Jane Frank

  • The last few weeks I’ve been spending hours and hours listing our art books on eBay. A once pretty vast assortment which now – owing to our recent move to much smaller digs – needs to be permanently and with much […]

  • ThumbnailSure, I could have titled this post “My Precious” and maybe that’s what you were thinking this was going to be about.  It’s not.

    What it’s about, is (a) next week I’ll be attending the World Fantasy Con with […]

  • ThumbnailDeath, Divorce, Destitution, Dislike

    I call these the four “D’s” and no one likes these (most important) reasons for parting with art . . . which means selling or otherwise disposing.   And managing that […]

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    Well, I’m home from the front lines, back from the “trenches” filled with Imaginative Realism – and the reunion was an unqualified success!  I say “reunion” because IlluXCon (IX for short) feels just like […]

  • ThumbnailIt seems like only yesterday (in fact, it WAS only yesterday) that I turned in the last of my postings on the 72nd Worldcon: LonCon3 . . . and here I am (along with dozens of artists) gearing up for the next. <a […]

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    (You can read Jane Frank’s Loncon3 Con Report, Part 1, here)

    In this second part of my report on LonCon3, I will be focusing on ART and ARTISTS – one of the two main reasons I traveled “across the pond” to […]

  • Large, and spacious layout for the art show made viewing easy, even if getting to see everything in one visit, difficult

    Large, and spacious layout for the art show made viewing easy, even if getting to see everything in one visit, difficult

    Is it possible for an SF Worldcon to be too big?  That was the question floating in the air high above (and I mean HIGH above) the heads of 10,000+ of us as we made our way through the cavernous space that was the main floor of the Excel Convention Center at the Docklands, London.  It’s a question I will get back to later – meanwhile I’ve decided that the only way to deal with a Worldcon of such proportions is to devote more than one blog to it.  So there will be three of these posts (all good things come in threes, as you know).  Because, when you’re attending the largest SF Worldcon in the history of Worldcon, there is just TOO much to see and do (and say about it) to squeeze into one teensy blog – even the kinds of teensy that I routinely publish here (already over the edge of what AS’s esteemed editor suggests as a reasonable length  🙂

    Built for the Olympics, I was told, the Excel Center is a truly large venue: so big, that the building was one-third of a mile in length from the West to East Entrance, where the Worldcon was being held.  I didn’t realize this until Thursday morning, one full day after I arrived (the first day I used to recoup from jet lag and went nowhere) and made the trek to Registration.  When I say “trek” I mean it: It was so long a distance to walk, that – because my hotel was at the West entrance – I (and most others who were similarly staying at hotels near that entrance) were compelled to ride the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) trains for one stop each time we wanted to return to the con, or have dinner (all the nearby restaurants, it seemed, were located near the West Entrance).

    The Docklands Light Railway was new, fast, efficient and under construction - closing off street entrances and adding to walk times . . . but necessary with the distance between East and West Entrances one train stop apart.

    The Docklands Light Railway was new, fast, efficient and under construction – closing off street entrances and adding to walk times . . . but necessary with the distance between East and West Entrances one train stop apart.

    Jumping on the train was easy thanks to “lifts” and covered walkways but . . . still alot of walking, in the midst of construction on this part of the line.  I mention this only because the effort to get there was matched only by my surprise when I finally got to “Registration,” that first morning.  OMG.

    Despite having pre-registered, I estimate the line was 4 blocks long – winding for yards on the “boulevard level” and then up a long flight of steps to another line in the “first level”.  Then I had to wait on a shorter line for program participants.  I was tired of walking and standing by then – but the organization and orderliness of things was astounding.  Registering . . . like my program packet and schedule . . .  was error free.  Even better – and against all odds –  it turned out to be not so big a Worldcon after all.  Somehow, everyone I wanted to see, was hoping to see, I magically found, in short order.  In the art show, attending panels with me, or just hanging around the “fan village” – for “newbies” it may have been a wholly different experience, however.

    Joe Siclari, Edie Stern, Melissa Conway, and

    Joe Siclari (past Worldcon Chair, Pres Fanac, collector), with spouse Edie Stern (far left), Melissa Conway (Dir. Eaton Collection special collections, seated), and Theresa Hanley, former director of the Museum of History & Art, Ontario.

    THE meeting spot for everyone . . . thanks to tables and chairs and beer, was the “Fan Village.” No surprise, I suppose, given the camaraderie of those who look forward to seeing each other for these brief times, once or twice a year, over a period of 20-30 years.  Yikes!   🙂

    Naturally, my first stop was the art show.   More than 100 artists, in a space 33 meters wide x 60 meters long, according to co-director of the artshow, Serena Culfeather.  That made the display space close to 2/3 the size of a football field, or – as I discovered – too big to get through in one day.  Especially when your first priority is to schmooze with artists you haven’t seen in years.  This was worrisome, because I knew I was on the program to give a docent tour on Friday morning.  So I took a few notes on about 1/3 of the show and figured that would be about all anyone could reasonably hear me jabber about for an hour.  As it turned out, I was right.

