The 2016 Best Professional Artist Hugo Award

book-complete-elmore-2Need help making sense of the Hugo Finalist list in the Best Professional Artist category? Grab yourself an adult beverage. Easy on the ice.

Got it? Good.

After looking over the nominees announced today, I’m seeing an absence of many talents that represent the best of the contemporary sf/f art world. Off the top of my head, names like David Palumbo, Greg Ruth, Rebecca Guay, Gerald Brom, Peter Mohrbacher, Jeffrey Alan Love, Wylie Beckert, Sam Weber, Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, and more. They all had Hugo-eligible bodies of work this year.

It’s rare that I share my personal views on any award publicly. Exceptions include speaking up on behalf of working 3D artists and their professional value regarding the new World Fantasy Award design. Earlier this year, George R. R. Martin asked me to contribute a few Hugo recommendations on his blog, and since he’s a friend, I gave it a go. I’m making another exception here. The reason I’m writing this post is there will be a group of people awarding a Hugo to a pro artist this year, and some of those voters might look at the finalist list and think all of the Pro Artist finalists share equal value. In this case, that would be a poor assumption. 

First, when reviewing the finalists’ work, check eligibility. Don’t cast a vote for a Pro Artist Hugo nominee unless you’re certain they have eligible work published in 2015. Check it yourself. Don’t assume.

And here’s an assist:

Larry Elmore is a legendary and deeply influential fantasy illustration icon, who has had a huge impact on generations of Dungeons & Dragons fans — game players, writers, artists, editors, publishers, designers, filmmakers, convention organizers — and beyond. More to the point, he has a major body of published eligible work in 2015 and that work doesn’t take extensive sleuthing to discern whether it’s eligible. His book The Complete Elmore Volume II contains over 700 drawings from a career dating back to 1981, and was produced and first published in the fall of 2015.

Was Larry Elmore amongst my nomination selections? No. He wasn’t.

Do I believe that ‘No Award’ is an option this year? It’s the Hugos. It’s always an option.

No disrespect to the other finalists, but Larry Elmore winning a Hugo would not be a lifetime achievement award but it would recognize a lifetime of professional art achievement by someone who is legitimately eligible this year.

The history of that winners list would be shinier with his name on it.

If you’re feeling disoriented as a voter — don’t get twisted. This is an easy one.

Given this year’s five choices, it’s Larry Elmore.

Good luck, Larry.

**********

BONUS HUGO THOUGHTS:

Posts like this one should not need to exist, but if you’re waiting for me to publicly say negative things about this year’s Hugo art finalists, it’s not happening. I do think this last two years of Hugo nomination results in the Pro Artist category represents a tidal shift in who is nominating the Hugos. I think it’s a missed opportunity for pro artists to let this moment slip past. Many sf/f artists deservedly care about the Spectrum Awards, the Chesleys, or Infected By Art because they promote artists and celebrate what we do. I think the only thing that stops the Hugos from being more included in that conversation is ourselves as pro artists. I often hear artists say that only writers and literary fans vote on the Hugo, and that’s why they don’t vote. I always felt like that was self-fulfilling prophecy. Why shouldn’t we as pro artists expect the best from the Hugos as much as we do any other art award, if it has a Pro Artist category? I would encourage us as pro artists to better shape the Hugo discussion as we see fit next year. Be vocal about it. I’m not saying to campaign for yourself, but I am saying to make your 2016 body of published work accessible where people can see that it’s eligible for consideration. Promote your favorite works by others for Hugo voter consideration. Nominate and vote in the Hugos, even if the Pro Artist category is the only one you vote on. Pro Tip: Your single category ballot is counted as equally valid alongside ballots filled out across their entirety.

Weirdly, because of this recent flux, it feels to me like there’s a real opportunity for more of the names listed at the top to be recognized. The writers and literary tribes aren’t going to do this for us. We have to do it. I’ve often heard artists say they have no nomination chance unless they attend Worldcon. Stephan Martiniere has won without attending a Worldcon. Julie Dillon was nominated before attending her first Worldcon. Dan Dos Santos has been nominated multiple times with 2009 being his lone Worldcon appearance (if memory serves). The point is — these people were Hugo finalists and/or winners because of enormous professional art talent and visibility, not because of convention campaign skills. That Worldcon-or-bust myth doesn’t fly.

My advice: If artists feel that the award’s voting control is a monopoly beyond reach, the current chaos has proven that view is obsolete at best. Part of the joy of being an artist is being a change agent. There’s a window of opportunity right now where major contemporary pro sf/f artists can shape Hugo nominations toward a view more reflective of the sf/f field’s rich professional excellence. 2017 will be here before we know it. I don’t know how long that window stays open, but I hope the best sf/f artists notice. It’s not about campaigning. It’s about visibility.

