Illuxcon was an interesting mix of new and old for me. It was fun reconnecting with old acquaintances from my brief illustration career and meeting new people who I have only interacted with online before the convention. It was exhilarating to see quality imaginative art but frustrating to see prices for quality finished work set so low compared to the gallery world.
Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire and the other people behind Illuxcon are bringing imaginative art to a broader audience with this convention. They are doing this by spotlighting the best traditional artists and sculptors for collectors and fans in a small intimate setting. Hopefully it will raise standards and prices along with that appeal. I think the time for this may be just right if it happens fast enough. It has been tried many times before but has never caught on completely. I participated in shows at the Delaware Museum in the early 90’s with other artists in the field but the shows while well attended did not produce a large enough collector base needed to sustain itself.
What is different this time around is the way entertainment and media have seeped into every part of our lives. It is literally at our fingertips 24/ 7 now, with tablet computers and smart phones. Much of the content driving the media explosion has its roots in Science Fiction and Fantasy. What was once a marginalized genre by most of society is now the mainstream and of course art plays a large role in the creation of those products.
The industries that drive this kind of art creation are almost completely digital at this point. Prints will never garner the prices of originals. The missing component here is the representation of this kind of art in traditional galleries and show venues alongside more normal subject matter. There are a few of the more successful artists of the genre doing this already but it is a very small number and most haven’t given up illustration to become full time gallery artists. I can only assume because sales haven’t filled the gaps between the two disciplines and while collectors are there, they are too few in number to sustain artists completely like other genres of gallery work can.
To create a sustainable market for original works the genre must move itself away from illustration and production art to stand on its own, freed from being a tool of product enhancement. Patrick Wilshire has again taken the lead on this by helping to establish an imaginative category with the Art Renewal Competition one of the premier representational shows in the country at this time. This should encourage more imaginative works to be created without any ties to merchandise.
In the sixties traditional illustrators from the pulps and paperbacks of the forties and fifties created a market for western and representational art that thrives to this day. Some of the highest paid prices for representational genre art are being paid at the venues that host this work. Look at the Masters of the American West Show, American Masters at the Salmagundi Club or the Prix de West in Oklahoma. Imaginative art can do the same if it can rise above some of its exploitative and juvenile subject matter and hold onto its traditional creation long enough for galleries and venues to establish their viability. Illuxcon is a great start.
All paintings in this article are by Armand Cabrera.
I will be attending Illuxcon 6 starting this Wednesday, the 11th of September. Illuxcon which is being hosted by the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown PA. is the premier event for imaginative traditional painting and sculpture and I am very pleased to be a part of the show.
Patrick and Jeanie Wilshire have built a show that respects traditional narrative painting. Illuxcon displays quality work created by artists who choose to work in commercial fields and sets high standards for excellence.
You can find samples from the participating artists on the Illuxcon website
as well as information on show times and programming tracks for the week.
Last week I was at Illuxcon 6. I had agreed ahead of time to do an alla prima painting demonstration using traditional oil paints. I finished a 24 x 30 painting from a traditional 8 x 10 sketch and a digital study. I don’t have process shots but here is the finished image. The painting was touched up a little once I brought it home to the studio but it was effectively completed in a little over three hours.
The turn out was pretty good considering all of the other programming going on at the same time. It looked like audience peaked at about 25 people with people coming and going the whole time.
I’ve decided to take the plunge and reenter the world of science fiction and fantasy conventions this year. I will be attending a local convention to show my art and participate as a guest. The convention is RavenCon
in Williamsburg VA and the dates are April 29-May 1 2016.
It’s been over twenty years since I was actively involved with science fiction and fantasy conventions. At one time I was attending ten or more of these events a year, showing in the art shows and participating as a guest or sometimes an artist guest of honor while working a full time job and working part time as an Illustrator.
Those early years my work was different in that I didn’t work outside from life as much as I do now. Part of my enjoyment creating this kind of work now is that I can marry the two disciplines together in much the same way the 19th century genre and narrative painters did.
My recent successes with Illuxcon over the past few years and my sales at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington D.C. in 2014 have helped my decision to branch out to other local imaginative venues. I’m really looking forward to being able to introduce my imaginative work to a contemporary audience.
Once again the Illuxcon show will be back in Reading PA, October 18- 22 2017 for a week of the best in the contemporary traditional imaginative art field. Illuxcon is now the largest showing of contemporary imaginative realism in the world.
I am honored to have been juried into the main show once again with this fine group of talented artists. This will be my 5th year showing in this venue.