WORLDS BEYOND GALLERY: VIEWS AND NOTES

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.

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SETTING UP: Gallery walls were over eight feet tall and sixteen inches thick.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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LA SIRENA AND COMPANY: Here’s a closer look at four of my Loteria originals, as we head toward Brom’s display.

 

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LOST GODS: Brom exhibited some of the original paintings from his new LOST GODS book.

 

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BEFORE THE STORM: Brom encouraged fans to venture into his booth to view originals up close, as did all of the WBG artists.

 

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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.

 

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GOLDEN KEY: Ruth Sanderson presented a terrific display of originals and prints. Her scratchboard work is stunning to behold.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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. 🙂

LOTERIA: THE ORIGINAL ART

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This past October, I was proud to exhibit eight of my Loteria final graphite drawings together for the first time at Worlds Beyond Gallery, co-sponsored by Alamo City Comic Con and The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA). I spent many days and nights drawing these, and this was the first time these beloved originals were formally exhibited together. It was fun watching people circulate through the display, eyeballing the work up close. Over the years, I’ve turned down several buy offers because I wanted to present them together at a special occasion like Worlds Beyond.

Now that I’ve done that, these eight originals are now available for sale, and I suspect some of them will sell very quickly. All prices include shipping within the continental United States. Please email me with questions and inquiries. john (at) johnpicacio (dot) com

(below)  LA SIRENAWINNER / 2013 Chesley Award for Best Product Illustration • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / SOLD2sirenagraphite(below)  LA CALAVERAFINALIST / 2015 Chesley Award for Best Product Illustration • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $65007calaveragraphite(below)  EL VENADOFINALIST / 2015 Chesley Award for Best Unpublished Monochrome Work • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $50006venadographite(below)  LA BOTELLA • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $50001botellagraphite(below)  EL ARPAFINALIST / 2014 Chesley Award for Best Product Illustration • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $65008arpagraphite(below)  LA LUNAFINALIST / 2014 Chesley Award for Best Unpublished Monochrome Work • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $65004lunagraphite(below)  EL MUNDO • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $50005mundographite(below)  EL ARBOLWINNER / 2016 Chesley Award for Best Product Illustration • Graphite on Strathmore 500 Bristol • Professionally-framed and matted with Masterpiece Acrylic • 11″ x 18″ (raw original dimension) • 17″ x 24″ (framed dimension) / $70003arbolgraphite

Gift Ideas From Worlds Beyond

If you missed Worlds Beyond Gallery at this year’s Alamo City Comic Con, it was one of the stellar art events of 2016. Brom, Todd Lockwood, Peter Mohrbacher, Ruth Sanderson, Jeffrey Alan Love and I were the six featured artists, and thanks to a partnership between ACCC and ASFA (The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, headed by Sara Felix), this inaugural gallery exhibition / vendor experience was an eye-popping success. Here are six out-of-this-world holiday gift ideas, for the art lovers in your life — or for yourself. 🙂

LOST GODS: For readers who love classic mythology and modern nightmares — the latest novel written and illustrated by Brom is for you. New York Times best-selling author Richard Kadrey says, “LOST GODS is an adventure tale and a mythic odyssey. It’s like Dante played out in muggy rural graveyards and the depths of Purgatory on the eve of a demonic war.” Pictured upper right is an original Brom painting I happily acquired at Worlds Beyond Gallery. It’s one of the header illustrations in the new book. The bottom images feature Brom’s WBG exhibition setup, as he autographs books and prints for ACCC fans.nov25brom

