The IX Art Show begins one week from tomorrow.
IX is a one-of-a-kind event where your passion for your craft is reinvigorated, camaraderie and community is fostered, and new opportunities take form. Those that have never been sometimes lump it in with conventions, but it would be a mistake to think of it as one. IX differs from a convention in atmosphere, in purpose, in structure, and in attendance.
When you visit with fans and friends at conventions, you feel the table between you. You’re there to sell, and they’re there to see and do many things, with viewing art being only one (if it’s on their list at all). Every attendee at IX is invested wholly in the art, whether they are an artist, a student, a collector, a gallerist, or an art director. There is a truly unique dynamic to a crowd that’s been distilled like this…reduced and concentrated, it is both relaxed in pace and intensely focused.
IX is an unparalleled place to see traditional imaginative realism, and for that reason, it is an ideal place to show your own original art. The show attracts illustration professionals, and offers scheduled portfolio reviews and a stellar programming line-up, making it worthy of your time even if you don’t have art to hang.
The IX Main Show and programming runs from Wednesday night (18th) through Sunday afternoon (22nd), with Friday and Saturday as the busiest days, if any day could be called ‘busy.’ On Friday and Saturday night, the showcase occurs, which is like a higher-energy bonus show with even more art, crammed into just a few hours.
If you were attending a convention, it would be appropriate to measure its value in potential sales. Sales do happen, but visiting IX is an investment in yourself and your art. The benefits of IX echo for months or years and cannot be assessed at the end of the weekend. What is a successful IX? It depends on your goals going in.
If you are new to the community and your goal is to meet other artists and talk art, you’ve come to the right place. At IX, nobody is too busy throughout to chat or to answer questions. Attend panels and demos. Plan to hang out in the Doubletree hotel in the evenings. Make sure you’re a part of the Illuxcon Attendees group on facebook, where folks sometimes organize lunch or dinner events. I came to my first IX in 2014 without knowing anybody, and sharing a hotel room with others who were looking to fill space gave me a leg-up on meeting people. If you’re coming knowing no one, be at peace with the fact that you will likely end up on your own at times, and that’s okay. That’s not a sign of failure, it’s just a the result sometimes when everyone is operating on different schedules. If you accept that inevitability as normal, when someone invites you to join them, you’ll see it as a treat and not a relief.
If your goal is to leave inspired with new ideas and paths to explore, well, it’s hard to go wrong. Make the most of it by coming with a notebook and be ready to inch your way through the main show and showcase. Proceed through one artist at a time, and write down observations, thoughts, and ideas so that you can revisit them later at home, when the emotional impact of standing in front of the art has faded. Ask questions, or if an artist isn’t available, write them down to circle back and ask later. Consider expanding your stay to include one or more of the less-trafficked days, when deeper conversation about art and career might happen more easily, or an un-planned portfolio review may be achievable. Carry your portfolio, and prepare by reading this article by Lauren Panepinto. And don’t forget to check out the programming ahead of time and plan on what to attend!
If your goal is to deepen or refresh relationships with friends, be they colleague, collector, or otherwise, come Tuesday or Wednesday and stay until Monday. It is easier to get dinner or time to chat with others on those quiet days, when there are fewer interruptions, and it is easier to start a conversation with an acquaintance and end it as friends when things are not as busy. If you have familiar friends that you normally travel with, be sure to leave some time to walk around alone, which can change the dynamic of the conversations that occur.
If your goal is to sell original artwork, look to IX not as the place for those sales to happen, but as the place for familiarity with and confidence in your work to be built. Original work sells at IX for sure, but it is better to go in defining success differently. I am not alone in having the experience of selling artwork months down the road, to someone who said they first saw the work at IX and were waiting for the right time or the right piece. There is no better event in the Imaginative Realism genre than IX to show the consistent finish of your work, its physical presence, and foster trust in your future art. If you don’t have a mailing list that is targeted at collectors, put out a sign-up at your table. Be friendly (not necessarily outgoing); as much as we would love to think our art should speak for itself, few can completely separate the art from the artist.
IX is a worthwhile investment in yourself and where your art will go in the next year. I see IX as Artist’s New Year, in which we spend the week celebrating with friends, reflecting on the year, meditating on the art on display, and go home buzzing with inspiration and new art resolutions for the following year.
I hope to see you there!