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DragonCon Art Show Submission and Jury Process Information

Holly Morningstar

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!


Holly Morningstar
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The finished version of my latest watercolor painting, “Fire One”, and the progress shots I took while creating it. 

Leaving for Megacon Tonight!

Holly Morningstar

Leaving for Megacon tonight! Super excited for a weekend of art and cosplay-watching. While I’m at my table, I’m going to be doing a Dr Who-related watercolor fanart piece. If I finish it by Sunday, it will be for sale if anyone would like to purchase it. Check back here and on Twitter for updates regarding the painting. :)

Remember, I’ll be at table Pink #14. If you have trouble finding me, just look for my new banner (pictured below), which will be hanging from my table. 


Allons-y!!!







Nauticon in Provincetown, MA Added to the Convention Schedule!

Holly Morningstar

I received the acceptance email yesterday, so while I’m still working out the specifics (like best method of transportation, what to bring, how to set up my “shop”, etc), I might as well add Nauticon to the list!

March: Megacon in Orlando, FL 
April: Frolicon in Atlanta, GA 
May: Nauticon in Provincetown, MA, Animazement in Raleigh, NC and Indy Pop Con in Indianapolis, IN
August: FandomFest in Louisville, KY and Matsuricon in Columbus, OH

Holly Morningstar
More progress on my painting. It’s tentatively titled, “Starsong”, but the title will likely change. It’s one of the most peaceful paintings I’ve ever worked on.

More progress on my painting. It’s tentatively titled, “Starsong”, but the title will likely change. It’s one of the most peaceful paintings I’ve ever worked on.

Holly Morningstar
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Latest painting progress so far. I also figured out how to change the date on my camera, so the next one won’t look like it was taken in February :P 

I don’t know what I’m going to title it yet, but it was inspired by Ellie Goulding’s song Explosion, and this quote from Dr Who:

“….All the elements in your body were forged, many millions of years ago, in the heart of a far away star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went– the elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing-wax and cabbages and kings. Until eventually– they came together to make you.

You are unique in the universe. There is only one You and there will never be another….”

The ocean is one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen. It allows me to experience a different level of peace, and I hope this painting will be a sufficient homage to it, and our planet in general.

This piece is another that will premier as a print at Megacon in *drumroll* 14 days! Two weeks, you guys! *squeeeeee*

Holly Morningstar
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Today’s painting progress. Still aiming to have it completed by Friday.  My next piece is going to feature a Phoenix :) I’m really excited about working on that one, too.

Holly Morningstar
Megacon Floor Plan!    Here’s the floor plan for Megacon.  I’m really close to the same spot I had last year in the Pink section. This year, I’m  Pink 14 . Remember, if you stop by my table and mention following me on any kind of social media, you’ll receive a gift from me :)  Only 30 days left! See you there :)

Megacon Floor Plan! 

Here’s the floor plan for Megacon.  I’m really close to the same spot I had last year in the Pink section. This year, I’m Pink 14. Remember, if you stop by my table and mention following me on any kind of social media, you’ll receive a gift from me :)

Only 30 days left! See you there :)

Holly Morningstar
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Spent the afternoon painting. Going to spend time in the sketchbook now and start watching season 2 of “House of Cards”.

“I took one lamb, and I ran away as fast as I could…I thought, I thought if I could save just one, but… he was so heavy…”  

from “The Silence of the Lambs" 

Holly Morningstar
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Before the 50 Shades of Gray series gained popularity, my “No Evil” series of colored pencil paintings was often viewed as highly offensive and immoral in the state of Alabama (the response at various artist alleys in the US, however, was much more accepting).

Oddly enough, the more “mainstream” the fetish elements became, the more palatable the artwork…and the more open people were to talking about how they found those elements sexy.  The first time someone came up to me and called my series the “50 Shades” series, I was really taken off guard. They were enjoying my work, but I was mildly disappointed they still took it at face value. All they were seeing were the sexy elements…which were all of a sudden okay to see.

While I sometimes incorporate fetish-related elements into my work, the message behind these paintings (and all of my work) can be read so many different ways. The most important message for me has always been about freedom, which is a topic I put into a lot of my pieces. There is freedom to be found in surrender. Sometimes, the things we carry are too heavy. What happens when we just let go and hand our burdens over?

The result can be something beautiful, but you have to be willing to let yourself experience the beauty.

It’s all about love, you guys :)

Holly Morningstar
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What I’ve been up to lately! I’ve been terrible about keeping up with the blogging…I fully admit to posting on Twitter more frequently. However, it’s my goal for 2014 to be a more consistent blogger :)

Anyway, starting from top to bottom:

Magic Lanterns, watercolor, 22"x30" – original $1500

Munchkins, watercolor, 18"x24" – original unavailable

Doomsday, watercolor,  – original $1500
“Doomsday” is actually 2 paintings (one of the Doctor, and one of Rose) that have been framed separately. Each is 11"x30" not including frame and mat size.

Light in the Dark, watercolor, 13"x19" – original unavailable
I felt so many feels while I was working on this! FFIV is the first RPG I remember getting sucked into, and that was when I was 6 or 7. While I was painting it, I listened to the game soundtrack and just had a great nostalgia-filled time. I will love Cecil and Rosa forever!