and more real, just as if you could go into a dark alley and find a fairy in disguise. “Time of the fairies” brings a new dawn for the feeric creatures as if they never vanished at all. Plus I’d say Joseph is a very gentle and passionate artist and I’m very sure all the models had a great fun making the shoot.





Book Review: Draw and Paint Fantasy Females by Tom Fleming.

18 06 2010

Tom Fleming has worked as a comic artist for years, and he has recently started to explore fine arts with stunning results!

Draw and Paint Fantasy Females by Tom Fleming.

I had the luck of getting to talk to him at Pittsburgh’s Comicon, and I so wanted to buy one of his wonderful canvases! But I cannot afford it yet, and I did not want to leave without something of his, not only because I wanted something his, but also because I wanted to support somehow this great and humble artist. So I had to settle for the economic version of support and bought his new book: Draw and Paint Fantasy Females.

The book covers the basics of doing sexy fantasy females. It goes through basics of anatomy, body and face construction, expressions, pencil and watercolor techniques. It is a basic book, if you are already doing this it probably will not open your eyes to anything unexpected, if you are wanting to get started this is an easy read with understandable directions. The anatomy section is a little brief, but then, this is a very general book, not an anatomy book. There is no mention to composition either, which I find it can either make a piece succeed or ruin it.

I enjoyed very much the tutorials section, Tom walks you through a few pieces that he has done in the past and shows the techniques he uses. Some of them are a little unorthodox and I love it! I really enjoyed taking a look into his personal technique  like the use of white opaque watercolors.

I recommend this book for beginners and for those that would like to have a glimpse into this artist’s techniques. Also you cannot miss some of the photos in the book that show this fit strong armed man posing as a fantasy girl to get references of poses! 😀





The generous artists: stock accounts

15 06 2010

Many times we find ourselves in the need to reference an object or a difficult pose, and most times we do not have that availability at home! Who has a stash of weapons, horses, muscular guys and gorgeous vixens at home? Not me!

This is when the stock photographers fulfill a wonderful role, they give us the great opportunity of referencing almost anything we can think of. The next problem arises in the cost of stock photography, most times we cannot afford (I know *I* can’t) the many dollars that would cost to buy photographs from different photographers. For example, I have referenced from about 20 photos for one image (lighting, hair, landscape, pose, clothing, environment, frame) because I like to not just copy as it is. And this is when the Deviantart community shows how wonderful they truly are. Of course you will find the odd exhibitionist that spreads her legs, take a shot and calls that ‘stock’ and ‘art’, and while the art argument would never find a resolution, the stock argument does.

Stock photography has to be good quality, have good lighting, and if possible a neutral indistinct background. Fortunately there are a lot of good stock artists in Deviantart, artists that put a lot of effort into providing good quality needed stock… for free!! Now, each artist has their own rules, and you should check for them, usually  they are in the front page, in the journals. Some of them allow for commercial usage, while others do not. An exception to the neutral background is, of course, nature stock.

Let me give you a list of stock artists that can be useful for you:

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Female stock

Almudena (Also objects and places)

Ana (Also objects and places)

Angela Sasser

Gemma

Cat stock by Constanza Ehrenhaus (c) 2009

Hoai Minh

Ida Walker

Kaya

Lockstock

Marcus Ranum

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Male stock

Andrei

Danger stock

Felix D’eon

William (also places and objects)

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Group

White Wing (also female)

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Animals, plats, flowers and places

Constanza Ehrenhaus

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If you have a stock account and would like to share, post it in the comments, I will add it to the list.





Bryant Street Festival, Pittsburgh

7 06 2010

Today was the 2nd Bryant Street festival, in Highland Park, Pittsburgh. This is a small festival that is put together by the neighbourhood union to bring Bryant Street back to life. Bryant Street was a good commercial street in the past, but I guess it decayed and while it looks abandoned and a little crappy, the neighbourhood could use a nice small commercial area, and the location is great. The street has been slowly picking up during the last two years (as long as I lived in Pit).

Bryant street festival view.

The idea behind the festival is nice and the push is hard, they even bring in bands! This year much more people went and there were also more vendors. Although modest and very small (it is about 1-2 blocks along the street), I think it has potential. The fee for a table is only $20 and even though I did not see a lot of people buying anything but food, I think it would be a good idea to give it a try given that is so cheap and only 5 blocks away from home and the set up would be minimal. I guess the most important thing would be to figure out how to attract people, and how to get them to hang around and spend money. The festival absolutely needs more publicity, but then, it is oriented to the neighbourhood, though I believe we all could benefit from outer people coming in.

While my art would be completely different to what is seen there, that does not mean it would be a good thing. I acknowledge that it might not suit the most conventional neighbourhood mom and dad, but who knows? Next year I want to have a small stock of prints and products, maybe I’ll bring only the more family friendly ones. Perhaps I can also print some line art of my drawings and put some colored pencils out there for kids to stay around and have some fun, maybe that could help parents to want to spend some money?

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What do you think about it? What strategies would you implement to attract people? I have never done anything of the like so any advice you could give, I am really eager to listen!