What Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! Did For Me

Wow. I can’t believe I almost decided NOT to go to the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! in Kansas City. My anxiety almost got the best of me. Luckily, I made a promise to my friend Cindy that T & I would come visit & stay at her place. I also made a New Year’s resolution to say “YES!” this year. Especially when I know I want to do it. I’m not going to let the anxiety keep me locked up.

The last time I was in Kansas City, MO was in 1993. I had a campus tour of the Kansas City Arts Institute. I had been accepted & my parents wanted to check the place out. That turned out to be a bad idea. They didn’t like the co-ed dorms. They really didn’t like the price & it was too far away for them to keep tabs on me. I left Kansas City in tears.

Kansas City Arts Institute had accepted me, but my parents still hadn’t. It was too big a gamble for them. All that money for a degree in Art? It didn’t matter that I would learn skills to help me make my dreams come true. It didn’t matter that they had a placement program with the very company I dreamed of working for. All they heard was $10,000 a semester and I saw my dreams crumbled before my eyes. I will never forget the way it felt when my Father turned from the Drivers seat of the car & looked right at me & said, “You aren’t going here.”

My life path was completely destroyed. It didn’t matter where I went after that. ANY school was second rate.

So, there I was, standing in Kansas City again, May 17th, 2012, 19 years later. Still no further along with my art career than I was in 1993. I felt broken, exhausted, & ashamed, but maybe, I thought, just maybe I can learn something to inspire me. Set me on a better path. Give me a clue of what to do. If not, I can at least meet some of the artists that keep my fire burning. Artists like Brom, Mignola, Donato & more.

I walked into the Grand Ballroom & one of the first things I see is the above banner of Luke on the TaunTaun by McQuarrie. I broke down. I cried right there. I felt two things. I felt my soul tear as I read his words above the fictional character that I admired the most. I was supposed to be creating art. Feeling the same way. Being an artist & loving every second of it. I also felt that I might just be in the right place. That perhaps, I was among my people. It turns out that as the day wore on, I wasn’t wrong about the second feeling & the first began to subside.

I listened to artists talk about feeling like frauds. How they were sure some sort of art police were trailing them & were going to arrest them at any moment. I laughed, but I knew exactly what they were talking about. However, thoughts like, “Yeah, but I DIDN’T feel like that 19 years ago!!!” kept popping into my head. I struggled to let go of the past. I cried a whole lot at this Conference/Convention. I had to step away from artists quickly when I would feel a rush of emotion coming up. T was there. Every step of the way. She knew what was happening. She understood. She’s an artist as well.

By day three, it was clear what I had to do. Every piece of the puzzle that was missing was handed to me. Every single one. The artists as well as the art directors were amazingly helpful & so incredibly inclusive & friendly. They all want to help each other & any of us willing to put in the hard work. After years of wondering what the point of art was & losing my focus it became clear. The purpose is happiness. It’s okay to do art just because I love it. It doesn’t have to be for any other reason. No deeper purpose.

I learned so much. I laughed. I was inspired. I cried. Ultimately, I put the demons away. Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! replaced that memory from 19 years ago. Kansas City wasn’t the place where my dreams died anymore, but the place where they were reborn. Maybe I left them there & just finally came & picked them up. Either way, I’m renewed.

Spectrum gave me hope. Now all I have to do is create. Create & submit. Work hard at improving. Be the best & do what I love. I sure hope they come back next year so I can hand them my portfolio. If I even need to. Who knows, I might be working for TOR by then.