• Win some, lose some. Try none , win none.

    Recently put in for the jury of Spectrum, a fantasy art anthology of some note and...didn't get in. There are always a lot of heavy hitters artwise in these things and many are people I know and well deserving of the accolades due them. It can be tough for some artists to be judged and found wanting, some creative people never put their works out there in the public for that very reason and so the world never knows them. It is disappointing to not be chosen, the signal that your personal skill bar has been raised and more will now be expected of you. The feeling to throw their hands in the air in disgust and yell "This is bullshit, I quit!" and burn their portfolio in the driveway and never create again is strong. But my advice is to not give into the quit monster, the bar has raised for you either way and now keep doing what you were before. You don't create so you can win an award, you create because every day your skull is hammered with inspiration, some many ideas that you've forgoten half of all the things you thought of. You have people, monsters and worlds you need to show people. You need to communicate about places that don't exist and times that never were. You're the only way the people of planet Earth will ever experience them. A creative travel agent to fly the weird skies.

    The beer: Magnum Mead Ale by Black Dragon Meadery

    That's right, not a stout or porter again. Look at all the personal growth. I'm a mead fan to begin with and this one is a beer/ mead hybrid and is a nice balance of dry and sweet in one golden beverage. Really nice aroma and very tasty.

    I'd let it shiver me timbers and follow it anywhere. 4 booties and a yard arm.

    (photo courtesy of Black Dragon Meadery)

  • Honorable mentions

    Recently I was asked to be the Artist Guest of honor at one of my big shows, Origins Game Fair (http://originsgamefair.com/). A show that I've been doing for 14 years now. It was my first BIG show when I started attending conventions with nothing but 6 prints and a purple tabel cloth. I was sat at the beack of the huge exhibit hall between two more experienced artists, Heather Kreiter with a table chock full of paintings, prints and taxidermy gryphons she'd made herself and William O'Connor, a quiet fellow seated at his table with one big painting behind him and a few prints on the table. As an aside I thought William was also a new guy because he wasn't loaded down with product. Later I found out his astounding artistic pedigree and would see him at many shows after.

    Over the years the artshow would move across the hall and then down the hall, they took a cut of the slaes for awhile because they could run credit cards for us and hen we just hadnled the money. I would meet so many of my art compadres and ride the warp and weft of the business of the fantasy art world growing and improving. Gaining more experience through working with the show and with game companies. It would become one of my regular big shows where i would meet actual fans of my work and see regulars every year for commission or just a kind word or two. It really is a marvel when i sit and think about it.

    All that said Artists and other creartive types that rely on being the avatar of thier profession often have what is known as "Imposter syndrome" where we don't feel estimable of accolades bestowed on them no matter how well desreved. That it's only a mtter of time before the world finds out what frauds we are and takes it all away.. Kinda messed up right?

    It's a tough rumble sometimes but at the end of the day I'm grateful for the nods and odds that people feel is worthwhille of them to grant me. I

    ll still keep drawing but it's nice to know I'm not unnoticed.

    The Beer: Barley's Scottish Ale ™

    Barley's Brewing is across the street from Origins and I frewuent it while I'm there and one of the beers they make is particularly delicious AND it's not a stout. Pause for surprise.

    The Scotch Ale is a little citrusy and so carmelized and rich. It's not as thick as a stout and is a wonderful end to a hot day of setting up for the show or after a day of selling and hanign out with the fans. It goes great with all their food, I like it with burgers and they sell out of it at the show so get it whiel it's there.

    I give it 5 days of gaming out of 5 and failed my save vs. beer.

  • The Lady or The Turkey (A retelling of a time long ago.)

    Once upon a time there was an artist. Not a Jackson Pollock artist or a Grandma Moses artist, just a big, friendly con artist.

    With sleeves rolled up and diligently working Our Hero is approached by, let's call this person, Bowling Ball Head.

    The hall was bright and cool and ripe with the smell of commerce, Dame fortune smiled on us all and we were flush, baby.

    "Good day, stout yeoman!" cried BBH. " I seek a drawing, as a child might do by tracing it's hand, of a turkey."

    "Certainly" our hirsute scribbler replied, his mind already in motion and his mood was high as the task amused him. "For this I shall require $25".

    The storm-cloud of incredulity swept over the proto-customer's face "What?! It'll take you like 5 seconds to do! Why so much?" BBH cried, fists shaking to the sky.

