A lot of people discuss the DragonCon art show and artist alley on the internet. Unfortunately, a lot of the information about the submission/jury process isn’t accurate. So, I’m going to do my best with this post to answer the most common questions I’ve found, and also discuss my experience of submitting for the past 3 years.
1. There are two art areas at DragonCon!! There’s the art show with the art bazaar, and then there’s the comics/pop art area. Both are juried. The art show is for “fine” fantasy art, and is packed with wonderful artists. There is 2d and 3d art (including jewelry) in this area. The art bazaar is compiled of many artists who also have panels or tables (if 3d) in the art show.
The comics/pop art area is for artists who have their own published comics and/or create pop art. Quite a few plushies have been in this area in addition to other kinds of 3d pop art.
These areas each have their own submission pages. Make sure you’re submitting to the correct one! Submissions open up in late February/early March. Start stalking the page in January. Submissions are open for a month.
2. Both are juried. 3 different jury members are selected each year. The members of the jury are wonderful, professional artists who have been in the business for a long time and have had a successful career. Each artist applying can submit up to 7 images for review by the jury. The jury gives each artist and overall score on a 1-10 scale. The scores are averaged together to give the applicant their final score. Applicants in the bottom half of the score pool will receive comments from the jury pointing out areas that need improvement.
Think of your jury images as a portfolio. You want to demonstrate artistic competency, style, and consistency. Make sure the works you’re showing are your very best, and make sure you’re showing your work well! If you’re a 2d artist, scan your works or have them photographed professionally. If you’re a 3d artist, composite images that show your object from multiple angles work well. Photographing against either a white or black drop cloth is a good idea. Show off what you make and let it shine! Signatures, watermarks, etc are not allowed on images to prevent as much jury bias as possible.
3. Art Bazaar tables go to the best of the best. The artists with the highest scores, guests of honor, and award winners from the previous year are the ones who get the bazaar tables.
I’ve submitted an application to the DragonCon Art Show for the past three years. While I did pass jury every time, I received comments from the jury in 2013, and 2014. I now know that means my score wasn’t really that great. Even still, those comments I received encouraged me and pointed out areas in my work that need improvement. This year, I passed jury again, and didn’t receive any comments, which means my score got higher (yay!!!). I had a large bay in the art show and prints in their print shop. I sold three original paintings, a limited edition canvas print, and a good number of prints in the print shop. More importantly, I used the opportunity to attend the convention as a regular con-goer and went to several panels in the art show track, and a few that will help me with the creation of a graphic novel I’ve had in the works for a few years.
I’ve been showing my art at conventions since 2012, and DragonCon was well worth the wait. Additionally, John Parise is a fantastic director. He is great at answering questions in a clear, timely fashion. He’s also super nice, which is always a plus, especially since he must get a ton of questions as well as emails from frustrated applicants. The DragonCon Art Show was really well organized, the staff was kind and helpful, etc. Just a crazy positive experience, and I’ll be working hard on making more improvements to my portfolio for next year!
If anyone has additional questions regarding DragonCon, feel free to ask me and I’ll be happy to respond!