    The art show was buzzing: a combination of artists still setting up and people waiting impatiently for the TITAN art book launch at 4 PM . . . and artists’ signing.  More about that in Part 2 of my Loncon3 report.

    David Angus, Planetary Modeller extraordinaire, with his "Exoearth" planet wrapped and ready to be rolled home

    David Angus, Planetary Modeller extraordinaire, with his “Exoearth” planet wrapped and ready to be rolled home

    No surprise: the dearth of American artists represented in the artshow.  No surprise: the fact that 50% of the art (estimated)

    was digital art/prints.  Big Surprise: the quality of the art (traditionally painted and new media) that was on display. Big surprise: the difference it can make when artists are given the space to show large works that don’t fit on 4’x6′ panels, such as John Harris‘s major triptych print of a painting in pastels, “Ancillary Justice,” or when tables holding 3D art aren’t relegated to the hinterlands, but rather intergrated into the heart of the exhibition area . . .

    LonCon3 art show with tables intermixed with panels, disolaying art (Angus's imaginary world shown on the table, before 'wrapping)

    LonCon3 art show with tables intermixed with panels, disolaying art (Angus’s imaginary world shown on the table, before ‘wrapping)

    . . .  as the photo here shows, with David Angus‘s “Exoearth” model front and center.  These decisions elevated the 3D artwork and made a big difference (to me, at least) in how such art is perceived.

    Among my stops:  to say “hello again” to all the artists I knew – and see what they brought in.  Jim Burns, still adjusting the bid sheets on his offerings of giclee prints on a large table, gave me a jolt – he was now sporting a beard (!) Bruce Pennington was there, too, and that was a pleasant surprise.  I met for the first time at the World Fantasy convention in Brighton, England last year (though we had corresponded before then) – so I was happy to see that appearance had gone well enough for him to venture out again, thanks to his friend author Nigel Suckling (a name well known to fans of art books published by Paper Tiger). The £ to $ exchange rate was a real downer for me, escalating the prices beyond the comfort zone for me – or else I would have taken a few home!  I spent too long with Danny Flynn and as it turned out, ended up introducing him to Pennington.  I hurried to see what Harry Harrison’s estate (among others had put up for auction.  It was advertised as vintage British illustration art, but it was a relatively sparse display, “odds and ends” and not what I was hoping for (what I was hoping for was to find some early 50s colorful UK mag covers, the kind that never seem to surface!)  The good stuff by American artists (Van Dongen, Freas) quickly got bids.

    Meanwhile, my first panel, me as moderator, was on Thursday at 7 PM.  Ordinarily, I would despair at having a program item scheduled at that hour.  But with 10,000 attendees – as I discovered – no worries about people not showing up. There were 14 (14!) program items to choose from at that hour, and the room was still pretty full.  I had previously written everyone on the panel – the topic was  “The Future of Professional Artists” – begging them, please,”let’s not make this discussion into a eulogy. . . bemoaning the “death” of sf art “as we knew it”  😉  And for the most part, we succeeded. . . no pity party for us!!!  I knew everyone on the panel but one: Hugo Award Winner, 2013 for Best Fan artist, and also 2014 nominee for Best artist, Galen Dara, whom I met for the first time at this panel.  What a treat!  I wish I had taken her picture, she was dressed for cosplay with an attention getting headpiece of pink flowers and an adorable pinafore-type dress, shades of pink – a youthful ensemble that made the rest of us on the panel, Danny Flynn, Chris Moore, and Steve Crisp look totally joyless and decrepit.  It made me think: why am I always wearing blouses guaranteed not to wrinkle?  Maybe next year . . . purple hair . . . in Spokane?

    After the panel “we” – joined by others attending the panel – repaired to the “Fan Village” for some expensive, warm beer and crisps (chips).  We got so involved with yakking that by the time I realized the time, I was too tired to search for the auditorium where the retro Hugos award ceremony was being held – RATS!  🙁   Even though I wrote the article on artists working in 1938 that would have been potential contenders for the Award, had there been one.  Next morning I learned that Finlay won. Hurrah! 🙂

    Next post:  more about art, new art books and artists!

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    Last week I began the first installement, Part 1 of a three part “story”, and a related “glossary” of words and phrases, in an effort to make art babble a little easier to understand.  This week I continue the […]

  • The language of art collecting can be strange, wonderful and at times totally mystifying to outsiders.  It’s a vocabulary rife with very specific descriptors (“etching, serigraph, remarque”) as well as a baffling […]

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    In the mid-nineties, British artist Fred Gambino was working 24/7, with a backlog consistently ten jobs ahead, producing dozens of advertising illustrations and book covers in acrylics and oils per year for […]

  • My first printed catalog, 1995 with 2-color cover to save money, artwork  by Ian Miler.

