To be honest, I never thought this day would come. For many years I certainly hoped and dreamed it would. Now that it has, I find my reaction a little strange. Yesterday they announced the artists included in Spectrum 26
, which is coming out later this year. For those unfamiliar with Spectrum, it has been the preeminent fantasy art annual for over a quarter of a century. For a large portion of the morning, I was under the assumption that once again, after nearly a decade of trying to get in, I had been rejected. It turns out I was mistaken. It turns out that I have been accepted into Spectrum 26.
Spectrum 26 Call for Entries poster (detail) by Tyler Jacobson
When I realized my error, I was surprised by my reaction. I did not jump around or feel dumbstruck in excitement. I merely stared at my name and said, "Huh." Maybe it is because I had thought I did not make it in, perhaps it was because going into this year's submission process, I had no expectations, or maybe in it is because I am now in a place with my art that I don't really look to outside recognition to validate my work. Whatever it was, it left me with a quiet, introspective moment when I learned the news. Do not get me wrong, this is a tremendous honor, and I am thrilled to be included in the book with so many other fantastic artists. I have spent close to a decade trying to get here. I have spent a fair amount of money over those years on submission fees. To fight to be included in something for so many years knowing deep down that my work is really not suited for what Spectrum selects and to finally get in, well, it feels strange. I am thrilled, but it feels strange. Here is the piece that was chosen, Sunken Stalls, which will be appearing in The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia.
One of the reasons this all feels rather strange is that being accepted does not make me feel any different about my art. For years I think I was looking for the validation of Spectrum to show me that my art is good and that I am a good artist. I needed someone or something else to prove to me that I was doing a good job. After twenty years of making art professionally with fifteen in the gaming industry, maybe I don't need that anymore. Maybe when I finally get that thing I so desperately needed, I realize I no longer need it. What it does show me is that now that I am doing MY work, telling MY stories, and sharing MY world is when I am accepted. It shows me that I have made the right choice in focusing my time and energy on my creations.
I distinctly remember when Spectrum 1 was released. I worked at a comic book store while trudging through junior college with no goals or plans for the future. An art career was not even a remote glimmer in my eye. The shop owner ordered many copies of the book because it would be the next big thing, and he loved art. I poured over that book, drinking up all the gorgeous work having no clue of how it was made or how one gets to the point to do such work. I guess, for me at least, it takes twenty-five years of life to get there.
I should also mention that I almost did not submit this particular piece to Spectrum this year. I had my favorites from the Grand Bazaar and was planning to only submit those. The way the submission process works is that there is a price break on a series, and I was submitting around two more than the price break allowed. This meant I had to submit an additional series and double my entrance fee. I thought long and hard about it and almost played it cheap. In the end, I decided to do all or nothing. So glad I did.
I would like to extend to huge thanks to everyone at Spectrum, Flesk Publishing, and the jury. It is an honor to be a part of Spectrum 26, and I cannot wait to see the completed book later this year.
That is all for another exciting TUESDAY on the blog. See you back here on Wednesday! Until then...