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Funny How That Works - Spotlight on Patrick Roberts [gt0398b]
By Dee-Marie (ladynimue)

This weekend I had the privilege of interviewing Patrick Roberts, current Art Show Director for the Dragon*Con Convention (The Art Show is also the host of Renderosity's Convention within a Convention).

Some Background on 'How it all Started'

The Dragon*Con Convention first came to be in 1987, when a group of Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiasts came together to share their passion. In 2000, Patrick Roberts answered an ad for an art show director on the Dragon*Con newsgroup. "I asked my wife, who has a degree in fine arts, if she would like to be the art director and I would help her. We both accepted the position as co-directors. Then we had a baby at the same time I was finding out I really wanted to be the director. The rest is history."

Although this is his third year as the Dragon*Con Art Show director, Patrick has had many years of experience running art shows with his wife in Florida for VULKON conventions.

One thing that Patrick has learned in all his years is that one man cannot pull off such a big event alone, that is why he depends on a strong supportive staff, or in his words "I have the best staff in the world."

The key players on Dragon*Con his team are:

Joe Yost : Assistant Art Show Director
Todd Pell : Art Show Assembly/Disassembly Manager
Anne Parise : Art Show Program Manager
John Parise : Art Show Internal Security Manager
audre : Art Show Digital Manager

So, without further delay, let's get to the questions!

How long does it take to plan the Dragon*Con Art Show Event? Is this a full time job? If not what industry are you in outside of the convention?

I'm working on the art show all 12 months. After the show we are finishing up the paperwork. Then I take a couple of months to look for new artists. By January, we open up shop to sell artist space and we start to work on new ideas. I make a big announcement on the "Artshows Yahoo Group". We sell out, have the show, and the whole cycle starts all over again!

This is kind of a hobby but a little related to what I do professionally. I am a Research Engineer at Georgia Tech in Aerospace Engineering. I am always looking for new and fresh ideas. I look at the Art Director gig as being an idea farmer. I put together a show where I can display a collection of ideas.

I know the Renderosity members are excited to be a part of the Art Show and also have a venue to display their talents in digital art. How did you come to the decision to include digital art this year and how were you inspired to include Renderosity?

audre. -- Last year she displayed in the artshow and did a presentation on using Digital Tools to Create Fantasy Art with Joe Grover. While talking with me about the show, she pointed out that we did not have all the types of art show space we should have to support all artistic mediums, in particular Digital Art.

The way it works in most other Art Shows is that a digital artist would have 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! And, this only works for static art --Animation had no place to be shown at all.

Well, with this new Digital Art section of our Art Show, we fix all of that. While working out some events and attractions for the Digital portion of the Art Show, it occurred to audre that Renderosity would be a perfect match for participating in the show to celebrate the innaugural event. She knew that Renderosity wanted to start their own show, and have their own convention with classes for quite some time now, but they had no idea how to do it. So, she 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 where they could see how we run the overall convention and also run their events. Also, Dragon*Con is very much a trade show as it is entertainment. Renderosity brings a wonderful side of the Entertainment industry to the show. Dragon*Con should 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.

Art has evolved through technology, what is your impression of digital art?

It has come along way in quality. The best thing I like about it is that it's a medium that allows more people to express themselves easier and faster than some other mediums.

It is getting to the point where an artist can really stay focused on the artistic idea instead of fighting against the software to express that idea.

Are you a digital artist?

I'm not an artist in the traditional sense (sound familiar). I use mathematics as art. If you don't believe mathematics can be art just read "The Art of Mathematics" by Jerry P. King. There are some math derivations that are so elegant, so logical that will explain something that no one understood before that it will bring out emotions you never knew you had. That is art.

Do you think the industry is growing more towards digital art and away from traditional art mediums?

Absolutely not. It's an additional medium so what we get are many more artists and ways to enjoy art.

Do you think that the Science Fiction / Fantasy imagination can be displayed best through digital art than traditional medium?

Yes and no. For some artists the best way they express an idea is through sculpture, another through paint, yet another through digital. It depends on the artist.

What level of expertise you expect from the people who participate in the Art division?

I have a wide variety of amateurs and professionals. I believe in having an inclusive show where as many can participate as I have space.

How are the participants chosen for the convention?

It's strictly first come, first serve. We do select our Artist Guest of Honor.

The Dragon*Con Art Show is not juried. We welcome all artists of all talent levels. We want to present a venue for as many artists as possible to get exposure and share their passion.

Digital art will be a part of the show for the first time this year, in previous years which medium of art was most popular?

Whoa--Let's clarify something. This is not the first year for digital art. It's the first year we have been able to accept and display digital art in its native environment.

As to what is most popular, it really changes from year to year. We sell a lot of paintings and framed pieces because they make up a large part of the show. We sell all types of work though.

How do you think digital art will compare to that of traditional mediums?

I have no idea. This year's Dragon*Con will be the very first test. Ask me after the show and we'll run the numbers.

How much will the digital art prints cost on the "print on demand" station?

They will range in price from $16 to $150 depending on size, type of medium, and whether you want it stretched on a frame or not (in the case of the canvas prints).

What are the demographics (age, gender, profession) of the convention goers?

There are literally all types. I see kids and I see old people with one foot in the grave. I see men, women, and other. I've met people who do every kind of profession in the phone book.

From your past experience which genre tends to sell the most, Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Fantasy only because there is more fantasy work out there. There needs to be a lot more Science Fiction art. I think it's harder to make good Sci Fi art than fantasy. Syd Mead is one of my absolutely favorite Sci-Fi artists and he was one of my guests last year. I can die happy now.

What words of inspiration can you give to future artist that wish to succeed in the world of SF/Fantasy Art?

Art is not about the tool. Find what works for you. No matter what it is and work with that so you are completely satisfied with your expression.


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