Category: Art Business

The Marketing and Business side of Art

On The Road to Illuxcon 2014, part 1.

Howdy Folks!

Thought it was about time I posted a review of my time at Illuxcon this year. However before I get to the actual event, I thought I would go through some of the planning and logistics involved in the lead up to the show, particularly some of the costs.

Allentown Art Museum . Illuxcon 7

I had been selected to show at Illuxcon for three of the last four years prior to this year, one year I didn’t bother as my circumstances simply wouldn’t allow it. Getting to the US from Australia for such a show is no small thing and requires many elements coming into alignment just to get there. This is no doubt true for artists traveling from many other countries in the world.

My career has been on course correction since 2006. Whilst working on The Fourth Magi film project, my desire to paint SF paintings in oils resurfaced and around late 2007 I started setting up a basic studio in my second bedroom. I needed to just start, I needed to take that first step as they say and get on with it. I’d been putting it off for too long. The first few paintings I hacked together were garbage, which I knew would be the case, but slowly my painting technique started coming together. Those paintings were mostly landscapes and some re-paints of my existing digital work. In time I would start painting the SF I wanted to see. Sky Burial #1 was the first SF painting that actually came together.

Around that time I had read about this show called Illuxcon, dedicated to showcasing traditional SF/F work. Awesome! I had a plan. But first I needed to create the work and crawl back into some semblance of financial stability. Around mid to late 08′, the GFC hit and the film project I was working on died, so had almost every other film or tv job out there too and what funds I had saved were soon drained by existing financial commitments, tax, tax and more tax (mostly me avoiding them.. take heed kiddies, do your taxes!!) and I was in the red. Suffice to say it was and has been a challenge getting back to some sort of even keel.

So getting to Illuxcon has not been easy to say the least. It goes without saying of course that the artistic side of the coin must also be strong enough!


Here is a run down of the costs involved:

1. Cost of show admittance.

2. Extra cost for larger wall space at ILX. I had larger paintings and needed wider wall space.

3. Painting time or in other words, funds to cover myself during the months leading up to the show where I can’t take on other work. This means monthly bills etc.

4. Scanning my art, colour corrections etc for eventual printing and digital backup should the originals get damaged.

5. Framing of the artwork.

6. Shipping in both directions. Although some paintings sold at Illuxcon, enough came back to almost equal the cost in outgoing shipping.

7. Airfare to US.

8. Accommodation in the US.

9. Cost of several prints, new business cards and post cards to hand out at the show.

10. Cost of one full size repro and framing of my painting Sky Burial #2 (to replace the original which ended up at the Spectrum Show at the Society of Illustrators).

11. Any other expenses associated with traveling.

12. Ongoing bills and costs back home whilst I’m away and for the month/s afterwards should work be absent upon my return.


The above list was something that would financially fall into place as the year went on, or it wouldn’t. Had I missed one or two jobs this year, I wouldn’t have made it to Illuxcon. It’s a delicate balance between having enough time to paint and time to work. It’s been four years of trying to get the financial and artistic balance just right so that I could get my foot onto the next stepping stone. This year I finally managed it.

My goal has been to paint SF full time and transition out of the film industry altogether. Not because I don’t like film, it’s great.. I just love painting SF more.. way more!

And Illuxcon cemented that for me this year.


In Part 2, I will talk about some of the artistic choices leading up to the show, how I planned out the wall space and how that somewhat related to what I painted and the size of what I painted. I will also touch on the shipping of art. So stay tuned!


Most of my paintings unpacked and ready to be hung at Illuxcon 7.


How NOT to contact a professional artist! Part 2

I just had to post this..

Yesterday morning, the head of Dept of Industrial Design at Newcastle TAFE called me to apologise for his student’s poorly drafted email, (see last post, ‘How NOT to contact a professional artist!’).

I called this gentleman back today and we had an interesting chat. He had taken this issue up with the student’s direct teacher who.. didn’t think there was anything wrong with the email and/or approach made by the student! What?!

I was floored!

Well Mr Teacher who thinks that was ok.. Looks like very few of your students will ever make it out there in industry if you advocate that sort of approach. Because they WILL get out there and they WILL come up against working professionals who DO NOT tolerate poor communication skills and equally poor manners!

How NOT to contact a professional artist!

For all you young guns out there who want to crack into the film, design, art industry and feel the need to contact working professional artists, art directors, producers etc.. this is how NOT to do it!

Dear, Wanye

im an  industrial design student, engaged in my major design project, which is visualising a Philip K. Dick short story “the trouble with bubbles”

do you have any advice on approaching conceptual design for a futuristic society.

Is there a preferred format for presenting concepts to clients within the film industry?

i appreciate that you may be busy and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

S. W.

I received this email from a young man studying Industrial Design here in NSW, Newcastle TAFE, north of Sydney. First mistake, he got my name wrong! The other mistakes are too obvious to go into here suffice to say that I’m a little saddened that we pump these kids out of our education system without some of the most basic communication skills.

Unfortunately he has made a bad first impression and that can have fatal consequences for your future career.

Did he exhaust all other options before contacting me? Did he even spend five minutes on Google? Doesn’t look like it. He expected answers to be handed to him on a platter. It took me all of five minutes to track down who he was, where he lived (city), what school he went to and what year he is studying. I then contacted his head of dept and passed on his email.

So if you’re reading this young Mr. S.W, Google is your friend.. so is the spell checker and punctuation! Once you have clarified your thoughts and questions AND exhausted all other options, contact me again and I’ll do what I can to help.

As artist’s we communicate with imagery, we assume that writing is irrelevant as the images will speak for themselves, but when you’re out there in industry, your first port of call will most likely be through writing. Be clear, succinct (I’m not so good at that part) and make sure you’ve done your research. There is no excuse these days what with the world wide interweb or whatever it’s called..!

Now that ol’ grandpa has said his piece, he’s off for a little lie down!


SmARTist Telesummit 2009 was fantastic!

This year’s SmARTist Telesummit was fantastic. A whole week of inspirational and practical advice for artists and how they can promote themselves and use social media to generate a buzz about their art. Met a lot of amazing people through the forum and heard amazing speakers discuss a variety of topics from tax issues to visioning, awesome!

My head is almost exploding with new ideas and information, I cant wait to apply it all.

At the same time I’ve been working on a Matte Painting for the film KNOWING through Animal Logic. So its been one full on week here for me.

I haven’t put paint to canvas in about 3 weeks which must change ASAP!!