This past weekend I was very happy to be appearing at the Wizard World Philadelphia 2009 Convention. This was my third time appearing at their Philadelphia show, and my 9th appearance overall with their tour! Philly has always held a special place in my memories because it was where I was first noticed as an illustrator and chalk artist, and it was where this whole chapter of my artistic career got started back in 2006.
I attended Wizard World Philly in the spring of 2006 with my portfolio in tow. Like other illustrators walking the floor that weekend, I showed my art to anyone and everyone who would review it. I wasn’t having the best of luck. The portfolio needed work, and most of the reviews were mixed. After attending some interesting panels and visiting the major dealers I made my way to artist alley where I proceeded to meet some of the coolest guys around.
First I came across Brad Guigar, an amazing artist who’s creation Evil Inc is going strong as a great comic to this day! You can check it out here or on my blogroll to the right. Brad had a lot of advice for this aspiring comic illustrator, and a fantastic sense of humor which spills out effortlessly through his work. Then I met a man who’s illustrations just blew me away and made me want to give the whole thing up right then and there. Franchesco! His Savage She Dragon drawings alone were some of the most stunning illustrations of the female form you could find. I ended up coming back to his table again and again that afternoon, and maybe fate had something in store by making me wait so long to finally show him my artwork.
When I did finally crack open the portfolio Franchesco liked what I had, but saw the same need for improvement that others had pointed out. However, when he came across my two page spread of comic book chalk art murals that I had created at a few local street painting festivals his outlook changed. He thought they were awesome and really saw something in those images that no one else had paid any attention to. He then turned my portfolio around to show the murals to someone standing next to me and said that I should come and make one of these at a convention. The person standing next to me was Gabe Fieramosco, the guy organizing the Wizard World shows at the time. Gabe handed me his card and said I should get in touch to see if we can make something happen in Chicago a few months down the road. As it would turn out, a few dozen e-mails and phone calls later, we did make something happen and my first ever convention chalk mural was for the Wizard World Chicago 10th Anniversary Show that summer. So was it fate that Franchesco came across a photo of my chalk mural right at the moment Gabe was there? Was it fate that I waited to show my art to him more than once, only to have him finally see it at exactly the right time? Who can say. But I learned a great lesson that day. Be kind, polite and generous to EVERYONE at a convention, you never know who you are standing next to.
And so it is that three years and 9 Wizard shows later I drew my most recent chalk art mural this past weekend, a recreation of the cover of Amazing Spiderman Issue 600 by Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada! His dynamic illustration was packed full of insane detail that nearly wore my fingers to the bone as I tried to duplicate them. I took a good shot at it, I just hope that Mr. Quesada approves.
I’ve come a long way since 2006, and Philly was where it all started, This year was a blast as I got to see some old friends again too. Brad Guigar was ever-present in artist alley with new work that keeps getting better and better. I also met up with Franchesco (who now does covers for Vampirella) in a rare social night out for him. The guy is one of the hardest working people I know, and rarely rises up from his sketchbook. Here is to all of us having success in the years ahead, and hopefully we can all get out and socialize a little bit more.
… and to Mr. Quesada, I am sorry you weren’t at the show to see the piece in person, but hopefully one of these images finds its way to your desk and you get a kick out of it. Everyone can check out images from the convention and the mural below. Enjoy!