THE GOLDEN KEY: For readers who love classic fairy tales and timeless art — there’s Ruth Sanderson’s brand-new, gorgeously-illustrated version of the George MacDonald classic. And if you order it before December 1st, she’ll send you a free, autographed book plate. Her scratchboard work is masterful, and I was lucky enough to come home with the amazing Green Man masterpiece you see in the upper right. Thank you, Ruth! She had a terrific display of originals and prints at Worlds Beyond, and across her lengthy bibliography of illustrated children’s’ works, I think THE GOLDEN KEY interiors are some of her all-time best.nov25ruthTHE SUMMER DRAGON: For dragon-loving epic fantasy readers — Todd Lockwood is a beloved artist amongst Dungeons and Dragons fans worldwide, and this is his debut novel as an author / illustrator. It’s one of Amazon.com’s Best Science Fiction / Fantasy Books of 2016. Best-selling SHANNARA author Terry Brooks says, “The master of dragon art brings the same skills to dragon storytelling. This is a compelling, fully realized story which is as detailed and exciting as anything since the Pern tales. A sure winner.”
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ANGELARIUM: For Magic The Gathering fans and lovers of lush art prints — Pete has a fan following as an MTG artist, but his current, creator-owned Angelarium work is the best of his career so far. If you want one of his time-limited edition prints of Raziel: Angel of Mysteries — ACT FAST because the deadline to order is Friday, November 25th. If you miss out on that, his ANGELARIUM: BOOK OF EMANATIONS is a winner. I love the way Pete’s building his art brand, and I’m already looking forward to ANGELARIUM: BOOK OF WATCHERS.
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NOTES FROM THE SHADOWED CITY: For graphic novel fans — I think this is one of the coolest illustrated stories of the year. It’s a book about swords and magic, memory and loss. The format is not the typical ‘sequential art’ format one expects from a graphic novel, but books like this expand the possibilities of what graphic novels can be. I loved Jeff’s spare and elegant display he exhibited at Worlds Beyond, and I was fortunate to acquire a couple of his small original works, pictured upper and lower right.
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LOTERIA GRANDE CARDS / SERIES TWO: For card collectors, Loteria lovers, and tarot aficionados — this deluxe five-card set debuted at ACCC, and will only be available online until December 5th! Cards measure a giant-size 4.5″ x 7.5″ and are printed on thick card stock, with my final graphite drawings reproduced on the reverse side. Pictured here are the five cards in the new set, as well as a glimpse of my Worlds Beyond Gallery display, featuring eight of the full-size graphite originals exhibited for the first time together.nov25john

Best wishes to everyone this holiday season!

Worlds Beyond Gallery • Thank You, SA!

The Worlds Beyond Gallery Artists / Alamo City Comic Con 2016: Ruth Sanderson, Brom, Peter Mohrbacher, John Picacio, Todd Lockwood, and Jeffrey Alan Love.

The Worlds Beyond Gallery Artists / Alamo City Comic Con 2016: Ruth Sanderson, Brom, Peter Mohrbacher, John Picacio, Todd Lockwood, and Jeffrey Alan Love. (Photo by Sara Felix / ASFA President)

If you saw the Worlds Beyond Gallery this weekend at Alamo City Comic Con, you experienced something that hasn’t quite been done before at a major pop culture convention — a museum-level exhibition of original contemporary sf/f artwork with the creators live and in-person all weekend, meeting fans and signing merchandise within a custom-built museum environment. True — there are amazing illustrator lineups at San Diego Comic Con, NYCC, and other major cons, but none of those experiences coupled the art and the talent with the architectural and spatial experience that was just produced within a media con like ACCC, with the invaluable sponsorship support of The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA).

Ruth Sanderson, Brom, Peter Mohrbacher, Todd Lockwood, Jeffrey Alan Love and I were the six artists featured, and wow, there was some artistic firepower on those walls and tables. I said it earlier today on Twitter, but I felt the world tilt a little after watching thousands of people flow through the walls of this exhibition this weekend, eyeballs popping wide, mouths agape. I saw thousands of people stunned by the work of illustrators creating their own intellectual properties and telling their own stories in words and pictures, and I saw those thousands spending money strong and steady on this, instead of row after row of knockoff licensed property art.

If you weren’t there, you truly missed one of the best sf/f art happenings of 2016. From my vantage point, it was a joy to see my artist pals succeed. I loved watching Pete sell out of his ANGELARIUM card decks. I loved watching Brom sell out of all of his books. I loved watching Jeff sell out his copies of NOTES FROM THE SHADOWED CITY. I loved watching Todd sell almost every copy of THE SUMMER DRAGON. I loved watching big gaps open up on Ruth’s display as artworks sold to happy collectors. And I loved watching the first series of my Loteria Grande cards completely sell out forever.

The camaraderie amongst the artists was one of my very favorite experiences of recent years. We helped each other. We rooted for each other. We ate and drank together. We talked shop together. The ‘we’ was bigger than the ‘me’. While the initial spark of this venture may have been my idea, it was teamwork that made the whole thing work. It was fun watching representatives of other conventions wonder how this was done, and ask what it would take to have our lineup appear at their show with an experience like this.

