Thank You, Balticon 50!

Cover art by me for a limited-edtion GRRM hardcover novella, exclusively available via the Baltimore Science Fiction Society.

Cover art by me for a limited-edtion GRRM hardcover novella, exclusively available via the Baltimore Science Fiction Society.

Great times this past weekend at Balticon 50, where George R. R. Martin and I were Guests of Honor, along with Mark Van Name, Fran Wilde, Alexandra Duncan, Kim Stanley Robinson, and an impressive roster of past GoHs such as Charles Stross, Peter Beagle, Connie Willis, Jo Walton, Joe Haldeman, Larry Niven, Phil & Kaja Foglio, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, and more. The level of creative talent in the building felt like a miniature version of Worldcon.

GRRM and me during the onstage "Conversation" event. That was fun. :)

GRRM and me during the onstage “Conversation” event. That was fun. ūüôā

Huge congratulations to Nora Echeverria and the entire con com for achieving the single largest Balticon attendance ever. THANK YOU to all of the con attendees who packed the seats for my programming itemsРand especially my Loteria game session and onstage interview with GRRM, which were filled to capacity. Great job by Sarah Pinsker and Michael R. Underwood on their Dangerous Voices Variety Hour event. Thank you to Fan Guests of Honor Martin Deusch, Shirley Avery, Sue, Nora, Anna, Meredith, Filthy + the Art Show staff for setting up a terrific Art Show and thank you to all who made it a big success as almost all of my A Song of Ice and Fire artwork sold out, along with so many framed originals and prints. I sold out of Loteria Grande Card Sets and signed countless items at my Artists Alley table. Before the con even began, George and I pre-signed 500 limited-edition copies of a new GRRM hardcover novella that I illustrated called In The House of the Worm. (Special thanks to Sean Wallace for making it happen.) This convention was an intense and absolute joy.

I had a blast spending time with George, Parris, Lenore, and Jo. Enjoyed the conversations and quality minutes that I had with so many pros and fans. Always much love and best of times with¬†The Hardest Buckaroos — the Brotherhood Without Banners — Martha, Doug, Christine, Eddie, Neal, Yags, Pod, Kristina, Dave, Douglas, Caryn, Meg, Bill and everyone. Special shoutout to my IMPALED PHALLUS bandmates! ūüėČ

So many people gave their all to make this con happen, as is always the case with fan-run conventions (thank you, Allison, Adrienne, Joe, Roy, Anna, and all). Did Balticon¬†have massive problems with its programming schedule? Absolutely. And yet, thanks to the grit and resilience¬†of diehard volunteers, I saw nothing but joy from every fan I encountered. Romeo Capriotti, this is for you. (Thea, change the words to “woman” and “ma’am” and same applies.) You did a great job, Romeo. Best GoH Liaison I could ask for.

Linda Wenzelburger: Your take on my “La Calavera” is one of my favorite cosplays EVER! Gorgeous work! Made my con. <applause>

Linda Wenzelburger's completely awesome "La Calavera" cosplay (Inset: Cropped detail of my "La Calavera" Loteria artwork.)

Linda Wenzelburger’s completely awesome “La Calavera” cosplay (Inset: Cropped detail of my “La Calavera” Loteria artwork.)

You were amazing, Balticon. In closing, I’m going to share some words from Nora, who chaired this event. This is from her FB page, and I hope she won’t mind. I think it adds some¬†much-needed¬†context.

“i want to thank everyone who helped organize, work, volunteer and attend Balticon 50. You ALL made this an amazing show.

In particular i want to thank¬†Jonette Butler for¬†coming up with the idea for bringing back our Alumni Guests of Honor and for being the driving force behind that and our fundraising projects. Because of her, we were able to raise well over $55,000 AND bring back every Guest of Honor Alumnus who wished to attend. And they all had a wonderful time.”

And especially the following words:

“At the end of the day, Balticon is run by volunteers. We do not take a salary, we have jobs and families and other obligations, i.e., LIFE. We work hard but we make mistakes. We aim for the moon and sometimes we hit it and sometimes we crash back down to earth. We all come together to do this out of our love for the genre and of fandom.”

Well said, Nora — and thank you again, Balticon and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society! It was an honor to be with you!

George R. R. Martin and Nora Echeverria at the Balticon 50 Guest of Honor Dinner.

George R. R. Martin and Nora Echeverria at the Balticon 50 Guest of Honor Dinner.

THREE IBA3 Jury Selections!

Great start to 2015! Three of my 2014 artworks have been¬†jury-selected for the forthcoming Infected By Art 3 Annual, including two that were “Unanimous Selections”! Very grateful to be included in this book with some AMAZING artists!

Wanna see all of the art that was jury-selected for the book? Here you go. Congrats to all of these creators — some truly inspiring work¬†here!

Special shoutout to all of the Grand Prize Winners! Way to go, all!

My three selected works are:

"El Mundo" / Loteria artwork © John Picacio.

“El Mundo” / Loteria artwork ¬© John Picacio.

"La Calavera" / Loteria artwork © John Picacio.

“La Calavera” / Loteria artwork ¬© John Picacio.

"El Corazon" / Loteria artwork © John Picacio.

“El Corazon” / Loteria artwork ¬© John Picacio.

All three of these are from my Loteria series, and that makes the news even more gratifying. “El Mundo” and “La Calavera” were voted “Unanimous Selection”.

Thank you to the jurors: Donato Giancola, Rebecca Guay, Greg Hildebrandt, and Jon Schindehette! And thank you, IBA — grateful and honored to be included.

