May 5, 2013

Being Fearless at the Society of Illustrators

Donato Giancola, Rebecca Guay, Sam Weber, Irene Gallo, Greg Manchess and Michael Whelan

Today, I attended a lecture at the Society of Illustrators in New York City concerning science fiction and fantasy art: What Lies Beyond: A Panel Discussion on Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration.

It was an impressive panel of some of today’s heavy hitters in illustration: Donato Giancola, Sam Weber, Rebecca Guay, Michael Whelan and Gregory Manchess, moderated by Tor creative director Irene Gallo. I’m conifdent that the annals of illustration history to be written will place these individulas on par with the giants of the past not only for their talent and inspiration they provide, but also for their willingness to share and mentor and instruct the next generation of illustrators. Institutions like Illustration Master Class and smArt School and lectures like these are proving to be a vital component to the circle of illustration life.

There were plenty of art students and aspiring illustrators in attendance as well as other illustration notables: Dan Dos Santos, Eric Wilkerson, Matt Stewart, Randy Gallegos, Dominick Saponaro and his lovely wife, Christina Hess as well as Kari Christensen and his wife Cambria Evans. Also in attendance was Orbit Art Director and my new friend who I’ve been bumping into everywhere, Lauren Panepinto. You probably have already heard this interview with her, but if you haven’t, listen here.

I won’t apologize for the blatant namedropping. If you’re in the New York area, THIS is why you need to attend events at the Society. This is your chance to get the answers to the questions you have first-hand from these artists, both from those on the panel and those in attendance. These are the Rockwells, Leyendeckers, Pyles and Wyeths of today.

Plenty on process and inspiration was covered but if I was to sum up the single greatest piece of information from today it would be this: Be Fearless. Rebecca Guay shared an anecdotal story from the early years in her career when she had the fortune of meeting Frank Miller. Unfortunately, a terrible instance of shyness and nervousness resulted in her spilling her drink on his foot which caused her to hide away in embarassment. You need to learn to stop standing in your own way both in your social engagements as well as in the art you could and should be making. More often than not, we are our biggest obstacle.