My ConQuesT 47 Schedule

Conquestlogo_47Another ConQuesT weekend has arrived. I have art in the art show, and here’s my programming schedule:

Story in a Bag SAT 10 AM & Story in a Bag SAT 12 PM

Women of Star Trek SAT 3 PM
From Lieutenant Uhura to Captain Janeway women have been an important part of the Star Trek franchise. This panel will discuss the role of women in the Star Trek franchise and how it has evolved and changed over the years.

Play it Again, Sam: Rewatching, Rereading, and Replaying the Greats SAT 5 PM
Some stories are like a drive-through dinner: cheap, easy, and ultimately disposable. But more often than not, our all-time favorites reward – or even require – revisiting multiple times in order to get the most out of them. What is it about a great story that urges us to keep returning to it – and what’s the secret to crafting a story that your audience will keep coming back to?

Writer with a Day Job (M) SUN 11 AM
How to balance your “real” job and your dream job. Is everything possible, or does something have to give?

I’ve also been managing the ConQuesT website and social media, as well as managing the Story In A Bag and Writer’s Critique events. It has been a busy couple of months preparing for this three-day event. See you there?

My Archon Schedule

Art for Archon 2016

Art for Archon 2016

The fine folks at Archon 39 have posted the programming schedule for this weekend and it looks like it’s going to be a great weekend! You’ll find my art in the show and me in person on the following panels:

Friday

7:30 PM — Art Reception, Great Rivers Ballroom B

9 PM — Yard Dog Press Presents Readings and Interpretive Dance, Marquette B

Saturday

1 PM — Draw with the Pros, Marquette B

5 PM — The Ad-Lib Game (M), Marquette B

7 PM — The First Editor: Yourself, Marquette B

Sunday

10 AM — My Favorite Art Medium (M), Mississippian

Noon — Marketing for the Self-Published Author, Mississippian

Don’t forget to stop by the art show and ogle the art (and buy some, perhaps?). Also, stop by the Yard Dog Press booth in the Dealers Room and buy books. Lots and lots of fun-to-read books. See you there!

WIP: Life’s Too Short; Use The Good Stuff.

Have you ever thought about what the phrase “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” really means? It’s another way of saying that you can’t make a high-quality product from poor-quality materials.

Don’t waste your time and money using cheaply made, sub-standard materials; it will only cause you frustration and end with work you simply aren’t satisfied with.

If you want to produce quality product, use quality materials. (If you are patient enough to wait for a sale and/or use the right coupons, you CAN get good materials at an affordable price.)

Take a look at these canvas-covered panels, to which I’ve applied a thin wash of fluid acrylic.

  • The panel on the top is from a store-brand “value pack” made in China and purchased at a big-name craft store.
  • The panel on the bottom is a Utrecht Studio 100% Primed Cotton Canvas Board made with 7oz primed cotton canvas mounted on heavyweight multi-ply board.

See the difference? The value panel resists the paint and creates a weak, splotchy mess, while the quality panel accepts the paint evenly.

Quality does matter. Life’s too short to spend your creative time re-working a splotchy mess. Use the good stuff.

Good stuff on the left, not -so-good stuff on the right.

Good stuff on the left, not-so-good stuff on the right.

My SoonerCon Schedule

Here’s my schedule for SoonerCon, June 27-28 in Oklahoma City:

Friday, June 27

3 pm —Tut, Tut Mummy!
Why this strange fascination with the dried-up husks of dead people? You don’t see movie franchises about Mayans or the Inuit. Why have other myth systems been left behind in the (mummy) dust?

5 pm — A Game of Thrones: A Fan’s Addiction (moderator)
Is the series a dark fantasy or rather, a soap opera with swords and incest? Which character do you hate the most? Who should die next (because probably, they will). Panelists discuss everything Game of Thrones from the books to the television series. *Spoilers may be unavoidable

8 pm — Art Reception

Saturday, June 28

11 am — Dragons: Myths Across the Miles
There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons; the European dragon and the East Asian dragon. How did the legend of the dragon make its way across the continents in the ages of minimal communication and cross-continental travel? What cultural truths can be explained by the similarity of the various dragon myths and forms?