After it was over, we ventured to the home of a world-class sf/f art collector here in SA, and it felt like we all went to church together, mesmerized by the original works of Virgil Finlay, Richard Powers, Ian Miller, John Berkey, Don Maitz, Michael Whelan, Bernie Wrightson, J. Allen St. John, Ed Emshwiller, and so many more art legends. It took so much work to make Worlds Beyond Gallery happen, but it was all worth it.

Where does something like this go from here? I don’t know yet, but I will soon. I’m still assessing what just happened in the months leading into this show, as well as the show itself. I do think the key word is ‘evolve’. I purposely wanted this exhibition to celebrate the works of contemporary fantastic artists creating their own properties and I know that was the right call, and it will continue to be the right call moving forward. Anything less than that is selling this short, within pop-culture convention environments starved for this kind of originality and art value. Major applause to Apple De La Fuente, Sara Felix, Austin Rogers, Wes Hartman, Merlin, Elaine Ryan, Becky Searson, Pete Barnstrom, Jose Guajardo and all of the people who helped make Worlds Beyond Gallery not only a reality, but an unqualified success for fans and artists alike. And most of all, thank you to all of the art lovers who experienced an sf/f art happening that will likely reverberate for years to come.

Worlds Beyond Gallery!

SIXPACKworldsbeyondHRIf you love science fiction / fantasy art, San Antonio, TX is the place-to-be this Halloween weekend. Alamo City Comic Con and the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists are bringing together six major fantasy illustrators for an unforgettable weekend of original art, merchandise, and autographings. The event is called Worlds Beyond Gallery and it features a lineup of professional art talent unlike any previously seen in San Antonio. I’m proud to be part of this inaugural art roster, joining Brom, Todd Lockwood, Ruth Sanderson, Jeffrey Alan Love, and Peter Mohrbacher as this year’s guests. Your WBG admission is free with the purchase of an Alamo City Comic Con admission badge, and it all happens at ACCC this October 28-30 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

ACCC and ASFA are offering San Antonio the chance to help expand the arts tradition and expectations in this city. As a native San Antonian, I’ve often heard locals lament that big cities such as New York, LA, Seattle, and Philadelphia score the coolest new art happenings, while SA misses out. Opportunities are rare for a city to prove itself as an arts leader and build a burgeoning fantasy art market for which other cities can only dream. That’s the opportunity facing San Antonio this October. What can you do to further the cause? It’s easy.

BE THERE. Get your ACCC badge today and make Worlds Beyond one of your must-see Halloween destinations this year. Be inspired by some of the most imaginative artists working in sf/f, and enjoy one of America’s fastest-growing pop culture conventions.

SPREAD THE BUZZ. Visit the Worlds Beyond Gallery Facebook Page and give it a ‘Like’. To receive updates on the show, visit the Worlds Beyond Gallery Event Page and let them know you’re ‘Interested’ or ‘Going’. These gestures may seem super-easy, but they’re both a big boost. If you don’t do Facebook — no worries. Use your favorite social media to tell your art-loving friends about Worlds Beyond.

SEIZE THE MOMENT. Start planning your Worlds Beyond visit today. This will be the first appearance in San Antonio for many of the featured artists, and their art is coveted by collectors throughout the world. If you’re an art collector, this will be a rare chance to acquire originals and prints directly from the artists without the perils of online buying and shipping. PRO TIP: When you come to ACCC, make WBG one of your early booth destinations. The artists are bringing a limited supply of originals and merchandise with them, and much of it will likely sell quickly. If you’re an aspiring illustrator or student, bring your portfolio. Socialize. Ask questions. Use this opportunity to improve your craft. PRO TIP: Be courteous, and choose the time wisely when asking for portfolio advice. If an artist has customers waiting, let he/she attend to those transactions. Be patient and wait for an appropriate moment to approach for advice. 

