Spec­trum Live

Body of work Now in its third year, SFAL is again set to at­tract artists world­wide to Kansas City – and it prom­ises to be bet­ter than ever!

ImagineFX - - Contents - www.spec­trum­fan­tas­ti­cartlive.com.

Back in 1993, Cathy and Arnie Fen­ner es­tab­lished the Spec­trum An­nual, of­fer­ing cre­ators of fan­tasy, sci-fi and hor­ror art a reg­u­lar show­cas­ing plat­form. A phenom­e­nal re­sponse to their first Call For En­tries led to a full-colour book, Spec­trum 1, the fol­low­ing year – and an­other has been re­leased each year since.

Al­most 20 years later, the first live event, Spec­trum Fan­tas­tic Art Live (SFAL), quickly es­tab­lished it­self as a must-at­tend fix­ture for cre­ators and afi­ciona­dos alike. A sim­ple goal was at its core: to grow the mar­ket for, and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of, fan­tas­tic art.

Gre­gory Manchess and Irene Gallo had cu­rated Spec­trum’s first ex­hi­bi­tion at New York’s Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Il­lus­tra­tion back in 2005. But as Cathy and Arnie ex­plain, it was Bob Self at Baby Tat­too Books who pro­vided the im­pe­tus to take things to the next level.

“Bob had been do­ing Baby Tat­tooville, the first in­ti­mate con­ven­tion for col­lec­tors to spend time with artists, and he be­lieved some­thing larger and more in­clu­sive was pos­si­ble with a Spec­trum event,” says Cathy. “So we got to­gether with Bob to make it hap­pen, along with a group of friends and vol­un­teers in­clud­ing Carl An­der­son, Amanda Ban­ion, Arlo Bur­nett, Jim Fal­lone, John Fleskes, Lazarus Pot­ter, Jeff Smith and Shena Wolf.”

“We wanted to ex­pand on the sense of com­mu­nity as­so­ci­ated with the Spec­trum An­nual,” continues Arnie. “We felt the best way to do that was to pro­vide a venue free of prej­u­dice and elitism, where ev­ery­one was wel­come, and which didn’t come with a high price tag. We’ve al­ways be­lieved that the health of the fan­tas­tic art field re­lies on at­tract­ing more people to talk about it in a pos­i­tive at­mos­phere, to pur­chase art and ul­ti­mately to be­come pa­trons.”

As it en­ters its third year, Spec­trum Fan­tas­tic Art Live boasts an im­pres­sive haul

of spe­cial guests from all cor­ners of the fan­tasy art world. There’s Wayne Bar­lowe, whose crea­ture de­sign and con­cept art cred­its in­clude Hell­boy, Avatar, The Hob­bit and Pa­cific Rim; de­signer and sculp­tor Tim Bruck­ner, who has cre­ated toys for the likes of DC Di­rect, Mat­tel and Has­bro; and comic artist Frank Cho, whose work for the Mighty Avengers, Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man and Hulk needs lit­tle in­tro­duc­tion.

Also pay­ing Kansas City a visit in May is artist and graphic nov­el­ist Camilla d’Er­rico, best-known for her self-pub­lished comic Tan­popo. Justin Sweet will be there too; his clients in­clude Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios, Wiz­ards of the Coast and Dark Horse Comics, and he con­cepted for The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia, Snow White and the Hunts­man, The Avengers and many more fan­tasy movies.

fine-tun­ing the event

There are a few im­prove­ments in store for the rest of the event: “We’re fine-tun­ing our pro­gram­ming to pro­vide more fo­cus and less over­lap,” Cathy re­veals. “It’ll have more of an ed­u­ca­tional ap­proach, with var­i­ous pan­els and work­shops to help stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als ad­vance their skills and find new job op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Fas­ci­nat­ing demos of both tra­di­tional and dig­i­tal art are on the sched­ule, while Tor’s Irene Gallo and Or­bit’s Lauren Panepinto are ar­rang­ing some un­miss­able meet-up op­por­tu­ni­ties with art di­rec­tors from the worlds of pub­lish­ing, gam­ing and en­ter­tain­ment. If that’s not enough, you could visit one of The Art Depart­ment’s late-night life-draw­ing ses­sions and sketch mod­els side-by-side with the likes of Mark English, Anita Kunz and Jon Fos­ter.

The pres­i­dent of Flesk Pub­li­ca­tions and di­rec­tor of the Spec­trum An­nu­als, John Fleskes, will also be tak­ing a hands-on role at this year’s event, hav­ing played more of a back­ground sup­port role in the first two. “Our goal is to hon­our the artists and put on a fan­tasy art con­ven­tion that any­one is

Our goal is to hon­our the artists and put on an event that any­one is wel­come to at­tend and en­joy

wel­come to at­tend and en­joy,” he ex­plains. “For­tu­nately, the Fen­ners got the ball rolling and had 20 years to build the Spec­trum name, so the mo­men­tum was al­ready in place. Start­ing a show from scratch with­out a rep­utable name at­tached would be much more dif­fi­cult.”

