Friday, October 29, 2021

Illuxcon 2021 Recap

The Grand Bazzar of Ethra VanDalia at IX 2021

Last week I was able to return to in-person conventions. Given all the events of the past two years, there is something comforting about it being Illuxcon. IX has been a special part of my life since 2009, and it was not the same last year without it. To ensure that we had the safest event possible, only fully vaccinated individuals could attend, and during event hours in event venues, masks were required at all times. It was the least we could do to help create a safe and enjoyable experience. 

I am not sure I can put into words how much this year's IX means to me. I knew I was missing friends and the greater art community and family, but until I got there, I was unaware of how desperate I was to be part of it again. I feel I had been wandering the desert got two years and finally found water and food. I know I was not the only one feeling this. I am filled with hope, love, and the creative spark again. Hopefully, I will channel this, as I have done in the past, to push forward with new work. It's not just about art; so much of what made IX great this year was simply being around friends and people again. At times, it was emotionally overwhelming, and it took everything I had to keep my composure and enjoy the moments. 

I will be honest, I did a lousy job of taking photos of IX this year. I never left my booth during show hours, except for restroom breaks, lunch, and the panels I was a part of. Not only did I do a poor job of documenting the event, I never saw the main show except for my floor and some of the first floor. I visited the fourth floor early on set up day before most people were even there and never again. This is all on me, and I regret it. For better or worse, I was focused on the Grand Bazaar this year now that the books are available. I wanted to be present in the booth at all times and available to talk to people about my work. The funny thing is, after all the preparation and work I did to ensure IX was the best it could be, I forgot to plan how I was going to talk about my book. For years I practiced talking about the book I was working on, the book that was just over the horizon. I never thought I would have trouble talking about the book right in front of me. Since it was the only thing that I didn't plan or prepare for, it was the one issue I had. In general, I think I am talking about the book wrong, but I will need to talk about this another day when it is the focus. Suffice it to say, by the end of IX, I understood the problem, and I have some plans on how to move forward. 

I think I could keep talking about how much IX meant to me and how important it was to finally be happening again, but I think now is a good time for images and thoughts associated with them.

Now that the book is out and I have a complicated setup at conventions, the only travel solution is a trailer. I know I packed way more books than I needed, but it was my first convention with them, and I wanted to be optimistic.

Even though it has been a long time since I did an event, Mietze could tell something was up and tried his best to stick close to the items going with me. I think he hoped to come to IX with me.

Once again, we had the pleasure to stop at Natural Bridge Part on the journey to Reading, PA. The weather was much better this year, and we were presented with a gorgeous morning to take in this natural wonder. 

Part of the trail was closed, but we could still take in a lot of the natural beauty of the park.

New to us this year was the Dinosaur Kingdom 2. It was not open, but there were a collection of monsters outside to enjoy.

Also new to us was the Nature Bridge Zoo. They had a surprisingly large selection of animals. 

This zoo allowed for many close encounters with beautiful creatures.

The one thing I was most surprised by was being able to hand-feed giraffes. 

We have taken part in feeding giraffes at the Jacksonville Zoo, but it was nothing like this.

I made to take as many photos as I could since I am not sure when I will be this close to a giraffe again.

I love me some hornbills and will always photograph.

I am sure you were wondering if this post was actually about IX! After two days of driving, we were finally in Reading, PA, and at the GoggleWorks. 

I may have been the first to unload, which meant I had many helping hands to get all the art, books, and booth stuff moved to the second floor. Those boxes in the background are mine too. 

The first thing to do is hang the art and figure out where it all needs to go. 

Once the art is sorted, it comes down, and the red walls go up. Then the art goes back up, and I can begin working on the rest of the setup. 

Nearly done! Art and books made as prominent as possible. 

The remarkable thing about IX is that you never know what is hiding around the next corner. For me this year, it was seeing my most favorite of favorite Larry Elmore painting in person. I never thought in a million years I would have the chance to see it.

Then over dinner, I got to talk to Larry about the painting. 

I made sure to mask up in style with our new branded masks!

As with every event, I did a few drawings on Magic artist proofs.  

Being at a fully vaccinated event means you can do things like this. 

