November 24, 2014

ConQuesT 46 Preview #2

By David Sooby
What Makes the ConQuesT Art Show So Great?
Let's admit it: ConQuesT attendees are totally and completely spoiled in having such a wonderful Art Show every year. Active fans who attend many conventions have been heard to remark that even some recent WorldCons have had art shows not much bigger than ours. We are also spoiled in having such a wide variety of art: Not just paintings and prints, but three dimensional art such as sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and science fiction and fantasy knives and swords.
This is only one small part of last year's ConQuesT Art Show.
So how does a medium-sized, local/regional convention like ConQuesT create such a wonderful Art Show year after year? We interviewed Mike Neely, the current Art Show department head, to find out.

As with all the high profile attractions at ConQuesT, the Art Show is very much a team effort. Mike was a staff member under the former Art Show department head, Jan Gephardt, for three years, before taking the mantle of department head last year. Mike is continuing the tradition of excellence established by Jan and her predecessors. Mike is ably assisted by a team which includes his wife, Kat Gibb.

This is a wider view of last year's show.

ConQuest has a juried Art Show. An artist who has never displayed at ConQuesT must submit a sample of his art. Mike and his select jury of artists look over the submissions, and decide whether the art is – or is not – of sufficient quality to be shown at ConQuesT. Submissions can be made either by e-mailing Mike digital pictures of the art, or else by pointing to the artist's website.

Of course, being selective about what art to display wouldn't work if there were not a plethora of submissions to choose from! Last year the Art Show displayed 20 different artists' work, including two which were new to ConQuesT. Mike and his team are hardworking advocates for the artists, and last year every artist but one made sales.

One advantage for artists at ConQuesT is that the convention does not take a percentage of sales. There are fees for displaying art; $10 for a 2' x 6' panel, and $5 for half a table. “Print Shop” spaces at reduced rates are also available for bins of prints.

Peri Charlifu ("Dr. Who Udon Bowl" shown)
will show art in 2015.
Last year, Mike brought the Art Show record-keeping and payment system into the 21st Century. (Hooray!) All records are now electronic, and receipts are printed via computer, whereas previously they had been hand-written. Credit card payments can be made via PayPal “triangle.” 

This is a vast improvement over the previous method, which was to send buyers to Registration to make the credit card payment and then bring a receipt back to the Art Show. Another big advantage of all-electronic records is that it greatly speeds up Mike's ability to get payments out to the artists, and unsold art mailed back. All that was accomplished within about two to three weeks after the previous ConQuesT. We're sure our artists were both surprised and pleased to receive such prompt service.

David Lee Pancake was last year's Artist Guest of Honor. He's already promised his work will return in 2015.
It's a bit early for Mike to know just what artists will be displaying at ConQuesT 2015, but he already has commitments from David Lee Pancake and Peri Charlifu. You can see photos of some of their work on this page. We look forward to seeing what will be displayed by both new (to ConQuesT) artists and returning favorites at the Art Show next year!

IMAGE CREDITS: The photo of part of the 2014 ConQuesT Art Show at the top of the Page is from the ConQuesT Art Show page on the ConQuesT website. The 2014 wider room-view is by Keith Stokes, from the Midamerican Fan Photo Archive, Art Show and Dealers' Room page 1. The "Dr Who Udon Bowl" by Peri Charlifu is from Charlifu's Aegean Goods Facebook Page. The image of David Lee Pancake's display from 2014 is by Keith Stokes, from the Midamerican Fan Photo Archive, Art Show and Dealers' Room page 2.

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