    Our Hero explained that he could do something for free or he could work on something that makes him money. "I would love to work on it for you but I must be paid for my time." he said sagely.

    "Fine, I'll go find another artist! Harumph!" said BBH. And with that the figure harumphed away.

    And so our doodler dude was a little spare but with good friends around him his mood lightened and the day was sweet.

    Later that day our man looked up and found the excrement eating grin of BBH standing before him with a picture in hand of the familiar turkey drawing deftly done by one of his peers.

    "He did this for me for $5" the now very annoying and rude BBH smirked "would you like to change your offer now? *grin* *smirk*".

    Our Hero, having been hoisted by his own petard...oh wait that's total crap!

    Our Hero looked calmly into the black rimmed glasses that barely contained this breathtakingly stupid question and said with a small smile "Not now."

    With that BBH skipped off tee hee, forever doomed to live in what was loosely called a skull ,though gerbil litter-box might be more appropriate, forever.

    The next day upon reflection Our Hero decided to do a turkey for himself and hung it up on the wall with a much more agreeable price...it sold of course.

    The moral of this story: You'll get more turkey with politeness than by being a dork.

    The Beer: Oddside Ales Mayan Mocha Stout

    This thick concoction is the stuff of legends. Spicy and rch, peppery and chocolate. This beer has a lot to unpack. The slight zing at the end keeps around like a guest you don't want to leave. Really good with a meal, not so much a summer drink. Not sweet enugh to be a dessert beer. It's like a hug in a bottle.

    Rating: One giant sun baked pyramid where you rule for all time.

  • William O'Connor RIP

    A bit sad today to hear the passing of one of my artist space travelers, William O'Connor.

    He was an amazing artist and author. He was one of my first table neighbors at my first big convention I was nervous about only having a fuzzy purple table cloth and six prints to sell, not a large body of work compared to Heather kreiter on one side of me with all manner of art and taxidermy griffins and then I saw this guy on the other side of me who had a few things on his table but only one painting of a warrior chagring across a lava field behind him. Initially it made me feel better I mean here was a guy with only ONE painting with him, he must be new too. Little did I know the weight of the man next ot me. He was really welcoming and kind to a new kid on the alley. Ove rhte years I'd see him at different shows and see his newest art and it would just blow me away. An illustrious career and no mistake, the fact that he was only one year older than me is humbling and chilling. Like many of my other artist friends he gave me a target to shoot for. He'll be missed. Chek his stuff out here: www.wocstudios.com

  • Postcards from the creativly maladjusted.

    Celebrating MLK Day with some arty thoughts. His quote

    "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively

    maladjusted" speaks to me in volumes. It is the perfect

    definition of me.

    A friend on the book of faces asked the general gang

    what they felt that they got out of creating art. For

    my part my brain gets bombarded with so many ideas for

    creatures and story images that in my youth it was

    distracting. So in an effort to dull the noise I drew

    them out, emptying the bucket as it were. I love

    telling stories with illustration, telling a novel in

    an image. Norman Rockwell was a big influence for me

    because of his wonderful characters and his ability to

    tell so much in a little vignette.

    When I make a piece I want the viewer to process it a

    certain way, like putting a little roadsign in their

    head, a little shortcut. I also like to put a bit of

    humor in my stuff and when I watch someone looking at a

    piece and they get that look on their face I know they

    got the hidden joke even if they don't mention it. It

    means they get me and we've connected. I also like

    bringing little beings to life, whether they're happy

    or sad, victorious or in retreat. It's all part of

    thier story.

    Little friends, some perfectly made or more often

    broken and deformed which was my mentality in my

    youth. Now I'm proud to be a monster or as Mr. King

    would have it, creativly maladjusted.

    The Beer:

    Saugatuck Brewing Company Blueberry Maple Stout

    I know another one right? BUT I had people ask what were the blueberry beers I thought were good. This is it. This dark brown concotion smells nice and has a wonderfully balanced blueberry flavor with malty stout goodness and a nice little maple taste at the end. Some people think of it as a dessert beer but I think it goes fine with a meal too. It's stout thick and slightly sweet but the blueberry gives a bit of tartness without being too much.

    I give it an 8 stack of lumberjack pancakes.


All images copyright
Tony Steele and may
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