CREATORS FTW! Yes, all of the artists in this WBG lineup are major professional artists who have enjoyed successful commercial art careers, but all of the artists were chosen because they’re each developing their own creative properties. Some are writer / illustrators. Some are developing intellectual properties and merchandising lines. Some are doing both. All are building creator-owned careers and Worlds Beyond was designed by ACCC and ASFA to celebrate that. It’s true that amongst the six, you’ll see artwork commissioned by familiar franchises such as Star Trek, the X-Men, Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, A Song of Ice and Fire, and many, many more, but what sets this event apart is it’s an exhibition of contemporary fantastic art and storymaking wholly owned by the visual creators. This isn’t just the future of art, folks. This is the now, and I’m proud to be part of a growing number of pro artists helping to blaze that path for others to follow and succeed.

HALLOWEEN COSPLAY ON THE RIVERWALK!! Need I say more? How epic is the cosplay going to be at this show?? Show off your costume with all of us at Worlds Beyond, even if your best disguise is yourself. 🙂 We can’t wait to see who you become. We can’t wait to see you there.

(Video by Pete Barnstrom for Alamo City Comic Con.)

STAR WARS: THE FORCE OF ART

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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.

ACCC 2015: Amazing!

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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!

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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! 🙂

LA CALAVERA

Presenting the final color artwork for ‘La Calavera’ — the latest in my Loteria series! In English, ‘La Calavera’ means ‘The Skull’. Those who own the 2014 John Picacio Calendar will notice that a progress version of this work is featured for the month of October. I retained the concept, but completely started over and overhauled the art from scratch. Here are the new improved pencils, created as the foundation for the revised final.

And for those who are unfamiliar with the game of Loteria, here’s the Don Clemente/Pasatiempos Gallo version for this icon, and as with all of my Loteria work, this is what inspired me.

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos is right around the corner, and a ton of Alamo City Comic Con attendees asked if my ‘La Calavera’ would be available as a poster.

Good news — for ONE WEEK ONLY — it is. 🙂 Previously, neither my ‘La Luna’ or ‘El Corazon’ Loteria posters were available for sale online.

They are now available via my website, and so is the new poster for ‘La Calavera’!

Each measures 11″ x 18″ and is printed on thick cardstock. Only 500 posters of each will be printed, and all are signed. The ‘La Luna’ and ‘El Corazon’ posters are already in reduced supply because of heavy sale during my summer convention appearances.

Heads up — deadline for all orders will be Wednesday, October 22nd at 8pm CST. After that, I’ll close online ordering for these items and process as many orders as I can before Dia de los Muertos.

All posters will be shipped in a protective tube. Prices include shipping. Unfortunately, I can only accept continental US orders at this time. 🙁 I’m unable to do shipping outside the US because of rising shipping rates, but also because it will take too much time to handle the customs paperwork for orders shipping outside the US. I’ll be doing fulfillment on this by myself, and in order to do it efficiently, I have to make some time-saving choices for this limited campaign.

Thereafter, these posters will also be available at the following 2014 appearances:

Saturday, October 25th: DRAGON’S LAIR, San Antonio (in-store signing from 10am to 2pm)

Friday, November 7th: WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION, Washington DC (at the Mass Autographing)

November 21st to 23rd: AETHERFEST, San Antonio (poster signing details TBA)

So for all that are traveling to WFC from outside the US, that convention is a great opportunity to score posters for yourself, and probably your only chance for the foreseeable. (If you’re not attending WFC, perhaps you might contact an attendee from your country who is, and ask them to acquire the posters for you?)

Thanks to all for the kind words about the Calavera concept featured in my 2014 Calendar. I hope you all enjoy the revised version as much, if not more! 🙂

Alamo City Comic Con 2014: What Next?

Busy days since Alamo City Comic Con happened this past weekend. It was epic, with a reported 100,000 in attendance — in only the con’s second year. WOW.

Thank you to all who scored Loteria posters, calendars, and art goodies at my Artists Boulevard table there. It was a pleasure to visit with every one of you, and yes, there’s more Loteria news coming down the road from me soon. Stay tuned. 🙂

HUGE thank you to all who played Loteria in Ballroom B on Saturday night. We played over ten rounds, and gave away the most prizes yet. SO MUCH fun. That was the largest attendance I’ve yet experienced for a Loteria session, as we had close to 100 people who played or watched. The attendances seem to grow every time I do this. I’ll keep doing it into 2015, on all of my road appearances. 🙂 (Next stop — actually another hometown appearance — Aetherfest.)

