Short summary: GenCon was good.
Now for long version.
First day I was having some stomach problems but tried to do all of the business stuff I needed to do, like showing around the portfolio. I showed to Wizards of the Coast first. I was a little disappointed I didn't get to show to Jeremy Jarvis who had looked at my work the past three years. I feel like I know the guy better and could better judge whether he was holding back on his criticism. I was lucky enough to have two art directors look at my stuff though and they were both very kind with surprisingly little criticism besides for making a couple of pieces more cohesive rendering wise and loosening up my character poses. I actually left feeling like I could potentially get work there which is amazing. I think I'm going to try to work off one of their briefs on the site and send that with my portfolio link to their art drop.
Couldn't find anyone from Upper Deck to show my portfolio to. I was disappointed with that. I came across two people who knew and recognized my name. Which is super awesome. I talked to the guys at Mindstorm Labs who were really great and they've got a very very sharp product out called Alpha Omega. We seemed to have similar trains of thought on what's cool and really hit it off. I ended up being introduced to everybody on the team and it seems highly likely that that will lead to some work. I ended up buying their book which has some breathe-taking environment pics in it. I'm probably most excited about that opportunity but about 11 other companies said they'd like to work together. Another company called Shard Studios released some products of a very different type that have really high production values. At first I was hesitant to show to them because I don't have much anthropomorphic stuff but it turns out they commission a lot of really nice item illustrations and in a couple of months and might be doing some of those which are lots of fun.
I got to meet Ralph Horsley who I've talked to on forums off and on. He's a very nice guy with great work. On some pieces he used white out to clean up edges of spot illustrations but on others, the spot illustration would end so crisply right onto untouched illustration board.
I went to a seminar hosted by Impact Books where they gave away Wreaking Havoc and Oh, The Humanity! There I got to talk to Chuck Lukacs some who was a very nice guy. I got some paperwork from Impact Books about what they're looking for as far as books and how to present it. It's always hard to initially get to work on something where there's no guarantee of payment at the end, but I'd really like to pitch them at least one idea. They're definitely aimed at a younger audience though so I would probably try to avoid making a book that has anything to do with the technical process of using paints or photoshop (which there are better books on anyways) but rather it would be about developing ideas and finding inspiration.
I met Ed Healy from Kobold Quarterly who was a very nice guy. Ed introduced me to Phil Menard from ChattyDM.net. He was a nice guy too, so nice that I gave him a free copy of NGoM.
The Hellas RPG I did artwork for sold out. I showed up after the exhibit hall had only been open for three hours and they had sold 60 copies. Sounds like it might be a huge hit. Hopefully people like that artwork and demand more.
The size of GenCon declined from last year which I suspect is because of them declaring bankruptcy earlier this year. I talked to a couple of people who were disappointed the Dark Skull didn't have a booth and Key20 wasn't there so there was no way to buy NGoM there at the con.
It was great fun talking to publishers and I found myself with almost no nerves at all when talking to them. I think even last year my hands may have been a little shaky and my movements slightly panic stricken. This year I was extremely calm except maybe once or twice when I felt like my jaw perhaps turned to jelly but I don't believe it was noticeable to publishers. I heard several talk of their horror stories with freelancers, hooray! Every time a publisher has a horrible freelance artist experience, it just means more work for me. I always love hearing those stories when they involve good artists because it makes me feel like I have a chance if only for my dependability. It was funny to hear one company tell me that they'd contact me soon with a quick turn around piece due in 30 days. In this business, so far, 30 days is like a dream come true.
I think next year I'll get a booth. Took some notes on what I thought did and didn't work with Artists Alley booths.
1.You might be screwed if you're in an area without any big names.
2.The more stuff you have, the better things seem to go. Even some lesser artists who had lots of artwork to look at and lots of sketchbooks, pencil versions, small prints, etc seemed to do better.
3.People seemed to spend very little time looking at the panels (no artist around). So people want to be able to meet you, so better be looking and feeling your best. They also want to meet you so they can have you sign products you've worked on.
4. Presentation means a lot. It appears to be worth it to have your work framed and matted or at least sold in a way that allows it to be immediately hung on a wall.
If you were in artists' alley, what did you learn.
My portfolio presentation (new binder, no sleaves, better quality prints) proved very helpful. Next year though, I think I'll just have a book printed of my work. I think next year I'll probably only be wanting to target a handfull of companies so maybe I'll have 4 different books made and then I'll give one to each publisher they target, after review. It'll be more expensive but I think that would be a flawless presentation.