Of course, the big­gest con­ven­tion in the States to cater to fan­tas­tic artists is San Diego Comic-Con, which at­tracts a crowd of 120,000 each year. “But there are over 350 mil­lion people in this coun­try, and only a

tiny per­cent­age can ever — will ever — at­tend the Con,” Arnie points out. “What about ev­ery­one else? What about the people who want to come and talk and shop, but can’t?” Tes­ta­ment to their pas­sion for both the craft and the com­mu­nity is the Fen­ner’s re­fusal to con­sider any other shows as ri­vals to SFAL. As far as they’re con­cerned, the more the mer­rier. “We think there should be more art events, not fewer,” con­firms Arnie. “There are sci-fi and pop cul­ture shows lit­er­ally ev­ery week of the year. The artists de­serve more than a cou­ple of events in which they get to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion.”

Big­ger plat­form

For the Fen­ners, the so­lu­tion was to broaden the field and give artists a big­ger plat­form from which to show­case and sell their work, bring­ing the fan­tas­tic art com­mu­nity to Kansas City for three days of in­spi­ra­tion, fun and in­cred­i­ble art­work each year. “We don’t be­lieve the mar­ket for fan­tas­tic art is any­where near its po­ten­tial,” says Cathy. “If we do our job right, SFAL will be suc­cess­ful not only for us, but for the ex­hibitors and at­ten­dees. And that’s all that mat­ters.”

John Fleskes is ex­cited about the op­por­tu­ni­ties for emerg­ing talent at the event’s artist ta­bles, which are de­lib­er­ately priced at an af­ford­able level to pro­vide the all-im­por­tant show­cas­ing plat­form that Spec­trum has al­ways stood for. “These are

At SFAL in­spi­ra­tion abounds, re­la­tion­ships are born, mem­o­ries are made and art lives change

our fu­ture pro­fes­sion­als,” he says, “and we love the idea of mak­ing them feel wel­come.”

Best of all, ev­ery ex­hibitor booth at SFAL is re­served for artists: “Comic shows are the dom­i­nant events out there, and they of­ten fea­ture pop cul­ture, TV and film per­son­al­i­ties while push­ing the artists into a cor­ner,” laments John. “We keep our fo­cus on the artists, and don’t judge people by their tools or their style. We’re look­ing for an eclec­tic and odd bunch.”

de­voted at­tendee

To un­der­stand the im­pact that SFAL has for the fan­tas­tic art com­mu­nity, you only need to speak to a de­voted at­tendee. Hav­ing ex­hib­ited at both pre­vi­ous SFAL events, John Pi­ca­cio has 9–11 May 2014 ringed in his cal­en­dar. “It’s the kind of event that artists dream about,” says the Texan, who has a World Fan­tasy Award, two Hugo Awards, a Locus Award, five Ch­es­ley Awards and two In­ter­na­tional Hor­ror Guild Awards un­der his belt – not to men­tion cover art for Star Trek and X-Men, and a cal­en­dar for Ge­orge RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

“I see a lot of big tent events where stuff is bought and sold, but pre­cious few where in­spi­ra­tion abounds, re­la­tion­ships are born, mem­o­ries are made, and art lives change,” says John. “SFAL re­ally is the right event at the right time for our field, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Learn more about this year’s SFAL at

Amer­i­can il­lus­tra­tor Gre­gory Manchess has been in­volved with Spec­trum Live since the be­gin­ning.

Comics art leg­end Frank Cho (who drew the above) is one of sev­eral great artists con­firmed for Spec­trum Fan­tasy Art Live 3, held in Kansas this May.

Wayne Bar­lowe, who has nu­mer­ous big-budget film cred­its to his name – as well as this witty paint­ing – will also be at SFAL 3.

Does my bum look won­drous in this? An­other Frank Cho clas­sic. Artists can learn from him at SFAL 3.

An­other (Justin) Sweet piece of work. The Amer­i­can is equally tal­ented at dig­i­tal and tra­di­tional art.

A strik­ing com­po­si­tion by Gre­gory Manchess. The artist has la­belled SFAL the “Sun­dance of il­lus­tra­tion”.

Mu­si­cian, co-au­thor, de­signer, sculp­tor and for­mer ap­pren­tice jew­eller, Tim Bruck­ner is an­other top artist ap­pear­ing at SFAL 3.

Walt Dis­ney and Wiz­ards of the Coast artist Justin Sweet is an­other on SFAL 3’s il­lus­tri­ous ros­ter.

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