Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Thought Bubble: 2012

Last year I attended the 'Thought Bubble' comic book convention in Leeds on Sunday the 18th of November. I felt that the emphasis that the festival has on illustration could help me in my practice, where I am currently attempting to build on my drawing and digital painting skills.

My small party first ventured into the main hall, where tables were set out in isles like small stalls as you would expect at a comic book convention. Here you could browse peoples work, from indie comics to larger titles. Many of the artists seemed enthusiastic to talk about their work, hand out business cards and even produce personalized drawings for people who purchased large hardback comics. I felt rather disappointed that I had no portfolio to show, as it became immediately apparent that there were great opportunities for networking available. I plan to attend next year, so when I do I must be sure I am prepared with a sketchbook and portfolio work. This was something that I noticed about the artists sitting at the stalls, they were using their productively, sketching and constantly honing in their skills. This brings me again to the point that I need to try and have a sketchbook on hand at all times and constantly be trying to build on fundamental drawing skills.

Over the road in the second hall, the set up was similar. There were more artists with stalls, as well as a small open area. This area interestingly hosted ‘draw-offs’ where every half an hour or so, two artists would go head to head responding to a title with a sketch, within a time limit. They were given around a minute if I remember correctly, one of the subjects being ‘Space Janitor’. It was interesting to see these rapid responses from the artists, each with varying styles. Perhaps this could be a good exercise to help draw more freely, trying to quickly capture an image in the mind with simple yet effective markings. Because of the small time frame, the lines and shapes used by the artists had to be very efficient in telling the audience what exactly they were seeing.

One comic book series that caught my eye was titled ‘Telikos Protocol’ by Peter Cooper and Adam Burn. As oppose to most of the other works, which included at some point traditional methods such as pencil, ink, etc. these particular artists took on a full digital approach. Speaking to them, one of the artists said that he started out producing conceptual art within the game industry. This showed in the style of the comic, with a very loose yet in parts detailed feel. You can see the application of custom brushes, probably making the process more efficient. Some of the strokes are very rough and loose, yet help communicate what the viewer is seeing, contrasting with some very sharp and detailed panels where required. Overall it has a very efficient concept art feel, which I really do like. I purchased a signed copy of the first issue to both read and use as visual inspiration.

Overall, I found my visit to the ‘Though Bubble’ convention both informative and inspiring. It would have been nice to have been able to network, show my own work to some of the artists, and receive feedback to help improve in my area of practice and even possible gain some contacts in the illustration industry. This is definitely something to consider for my next visit. Also, the convention stretched over the entire week throughout various venues within the city of Leeds, and there were also talks and panels on the main convention days. Perhaps it would be nice to see more of the festival in future, attending some of the other workshops and smaller networking events.

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