Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013

You were a year I will not soon forget.


Here's to a bigger, better year for all friends and family -- and for our fragile blue marble -- in 2014.

Happy New Year, everyone.

(Pictured above: 'The Good Life'. Art © John Picacio / first published in the June 2013 issue of POPULAR SCIENCE.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's In The Cards

Of all the results of the 2014 Calendar's Kickstarter campaign, the most gratifying for me is seeing the Grande Loteria prototype cards take shape. To the left of the color front and pencil back of my Grande Loteria cards pictured above, you see the traditional Loteria cards from the classic set by Don Clemente Inc. / Pasatiempos Gallo.

There were six Grande cards in the set produced by my recent Kickstarter campaign and to all backers who scored them -- THANK YOU. I appreciate you being here. You'll be able to look back and say, "I was there in the beginning."

The cards for the game deck will be smaller than these Grande prototypes, but I love the way these big cards fill your hand. These six are art objects, more than playing cards, and that's why they were designed this big.

I will spend much of my 2014 creating new Loteria artwork and will continue until I achieve forty-eight more finished artworks, so that eventually there will be fifty-four cards of artwork for a new Loteria game.

Right now, I'm packaging up more rewards deliveries for my backers and hoping to have two big shipments heading out today and tomorrow.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

They're Here!

You're looking at the finished products for my 2014 Calendar, companion sketchbook, and six Grande Loteria prototype cards!

Currently packaging and shipping deliveries to all of my Kickstarter backers. In a little more than four days since receiving the goods from the printer, Lone Boy has shipped out 73% of the campaign's packages. I'm rather proud of that turnaround. More packages shipping today, Monday and Tuesday.

Back to work here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Fantasy Art Annual for a New Era?

Great news -- I won an Art Order Challenge! Very cool, but there's something much larger here than my work being selected in a juried competition.

I'd like to share that view with those who care about the future of sf/f art.

How many of you have loved the work that Arnie and Cathy Fenner have done on the SPECTRUM annuals over these last twenty years? They built an incredible, definitive legacy. This year, they handed the book over to John Fleskes of Flesk Publications, and he'll continue to evolve the tradition.

Those books are a juried archive of some of the best in sf/f art for the last two decades. Over that time, they inspired a number of fantasy art retrospectives -- some juried, some not -- that have brought untold amounts of awareness to the sf/f art industries.

These books share a model where artists submit their work to the publication for juried review. These annuals not only have publication and printing costs, but have to pay for their juries' time and expenses. And don't forget about the cost of time to manage a publication of this magnitude. Those artist fees presumably help to cover some of those cumulative costs. The SPECTRUM Annual has credibility within the artist community because of the Fenners' integrity and track record. (Ditto John Fleskes.)

Other art retrospectives simply expect pro artists to contribute their work for nothing more than 'exposure'. Some of these books are credible. Many are not. None of them offer a dime of royalty back to the artists, even though their lone selling point is the inclusion of the artists' work. Many pros choose not to contribute to this model because it's not good business for artists.

Along comes Jon Schindehette.

For many years, he was a senior art director at Wizards of the Coast, and he's now the creative director of Treehouse Brands. He's won a Chesley Award for Best Art Director and has built a rep as one of the most respected ADs in the genre art business.

He runs an ongoing mentorship blog called Art Order and through that network, he creates art 'challenges' that encourage new works and build community.

This fall, he presented the 'Inspiration' challenge. The objective was straight-forward. "Choose something that inspires you -- it can be an artist, an event, a product or brand, an item, or a particular model. Once you have chosen your muse for the challenge, then write up a short article (no more than 100 words) about your inspiration, and then do a piece based upon your inspiration."

Great, but here's the part where Jon is doing something maverick and potentially game-changing.

No submission fees for the artists AND each artist that's selected by the blue-ribbon jury shares in the book's profits.

THAT'S a new one.

How is he going to fund the publication of this book? Crowdfunding. (Most likely, he'll use Kickstarter.)

Will the book happen? The community will decide, but like the Fenners, Jon has credibility, and the respect of the field. Will this book become an annual event? No way to know. I bet Jon doesn't even know. He may not even care at this point. I suspect he just wants to see if this thing can fly on the first try.

My guess -- it WILL fly. If given a few years, I think it has the potential to soar, as more artists, pro and up-and-coming, submit their best. I think Jon could potentially unlock a game-changing art book model that adds even more vitality and awareness for sf/f art and artists, around the globe.

That's a very good thing.

For now, I suspect this first book will be a slim volume, based on the number of submissions and winners. There's a LOT of quality work in those winners though.

I encourage all to watch what Jon does with this. He's doing something that could be a BIG win for the sf/f art community. He might be creating a new model -- and new standard -- for how art annuals operate. When his Kickstarter for this new art book happens, please be sure to give it your consideration.

For now here are the results of this year's competition! Grateful to be selected, and honored to be included! :)