Thursday, July 3, 2014

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! A slightly belated post.

So- this is long overdue but Spectrum was awesome and deserves some more attention, even though it was nearly two months ago. (what. It's finally been sunny in New England and I need Vitamin D)

The first couple years I went to Spectrum as an attendee. This was great because I got to see everyone and go to all the panels and stuff. It also means I got to do some recon before actually making the plunge as an exhibitor. This year, I wanted to try out this whole table thing finally and see what happened. It was a lot of fun- I met a ton of new people that I probably wouldn't have met if I was just going around and finding everyone I already knew. And most of the people I knew stopped by to say hello anyways. Spectrum is also such a good community that if I wanted, I felt completely comfortable leaving for a while to walk around or do/see a panel or two. Affordable and friendly, it was a good choice for dipping my toe into the solo exhibitor ocean. Having the smart and savvy Scott Bakal around  out was also a huge help.

It's me!
Photo by Tara Larsen Chang

Quick thoughts on a having a table for the first time: 

  • Do your research. Find out what sort of show/audience it is, what sells and what doesn't. Look at pictures of other people's booths. Email them, ask questions. I got so much good advice both before and during the convention- it was a terrific learning experience.
  •  Everything I read said bring less than you think you need, especially for a first con. Marketing says fewer choices yield more sales. With that in mind-  I still brought too much especially knowing Spectrum is not a buying crowd. I had limited choices- which was good (basically all my sales were two images) but still brought more than I needed in quantity of prints for example. 
  • Placement counts. I was very lucky to get a"sidewall" artist alley table. Traffic and visibility was great for us- but after seeing the rest of the traditional artist alley set up, I won't take the chance again and will invest in a booth. Much better for welcoming people in to look at the art and presentation. At this sort of show, where most of the reason you are there is to show to other professionals, the odd collector and make connections, presentation makes a difference. 
  • Just like portfolios- show the sort of work you want to do more of. I didn't sell a ton but had commission inquiries  based on what I brought. It also gave me the opportunity to show some work that wasn't traditional portfolio stuff  but that I loved and got some good attention.
  • Engage. Stand up, smile and chat. If your voice isn't hoarse or gone by the end of the convention, you're doing it wrong. Try to avoid having a table barrier between you and people unless your chief traffic is signatures or sketches. If you are going to draw- try to do it in an engaging way  (outside your booth or standing in a way that welcomes people to watch and ask questions) so people don't feel like they are bugging you if they want to say hi. 

Fantastic Women panel


Courtesy of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live

I am very grateful to Winona Nelson for including me on this panel. She asked some great questions and gave some terrific insight. There were some smart ideas and questions. We got a lot of positive feedback and continued discussions after. My biggest regret is that we only had one hour- as this conversation clearly only touched the tip of the iceberg. Sooo much to be said about that panel, but it's being worked up for a recap and follow up by the community so for now I will just mention some brief thoughts:
  • I was worried that we'd be preaching to the choir but there was a healthy mix of both men and women in the audience. That made me very happy. 
  • There is no single way to be a woman in illustration. Even with our small panel of intelligent, thoughtful women, we had a variety of opinions and experiences both good and bad. It was worth noting that none of us had children though- and that was a POV that needed some more representation.  The general consensus from the crowd was that having a supportive and reliable partner was paramount to doing both art and family successfully.
  •  Rebecca Yanovskaya made some great comments about being a working illustrator putting it in perspective with women's roles in our society. Mainly: Illustration is a job. Mothers work all the time, so why can't that work be illustration. I think there's a lot more to be said on that subject but it's an important idea. She also talked about how it's often hard for women to feel confident in their choice of subject matter and finding their own voice in this field because of the stereotypes that still exist.
  • Zoe Robinson is one smart cookie and is a great gift as an AD on some high profile properties with Fantasy Flight. She's always thinking about how women are represented in the genre and pushing for smarter choices regarding characters in her work. She often has to fight for fair representation and sometimes educate others why a particular idea might be sexist or insensitive.  She doesn't back down from the hard questions and is very thoughtful. She made a really good analogy that, as women generally we are starting at a lower level than our male counterparts and have further level-ups before we're taken seriously.
  • Camilla D' Errico is thoughtful, funny and confident. Proof that having a great attitude about your capabilities and options goes a long way. She, like me, has had very few negative experiences related to being a "female artist".  Mostly guys thought it was neat that we liked "guy" things like comics and games and we had some very good mentors who were men. (though I don't think either of us had a lot of female influences early on) She brought up one of my favorite quotes by George R.R. Martin. He was asked, "There’s one thing that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from? " Martin answered: "You know, I’ve always considered women to be people."
  • Annie Stegg is an amazing artist and unbelievably sweet and humble to boot. She talked about being hired as an artist at a company partly because they needed to broaden their perspective and get a woman's input. It's great that companies are starting to realize their shortcomings on this matter (or not. Ahem Ubisoft)  Still,  I look forward to a time when women are not considered a novelty both in the creation and in representation of the field. 
  • Winona Nelson also had some input on being sort of a lone wolf in a company. She discussed both overcoming the barriers we create for ourselves (envisioning struggles that don't end up actually being a big deal) and the real barriers such as having to to fight to get her own bathroom. (the guys had commandeered the ladies room as well and didn't want to give it up).
  • There is is still a long way to go on this subject and it helps no one to be ignorant about it. My eyes were opened to a few things that I was not aware of  about how women are treated and perceived in this industry still. The thing is- this it not an isolated trend and is indicative of a larger cultural problem that still needs addressing. Much of our obstacles as women creatives come from our culture but they also come from the barriers we erect for ourselves in response to our culture. I think as purveyors of imagination- we as fantastic artists hold a great responsibility in regards how we want women (and all "minorities" for that matter) to be treated.  Change grows from imagination. 
Courtesy of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live

Courtesy of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live

All in all- even though I didn't sell a ton,  it was still a good experience.  I always forget to take pictures at these things but here are a few good moments.
With Cynthia Sheppard

With Brynn Metheney

Shady KC BBQ at Jack's Stack with a bunch of shady artist folks.

