About one year ago, I remember debating with myself whether or not I wanted to try exhibiting at Illuxcon. With every convention, there are certain calculations one undergoes before settling on whether or not to attend, along with a plethora of questions. For example: Will my work be received well? Will it sell? What is the cost of amenities in the surrounding area? Can a hearty breakfast of flapjacks and scrapple be found for a reasonable price? (more on scrapple later)
I finally took the leap and decided to sign up, fully aware that the distance from CA to PA involved significant up front travel costs that could only be somewhat recouped if my work was received well. It was a gamble, with my art squaring off against the uncertainties of a entirely new east coast audience that I’ve had yet to encounter.
Luckily… it paid off! I couldn’t have asked for more from my very first Illuxcon. I found a great new group of friends and discovered an incredible range of artists whose work I’ve never seen anywhere, online or off. I sold a nice amount of prints, cards, and even an original painting! I attended workshops by Rick Berry, Donato Giancola, Marc Scheff and Lauren Panepinto. The only thing I didn’t experience much of was sleep, but it was worth the sacrifice. I am still buzzing with excitement!
One of the great things about Illuxcon is that the show is divided into sections that allow artists move about freely when they aren’t exhibiting. I actually didn’t realize this until I got there. There are three exhibition sections in the event: the Main Show (Wednesday through Sunday), the Weekend Salon (Saturday through Sunday), and the Showcase (Friday through Saturday). I exhibited in the Showcase. The important difference is that the Showcase takes place in the evenings, whereas the Main Show and Weekend Salon are during the day. This timing allows artists to see each others work from the different events and fosters a sort of continual milling about. I talked to many of the more veteran artists who were able to stop by my booth while they were off duty and it was a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and inspiration.
Another benefit of the staggered timing is that I was able to attend workshops and demos that happened during the day while I was off duty. So cool! I am used to missing all those events at other conventions where the scheduling is not so friendly to exhibiting artists.
The demo by Rick Berry and Vanessa Lemen was particularly interesting. Rick is a very cerebral character and his entire ethos is based on going back to childlike roots of creativity. His demo included the audience and was a sort of big paint swap. Never seen anything like it!
The all time high for me was selling my original painting “Witness” to a collector on Saturday night. I had no expectations of this whatsoever and it was a delightful surprise. The other aspect of Illuxcon that makes it a great show is the audience of art lovers that flocks to the con floor. Nowhere else have I seen so many originals picked up by collectors who directly benefit the artists without going through a gallery or agent. I actually kept track and figured out that all of my neighbors in my particular row area had sold at least one original. It seems like this is what really keeps both artists and collectors coming back!
Lastly, I had the unique opportunity to try “scrapple” for the first time ever. Scrapple is kind of like a meat patty that’s been pounded into a square by an oily hammer. I don’t really know why anyone would want to do that to a meat patty but it’s not too bad. Apparently, Illuxcon is moving from Allentown to the city of Reading (pronounced “redding”) next year. I hope that they have scrapple…