Gen Con 2010
Since the Illustration Master Class I have been painting constantly. At the end of IMC Jeremy Jarvis, the Art Director for Magic: The Gathering, challenged me to have a completely revised portfolio by Gen Con, in order to show the things I’d learned at IMC.
I got back from IMC June 20th, I took a couple days off, and then started drawing, shooting reference, and painting. From late June to the first week of August I finished four new paintings, did three conventions, and took my daughter down to see my wife’s family! Needless to say it was a busy seven weeks! I did manage to get a lot done, I didn’t sleep quite enough and I developed an eye twitch in my right eye. I’m told this is a common stress induced thing. (Don’t worry it stopped a few days after Gen Con)
And so including my IMC piece the War Priest of Thune I went to Gen Con with a portfolio of five completely new pieces. I had the originals hanging behind me, my Zombie Portrait sign displayed prominently, and a stack of eight freshly printed portfolios to show around and hopefully leave behind if any interest was shown.
Now the cool thing about being in the Gen Con art show, is that you get an exhibitors badge. This means you gain access to the dealer’s room a full hour before the numerous hordes of gamers descend upon the room in a buying frenzy. As an artist looking for work I use this time to wander the dealer’s room, portfolio in hand, speaking with art directors and various companies about getting work. Last year I did this and got a lot of great reviews of my portfolio and advice on how to get better. This year I got a lot of companies interested in working with me!
The other cool thing about being in the Art Show is having a booth in the middle of a concentrated mass of artistic power! So powerful in fact that Art Directors from all sorts of gaming companies wander in its midst looking for new talent to work on their games. Now last year I was only vaguely aware of this, because no Art Directors stopped by to talk with me unless I noticed them and pinned them down for a portfolio review. This year was VERT different! I had art directors from several different game companies stop by and talk to me… some from companies I new well, others from companies just starting up, and some from established companies I was not aware of.
I want to pause a moment to explain how honored I was to be able to participate in the Gen Con Art Show. For the most part the other Artists were awesome, and Barbara and her staff are great! Gen Con was my 15th show this year and it is truly a top-notch event. The number one comment I got from artists who remembered me from last year was, “Wow, you have really made an amazing amount of progress in one year, I can’t wait to see what you’re doing next year!”
I did get to sit down with Jeremy Jarvis and have another review. For those who don’t know him, Jeremy is a tell it like is, no nonsense kind of guy. And while he was very impressed with my progress he explained that I’m still not ready to work for Magic. That said he encouraged me NOT to slow down, saying that it is very important for me to keep working with this intense momentum and that I needed to study other artists. To that end he gave me a list of guys to look into. And just as quickly as Jeremy turned his business face on, it was off again. He ended by inviting me out for drinks at the WotC party! And I went and it was a lot of fun!
All in all Gen Con was amazing. I must admit that I did not sell nearly as many Zombie Portraits as I did last year, but I had a lot more interest in my illustration work, which is ultimately what I want to do. I would encourage any artist looking for work to start doing Gen Con and to do it for multiple years in a row. Keep a positive attitude and make as many new friends as you can!
Thank You to all the art directors who reviewed my portfolio and to artists who discussed my work with me and gave me tips on how to get better! See you all at Gen Con 2011!
P.S. Only a week out from Gen Con and I have already heard back from two game companies! I wont say who just yet, but it’s very cool to have people who say they’ll get back to you, actually get back to you!
Remember you can do whatever you want as long as you work really freakin’ hard and stay positive!
P.P.S. I really want to thank the IMC faculty and the other students at IMC. I learned so much from that experience and the benefits are already paying off!