3 pm — Dr. Who: The Anti-Antihero
The Doctor is the best person, er, Timelord ever. Sure, he makes some mistakes but things seem to work out as they were meant to in the end. Is the Doctor’s ultra-goodness his best appeal? What gives him such cross-generational staying power?

4 pm — Yard Dog Press Roadshow

Sunday, June 29

10 am — Koffee Klatch
Meet guests of the convention and enjoy coffee and casual conversation.

12 pm — The Inspired Artist
Artists discuss their real-world inspirations used to create works of SF/F art.

3 pm — Why So Grimm? (moderator)
A gruesome look at the original Grimm’s fairy tales. The dark ’n’ gritty older versions of the folktales that Disney sanitized. Were kids really lulled to sleep hearing about how Cinderella’s stepsisters hacked off their toes to fit the Prince’s slipper?

I’ve been here before…

It’s no secret that I have an addiction to pens (and pencils and paint). When I see pens on clearance, I’ll test one out to see if it’s one I’d like to add to my collection. Sometimes, the only testing surface available is the shelf tag itself. One day as I uncapped a pen to test, I reached for the shelf tag and realized, to my surprise, that I had Been Here Before.

I've been here before

There’s Art at a Science Fiction Convention?

Science fiction convention art shows can be a little confusing if you’ve never experienced one. It’s not an art fair, where artists set up a booth for the weekend. It’s not a gallery, where art is hung on big white walls with little title cards. It’s more like a cross between a silent auction and a pop-up store in the mall during the holidays.

I’ve participated in the ConQuesT art show annually for the past 14 years. I’ve even been co-director of the show a couple of times. Here’s how it works:

The art show staff and volunteers set up wire grid to use as display walls in a hotel ballroom on Thursday night, then hang art that was mailed in by non-attending artists. Attending artists hang their own art when they arrive on Thursday night or Friday morning.

Steampunk Dragon

Steampunk Dragon

We use S-hooks and plastic hang tabs (or binder clips!) to hang the art on the display grids. 3-D art is displayed on tables. Each piece has a bid sheet with the artist’s name, the title, the media used, its designation as an original or numbered print, both a minimum bid and a direct sale price, and a place to write a bid. Artists pay for their display space, and the art show takes a commission on art sold.

There is usually an area designated as the “print shop”, where you can buy whatever fixed-price limited edition prints the artists have placed there.

Professor Skeptical

Professor Skeptical

The art show opens midday on Friday to registered attendees of the convention and to random members of the public who stumble onto it while in the hotel. Silent bids are accepted until late Saturday afternoon, and the most popular pieces (based on number of bids) go to voice auction on Saturday night. If you place a minimum bid on a piece and you’re the only bidder, you pay for it on Sunday morning and take it home. If you love the piece so much you don’t want to risk losing it to another bidder, you pay the direct sale price right then and there and you take it home.

On Sunday, after all the sold art has been picked up and paid for, the artists pack up their unsold pieces and verify with the art show director which ones have sold. Artists receive a check by mail a few weeks later. When it’s done, the staff and volunteers disassemble the display grids and return them to storage until next year.

Miss Mary's Hat

Miss Mary’s Hat

ConQuesT was good to me this year. My favorite skeptical bunny, a steampunk dragon I had shown for several years, and several of my small mixed media pieces found new homes. I also received a special gift: A hat that belonged to Miss Mary, one of my biggest fans, who passed away a few months ago. Miss Mary was a sweetheart in every sense of the word, and she is dearly missed.

Next up is SoonerCon in Oklahoma City at the end of June.

Art Demo at ConQuesT

Art Demo at ConQuesT

My ConQuesT Schedule


Here’s my schedule for ConQuesT, which will be held Memorial Day Weekend (May 23-25, 2014) at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.