For as long as I’ve had a career, pro artists have told me the Hugos are uncool. Eleven years ago, a respected and popular pro told me one of the worst things that could happen to my career would be a Hugo nomination. I thought he was joking. His reply, “Seriously, man. You don’t want that. I’m not kidding.” Maybe I’m a dork, but hearing that it was so uncool to him made it cooler to me. It didn’t hurt that Whelan, Frazetta, Di Fate, the Dillons, and more must have been even more ‘uncool’ for winning it. I wanted to be uncool like them. Awards are what we make of them, and I think the current disarray means this award’s voting base is being remade across all categories. Ignore all of the histrionics, and if it makes you feel better, you can even ignore the literary categories. What’s stopping the remaking in the Pro Artist category from belonging to the pro artists?

JordanCon Art Show Preview!

A few of the archival prints available at JordanCon’s Art Show this coming weekend: The top two rows will be signed, limited-edition 17″ x 22″ and will be selling for $125 each, and the bottom row will be 11″ x 14″ at $50 each.

Hey, ATL: Come see me at JordanCon this coming weekend, April 22-24! I’m the Artist Guest of Honor, and here’s a sneak peek of some of the swag I’ll be bringing to the Art Show. Inquire now if you see something you want. WORD TO THE WISE: Many of these will disappear quickly. Visit the Art Show early! Don’t wait until Sunday. 🙂

If you’re a GAME OF THRONES fan or SONG OF ICE AND FIRE hardcore devotee, I’ll be bringing a VERY LIMITED supply of signed archival ASoIaF prints. 11″ x 14″ will be $50. Selected 17″ x 22″ archival prints will be $125, and will have a free archival bag and archival board included with each purchase — which is a special JordanCon bonus that you don’t receive if you order online for the same price!

Original final drawing of Tyrion Lannister for the 2012 George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar. Art © 2012 John Picacio.

Final drawing of Tyrion Lannister for the 2012 George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar. Art © 2012 John Picacio.

I’ll also be exhibiting my Tyrion Lannister original art from the best-selling 2012 George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar. GRRM owns several of the originals from this calendar set, and this is one of the few remaining finals available for sale. Bid in the JordanCon Art Show and add this one-of-a-kind to your wall collection!

Heads up — if you have a particular favorite artwork that you want me to bring, ping before 12 noon CST, Tuesday April 19th and I’ll do what I can to check what has been sent to JordanCon and/or try to bring it with me. No guarantees, but it doesn’t hurt for you to ask. Email: john (at) johnpicacio (dot) com

(top): Loteria posters available at Jordancon this weekend (NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE) // (bottom): The first eleven Loteria Grande cards, available as a set at JordanCon for the low price of $20

(top): Loteria posters available at Jordancon this weekend (NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE) // (bottom): The first eleven Loteria Grande cards, available as a set at JordanCon for the low price of $20

I’ll also be bringing a limited supply of my Loteria posters (El Corazon, La Calavera, and La Luna) for $20 each. These posters are NOT available online, so buy early in the Art Show before they sell out. There will also be a limited supply of my popular Loteria Grande cards at $20 per set. Expect these to sell out quickly as they’ll be priced lower than online. If you’re a card collector, art lover, or tarot aficionado, you’ll love these. And speaking of the game of Loteria (AKA “Mexican Bingo”) — come play and win terrific prizes at 4pm on Saturday! (Perimeter Pavilion — Tables 8 to 12).

My complete schedule is as follows:

I’ll be hanging out in the Art Show:

FRIDAY — 4pm to 7pm
SATURDAY — 10am to 12noon / 2:45pm to 3:45pm / 5:45pm to 7pm
SUNDAY — 10am to 11am

Except for the following events and times, where you can find me:

FRIDAY — 1pm to 2:30pm // OPENING CEREMONIES (Carter)

SATURDAY — 1pm to 2:30pm // THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO (Washington)

SATURDAY — 4pm to 5:30pm // LOTERIA (Perimeter Pavilion — Tables 8 to 12)

SATURDAY — 6:30pm to 7pm // JUDGES CHOICE AWARD (Art Show)

SUNDAY — 11:30am to 1pm // FROM METROPOLIS TO THE MATRIX (Tyler)

SUNDAY — 1pm to 2:30pm // PAY THE ARTIST! (Washington)

And last but certainly not least — WHO WANTS TO WATCH THE GAME OF THRONES PREMIERE ON SUNDAY NIGHT? LET’S GET TOGETHER AND DO THIS, JORDANCON!

Holler. 🙂

HBOjonsnow

 

Selected 2015 Works

Here are a few of my selected artworks from 2015. For those who are seeking one-stop summaries of eligible work for the 2016 awards season as they consider their ballots, I hope this short list is helpful. Usually, I post this kind of info at the beginning of the year, but 2016 has been hella-busy. 🙂 Wishing all artists and creators the very best of luck out there!

SNATCHERSpicacioLR
Cover illustration for Jack Finney’s classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Client: Simon and Schuster / Touchstone
October 2015
(Art © 2015 John Picacio.)

