Go to Homepage   Artist Brings Con and .Com Together for Groundbreaking Digital Art Show

(image courtesy Renderosity and Dragon*Con)

Be careful what you kvetch about; you just might be put in charge. That's what audre, computer graphics artist and editor of Renderosity magazine, discovered when she complained to Dragon*Con Art Show Director Patrick Roberts that the 2001 show didn't support digital art in its native format. Roberts challenged her to do better.

For digital artists, Roberts' challenge arrived at exactly the right moment. Renderosity, the Web's largest community of computer graphics artists and animators, wanted to host a convention for digital artists but lacked the know-how. A marriage made in virtual heaven? The proof will be visible from a number of different angles at this year's Dragon*Con, which runs from August 30 through September 2 in Atlanta, Ga. But the show promises to be something special for digital virtuosi and new viewers alike.

Crescent Blues: What is so unique about the Dragon*Con Digital Art Show?

audre: Well, we believe that it is the first event of its kind in the con scene. In the past, all art was required to be "hard copy," be that traditionally painted, printed or other physical media. In this event, digital art is accepted in its native format and presented to art show attendees on huge monitors in the same way the artist created it in the first place. In addition to being able to enjoy and view this electronic art, art show attendees can also purchase print-on-demand of digital pieces, on either canvas or watercolor paper, in a few assorted sizes.

By accepting and displaying the digital art in its native format, we alleviated the extra requirements and costs that most digital artists had been faced with in the past, having to get their work printed, shipped and set up in the physical spaces of traditional art shows.

Crescent Blues: Where can readers go to see a sample of the art?

audre: Right now, there are no online areas where the digital art show entries are being displayed. However, for those people not able to attend Dragon*Con, we are discussing the possibility of creating a virtual art show in which those participating digital artists may choose to include their entries in a web-version which would be available on the Dragon*Con Web page after the close of the convention.

It's really quite phenomenal, the enthusiasm we see from this branch of the artistic community.

Crescent Blues: How will the art be presented to attendees?

audre: The digital art is submitted into two categories: For Print and For Display. In the Display Only section, lower resolution images will be displayed on a 50-inch monitor, running in a continuous slide show. The images in this section will be for attendees to enjoy. It was also a way to let those artists who had older work -- or work that lacked the kind of resolution needed to make good quality prints -- display their work in the art show.

In addition, the Display Only section will feature some animated work. On the For Print kiosks the artwork will also be displayed continuously in slide shows. However, art show attendees will have an opportunity to take home high quality prints made from this artwork. Attendees will have the option of either watercolor paper or canvas (stretched or un-stretched) in a variety of sizes.

Crescent Blues: How many artists will be represented?

audre: Right now it looks like we'll have about a hundred artists. We plan to display about four hundred images, with about three hundred of those images available as prints.

Crescent Blues: Doesn't the art lose something when it's printed?

audre (image courtesy audre)

audre: Honestly this depends on the individual piece. It is true that the color space of the computer/monitor is larger than that of paper-and-ink so some colors, no matter how hard we try, will never be reproducible. This, however, has always been the reality of any art that ends up on paper or canvas. The success of the printed piece is very much dependent upon the savvy and talent of the artist, no matter what medium is used.

We've gone to much effort to emphasize this color-space shift to participating artists so that they can adjust their work accordingly to insure vibrant and bright prints of their art. This is really the key: compensating for this beforehand. The art which we will be displaying on the For Print kiosks will have been shifted already into the more restrictive color space to help attendees see more closely what the printed piece will look like.

Crescent Blues: What kind of special events will be associated with the show?

audre: Within the digital art show, we have a special "mini convention" occurring. We have partnered up with Renderosity.com, who will be hosting their very own convention which will exist within the digital art show itself.

Renderosity is a huge online computer graphic artists community. We were very excited to include them within our digital art section because it was the perfect way for us to celebrate our own inaugural event.

Our Digital Programming Track is being hosted and run entirely by Renderosity.com. They have arranged to have three presentation rooms going simultaneously to insure that there will be plenty to see and learn, and get inspired by.

