The Dark Side of Conventions

Darkside

[I wrote this a few weeks back in between Gen Con and Dragon Con. I've hesitated to post it, because I try to put out positive vibes, but after re-reading I think it has some advice and value that people should consider when doing conventions.]

I talk a lot about the benefits of conventions, but rarely do I discuss their bad points. In an effort for transparency and in the hopes of painting an accurate picture, today I’m going to talk about the parts of doing conventions that are no fun.

The first is fatigue. When I get home from a show I spend at least one or two days recovering. This needs to be considered because you can’t easily meet deadlines when you’re at a con, and you need to plan a couple days of recovery after most shows. That means a 3-day show is more like a 5-day, and a big show like Gen Con or Dragon Con easily takes a week or more. When considering the value of the show, time spent not making art typically means not making money. If you only break even on a show, that means you lost money overall. That’s not to say a con wasn’t worth it, you just need to consider the amount of actual time involved.

Aside from physical fatigue, I also experience social fatigue. When you’re at your booth you have to be “On.” I balance this by needing about a week or so to be “Off.” When you do back-to-back shows that can be tough. Fortunately, painting is a solitary task, so it’s fairly easy for me to get back on my game in time for the next big outing.

Another big drawback is losing tempo with your work. I often find it takes a day or more of painting for me to remember what I was trying to do with a painting. Whenever possible I try to finish work before leaving for a show. This doesn’t always happen, and I often hit a wall trying to dig back into a piece. The only way around this is to make myself sit down and paint. After about a day, it all starts to come back and the painting starts to talk to me again. I think this is the most frustrating part. Part of finding a painting is getting into a groove. Leaving the groove and finding it again is tough. Partly because like most creatives I don’t exactly know where the groove comes from. In so far as I can tell it’s magic.

The final difficulty I want to talk about is what my friend Sean Murray calls “The Alchemy of Conventions.” Every show is different, both in how it’s run, how you apply for booths, all of it. It’s SUPER frustrating, but each show is run by different people, and you have to learn how to play their game. Some shows have juries, others you pay in advance, some have artist booths, and the list goes on. This is also true for arriving to each show. Every time it’s a new adventure, even from year to year at the same show things will change. As I’ve done more conventions I realized I’ve developed a “Tome of Knowledge” that gets me through, but even still it can be very frustrating.

All that said, I still love conventions. At the time I’m writing this I’m both socially and physically fatigued, with 2 weeks in between two of my biggest shows of the year. I hope convention season is treating you well. I’m going to take a nap, and see you at the next show!

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

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Illuxcon 7 – A trip in Photos

Thanks for stopping by, let me show you my vacation photos. Just have a seat and I’ll start up the projector.

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The van is all loaded up and I’m off to Illuxcon. (Yes I know: Wood Box)

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On the way I stopped at the Hersey Factory. In case you’re wondering, the chocolate was good!

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Stopped at the Frank Frazetta Museum, which was great!

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Me at my booth. A.K.A. the Mother Ship, as you could see my lights from most of the room.

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It’s so great to send my paintings to a good home!

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Another sale perhaps… the world will never know. ;)

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Doing a portfolio review for Mr. Justice!

As you can see by the photos, IlluXCon 7 was great. I had a wonderful time traveling, seeing old friends, and making new ones. I’m already looking forward to IlluXCon 8!

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

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Illuxcon 7 – Strange like Sam being shy!

Peter Mohrbacher and Sam Flegal at the Illuxcon 7 Showcase!

Peter Mohrbacher and Sam Flegal at the Illuxcon 7 Showcase!

IlluXCon 7 has come and gone. As usual, it was a wild and amazing ride. I met so many wonderful people, shared dinner and drinks, and even sold some art! Words can’t really do the experience justice, but I’m going to try.

The most overwhelming aspect of this year’s IlluXCon was discovering that a lot of people watch One Fantastic Week, the weekly web show I do with co-host Pete Mohrbacher. My wife and I arrived on Wednesday night, checked into the hotel, and made the 4-block walk over to the Allentown museum, where the convention is held. Along the way I ran into 3 different groups of folks who said something like, “Hey you’re Sam Flegal, I watch 1FW, thanks for doing the show!” I would thank them for watching, and we’d go our separate ways. I didn’t think too much of the encounters—at both Gen Con and Dragon Con I met fans of the show—but little did I realize what exactly I was in for!

I got my badge, and started to walk the show. Every few people I passed commented, “Hey, you’re Sam Flegal!” I soon began to realize that a lot of people at IlluXCon watch our show. This makes sense of course—we talk a lot about IlluXCon on the show—and artists are our target audience as we talk about life and business as an artist. I just didn’t quite realize that the show had made this much of an impact.

At the time that I’m writing this we get 50-80 LIVE viewers and about 1,000 hits on YouTube. That’s a lot of people, but internet numbers are not the same as meeting smiling exciting wonderful people in person, and sharing a moment (and a drink or two!). By Thursday night of IlluXCon I was overwhelmed, lots of folks wanted to talk to me, some wanted to share a drink and tell me why they liked the show, others wanted a portfolio review and some personal advice, and for the most part I clammed up! I know…Sam the guy who won’t shut up, Mr. Gregarious talker himself, kinda shut down.

