DragonCon; affectionately called “Nerdie-Gras” and for good damn reason. This Con is so full of energy and excitement it spills over into a debaucherous after-hours party in one of the four hotels that plays host to the Atlanta Con.
I’ve gotta be careful with this one. Also none of this is going to be chronological, I got sick the first night and spent most of the Con quietly recovering and pretending to be healthy enough to party. So things are a little hazy. But I’ll try my best.
In my last article I talk a lot about the people I met and the community surrounding that Convention. This time around, I’m fucking over it… just kidding. But seriously, it’s old hat, so let’s talk about something different.. Like the people I met at DragonCon and the community surrounding that Convention. Lost? Annoyed by my shitty attempt at being clever? Good.
While I was exhibiting and selling my wares on the dealer floor, I got to visit both Artist Alley and the Art Show section. Yeah, there’s two sections for Artists. This Con has so much Art jammed into it they need two sections, in addition to whatever Artists make it onto the dealer’s floor.
Let’s start with the Art Show which is hosted in a spacious, but not empty, hall in the basement level of the Hyatt, or the Marriott… I don’t remember. While this sounds like a crappy place to host an Art Show, it wasn’t.
In the center of the hall was a labyrinth of post-walls where each artist could hang work for the show’s silent auction, which was huge. So much great Art was hanging by the industries best and brightest. I was stunned by the amount of sheer talent and ability hanging on the wall. Artists I’ve never seen at a convention were present showing incredible Art.
Artists like Annie Stegg Gerard and Justin Gerard (the Gerards were at GenCon but didn’t get to meet them), Dan Dos Santos, Scott Fischer(who I nearly yelled out “I follow your beard on instagram!”).
I also got to see a lot of the friends I made at GenCon and some new friends like; Andrea Sipl, whose work is mind blowing. She does so much creative stuff on top of working on the creative team that makes Archer happen.
Julie Wilmore, who had great nature paintings that were totally speaking to me. She was a joy to be around as well.
It was a great show.
But let’s talk about something much more important. Let’s talk about Todd Lockwood’s hotel room. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
When it was first suggested that the evening be spent in Todd Lockwood’s Hotel Room (TLHR) I was a little, like “What? Srsly?” But I hadn’t ever met him before and he was a big part of my appreciation for fantasy art growing up. So fuck it. We went. We drank. Things got weird.
TLHR is the chill spot of the Convention. Plenty of booze, industry talk, dazed and confused newbies (me), seasoned vets, and new people to meet. This is where a hefty chunk of the Art Show’ers ends up at one point or another. And at the center of it all is Todd- fucking-Lockwood (TfL) sitting there, sipping Gin, cool as fuck, like a Wizard Artist.
While my visit to TLHR was short, I got some non-Pokemon related face-time with Brenda Lyons who shared an amazing story about her current book deal. I won’t hash out the details, but I will say that she got the deal we all dream about. And she’s doing work she’s passionate about and has been hustling for a long time. I believe you can hear her talk about it over at One Fantastic Week (disclaimer;I haven’t listened yet, but will ASAP)
Once Brenda was done, I needed to rest. I quietly sacrificed 2 paintbrushes and a goat in the bathroom to pay respect to the Wizard Lockwood (that sounds too natural…) and went back to my room.
Okay, I think I’ve gotta talk about my own room now. I had the distinct pleasure of being put up by Brenda (mentioned above) and Amanda Makepeace and her daughter (whose name I don’t remember, sorry!)
Man… some of the coolest people I’ve ever startled as I walked into their room unannounced, without introduction (thanks Pete). But I think I managed to put them at ease as we discovered we’re on the same Pokemon team. Mystics know each other instinctively. So the Pokemon chatter ensued and… oh yeah, this is when I invited them to TLHR. Man, things are really hazy.
Alright, so by this point, I think it’s day two of the Con. Day one, was delightful, I think. I was really out of it. Man, I don’t know what got in me but Pete thought I was going to have to bail for the rest of the Con and honestly I did too. It was bad.
The Con itself was great. The hall we were in felt super intimate as the ceilings were really really low, which I’m not accustomed to. Somehow, having less vertical space made it feel less crowded.
I took a bunch of photos, but a recent phone failure smashed those to pieces. I’m going to link some from instagram, sorry for the fail.
Setup went smoothly despite the enormity of the booth. DragonCon is pretty well-organized in that everything happens the day before. I feel like we’re going backwards here. Let’s get back on track.
By day three, I was able to spend some time on the Artist Alley floor, which was above the dealer’s floor. It was massive and spacious and had an arcade in the center. And Bob Camp was there!
Pete and I actually started that day walking that floor critiquing and learning from the different booth-setups. If you haven’t done this, like I hadn’t, this is invaluable time to learn. We picked up a few neat tricks about presentation and merch choice and discussed them as we made our way back to start day three.
Sales were very slow for me that day. I’ve gotta point this out because this was my biggest learning event at a Con thus far. If sales are slow, use that time to figure out why. Not so much so you can try to fix it right there, but so you can learn from it and problem solve when you have time to really think about it.
If you can come up with a quick solution on the spot, great. But I couldn’t figure out why things were different that day. I made zero sales that whole third day. I used that time to observe how people were interacting with my work, what questions they were asking, which pieces got the most “touches”. I also got to see where some of the roadblocks were. Thankfully those were easy to spot and fix, immediately.
Most important is that it is time to be self critical about your Art since you can look at it through the eyes of the people actively trying to decide if they like it. They come right up, look and express clear disinterest, or excitement, or curiosity. But you can easily tell what is and isn’t working.
Alright, enough shop talk.
Day three ended with being treated to drinks by the folks at Twitch. Ashley “FakeGamerGirl” Paramore was a fantastic host. She brought us to the coolest fucking speak-easy I’d ever been too. Not that I had been to a speak-easy before… anyway. There was a red phone booth and you needed to dial a secret phone number which opened a secret door...FUCK IT WAS AWESOME. The drinks were some of the tastiest ever as well.
This outing led to me at Pete figuring out it’d be a good idea if we started a twitch stream. We did. And it’s been awesome. I thank Ashley for the encouragement to get involved.
Let’s wrap this up with my favorite time at DragonCon. The Marriott. The Marriott was great.
This is why. Just one photo. Just one moment. If you haven’t clicked any links to photos yet, this is the one.
Thanks everyone. I’m off to New York Comic Con next. I promise to backup my photos and remember more names.Notes; While I don’t remember Amanda’s daughter’s name, I do remember that she quietly caught an Aerodactyl while we talked shop and didn’t say anything… the girl has a got a killer instinct! She was great!