I know that I don't normally write on the weekends, but this hasn't been my usual weekend. I'll have to keep it short today, because I've got to dash to work pretty quickly. Yesterday was a grand day here at the con. I didn't have much in the way of free time, but I sure got a lot out of all the wonderful little things that happened throughout the day. There were few big highlights to my day... As has become the norm, Robh Ruppel and I had our "psychic connection" breakfast gathering. This time, we ended up joining up with Matt Cavotta as well. Another great start to my morning - wonderful conversation, and a nice breakfast. The next big activity was a round table dicussion I was honored to be involved in. The title of the event was "Art Director faq". I have to say though, the audience skipped right past the "frequently asked questions" and jumped into some wonderful thought provoking questions. I loved the way this event played out. It is important to note who was involved: Robh Ruppel from Naughty Dog Games (I love that name, makes me giggle every time I say it); Ben Thompson and Jeremy Cranford from Blizzard Entertainment; Lou Anders from Pyr Publishing and myself from Wizards of the Coast.
This is the first illustration that really struck me on my initial look through and it has stayed with me for several days now, possibly because there is a sense of narrative here, possibly because I believe that this thing exists in a way I don't believe all Lovecraft's creatures do (the textures here of wing and bone sell that verisimilitude nicely) and possibly just because I wonder who those riders are that are crazy enough to mount these terrible things!
I read about this blog site on one of my writer's lists (and we now know these are where I get most of my ideas for blog topics, don't we?). Apparently authors can check their own books (or the blogger checks some) and email the blog owner. She then posted to the list, with a link to the original News Bite blog site. I find the idea interesting and so went to my book shelf to see how my books would fare if someone started reading at page 69. Would I find that page representative of the story as a whole? I was pretty nervous as I started reading, but was pleasantly surprised to find that, in all seven books, page 69 delivered the goods. Okay, I have no idea how you could plan something like that in your writing, but it is an interesting idea. It's not like you can find page 69 in an unpublished manuscript. The author doesn't control where the pages fall in a printed book. So, is it good writing or pure, dimb luck when that page delivers the goods? When you pick up a book, is random sampling part of your assessment for buying? Or do you go to a particular page? Now that I've read the News Bite page 69 site, I might become this website page 69 reader. If I remember to do it. Right now, I'm still trying to memorize a new pin number for my debit card.
James Wolf Strehle's Hound of Tindalos. This is awesome! Angels and hounds! While we don’t really see the hounds, overall the story and emotion here really allow the audience to fill in the blanks on the hounds character. The artist has seemed to take a safe and accessible road on the hounds idea; the hounds are described as being not being canine specifically, but could almost be bat like, leaving many roads you could travel down with the concept. However this approach works and overall this piece is great in its execution.
Wes Jones draw it’s like a sundew plant and a grasshopper had kids! This is a solid underdrawing. Reference those joints! Will Martinez draw another great piece! A delightful setting, somber mood, lots of information. Skillful handling of palette and textures. The architectural and costume details are a marvelous touch. I’d make a tiny adjustment of your values where the leading forearm crosses the belly... maybe just darken that edge of the arm a bit so the two don’t blend together. Well done!
As amazing as it is, walking through the main venue and seeing some of the greatest names and works that the fantasy genre has to offer, it was, in some ways, even more impressive to see the works that were in the Showcase. If this is a fair sampling of the generation of artists that are coming up, we have lots to look forward to in the years to come. I was absolutely blown away by some of the work I saw there and had some amazing conversations. I certain that at least one or two folks might get invited to the "big league" after such a strong showcase, and I look forward to seeing them in the main hall next year. I had several opportunities to chat with Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire about their creation. I really enjoy the passion and love they have for the artists and their works. There is a reason that this event is so cherished by the community that attends it and that is these two wonderful people. It is an honor to have these two folks include me in their event, and I look forward to seeing how things change and grow over the years... and thanks for making the purposeful decision to keep the show small and intimate!
What I normally get from an artists, especially a first-time artist, is a note about how much fun they had with the project and how they hope that they can get more. I like getting those. It makes me feel good, but the cynical side of me just wants to believe they say that to every art director that can give them work. I hate the cynical side of me... it takes the fun out of a lot of stuff :) There was a time when I did some surveys with the artists to see what they thought about how I was doing my job. It was eye-opening. It taught me a lot about my expectations, my communication style, and my assumptions. In some ways it was a little crushing. There are some aspects of my personality I thought were strengths... and it wasn't always seen that way by the artists. Very humbling... So if you want to do surveys, or ask for feedback - make sure you take a deep breath before you start reading the replies. Sometimes they can be a hard pill to swallow. More so when you realize the feedback is honest and true. One bit of advice: After you read the feedback - just let it sit; Don't react to it. Don't judge it. Don't dismiss it. Just listen to it... and learn. "No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal" - Marilyn Ferguson.