Friday, November 16, 2012

Back from IlluXcon 5

-By Petar Meseldzija

IlluXcon 5, photo by Kiri Østergaard Leonard
Yesterday, I came back home from my last U.S. journey. Today is Friday, my day for posting here on Muddy Colors. Although still wrestling with the “ temporary disruption of bodily rhythms caused by high-speed travel across several time zones”, or simply with jet-lag, I decided to share some of my thoughts and impressions about this year’s IlluXcon show, risking to “enrich” my post with even more grammar mistakes, wrongly chosen words and poorly constructed sentences, than I usually do, all because of the mentioned “ high-speed travel …”

Well, after attending this unique art convention for the third time, I came to the conclusion that IlluXcon is not a usual convention. No, it is more an extended meet-and-greet event that was brilliantly organized, for the fifth time, by Pat and Jeannie Wilshire, the founders of the convention. Although I consider myself somewhat inexperienced when it comes to the art conventions, I dare say that this show feels almost too warm and too intimate to be called a usual convention, in other words an event where people come to do business; to show, promote, sell and buy new products and ideas. Of course there is much going on at that level as well (fortunately!!). But there is also another aspect to this show, that could easily be sensed when you are there, especially during the last two days of the convention. The camaraderie, mutual respect and support, friendliness and kindness are some of the qualities that characterize IlluXcon. It is a place where fellow artists and their entourage, clients and art collectors, art students and fans, get together and have wonderful time talking, exchanging ideas, supporting and inspiring each other, learning, buying-selling-commissioning art, having fun and even playing music and singing together.

IlluXcon music band under the leadership of Mark Zug

I think there are several factors that set this convention apart from the most of other shows I have been at.

First of all, the place where the convention is held is not too big and the architecture is friendly. The space does not feel cold or impersonal. It reminds me of a cozy foyer of a theater, a place where people gather before going to see a good movie, a theatre piece or a concert. Inevitably, the space influences the setup of the show and the mood of the attending artists and the public.

Second, there is art all over the place; colorful, inspiring, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, amazing, brilliant, mesmerizing art. Here you can see the paintings “in person”, that are, more or less, reflecting the personality which created them, in the most direct manner; through the marks left by hand that holds a real brush and directs the movement of the physical paint upon the canvas, or board, and forces it into a shape…into becoming something out of nothing… directly, without anything between the artist and his creation, except for the thin air that separates his mental universe from the mostly two-dimensional physical world that is being created in front of him. This convention is dedicated exclusively to good-old hand-made fantasy art.

Last but not least, the artists who make this art, and the visitors, all seem to be very passionate and most friendly people.

Therefore, the photos I want to show you this time will not focus on wonderful art, but rather on wonderful people; my fellow artists and visitors with whom I had the most inspiring and pleasant conversations. Needless to say, not all of my encounters with them were recorded with a camera. There were many, many more memorable moments that made this year’s IlluXcon very special for me.

So, thank you all for your time, your inspiring and supportive words, your kindness and your beautiful art!

Filip Burburan and Milivoj Ćeran in front of their booth
The Balkan Crew

With Jim Burns

In conversation with Thomas Kuebler

Thomas Kuebler’s  charming troll-lady

With Ralph Horsley

With the art students from Ohio

Omar Rayyan, Illy award winner, with “his” head (Photo by Mike Sass)

With John Jude Palenkar and Donato Giancola

Justin Gerard

Talking with Gregg Spatz

With Mark Nelson

With Mark Zug

Petar Meseldzija Art crew, with Jean, Morgan and Anita.

Talking about kindness and generosity; I got these beautiful drawings as presents from a few fellow artists!!

By Filip Burburan
By Mark Nelson

By Justin Gerard
By Raoul Vitale

By Zach Wojnar


  1. Oh Petar, you have forgotten to return that paper I borrowed you in Stockholm! I noticed you still have it, Justin is posing right in front of it, just ask and I can give you my address so you can send it back. No problem, you are very warmly welcome for the loan!

    All the best,


    1. Ha-Ha, excellent joke, Jari! I am afraid I will not be able to give you back the paper I borrowed from you in Stockholm, for it has been sold. But I always can give you another sheet of paper with two layers of Gesso on the top of it…and without the Viking in the snow…

    2. That painting sure is getting around the world, Petar! I miss having it residing here in the studio, although I was always terrified that something would happen to it.

      The convention looks super fun, thanks for posting this! I'd love a chance to see some of Filip's work in person, not to mention everyone else...

    3. Dave, you took good care of Jari’s paper and my Viking warrior :-) Thank you for that!
      I am sure you will get the chance to see Filip’s paintings in person somewhere. He is one of the most talented young artist, and we will be seeing more of his work in the future.

  2. I saw you at IlluxCon but I was too shy to say hello, however one of my highlights was seeing your paintings in person, I cannot get over your amazing brushwork. The thick layers almost make it feel like the painting is carved out of the oils, it is so gorgeous.

