Thursday, 20 November 2014

Post-Novacon blues (again)

So another Novacon is over – only my third Novacon experience, but I think I’ve got the hang of this convention lark now and settled in. Novacon is a great SF convention – no silly costumes, but a wide range of fans of SF in film, television, art and literature in particular. There is really a strong literary edge to Novacon which is what I personally like the most. If you're an avid SF reader, an aspiring or published writer or a fan of science fiction art, then this is really the convention to be at. 

Novacon is the right size – big enough to be busy and bustling, small enough to have a comfy community feel. The regulars are passionate about their SF, classic and modern, and you'll always find a common point and something to chat or debate about. I'm not the best conversation starter – I need a good day to warm up  – but you do feel that you can just about walk up to any given conversation and join in. As well as always having a packed and superb program of talks and panels, there is a vibrant social side to the convention, which it seems, is the highlight for many fans – often helped along by the convention drink of choice, Black Sheep!

There are always treasures to be found in the dealer's room. If you're looking for rare or vintage SF books, then you'll find it there, more often than not.

However for me, Novacon is mostly about displaying my artwork, as it’s a perfect opportunity to be seen by the right people – likeminded fans, other artists, collectors, writers and publishers.

This does mean I have to select which panels I will leave the art show to attend. Of course, you can depend on it that as soon as you escape briefly into daylight (well, the hotel foyer, on the way to the main room), somebody will come into the art show looking for you! That’s the way it goes.

At my first Novacon in 2012, I found the prospect of putting so much of my work on show for the first time a little nerve-wracking. Of course I shouldn’t have, as everybody had lovely and encouraging things to say about it – and once you see your pieces going under the hammer and selling in the art auction, well, you know you’re doing something right! Two more events later and my work has found a home there. I've even managed to sneak my music in!

Exhibiting gives you greater confidence in your work and being up there on the wall, you see your pieces really come to life and become part of the event. And it’s incredible how they come into their own; your perception of one of your own works can change, and through the (great) conversations with the other artists in residence, you pick up tips, comments or criticism and it all helps, leaving you feel encouraged and inspired.

Sometimes when the con-goers visit the art room and look at your work, if they don’t know who you are (or might not be aware you are there), you can often overhear a comment or criticism which might not have otherwise reached your ears, and that is interesting in itself.  The people visiting the art show often fall into two categories – those who will stop and chat, maybe ask questions about your work and have a general conversation, and those who gaze in silence, keeping their thoughts to themselves. Quite often they’ll return for a second round.

It's also interesting to see which pieces do get bids on, and how many. This of course varies from year to year and you'd just don't know how it will go, but you can get a rough sense for what people like. Of course the real fun starts when the auction begins on the last day.

So a big thank you to the Novacon committee for once again putting on a great event (despite the hotel's best attempts to intervene!). I should also thank the art show organisers, Serena and John for their hard work, dedication and the continued support and encouragement they give to all their artists. You couldn't ask for nicer people to work with.

Until next time...

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