How it was that a year went by so quickly is beyond me. It feels like just yesterday that I was left to recover from the daze that was the first Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, and here I am grabbing at threads of my normal schedule that were abandoned for that show's sequel. The time, it seems, conspired to blow by me and ignore my pleas for a slower pace. And despite my hoping otherwise, the speed of time's passing did not slow for the days of the show either. It was over in a flash, and I sit here wishing I had had just one more day.
Why? Well, on the surface, it was a really good time. For me, another day of laughs and amusement would not have gone unappreciated. Apart from the merriment, however, were the many good conversations I was fortunate enough to have, and I must confess that I could have used even more of those. As is so often the case, there were many conversations about all kinds of books and films. More importantly, though, I was fortunate enough to share several that were very real and heart-felt and about pretty raw subjects. In fact, I had a couple conversations that I suspect I will never forget for the rest of my life. Among the topics discussed were process — but not the physical process of making art. No, these were real deep looks at the heart of where our own truths as artists lie, where our desires are rooted, and how to tap into them.
While such a thing might seem pretty elementary and straightforward, I assure you that it is not always the case. So much of what I do, for example is at the service of a client's needs. For the vast majority of my career, in fact, I've been ignoring my own needs in order to meet those of the various jobs. And it turns out that the result of suppressing my own needs and not satisfying my own artistic desires has resulted in my being horribly out of touch with both. At this point, given the chance to do whatever I want to do, I tend to find nothing. Nothing to tap into, nothing to extrapolate from, nothing to get my juices flowing. At least that's how it always seems.
Still, I have been discovering a lot about myself of late. But much of what I've discovered are the things I do not want. Very little has dawned on me of what I actually do want. After Spectrum Live 2, however, I think I have a better idea of how to figure that out and the encouragement I've gotten from the vast majority of my fellow artists this past weekend was humbling. It is clear that so many of them see things in myself that I, as yet, do not. But I've gotten encouragement to keep looking, and that is invaluable.
It is an amazing thing that I am fortunate enough to have met so many who can talk about and share very raw and powerful things without batting an eyelash. So many of the artists and illustrators I know (myself included) wear their hearts on their sleeves. By extension, publications and shows such as Spectrum and Spectrum Live wear their hearts on
their sleeves, as well. The honesty and simplicity of that is beautiful and is
something I will forever cherish, for such vehicles help artists find one another, help us reach out to one another, and help us bond as a community. Having the opportunity for that community to convene once or twice a year is very special and I, for one, am so very grateful for that.
In a matter of just a few days, so much is shared. So much is given. So much is there to be taken in. It's no wonder that the days pass so quickly. After spending so much time preparing and agonizing over small details for weeks before the show, we get there and put up our displays hoping for the best. And then it all ends so suddenly. The clock strikes the closing hour and a cheer rings out. Another show is under our collective belts. And then something truly fascinating occurs: the breakdown. The speed at which our work comes off the walls, our boxes are packed up, and our presence is made to disappear is amazing. Perhaps the inertia born from this is what causes the following year to pass by so quickly. Or maybe it's just the anticipation of getting to do it all over again is the machine driving everything forward. Whatever the case, I somehow will not be surprised should I find myself preparing for the next show on the other side of my very next blink. But hopefully I'll be given the time to start acting on what I've learned and figuring out that which still needs figuring.
Thanks to everyone who made it a great show and thanks so much to those of you who shared so much insight. I hope one day to have such insight and be as brave as you all were in sharing it to the next person in line. In the meantime, I hope to make work that puts this year's wall to shame.
Thanks most of all to Arnie and Cathy Fenner. I remember the very first time I saw Spectrum. I spent hours on the floor of Barnes and Noble leafing through the pages filled with inspiration and a deep feeling of inadequacy. It was that latter emotion that drove me in the vain hope that I might one day make an appearance on the publications' pages. That goal was just a dream for a long time, and I had no idea that I would be fortunate enough to see it become a reality several times over. But even after reaching that goal, I did not in my wildest imagination expect to see the work immortalized in those books covering the walls of Society of Illustrators or trekking out to Kansas City to be a humble part of a show bringing so many of my art and illustration heroes under one roof. I have no idea how you managed it all, but I deeply appreciate all you have done.
If there is a Spectrum Live 3, barring any unforeseen circumstances, you can expect to see my name on the list of exhibitors.