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Anthrocon 2014 Report!

Posted Posted by Mary in Convention Reports, Main Blog     Comments No Comments


Just wrapped up another great weekend in Pittsburgh! This was my sixth year attending and second year dealing at the world’s largest furry convention. People travel by car, bus, train, and plane from many states and countries to celebrate animal characters together at Anthrocon. Every year brings new experiences and surprises, and this was no different – for one, I was asked to draw an official image to advertise the charity performance! The weekend was a whirlwind of activity that ended far too quickly, but my fond memories of friends and fun make all the hard work worthwhile.

As always with furry conventions, I and many other attendees are often known by fan names, so I’ll try to keep things clear in this report! I’m known in these circles as “Nyomi Naomh.”

Wednesday, July 2nd

I arrived in Pittsburgh with Susan, and we quickly met up with our friend Goldeen “Agent Elrond” (or “Rondie”) Ogawa.  The three of us settled into the hotel room. This was my first year staying in the Courtyard Marriott instead of the Westin. The Courtyard is known to be preferred by artists and dealers for its quieter atmosphere compared to the main hotel, and I definitely appreciated the chance to draw or sleep without distractions from noisy neighbors. We had a dinner scheduled at the Fish Market in less than two hours after our arrival, so we put on some nice clothes, then briefly parted ways to take care of errands and touch base with other friends.

At 6:30, the three of us converged on the restaurant to meet up with Chiaroscuro (Dealer’s Room director), Witchiebunny (staff member), and Uncle Kage (the chairman). Dinner ensued. Crazy convention stories were told. I got completely lost in the menu of unfamiliar seafood and was blamed for finishing Kage’s wine. The sushi and sashimi I ended up with were delicious. I said little and listened to much!

Dafydd and Lily with sushi.

The rest of the day was spent drawing and meeting up with other friends and artists. I slept very well.

Thursday, July 3rd

I spent some time in the social area (called the “Zoo”) drawing and touching base with more people. Mid-morning, I dropped by Con Ops to pick up the bugdanas, as I’d had them shipped directly to the convention. The staff wasn’t able to locate my package at first, but after some emails to the screen printer about the tracking, we managed to find it – it was there all along but under the wrong name. I went straight back to my room and tore it open to find the bugdanas exactly as I’d hoped they would be! It was thrilling to see something I’d designed end up being produced as a real object. I set aside enough for the online preorders and put the rest in my dealer’s bag.

Registration opened a little early, and I headed down there to find no line at all for dealers’ reg. Witchiebunny got me my badge and ribbons in less than a minute. I passed the time until dealers’ setup by doing a survey, drawing some more, and coordinating plans with friends. A few hours later, my assistant Jeff/”Keys”and I carried my stuff into Hall B and got my table assembled. We helped Rondie a bit with her table, too, since she was right next to me. The art show allowed early hanging for dealers this year, so Keys helped me put up the highest pieces, then let me finish on my own. It took a few hours to get all my setup done. I worked up quite the appetite for dinner.

My table, freshly set up and ready for Friday’s crowds!

I suggested pizza to Keys and ended up spending hours in his room with old friends and new acquaintances. We chowed down, talked, and shared a ridiculous game of Super Mario 3D World. I excused myself when it started to get dark and returned to my room to get a little more work done before the morning. At one point I needed a break, popped into the Zoo, and found another person who really loves moths. Meeting lots of people who were interested in bugs, both real and anthropomorphic, was definitely a highlight of this year’s Anthrocon.

Friday, July 4th

Before the Dealer’s Den opened, I managed to get some breakfast and coffee and finish a bit more work. Rondie had just got her first fursuit and decided to surprise 2 the Ranting Gryphon (a popular furry comedian and Rondie’s friend) by showing up in it without telling him. 2’s favorite fursuit performer is Telephone, an angel dragon; as Rondie’s Tachyon is of the same species design, the two suiters showed up together and made mischief with each other and a foam pickaxe. I got footage.

In order: Tachyon, 2 Gryphon, and Telephone.

The first half-hour of business went a little slower than usual, but things picked up as the day continued. Last year’s enthusiasm for badges was replaced by a lot of requests for sketch commissions. A stack of sketchbooks remained in rotation on my table and in my working bags for the next 48 hours. I had a lot more fun completing the sketches than I used to, though, so it was no trouble.

Customers picked up a only few zines and bugdanas on Friday, but button sales were steady throughout the weekend. I have repeatedly observed a pattern of sales in which custom art is bought in greatest numbers early in the convention, while merchandise and other items do better from the middle to the end as people see how much money they have left after commissions.

A moth character reading and sitting on a leaf – my first of many sketch commissions this convention.