NEW! Loteria Grande / Series 1

Loteria cards by John PicacioGood news, Loteria fans! 2014 finishes in grand style with the release¬†of¬†a¬†new Loteria Grande card series from Lone Boy, including¬†“La Calavera”, “El Corazon”, “El Venado”, “El Mundo”,¬†and¬†“La Escalera”! These cards feature the same production value and giant size as the Grandes originally released with my 2013 Calendar’s Kickstarter campaign — 4.5″ x 7.5″ on thick, durable cardstock, with rounded corners. All cards also include¬†my final pencil drawing for each artwork reproduced on the reverse side.

I’m remodeling my blog and web¬†store, and moving it all to WordPress over the New Year’s holiday.¬†Once that work is done, my store will¬†be taking orders for Loteria Grande / Series 1¬†during the first full week of January.

Here are the rest of the cards included in Series 1.

Happy New Year, all!

Loteria Grande cards by John Picacio




D√≠a de los Muertos is almost here, and the Calaveras have arrived. 

Calaveras (skulls) are icons featuring Muertos-inspired aesthetics and decoration. They’re everywhere this time of year — as food, as packaging, in our media, on our clothing, in our art, and in our stores. At its roots though, D√≠a de los Muertos is a quintessentially Mexican religious phenomenon when the living not only remember the dead, but prepare offerings to them — including favorite foods, beverages, gifts, flower arrangements, and other ephemera. 

The great Octavio Paz best summed it up: “To the people of New York, Paris, or London, ‘death’ is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love.”

D√≠a de los Muertos starts October 31st and ends November 2nd. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and to celebrate, presented here are thirteen Calaveras, as the holidays approach.

Witness the wonder of 3D printing. These remarkable plastic sculptures are available in three sizes. Even if your living room isn’t rocking a D√≠a de los Muertos altar, these are so gorgeously cool.

Created by Ariel Rojo and Stephanie Suarez as part of Kikkerland’s Mexico Design Challenge — I love the design here. Sangria-making just became even more fun. 

His popular Calaveras playing cards sold out, but his shop still carries reasonably-priced 22″ x 26.5″ uncut sheets. Check out his Calaveras shirts and woodcut prints too.

Sugar skulls or ‘calaveras de az√ļcar’ are festive treats made from sugar and icing, offered as gifts to both the living and the dead during D√≠a de los Muertos. Even if your home decor isn’t a holy shrine for ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, these pillows are pretty fabulous.

Black Milk says they’ve discontinued these, but they’re still available via select vendors. 

These fabulous thermochromic packaging designs feature skeletons that come to life in full-color when chilled to at least 42 degrees. This color reveal designates that the tequila has reached optimal temperature. How great is that? The campaign originated in 2011, so these bottles may be hard to find, but some vendors may still have remaining stock.

And if you can’t find those 2011 edition bottles of Cuervo — check out another tequila’s terrific packaging design. Inspired by legendary artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, Steven Noble’s illustrated labels for Espolon pay tribute to “the Mexican artists who inspired the world with true portrayals of the country’s rich history and complex everyday life.”

Sharpen your scissors — the award for “Coolest Muertos Party Decoration for Low Budgets” goes to Crafty Lady Abby with this ingenious tutorial for how to make your very own Skull Paper Snowflake.

You won’t find this unique cotton fabric anywhere other than The Crafty Tree. Now you know what to gift that Loteria-playing, stamp collector in your life. 

Made by a family near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, these clay candle-holder sculptures are ready for custom decoration. 3″ tall x 3″ wide” x 3-1/2″ deep. (Candle not included.)

I would eat off these year-round, not just for Día de los Muertos and Halloween.

South Texas artist Cayetano ‘Cat’ Garza is an Ignatz Award winner for his Year of the Rat comics work. I love his ‘Gato de los Muertos’ icon and if your wardrobe closet is full, you can rock his Gato as an iPhone case, tote bag, throw pillow, shower curtain or art print.

Online ordering for this closes Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 8pm CST. Get these while you can, folks. ūüôā No more online orders for them from my shop after that date.

‘La Calavera’ features art from my Loteria series — an 11″ x 18″ signed, limited-run poster on heavy cardstock. My ‘La Luna’ and ‘El Corazon’ posters are also available online until this Wednesday. Stock up while you can!

AetherFest 2014

Good news for all Steampunk fans in the southern USA — AetherFest is coming to San Antonio! The historic (and reportedly haunted?) Menger Hotel is the place and it all happens on November 21-23, 2014. AetherFest is billed as “Texas’ premier Retro-Futurist convention, put together by fans for fans.”

I’ll be Special Guest there, and none other than Michael Moorcock will be the Author Guest of Honor, along with Steve Jackson as the Gaming Guest of Honor, and more!

They’ve just released their programming schedule — and it’s loaded with retro goodness.

I’ll be doing several panels and programming events, highlighted by Loteria! on Saturday from 2p-3p where I’ll be conducting an hour’s worth of this classic Mexican game of chance (think Mexican Bingo) for fabulous prizes. Come on out, have fun learning a new game, and score cool sf/f loot!



3pm: The Worlds of Michael Moorcock


10pm: AetherFest Opening Ceremony
1pm: The Art of John Picacio
4pm: The Picacio-Moorcock Hour
5pm: Guest of Honor Meet and Greet
6pm: VIP Dinner

Additionally — AetherFest will be the last convention of 2014 where fans will be able to purchase my Loteria posters, including the new one, ‘La Calavera’.

Register now and be there for an amazing weekend, SA!


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. ūüôā 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. ūüôĀ 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! ūüôā