    My first printed catalog, 1995 (#7) with 2-color cover to save money, artwork by Ian Miler. 125 works in color by 36 artists, 40 pp

    In the “as if we needed another reminder” dept., I decided a couple of weeks ago to reduce my stacks of old printed Worlds of Wonder catalogs. I’m talking dozens and dozens, going all the way back to 1995, when I first started producing printed catalogs. To my surprise, they are selling pretty well on eBay.  Just as surprising, are the pangs of nostalgia I got simply from counting them up . . . and of course, peeking inside.  Damn, but those were good paintings!  Damn, but those catalogs were pains in the @$$ to produce!  How hard was it?  Let’s take a trip down memory lane . . . back to 1991.  When times were REALLY different.

    I didn’t always use printed catalogs as a way to present and sell art.  When I first started up my business, 1991, I began with VIDEO tape catalogs.  That’s right, I hired a videographer, (to film the art), a narrator (for voice over), paid an amateur musician $50. for some appropriate background music, and found a production company in Pennsylvania (the kind that duplicated and distributed marketing videos for colleges looking to recruit new students) to copy and package 20-30 minute long catalogs on VHS tape – each one featuring about 30 – 50 paintings and sculptures.   Where did I get that idea? From a small newspaper article talking about the “new” way of marketing “high end” consumer goods via video tape (lap pools, cars, yachts).  I thought: I need something different, and “visual”….did some research….and decided to do it. I became an art video producer.

    I found my director, producer and filmmaker on the faculty at American University, where I was teaching adjunct at the time (School of Communications) in the person of Dr. Jack Jorgens, now Emeritus Professor, whose experience was largely devoted to documentaries in South American – but was up to the challenge of dealing with a neophyte and was curious enough to sign on.

    Catalog #9, 1997.  153 artworks in full color, 44 pp, cover by Romas Kukalis

    Catalog #9, 1997. 153 artworks in full color, 44 pp, cover by Romas Kukalis

    Through him I found my narrator – one that didn’t sound like the guy selling V-8.  I didn’t want a recognizable “voice”.  And I didn’t want my own. . . either   🙂   Not only did I speak too quickly, I was the wrong gender. Yes, there is gender bias when it comes to selling.   Men’s voices are perceived as more authoritative, soothing, persuasive to both sexes. And I’m practical, when it comes to business.  We did the filming at my house.  I got to go to the studio for the taping of the narration, and editing of the film.  I wrote all the scripts.  It was fun.

    That lasted 4 years and resulted in 6 catalogs.  People loved them.  They watched them.  They even bought art from me, after seeing the art on tape.. But as my business grew, I realized how limiting this method was….not only in terms of how many pieces I could offer (it was unrealistic to imagine anyone would watch a feature-length marketing film 🙂 however colorful the art!) but also where I could distribute it.  I was getting requests from Europe (PAL format – which cost 4x as much to convert).  So, albeit reluctantly, I switched to PAPER in 1995, with my 7th catalog.  And what was fun, turned almost immediately into a DIY nightmare.

    10th Anniversary Catalog, #16 (2001) 166 artworks by 43 artists, 40 pp,

    10th Anniversary Catalog, #16 (2001) 166 artworks by 43 artists, 40 pp, Cover a montage of catalogs #7-#15 which I made by tearing off the covers, gluing them to a large board and photographing them.


    I had to find a graphic designer and a printer.  I was small potatoes, and my project was unusual…just like the VHS tapes.  I found my person in Judy Smith – still in business in Washington DC, who had previously helped me create my first print ads (b/w) and logo.  First step: Lay out.  I was introduced to the time-consuming process of producing camera -ready’ layouts for what then constituted ‘Electronic Color Separation’.
    Because my catalog HAD to show dozens of pieces of art, and the source of the images had to be consistent in format, slides, transparencies, photos of varying sizes – even cover proofs, if that’s all I had to work with – had to be converted to 4″ x 6″ photos that could be glued to a sheet of flexible white poster board 22″ x 28″ that could in turn be mounted to the drum of a drum scanner  . . . so that a light source could analyze the images and produce four-color CYMK separations by photographic method (later it would be pixel by pixel, and RGB).

    Catalog #18 (2002). Horizontal cover, to accomodate art by Richard Powers 162 artworks in color, 33 artists, 40 pp.

    Catalog #18 (2002). Horizontal cover, to accommodate art by Richard Powers 162 artworks in color, 33 artists, 40 pp.

