I just finished an amazing weekend at Scare-a-Con, a horror and pop culture convention near Syracuse, NY. I was a little unsure about participating in this event because of the emphasis on horror (and let's face it, none of my work is all that "horrific") but I am definitely glad I went. Although I only made a few sales, I talked to a lot of people about my work and passed out a ton of my promotional postcards about the book. Plus, I met some wonderful artists/vendors! My favorites were probably my neighbors: Edward and Jessica Yancey. They were super friendly which made it easier for me to immediately open up to customers. At cons, I tend to be really shy until the last day, which is no good for making connections. Since this is my last "trial" con before FaerieCon, one of my goals was to be outgoing right off the bat on Friday. Thanks to Ed and Jessica, I think I succeeded.
One of the greatest things that happened at the con was how all of my neighboring vendors banded together to spread the word about Artist Alley. The way this con was set up, there was the main vending hall and then in the two hallways on either side, there were separate vendors (one side was a "VHS fest" with vendors selling movies and collectibles, and the other side was Artist Alley). Since we were separate from the other vendors, many con-goers didn't even know there WAS an Artist Alley. I actually talked to a Staff member of the convention on Sunday who admitted he didn't know the Artist Alley was there either! However, instead of just complaining about the situation, a group of AA vendors decided to do something about it.
This convention also gave me some great ideas for products and promotional items. I am going to explore making greeting cards and/or postcards in addition to creating a line of mini prints of my work. Plus I need to reorganize my portfolio books. So much to do! Maybe it is a good thing I have two months to prepare!! I'd better get started...
Hello all! I'm excited to announce that I am starting a Kickstarter project so I can self-publish The Ringleader--you know, the art book featuring my Circus series that I keep talking about? I am so close to finishing it and Kickstarter will give me the funds to do it properly.
Never heard of Kickstarter? Well, it's basically a crowd-funding website that specializes in creative projects. What happens is the creator of a project (in this case, me) sets a monetary goal that he/she needs to meet in order to produce a specific project. If someone likes said project, they can "back" it for as little as $1. For each monetary level, the creator of the project offers rewards or incentives that vary by project. The rewards often include copies of the final project. The cool part is that money only exchanges hands if the project gets funded in full:
All-or-nothing funding protects creators from being stuck with a fraction of the funds they need and an audience expecting fully funded results.
I started looking into Kickstarter at a suggestion from my Aunt Lynne. The first step was to do a lot of research about how the projects work. I looked at tons of projects (mostly from the publishing category since that's where my art book would fit under). I read countless proposals, watched lots of different project videos and looked at the wide range of rewards that different creators offered.
Probably my favorite project was an illustrated novel for adults called Caelum Sky by authorstrator Andrea Radeck. She has these awesome illustrations of this little red dinosaur character who is super cute. Sadly, I missed the chance to be backer for her project, but I plan on watching for the release of her book so I can buy a copy.
Once I got a feel for how other people had outlined their projects, I was able to start brainstorming how to set up my own. I believe I am going to set my goal at around $5,000 which would be enough to cover the rewards and a publishing run of 150+ copies of The Ringleader in hardcover (and with a dust jacket). For rewards, I am offering bookmarks, Limited Edition mini prints, as well as copies of The Ringleader, when it gets published.
Probably the trickiest part has been creating a video to showcase my Kickstarter project. While not necessary, having a video greatly increases the chances of a successful project. Thankfully, I discovered that my Mac has a program for video editing (iMovie) and although it is not the fanciest program, it has allowed me to edit the video to make it more engaging by adding image stills and voiceovers. I am getting pretty close to being done with editing the actual video portion. Then I will have to decide if I should add music or not.
My goal is to finish it up by the end of next week so I can launch my Kickstarter project. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Tumblr for updates!
So I know I haven’t blogged in a while and there is probably a lot I could write about, but I’m going to focus today on my most recent event, RocCon. Held at the Main St. Armory in Rochester, this multi-genre convention was a lot of fun. The traffic was much better than Ryu-Kon and I met some great people, made some new connections and even sold a few pieces!