ARBOLpicacioLR
‘El Arbol’
Product illustration for Loteria
Client: Lone Boy
December 2015
(Art © 2015 John Picacio.)

TROEpicacioLR
Cover illustration for the limited edition of Dan Simmons’ THE RISE OF ENDYMION
Client: Subterranean Press
(Art © 2015 John Picacio.)

NOPALpicacioLR
‘El Nopal’
Product illustration for Loteria
Client: Lone Boy
December 2015
(Art © 2015 John Picacio.)

SPECTRUM 23!

ARBOLpicacioJust heard that “El Arbol” from my ongoing Loteria series has been selected for inclusion in the 23rd edition of SPECTRUM: THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY FANTASTIC ART, which will release this fall. Thanks very much to this year’s jurors for the honor. 🙂 It bears mentioning again that this work is dedicated to the late, great Jay Lake who modeled for this before his passing. Salud, Jay, and a big hug and shoutout to his family and loved ones. Back to work here making new Loteria artwork!

Infected By Art Vol. 4!

Loteria Grande card artworks for "El Venado" and "El Arbol" by John Picacio.

Loteria Grande card artworks for “El Venado” and “El Arbol” by John Picacio.

Great news — two of my recent artworks, “El Venado” and “El Arbol”, have been selected for inclusion in the forthcoming art annual Infected By Art / Volume 4 (published by Hermes Press). Lauren Panepinto, Allen Williams, Erica Berkowitz, and Patrick Jones were the jurors for this year’s annual. Both pieces were created for my ongoing Loteria series, and that makes their inclusion even more gratifying.

“El Venado” is an homage to the Grisha Trilogy written by my friend Leigh Bardugo, while “El Arbol” is a tribute to the late, great Jay Lake. Shoutout to both of them, and to Jay’s family.

In Loteria We Trust. 🙂

Volume 4 will be available in bookstores everywhere during the last quarter of 2016. Congratulations to all of the artists selected for this amazing book!

Today’s The Day

MCQUARRIE2

Got my tickets for tonight’s 7:30pm screening of The Force Awakens. If there’s ever been a film with more hype and buildup than this one, I can’t recall it.

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since ’77 and every once in a while, something sparks that full sense of wonder I first experienced for these films when I was a kid.

Found these at my parents’ house several months ago. One of my prized possessions as a kid was The Empire Strikes Back Ralph McQuarrie portfolio. I studied every inch of these concept paintings. They’re still amazing today. The newsletters you see in that photo? Those are copies of Bantha Tracks, the official newsletter for Star Wars fan club members. I remember pulling those out of the mailbox and immediately analyzing them like they were holy documents. I knew more about the behind-the-scenes crew that worked on those films than I knew of some of my own family members.

So yeah — Episodes IV, V, and VI had a profound effect on me, to say the least. I’m grateful I was a kid during that era.

I hope my own daughter gets to experience some of the same.

Here’s hoping this film has some of that impossible magic.

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

SNATCHERSpicacioLR1

Here’s my final cover art for the 60th anniversary edition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Earlier this year, Simon & Schuster / Touchstone’s senior art director Cherlynne Li approached me to cover-illustrate this classic Jack Finney novel, originally titled The Body Snatchers. First serialized in Collier’s Magazine in 1954, the book was collected by Dell into a single volume in 1955. Since then, it’s been re-packaged countless times. Hollywood has morphed it into four major screen adaptations, where the title was changed to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (which apparently caused publishers to retitle the book itself).

When I began brainstorming cover art concepts, I realized that even though I had never read the original novel or seen one of the films, I felt like I ‘knew’ the story. Sleepy American town is creepily assimilated by alien beings who take over people’s minds, one by one. The narrative is virtually an archetype at this point, but of course, it wasn’t enough to ‘feel’ like I knew the story. I read Finney’s text in its entirety and realized another thing. While very much a story of the 1950’s, Finney never intended the narrative to be a metaphor for the American paranoia toward Communism. I suppose that hysteria was what the early film adaptations played upon, but reportedly, that wasn’t Finney’s original intent.

Instead, the story seemed to be about a different kind of fear — the fear of loss and change — of losing the one you love the most, of losing your identity, and even completely losing yourself in a changing world. These aren’t just 1950’s themes. These are themes that resonate thunderously right now.

That was the eureka moment that inspired my cover art.

We live in a time of sweeping and sometimes terrifying change. Many of us are fighting against centuries of aggressive assimilation. We all seem to willingly allow ourselves to be assimilated daily by technologies of our making, and yet we’re all trying to hold on — to our loved ones, to our values, and to ourselves — to be something meaningful before our precious time is snatched away.

If there’s a reason to read a familiar story, it’s to be reminded how to summon the will to overcome our own challenges. It’s no wonder this book is still resonant as ever after sixty years.