    The size of the photos was dictated by a need to show as many as 10 images on a page, two pages to a board (the more images, the more potential sales), but still keep those images sized large enough to be attractive to potential buyers (about 2″ x 3″) – at a reduction of 50%, I therefore needed 4″ x 6″ photos..

    This meant a steady use of my 35mm Minolta Maxxum 7000 SLR (which cost me $750 and now is $50 on eBay, soon to be an antique) and the “right” film; had to be fast, indoor, artificial light (= Fuji Reala).  I kept the local Rite-Aid and camera shop busy, and I developed a steady hand.  I found a place in NY – 47th St. Photo – that sold film by the dozen rolls, 36 shots to the roll.  Threading the film into the camera was art in itself, and to get the right shot I would need multiple takes.  I threw out dozens of photos – because there was no way to know ahead of time which one was the “one” that would be usable. Then came the layout.  .

    15th Anniversary "Collectors' Edition" Catalog #21 (2005) 41 artists, 208 artworks, 76 pp. Largest catalog I ever produced.

    15th Anniversary “Collectors’ Edition” Catalog #21 (2005) Cover art by Richard Bober, with 41 artists, 208 artworks, 76 pp. Largest catalog I ever produced.

    Each sheet carried two pages of the catalog, and because this method relied on scanning the whole sheet at one time – color balance was important.  One dark image too near another would bring down the color values for both pages.  There was no easy way to correct them after the fact, either.  Reducing the black by 2% during printing would make some images great, and wash out the others. I spent hours balancing the colors and horizontal vs. vertical images in my quest to have the art appear “pleasing to the eye”.  Captions were added separately, mechanically, in the last stage, one line beneath each image.  All the color pages were loaded into the middle of the catalog, and were un-numbered because I couldn’t figure out how the signatures went.  People complained about having to look up descriptions of the art by number, but it wasn’t until QUARK (and me paying someone who knew how) that images and text could be integrated.

    Printing and distribution were other headaches.  No matter what estimate was made for printing, delivery was always late.  If I was not the culprit, they were.  This was a “short run” situation, never more than 500-600, could be 10% or more over or under, and it was expensive as hell.  If I ordered 500, I might get 650 or 450, and the price differential between 500 and 600 made upping the order a no brainer.  This has translated into dozens of extras for some catalogs, today –  while I’m down to 6 total left, for others.  And no matter what the proofs looked like, the final job never looked the same.  When the switch came to all computer input for printing, (RGB) I hated the reduction in sharpness.   Input went faster, but the output was fuzzier.

    It was Labor Intensive. . . in the extreme.  I tried to get the catalogs out either just after Thanksgiving or just after the New Year.

    20th Anniversary issue, Catalog #25 (2009) Cover art by Steve Hickman, with 175 artworks by 23 artists, 40 pp.

    20th Anniversary issue, Catalog #25 (2009) Cover art by Steve Hickman, with 175 artworks by 23 artists, 40 pp.

    Mailing was a full time job for a week: licking and sticking live stamps, 9×12 kraft envelopes by the case, and lugging them to the post office, sack by sack.  I printed labels and ordered return labels by the hundreds.  I had enough art to fill two catalogs a year, but each took 2-3 months to assemble; photo, layout, print, and mail and ultimately I couldn’t do it.

    My anniversary catalogs were fun to do.  I started experimenting with covers.  I added in, then removed, information about each artist, or list of their pubiications.  Collectors were growing savvier, more sophisticated, they knew the artists and were familiar with the names….

    My last printed catalog, #26 (2010) 148 artworks, 17 artists, 36 pp.  Horizontal format cover art by Chris Moore.

    My last printed catalog, #26 (2010) 148 artworks, 17 artists, 36 pp. Horizontal format cover art by Chris Moore.

    Life would have been so much simpler if DVDs, digital cameras, photoshop, and the ‘net had been around when I started WoW..  But what was giveth with one hand, was taketh away by the other. 🙂  By my 26th catalog I had the freedom to show larger images (only 4-5 a page now), fulll color throughout, but: it just no longer made sense to produce printed catalogs. Costs of paper and printing had gone up; it cost me upwards of $10-12K including mailing.  Which translated into having to sell 15-20 paintings just to break even. Plus I had to keep artworks back “in store” for the catalog, which collectors hated.  Then printing companies started going belly-up – my salesman was on his 3rd employer in 3 years.  Just like magazines I had advertised in . . . gone.  By catalog #27 it was time to stop, and I produced that one “online”. And soon as it came out, I realized how silly that was.  I could list any art I wanted, anytime.  Why make people wait?  In the land of the internet, there is no need for postponing gratification  🙂

    Isn’t it ironic that the tech advances that brought the end to my labors, and brought such a “boon” to me in showing and selling art – also brought the end to painted illustration?  When everything is electronic, so must be the Art.

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