It’s been several weeks since Worlds Beyond Gallery and Alamo City Comic Con, and even though I posted a brief post-show ‘thank you’ last month, you can enjoy some additional photos of the event below. First, I have some wrap-up thoughts to share. This exhibition / vendor model was a collaboration between The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (headed by President Sara Felix), Alamo City Comic Con (featuring the combined brainpower of Apple De La Fuente, Austin Rogers, and Wes Hartman), and me. Media-centric pop culture and comic book conventions are proliferating across the country, but very of these cons have successful models for booking and presenting top-quality professional illustrator talents. Unfortunately, when these shows feature such artists, they usually mix them into Artist Alley situations with sequential art pros, who are themselves competing with a tsunami of unlicensed knockoff art product. The result is generally less than optimal. Until Worlds Beyond, there have been precious few (if any) successful efforts to brand, present, promote, market and cultivate that audience within major media / pop-culture-centric conventions. San Diego Comic Con International does it well in its own way, but with the growing number of mid-market regional pop-culture / comic conventions, there seem to be experiments worth trying and a void worth filling. That was one vector that led to Worlds Beyond Gallery happening, but there was another equally important one.
On a personal note — I see my pro art career shifting toward more of a ‘creator-owned’ model, developing my own intellectual properties, and writing / illustrating my own stories. That doesn’t mean I’m jettisoning my career as a freelance illustrator, but it does mean investing more time on my own material than I did for the first fifteen years of my career. I’m not alone in this career shape, as major illustrators such as Brom, Peter Mohrbacher, Ruth Sanderson, Jeffrey Alan Love, and Todd Lockwood have made similar choices, along with Shaun Tan, Gregory Manchess, Wylie Beckert, Greg Ruth, Tara McPherson, and a rising number of visually-centric entrepreneurs. That means new stories, new characters, new properties, new art, and new visions, as opposed to just talented artists re-drawing other people’s properties. It means the visual artist is the creative fountainhead and owner of his/her destiny, and I think that renaissance is worth celebrating with pop-culture audiences craving the next shock of the new. That curatorial focus coupled with the need to connect new streams of art audiences with new visual creators was the inspiration for Worlds Beyond Gallery. (Big salute to Pete Barnstrom for the terrific WBG promo video, and Lou Anders doing his own thing with the separate ACCC / Young Adventurers literary track, as well as all of the ACCC volunteers and WBG booth assistants).
Patrick and Jeanne Wilshire and the exhibition / vendor model they created at Illuxcon deserve a huge shoutout. So do Arnie and Cathy Fenner and what they have cultivated with Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (now working alongside John Fleskes). Those two shows were HUGE inspirations for what was done with Worlds Beyond Gallery, but they’re also independent events — a VERY different proposition from what WBG may have just established.
Worlds Beyond Gallery marked the creation of a working boutique model that can now be evolved, expanded, and improved. All of the artists brought their ‘A-game’ and considering this was a first-time effort, I think the event was a remarkable success. Everyone presented their latest creator-owned works, including a wide array of original artwork available for buying and up-close enjoyment, such as my first official Loteria original art exhibition. Throngs of fans old and new bought merchandise and art from all of the artists. Representatives from other major conventions expressed amazement and awe when they saw the foot traffic and the polish of the display and exhibitions. Who knows — maybe someday we’ll look back upon this as a game changer. Sara and I have been exchanging thoughts. Once the ACCC guys have recovered from staging a huge convention, they’ll possibly have a thought or two about what they experienced. We’ll look at the options and see where this goes. I’m excited about the possibilities. Onward to the next evolution.
SETTING UP: Gallery walls were over eight feet tall and sixteen inches thick.
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME: Fans flowed through Worlds Beyond Gallery all weekend long. The format of the space wowed congoers, and created an intimate art experience not previously seen at this convention.
IN LOTERIA WE TRUST: Worlds Beyond Gallery marked my first official Loteria original art exhibition — displaying eight of my original drawings together for the first time. The first series of my Loteria Grande art cards completely sold out at this show and won’t be reprinted in that format.
LA SIRENA AND COMPANY: Here’s a closer look at four of my Loteria originals, as we head toward Brom’s display.
LOST GODS: Brom exhibited some of the original paintings from his new LOST GODS book.
BEFORE THE STORM: Brom encouraged fans to venture into his booth to view originals up close, as did all of the WBG artists.
SWARMED: This is what Brom’s booth looked like for much of the weekend. He signed books and prints galore, and his LOST GODS book was a hot item.
GOLDEN KEY: Ruth Sanderson presented a terrific display of originals and prints. Her scratchboard work is stunning to behold.
WELCOME TO ANGELARIUM: Here’s Peter Mohrbacher’s assistant Sasha holding down the fort, as Pete exhibited a wide array of limited-run prints and merchandise related to his ANGELARIUM universe.
STRENGTH IN SIMPLICITY: Jeffrey Alan Love presented a gridded array of over forty small original works, hung with mere binder clips. It was an elegant presentation that encouraged art traffic and sales, while promoting his debut graphic novel NOTES FROM THE SHADOWED CITY– which sold out before show’s end.
NO PHOTOS PLEASE: Dragon artist extraordinaire Todd Lockwood presented a gorgeous display of limited-edition prints, posters, and merchandise, while autographing his new book THE SUMMER DRAGON all weekend long.
DRAGON LOVE: I don’t know how many copies of THE SUMMER DRAGON Todd shipped to Worlds Beyond, but it was a lot, and few remained by show’s end.
TAKING IT ALL IN: It was fun to see people step into the Worlds Beyond space and not want to leave. It truly felt like a mothership of the illustrative arts landed in the middle of a comic book convention.
2016 WORLDS BEYOND GALLERY ARTISTS: (l to r) Ruth Sanderson, Brom, Peter Mohrbacher, John Picacio, Todd Lockwood, Jeffrey Alan Love
And if that’s not enough for you — here’s some more Worlds Beyond Gallery fun. 🙂