Pittsburgh’s Confluence

28 07 2010

Last weekend I went to Pittsburgh’s Confluence, a sci-fi, fantasy and horror convention. The setting was a hotel near the airport and it was a small but nice venue. It is not flashy at all but the organization seemed to me to be very clean and sleek, which is a plus.

double-tree hotel sculpture (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

I visited the dealer’s room, where you can find books and books and more books for the most part *By the way I found just by chance a wonderful book about oriental art that I promptly bought as a reference source. It was so cheap too!* The tables are $150 for the whole weekend and since there is not a lot of room for the dealers you should put your application a year in advance! Besides books they had some CD’s, jewelry, a few crafts and more books. I seriously did not see people buying much, maybe because at that time they had panels going on, though.

On the other hand they have the art show. In the art show they had all kinds of things, arts and crafts, from excellent quality to badly rendered poser dolls, but for the most part the quality was good. The show if free and agenting is allowed (artists friends *hint hint*!), there is no fee for art that is for sale and there is a $2 for art that is not for sale, the conventions keeps a commission of what is sold. If a certain piece has more than one bid during the art show it later goes to an auction on Sunday afternoon.

I did not have much time to spend at Confluence, mainly because life keeps going and I had laundry evening and had to get the house ready since I have guests coming over soon. But they do have really good guests and great speakers. I went to see only one talk about storytelling and I was all fired up wanting to go back to college and take some literature classes! ๐Ÿ™‚

I think next year I will give the art show a try. The accept originals, limited edition prints and embellished prints (signed), so I think I’ll give it a go, especially since there is no loss if I don’t sell anything. My biggest criticism to the organization is that I have been trying to contact them for several months (I think since January) and I had to get myself to the convention to actually talk to somebody and get some answers.





Monster Bash 2010

29 06 2010

Busy weekend! As I mentioned before the weekend of 24-27 was quite busy convention-wiseย  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.





Pittsburgh Comicon

26 04 2010

I am considering doing conventions next year, set up a table and try to sell/show some of my art. So I decided that this year will be the year of scouting. With that in mind I headed to Pittsburgh Comicon, that takes place in the Convention Center of Monroeville.

Pittsburgh Comicon at Monroeville

Pittsburgh Comicon at Monroeville

I went on Saturday afternoon and I found that there were not a lot of people, maybe the most will gather on Sunday when the costume contest is? But there was a constant flow of people never the less. There were a lot of comic vendors and a decent amount of artists, most of them comic artists, obviously, and a couple of fantasy artists. I was a little disappointed to see that there is a general trend to vulgar slutty-almost porn in art. Really, you can have super sexy without spread legs. But there was an overabundance of that, so I guess it sells. I discovered artist Tom Fleming and I was instantly in love with his fine art! It was a little bit like Klimt meets Art Nouveau and I loved it! I just wished I had more money, because I had to settle for his new book, but how I wanted to buy his art instead!

I also did not see a lot of money flow, but the economy has been really harsh. I talked to one artist though and he said that he was doing pretty good in the comic cons, so he could not complain. What did make a lot of money were the charity raffle and the charity auction.

The charity raffle was fun, the artists gathered all in a room and people started to shout suggestions for them to draw. They sketched quickly and after a bunch of sketches were made people bought tickets and the sketches were raffled. There was a very joyful environment and the convention gathered over US$1600.

The charity auction was to benefit Make a Wish. It was touching to see all those artists donating their time and effort to gather money for a good cause. The art quality was awesome in general and I wished I had money! Oh, some of the works were to die for! People were super generous in the auction and over $16K were gathered to help fulfill children’s wishes. It was awesome. As a Make a Wish volunteer I was very touched by it.

Awesome! Lego Spiderman!

What I enjoyed the most was the super friendly, almost familial environment of the con. There was a very relaxed atmosphere, the artists were with their families, there were teens but also a lot of adults, it was really nice. Plus the convention gives you everything you need to exhibit: your table and table cloth, a banner, you just bring the stuff and set it up. The price is $125 for 3 days. Not bad, right? So I really think next year I will be joining them ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you gone to conventions as an artist? Is there any advice you can give? Any insight?