For more on the book vs. film connections, check out Sandy Ferber’s review via FantasyLiterature.com.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE OF ART

SWTFA10lr

The Force is strong with you, San Antonio.

Yesterday’s STAR WARS: THE FORCE OF ART exhibition at the Centro De Artes in downtown SA was a celebration of all things Jedi and Sith, and it was a phenomenal event. Texas A&M University / San Antonio owns the facility and said it’s the most successful audience attraction that the building has had since the days of the Museo Alameda. It was a one-day art extravaganza sponsored by Alamo City Comic Con, and there was a line of fans out the door and down the steps before the show even opened.

Waves of huge crowds surged all day long, despite rainy weather and a busy holiday shopping season. I was one of the featured artists and presented a large-format conceptual sketch for a Yoda tarot card (pictured above). Artworks by Drew Struzan, Stephan Martiniere, Adam Hughes, Terese Nielsen, Tommy Lee Edwards, Scott Harben, Lawrence Reynolds, Mike ‘Comp’ Arguello, Adrian De La Cruz, Alfredo Lopez Jr., Gary Villarreal, and so many more made for a dynamite collection.

Apple De La Fuente and members of the 501st at Star Wars: The Force of Art in San Antonio.

Apple De La Fuente and members of the 501st at Star Wars: The Force of Art in San Antonio.

This is the first time Alamo City Comic Con has ever organized and sponsored an art event of this type, and huge congrats to Apple De La Fuente, Austin Rogers, Wes Hartman, and crew for a bigtime success. Special thanks to Brandon Oliver, the 501st Legion, ACCC volunteers, and the South Texas Collectors Expo as well. Saturday’s show planted another seed toward San Antonio becoming a pop culture art mecca, and ACCC has already announced that they’re sponsoring their next museum celebration on March 19th celebrating ‘Batman v. Superman’.

It was a great day for San Antonio, and I think there are more great ones ahead for this kind of art in this city.

Art by Scott Harben.

Art by Scott Harben.

Art by Stephan Martiniere.

Art by Stephan Martiniere.

Art by Mike 'Comp' Arguello.

Art by Mike ‘Comp’ Arguello.

Art by Drew Struzan.

Art by Drew Struzan.

Art by Lawrence Reynolds.

Art by Lawrence Reynolds.

Art by Gary Villarreal.

Art by Gary Villarreal.

Art by Adrian De La Cruz.

Art by Adrian De La Cruz.

Artists Beware!

 

picacioDARKAGE3

Artists — how do you feel about someone who says, “Give us your ideas for free. If we decide we like one of them, we’ll use it for our own personal branding and for our own prestige. We will hire someone to make multiple images of it and that person will not receive compensation either. We have zero respect for any of you as working professionals.”

As of today, that’s the official message that the World Fantasy Convention just transmitted to all professional artists as the WFC searches for a new image for their World Fantasy Award. See their new “World Fantasy Award Call for Submissions”.

That’s right. Your ideas and your work — for nothing.

It’s an extremely unprofessional message, and it’s not one that befits experienced professionals. It says to all of its members — writers, editors, agents, publishers — that the organization doesn’t value its own branding enough to properly invest in it. That’s very sad to see.

Throughout my career, I’ve had fellow professional artists such as Michael Whelan, Bob Eggleton, and Greg Manchess take the time to point me in the right direction, whether it was toward a worthy opportunity, or away from a predatory situation. I try to do the same for others. Pay it forward.

This is one of those moments.

If you’re an artist who wishes to submit free ideas and free work to this process — don’t do it. Save your energy. Take your ideas and your hard work and channel them into conduits and clients where your work is valued.

Recently, the writer Wil Wheaton eloquently refused to trade his writing for ‘exposure’ from the Huffington Post. He’s a major celebrity. He’s presumably doing well financially. The compensation amount probably wasn’t a big deal to him one way or the other, but he knew better than to accept nothing for his work. It wasn’t just the wrong thing for himself, but it set a bad precedent for writers who are less advantaged than him, who are much more easily preyed upon, and who depend on fair compensation for their work in order to make a living wage. He took a stand. These acts matter.

I’m not Wil Wheaton. I don’t have his celebrity power. It’s important to say this though, and I hope it helps my fellow artists and the creative community at-large:

As a past World Fantasy Award winner and frequent attendee of the World Fantasy Convention, I encourage all artists to boycott this process and do not give your work or ideas to this convention for free. ‘Exposure’ and ‘prestige’ are not enough.

Expect better.

In fact, expect the best.

Keep working towards it every day. Don’t fall prey to an unprofessional overture such as this one. And if you see artists who are more established than you falling prey, ask yourself why and how you might approach the situation better. Don’t follow someone else’s example blindly.

As for the WFC, I’m sorry to see it inflict itself with this black eye.