There were quite a few highlights of this weekend. One was meeting these fantastic people cosplaying as Jayne, Kaylee, and Simon from Firefly. They were all awesome and their costumes were spot on! The girl dressed as Kaylee (who introduced herself, but unfortunately I do not remember her name L) actually made her costume. She made a fantastic Kaylee! Her friend dressed as Simon was also “in character” as he was rather shy and serious. It took them forever to get “Simon” over to my table so I could take a picture of them together along with one of my neighboring vendors (S. A. McKay, author of Queens) who was dressed as Mal. Seeing them in the sea of other cosplayers made my day.
There were some other really great outfits there as well. The lady below, bless her soul, stopped by my table and couldn’t stop talking about how cute *I* was with my winged ears and bottles-of-gears earrings. I kept trying to tell her that I wanted to take her picture because I loved her steampunk hat, but it was hard to interrupt her flattering me, haha. I eventually was able to talk her into a photo, and then I discovered that her hat lit up! She was quite remarkable.
I also met some great people who were interested in modeling for me, which is very exciting. Several people related my work to Neil Gaiman and/or Dave McKean, which never fails to make me giddy. I had a great conversation with one gentleman about Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, probably my favorite Gaiman piece. He was very impressed by my work and ended up asking if I could do a commissioned portrait of him and his wife. I look forward to working on that with him.
I also got to meet Keith R. A. DeCandido, the Author Guest of Honor of the convention. He has not only written a series of his own (The Dragon Precinct series) but has also done writing for several franchises, such as Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Farscape. It was kind of funny because at first I didn’t know who he was. Every time he walked past my table he would grin at me and wave. Then, there were a few times when I walked past his table and he would try to talk to me, but I was always on a mission for something and couldn’t stop. At one point, he stopped at my table, looked through my art and chatted a little bit. It was then that I noticed his badge and felt kind of bad that I hadn’t made more of an effort to speak to him earlier. Shortly after, I made a point to go bother him at his table. We had some good conversations about writing, fantasy, and sci-fi. My favorite conversation was probably when we argued about Dollhouse, the Joss Whedon show. He tried (in vain) to convince me that Dollhouse wasn’t that good. I give him props for effort though :D. I was very flattered when he ended up purchasing one of my prints.
Although I did meet a lot of great people and made some good connections, by Sunday, I will admit I was a little bummed that I hadn’t sold anything. There were lots of people who really liked the work and many took my card saying they might order online…but it was still discouraging.
I did the majority of business in the last half hour of the convention—and all to other vendors. One of the coolest sales was to an author named Jasmine Mead. I had been eyeing her book, Our Last Hero (which she also designed the cover of) all weekend, but since I hadn’t made back the money for the table, I really couldn’t afford to buy it. I felt even worse about this because I had talked to her on Friday and told her I was going to buy it. Late on Sunday, she came over to my table and started looking through my bin of prints. After a few minutes, she sighed and picked up my business card, asking if I had prints available online. I told her I did, but if she was interested I would be willing to trade her the print for her book. She agreed and even signed the copy for me! I was super happy about it and can’t wait to read it.
Right after that, another vendor came over and asked for the same print that Jasmine had purchased. I did not have the 8.5 x 11 size, but she was happy to buy the 13 x 19 print. I found it very interesting that I sold more of the prints of the mixed media drawings than my photography work. Makes me glad that I kept the prints of drawings in the bin! This last vendor, Taylor’s Maid Designs, was a mother-daughter team selling artwork and greeting cards/gift boxes from upcycled materials. We had a lovely conversation with them about the convention scene in general.
We talked in part about how conventions can sometimes be frustrating because the customers are often more interested in fan art than original works. I had found this the case throughout the weekend. Many people would only kind of glance at my artwork but would go crazy over an artwork based on something they knew already. I understand why this is the case but, as an original artist who does not do any fan art, it can be very frustrating and financially more difficult. The Maid (the mother part of the team) pointed out that the reason that I sold primarily to vendors is because they can appreciate the artistry and originality in my work more than some of the con-goers. I know in time I will make more sales, I guess I just get impatient sometimes.
One regret I have from this convention was not getting out from behind my table very much. There were a lot of vendors there and I wish I had had a chance to speak to more of them. Next time I will try harder to do that.
I also need to get working on some promo for my Circus book (which still needs a title). I did get to talk to a LOT of people at this con about my book, which was great. I had a little sign on my table that said “Ask me About my Book” and at RocCon, people actually did! Even so, I definitely need to get some postcards, stickers, buttons, or something made up that specifically promote the upcoming publication. Plus I need to finish the editing process and get a finished layout so I can do a test printing! Ah! Always so much to do!
