Justin Gerard’s Call For Entries poster.

Awhile back Justin Gerard gave an advance peek at his wonderful art for Spectrum 24’s Call For Entries poster; now that October is officially here, Director John Fleskes has announced the jurors for this year’s competition.

Regular Muddy readers know that I’ve written about Spectrum‘s history in the past (and if you’re new, please feel free to hit the hotlink above to read about the what and how). John Fleskes assumed the role of editor with volume 21 and does an exceptional job.

Above left: Spectrum Director and publisher John Fleskes. Photo by Greg Preston.
Above right: Spectrum 23 will be available in stores November 15.
Cover by Android Jones.

In his presentation during the awards ceremony last May, John shared some personal insight. “The Spectrum community is like no other that I have ever experienced. We could easily rename Spectrum Fantastic Art to Spectrum Fantastic Community. Its warmth, its open door policy and welcomeness to all who are different and new fit precisely with how I live my life. I didn’t have the good fortune to have the best upbringing, but through it all I was able to learn at an early age how all of we misfits and outcasts who didn’t have the luxury of a safe environment could gather together and form our own family, our own community where we could define and set our own rules and feel welcome. Spectrum is that place. It’s the home that many of us never had, but always wanted. And it’s my role to keep those doors open and embrace all those who enter.”

Spectrum continues to be the most diverse, the most inclusive, and the most far-reaching art annual produced today: it has the highest circulation of any source book/best-of-the-year being published. All artists (and art directors) are welcome to participate, regardless of where they live, regardless of whether they’re amateurs, students, or professionals. It’s not a clique or a private club. Age, gender, race, religion, politics, nationality, ethnicity, or methodology don’t matter: Spectrum simply does not discriminate against any artist. Period.

Nothing is prescreened: everything entered is voted on by the judges. There is an entry fee to participate (which routinely makes some people fuss), but the fees are used to offset the expenses of bringing the jury together (to view the art in person and cast their votes) and to help fund events and exhibitions that raise the profile of the Fantastic Arts and benefit our community as a whole. Spectrum has always given back.

No other competition for fantastic art—none, nada, zip, zilch—brings their jury together in one place, at one time, to cast votes. And their being together reinforces the import of their decisions; regardless of the results, each Spectrum jury is uniquely thoughtful and deliberate in doing their job. Fellow Muddies Dan dos Santos, Donato Giancola, Greg Ruth, Justin Gerard, Cory Godbey, Greg Manchess, John Jude Palencar, and Dave Palumbo have served on previous juries and can attest to how seriously they took their responsibilities.

Above: Last year’s Spectrum 23 jury (Cynthia Sheppard, David Palumbo,
Kirk Thatcher, Charlie Wen, and Terryl Whitlatch) debate the awards.

Not everyone who enters Spectrum gets in; it’s not a popularity contest. The entry fee only guarantees that the art will be reviewed by a blue-ribbon jury and nothing more. Spectrum is about craft and skill and vision. It doesn’t matter who someone is or how successful they might (or might not) be: the only thing that matters is the quality of the work. And because it is difficult to get a majority of the judges’ votes, making it into the annual—being selected as one of “the year’s best”—has significance.

Spectrum is a vibrant symbol of excellence for our field. Art directors, publishers, collectors, and fans around the world notice.

Without further ado, this year’s jury of exemplary creatives consists of…

An illustrator and concept artist, Christian studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and is currently the Senior Visual Effects Art Director for Industrial Light & Magic. He has created art for Harper Collins, Penguin Books, and Future Publishing and he has taught for the Gnomon Workshop. Christian’s many film credits include Star Trek Into Darkness, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Laurie studied art at Ashley Hall School for Girls and Parsons School of Design; though she postponed her career to raise a family, she began actively painting again about a decade ago and quickly became a world-renowned gallery artist. Strongly influenced by the stories and folktales she heard growing up in Charleston, SC, Laurie’s ghostly works are avidly sought by an international cadre of collectors (including director Guillermo del Toro). Photo by Greg Preston. 

Mark graduated with honors from the Academy of Art University and immediately embarked on a  career producing work for Bowen Designs, Sideshow Collectibles, Hallmark, Lennox, and many others. He was the lead sculptor for Thomas Blackshear’s “Ebony Visions” line, conducts artist anatomy workshops, and has worked on video games and films (including The Spiderwick Chronicles). Equally popular for his garage model kits as he is for his fine art statues, Mark was commissioned to create a pair of bronze fireplace facades by George Lucas for the Skywalker Ranch.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Victo quickly became one of today’s most in-demand illustrators. Her clients include Scientific America, The New Yorker, Wired Magazine, Lufthansa Airlines, Tor Books, and Variety. Victo was named by Forbes magazine as one of the “30 Under 30” breakout talents of 2014 and she designed the Call For Entries poster for Spectrum 22. Photo by Greg Preston

Based in San Antonio, TX, John is easily one of the most popular fantasy & science fiction artists working today. He has produced covers for Ballentine/Del Rey, Pyr, Pocket, MonkeyBrain Books, and Tor, illustrated George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire 2012 Calendar, and has been presented with the Hugo, World Fantasy, Locus and Chesley Awards among many others. John’s work was collected in Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio in 2006.

The whole of Spectrum is made up of—is only possible because of—the sum of its participants. Together we celebrate with those selected for the book and commiserate with—and encourage!—those who aren’t. After 24 years it is extremely easy to assume that it will always be around, but Spectrum 23 is no different from Spectrum 1: it can only exist, can only continue to fulfill its mission, if everyone supports it.

Spectrum 24 will open for submissions on October 17; the deadline to get your work in is January 25, 2017. You can find out more details here. And there’s still time to sign up to receive Justin’s Call For Entries poster: just hit this link. Awards in eight categories (plus the Grand Master and Rising Star honors) will be presented at the historic Folly Theater in Kansas City during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (April 21-23, 2017). Good luck everyone!