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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