“Fantastic art should never be boring. And no one should ever be ashamed of having a love of–or connection to–genre.” ~Arnie Fenner

For twenty years Cathy and Arnie Fenner have celebrated the love of genre with the annual release of Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. In 2012 the Fenners brought this multiple-award winning art book to life with the first Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event. Held in Kansas City, Missouri, the event featured over 200 artists whose creations fit within the broad definition of genre art.

This incredible interactive event returns to Kansas City for its 3rd outing on May 9-11, 2014 and it promises to be something special.

The exhibitor list is huge, and growing, and the programming is going to be wild. Live sculpture, live art, portfolio reviews by creative people working in the field, including Irene Gallo of Tor Books, Lauren Panepinto of Orbit Books and John English of The Art Department, an Oscar-style awards ceremony, original and print artwork for sale and up close and personal contact with an incredible variety of artists working in the field of contemporary fantastic art are just some of the many things that make this convention great. And all for a price that is, in itself, fantastic.

Over the next several weeks I hope to bring art/artist content to SF Signal with artist interviews and features. Today I wanted to quickly showcase the five special guests who will be featured at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3. Portions of the bio information for each artist are taken from the SFAL website.

The son of renowned nature history artists Sy and Dorthea Barlowe, Wayne attended the Art Students League and the Cooper Union in New York; while in school he apprenticed at the American Museum of Natural History. Embarking on a career in illustration, he produced many book and magazine covers and eventually began to design for movies.

Wayne’s film credits include Titan AE, Blade 2, Hellboy, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Avatar, The Hobbit, and most recently Pacific Rim. He is also the author and illustrator of a number of books including Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials, Expedition, and Barlowe’s Guide to Fantasy as well as the novel God’s Demon. The Discovery Channel’s 2005 special, “Alien Planet,” was adapted from Expedition and Wayne served as the program’s Executive Producer. His art has been collected in The Alien Life of Wayne Barlowe, Barlowe’s Inferno, and Brushfire: Illuminations from the Inferno.


Tim Bruckner started working professionally at 18 as a jeweler’s apprentice/wax carver. He sculpted several hundred wildlife pieces that became rings, pendants, brooches and belt buckles. After leaving the jewelry business he started working as a freelancer for Max Factor, sculpting a menagerie of fanciful animals and decorative objects.

From there he sculpted two alligator suits for the movies Joe Panther and Alligator. As a designer he created album covers for various performers including Ray Charles, Ringo Starr, and The Average White Band. After briefly pursuing a music career himself he returned to sculpture and produced all manner of statues and toys for DC Direct, Mattel, Hasbro, Toy Biz, Bowen Designs, Sideshow, Gentle Giant, Hallmark, Applause, American Greetings, Department 56, Ashton Drake, Franklin Mint, Geometric, Graham Nash, Harry Nilsson and the Danbury Mint among many others. Tim is the co-author of the book Pop Sculpture: How to Create Action Figures and Collectible Statues.

Tim Bruckner is one of several three-dimensional artists who will be in attendance at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3. These artists will be featured in a sculpture-garden style setting with live sculpture demonstrations occurring throughout the event.


Korean-born and American-raised artist Frank Cho received a B.S. In Nursing from the University of Maryland, but chucked it all to become one of the most popular comics creators working today. He first gained notice for his syndicated comic strip Liberty Meadows for which he was honored with both the National Cartoonists Society and Ignatz Awards.

Blending an irreverent sense of humor with impeccable drawing skills, Frank began drawing stories for such comic books as Mighty Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk, Shanna, the She-Devil, and Savage Wolverine (he also was the writer for the last two titles) among many others for Marvel along with covers for DC, Image, Dynamite Entertainment, Dark Horse, Oni, and Top Cow.

His art has been collected in multiple books including University Squared: The Angry Years, Frank Cho: Illustrator, Apes and Babes, and Women: Selected Drawings & Illustrations Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Frank Cho recently funded a successful Kickstarter project for Drawing Beautiful Women: The Frank Cho Method.


Multi-faceted artist Camilla d’Errico moves between comics, illustration, gallery exhibitions, and back again seamlessly and effortlessly, pausing just long enough to create decorative work for stationary, clothing, designer toys, handbags and everything in between.

She worked with singer Avril Lavigne on the graphic novel for Random House, Make 5 Wishes, produced a mini-series for Image, and self-published her own comic, Tanpopo, which was inspired by Goethe’s “Faust.”

Dark Horse has produced two collections of her drawings and paintings, Femina and Fauna: The Art of Camilla d’Errico and Helmetgirls: The Art of Camilla d’Errico Vol 2 while Watson-Guptill has published her instructional book Pop Manga: How to Draw the Coolest, Cutest Characters, Animals, Mascots, and More.


Equally adept with both traditional and digital mediums, Justin Sweet is one of the fantastic art field’s most respected illustrators and concept artists. He studied art at Cal State Fullerton and later worked for Black Isle studios, producing illustrations for role-playing and video games. Justin’s many clients include Walt Disney Studios, National Geographic, Wizards of the Coast, Tor, DelRey, Dark Horse Comics, and Wandering Star.

He has been a designer for many visually stunning films including The Chronicles of Narnia, Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Killer, John Carter, The Avengers, and, most recently, Thor 2 as well as Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming remake of Frank Frazetta’s Fire & Ice.

Justin has conducted workshops for aspiring artists and is a multiple Spectrum Award recipient. His energetic sketch work has been published in a series of booklets under the collective title of Droar.


I have had the pleasure of attending the past two Spectrum Fantastic Art Live events and I can say with utter conviction that this is a convention like no other. If you are a fan of genre art in its many forms, from book cover illustration to comic book art to game and film design and everywhere in between, this is a show that will amaze you. If you are an artist, or are interested in creating art, the educational opportunities and access to successful artists during this three-day weekend will inspire you. I hope to see you there.

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