I grew up in bookstores, particularly ones of the used variety and I naturally gravitated towards the science-fiction and fantasy section. In the 80s, cover artists such as Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, and Michael Whelan caught my imagination. As I daydreamed about their fantastic worlds, I would also wonder how did they get the get their jobs? How did they get from painting to cover? Could you really make a living at this? One could research into mainstream or medical illustration in the library. There was also postal mail queries, and good old-fashioned legwork. But overall it was difficult, as it was to find others who either did or wereinterested in the genre. In the 90s digital technology emerged, and it changed not only artwork creation, but distribution and production. And further on down the road, the Internet created social constructs.
Enter Massive Black. Massive Black is an outsourcing company, providing the services of digital artists for illustration, concept art, 3-d work, animation, storyboards, and miscellaneous creative needs for companies such as Blizzard, EA, Hasbro, Lucasarts, MTV, Nintendo, Sony and Tippett Studios. They created Conceptart.org, a community outside isolated studio bubbles for both up-and-coming and professional artists. On Conceptart, artists are welcomed and encouraged to upload their work in varying states of progress for critique by their peers. There is also a place on the forums for sketchbook threads, artist challenges, and software and industry tips. But they went a step further…with other sponsors they started creating workshops both overseas and in the U.S. where Conceptart members could gather and learn from industry professionals and each other.
This year’s conference was entitled Reverie, and held in downtown Dallas in the Fashion Industry Gallery. The kickoff party and meet and greet on Saturday evening set the tone that this wasn’t your usual conference. Professional artists manned digital projection stations throughout the room, where one could watch them create a piece from start to finish. Live nude and costumed models were available in a section of the room for impromptu sketches. A DJ was on hand for the more traditional party-goers in the room and the floor open for dancing.
The workshops are only a smattering of what was available. Please check out the convention website for further details on their curriculum. I strongly urge anyone in the art community to get involved with the Concept Art forums, as they have much to offer. You do not have to be a fantasy or science fiction illustrator to be a participant as it is mainly a group of people who want to improve on their technical draftmanship and art skills. Photographers and fine artists are also welcome on the boards and have their own forums. Today, you no longer have to daydream about getting to the field. It is now right at the tip of your keyboard.