It’s a convention with assets, even if it doesn’t want to compensate artists with money. It could have compensated all professional 3D artists who submitted ideas with a membership to a future WFC. It could have compensated the winning sculptor with a lifetime WFC membership. It could have found any number of creative solutions.

Instead, it chooses to send the message that artists’ work and ideas for a new World Fantasy Award are worth nothing, and in turn that the convention’s new image is worth the same.

Onward to better expectations and better days.

The New World Fantasy Award: What’s Next?

PICACIOworldfantasy

The World Fantasy Convention’s board of trustees has decided to evolve their award from a bust of H.P. Lovecraft (crafted by Gahan Wilson) to a brand-new, yet-undecided design. There’s been a ton of debate and reaction to this topic.

Bottom line: I applaud the WF board on their decision and I’m looking forward to what’s next for this award. So yeah — what IS next? Decisions, decisions…..

Here’s the thing — often, the key to making a good decision is first asking the right question.

We can all watch random people lobbing ideas and concepts, seeking answers for the award’s new design that best endorse their pet interests. You’ve probably already seen some. Not surprisingly, many of these ideas spring from a very Eurocentric view of fantasy that seems a bit tone-deaf to a shifting ethnic and cultural spectrum amongst audience and creators alike. Some advocate for a favorite fantasy form that makes them feel nostalgic — a dragon, an elf, a green man, for instance. Others advocate that the award should resemble a person that perhaps makes them feel comfortable, or reflects themselves.

These responses seem myopic and panicked, borne of an unspoken open question: “What should the award look like?”

If I were a decision maker in this process (and THANK GHOD, I’m not), I would offer that’s NOT the right question to ask right now, and thus, it’s no surprise that the answers so far are less than optimal. In fact, unless you’re a professional sculptor, you’re probably not the most qualified to find the ‘answer’. I’m not either. I’m a working professional illustrator and a storyteller who keeps trying to be a better artist every day, but I’m not a professional sculptor. And thus, I’m probably not as qualified to conceive and create this sculpture as an artist who does sculpt for a living. However, my job as an illustrator does require me to be a strong problem-solver, and that means knowing how to ask good questions.

Thus, here’s some brief advice I can offer the decision makers, and to all who share my interest in the future of this award:

1. THE FIRST QUESTION NEEDS TO BE THE RIGHT ONE. In this case, I would offer that the first question should not be, “Hey, World: what do you think this award should look like?” The first question should be, “Who are the best sculptors and who is the sculptor that can best elevate this award toward a new timeless icon? Who can carry this responsibility? Who can take us to a place we could not have imagined on our own?” The same respect that is given to a great novelist should be given to a great sculptor here.

The sculptor of this award needs to be an artist, first and foremost — someone who solves problems, conceives original thoughts, has unique insights, and visually communicates those thoughts, insights, emotions and intangibles into tangible form. If the plan is to take a straw poll of the most popular and familiar symbols and word pictures, or to concoct a preordained vision and then hire some poor sap to carefully sculpt to that prescription, then please hire a pharmacist, not a professional artist. However, the World Fantasy Award can do better than that, and I’m hoping it will. If I were a decision maker in this process, I would be sky-high excited about the amazing creative (and branding) opportunity ahead, and I would be vigorously searching for the right sculptor to cast a new icon, rather than casting a fishing line praying to hook an idea.

The making of this icon is the kind of job that visual artists are uniquely qualified to do. I most trust an artist to do this job of researching, idea-making, conceiving and creating a new visual icon — just as I most trust a surgeon to operate on me, or an architect to design a house, rather than the other way around.  This is a job for a visual artist who professionally sculpts, not a committee, not a straw poll of writers, readers, and historians. In short — the sculptor making the award should decide what the best idea is, what it looks like, and then present that form to the decision makers for them to decide if it’s ‘the one’.

The single most important question facing this award right now: “Who is that sculptor?”

In my opinion — asking this question, and doing the requisite selection work, is the key mission for the award’s decision makers.

2) CHOOSING THE SCULPTOR. Creating this award is a job –and wow, THAT’S an understatement! 😉 It should be a paid gig — probably a well-paid one considering the stakes, the importance of the result, and the rights involved. In contrast, an ‘open call for ideas’ that preys upon artists to generate work for free, even if they’re just sketches, would be ill-advised and bad PR, and I would advocate that no professional artist should answer that call and undercut their own livelihood. The ideas are the job, just as much as the final sculpt. I would caution against giving those ideas away publicly, even if it’s to drum up popular momentum. This isn’t a popular election, after all. It’s a job, and most of us are not official components of the job’s process.  Instead, I think the best thing that we can all do (decision makers, creators, and readers alike) is educate ourselves on the pool of working sculptors that are out there — and promote them.

a) If I was a decision maker, I would scour the last few years of SPECTRUM: THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY FANTASTIC ART and the INFECTED BY ART annuals. I would research the last six or seven years of Chesley Award nominees in the Three-Dimensional category.

