Emerald City Comic Con 2023

My first convention!

Francis and I, my faux prop skull, are relaxing after a long day at the con.

This event was such an experience - I have done some very small localized events and gallery shows, but nothing close to this size. This year, ECCC had around 85,000 attendees. In fact, before opening the doors for our Saturday con-goers, the event staff came on the intercom to let us know it was the biggest day in ECCC history.

That was slightly terrifying, and it WAS pure chaos right out of the gate, but the best kind of chaos. I attend this convention yearly, which already helped me to feel at home, but besides that, the energy was so positive. It's a great convention, with great people. I love to see everyone there come together and just be excited about mutual interests.
It is four VERY long days for anyone attending, let alone vending - but vending was one of the best experiences of my artistic career, even if it was also the most tiring. I was very, very nervous beforehand, since I am an introverted homebody with chronic pain. It was daunting knowing I needed to be so social and active. I was exhausted, but the convention gods smiled upon me, and I managed to have zero migraines until the day after!
I met many new, incredibly talented art friends who were warm, welcoming, and encouraging. Visiting many of my internet art friends was a blast during the rare times I could get out of my booth. It was surreal to meet artists I have admired for many years exhibiting in the same room. I had no idea what to expect from this, but I learned a lot along the way. It should be slow going since I am new to the convention circuit. 

However, I was wrong! I could barely get a second to duck under the table and scarf a slice of pizza (but I did scarf many slices, thanks to my trusty assistant, Mr. Thorne). I was a bit shocked to have people lining up for my booth and even more shocked to hear anyone say they came to see me on purpose! Haha. I ended up making a sign that said they were photos. Discussing my process in real-time with viewers was a valuable and eye-opening experience.

Folks thought my work was paintings or photo collages made digitally by layering things in Photoshop. It never is—I am truly awful at compositing and have no wish to improve. I tried it for a recent piece, and it felt odd. So there's that. I love the work of many collage artists and adept Photoshop users, but I like to stay off the computer as much as I can.

The most surprising thing about the convention is that almost no one could tell how I make my work right off the bat! 
It was so surprising to me to hear those perspectives. It's often hard to explain what "kind" of art I do since I do it all. It just ends up in a photograph. “Photographer” doesn't feel like the correct label for me. There is nothing wrong with that title; I have identified with it lovingly as a portrait photographer for many years. It just feels like an understatement for what I have been doing when the photograph is only a few hours out of what is often hundreds that go into the set creation.

I plan and construct every set by hand in my studio, making all the support structures and often restoring/altering existing props or fully creating them from scratch. I create sketches for every piece in pencil and/or pen and ink (I am not using Procreate for that right now, though I have before). This lays the foundation and lets me plan the sets and props. 

Everything is planned to the nth degree, over weeks to years. I sculpt, paint, draw, weld, woodwork, calligraphy, and more. You name it…. I have probably at least tried it. I might not be an expert at some things (watercolor is the bane of my existence), but I do try! Natural materials like fruits and flowers are painted, oiled, and wired/pinned together. I place single petals with tweezers and anchor them with wax. Dewdrops come from eyedroppers. People often call it a “painstaking” or over-the-top level of detail, but I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

You can view some examples of my process on my Instagram reels—and I will have a more detailed process blog post up soon about the props above!
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