Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Reason for Conventions

I'm quickly spiraling my way to becoming a convention addict.  It all started when I got really excited about the Legend...(wait for it)....dary Salt Lake Comic Con.  Oh wait, there was also LTUE.  That was a lot of fun too.  Okay, so it started with LTUE but let's talk about the Salt Lake Comic Con.  I knew how much I wanted to go to the Comic Con in San Diego.  I knew I wanted to network with creative professionals and get my work critiqued.  I even wanted to let my inner fanboy run wild.

But this post isn't for the fanboys, though you are loved.  This is a post for people like me.  This is for the artists, animators, illustrators, and authors.  Let me tell you the real reason for conventions.

While at the Salt Lake Comic Con, I could have chosen many different panels to go to.  Yeah, I let my fanboy go to panels like Kevin Murphy of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Nicholas Brendon from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  But I also tried to make it to panels like Business and Comic Books, Making a Successful Webcomic, and Making Money from your Indie Game.  Conventions are fun.  Absolutely.  But for aspiring creatives like me, they are great ways to network.

I've already seen a lot of opportunities from networking and I'm only a Junior...ish in my program at UVU.  When I did two semesters at Weber State University, I met my friend David Powell.  Through David, I met a filmmaker named James Cawley with potential to get paid doing storyboard, animation, and design work.  I've seen David at both LTUE and the Salt Lake Comic Con.  It's great to show the work I've been doing and to see his work as well.

While at Salt Lake Comic Con, David introduced me to Peter Lyon.  Peter Lyon made all of the hero swords in Lord of the Rings.  David said, "Stephen is an amazing artist."  Amazing?!  Wow.  To Peter Lyon of all people!  I definitely feel like I have big shoes to fill with a compliment like that.  I doubt Peter will remember me since it was a very brief visit.  No, this one encounter will probably not land me a job as an animator, character designer, or illustrator for Weta Workshop.  Though, that would be an experience far more amazing than any artwork I've produced.  The point of this story is that you get many opportunities to meet masters of the trade at conventions.  They're fun  Absolutely.  But if you're an artist or creative, you'll miss a lot of networking opportunities if you don't go to the panels and booths where you can get work critiqued and meet professionals.

I'll save tips on networking for a different day.  Until then, just remember how many opportunities conventions can provide.  Even if it falls under the guise of being a pure fan boy celebration there are still many professionals to meet, learn from, and possibly find mentorship from.  A classmate of mine actually has many contacts that critique his work from attending BlizzCon.

One such upcoming convention is Fantasy Con.  Despite what you may read on their facebook page or website, this convention will actually be held in none other than the Salt Convention Palace the weekend of July 5th, 2014.  And yes, you will be seeing the contributing authors of Mormon Geeks there.  (I know the guy in charge of it through, you guessed it, networking!)  I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what this convention will bring.  It definitely seems to set itself a part just from the plans of how they want the convention to visually look.

Hope to see you there!


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