-By Lauren Panepinto

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard reference to the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live convention every year in Kansas City. It’s one of my favorite cons of the year, and I really applaud Arnie & Cathy Fenner for making it such a great experience. Every year they put a great deal of thought into growing the con and making it more rewarding for the attending artists, and I’m excited to talk about the part of the show I’ve been helping to develop.

Last year, Marc Scheff & I debuted our Drawn + Drafted Bootcamps on Social Media and Self-Promo, on Portfolios & Websites, and on Contracts and Money. We were thrilled that they were so popular, and we were asked to expand the program into more bootcamps and workshops this year. Well, in typical Lauren & Marc fashion, we got very excited and—egged on by the fabulous Shena Wolf—ended up developing an entire track of educational programming and revamping the Portfolio Review Process. What can I say, we’re glutton for punishment.

Portfolio Reviews: For many students and artists young in their career, portfolio reviews are a critical part of moving their career forward. Spectrum has always been fabulous at reaching out to industry professionals, and this year is no different: there will be 17 official portfolio reviewers seeing portfolios on saturday and sunday. Then there are countless more pros wandering around the con and very happy to give new artists advice. We’re also upgrading the portfolio review experience for both reviewers and reviewees. Signups will go live on APRIL 22nd!

Official Reviews: This year we’re piloting a system more customized than first-come first-served. We’re going to be doing Portfolio Requests rather than Signups. You will register for your top 3 signups, just like every year, but you will be asked to provide more information at the time of signup. Our Art Director advisors (aka me and Marc) will be going through all the signups and making sure the artists and art directors match as productively as possible. After signups your portfolio review schedule will be confirmed. There may be changes to your Art Director picks, but we will only make changes where we feel you would be more suited to review with another Art Director. Our goal is to match your career goals and your current skill level with the best reviewer tailored to you.

Art Director’s Lounge: There will be an easily-accessible special area set up on the convention floor that will be set aside for Art Directors and Artists giving casual portfolio reviews. This will allow artists to more easily approach and review with people they may not be able to get official slots for.

Educational Programming: On both the main stage, and in the portfolio review room, we’ve packed in a great schedule of workshops, bootcamps, and talks. The full schedule with times will go live on the Spectrum website soon, but here’s some highlights:

Art Directors as Gatekeepers
—Irene Gallo [M], Lauren Panepinto, Jon Schindehette, Zoë Robinson, Andy Christensen,
Kate Irwin, Richard Whitters, Jeremy Canford
—What makes Art Directors qualified to pick and choose talent? What are A.D.s looking for?
Who died and made them boss, anyway? Come listen to a panel of the best A.D.s in the biz talk
about how they see their role in the business of art.

Books vs. Games vs. Film vs. Everything Else
—Lauren Panepinto [M], Irene Gallo, Zoë Robinson, Kate Irwin, Jeremy Canford,
Dan Dos Santos, Karla Ortiz
—Everyone wants a well-rounded career, but different media have very different needs. Learn
the differences between publishing, gaming (digital and physical), film, etc. and how to
prioritize your portfolio for the jobs you want most.

Portfolio Review Bootcamp + Critiques (Lauren Panepinto & Marc Scheff)
—Marc & Lauren of Drawn + Drafted will take portfolios from the audience and “test-drive”
them, giving tips on how to put your best work forward, and how to be confident in
presenting yourself and your work well under pressure.

Social Media Bootcamp: Beyond Facebook (Jon Schindehette & Marc Scheff)
—Facebook is necessary these days, but there are so many other platforms and ways
to share your art. Jon Schindehette of Thinkgeek and ArtOrder & Marc Scheff
of Drawn + Drafted will help you choose what will work best for you.

Collaboration & Community Workshop (Jon Schindehette & The Denver Illustration Salon)
—Do you know how to play well with others? Crave some collaboration? Join master
community builder Jon Schindehette of Thinkgeek and Art Order with members of the Denver
Illustration Salon in this workshop that will show you how to get creative people
to work and play together.

Women in Art Biz Bootcamp (Lauren Panepinto, Irene Gallo, & Zoë Robinson)
—Women are working toward equal representation in today’s art world, but the balance
can’t be restored unless we openly discuss the unique challenges facing women in our industry.
Join three woman art directors in an open discussion of how sexism impacts business, how we
can push through obstacles, and how we can stop holding ourselves back.
NOTE: Men are very welcome to observe this workshop, but the moderators will be keeping the
focus on women’s issues and women’s voices.

Building an IP Workshop/Panel
—Jon Schindehette [M], Iain McCaig, Brom, Daren Bader
—Join a panel of IP experts and superstar artist/creators for a panel/workshop
on how to start building your own platform and intellectual property and release
it into the world.

Demystifying the Gallery World (Julie Baroh of Krab Jab Gallery)
—Join Julie Baroh of Krab Jab Gallery in Seattle for a workshop for artists entering the gallery
world, including tips on how to create a show concept, dealing with contractual obligations,
writing a bio, marketing the show and your work, dealing with framing, and everything else
you need to be successful in a gallery setting.

Web Presence Bootcamp + Critiques (Lauren Panepinto & Marc Scheff)
—Marc & Lauren of Drawn + Drafted will give you a crash course in the dos and don’ts
of websites and social media, using examples from the audience.

Selling the Art or Selling the Artist: Branding Workshop (Marc Scheff & Lauren Panepinto)
—Join Marc Scheff & Lauren Panepinto of Drawn + Drafted for a workshop that will teach you
how to sell yourself while keeping your art the star of the show though the power of design
and finding an authentic voice.

Freelancer Fitness Bootcamp (Marc Scheff)
—A freelance career is good for the soul but not necessarily for the body. Learn some ways
you can eat healthier, move more, feel better, and work more productively with Marc Scheff

So if you were on the fence about attending, there’s still tickets and time to plan your trip! And if you’re already coming, I hope this starts getting you excited. There’s more programming and events to be revealed soon, so make sure to keep checking the SFAL website and Facebook page. See you in Kansas City!