I ducked out of the dealer’s room a few minutes early and made it to Uncle Kage’s Story Hour. For those unaware, I have been live-drawing during Kage’s performances and online streams since Midwest Furfest last year. Usually the results are a half-page or so of doodles preserving various moments from the performance, but with Kage’s character (a roach) speaking or acting instead of the man. I found a seat in decent view of the stage and got to work while Kage told of conventions past, saké blunders, and a lost passport, among other things. The results are in my mischief section along with all the previous sets of doodles.

After the show, I zipped away to put on my dress clothes and attend the Artists and Dealers Reception. This invitation-only event is held in the evening after sales and show hours to allow those busy selling or creating during the day to view the show at their leisure and enjoy some refreshments. I grabbed a coffee (with a lid, of course), then browsed along with my new moth friend from the night before. Viewing the show largely with other artists created an interesting atmosphere: one in which we could freely discuss any given piece, technique, subject, or composition. I lingered long enough to view some sections twice. When I left, the fireworks were still going, and I sat by a window to watch.

Of course, there were sketches to draw and badges to color for Saturday. I returned to the hotel room to work again!

Bugs playing a word game for a themed sketchbook commission: “let’s play.”

Saturday, July 5th

Saturday is the longest sales day of the convention. I worked on custom art all through dealer’s hours while customers came by to pick up or check on their work or to purchase some of my bug merchandise. Bugdana sales were best on this day, and purchases of “Bug Goes to the Con” were pretty strong. Performers in fursuits bounced around at all hours and took over the hall for a spell during mid-afternoon during the parade, which proved a great opportunity for both photos and uninterrupted working time. There were apparently 1,326 animal costumes in the parade this year!

A playful gryphon stopped by for a bit of attention!

After hours, I grabbed some dinner, then headed to the relocated Zoo for a themed art jam. Some of the artists and friends who attended I hadn’t talked to since the year before! A big poster was passed around for everyone to draw on, but I didn’t add anything this time to avoid getting food on it – there was a Dippin’ Dots vendor in the new Zoo and I decided to try it out. The servings look small but are unexpectedly dense!

The last official dances of the con were held this night, but I didn’t get to attend. I still had work to finish! This is the first year I couldn’t go to any of the dances, which was pretty disappointing, but the demand for my art felt encouraging in contrast. I drew in the hotel for a while and planned to join an artist-only quiet workroom Rondie and I had been invited to, but then Amber/”Miss Mab” asked if I would like to work with her. Since we were familiar with each other (I wasn’t sure who would be in the other room), I took the personal invitation and drew in her room into the wee hours of Sunday.

Sunday, July 6th

A happy customer with his new bugdana! Photo by Antnommer.

I had two more badges to finish this morning but managed to wrap them up pretty quickly. With the end of the con in sight and my mood and energy lower than usual for Anthrocon, I decided I wouldn’t push myself to finish any more work on-site, only accept projects I could bring home. I also granted myself half an hour of personal time to shop and look around the Dealer’s room since I hadn’t yet had an opportunity. This was a planned allowance; I put a sign on my table the day before to clarify my hours for Sunday since I knew I would open a bit late and close early.

Sales were slow, which is normal for Sunday. I finalized arrangements with Keys to pick up my paperwork and any unsold pieces from the art show. By 3pm, I had my table packed away and checked out of the Dealer’s Den. This gave me enough time to get to the Spirit of Pittsburgh ballroom for the charity show! I’d drawn a poster for the show at the request of Fox Amoore (a musician and one of the performers) and intended to live-draw the events as I had for the Story Hour. This time, Rondie decided to live-draw, too – she’s done many, many drawings and show covers for 2 over the years, so between the both of us, most of the best moments of the show were depicted. We managed to get seats in the very first row, which had consequences…

The charity show poster I drew!

At one point in the show, 2 and Kage were seated at the edge of the stage and happened to look down. Kage said something to the effect of, “Oh look, there’s Nyomi drawing furiously in the front row!” Fox piped up to point out that I had drawn the poster, and then 2 sung Rondie’s praises at length, calling her “lightning pencil.” According to the charity results post on the Anthrocon site, the show alone made $7,350 for the National Aviary – that’s 735 tickets sold. The room was packed, so I’m assuming most if not all of those ticket-holders attended. That’s a lot of people to get a shout-out in front of! Afterward, people even came up to the front wanting to see what the two of us had drawn.