In fact, to all who are commenting via social media and campaigning for ideas — the best thing we can do to further this process is advocate for sculptor(s) that we think are best suited for the job — and try to articulate why. Shift your energy from firing shots in the dark about pet concepts, and instead boost the visibility of worthy sculptors. Link to their websites and their social media. Share some of your favorite images of their work.

b) Again, putting myself in a decision maker’s shoes — I would ask myself, “What are the questions that best lead me to the right sculptor for this job?” Here are a few questions that might help along the way:

• Does the sculptor’s work largely represent their own imagination or does it represent someone else’s?

• Does the sculptor’s work surprise? Does it invent? Does the sculptor’s work have a history of making forms and icons that haven’t quite been seen like that before?

• Does the sculptor’s work have the ability to be universal, or does it seem to reflect a limited cultural and ethnic viewpoint? Can this sculptor create an icon with a large enough ideological umbrella to not just include the world, but embrace it and elevate it?

• Does the sculptor’s work show the ability to problem-solve a variety of contexts? Is their work all literal? Is it all abstract? Is that artist capable of expressing within both realms? Does the sculptor’s approach to the job propagate his or her own brand more than it creates a unique brand for the award?

• Does the sculptor design their own work and then have someone ELSE cast it? Or does the sculptor design AND cast their own work from start to finish? This may be a very important production question for the board as they narrow down their sculptor choices.

3) BUILDING THE BEAST. I think once the decision makers have chosen their sculptor, I suggest that the next most important mission is shaping an environment where the artist is free to propose original ideas, problem-solve, and sculpt the final award, shielded from preordained ideas and agendas. This isn’t just what’s good for the sculptor. It’s about getting the most value from the artist during the course of the process. What comes out of the sculptor’s head is as important as what comes out of his or her hands. The sculptor will probably want to dialogue with the board as the process evolves, and that will likely be one of the most crucial parts of the whole endeavor.

This is brave new frontier. This is what artists live for. My sincere best wishes to the sculptor selected for this job and to the decision makers involved, and in closing, I’ll offer a few sculptor suggestions for consideration for this job. What are yours?

VINCENT VILLAFRANCA:

VINCENTVILLAFRANCA

If this decision were in my hands, this would be the sculptor I would choose. His work consistently innovates. It invents. It can be literal. It can be abstract. It can be both. He has the restless imagination that searches for new ideas and forms that elevate. He has experience dealing with the pressure of awards-making, having designed one of the most celebrated trophy bases in Hugo Awards history. He creates his own work from start to finish — from birthing the idea to final bronze, casting everything himself.

VIRGINIE ROPARS:

VIRGINIEHer ethereal and haunting work seems to own the Spectrum annual’s 3D category every year.

THE SHIFLETT BROTHERS:

SHIFLETTSThese guys do stunning work. Master creature makers.

CHARLES VESS:

The Barter Green in Abingdon, VA

He’s a four-time World Fantasy Award winner. He’s designed small sculptures and big ones. If he’s selected to sculpt the new one, and wins a fifth World Fantasy Award, would he get to award himself with his own sculpture? 🙂

Those are a few thoughts. Please share your own. Brainstorm. Explore. Discover. Share. Who would you like to see sculpt the new World Fantasy Award?

ACCC 2015: Amazing!

ACCC42015
Alamo City Comic Con was almost two weekends ago, but I’ve been so swamped by deadline work that I’m only now getting to post my thoughts on the event.

I exhibited in Artists Boulevard for the third year in a row and I can definitely say that with all of the road work I do in a given year, this show is one of my favorites anywhere, bar none. Why?

1) I don’t know what the attendance was this year, but last year, this con pulled 73,000 people. That was in only its SECOND year! The first effort garnered an amazing 35,000+. The attendance looked at least as big as last year, but it was hard to tell as the con had expanded to consume the vast majority of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. In terms of floor space, the show was bigger than ever. What I love is that this con is still in its early years, and it’s already experiencing exponential audience growth. Attendees are there for the comics, for the celebs, for the wrestlers, for the cosplay, for the toys, and most definitely — for the art. I can definitely tell that the art-buying audience is growing, and it still has a lot of ceiling to expand that audience even more. If the con keeps catering to those folks, I think it will grow in ways that a lot of comic cons never will.

2) There are a lot of things to love about ACCC attendees, but one of the best is that San Antonio LOVES Loteria. I’m talking to you, SA. All of you. THANK YOU for buying so many of my Loteria Grande cards and posters. THANK YOU for packing my Loteria session and making me run out of tablas because there were so many of you wanting to play the oldskool Loteria game. (Next year, I’ll bring even more!) And thanks to all of the Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones fans who bought my prints all weekend long. I had a blast visiting with all of you! Special shoutout to my Artist Boulevard neighbors: Chet Phillips, Scott Harben, and Lawrence Reynolds.

