My college town, pretty Providence, played host to the Illustration Conference, ICON 7. I'm still buzzed from all the electricity. Illustrators from all over gathering for a love fest in the field. I checked in first with my hosts, the lovely Christina Rodriguez and her husband, Travis, both RISD alums. Lucky me! And thanks to Kid Lit Cafe.
I met up with familiar faces at the RISD Icon exhibit at Woods Gerry Gallery. Excellent show.
Had to hug my fellow alum and mentor in so many ways, Annie Gusman Joly. She offered me my first teaching job at the Art Institute of Boston waaaay back when.
Dave, and colleague, Eric. Talked teaching with Jim Roldan.
And saw my own teacher, the inimitable Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges!
Enjoyed a delicious evening at Hemenway's with her lively circle: Salley Mavor and husband Rob, Allison Paul, and Carolyn Gowdy, who won for coming all the way from London. Everyone but Rob a student of Judy Sue's, we had plenty in common and lots to smile about.
I headed to the Renaissance Hotel the next day with new friend and amazing talent, Natalya Zahn.
This being my first ICON, I was super excited. Banner here by Jessica Hische.
Learned a TON from Jen Corace, who talked about being a maker, artist wrangler, and shop-owner. Here she demonstrates the secret RISD handshake.
We trooped over to her store, Craftland, home of awesomeness made by hand. Everything is fairly irresistible.
I happened upon Cora Lynn Diebler and Jo Lynn Alcorn and we linked up for lunch at 121 Local.
You can't go wrong in a crowd of illustrators. Common language, yet so many different approaches.
Most of downtown Providence is unrecognizable, much has changed in the decades since I graduated. But this old haunt is still there.
I returned to the conference for Julia Rothman's workshop on Navigating Print and Pattern.
What a great hands-on opportunity to draw and swap. She walked us through making a tiled pattern. I was paired with Amy Biggers and here's what we came up with.
I loved what Natalya was working on.
She was paired with Aaron Meshon, lucky girl. Don't you WANT this?
From this crazy fun, I joined the Educating Entrepreneurs symposium next, with a panel of illustrators and teachers that included Susie Gharahmani and Whitney Sherman, among others.
With panelists from Etsy and Kickstarter, RISD and MICA, it was a broad discussion about how and when to introduce business topics into the studio environment. Afterwards, ran into another RISD classmate, Michele Noiset! Made my day, totally.
I skipped the evening's ceremonies in favor of heading out of town a bit. Needed this serene sight of wind power over the skyline.
Are you still with me? Gawd, this conference is PACKED with programming. Next day there was more, more, more. Art directors here dishing on the main stage at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
Too many high points to recap here, but favorites were Christopher Silas Neal's animation, Navy, for Kate Spade, the "cardboard guy," and Jessica Hische revealing that she "procrastiworks." Me, too!
What really brought down the house was the appearance of Lynda Barry and Matt Groening, college pals who shared laughs, comics, and unforgettable wisdom. Lynda held up her gesturing hands and reminded us, "these are the original digital devices." They have intelligence and we need them to speak: we were all together because we drew a picture. Yes.
The crowd drifted over to the Rhode Show Bazaar feeling all fuzzy after that. Tables and tables of cool stuff! Here's Cora. She's ready to let heads roll with her new Anatole Diebler graphic novel.
Natalya's got nature on her side.
And I got to meet Lizzy Rockwell at last! Big fans of hers in this household.
time for a dinner outing with my hosts, Travis and Christina.
And meeting new folks: Daniel Hertzberg, Sunil Manchikanti, Jen Hill, and Moira Birch Swiatkowski, each one amazing.
Providence has a certain spell. As Jen Corace put it, "You can get away with a lot here."
So full of ICON wonder, I was kinda cross-eyed by the next day. More art directors showed off great illustration, and I'm keen on seeing loose sketches, like this one by Mark Ulriksen.
Thomas Schmidt of Buck TV said it best, "We just like illustration." Preachin' to the choir, amen.
Marshall Arisman debated the value of an MFA against my former teacher, David Porter, who had the last word.
The high point of the morning was Idiot's Books, with a flawlessly hysterical stand-up routine about jumping off the deep end to find satisfaction. I went right down to the book store and bought the last copy of their "Ten Thousand Stories." You gotta love a couple with 3 kids who are selling onesie's that read "I suck."
I headed home with a pile of goodies that will keep me fed for quite a while.
Thanks to ICON 7, my hosts, and the shiny town of Providence for a fierce shot in the drawing arm!
When can we meet again?