by Arnie Fenner

I’m still in something of a recovery mode from the third Spectrum Fantastic Art Live convention: still going over information and still sorting out the invoices to see what we need to write a check for. I’ll be back to my pithy self with my next post, so…look out.

In the meantime Spectrum’s Director and event co-sponsor John Fleskes wiled away his long drive back to California after the show being interviewed by Mark Schultz and Jim Reid. A sample? Sure.

Above: John Fleskes photographed by Greg Preston during SFAL3. The plan (yes, there is a plan) is for Greg to return in 2015 and shoot more artist portraits. And what are we going to do with all of these pictures? We’ve got a plan (a couple, actually) cooking there, too… 
Question: This is the third year of the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live show. Tell us about the growth this year.
Answer: The growth can be measured and discussed in a few ways.
First, the pre-sales for tickets were more than double what they were last year. That’s a big deal and worth celebrating. There was a noticeable increase of people on the floor compared to last year.
Second, three of us joined the Spectrum show committee; Carl Anderson, Jeff Smith and myself. We took on roles to help add new features, which I’ll get into in a second, and to help spread out the existing duties to allow for a better individual focus of responsibilities both before and during the show. There seems to be the misconception that I am in charge of the show. But really, the show is the result of a team of dedicated and hard-working people put together by Cathy and Arnie Fenner. It is the initiative and efforts of the Fenner’s, and also Shena Wolf who plays an integral role in its operations, that makes the show a success.
Third, there were a number of new features added to the show. I’ll run down the list.
A) We added an “Artist Tables” section, which gave our future stars an opportunity to exhibit at a show for a modest price. This was intended to attract more local, young, first time and / or artists that have a smaller show budget to the event as exhibitors. We could have continued to fill the whole show with booths, but I think by reserving a portion of the exhibit hall space for artist tables, it allows more opportunities to the artists, and gives us more of a diverse range of artists attending, which attracts more people to the show. I think it’s better for everyone.

Above: Lauren Panepinto and Marc Scheff conducted three extremely popular portfolio bootcamps during SFAL3 that covered a lot of down-and-dirty territory for artists. 

B) We improved our panels and workshops by adding more of an educational focus. We had artist panels by top industry professionals and art directors. For instance, Iain McCaig, Mark Schultz and Steve Rude all conducted artwork demonstrations. Justin Sweet and Vance Kovacs talked about working in film. Art Directors Irene Gallo, Lauren Pinepento, Marc Scheff and Jon Schindenhette did portfolio reviews. Comics professionals Terry Dodson, Frank Cho and Mark Chiarello offered advice on working within the industry. There was a live sculpting event happening all weekend on the show room floor. We covered quite a bit of core industry essentials that were geared toward professionals in the field, for those just breaking, for students, and even for fans who want to see how things are run. I also want there to be opportunities for young artists rub elbows with the established pros.

Then to get back to the main areas of growth, fourth, there were more artists at the show. Besides the five special show guests, plus the ten additional artists who joined us at our Flesk / Spectrum booth, if you add the artist exhibitors to the list, there were over 200 artists there to meet, learn from, get autographs and purchase original artwork from.
I’ll add too, that we continued to make sure we kept the daily ticket prices at only $20, or all three days for $40, since we want to make sure the show is easily accessible. If you took all of the workshops that were available to all of the attendees at no additional price, it’s an incredible bargain.
That’s just a taste: you can read the rest of John’s interview at his blog.
Cathy and I—and our entire committee—want to thank everyone who came to SFAL3 as exhibitors or attendees. And our special thanks to all the presenters, panelists, workshop organizers (Lauren, Marc, Iain, Irene: you’re the best), art directors, and program participants who worked selflessly to make the show so memorable for so many. Spectrum Live could only happen because of all of you. We are a community, we are a family, and we appreciate your allowing us to be a part of it.
There will be a new website in the near future and announcements as soon as we’re able to make them. We have a few new ideas and some changes up our sleeve: stay tuned. It’s going to be fun.