3) Last but not least — this con has an incredible staff of blue-collar demons and gold-hearted heroes. They’re gracious, professional, and they give their all to make a world-class event. I’m talking about Apple De La Fuente, Austin Rogers, Wes Hartman, Garrett Killian, Fred Bronaugh, Karla who runs the Volunteer Staff, and everyone who staffs, volunteers, and raises their game every year to make this con one of the best in the country. It’s astonishing what these people have built in three short years. Take a bow, Apple. Take a bow, everyone.

I looked at every one of these people after the show was over, and the only problem with them taking a bow is they all looked like they were going to keel over because they had given everything they had. So had I. It was a terrific weekend, and I’m already ready to do it better next year.

Ready for ACCC 2015!

ACCCpicaciosquare

Come see me at Alamo City Comic Con this weekend. I’ll be there in Artist Boulevard at C17. VIPS: For Thursday night ONLY, I’ll have a 10% discount for you on all merchandise, including my George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire archival prints, Loteria cards and posters, Star Trek and X-Men art and much more.

In addition, all weekend long, everyone who makes a purchase from my table will score a free Star Wars 3D playing card, while supplies last.

I can’t wait to play Loteria on Saturday at 4pm in Room 205. Get there early. I’ll have terrific prizes for you, and it will be epic. 🙂

I’m amazed what Apple De La Fuente, Wes Hartman, Austin Rogers, Garrett Killian, and crew have done to build this event. This will be the third annual ACCC and San Antonio has never seen a pop culture event like this one. I’m stoked and honored to be an ACCC guest again.

Let’s do this, SA! 🙂

“You Can Always Go Downtown”

SAPLpicacio

Hey, San Antonio: I’m presenting a lecture and slideshow about my science fiction/fantasy book cover art career, including a look at my George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire calendar art, Star Trek cover art, and my new Loteria work. The Central Library downtown (600 Soledad Street) is the place to be at 6:30pm on Tuesday, September 1st. The event is free of charge and open to the public. Kids and adults both welcome. Even better? Parking in the Library’s garage is also FREE that night.

There will be a reception after the presentation, and I’ll have a limited supply of my Loteria Grande cards and posters available for sale there, as well as a selection of art prints.

See you tomorrow night, SA! 🙂

 

Loteria in New Mexico! Sasquan Wrapup!

I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico, getting ready to appear at George R. R. Martin‘s Jean Cocteau Cinema Thursday at 7pm for “Loteria Fest”. It’ll be an evening of Loteria games and prizes (think Mexican Bingo), plus an exhibition of large-scale prints of my work where New Mexicans can score my limited-run cards and posters. I’m stoked. Be here, Santa Fe, and bring your friends. Let’s pack that place. Come score your prizes and Loteria goodies.

I arrived here yesterday from Spokane where Sasquan ruled the town, or at least what you could see of it, as it looked like Mordor due to all of the surrounding wildfire smoke. The Sasquan con com put on a great event overall, and my hat’s off to them as well as all who attended my programming and events! Special shoutout to all who visited me and bought my Loteria merchandise in Artists Alley. I SOLD OUT of all of the Loteria Grande cards I brought to the con. Well done, Spokane.

Favorite memories of the con for me? The Brotherhood Without Banners party and George R. R. Martin’s Hugo Losers Party at the Glover Mansion. The former was epic as always (missed you, Martha and Doug), and the latter was a night for the ages.

I thought DC17 assembled a helluva bid for the 2017 Worldcon, but they lost out to Helsinki. So congrats to the Fins! Back to work here in Santa Fe, prepping for tomorrow’s big ‘Loteria Fest’. For now, here are a few Sasquan memories.

SASQUAN4one

ABOVE (clockwise from left): The Misfits were a terrific band at GRRM’s Hugo Losers Party. John Scalzi gets up close and personal with John W. Campbell Award winner Wesley Chu. Kristina Hiner and the legendary Lodey at the Losers Party. Packed house at the Glover Mansion as everyone gazes up at GRRM as he presents the inaugural Alfie Awards.

SASQUAN4two

ABOVE (clockwise from left): Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear at GRRM’s party. LOCUS’ Francesca Myman and Gail Carriger. A special moment when the late, great Jay Lake’s family came to visit and expressed their approval for Jay being included in my Loteria series. (They were so incredibly gracious.) Eddie Tannini, Nichole Giles, and Erik Kluth decked out at GRRM’s Losers Party.

HELSINKI

ABOVE: Helsinki 2017 supporters visited my Artists Alley table decked out in full regalia.

Go West!

PICACIO4sasquan

The World Science Fiction Convention is upon us.

I’ll have a display of works hanging in the Art Show, including a print of the new Loteria art for ‘El Arbol’, dedicated to Jay Lake. I’ll also be bringing limited supplies of Loteria Grande cards and posters AND 11″ x 14″ George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire prints. However, these will NOT be available in the Art Show, as you can purchase them directly from me, while supplies last, at my appearances marked with an (**).

