-By Arnie Fenner

Well, since Lauren shared the art director programming for SFAL4 last week, I thought I might as well show the entire schedule. Thanks to Lauren’s & Shena Wolf’s careful planning, overlap has been minimized as much as possible and variety increased.

Happening at the same time as Spectrum Fantastic Art Live—quite literally right next door—will be the long-running KC science fiction convention ConQuesT 46. Their guests this year are Brandon Sanderson, Selina Rosen, artist Nene Thomas, Mark Oshiro, and George R.R. Martin (in one of his very few convention appearances this year). Attendees to SFAL4 or ConQuesT 46 will be able to purchase memberships at a discount to either show during the weekend. It’ll be a sort of Arts & Letters Festival: come for one, stay for both!

Above: Circumstances beyond our control dictated that SFAL4 would coincide with the city’s highly-regarded SF convention, ConQuesT (now in its 46th year). Rather than play the Con War Games so common these days around the country we all happily agreed to work together (imagine that!) to make this Memorial Day weekend a special Fantastic Festival for all. And, c’mon, you know that if you’re attending SFAL for the art, artists, and programming it would be downright silly not to also attend ConQuesT 46 and take advantage of the increasingly rare opportunity to see George R. R. Martin—easily the most celebrated author in our field today—in person and maybe get an autograph. They’ll be posting their programming schedule in a few weeks.

Since someone asked, there will be no live-streaming videos of SFAL4 programming; whether any will be available for viewing later is yet to be determined. Why? Well, besides the logistics and expense of program videos (everything costs money to do and do right with the right people behind the cameras), we sincerely want as many people to attend as possible and not be content substituting a virtual experience for a real one. There’s much to be gained through meeting other members of the community face-to-face, of seeing art in person, of watching creators draw and paint live, that can’t be replicated by watching at a distance online. If you want to experience the show…please come. Yes, there are always the excuses of distance, finances, or schedules. As I’ve said in the past, there are a million reasons not to do something—but one good reason is all anyone ever needs to take the plunge and we sincerely appreciate every exhibitor and attendee that have joined to make SFAL a reality. If you want an artist-focused convention, one that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone without pretension, artificial restrictions, and high ticket prices, we’d love to see you in Kansas City in May.

Programming schedule Friday

Main Program Room #2101

3:00pm-4:00pm • Art Directors as Gatekeepers
Irene Gallo [M], Lauren Panepinto, Jon Schindehette, Zoë Robinson, Andy Christensen, Kate Irwin, Richard Whitters, Jeremy Cranford
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.

4:30pm-5:30pm • Making It Revisited
Anthony Francis Moorman [M], Woodrow J. Hinton III, Andrew Bawidamann
The documentary about what it takes to become—and remain—an artist premiered at SFAL3 in 2014. Now the director and two of the principle artists talk about where their journey has taken them in the last twelve months and also share some secrets about future projects.

Art Director Room #2102A

4:30pm-5:00pm 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.

5:00pm-5:30pm: 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.


Above: This is the space we’ve rented for the Friday night opening party/art director ice breaker gathering: it has what I like to call a cool Overlook Hotel vibe. It’s the historic lobby of the Muehlebach (run by the Marriott) that is used for events. There used to be a mural by Maxfield Parrish in the former lobby bar now called the Tea Room (which we’ll also be using): whatever happened to the mural is a mystery but rumor is that it still exists and is in storage somewhere in the city. History 101: This is where Harry Truman met with supporters after winning the presidential election of 1948: Truman was staying in nearby Excelsior Springs and drove to KC upon learning the results. Buy me a drink and I’ll show you the still-existing secret passage in the Tea Room that the Secret Service used to sneak him into the reception.


7:00pm-10:00pm: Opening Night Party & Art Director Ice Breaker. 
Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. Location: the Barney Allis Room on the lower level off the main lobby of the Marriott’s Muehlebach Tower. Watch for the sign near the stairs or take the elevator.

10:00pm-1:00am: Late Night Life Drawing 
sponsored by the Bethany College Applied Arts Academy and the Illustration Academy. 
Location: the Truman Room off the main level lobby of the Marriott’s Muehlebach Tower. Models will be nude: for mature artists only. Cash bar.

Programming schedule Saturday

Main Program Room #2101

10:30am-11:30am SFAL 4 Guest Roundtable
Carl Anderson [M], Julie Dillon, Donato Giancola, Scott Gustafson, Tim Kirk, Karla Ortiz
Meet Spectrum’s special guests in this lively and entertaining roundtable interview.

