LightBox Expo recap: Three days of an Art Lover’s Dream

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When I first heard about new event LightBox Expo last September (Friday 6th – Sunday 8th September 2019, Pasadena Convention Center), I was very excited since DesignerCon is one of my favorite shows of the year, and this show sounded like it was coming at the idea of what a convention could be from a very similar angle – that of a concentrated artistic perspective.

As it happened, LightBox Expo did not disappoint at all – the guestlist for this artist-focused convention was top notch and included such heavy hitters including Marvel Studios Visual Development talent like Ryan Meinerding, Karla Ortiz, Andy Park, Jackson Sze, Janna Schrimer, Anthony Francisco and Rodney Fuentebella.

Some of the other artists at the inaugural event included Mike Mignola, Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, J. Scott Campbell, Camilla d’Errico, Kate Leth, Patrick O’Keefe, wunderkind Ethan Castillo, Chris Sanders, Humberto Ramos, Kris Anka, and many more as part of an exhibit hall with around two hundred and fifty booths.

One of the great things about this show is it’s more than just a convention: it’s a show that is part networking and part fan-driven. There were quite a few animation studios set up with booths in the hopes of attracting new talent to work for them.

The artists that did have booths at the show were a lot more approachable due to the nature of the convention. Attendees could talk one on one with some of the talent listed above. There was also quite a few booths where attendees could have their portfolio looked at by the artists. I personally saw J. Scott Campbell and Mike Mignola being asked for their opinions on artwork from aspiring artists.

I managed to pick up a few commission pieces of artwork myself which, at a typical convention, is a bit tougher due to the intense crowds – this was way more relaxed. Added to my collection were a Spider-Man from Humberto Ramos, a Pepper (a character he created) from Artgerm, a Phoenix from personal fave Camilla d’Errico, and a Harley Quinn from Tanya Campbell.

Of course, a con needs more than just vendors to produce a good show… and the programming at LightBox Expo was top notch if you’re into art and what goes into making it.

I sat in on the ‘Artgerm From Cover To Cover’ panel on Saturday morning in which Stanley talked about his work on cover art, his career, as well as taking questions from the audience.

My other panel highlight was the ‘Marvel Panel’ which had a ton of talent from Marvel Studios Visual Development team including Andy Park, Ryan Meinerding, Jackson Sze, Anthony Francisco, Rodney Fuentebella, Karla Ortiz, and Jana Schirmer – the panel was hosted by Iain McCaig, who knows a bit about visual development having worked on the prequel trilogy for Lucasfilm.

Saturday night’s programming ended with the first-ever Concept Art Awards which was hosted by the very funny Jonah Ray. The awards were given out in various categories relating to concept art. In addition, they also gave out five inaugural Lifetime Achievement Awards to true legends in concept art: H.R. GigerRalph McQuarrieJean “Moebius” GiraudRon Cobb, and Syd Mead.

All-in-all, this show was a terrific success for its creators, Bobby Chiu and Jim Demonakos, the exhibitors and, of course, the fans. And the organisers I can’t wait to see what they do when it returns in 2020, from September 11th-13th!

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