Monday, November 23, 2009

Renovation Steps Up

The Montreal Worldcon's recent payment fiasco to Anticipation art show participants makes the following news from the 2011 Worldcon in Reno all the more refreshing. According to Colin Harris of the 2011 Renovation team, his Worldcon compatriots are willing to make the ironclad guarantee that they will pay the artists within 30 days of the Worldcon art show.

My thoughts: I certainly understand my fellow artists' cynicism about this news. Is this more ironclad than when the 2009 Montreal Worldcon said in writing that it would pay within sixty days (which was an abnormally protracted wait for artists to receive payment) and then proceeded to take more than ninety, which was absurd? Why should this proclamation matter, when Worldcon receives no monetary penalty for tardy payment to artists, and they've already proven they don't always adhere to their own rules in this regard? Both are good points.

My feeling is that paying artists within thirty days of the Worldcon Art Show is a fair and reasonable turnaround, and really any well-organized con should be able to adhere to such a standard. It's early in the game for the 2011 Reno Worldcon but here's why I think they'll make good on their word.

1. Colin Harris is a longtime sf/f art afficionado and is a veteran Worldcon organizer. He co-chaired the 2005 Worldcon, and has already been a strong voice for a better art show in 2011, and better usage of participating artists' talents.

2. Several of the Reno organizers attended the recent IlluXCon. They distributed flyers, socialized with artists, and threw a party for IlluXCon participants. All of these folks were there first and foremost because they genuinely love the visual arts of sf/f. I think they want to see Worldcon produce a better art show than it has in recent years, and they're willing to examine their own methods in order to do so.

3. Elayne Pelz is the Art Show director for the 2011 effort. She was the Art Show director for the 2007 Worldcon in Japan, and artists' payments were smooth sailing at that one.

4. Finally -- the Reno Worldcon committee members are a super-veteran crew of people who have either served as division heads or chaired Worldcons past. I think this recently-announced policy is something they probably had in place before the Worldcon Montreal payment fiasco. I think it's good news for artists that they want to make it clear they won't repeat the same mistakes.

Hat's off to the 2011 Reno bid. Artists -- what do you think? Thoughts?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Memo to Worldcon Artists

If you're an artist who participated in this year's World Science Fiction Convention Art Show, or plan to participate in a future Worldcon Art Show, then the following is for you.

The good news is that this year's Worldcon in Montreal is supposedly getting ready to pay its artists their Art Show revenues. The bad news is these checks were, by Worldcon's own rules, due to the artists within 60 days of the show. 60 days to pay a check is a lenient turnaround by any reasonable measure and by that standard, the artists should have been paid by mid-October. End of story. It's now mid-November and this is still not the case.

American artists were in fact mailed checks well after the 60-day period. However, those checks were drafted with questionable routing number information that were subsequently denied by many American financial institutions. A letter accompanied those checks stating that the checks provided a legitimate US routing number, when in fact, they didn't. They were effectively foreign checks that would necessitate gross collections fees and punitive processing delays of up to eight additional weeks. Not acceptable. When this was communicated to the con, its response was "the checks are fine; it must be your bank."

Wrong answer, Worldcon.

There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Worldcon's part. Don't get that idea. However, there's plenty of evidence of miscommunication, defensiveness, finger-pointing, and he-said, she-said. I had hoped that the matter would resolve itself in a reasonable amount of time, and therefore, I originally refrained from making the matter public, out of respect to the con and its volunteers.

Here's why I decided to post this -- I'm a fan of Worldcon. As a whole, I very much like the people that run them. I want to see Worldcon live long and prosper. However, I'm first and foremost a working pro illustrator, and sf/fantasy art is my business. I don't like being screwed. I don't like being patronized, and I don't like my fellow artists being shafted. If I stay quiet about this, then I'm in effect endorsing that it's OK for this kind of behavior to occur again. I can't do that. Worldcon is better than this.

Artists -- should we continue to participate in Worldcon Art Shows? Good question. Many have already migrated to other shows that attract larger audiences, and better marketing than Worldcon affords its artists. That was certainly evident at this year's Worldcon when you looked at the artist roster. And for something like this to occur, it doesn't help future Worldcons. I chose to participate in this year's Worldcon Art Show, but I wouldn't if I knew it would treat its artists' payments this poorly. Will I participate in future ones? I'd like to hope for the best, and hope that future shows will see this, and take measures to not repeat the same.

