Bob's ART du Jour

Hi, I'm Bob Eggleton and this is my painting and "life in general blog" but mostly paintings. Usually they're for sale. Anyway, if you like something contact me at and ENJOY!!

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Location: New England, United States

I am a Hugo award-winning fantasy/SF artist who works on both publishing projects and film concept work(such as Jimmy Neutron and most recently, The Ant Bully) but I have a passion for landscape work, small paintings and exploring the properties of paint. This blog will mostly showcase my "painting-for-the-day" as kind of a personal voyage. I'll also be inserting sketches,photos and ideas of projects I am working on, that I can, when I can, so look for those every so often(usually as paint is drying!)

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Worldcon thoughts...redux....

I got to reading some shares and responses to this post. It gave me some ideas on how at least the the Worldcon Artshows can be adjusted. And it will take work on both sides to fix it, a new model entirely for said shows....I can't say much about fixing other aspects but I can comment on my experiences.

First, in the 1970s, many artists brought their work with them, even on the plane as I was told that Kelly Freas, Rick Sternbach and others did, as carry on. It's doable but the size is always an issue esp now with smaller planes and size limits on carry on.

One idea... limit the size of the work. IF I was to attend a future Worldcon, that I had to fly to, my solution would be to bring small work, 8x10, 9x12, that sort of thing. Many of the best pieces of classic SF art are actually small works. Lessen the panel space, to say 4x4 foot and a limit of two. You won't get the artist's epics but so what, you'll get art....and to their credit a few artists actually do this size limit(John Picacio is one I can think of). It is not practical to think of it as some "gallery" show. Lighting is often terrible, hangings bad as well. So don't try. Think of it as a way artists can offer budget works, smaller sketches and so forth for anyone. And let auctions do the rest.

The problem as I see it, started in the 80s when certain artists started bringing large, vast paintings that required shipping and LOTS of panel space. In Japan in 2007 I brought onboard the aircraft(and granted it was a 777 )a bag that contained about 10 framed, small paintings. 8x10, 9x12. I had my work hung in about 30 mins, it was that easy. They all went up in the small but VERY high quality artshow that Elayne Pelz and friends from LA managed SKILLFULLY to run as almost an independent entity from the con itself. That was a smart move because the convention was a financial disaster, but benefited somewhat from a 10% commission on sales and, a "charity" auction of works created on site by Michael Whelan, Noriyuki Kato and myself which total generated $27,000 to the convention. I recall being paid in record time, and when it all added up, I made quite a profit considering I'd been gifted by a friend two memberships(he was not going and simply gave them to me), a free flight and a greatly discounted hotel room. I had a lot of luck on that!! (One of my 8x10s wound up selling for over $1200 in the auction to a woman who loved Godzilla and saw the original as a child in her father's arms in a theater.)

I said to myself then, "Why can't it be THAT easy all the time?"

The thing is too, each year the Worldcon is held in a different place. As former Worldcon chair Tom Veal told me once "It's a million dollar corporation run by amateurs and fans, we're dead lucky anything goes remotely right!!!". Meaning, to me, my art is my living, and the Worldcon is an avocation.Nothing wrong with that avocation but, keep in mind the dichotomy going on. As it is run in a different place it winds up being a different bunch of people with their own ideas of how an art show should be, sometimes rejecting successful models of previous Worldcon art shows simply out of, egos:"I know THEY ran it THAT way...we run it OUR way!". I have seen and been told that on occasion. 

In 2008 at Denvention I had, combined with private sales, one of my most successful Worldcons in recent memory. And BTW this was as the economy was nose-diving. I still managed to make close to $10,000 in sales there and privately. Fed Ex shipping ate into that but, happily there was not much to ship back.

 I skipped 2009 due to a death in the family. Then there was Aussiecon in 2010 it was a non-show basically. Something I will add to that: When it became evident that the lady running the Aussiecon show was going to be bedbound  by a pregnancy complication, at that time, my own wife, an Australian herself, got an email asking her if she would run a "American styled" artshow there. We HAVE the emails to show for this exchange. She responded saying she would think about it IF the con comped us a room, gave us back our memberships and IF they picked up a cost of one flight. No go. So, no show. We're business people.Not martyrs.

Something else happened: there was supposed to be some money that was donated for some kind of reception, get-together, etc. It wound up being enough for several cans of coke and some potato chips. The "money" was allocated "elsewhere". Further underlining how little the committee cared about an art show.

Some side thoughts here:

There was something else that happened there at Aussiecon that was for me, personally insulting and demeaning, a "situation" wherein I was asked to "play along" with some people politics going and, I refused to. Basically high school BS. It left me with such a bad taste in my mouth, it was hard to think about the Reno Worldcon.

