The esteemed artist gives us his take on today’s conventions
What do you do at cons and how valuable are appearances?
At monster genre cons I have a table and sell prints, sketches, meet people and sign things. Sci-fi cons tend to have art shows and one buys some panel space and puts work up. When I was starting out 30 years ago cons were the way to go. Now it’s really more about the fan connection.
Do you make a profit at cons? And if not, why do you go?
It depends. At some sci-fi cons I do quite well, such as at a Boston convention called Boskone. I was at the recent Rhode Island ComicCon and I did quite well on prints. Some can be total disasters in terms of cost to get to, ship work to and so forth. I know artists who pay thousands and thousands of dollars and then maybe make a few hundred dollars in return! You have to know which one is best for you, then weigh up the costs.
What do love most about cons?
I love the connection, the kind words and meeting people who tell me my work inspires them. I dislike some of the smaller sci-fi cons where the focus is now overly fixated on fans-of-fans.
If you were in charge of cons, how would you make them more worthwhile for artists?
Make the art more important. This is how Illuxcon and Spectrum Fantastic Art Live were born. Comic cons have become more media or electronic gaming fests that are impossible to get around for the crowds. The artists – many are classic comic artists – are shoved to the side. I get that some things are popular, but it seems the artists often get the wrong end of it.