Sunday, December 06, 2009

SMOFCon 27 Final Thoughts

Made a quick visit to SMOFCon 27 in Austin, TX yesterday afternoon. Quick thoughts:

1. Thanks to Karen Meschke for graciously inviting me to participate on a panel called "Artists -- What They Need and Expect From Conventions". Scott Zrubek, Laura Domitz, Rocky Kelley, and Vincent Villafranca were my fellow panelists. Scott did a tremendous job moderating a 1.5 hour, frenetic, and highly-energized room of opinions and exchanges. I learned A LOT from this panel, and I hope the audience did as well.

2. Props to Craig (last name unknown) who sat in the back row and had a treasure trove of articulate knowledge about the pricing and ease with which future Worldcons can create banners of the Artist Guest of Honor's work in order to provide a massive visual beacon for the show, build pride in its attending membership, herald the show's arrival to the host city, and increase artists' desire to attend Worldcon. I've been championing this idea for the last year-and-a-half. When I raised the point, he had a wealth of info to corroborate. It never occurred to me that extra banners could also be produced and sold to membership as a collectible, but that's a fantastic idea for another revenue stream for future Worldcons. Very smart.

3. I'd love to see Worldcon increase their outreach toward art directors. Writers attend Worldcon for the sake of one thing -- jobs. It's no different for artists. I suspect most writers are less concerned about discussing their past work, as much as they are about promoting their current work, and most importantly, planting the business seeds with editors and publishers for their next gigs. It's no different for artists. Art directors hire artists, just as editors call the shots for writers. I advocated an expansion of programming mindset toward artists where Worldcon doesn't just do a good art show and call it a day, but in fact, expands the job networking possibilities for artists via increased outreach to art directors in books, gaming, film, and media (perhaps Art Director Guests of Honor?). Add to this expanded opportunities for portfolio reviews for young artists. Right now, Irene Gallo and Lou Anders are the only art directors who have consistently attended Worldcon in recent years. Artist attendance at Worldcon has declined in large part because the vast majority feel the show doesn't promote enough job opportunity and career advancement for artists. Worldcon would gain amazing vibrancy and energy from an ongoing effort toward this one major move. It would lift the whole con to another level.

4. Lighting, lighting, lighting at art shows. Much talk about this and how to establish and improve standards. Good stuff. I don't know enough about lumens to be an expert, but hopefully some of us will start looking at this and gains will be made for the overall.

5. SMOFCon -- I'd like to just give a heartfelt thank-you to all of you for being gracious to me, and especially to all who attended that panel. On the drive home, my wife Traci and I talked about how fortunate science fiction is to have people who give so much of themselves to make these cons happen. That goes for all of the SMOFs in the house. I tip my hat to all of you, who attended from around the world. You have my utmost respect. Happy Holidays. See you at Boskone and around the continent in 2010. :)


Blogger JGMotek said...

If you have some contact information for art directors who might be interested in coming to worldcon, especially those who you think might be glad of an excuse to come to Australia and write part of it off as business, please send me contact info privately. I think it's a terrific idea to try to expand our art-related outreach.

Great to see you albeit briefly, and congrats again on the UT win :->

9:00 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

That would be Craige Howlett who is co-chairing next year's SMOFcon in San Jose. Craige has been heavily involved in Fanime con, the 5,000+ annual San Jose anime convention.

10:34 PM  
Blogger John Picacio said...

JGMotek -- Thanks very much. Contact info for ADs I do have.....I'll do my best to assemble a list of them and get it to you privately at some point. It's a matter of time as I'm swamped with work at the moment, but I'll try to make it happen.

Cheryl -- Thanks! Craige had terrific info. I learned a lot from him.

6:04 AM  
Blogger ces said...

John, I sent you some email.


8:55 PM  

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