Closing ceremonies followed on the heels of the charity show, but I couldn’t bring myself to attend – somehow, the sense of closure it normally offers seemed inappropriate, as the con was just peaking for me. I talked with Keys briefly about the results of the art show (“Two for Tea” sold after a mini bidding war!), then Rondie and I gathered friends and went down to the same Indian restaurant as last year for a repeat performance of “Dinnercon.” I am making an effort this time to remember the name of the delicious appetizer I was previously only able to refer to as “the cheese thing:” Paneer Pakora. Most of the same people from last year came again, though there were a few new faces. Dinnercon has a wonderful way of bringing people of different talents and spheres together on an equal playing field to meet and get to know each other.

I insisted on going to the last unofficial party known as the “dead dog dance.” Rondie and Susan got into their costumes; we all loaded up on glowsticks and wore bugdanas. The party room wasn’t too active when the three of us got over there, so we hung out briefly in the Zoo for a last hurrah. Then I happened to hear a piano and followed the sound down one floor. Fox Amoore, Rhubarb the Bear, and Cosmik were playing and singing what seemed to be an improv concert with crowd participation. I managed to squeeze up next to the piano and join in singing probably a dozen songs or so. Participatory music was a major force in my upbringing since I was raised with my late dad’s love of folk music, so this event was magical for me in multiple ways. It ended the con on a beautiful high note and offered a real sense of completion and closure. For a while, all my worries were gone, and I was able to sleep well that night.

Going Forward

Adding more conventions to my circuit last year allowed me to get my work greater direct exposure as well as provide more opportunities to see friends who live far away. I’d like to do Midwest Furfest (Rosemont, IL) again and have already made arrangements to attend and show work at Further Confusion (San Jose, CA). Until then, I have many projects to tackle and am offering regular commissions again. You can also check out some of the cool stuff I debuted at Anthrocon in my Storenvy shop – if you wanted something but couldn’t make it, I’m more than happy to ship it to you should it still be available!

Here’s to greater opportunities and more adventure in the months ahead!

All photos © 2014 Mary T. Capaldi unless otherwise noted.

Furry Fiesta 2014 Report!

Posted Posted by Mary in Convention Reports, Main Blog     Comments 2 Comments


I just got back from a weekend in Dallas, TX at Texas Furry Fiesta! This one’s a smaller convention attended by artists, musicians, costumers, and other creative attendees who love animal characters. Going to Furry Fiesta was a late-game decision for me, so I had a little space in the art show but no active sales presence. While I don’t plan to add this convention to my sales circuit in the next year or two, it was a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t mind going again sometime.

As always with “furry” conventions, I and many other attendees are often known by fan names, so I’ll try to keep things clear in this report!

Thursday, February 20th

A friend invited me to stay this convention in her nearby apartment rather than a hotel room, so we got settled in until it was time to head over. Registration differed from other cons I’ve done: you had to have a signed agreement on hand, and you could choose your badge art from four possibilities along the theme, “Heroes and Villains.” Thanks to our 3DSes and Streetpass, we quickly found an artist friend of mine who goes by “Floppybelly” (she makes cute pipe cleaner sculptures)!

There was a little confusion about panel locations during art show setup, but it didn’t take long for me to get situated. I only had half a panel this time because I’d been too busy after FC to do much new work besides commissions.

My half-panel in the art show.

Friday, February 21st

Artist’s Alley and the Dealer’s Den were available to browse shortly before Opening Ceremonies, so we had a quick look around. I picked up a CD from Fox Amoore, who remembered me from MFF! Then my friends and I grabbed seats in the main ballroom. What followed was funny, if a bit long-winded, and included the chairman getting a pie in the face. I checked the Art Show again to see what other artists had up and saw a lot of neat work, though the room could’ve used stronger lighting. I also commissioned a sketch in the tiny Artist’s Alley and dropped off a badge with a client.

Action in the Dealer’s Den.

Later, I tagged along with friends to a panel about faux fur – where to get it, how to sew it, and so on – and took some notes for a few creative projects I have planned. We wandered down to the basement, which used to be nightclub, and watched karaoke. Of course, everyone there joined in for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The real highlight of the night, though, was the Heroes & Villains rock concert with Fox Amoore. Even with a few quirks in the presentation, the performers’ talent and enthusiasm made for a strong and entertaining evening I doubt I’ll forget. My only regret is not bringing my good camera to this con; I have nothing but grainy phone pictures which did poorly with the stage lighting. Lesson learned!

Always bring the DSLR. Always.

After a late dinner, I won at Settlers of Catan even though I’d only just learned to play it the night before.

Saturday, February 22nd

I started the morning strong by attending a panel called “Total Utter Piñata Destruction,” which was what it says on the tin. By the time it was my turn, someone had broken the bat, but I still managed to use it to make a hole the size of a person’s head in a new piñata. Then I did more browsing, caught up with friends, checked on my pieces in the art show, and went out to lunch. At 1pm, I listened to half of the Blotch artist duo talk about their process for making graphic novels. I found most of the information presented a little basic for my needs but still came out of it with some useful notes – not to mention I got to see some of their originals for Nordguard up close and personal!