Friday May 23

4 pm The Business of Art
There is more than one way to make a living pursuing a career of art. This panel will explore ways to use social media, conventions, festivals, and networks to sell your artwork. We will also discuss the pitfalls of beginning artists. [They call us “starving artists” for a reason…]

Saturday May 24

10 am British SF Television
Why are their programs so good? From Doctor Who to Red Dwarf to Primeval, SF programs on British TV have been good.  Why is that? [Seriously? Primeval? That is soooo several seasons ago. Let’s talk about Orphan Black!]

1 pm Story In A Bag (M)
Everyone in the room will write a story in a hour! Pull a slip of paper out of each bag (plot elements, settings, characters, first lines, objects) that MUST all be used in the story. You will have one hour to compose and edit your story. Stories will be posted (anonymously) in the Con Suite and members of the convention will vote on which ones they like most, with winners announced at closing ceremonies! There’s also special bags with story elements for our Young Fan division.  So, amateur or pro, young or not so young, come on up and write something! [We’re only doing one session this year instead of two. ]

3 pm Why Sci-Fi and Fantasy Art?
Panelists will discuss why they are attracted to fantasy and science fiction art and the philosophy behind their art.  How this type of art is viewed by the art world in general and ways to present sci-fi and fantasy art beyond fandom and why this might or might not be important.

4 pm Books, Books Everywhere
For those fans who are having trouble finding their bed, fridge, pet, etc. because they are running out of space to store their books, this panel explores how others have solved the dilemma of storage and organization of large book collections. [Solved? Who are they kidding. There’s never enough room for books! Or art supplies!]

Sunday May 25

10 am How Many Doctors?
“The Day of the Doctor” raised an interesting question: With the addition of John Hurt’s War Doctor, does the number of Doctors change? Does the Doctor get any more regenerations?” [I suspect this will be hotly debated.]

My New Business Cards

Last week, I decided it was long past time to get professionally printed business cards. You know what they say: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. I’ve printed my own cards for years, but I’ve never been happy with the quality of inkjet on perforated Avery 10-per-sheet card blanks.

Instead of a traditional size business card, I ordered Moo mini-cards. They’re about half the size of a standard business card — about the size of a stick of gum — with a full-color image on one side and my contact info on the other. I chose four related images to use on the full color side. On the other, I’ve included my name, my tag line (Author, Artist, TV Addict, Geek Princess, Cat Servant… not necessarily in that order), my email address, and my web address (AllisonStein.com).

I received my order on Saturday, and they are dangerously adorable! After years of printing my own cards, I’m excited to have something that looks this nice.

I’ll package one with each piece of art I display at ConQuesT, SoonerCon, and Archon this year. I’ll also keep some handy to use when networking at other events, like Spectrum Fantastic Art Live this coming weekend, and the Campbell Conference in June.

My Moo Cards

WIP: My Notebooks

I keep two notebooks consistently: my sketchbook and my daily notebook.

My sketchbook captures ephemeral content from my right brain: sketches, doodles, scribbles, random creative inspiration, and color combinations. This is the notebook I also take to meetings and workshops, where I can let my right brain run loose while the left brain pays attention.

My daily notebook stays with me all day to capture the mundane contents of my left brain before they leak out: lists of things to do and things I did, telephone messages, observations, dates, and deadlines. Sometimes I paste in receipts or ticket stubs or the label from something tasty that I’d like to try again.

I prefer a wirebound Canson Universal Sketch in 9″x12″ for the sketchbook and 6″x9″ for the daily notebook. On the outside, I personalize the covers with decorative paper, washi tape, rubber stamps, and stickers. On the inside, I make marks with whatever happens to be handy: pens, pencils, markers, spray ink, etc.

For a brief moment when my notebooks are new, they are crisp and clean and symmetrical. Soon enough, however, they become rumpled and bumpled with water wrinkles, their edges darkened by spilled coffee and ink over-spray, and their bellies fat with pasted-in ephemera and tabs made from washi tape — all of the things that make them MINE.

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks

 

My notebooks

My notebooks