12:00pm-1:30pm Flesk Publications, Spectrum 22, and Beyond
John Fleskes [M] Iain McCaig, Mark Schultz, Frank Cho, Steve Rude, Jim & Ruth Keegan, Craig Elliott, Bill Carman, Justin Gerard, Annie Stegg
Spectrum Director and Publisher John Fleskes is joined by a bevy of outstanding creatives to talk about new books, new projects, the Spectrum 22 judging, and what the future holds.

Above: Three (and maybe more) major new art books are scheduled to premiere at SFAL4. A number of the artists featured in Women of Wonder will be present to sign copies of the book and Mark Schultz will be making a rare convention appearance to launch his long-anticipated illustrated novel.

2:00pm-3:00pm Women of Wonder
Lauren Panepinto [M], Cathy Fenner, Karla Ortiz, Tran Nguyen, Rovina Cai, Forest Rogers
Editor Cathy Fenner is joined by some of the contributors to talk about the exciting new art book devoted to women Fantastic Artists.

3:30pm-4:30pm Envisioning Contemporary Myths
Arnie Fenner [M], Donato Giancola, Tim Kirk, Gary Gianni, Mark Schultz, Greg Manchess
Whether it’s Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom or Robert E. Howard’s Hyboria or Tolkien’s Middle-Earth or George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, artists are always challenged to translate authors’ exotic worlds into pictures. Meet some of the masters at bringing Conan, Gandalf, Solomon Kane, and Jon Snow to life.

5:00pm-6:00pm Books vs. Games vs. Film vs. Everything Else
Lauren Panepinto [M], Irene Gallo, Zoë Robinson, Kate Irwin, Jeremy Cranford, 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.

Art Director Room #2102A

10:00am-2:00pm Official Portfolio Reviews (prior sign-up required)

2:30pm-3:00pm 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.

3:30pm-4:00pm 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.

4:30pm-5:00pm 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.

Live Painting Demonstrations at the rear of the Main Exhibit hall
11:00am-12:00pm: Gregory Manchess
1:30pm-2:30pm: Dan Dos Santos
3:00pm-5pm: Steve Rude

Note: Some demos may run longer than their planned times.

Above: The Folly Theater was originally built in 1900 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. At various points in its history the Folly has featured performances by everyone from Sarah Bernhardt and the Marx Brothers to Gypsy Rose Lee and Tempest Storm. The theater is right next door to the convention center and our hotels; all members of both SFAL4 and ConQuesT 46 are welcome to attend.


8:00pm Spectrum 22 Awards Ceremony. Doors open at 7:00pm. Cash bar.
Entertainment by Voler–Thieves of Flight. Location: The Folly Theater, 300 W 12th St
(next door to the Marriott). All ticket holders and ConQuesT 46 members welcome.

Above: Our awards ceremony director, Lazarus Potter, has booked the aerial dance troupe Voler–Thieves of Flight to kick off the evening’s celebration.

Programming schedule Sunday

Main Program Room #2101

10:30am-11:30am Not Exactly Child’s Play: Illustrating Children’s Books
Iain McCaig [M], Tim Kirk, Scott Gustafson, Tim Raglin, Julie Dillon
A renowned collection of artists talk about the challenges and rewards of creating picture books for young readers.

11:45am-1:15pm Karla Ortiz: Do It All! Introduction by Iain McCaig
Fine Art, Concept Art, and Illustration: Karla will talk about the different industries, why they’re inspiring, and hopefully motivate you to do it all too!

1:30pm-2:30 Comics: Work for Hire vs. Owning Your Own Properties
Shena Wolf [M], Frank Cho, Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni, Aaron Lopresti
What’s better, being a well-paid freelancer for hire or an entrepreneur who owns your own properties? Some comics creators experienced at doing both discuss the pluses and minuses.

2:45pm-3:45pm Building an IP
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.

Art Director Room #2102A

11:00am-1:00pm Official Portfolio Reviews (prior sign-up required)

1:30pm-2:00pm Demystifying the Gallery World Workshop
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.

2:30pm-3:00pm 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.

3:30pm-4:00pm 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.

Above:Spectrum Director John Fleskes will have some exciting announcements during the show about the future of Spectrum and SFAL. Keep your schedules open in 2016 (and maybe, just maybe, sooner) because John is about to turn the amps up to 11.