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether conventions are a viable marketplace for artists and independent creators, and I want to address some of that, in terms of what I’m seeing at Alamo City Comic Con.

To Apple, Garrett, Izzy, Fred and the entire ACCC team — take a bow, people. Seriously. I’m so impressed by what you’ve achieved thus far. MAD APPLAUSE for all of you. You’re doing it, people. You’re building an amazing beast, and it’s only going to get better.

I think this con has a chance to do some revolutionary things in the coming years — and perhaps develop models that can influence the future of conventions. I know — you don’t usually think of the word ‘visionary’ and ‘San Antonio’ in the same sentence, but when I look at what’s happening here, times are changing. San Antonio has never experience anything like this event. Granted, like many other comic book conventions, ACCC has headliners led by artists, writers, media celebrities and cosplayers. Nothing revolutionary there. I would say that the majority of the attendees are driven by an expectation that they’re going to rub shoulders with celebs and cosplayers. This is how they’re pre-conditioned, and if you look at the con’s VIP packages, they’re designed to build this expectation.

The good news is that this attracts attendees and families who wouldn’t normally attend if this were solely an event built around comic book vendors and toy merchants. The bad news happens when fans spend big money on VIP packages and then feel unfulfilled because the celebrities don’t fulfill obligations, they have a bad experience with the celeb, or a snafu happens that devalues the VIP from feeling….well, like a VIP. This has been a vexing problem in the first two years of ACCC but I think it’s also part of the growing pains of an event that is aiming for the moon. I think Apple and company realize they need to solve these problems, but I think the fact that this event is only in its SECOND year has to be factored. They’re learning, and they’re growing FAST.

Speaking as an artist vending in Artist Boulevard, the celebrities, the cosplayers, the VIP packages are all good for the ecosystem of the convention. If an artist or independent creator isn’t making money at a show like ACCC, it’s not the fault of those parties. Me — I did really well this year. As always, I want to do better the next time, meet more people, make even more money, and see more of my artist compadres make more money too.

The best news is that I see an untapped solution staring ACCC in the face that can improve matters for many parties at once — especially the Artist Boulevard folks — and it could be a potential gamechanger and value-added experience for not only this event, but other similar comic-centric events.

This year, ACCC presented “Preview Night” to its VIPs and all-weekend pass holders. Much like San Diego Comic Con’s Preview Night, this special 4-hour window from 5pm to 9pm on Thursday night allows those special passholders to glimpse the vendors and attractions before the rest of the weekend’s human tsunami crashes through the doors on Friday through Sunday. Basically, people who attend Preview Night are people who are paying extra for the privilege of a VIP experience.

What I saw on ACCC’s Preview Night was that my town doesn’t quite grasp the concept as there was light traffic and very light sales throughout throughout Artist Boulevard. It felt pretty empty, and it didn’t help that many vendors didn’t even open up for this window of time. During this time, most cosplayers and celebrities were also absent.

Hold on to that thought.

So basically, we have a wave of eager attendees paying a premium for an exclusive experience during the first four hours of the show, and we have a roomful of artist vendors who are eagerly trying to connect their products and projects with these attendees. We have a growing convention building its financial ledger on VIP passes.

For many of the VIP packages, being a VIP means standing in a long line for the privilege of paying a small fortune to celebs for a hasty signature, and maybe getting photographed with said individual. Even if that’s not my definition of being a VIP, I’m not gonna bash anyone who thinks it is. What I would suggest is that consumers spending quality time with creators, and getting memorable experiences with people who might remember them back is perhaps a little more ‘VIP’ than the aforementioned.

So let’s look at Preview Night and imagine if all of the Artists in Artist Boulevard showed up at 5pm and had pre-arranged with ACCC to offer something special to those VIPs… something exclusive and tangible for Preview Night attendees only. Maybe it’s a 20% discount on certain merchandise at their table for that night only…. maybe it’s a free exclusive promo not available any other time during the con…. maybe it’s a special buy-1-get-1-free deal only for Preview Night.

It’s up to the artist. Not every artist HAS to do it. But for the ones that do embrace the concept, Alamo City Comic Con could print a special listing in its Program Book that would celebrate Preview Night and list each artist’s booth number along with their special deals so that VIPs could seek out these exclusives like a rocking treasure hunt. ACCC could promote this info on their website two weeks in advance so that shoppers could make their lists.

