This post is one of a five part series:
Lessons from IlluxCon 5: Part 1 – Intro
Lessons from IlluxCon 5: Part 2 – Workshops
Lessons from IlluxCon 5: Part 3 – Panels & Talks
Lessons from IlluxCon 5: Part 4 – Showcase
Lessons from IlluxCon 5: Part 5 – Wrap Up
Digesting the Convention as a new attendee
and dealing with doubt.
IlluXcon is a wonderful experience, but also overwhelming. It took me weeks to digest all the impressions and from my travel mates I know, I was not the only. While you feel extremely inspired you don’t necessarily walk away from it with a feeling of happiness because there is so much input that it also makes you think: “Can I really do this?” “Can I make it to where these artists did?” “Am I wasting my time?”
These feelings of doubt are mixed with the hope and thrill of getting home to work on new and better pieces, to study harder and improve. Many artist’s struggle a lot with their own self worth, we torment ourselves with feelings of doubt and while seeing the best in the business is fantastic, it also opens for that nagging voice that makes you realize that it is going to take so much to get there, and it is going to be so hard.
However you cannot let it get to you. You cannot compare yourself, because these people are years and years of experience on you, and the only way to get to their level is to get those years of experience – you have to practice, you have to grab hold of the inspiration you feel from seeing these titans of imaginative realism, cling on to that inspiration and let the doubt go.
While I will admit I feel intimidated, there is no doubt in my mind I want to attend again next year.
On an end note I would like to share with you an interview with art student and aspiring illustrator Rose Wong, whom I traveled with. IlluXcon was even more so quite an experience for Rose because of her very unique style of art.
Interview with young, aspiring Illustrator Rose Wong
1. Please introduce yourself and your work.
Hello! My name is Rose Wong and I’m a Junior Illustration Major at the Pratt Institute.
Most of my work contains graphic abstract figures and flat coloring. I like to work with line a lot.
2. What convinced you to attend IlluXcon and what were some of the thoughts/hopes/expectations you had abou the convention prior to attending?
My friends Kiri and Betsy convinced me to go, though I became reluctant after I signed on, they were very supportive.
I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into and I did however, expect to learn a lot about the industry and I hoped to meet other artists!
Some thoughts that came to mind before the convention were ‘oh jeez, my art does not fit into the general fantasy realism thing that they have going on there!’
3. What was your first impressions of the convention when you first entered the main show?
‘Holy shit! Look at all those beautiful paintings!’ I love see the artist behind the paintings, and it was a cool sight.
4. How did you feel about attending as a new artist with a style that clearly stood out from that of others?
It was nerve-wracking because I was so hesitant to show people my portfolio. First because I was still a student, eager to learn, but I was also afraid my art wouldn’t fair well with the others. But as the con went on, I began to embrace it because I had nothing to lose. Because It was different, I suppose people liked diversity and were receiving it well.
5. Do you feel that art students with a style that differs from traditional fantasy can still benefit from attending this kind of conventions?
Yes most definitely! I mean though, most people there, whether they be artists or art directors, are mainly looking for/at sci-fi or fantasy stuff. Just be aware that the bulk is traditional fantasy.
6. What were the three most valuable lessons you took away from the conventions?
- One, that no matter what and where you are, be proud of your artwork, because it shows.
- Two, be forward and open, because you don’t make friends or contacts from being shy.
- Three, learn from the professionals, but don’t compare yourself because they have got years of experience over you.
7. What were some of your convention highlights?
Definitely the Friday night show case. I had a booth and I talked to many different kinds of people; students, other artists, and even art directors! And it was the night I felt most comfortable with showcasing my art and talking to others about it.
8. Were there anything you would have done differently?
Probably would have signed up for a portfolio review, but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.
9. Are you going to attend again next year?
Most likely, yes! Cons are fun and I have this deep desire to show people how much I can improve in a year.
10. If you could give some advice to your fellow art students, what would that be?
I’m going to redirect you back to Question 6, because that is some good advice there that I always have to remind myself. It’s good to throw yourself out there because we’re so young and still students, most people are very encouraging and helpful if you just ask!