Once again I find myself preparing for one of the most intense gatherings of fantasy and science fiction artists this coming weekend in Altoona, Pennsylvania - IlluxCon. Founded by the art collectors Pat and Jeannie Wilshire, this convention was launched to immediate success five years ago as a place to merge artists, professionals, collectors and fans into one excited mass. The venue is small, the attendance limited and the program track compact, but that does not in any way dilute the experience - rather it concentrates and enhances it! As a dark chocolate lover, I prefer to take my cocao with a few ounces of sugar rather than with a few pounds - a small taste goes a long way.
Petar Meseldzija in a live demonstration 2011
So it is with IlluxCon. This is certainly not the San Diego ComicCon where you have hundreds of artists, displays reaching for the sky and 150,000+ fans swarming the floors. But when you move from conversations with John Harris to John Jude Palencar to Greg Hildebrandt to Boris Vallejo in the span of an hour and never have to fight a crowd of elbows, over-flowing swag-bags and lines of signature-gathering ebay-flippers to do so, you immediate learn to love this event! As an exhibitor, I can say that it is a thrill to be able to spend hours on end engaged in conversation about art, history, museums and Middle-earth without the noise/distractions associated with larger events. You are able to truly connect with the people who made the trip to be there.
Not only can you talk with the artists, but there are live demonstrations occurring throughout the event, both in the program track as well as in the booths as artists break out their materials and have a go at it. Art collectors like Jane Frank lecture and provide insights from the otherside of the art business as Art Directors like Zoe Robinson of Fantasy Flight Games, Jon Schindehette of Wizards of the Coast, Joe Shoopack of Sony Online, and David Stevenson of Ballantine Books all walk the floor and provide portfolio reviews. Nearly all aspects of the art business in represented here. You can see why I have to attend!
Well, I am off to the studio to prepare final drawings and presentation plans. Hopefully I will see a few of you at the event!
Donato and Michael Whelan at IlluxCon in 2009
IlluXcon is held in Altoona, PA from November 8-11, 2012. Although the convention is sold out for attendees, Sunday tickets are available to the general public. Next year, the Allentown Art Museum will be hosting IlluxCon in their museum space! A wonderful and supportive venue as the Museum had recently hosted 'At the Edge', one of the greatest gatherings of science fiction and fantasy art to be on display. If you cannot make it this year, put IlluxCon in your calendar for 2013!