I'm disappointed that this happened. I hate that it did. Let's hope for better days ahead, Worldcon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

IlluXCon 2

(top left: Jordu Schell's Werewolf sculpture / top right: Julie Bell paints. / Bottom: A view of IlluXCon 2.)

Remember that FIELD OF DREAMS line "Build it and they will come"? Pat and Jeannie Wilshire have done just that -- built the best annual sf/fantasy art event in their hometown of tiny Altoona, PA, and lo, the artists came. IlluxCon 2 happened this past weekend, and it was a blast. It's a gathering of some of the best sf/fantasy artists in the world for a four-day weekend, exhibiting their art and hanging out with hardcore collectors, art directors, and sf/fantasy art afficionados -- and unlike most sf/fantasy cons, this one's all about celebrating the visual arts.

I was honored to be amongst the select list of invited artists who exhibited their work and talked shop -- and it was definitely a diverse all-star list including Michael Whelan, Dave Seeley, Vincent Villafranca, Bob Eggleton, Eric Fortune, Bruce Jensen, Daren Bader, Donato Giancola, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, John Jude Palencar, Brom, Jordu Schell, Justin Gerard, Justin Sweet, Lucas Graciano, Michael Hayes, and many more. Pyr's Lou Anders and Wizards of the Coast's Jon Schindehette were amongst the art directors present to review student portfolios.

Like most art shows, the exhibition and selling of original art and merchandise is a big focus of the show, but what I liked about this one was the energy and camaraderie. The programming was terrific and art-centric ranging from demos to virtual studio discussions to art director q&a's. IlluxCon was a first-class affair. Pat and Jeannie organized this from scratch. They're passionate about sf/fantasy art and they've got a progressive can-do spirit. I think that makes all the difference in the world. They've presented a stellar case study for how to run a first-class art show, how to properly market a first-class art show, and they did it without the infrastructure and resources of larger sf/fantasy conventions.

I had a blast and I'm strongly considering returning for next year's show. Here's a Flickr set of iPhone shots to give you a taste of the action.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

World Fantasy Con 2009

Wow. WFC'09, you were a blast. I had a terrific time as I always do at WFC. Hats off to the con com for a dynamite show. Although the Art Show was definitely not a highlight (low sales and poor turnout), I managed to sell my small display of work (hooray!) and enjoyed the work of several of the artists such as GoH Lisa Snellings, Vincent Villafranca, Erik Gist, Lee Moyer, and Lucas Graciano.

I conducted a one-man slideshow/q&a about cover illustration and design, and was amazed to see how well-attended it was -- easily 200+ attendees in that room, and some say as high as 250. Along with Chris Roberson, I did a 45-min. interview with a prospective TV book-centric TV pilot series called MARGINS. I signed a ton of books. Saw Jerad Walters of Centipede Press unveil the massive Stephen King artbook KNOWING DARKNESS: ARTISTS INSPIRED BY STEPHEN KING. It's a beautiful book (pictured above) and I'm in awe. All Stephen King fans will covet this book. Had many drinks, conversations, and meals with old friends and new. It was the typical WFC, which is to say that it was packed from beginning to end with fun and inspiration. Here's a small set of photos from my iPhone -- check it out. :)

MileHiCon 41 Wrapup

Thanks to everyone at MileHiCon 41 for a terrific time! I went straight from there to the World Fantasy Con so I'm only now getting to blog about it. I was Artist Guest of Honor over the weekend of October 23-25 and the MHC folks know how to put on a first class show. Artists -- if you ever see Bruce Miller as the Art Show Director for a show, you're in good hands. Along with Randy Cleary, he's one of the most efficient show directors I've ever seen. Besides running great art shows, they're great with details such as paying the artists on-site for their art show sales rather than having them wait weeks for payment. :)

MileHiCon has outstanding programming, terrific fans, and great costumes. I had a great time with folks such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Nancy Hightower, Mario Acevedo, Nancy Kress, Jack Skillingstead, Marc Gunn, Kelli Meyer, Corry Lee, Carrie Vaughn, Brandon Sanderson, the Lickiss family and many more. The con com was terrific. Special shoutouts to Linda Nelson, Rose Beetem, Cheryl Sundseth, and especially Ryan Marshall for taking great care of all of the GoHs. I was proud to be a part of the effort, and now I know why this is one of the most well-regarded regional sf cons in the country.