I knew my Hugo days were behind me thanks to a nasty campaign directed at me some years earlier about winning too many Hugos. But it was also nice to see OTHERS winning, so there was a good feeling in that. If you think the whole "controlling the Hugos" started with this most recent dust-up, THINK AGAIN, it's been going on quietly by professional parties with agendas, for some time. I finally, at last fell off my attrition in 2013, after 24 years straight of nominations, 30 total(in various categories) and 9 wins. Not bad. I did well. Let others do well now. I had fun when it counted and I moved on.

In 2011 I had decided to basically retire. It was getting too much. Once again the specter of shipping my art a great distance became daunting. Elayne Pelz ran an excellent show(she always does). I made money, in fact a private sale was downpaid there and that made it very profitable. Elayne however was hampered by the fact that the con had poor security for said show. And there was an attempt at a theft of a piece from the Ken Moore collection on display, that was intervened by the person overseeing this display. There was an attempt at doing an "art night" and it was done well but few came because it was in the convention center and everyone else had vacated it to party elsewhere.

There was also some blowback of the incident that happened before in Australia, and we found that this clique stuff, effectively people acting like they were in high school was wearing thin. They weren't artists BTW but they were a coterie of pros and fans.  I'd had enough.

2012 was in Chicago and I had some reticent feelings about it thanks to Chicon 2000. But, chair Dave McCarty kindly offered my wife and I free memberships, and a free hotel stay IF we wanted it. It was a kind effort. The reality was that time was vastly becoming a harder and harder item for me to justify so I declined, but always remember that kind offer which makes me think well of the fans overall.

Illuxcon had risen in 2008 and, it started being for many pro artists the model for such a quality artshow. Security, professional hangings, a sense of overall quality to the show and one where artists, art fans and art collectors could come and be treated all well. No politics or stupidity or getting caught in some "fan" feud or political battle. Everyone gets on. Everyone does fairly well. Spectrum Live also fills a similar need.

So maybe there is hope, but it requires a new and consistent sustainable model for such shows.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was Elayne's "boss" at the 2007 Worldcon and it was in no way divorced from the rest of the convention. While I left many of the the details to Elayne as one should when managing a large area, there was also a Japanese art show director who brought in a lot of wonderful Japanese art. Some of the things you laud, such as the live art demonstration, were most definitely not solely arranged and run by Elayne. It was definitely a group effort, although the people that you personally may have dealt with may have been Elayne's crew. The income from that Live Art piece, although significant, was not $27,000. That was the total income to the con (it varies in US$ depending on the exchange rate one uses but that was approximately the total) from the art show, but that was not a net profit - the hire of the panels and the hire of the hall itself were substantial (more than they would be at a US Worldcon where the panels are often part of ongoing convention property and while not free are not charged for at commercial prices). I can't recall the exact number for the live art pieces sale and while it was a significant part of the income it wasn't 95%.
I can appreciate your statement about being a business-person, not a charity. On the other hand, those running Worldcon are not being paid for their time and in most cases do not get their rooms at the convention paid for, nor their flights paid for. Almost all of the funding for Worldcons comes from attendees' membership fees (sponsorship rarely amounts to more than 10% of a Worldcon's income and even that is easily misunderstood since a bunch of the sponsorship "income" directly pays for things that would not happen were they not sponsored). Decisions on whether to pay for someone's hotel rooms or flights must be balanced against the fact that the con's budget is basically money held in trust for the fans attending, and should be used that way.
I'm sympathetic to your situation and of course you must make the decision whether or not it makes sense to attend Worldcon or not, and your decisions are entirely based on your own balance of cost/benefit. It's clear to me that you attend(ed) conventions as a primarily business proposition. If that fails to give you sufficient benefit for your business then of course you should stop going. The same is true of everyone else. But the parts of your postings where you seem to be laying "blame" on conrunners for your decision is I think very unfair. While it can be very hard to separate precisely the cost of the art show from the overall cost of a con (exhibit space may be available only in certain chunks at a particular site, for example) in my experience despite the income from commission on the art show sales, some sponsorship from groups such as ASFA for the Chesley Awards, and odd events like the Live Art sales at Nippon 2007, Art Shows are an expensive part of the convention to put on in terms of both money and people. In return they generally help the atmosphere of a con and bring complexity and depth to the event, but just as with you considering the cost/benefit personally of attending a particular convention, Worldcon or otherwise, so too must conventions consider the cost/benefit of including an art show in their convention. Part of that is the willingness of people with suitable knowledge of the art being willing to work on putting the Art Show together. It also requires sufficient artists to be willing to come and display. In the absence of either one of these, art shows are impossible, as they are in the absence of a financially viable plan (which doesn't necessarily mean that the Art Show income must cover its costs, but that the benefit to the members is worth any net cost of the Art Show).

12:38 AM  
Blogger Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

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6:29 PM  

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