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How to get the most out of art conventions

Conventions have changed a lot since Arthur C Clarke and a group of British fellows got together in 1937 to discuss sci-fi – quite possibly over a cup of tea. They’ve gained momentum over recent years and come into their own. Take San Diego Comic-Con, whose attendance rate has almost doubled over the past 15 years to rival the numbers of people going to mainstream music festivals.

If this is good news for convention organisers, it’s even better news for artists. Not only do they have more people to network with (conventions are a great way to learn how to network) and sell to, they also get to increasingly feel like they’re part of a community – a sensation that all too often can seem out of reach.

As an event organiser, Jort van Welbergen tries to facilitate the best convention experiences, including “learning new tools and techniques that will help you boost your career even further, and finding that first job”

“Making comics can be a very solitary existence,” says convention veteran, illustrator and NC Comicon co-owner Tommy Lee Edwards. “Conventions are a great way to get out of your creative dungeon and spend some time with friends, colleagues and fans. A good convention experience leaves me feeling inspired, refreshed, and energised to do my best work.”

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