Four Artists and One Art Dealer at New York Comic Con on Surviving Lockdown—and Returning to the Convention Circuit

It was, by fandom benchmarks, a subdued opening working day for New York Comic Con on Thursday. Sure, there were being guests sporting elaborate cosplay getups from their favourite superheroes and anime characters, and of course, there were being superstar friends in attendance these as Star Trek‘s William Shatner and George Takei.

But the aisles have been bizarrely roomy in contrast to a regular 12 months, with just 477 booths, down from 642 in 2019, the previous time the popular party took put. Yet, for enthusiasts and exhibitors alike, transferring forward with the con was a priority, equally as a joyous celebration of comics and all things pop society, and as a way to bounce again from the economical hardships brought about by lockdown.

“The pandemic was completely devastating and humbling,” Seattle artist John Seuferling instructed Artnet News.

Normally, he does about 30 drawbacks every 12 months, crisscrossing the state offering votive candles showcasing prints of his “Pop Artwork Saints” collection. The drawings, which he does by hand and colours on the pc, canonize roughly 100 well known figures and superstars, from Daenerys Targaryen and Princess Leia to Betty White and Bernie Sanders. (His subjects have once in a while gotten “cancelled” St. Man Fieri had to substitute Mario Batali.)

Artist John Seuferling at New York Comic Con 2021. Image by Sarah Cascone.

Seuferling provides the artwork on his site, Omakase Visuals, but the huge vast majority of his gross sales transpire in human being.

“The magic of a comedian con is that it funnels your viewers suitable to you,” he explained. “Not being capable to do public situations unquestionably ruined me. Currently being a gig worker who sells drawings of St. Keanu Reeves—you simply cannot even start to explain that. It’s a carnival lifestyle.”

Chris Schweizer writes and illustrates graphic novels, but he was stunned to discover just how crucial cons ended up for his livelihood. Which is where he sells prints of his retro-design and style film poster artwork, immortalizing titles such as Elegance and the Beast and Indiana Jones and the Previous Crusade for $5 to $15.

“I did not understand until my wife explained to me that conventions produced up 50 percent of our money,” he explained.

The loved ones obtained by in section thanks to a house loan deferment on their home in western Kentucky, wherever a business that specializes in coal mining manuals handles all of his printing.

Artist Chris Schweizer at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Artist Chris Schweizer at New York Comedian Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Leanne Huynh, a former online video activity artist for Blizzard who specializes in dreamy digital paintings of woman figures, typically receives about 70 % of her cash flow from marketing $20 prints at conventions.

“It was a small rough,” she advised Artnet Information of 2020. “I was capable to get unemployment, and that served a great deal.”

Residing in Los Angeles, Huynh had never shown at the New York con ahead of, and nevertheless it was considerably less crowded than San Diego, opening working day was “better than I expected, to be trustworthy,” she claimed. “It’s good to reconnect with the community of artists and the lovers and converse about comics about good Healthy Lifestyle.”

Other people experienced an less complicated time pivoting for the duration of lockdown.

Artist Leanne Huynh at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Artist Leanne Huynh at New York Comic Con 2021. Image by Sarah Cascone.

Immediately after 15 a long time earning her dwelling as a whole time artist and selling work at downsides, Missy Peña of Seattle was completely unprepared for what 2020 brought her way.

“I had the option to participate in the pretty to start with coronavirus demo,” she instructed Artnet Information. “I was the 14th individual in the planet to get the vaccine.”

An art faculty grad who examined artwork background, Peña mashes up anime people with traditional masterpieces these as Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night or Art Nouveau-style posters, embellishing her $25 prints with glittery foil accents.

This will be first and past con for a when: All through the pandemic, she took a work as an illustrator for the Yahtzee cellular app. “Hopefully conventions will nevertheless be here when I want to come again,” she stated, “because I do consider I want to arrive again to doing this complete time.”

Denver’s Frank J. Svoboda, who produces first artwork from animated movies and films while his business Animation Art Emporium, ordinarily sells about $80,000 well worth of do the job at drawbacks each and every yr. When that shut down, he approached Heritage Auctions and commenced offering his holdings there, as effectively as featuring some less beneficial parts on eBay.

Dealer Frank J. Svoboda, of Animation Art Emporium, at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Vendor Frank J. Svoboda, of Animation Artwork Emporium, at New York Comedian Con 2021. Photograph by Sarah Cascone.

“I was blessed simply because I had some other way to make income,” Svoboda stated.

At the con, he was offering a range of primary drawings, animation cells, and backgrounds from the well known Nickelodeon cartoon Spongebob. The present, which began airing in 1999, only did a person time of conventional animation prior to transferring to digital generation, which means that there is a scarcity of physical art from the very long-running software as opposed to other beloved cartoons.

Svoboda ordered the Spongebob artwork from a personal bankruptcy auction home after the organization Nickelodeon had compensated to body it for sale went underneath. He’s marketed the bulk of his holdings over the last ten years—including a range to the show’s voice actors—but has saved the strongest pieces for past, with the expectation that demand from customers and selling prices will increase as the show’s admirers accrue more funds to commit on artwork.

“I figure they need to have to be about 40 to be ready to buy their childhood memories,” he stated.

A hand-painted history and animation mobile from Spongebob can fetch up to $3,100 at Heritage, but they are on give from $900 at the con, the place Svoboda expects to market in bulk when compared to the 20 or so is effective the auction residence will agree to list every 12 months. The drawings are $200 every single, with animation cells with a reproduced background beginning at $89.

Profits the initial working day, he explained, were being “excellent.”

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