chromacon 2015 in review

As I mentioned in my last post, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend Chromacon indie arts festival, and the associated Chromaconnect creative industry summit (as a result of winning tickets through Design Assembly blog), that was held at Aotea Centre, Auckland. I had been looking forward to the event for weeks, and it turned out being even better than I had imagined.


The talks from illustration and animation industry pros (such as J.A.W Cooper and Paul Tobin from WETA Workshop) were so inspiring and I took loads of notes and came away feeling more motivated about the industry. I thought I would use this post to distill down the major ideas and take-aways I got from the day. Throughout the day I was able to attend talks by the amazing J.A.W Cooper, Wenna, Laura Dubuk (Weta Workshop), Paul Tobin (also Weta) and Jacky Ke Jiang– which all approached different topics and were fascinating to listen to.

After the event, I jotted down some major themes or takeaways I got from the day, and thought they might be useful to other people who are aspiring illustrators!

* The idea that it is important to have your own personal work and to always continue doing it alongside commercial work (or your day-job whether that be illustration or otherwise). That its important to be creative in every aspect of your life, and to do things for yourself, rather than waiting for opportunities to be given to you.

Most artists seemed to have very different styles or approaches to COMMERCIAL versus PERSONAL work, and the good thing about doing commercial work is that it takes the financial burden off your personal work, and allows you to be more free in experimenting and trying new things with your own work.

* Something that JAW Cooper mentioned in her talk was the idea of seeing yourself as a skill-set rather than a job title. Think of yourself as a set of skills that you can apply in many different creative ways. Don’t be limited by your job title.

I really liked this idea, and I think its a really valuable way of developing yourself as a technical artist- especially if you come from a non-art education background. How can skills that may not appear to have much to do with traditional art (for instance science or zoology or computer skills) be able to assist or inform your creative skills? You may be qualified for more than you think.

On a more technical note:

* Focus more on the STORY than the TECHNIQUE. The story is what gives substance to the image. The technique is what needs to be honed and perfected (and not changed all the time <– I am definitely guilty of always wanting to try out new techniques!).

* Following on from that- have research, meaning and substance behind your technical ability. Carry through the over-arching concept/ idea through to the tiniest details of your piece (this was particularly mentioned in regards to concept illustration, though I think it also applies elsewhere).

* Get OFFLINE! We are living in an age of art-overload with the internet. Look to other artists for technical inspiration, but come up with your own ideas. Ideation and thinking as a skill is something that should be developed.



Attending Chromaconnect was an amazing experience – and I am excited to attend more in the future. It was an entirely new experience for me, being surrounded by people doing the work that I am aspiring to do- and was fascinating hearing what the industry pro’s had to say. I would highly recommend attending the conference if you get the chance.


Following the Creative Summit, the rest of the weekend Chromacon was open to the public to meet artists (who had stalls selling art and doing demos) as well as product displays and demonstrations.



Jim Auckland - illustrator and owner of Takapuna Art Supplies
Jim Auckland – illustrator and owner of Takapuna Art Supplies

I bought a few small pieces from JAW Cooper, Katie Notelyn and Sophie Oiseau (anti-clockwise from top)- I wish I could have bought more but I had to limit myself!

sorry- this photo does not do these artworks justice!
sorry- this photo does not do these artworks justice!

Chromacon was a great experience- I highly recommend attending the next conference. I also want to thank Design Assembly and the Chromacon Team for giving me tickets to attend, and the amazing speakers- whose words were so valuable!

Last but not least, please check out the artists I linked above to see their work.

Till next time (I’ll try to make sure its soon!)



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