In addition to this great convention, I have also been *attempting* to follow along with this 52-Week Photo Challenge created by a local artist, Diana “Bunnykissd” Bukowski. I’m currently behind, although I think attempting to work toward these challenges has helped me keep up with creating more art, so that’s a good thing for sure.
Well, I think I’ve rambled enough for one day. Check out Bunnykissd’s blog here to read more about the 52-Week Photo Challenges. If you’d like to see the images I’ve submitted for the project, check out the flickr group here.
My booth set up at Ryu-Kon
So it’s that time again! Time for an updated blog entry…
As usual, the last month has been a crazy whirlwind of activity. I officially have work at Lakeside Artisans in Oswego. I dropped off framed work last week. I am excited to have my work in another location. Even if I don’t make any sales there, it is great exposure.
After framing and dropping off artwork at Lakeside Artisans, I had to continue preparing for Ryu-Kon. This is an anime and gaming convention in Niagara Falls where I had an Artist Alley booth. Preparing was hectic as I had so much going on the weeks before that this event almost got put on a back burner. The trip itself went smoothly and the event was a lot of fun. I did not sell much, although I made some great contacts.
An author (named Meagan Cook) spoke to me about potentially doing a book cover for her novel, Firefly Darkness. She gave me a preview book of her novel and it sounds pretty exciting! You can check her out on Facebook here. Then a cosplay group asked me about doing group photos of them in costumes and then adding some of my manipulations on top of them. I’ve never done anything like that before but it sounds like a lot of fun. Another lady, who does Reiki (a light touch therapy), thought my style might work for a brochure for her business. In addition to these interesting project ideas, another vendor approached me about doing a commissioned artwork for her. She wanted the work to be on a playmat-a kind of big mousepad that is used to play card or dice games. She gave me complete free reign to compose whatever I wanted, which is super exciting. She also thought prints of my work on these playmats might sell at her shop, so I’m going to consider getting some printed for resale as well.
While at Ryu-Kon, I also gained 3 new fans on my Facebook page! That brings me up to 68! Which of course means I got to share my newest image, Setting the Sun! Be sure to check out my Facebook page here to see the full version!
So, all in all, Ryu-Kon was a worthwhile adventure, if a little disheartening at first. I’m not sure if I will return next year, as the event itself was more anime focused than I had anticipated. I actually had one person who flipped through my portfolio only to look up at me and say “These are cool, but do you do anything in anime style?” *shrug* You can’t please everyone.
I am definitely more excited for Roc-Con, a sci-fi/fantasy convention held in Rochester. Multiple people have told me that it is greatly attended, so that is always promising. Plus, I really enjoy cons, so it’ll be fun to go anyway.
In the more short term, my life does not slow down anytime soon. Just this week, these are my plans: I am teaching a class tonight at the CNY Arts Center called Story Time Art. It’s a class geared specifically toward 4-7 year olds. Tonight we are reading Where the Wild Things Are, which always reminds me of my big brother because it was his favorite book growing up. After my class I have to head right over to the Arts in the HeArt Gallery for our monthly Artist Meet-up event.
Wednesday I have Gallery hours, then Thursday I am attending a meeting in Oswego about the future of the Arts in Central New York. On Friday I may have 2 back to back meetings at the CNY Arts Center, and then on Saturday I’m teaching two more classes-Collage Making and Facebook: Promotion for the Arts. Somewhere in there I will also be adding some new products to etsy (stay tuned!) as well as working on some new art pieces, and keeping the CNY Arts Center’s Facebook and website up to date. I think on Sunday I may refuse to do anything.
Until next time, I hope everyone enjoys the last bit of summer!
I am excited to report that I have a lot of things going for me in the next few months as far as displaying and possibly selling my art work! First, I have just mailed off work for 6x6x2013, a Fundraising Art Show for RoCo (the Rochester Contemporary Art Center). I discovered the "Call for Entries" for this show a while ago on Facebook. To raise money for their Art Center, RoCo asked artists of all mediums, ages, and skills to submit artworks that measured six inches by six inches (by six inches if 3-D). They will be displayed at their gallery in a grid formation (all without framing). It seemed like an interesting show-and as an added bonus there was no fee to enter. I kind of forgot about it for a little while, but thankfully I remembered in time to submit some.
