Recently I exhibited at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live in Kansas City MO. If you are unfamiliar with SFAL I'll give you an extremely brief overview.
It is a convention that features the best of fantasy illustration.
There are some major industry hitters that exhibit, attend and lecture. Many illustrators attend to connect with new art directors. Many arrive planning to sell originals and/or reproductions to the hordes of fantasy / sci fi fans. Some just go for the camaraderie among the many professionals in the industry. All of these are definitive goals that are good for business as well as inspiration.
When it comes to the art most work shows a certain level of high action, figurative genius, fantastical elemental worlds and narrations of swashbuckling significance.
And then there's me.
Although I may have a microscopic bit of some of these things in my portfolio it's most definietly NOT what I'm aiming for at the moment. So why do I bother attending a convention the focuses on something that, well, isn't me?
"Nobody puts kitty in a corner"
I really like to attempt to be organized so here is a list as to why I did it...
1. It's located in middle Amercia and the organizers of SFAL have been marketing to the locals. I paint animals in people's clothes. Glorified pet portraits, I guess. Yeah....simple. Not rocket science. People like it. Not only did my sales significantly rise from my first SFAL two years ago but I continue to get sales via my online stores. Total Score.
2. My work is different from the majority, therefore it stands out. Don't get me wrong...a lot of ADs, fans and illustrators who attend this convention are looking for grandiose images of figures, action and heavy narrative. I'm not going to grab their attention. But I am going to grab their friend's / child's / partner's attention. Those small conversations I have with "the other people" go a long way in a short time. During the first SFAL it led to my biggest backer in my kickstarter campaign hence the whole Animals From History book. I'm a square peg and I like it.
3. Although it's a fantasy and sci/fi convention the location is Hallmark territory. It's like my perfect storm. Many people that I spoke with have an interest in both fantasy and licensing. These conversations led to other ideas on how to market my work. The collected research alone was worth it.
4. SFAL is accepting of many different mediums and styles. The focus is on the strength of the image. It's all encompassing, which is very good for my goals, and that breeds positivity among people in the industry.
The traditional vs digital snobbery scale at SFAL is at a low which is why the inspiration and camaraderie meters are so much higher.
5. And let's not forget the obvious. BBQ. No. I'm not kidding. Dom and I rarely go on vacation so to be able to walk around a new city, sample the local fair and interact with the people is a great way to escape my own head. This down time allows my mind to run wild and take in things around me. Anything from the cuisine to the architecture. In turn it sparks my creative juices and gets my mind working on the next image or story. Kansas City is a beautiful city with a whole lot to experience. It's a win/win.
SFAL has a direct focus that doesn't scream my name but at the same time the convention embraces those who think differently. I'm happy to take that bull's horns and run.