It would take advance initiative from the artists, and coordination between them and ACCC. But look at the rewards that happen as a result — a booming, energetic crowd for Preview Night; a potential rocket boost to sales for artists in Artist Boulevard; new fans for those Artists; more Preview Night VIP passes sold for ACCC; AND maybe most importantly — attendees who feel like they got treated like VIPs because frankly, I don’t think the artists are going to be charging $80 for their autograph and photo (or at least, most of the sensible ones), and the VIPs get access to special deals that the rest of the con doesn’t.

It’s even more effective because Preview Night really is the time when artists and vendors have more visibility as cosplayers and celebs don’t arrive until later in the weekend.

I think it’s a major opportunity for ACCC, and could be a way to elevate even higher in their third year, while cleaning up some of the VIP PR hiccups of the first two years.

That’s my two cents for now.

I see HUGE things for this show, and I’m grateful for Apple and the entire team who are making San Antonio into a rising force amongst the Geek Kingdoms.

Cheers, all. See you next year!

Alamo City Comic Con Print Sale!

Alamo City Comic Con is this week in my hometown — and to celebrate, I’m offering a special flash sale on ALL of my archival prints for all attendees of ACCC, and this includes all volunteers and staff who are working hard to put on this great event.

Starting today, through Wednesday, September 24th — all ACCC attendees, volunteers, and staff can pre-order ANY 17″ x 22″ archival print in my shop — for only $55 each.

And yes, GAME OF THRONES fans — this includes my A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE signed archival prints. Yes, that’s a savings of over 50% from the online retail price on those — and yes, this offer is ONLY for ACCC attendees.

Why do this?

Simple — it’s a win-win.

I save shipping, handling, and extra materials costs because this event is happening in my hometown. I pass those savings (and then some) to ACCC attendees, who score archival prints of my art at a bargain price.

How do you get yours if you’re attending ACCC? Easy.

1) Email me at john (at) johnpicacio (dot) com, and let me know which 17″ x 22″ prints you want reserved for you at ACCC. Deadline for reserving is Wednesday, September 24th at 9pm CST. (DO NOT order through the webshop to score this special ACCC price.)

2) You pay at the show, when you pick up your prints. I’ll be located at ACCC in Artist Blvd at Table B42. Or if you feel compelled, you can pay me via Paypal and I can give you those details via email.

3) Buyers are encouraged to bring their own protective sleeve or tube to the show. Prints at reduced price do not include protective bag or board.

4) All prints must be picked up and paid for at ACCC. No mail orders allowed, for this special price.

5) And again — this offer is only for attendees of Alamo City Comic Con, and only for a limited time. Please note that this special price only applies to archival prints and not original artworks.

Aside from the prints that you folks reserve — I’ll only be bringing a VERY small handful of prints to the show. Those prices will be higher than if you reserve yours in advance, and there’s no guarantee the one you want will be there. So — all aboard, ACCC attendees, volunteers and staff! Reserve your prints in advance, and save big money, while you can! 🙂

See you at Artist Blvd / B42 at ACCC this weekend!

Alamo City Comic Con!

ACCC is coming, San Antonio. ‘You ready? 🙂

I’ll be there, starting on Preview Night, at Artist Blvd. / Table B42. This is your chance to get your exclusive limited-run Loteria posters featuring my ‘El Corazon’ and ‘La Luna’ artwork. These are not available online, or through any retail outlet.

So if you live in SA or the surrounding area, and have been watching as San Diego, Detroit, Atlanta, and London grabbed their share on my road appearances in those towns — now’s your chance, San Antonio. Each poster measures 11″ x 18″ and is printed on thick cardstock. Special price for SA too — only $15 each — OR score both for only $25!!

How many of you out there grew up playing Loteria, or grew up hearing about it? Well — Saturday night is your chance at Alamo City Comic Con. We’re going to play Loteria together, as I’m hosting an hour’s worth of games, and I’m bringing the tablas, the cards, the pinto beans, and the prizes for you, including 2015 A Game of Thrones desktop calendars!

Saturday, 6pm, in Ballroom B — bring family and friends because everyone who plays Loteria that night gets a free Loteria promo card, featuring my art, as a thank-you for being there!

See you soon, SA.