Tuesday, September 08, 2009

09/08/09 - Report from 2009 Gen Con, Indianapolis IN

The following blog entry was written by Stevie Moore who attended a portion of this year's event held August 13-16 2009:

Gen Con Indy - Great Opportunity for Aspiring Sci-Fi and Fantasy Artists

Gen Con is one of the largest conventions of its type in the world, originally started by Gary Gygax (of Dungeons and Dragons) fame. Besides Gen Con INDY, there is another Gen Con in California, which is now owned by the ex-CEO of Wizards of the Coast and represents much more than just gaming. Having been to Gen Con Indy for the second time; this year my biggest complaint is there is simply too much to see, even if you were there for the full 4-5 days until 2 a.m. every night. My focus at Gen Con and this article will therefore be on the Art related features which are so wonderful and close by.

A major part of every years convention is the heavy emphasis and recognition bestowed upon the talented artists that work in the gaming industry. This has led to be an all inclusive mecca for the fantasy artist, where you can go to the art show and see artists that are very novice to seasoned veterans of illustration, from Dragon Lance novel covers to Magic Cards, to just about any artwork created for any game. Every year Gen Con selects an "Artist Guest of Honor" this year being Omar Rayyan, whose work has appeared on many magic cards.

I had a great opportunity to go the last day of the convention this year and talk with many of the 75 or so artists at their booths. I was amazed at how friendly the artists were and how helpful they all were with information about portfolios, networking, and other aspects of the freelance and illustration business. Artists booths range from $200-$400, depending on the number of panels behind their tables, where artists display their best work and sell pieces to a target audience of collectors and fans. Interestingly enough, many artists I talked to said they usually do better than break even but its much more than an art sale. Gen Con being one of the largest trade shows of its type, the networking is worth its weight in gold! Many artists talked about new jobs and contracts that they get every year just by showing up to the show. In addition to that there are free portfolio reviews by professional art directors and also many artists were happy to look at portfolio's, as I personally witnessed at one point and was surprised by the positive nature of the critique that differed greatly from my upbringing at the University of Kentucky school of Fine Art!

With just about every art director in the business crawling the floors searching for new talent there is no reason not to either investigate getting a booth or bringing your portfolio for any fantasy artists. Although not specifically geared to the comic world, Gen Con has plenty of Comic, Manga, Anime, Card and Board Games, Role playing Games, Video Games, and just about any other related activity you can think of. What sets it apart from many other conventions is the respect and highlight they give to the creative artists and designers that make so much of that imaginary world visible for those that enjoy it.

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