Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Con Survival Tips Redux: Gen Con Edition

Gen Con starts on Thursday! Come look for me in the Art Show where I will have my usual goodies including a few new prints and paintings. The 2015 Exhibit Hall map is below:

Click to enlarge or go here to download at full size.

We are once again in a mad dash to pack up all our stuff for the Gen Con Art Show. A trip to exhibit work at Gen Con is not possible without a lot of advance planning. Simply attending any busy convention can take some preparation (or at least a few tips) especially for new con-goers. I've come up with a few after participating in conventions in some capacity for the better part of two decades. Most of the following tips are specifically for Gen Con, but many apply to any convention.

DOs and DON'Ts at the Gen Con Art Show


Please do:

•Talk to the artists. There might be vampires at the convention, but I promise the artists won't bite.

•If you like a particular artist's artwork, strike up a conversation even if you can't or don't plan to buy something. Feel free to ask questions about their work. Artists come to the convention to show their work and interact with people, so they will be happy to talk to you. I know this can be harder than I make it sound. Though I'm used to sitting behind the table, I myself feel bashful when approaching another artist at conventions or art shows.

•Look through stuff! Unless for some particular reason you're asked not to, it's perfectly ok to touch all the stuff on the table–it's there for you to view and buy!

Please don't:

•Take photos of booths (or the people sitting at them) without asking. Some artists prefer that their work is not photographed.

•Line up blocking the aisle in front of someone else's table to get to the artist next door.

•Put your bags on top of an artist's table–they don't want their work or product to be damaged.

Paying at the Art Show

Gen Con has a payment system that's different from most other conventions. Rather than paying the artist directly at their table, there is a cash register set up for customers in the central area of the Art Show. The system works like this: the artist you're buying from fills out a slip that describes the item you're purchasing and the price. You take that slip up to the cash register and pay. You will receive a copy of the slip stamped "paid" that acts as your receipt and you bring this back to the artist to pick up your item. While this might seem like a hassle, it is helpful in that it allows you to pay with a credit card instead of just cash and the artists don't have to worry about handling plastic or providing change.

Tips for New Attendees:

•Buy your tickets/badges in advance. These days, popular cons sell out weeks before the start of the convention. If you're sure you want to go, buy your ticket or badge as soon as possible.

•If you aren't in a rush to get into the show, if you need to buy your ticket the day of the convention (assuming there are any left) it's usually less crowded at the ticket booths later in the afternoon.
•Bring a backpack especially if you're going to buy a lot of stuff!

•Plan to do a lot of walking. And a lot of squeezing between people and navigating crowded aisles.

•Maybe this advice is outdated in the Paypal and credit card age, but when I used to walk a convention floor, I would keep spending money in a separate place from money meant for food and other essentials. This would help me stick to a budget. (Once it's gone, it's gone!) When I used to attend a lot of conventions in high school and college I would carry my spending cash separately in an old brown velcro wallet with a white line drawing of a Cabbage Patch Kid on it for some reason. I wonder what happened to that wallet?

•Eat outside the convention center. Con food=blah. Sorry, conventions! Get better food!

I hope these tips might be of some help. Have a great con, where and whenever it may be!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

DAICON IV: A Love Letter to Sci-Fi and Fantasy

In honor of convention season, I would like to share the 1983 short film DAICON IV Opening Animation.

I can't recall exactly when or how I was introduced to DAICON IV. It must have been on tape, perhaps shared by a fellow nerd. It was certainly before the YouTube era. Though my memories of discovering DAICON IV are as hazy as the low transfer quality of this video, what is not hazy is how much I enjoy it every time I watch it!

DAICON III and DAICON IV were created to open the annual science fiction and fantasy convention held in Osaka, Japan. DAICON means "Osaka Convention," using an alternate pronunciation (dai) for the first character used to write the word "Osaka." (If you know your fruits and vegetables you might have noticed another cute play on words: it's a daikon that transforms into the spaceship DAICON in both films.) The DAICON animations are familiar to anime fans not only because they're so impressive for a small group of young, amateur animators to have made, but also because they led to the formation of the famous animation studio Gainax.

My favorite part of the video is near the end when the camera swoops over hundreds of sci-fi and fantasy characters. Almost any character you can think of that existed by the time this film was created is rubbing shoulders in that crowd. It happens so fast – literally just two or three seconds – it's difficult to make them all out. I'm still discovering characters that I hadn't noticed before. It's a fun challenge to spot as many as you can!

Most recently I found Deckard.

To me this film encapsulates what it means to be a fan, of whatever it is you are a fan. The feelings of excitement, nostalgia and appreciation are obvious. This enthusiasm is what inspired me to become an artist and make a career out of creating things. It may not seem important compared to all of the other difficulties the world is faced with, but I think creating something that brings people joy has worth.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gen Con 2015

Gen Con is fast approaching! I'll probably be posting here less than usual while I prepare for the convention. I'll post more information later this month, so stay tuned.

Have you been watching the Gen Con Art Show Facebook page? Every day there's a new post featuring the work of one of the artists that will be at the show. A lot of great art has already been posted. Check it out!