First off, this is NOT the blog post where I admit that we are con artists and we just stole all of your money. If that’s what you were looking for I am sorry to disappoint you. Maybe next time we will do that. This is about a drawing thing I do every year.
I have been an anime fan since before I really knew what anime was; which is to say, I like animation. I grew up on Toonami and was the president of my high school’s anime club. I’m sure I could write up a big list of nerd things I did but that’s not why I’m here. The point is; the very first batch of conventions I ever attended were anime conventions. They were amazing. Having a massive collective of people that share the same nerdy interests as you is quite eye opening at a young age. I used to run around buying shit, taking pictures of cosplayers and to a lesser extent, attending panels. As I grew older I sorta fell out of anime. I still really enjoy certain series but the flow of content from Japan has dropped and my standards have risen. But I still enjoy attending one convention in particular.
Anime Central (Acen) is an annual convention held at the Rosemont Center in the Chicago-land area. I have been attending Acen since 2001. As each year passed, my friends and I found that attending the convention panels and whatnot had become less and less enticing. The most fun we had was meeting new people. My favorite thing to do at Acen was to just stay up really late in the lobby, ussualy playing a cardgame or selling pocky or something. People will just stop by and chat with you for hours.
So back in 2008, I was sitting around with many of my art inclined friends. Before I made games, I made webcomics (I’ve always been one to tell stories.) Which is to say I fancied myself a artist for a while. We started a ‘drawing circle’ and just stayed up late drawing. People came and joined us like they normally do, but this time they would whip out their own drawing stuff and draw with us. We started collecting the drawings from everyone and ended up with 50 drawings that year.
I started a Deviant Art account to host all the images. It was a huge pain to manage all the drawings which is probably why we never did that again. But we did give ourselves a name. The Con Artists (get it?!)
The next year rolled around and we brought supplies for people this time. We found a spot in the lobby and just started drawing. More and more people stop by each year and the long and short of this story is that we have been doing this for the past 4 years. Each year we get more people participating and returning friends come to draw with us or just look through the stack of maybe… 400 drawings to find their old ones.
After last year’s Acen, I took all the images and compiled them into a huge image(NSFW):
If you actually look closely you can see that we pretty much accept all drawings. The idea isn’t really that we collect only good artists, but more that we just draw and socialize. Acen is this weekend and I look forward to running the Con Artists once again.
Every year we do something different. The first year was a DA account. Apparently we have a Facebook page… I don’t know when that happened. I did this comp for 2011 and posted it on AnimeChicago.com. This year, I have an iPad I’ll have tied to myself with all the previous years work on it so people can flip through the old stuff like that.
I went to lunch in the middle of this and don’t remember where I was going. Do you want a moral to the story? That’s usually a good way to end a story.
I haven’t really been drawing much in the past 4 years. Ever since I got a job, my time mostly goes to digital-art or completely not-art-at-all things. It’s sad to see my artistic talents fade from me like and old man loses his [every ability]. But the Con Artists is something I hope to keep up as long as I’m able and I love meeting new people every year. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you are good at what you do; all that matter’s is that you stay creative. My outlet for expression has transitioned from drawing to game development and I’m pretty pleased with where that is taking me. But sometimes it’s nice to sit down and exercise some old talents with friends.