It took quite a while for me to figure out which of my images I could actually crop down into a square format. As a general rule, I like to create images in rectangles, because the asymmetry creates more dynamic compositions. So some of the pieces that I might have wanted to use (such as "Anonymous Goddess") just did not work as 6x6s. After some trial and error, I was able to find six good square compositions.
Each of these images will be displayed at RoCo's gallery and be on sale for $20 to benefit the Art Center. Even though I will not get any financial reward for entering this show, it will be great exposure. A lot of people attend this event-purchasing the 6x6 artworks is actually quite competitive. Every year, they host a raffle to give away early spots to pick out your artworks so no one else can buy them first. When someone purchases one of my photos, they will also receive my contact info and my website. In this way, someone who is interested in my style will be able to look me up and potentially buy more pieces from me.
Yesterday I got the prints all cropped and filled out the forms for each one. Today I mailed them out-and two days before shipping deadline! For more info on this show, go here.
As for the other events, I am planning on submitting some pieces to a show down state called "All Fired Up." Set to be held during GlassFest 2013, they are looking for artwork that was created with fire. I can think of at least a handful of images that I have created with photographs that I have taken of fire so I am hoping they will take at least one of them. The obvious one for me to submit is "The Firebreather" image from my circus series, although I am not actually sure I used photos of fire to compile that image, so we will have to see. Listen up for updates on that on my Facebook page!
I have also been looking into craft fairs and fantasy/sci fi conventions that I can go to with either my wish bags, art, or both. Unfortunately a handful of the craft fairs I considered attending happen to be on days when I am teaching classes at the CNY Arts Center so that may not work so well. However, I did find at least one convention that I AM attending this summer-my booth is already paid for! It's called Ryu-Kon and looks to be primarily an anime/gaming convention but I think my stuff will fit in just fine. This year it is being held in Niagara Falls, so we should be able to stay with my partner's family who lives in the area. Staying with family cuts down tremendously on hotel costs and means I'll make more of a profit! Plus, purchasing the space (plus 2 passes) at Ryu-Kon was only $55! I should be able to break even on this event without too much trouble. There are some other conventions I want to keep in mind for the fall and then next Spring, including EerieCon, RocCon, and maybe if I'm really lucky, DragonCon.
So this has been my exciting update about what I'm doing with my art business! Be sure to like my Facebook page and follow me on tumblr for more updates! I'm also planning a FREE Giveaway for my Facebook fans! =^.^= More details coming soon!
Sometimes I feel so inspired by music. Recently my inspirational music has been Fall Out Boy’s newest album, Save Rock and Roll. (You can now listen to the whole album streaming here). At first it was "The Phoenix," partly because I had just finished an image with phoenix. Now the song on repeat is the title track, "Save Rock and Roll."
I need more dreams
Listening to their words, beats and chords I just get this feeling in my chest that permeates my entire being. The sensation is all about having hope and never giving up. It tells me I need to keep creating my artwork and sharing it with the world, even if “the world” right now is only a few people. Unfortunately, I often feel like giving up. But music often renews my passion for my art. And interestingly, although Save Rock and Roll and The Phoenix do this, the music does not have to be ANYTHING to do with being inspirational, metapoetry (poetry about poetry), or related to fantasy or visual art. It’s just something about their combinations of words with the music that does it. And, of course, Patrick Stump’s voice doesn’t hurt.
Even being newly inspired, I am having some issues getting back into working because I have so few photographs left to work with. Below are two images of the early process of that I still have left, in the early stages of my process.
Paintings for my new photo
But really, I need to take some more photos, and like ASAP. I am thinking about doing a series of images focusing on characters performing some sort of rituals, although I’m not sure how that will take shape just yet. It's still just vague ideas bouncing around in my head. Often I find it works better for me to just get some people in costumes and shoot. I rarely know exactly what I want to create when I start a shoot. Sometimes I know what kind of character I want to depict, but beyond that, I let the model experiment with poses and emotions while I capture what they come up with.
I do need to take a few more photos to go with my Circus story, but I think either I (or my partner) will model for those. My story is almost done being edited. I’m still waiting for my editor-in-chief to give it back to me…but she just gave birth to her second child, so it might be a little while. Keep looking out for more updates about it!
My illustration for Neil Gaiman's August Tale
The last few weeks has been very trying. I worked really hard to finish the illustrations for Neil Gaiman's A Calendar of Tales project (if you haven't heard of this, check it out here). I was very happy with how they turned out. My favorite is to the left, and it was for the August tale. These were my first real attempt to use my mixed media art style to illustrate another writer's work. I found the experience quite interesting and inspiring. Plus, it was a really exciting contest. Neil Gaiman would actually be looking through the entries and choosing which illustrations would be published with his short stories. Thus, the prospect that Neil Gaiman would be looking at my artwork was thrilling in and of itself. And if my work got selected? It would get published! And not just published, but published in a book by Neil Gaiman!! I was so excited about this, I could barely contain myself. I told everyone I knew about it-posted the images on my Facebook page, even wrote about it on this blog. I got a lot of responses from fans. A few said they thought my submissions were way more sophisticated than some of the other pieces. So, extremely excited, I waited patiently to hear back. I figured it would take a few weeks for Neil Gaiman to sift through all the entries, so I wasn't worried when I hadn't heard anything by the end of the week.
Late Saturday night, I was scrolling through my tumblr trying to make myself be tired enough to sleep. Still curious about the Calendar of Tales project, I searched for it as a tag. The first post I see is one by an artist who had submitted a piece to the contest. Underneath their artwork, they state it has been "shortlisted." The following posts that I find are all similar; posts by artists excited that their work has been choosen as a finalist by Neil Gaiman. One even posted the e-mail they were sent. With a sinking heart, I realize that I did not receive any e-mail like that...meaning none of my works were selected as finalists, meaning Neil Gaiman looked at my work. And he didn't like it.
Needless to say, I got terribly depressed. I've never been terribly good at rejection, but this was worse. This felt personal. Maybe because I love Neil Gaiman's work, or because I felt close to him through social networking, or maybe it was just because I actually knew who was judging my work. Either way, I was crushed. So many emotions ran through me that night. I felt as if my heart had been broken, as if I had lost a friend. Neil Gaiman, who I look up to as a master of the fantasy world I am trying to belong to, saw my work and did not like it. Or, I suppose, liked others better than mine. With this single decision, I felt as if all my hopes of becoming a successful fantasy artist were foiled. It was as if Neil Gaiman himself was telling me to give up.
Now, even at the time, I knew all of those things weren't really true. But snapping myself out of this emotional turmoil was tough. However, I did recover, in thanks to my wonderful partner, Serena, my best friend Erin and my cousin Jenny, among others. Through their support, I was able to remember that one rejection does not mean failure. As Erin messaged me:
"One rejection does [not] mean failure or lack of talent. Rowling submitted [Harry Potter] to 11 place[s] before publishing so don't give up [you're] too good for that."
So after a few days of depression followed by encouragement from my family and friends, I am back to working. I will not give up. This opportunity was not a complete loss. He may not have chosen my work this time, but that doesn't mean he hated it. And even if he did, there are people out there who will (and DO) like my work. I will keep creating and I will keep pursuing my vision.
To end this entry, I'd like to quote Fall Out Boy's newest song, "The Phoenix." which has become my mantra for the past few days. I find it fitting, too, that it has the same reference to this mythological creature as the August Tale, by Neil Gaiman.
We are the jack-o-lanterns in July
I've been doing quite a bit of updating to the website since I published it a few weeks ago! We now have a full gallery, some links to my favorite artists and to my social networks, plus a new place to acquire the magic of my mixed media photographs! My store, run through Paypal, is officially open for business! There are currently two new prints (in both 8.5x11 and 13x19) up for sale! Go check it out!
Plus, my Facebook page has grown! I even have some fans that I don't know! Haha, it's pretty exciting actually. It makes me really happy to find people who appreciate and enjoy my artwork. So spread the word! I am hoping that by the end of November I might be able to reach 50 fans. *fingers crossed*
In completely unrelated news (as far as the website and Facebook go), I am quite happy to report that I have been working on many new photos and even a new mixed media drawing! Keep your eyes peeled for a sneak previews!
In the spirit of Halloween, my partner and I carved pumpkins today! And what did I get distracted by? The guts of the pumpkin. I had to stop and get my camera so I could take some photos. It was all fleshy and stringy and will make the perfect addition to one of my photos, just you wait. But the pumpkin turned out pretty cool too! Happy Halloween everyone!
Kendra's rantings and ramblings about various topics, including art making, events, writing, movies, music and other inspirations.