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.)