    I will be back next year though and then I have promised myself I will stop being silly-shy and say hello. I also bought one of your books this year. Your work is such a great inspiration.

    1. Kiri, I suppose you noticed that I used your photo, which I found on Mike Sass’ blog. I hope you don’t mind…
      And, please don’t be shy next time :-)

    2. I don't mind at all. In fact I am flattered :) Next time I will say hello

  3. It was a fun event and I'm really glad I got to meet you! I had no idea that this was the last year Illuxcon was going to be in Altoona a mere 3.5 hour drive for me. Unfortunately for me it will be in Allentown next year and that will make it a 6 hour drive for me in the future. So I'm really glad I made it this year.
    Sorry to hear about your jet lag, however it didn't show because you and your wife were two of the nicest people at the event! It was a real pleasure meeting with you and talking to you both.
    Thank you also for taking the time to look at my work!

    1. Jeff - yes, the next year’s IlluXcon will be held in the Allentown Museum. I hope that this new space will be at least as good and as cozy as the previous one.

  4. Another stop to put on my list Petar. Looks like this is a must go event. Hope to finally meet you next year.

    1. Bill, IlluXcon is a must go event, indeed. So, I really hope to see you there next year!

    2. What does a table cost or do you get to show for free?

    3. “Only the sun rises for free”, as a Dutch proverb says…What is your name, by the way…?

    4. My name is Lee Winsinski and I'm new to all this, so I'm not sure I understand you're tone. I visit Muddy Colors regularly because I appreciate the frankness. Many of you talk about attending Illuxcon, Comic Con, Spectrum, and Dragoncon, but the actual cost is never mentioned. Some conventions have an Artist Alley and offer free tables; others charge for them. Some conventions give free tickets to artists and others don't: I'm just trying to find out what goes on here to decide if it's something for me or if I'd even be welcome. If it's all private and you don't want to give details, that is ok. Your response tells me a lot already. Sorry to have bothered you.

    5. Hi Lee, if you visit Muddy Colors regularly you should know that I don’t reply to anonymous comments… Here are the costs: a regular floor spot ($300) or a larger mezzanine space ($400). But things will change next year because IlluXcon moves to another location. If you want to apply for the space go to their website to find out more about the show and to contact them.

    6. Thank you. I visited their site and there is not a lot of information unless you register and I would rather know a little bit about what I am registering for before doing anything. Do passes come with the purchase of a spot or is that an additional cost? Workshops were mentioned someplace else: do these cost extra or are they complimentary? Also I would be interested in the expenses of the other shows, too, if anyone knows them. I have never had a table at a convention before so I am trying to gather as much information as I can. Thank you. --Lee

    7. Here is the info about the next year’s IlluXcon show.
      For all other questions please contact IlluXcon.

  5. Illux was the first illustration convention that I have ever attended and I must say that it was an amazing experience. Everyone I met had a smile and seemed really excited to be there. Oh, and let's not forget about the amazing art that was hanging everywhere, just begging to be studied and appreciated! It was most definitely a worth-while experience.

    Lastly, it was a joy to finally meet you in person and an honor to see that you like the little etching I gave you. I'm also happy to be able to add The Legend of Steel Bashaw to my collection of artists' books. Such a worthy addition!

    Until next time!


    1. Zach, thanks again for giving me the etching. It is a very nice piece and I will gladly hang it on the wall in my studio. Actually I already bought a frame…

  6. This looks like such a cozy, intimate event. I have been wondering to myself each year now 'should I go?'. I've heard so much about how wonderful it was that I am going to do my best to come in 2013!

    I have to say I'm tired of the hustle and bustle cons. I'm local to DragonCon and as much as I love the energy of the fans and the fantastic art show, I'm growing a little warn out at the idea of shoving shoulder to shoulder with throngs of people just to go to the dealer room and talk to artists I want to meet. Something small and *just* about art will be just what I need!

    1. Well, Angela, perhaps we’ll see you at IlluXcon next year!

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  8. Hi Petar, it was lovely meeting you and your wife and having such an encouraging conversation with you both. Here's the photo I took of you 2
    I have shown my boyfriend your book and he loves it! He's even started painting in oils which he has never done before. Thank you for not only being an excellent artist but also a great encourager! Keep up the good work and the inspiring posts :)

    1. Thanks, Belinda! Good luck to you and to your boyfriend with his new adventure :-)

  9. IlluXCon 2012 was awesome, as always! I have driven the twenty-eight hours from Texas for five straight years and it has been worth it every time. The inspiration from seeing all the artwork and meeting the artists has given me an immeasurable amount of joy. I enjoyed finally getting a chance to meet you Petar; your art is nothing short of stunning! By the way, I am a huge fan of Filip Burburan; his art blew me away! Sincerely, V. Villafranca

    1. I am also glad we finally got a chance to meet and to have our little chat. Hopefully we’ll have more time to talk next year. Thanks, Vincent!


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