And here’s a special offer just for you, Sasquan — you can reserve and pre-purchase any 17″ x 22″ print from my body of work — including George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire worksfor only $75 each! This is marked down from the usual $125 for the GRRM works, and $90 for all others. How do you get yours? Email me at john (at) johnpicacio (dot) com, with the subject heading: “Sasquan Special”. Let me know the prints you want and I’ll send you my Paypal details OR we can arrange for you to just pay at the con. Pick up your merchandise from me during my Autographing or during the Saturday Artist Alley hours, and you’ll be set. These prints are archival inks on archival Hahnemuhle paper. You’ll need to bring your own protective tube or carrying method, as these will be unbagged and unboarded. Reservation deadline is Monday, August 17th at 12noon CST, and this offer only applies to prints ordered via this offer, for pickup at Sasquan. Why am I doing this? Because I love you, people, but also because I’m not bringing a giant stack of bagged and boarded archival prints on this trip, as it’s too costly. So this is THE ONLY WAY to get big prints at bargain prices from me if you’re coming to Worldcon. Don’t wait to see what I have once you arrive because there won’t be a stack to flip through this time. Reserve your prints today, everyone. 🙂

Here’s where and when you can find me at Sasquan.

THURSDAY

** The Art of John Picacio • 11am-11:45am • Bays 111A (CC)
Slideshow + Q&A. I’ll be sneak-peeking and unveiling new work here. If you’ve got questions about my work — past, present, or future — bring ’em!

** Kaffee Klatche • 2pm-2:45pm • 202A-KK2 (CC)
Come one, come all. Bring your questions, and I’ll bring some Loteria Grande cards and posters and talk about what I’m working on + what’s coming.

Chesley Awards Ceremony + Reception • 7pm • 300D (CC)

FRIDAY

Tomorrow Stories: Successful Creators and Their Work • 10am-10:45am • Conference Theater 110 (CC)
Panelists: John Picacio, Craig Engler, Jeff Sturgeon, Kevin J. Anderson, Kurt Busiek
This will be fun. We’ll be talking about our creator-owned works in print, TV, and film. Learn how and why these projects came to be, and where they’re headed, in a world where more and more pro creators are owning their creative destinies.

** Autographing • 12noon-12:45pm • Exhibit Hall (CC)
Neil Clarke, William Dietz, Rhiannon Held, Mary Soon Lee, John Picacio, Charles Stross, Jo Walton

SATURDAY

** Artist & Author Alley • 10am-1:45pm • Between Art Show and Dealer’s Room
I’ll have a spread of original art and merchandise here at great prices. First come, first serve! 🙂

SUNDAY

** Loteria • 12noon-12:45pm • Exhibit Hall C / Guinan’s Cabaret (CC)
This is gonna be a blast. Wanna win prizes playing Mexican Bingo? Be here. Easy to learn and so much fun!

After Worldcon is over?

I’ll be coming your way, Santa Fe. Be at George R. R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema on Thursday, August 27th at 7pm. LOTERIA FEST!!

And then it’s your turn, Bubonicon. 🙂

See you soon, West Coast.

In Loteria We Trust.

Coming Soon to Santa Fe: Loteria Fest!

LOTERIAFESTcocteauENG2

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO: You ready to play Loteria and win fabulous prizes?

Here’s the skinny: Starting August 12th, George R. R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema will host “Loteria Fest” — a first-ever exhibition of large-scale giclées featuring my first series of Loteria artworks. They’ll also have a limited supply of my first eleven Loteria Grande cards for sale, as well as limited-edition prints of my George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire calendar artwork and other cover artworks. The exhibition and sale will run from Wednesday, August 12th to Saturday, August 29th.

What you don’t want to miss is the big night of the whole event. That’s Thursday, August 27th, and that’s when I’ll be in town to host several rounds of Loteria (AKA Mexican Bingo), giving away terrific prizes including DVDs, books, signed Loteria posters, and more. I’ll be there from 7pm to 9pm, playing this traditional Mexican game of chance, and signing cards and posters. I’m really looking forward to it. If you’ve played Loteria before, you know how fun and addictive it is. If you’ve never played, this is your chance to learn, as it’s super-easy to do so, and you’ll have a blast. Here’s some more info on the game and how I’m re-imagining it in a new and personal way.

FYI: The Cocteau has posted an online write-up about the event, but they may be having trouble with their website, as their posted information currently contains some inaccuracies. So don’t get confused. The information I’ve posted above is what you need to know. Holler at me if you have any questions.

The theatre only seats 132, so make sure to mark your calendar and get there by 7pm on Thursday the 27th. I’ll have more updates soon, regarding the prizes and goodies you’ll see that night.

Help me spread the buzz in advance of this event, Santa Fe! This is my first time to your town. Let’s pack the Cocteau!

In Loteria We Trust! 🙂