Blue-Green Beauties
Zoe Robinson, Lauren Panepinto, Clark Huggins, (Lucky guy!) Rebecca Yanovskaya

Too much fun is a good thing.
Travis Lewis, Dawn Carlos, John Brassil
You can check out even more of what happened (and see me a few times too!) in these cool recap videos:



I even got a fancy professional artist photo taken by Greg Preston! He was hired by Spectrum to to a series of these and they came out gorgeous. You can check out a bunch of them on his blog here: http://www.sampselprestonphotography.blogspot.com/2014/05/spectrum-fantastic-art-live.html

Photo by Greg Preston for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Alright- that's plenty for now. See you at next year's Spectrum! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spectrum Live! New art, panel info and table info!

It's time for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live again! And this year I have finally broken down and got a table. To celebrate, I have created a few new original oil paintings that I will be debuting there this weekend:

Blue Mage
Oil on Panel
5 x 5

Dragon Mage
Oil on Panel
 6 x 6

Fae Mage
Oil on Panel
5 x 5
In addition to my new art, I will be displaying a few other originals as well as selling some prints of some of my favorite pieces.



Minotaur
Oil on Panel
16 x 20

Grey Widow
Oil on Panel
6 x 6

Blue Assassin
Oil on Panel
6 x 6
Ascend
Oil on Panel
5 x 5

Dragonslayer
Charcoal
18 x 24
 I will also be selling prints of Dragonslayer, the Minotaur and House of Leaves below including a few others.
House of Leaves
AAAAND if that weren't enough- I am also going to be participating in the Fantastic Women panel Saturday at 2pm. I was very honored to be asked to join this panel and am very much looking forward to the conversation. Here is the info:

Fantastic Women! [room 2505 A&B] 2pm — 3pm 
Illustration & fantasy art used to be a male-dominated industry: has that changed or are their still challenges woman artists face? Winona Nelson [M], Rebecca Yanovskaya, Annie Stegg, ZoĆ« Robinson, Kristina Carroll, Camilla d’Errico discusse the good, the bad, and the ugly of working in today’s marketplace.


So please come find me and say hello, buy something or just sit down and draw with me a bit! I will be at Table 17:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Short Video Interview

The multi-talented Scott Bakal has been making some lovely videos lately and got me to sit down in front of his camera for a few minutes to do a little mini-interview. I talk a little bit about my life before deciding to focus on illustration, school and how I ended up in New York.



Kristina Carroll from Scott Bakal on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Fourth be with you!

Happy Star Wars Day! Here are a couple little watercolor studies I did of everyone's favorite Droid.
R2D2
Watercolor 4 x 6

R2D2 - 2
Watercolor 4 x 6 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

White as Snow

No one knew what the Queen whispered in her ear before she fled into the woods with the Huntsman; but as the Princess disappeared into the trees, her hair turned from inky black to white as snow...

White as Snow
Oil on Panel
16 x 24

 This is a painting that has been on and off the easel for a few months now, getting attention between other projects. I'm happy to finally share it with some process! I started with a digital rough for this one- just playing around with shapes, value and a bit of color. I did a lot of studies of my photo reference and tried to use the photographs a lot less than usual to keep a little more movement in the piece.














Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ascend I - Small portrait

Ascend 1
Oil on Panel
6" x 6"
Here's another one of my quick, small portrait studies. I love taking a break to do these in between larger projects. It gives me a chance to experiment and relax the mind a bit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Minotaur


The Minotaur
Oil on board
16 x 20

A while ago I was invited to contribute a piece to the first volume of the Fantasy Illustration Library by Michael Publishing.This high end art book will explore mythology from all over the globe with hundreds of new works of art. Not only was I thrilled to join the ranks of over 100 terrific artists (such as Donato Giancola and Michael C. Hayes) and but it gave me the opportunity to explore a character that I've been wanting to paint for a long time: The Minotaur.

Excerpt from the book:

I’ve always been drawn to stories involving labyrinths so naturally I love the Minotaur myth. I feel empathy toward the Minotaur. I see him as an innocent suffering for the sins of his parents and the whims of the gods. His story is usually overshadowed by the hero tale of Theseus where he is the lowly monster at the center of the maze to be defeated. However, the Minotaur is half human and was raised briefly with his human family so couldn’t have been all beast when he was imprisoned in Daedalus’ Labyrinth.  I imagined him as a king over a lonely domain. His human half craved beauty and so he taught himself to carve to pass the time. Many hours were counted in spirals carved into the stone and the walls became covered in years as he made his prison beautiful.

I spent some extra time getting reference for this piece since I knew I wanted the lighting to be very atmospheric and was dealing with some uncharted territory in the anatomy and some of the architecture ideas. Getting a good model (the amazing Dennis!) and taking a quick hour to build a small maquette and light it made all the difference.


One of many pages of thumbnails
One of many photos of Dennis from the photoshoot

Clay model approx 6 inches high



Some preliminary studies to prep for drawing
Preliminary Charcoal drawing
16 x 20
Digital color study

Final