Thank Goodness my wife was with me, as she would step in and speak on my behalf. She’d thank the person and find out who they were, what they did, and all the normal talk. Meanwhile, I would stand around like an awkward school kid trying to get up enough courage to ask someone to the big dance! Seriously I’ve not been this shy in decades!

Over the course of the 5 days of IlluXCon I got better. I became accustomed to the fact that just about everyone watched my show, knew my face, and my work. I got used to people knowing little personal jokes and stories from One Fantastic Week, and I came to enjoy sharing with the fans of the show.

Now that I’m home and have had a few days to recover, I’ve been thinking about why the experience overwhelmed me so much. On One Fantastic Week, Pete and I share a lot of personal stories, we talk about our families, times we succeeded, times we failed. To me it feels like I’m sharing these things with Pete and our Guests, who are, for the most part, my friends. It doesn’t seem strange to have these conversations with my friends. That’s actually how the show got started. Pete wanted to do a show where we recorded the conversations we had at conventions. BUT it’s the internet, so I’m not just sharing with Pete, I’m sharing with you.

It’s often said that truth resonates with people, and that’s what I experienced at IlluXCon. I had Mothers and Fathers tell me that our discussions on how to manage family and freelance had been helpful; I spoke with older artists who found that my own story of breaking into illustration a little later in life was inspirational; and I spoke with a ton of up-and-coming artists who found my advice on conventions extremely helpful. People are listening, and I’m honored and emotionally overwhelmed that I can help.

To all the folks who came up and spoke to me at IlluXCon, Thank You so much for sharing your stories; you are all truly an inspiration to me! Next time I promise to be more talkative and less shell shocked! To all the fans of One Fantastic Week, Thank You for watching!

I’ll talk a more about IlluXCon 7 in a future post, but right now I gotta run. I’ve got a convention this weekend! ;)

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

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Wizard World Nashville

EXPOCAD FX - 14nash

This weekend I will be at Wizard World Nashville! I’ve made a handy map so you can find me.

I will have my work from Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, Legend of the Five Rings, other Roleplaying games, and my personal work on Norse Mythology. I’ll have both originals and prints, please stop by and say “Howdy!”

I look forward to seeing everyone there!!!

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

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Off to Illuxcon!!!

Illuxcon_Final_Glow_TRANS_WHITE

I’m off to Illuxcon!!!

I’ll be posting pics and info from the trip over the next week.

Follow me on Instragram or Facebook in order to see the fun!

http://instagram.com/samuelflegal

https://www.facebook.com/samflegal

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

To be the first to get special offers and news about my art sign up for my Newsletter: HERE

STAY STRANGE!

 

Fun Reference, Fun Job!

Let's Make a Deal by Sam Flegal

Let’s Make a Deal by Sam Flegal

I recently finished “Let’s Make a Deal” for Fantasy Hero Complete over at Hero Games. It was a really fun job to work on. Part of this was because one of the parameters of the art order was that everyone on the cover had to be smiling or laughing. Hero Games wants to push that games are fun, and to help show this, the characters on their games should look like they’re having a good time. Initially this seemed quite challenging. In gaming art I do a lot of angry people fighting. Once I got started it was really easy. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a pretty goofy guy. I tapped into my inner goof ball and had a blast.

Right from the start things went well. The photo shoots were fun. The models (myself included) were encouraged to laugh, and I ended up with some great reference.

Model Holly Carden, and my Knight friend

Model Holly Carden, and my Knight friend

Sam Flegal as a Dwarf

Sam Flegal as a Dwarf

Sam Flegal as a Wizard

Sam Flegal as a Wizard

Don’t get me wrong. I still like to paint dark and creepy stuff, but every now and again, I hope to be able to paint laughing people!

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

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Warhammer 40K Art – Xavaes Split Tongue

Copyright 2014 Games Workshop

Copyright 2014 Games Workshop

At Gen Con this year the new Warhammer 40K card game called Conquest was released by Fantasy Flight Games. I’m excited to share that I did one card for the set.

I was asked to paint Xavaes Split Tongue a Chaos Space Marine of the Emperor’s Children who follows Slaanesh the god of pleasure and pain. The initial description asked for Xavaes to have a split tongue like a snake, but I had the idea that in proper Slaaneshy form he split his whole face with a blade, and his bifurcated tongue came to life with the power of chaos. I showed my design to Fantasty Flight, and they loved it!

The original painting was done in oil. For the final card I used digital to paint in some candles to the back. I also had to change the shape of the shoulder pad to better match traditional space marine armor. You can see the final version above, here is the oil painting:

Oil Painting by Sam Flegal

Oil Painting by Sam Flegal

 

and here is the card from the game:

Xavaes-Split-Tongue-40K-Conquest-Core-Set-Spoiler

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To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project, please visit: http://www.samflegal.com

To be the first to get special offers and news about my art sign up for my Newsletter: HERE

STAY STRANGE!

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