A new breed of art fest

Free rein A unique setup and a loyal, tribal fol­low­ing has made the in­die up­start Tro­jan Horse was a Uni­corn the best art event around

ImagineFX - - Contents -

It’s a small mir­a­cle that Tro­jan Horse was a Uni­corn (THU) re­turned for a sec­ond time this Septem­ber. It may have es­tab­lished a pas­sion­ate fol­low­ing, but last year’s de­but left its direc­tors half a mil­lion euros in the red. THU 2014 shouldn’t have hap­pened at all, but it did for all the right rea­sons.

Held near Setúbal, Por­tu­gal, the most tal­ented cre­atives in the VFX, an­i­ma­tion, game and de­sign in­dus­tries came to speak and in­spire 500 ticket-buy­ers, all hell-bent on cracking the in­dus­try them­selves. Friend­ships were forged, projects planned, all with no bar­ri­ers be­tween the fes­ti­val go­ers and guests.

Peo­ple were ac­tively en­cour­aged to speak to their art he­roes – whether that was con­cept artist Jana Schirmer, Rock­star North’s Ian McQue, pin-up boss Serge Bi­rault or Avatar lead artist (and Os­car win­ning) An­drew R Jones. The ad­di­tion of men­tor­ships saw ticket hold­ers gather around th­ese artists dur­ing the day, soaking in their hard-won art ad­vice. Else­where, life-draw­ing and sculp­ture classes ran ei­ther side of the daily free beer happy hour – a time to let it all sink in.

This year’s THU hap­pened be­cause of sheer ob­sti­nate pas­sion. “Last year the po­ten­tial spon­sors didn’t get what we wanted to do,” says THU co-di­rec­tor An­dré Luís. “They didn’t be­lieve in what we were do­ing. They wanted money in ad­vance, but to be­gin with I had zero euros in my pock­ets. But I thought, ‘Let’s do it any­way.’”

Tak­ing a mo­ment’s rest in the restau­rant of the five-star Tróia De­sign Ho­tel where THU is held, An­dré is a changed man from last year: bat­tle-worn for sure, but also verg­ing on re­laxed; con­fi­dent in the friendly mon­ster he’s cre­ated. Across the restau­rant, In­dus­trial Light & Magic art di­rec­tor Christian Alz­mann shares a joke and a glass of wine with one-time head of the company Scott

The THU tribe grew from 150 last year to around 500 in 2014.

Alex Oliver takes a sculp­ture class and Christian Alz­mann chats with Jeremy Mann, and the wine flows be­fore another evening ‘fireside’ chat.

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