They are still making last minute changes as more and more panelists check in with confirmed travel plans so please check Renderosity's Dragon*con Web site for the more current schedule. But if you just want to get an idea of the exciting and informative panels, you can check my latest table.

Crescent Blues: Does the show boast any other corporate partners?

audre: Oh yes, through our involvement with Renderosity we have tremendous support from the digital art community as a whole -- everyone from software and hardware manufacturers to individual professional artists and hobbyists, down to folks who just love art are pitching in and donating product and expertise.

So Patrick Roberts asked me if I cared to "put my money where my mouth was..."

As a result of this huge support network, Renderosity will be able to raffle off wonderful prizes. Things like software and books and CD-Roms filled with digital models and textures and tools to allow artists to jump right in and start creating incredible fantasy art right on their computers. It's really quite phenomenal, the enthusiasm we see from this branch of the artistic community.

And I am very pleased to announce a special event/presentation that I am currently working on. If all goes well, we will be showing artists how they can make physical, three-dimensional models from their computer meshes. Real honest-to-goodness figures and models that you can touch and feel created directly from their computer models!

Crescent Blues: How are the traditional SF/fantasy markets using digital/computer generated art?

audre: As more and more production processes become computer driven, I think you will find that digital media -- whether something was always digital or was converted into digital format for production purposes -- is becoming the standard in not only publishing but also games and movies. This means that digital media is inherently compatible with the production process of most consumer goods. So it's already welcome in the mainstream, everywhere that any other art medium is. In fact, with digital art, there is usually a bit less cost involved for the publisher/manufacturer, since no scans or film needs to be made to capture the art onto a usable "plate."

Today, an artist has so many alternatives and outlets for their creative endeavors -- digital is just the newest. It's really quite and exciting time to be making art. Renderosity artists will be having their own Digital Art Print section on display at the Renderosity booth and these, too, will be available through Renderosity in the Print On Demand format.

Crescent Blues: How did Renderosity get involved in the show?

audre: Basically, me. Last year I displayed a few of my prints in the art show and did a presentation on "Using Affordable Digital Tools to Create Fantasy Art" with Joe Grover of Curious Labs. While talking with Patrick Roberts, the director of the Dragon*Con Art Show, about digital art in general, I pointed out that the show did not really support digital art in its native format. (The way it works in most art shows is that a digital artist has to buy space, spend money printing their work, mat and frame it, mail it and otherwise spend a whole bunch of money just to get the art into a format that was an acceptable display medium for the show -- even if they didn't want to sell any of it! Plus, this only works for static art. Animation typically has no place to be shown at all, unless it's an animation festival or other specialized event.)

Dreamcatcher was one of the images audre printed for display at Dragon*Con 2001. (image courtesy audre)

So Patrick Roberts asked me if I cared to "put my money where my mouth was" and help him create a friendly climate for digital artists wishing to participate in the Dragon*Con Art Show. An offer like that seemed too good to pass up, since I've been a huge digital art evangelist for years and was always disappointed at how slowly these types of events were moving in their acceptance of digital formats. I have to say, it's been such a pleasure working with Patrick and his crew. They are very sincere and hardworking folks who have worked very hard to get the show ready, and I am very honored to be part of such a wonderful group of people.

While working out some events and attractions for the Digital portion of the Art Show, it occurred to me that Renderosity would be a perfect match for participating in the show to celebrate the inaugural event. The timing was perfect too, since Renderosity wanted to have their own convention with classes for quite some time now, but they had no idea how to do it. So I connected the team at Dragon*Con to the team at Renderosity... and the idea blossomed and bore some remarkable fruit.

To everyone involved, it seemed logical that Renderosity have an area inside of Dragon*Con Art Show, where they could see how to run the overall convention and also run events and panels. Also, Dragon*Con is as much a trade show as it is entertainment. So Renderosity brings a wonderful side of the entertainment industry to the show. Dragon*Con is intended to be a place where you can see every facet of entertainment from beginning to end. Of course, if you also meet someone from the industry that has a job opening, even better.

Jean Marie Ward

Click here to learn more about audre.

Click here to learn more about the Digital Art Show at Dragon*Con.