Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I went to Staple! 2013

I went to Staple! this weekend and was blown away - rooms that were all one big fat artist's alley.  My dreams of art everywhere come true for only $10.  My main reason for going to Staple! is because I am beginning to pull together my artwork to show and sell at conventions.

Rewind: I didn't tell you?  I'll announce my con appearances as the dates draw nearer.  2012 was the year of opening my etsy store, and now 2013 will be the year of Austin Conventions!  If all goes well, 2014 may be the year of state-wide conventioneering.  I'm excited to start meeting my cultured, smart, gorgeous role-playing customers.

Staple! was partially research, but mostly fun.  I made this blog for my personal art, but I just can't help sharing some of the ridiculously cool stuff I saw.  Out of over 200 exhibitors (full list and links here), I've pared it down to 8 faves.  I could have easily made this list soooo much longer, and every single artist I talked to was friendly and enthusiastic about their pieces.

Robert Wilson IV's posters were just beautiful.  Beyond just a really nice sense of style and clean lines, there's some sweet composition and a good hint of action without being too movie-postery.  The prints were a good quality, and he was not hurting for people checking out his booth, as he had a great setup with a bunch of posters hanging up behind the table to catch everyone's eyes.  This is the kind of guy who takes his work seriously, and it pays off.  I loved flipping through his portfolio and seeing each print - a lot of spectacular stuff in there.

Pat Davis makes these gross but endearing monsters.  I fell in love with this exact piece from his flip book, and I can't even tell you why.  This grotesque is so sad, it's like he realizes the wretchedness of his strange condition and accepts his fate.  Some of the other monsters in this series are happier.  Pat's booth was pretty simple, he just had a binder of his work and a poster or two propped up.  Along with the minimalist style of his pieces, his booth set-up was clean and easy to see everything.
This picture does not even begin to do justice to the finished piece.  No fault of the photographer - glitter just doesn't translate well in photos.  But I swear to you, the colors and glitter were so brilliant, I'd be afraid to take them out in the sun for fear of blinding someone.  This booth could have provided enough glitter paintings to use as a reflective surface to accurately land airplanes.  These are more glittery than Elton John's entire wardrobe.  I freaking loved these paintings.  CrystalDee, you're my hero.
There were a ton of comic artists at the con, and I've avoided adding purely comic artists to this list because that's not my forte.  But Zach Taylor warrants a special mention because the idea he has is so novel.  On the bottom of each page is a (fake) videogame screenshot from Bear Quest, and the panel above it shows the real action.  Bear Quest 2 is the next-gen game comic, and so on.  This looks like a good read, and the books are nicely printed on stocky matte paper with great bold colors.
Jessica Grundy is a successful etsy artist whose work I've seen online before.  Her style is very distinct, and she does many commissions and original pieces that are whimsical and interesting.  It turns out that she's only just begun touring conventions over the last year.  Not that you could tell without asking directly - her booth setup is impressive with its massive easel, racks of pre-packed prints, and clear signage.  Jessica was very approachable, chatty, and patient with me as I pawed through her entire selection before settling on a postcard of this guy on the left for my friend who couldn't make it out to Staple! that day due to sickness.  Out of everyone I talked to, I think I learned the most from her about choosing conventions and booth needs from picking her brain while I browsed.
I like Jamie Kinosian's characterizations - these two are instantly recognizable as their characters from Sherlock.  It can be hard to make specific people translate well, especially in a medium like watercolor.  A lot of her pieces are really fun to look at with all the smiles, nudges, and tumbling going on.  Looking through her table of goods was just plain enjoyable - recognizing characters from shows I like, seeing lots of smiles, and of course Jamie herself was very nice and chatty too.

You may already have seen GhostHause's work online before - he created the supervillian high school yearbook pictures (if you haven't, clicky clicky the link and browse, you will not regret it!).  I love how far he pushes the proportions of the character's faces, the devious glints in all of the villains' eyes, and the overall silliness.  He sold prints and brown paper art.  Another nice booth setup even though he's only done a few cons before.

He was also promoting SketchBomb, a monthly sketch meet-up in Austin.  I'll try to go this month to see what it's all about.
David Olive hid behind his paintings.  He had a wall of these amazing, emotional acrylic/oil portraits and sat behind it.  Once I introduced myself, he poked his head out and was super-friendly and talkative about his pieces.  I didn't really ask him much about his con experience (doh!), but more about the paintings and general chatting.  From what I saw, not too many people were scoping out his work, and that's a shame.  What you can't tell from his online gallery is that many of these pieces have a third dimension; he piled the paint so high that noses, eyebrows, or lips would be messily jutting out about a half-inch from the canvas.  Painting is near and dear to my heart, so I'm already biased to loving his work, but these were just fantastic - raw, emotional, and interesting portraiture.

So there you have it, my favorites from Staple!  Check the exhibitor list for even more amazing works.  I was very impressed by everyone's positive energy and look forward to submitting an application to be an exhibitor next year!