Another unexpected surprise was the visit of King, a European eagle owl. Plenty of photos were taken.

Book buddies! Jon Sideriadis and I were side by side in the show.

I managed to get a couple photos in the Showcase, and most of them were of Tom Kuebler's new work.
Realizing I hadn't taken any photos of the show, I took a couple of the second-floor gallery.

OH! And there are always more artist proofs.

I forgot that at in-person events, I can do things like sketching in copies of the Grand Bazaar.

The Peanut Bar is a Reading and IX tradition, and it was wonderful that they were gracious hosts and made us feel welcomed. 

I had the honor to panel with these fine humans - Allen Panakal, Jon Sideriadis, and David Thorn Wenzel. Had a wonderful time, and hopefully, we shared some wisdom and experience with those in attendance. 
Sadly, IX had to come to an end. But worry naught, IX 15 will be returning to the GoggleWorks next year!

That's all for another exciting week on the blog. See you back here next week! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:

Friday, October 15, 2021

IX Panel: From the Ground Up: World-building to Publication - Sunday 10/24

IX is next week! Since this is my first event since February 2020, and it will be the debut of the full Grand Bazaar experience I have been planning and preparing for weeks. I believe I am ready, save for loading everything into a trailer, getting it all to Reading, PA, and then setting it up. But at this point, all that seems like a tiny bit of work compared to everything I have done recently. While IX will be the best five days of imaginative realism art, it will also be full of lectures, demonstrations, and panels. As it would happen, I am hosting one of those panels.

From the Ground Up: World-building to Publication

Join me along with Allen Panakal, Jon Sideriadis, and David Thorn Wenzel as we discuss our various methods for world-building and storytelling. We will also discuss and share the different options we used to see our works published. The ups and downs, what worked and what didn't, and everything in between relating to the creation of worlds and getting them printed will be covered. There will also be plenty of time for questions from the audience.

I am genuinely looking forward to this panel to talk and share our experiences in creating and publishing our worlds. I hope to see you there with plenty of questions ready for the Q&A.

I will be back here on the blog after IX with pictures, stories, and more!

That is all for another exciting week on the blog. See you back here after IX. Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:

Friday, October 8, 2021

IX 2021 Approaches

The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia at Illuxcon 2019

In about a week and a half, IX 2021 will begin. This will be my first in-person event or convention since February 2020. I will once again be in the Main Show of IX, where I will be surrounded by some of the best artists in the industry. I am so excited to be finally debuting the first book from The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia, and just a little sad that it was not happening at Gen Con 2020 as planned. In some ways, it is more fitting that it is happening at IX, though. At IX 2019, I debuted the art from the first book publically for the first time and had my first Grand Bazaar booth set up. Jump ahead to now, and I will have even more art, fine art prints, a few surprises, and of course, the Grand Bazaar hardcover, 5E D&D stats guide, the coloring book, and the deluxe edition of the book.

Yes, we are still in uncertain times, but IX (and the Googleworks where it takes place) has a mandatory vaccination requirement, and everyone must wear masks at all times. These two requirements are easily accommodated, and it will make for a safe and exciting show. While I have still more to do before I am 100% ready for IX, I am nearly there. The excitement is already building, and I will soon be setting up at the Googleworks and seeing so many faces that I have not seen in person in far too long.

I have more to share with you regarding IX, but that will come next week. It is looking to be a super fun event, and I hope to see you there! 

If you are unfamiliar with IX, they released a video this week that gives you just a taste of the magic that happens there.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog. See you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Remaining Game of Thrones Mousepads and Playmats ON SALE!

While preparing for my first convention since February 2020 in two weeks, I stumbled on a handful of remaining client-related pieces of merchandise. These Game of Thrones mousepads and playmats are the very last items of this type in my possession, and once they are gone, they are gone forever.

These mousepads and playmats feature my art of Viserion and Rhaegal that I created for the Game of Thrones card game. They are some of my favorite dragon art that I have made in my career.

In addition to a reduced price, I am offering discounted shipping in the US.

Here are images of the items and links to my store. Or you can head to my store to see all related items here.



That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website: