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 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 cannot believe that it is March already! I have lots to do this month as my new Photo classes start this Tuesday. The first class, Camera Basics, is about learning how your camera functions. I had to do some research to prepare to teach the class...it's one of those things where I know how it works, but having to explain it to someone can sometimes be difficult. But after a couple of hours of refreshing my memory on some of the more technical stuff, I feel prepped and ready to teach!
Over the "spring" season at CNY Arts Center I have lots of classes planned. I'm teaching the photo class again in addition to two drawing classes, a class entitled Creative Block Busters which is geared at helping people break out of creative ruts, and the Facebook promotion class I mentioned last time. I'm very excited about all of them.
Over the next week, I am working on at least three images to submit to Neil Gaiman's A Calendar of Tales project. Powered by Blackberry, Neil Gaiman asked fans to answer 12 questions corresponding to the 12 months of the year. Now he has written 12 short stories to go with his favorite answers and is asking people to submit artworks to illustrate them. I will die of happiness if one of my pieces gets put in the publication. Seriously.
And to end my post for today:
Today a CNY Arts Center member asked me what my "ideal" job situation would be. When I replied "being a full time artist," she laughed at me. What she said next went something like this:
I said "idealistic" not "unrealistic." Yeah, when I was in high school I thought I wanted that too. Then I realized that being a starving artist wasn't going to work for me. So I figured I'd better get a REAL job first.
To me, it is very sad that so many people have this sort of attitude about art. Being an artist is NOT unrealistic. Being an artist does NOT mean you have to starve. Being an artist IS a real job. You just need the motivation to strive toward your goals. I thank the Powers that Be everyday that I have not lost that sense of purpose in my life. I just wish I could convince others to be as hopeful as me.
Kendra's rantings and ramblings about various topics, including art making, events, writing, movies, music and other inspirations.