Most of the con then shut down to either join in or attend the fursuit parade. A lot of interesting and creative costumes walked by, but my favorite was a rosy maple moth! I managed to snag the person afterward for a decent picture:

They had adorable little wings in the back, too.

Fox Amoore held a panel about recording his latest album at Abbey Road. From his telling of it, the experience was simultaneously intimidating and fulfilling. I had gone in with the intention of livedrawing the panel, but it didn’t really end up with the tone that works best for my livedraws, so afterward I worked on a little something as a surprise. Later in the evening, I attended a two-hour research focus group for artists in the fandom. A lot of topics were discussed among the attendees that should make for some interesting results when our researchers are done.

Sunday, February 23rd

I went around the Dealer’s Room again and took more pictures of costumers. Then it was time for Fox Amoore’s charity concert! Fox played some of his own past and upcoming pieces as well as some jazz numbers with Amadhia on vocals. I managed to snag a minute of Fox’s time as the room cleared to hand off the ink card I’d done. Let’s just say he seemed to like it.

Art card done as a gift for Fox Amoore.

Another big highlight of Sunday was the fursuit dance competition. One of two opening performances involved Telephone (a costumer popular for her unparalleled skill in being ridiculously adorable) dancing with a little girl. I plan to show this video to anyone who might wonder why I associate with furry fandom:

Telephone Dancing With Michaela TFF 2014NamelessNoob89

Before long, the time came for Closing Ceremonies. A lot of money had been raised for the charity, The Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE), including some last-minute funds gathered from the crowd. More faces met high-velocity pies, and the A/V staff teased the rest of the people on stage by putting captions over the video feeds that were visible only to the audience. Furry Fiesta definitely went out with a bang.

We returned to my friend’s apartment for dinner and to pack. I flew out the next day, but not before being hassled by her cats and taking a few more pictures by which to remember everything. I left two pieces lighter than I came (and some part lighter in heart, too). Anthrocon is next unless plans change – Pittsburgh had better be ready for bugs!

Further Confusion 2014 Report!

Posted Posted by Mary in Convention Reports, Main Blog     Comments 2 Comments


For my first convention of the year, I zipped off to sunny and warm San Jose, CA to attend Further Confusion! Like other cons I’ve gone to, this one is of the “furry” variety and features artists, costumers, performers, and other creative attendees united by the love of animal characters. I participated in the Art Show this time around but did not actively sell; thanks to recent personal events, the break was sorely needed and well appreciated.  If I’m able to go again, I’d love to do so with a more active presence in the Dealer’s Den or Marketplace.

As is normal for these conventions, I and many other attendees are often known by fan names, so I’ll try to keep things clear!

Friday, January 17th

I took a train and the light rail to the San Jose convention center with my friend Rondie and her brother. We’d spent the night with some of Rondie’s family in the area after I flew in on Thursday. Our other roomie had already checked into the hotel, so it wasn’t long before our stuff was stowed and Rondie and I headed down to registration. The attending line moved so slowly that Rondie got us moved into the sponsor line just so we could make it to the Art Show in time to hang before opening. We thankfully had some help getting our art up!

My panel in the FC art show.

I ran into several friends after that, including one who had been visiting her parents in the state and drove down to hang out with us for Friday only. Most of us went to lunch at Café Frascati to eat and catch up with each other. Kage’s Story Hour was scheduled for early afternoon, so we zipped back to the convention center next and managed to get seats in the front row on the right – perfect for me to do live doodles of the show again, though unfortunately the room was pretty dark during the performance! As at MFF, I handed off the drawings on-site and won’t have a copy until Kage has time to scan them, but some of the previous live drawings are now viewable here (including both shows at MFF).

The visiting friend and I then went around the vendors and the Art Show. I picked up a Starwhal Charm from the lovely Inki-Jinx, who I was delighted to meet after talking together on Twitter many times! The setup at FC is different than cons I’ve been to previously in that there is no Artist’s Alley, but there is an extension of the Dealer’s Den called the “Furry Marketplace” with slightly different rules. I’m glad to have an idea of how it works in person in case I am able to make it back in the future as a dealer.

A quadruped wooly mammoth costumed performer.

That night, I split a rice-crust pizza with artist friend Shiro at Pizza My Heart. It was a chilly walk there and back, but light jackets were enough – nothing like the crazy cold and snow my folks were getting back home. I spent a little time wandering around, getting a further feel for the con space and taking pictures of costumers while Rondie and my other roomies got ready to go to “Fancy Friday.” Then Shiro, his roomies, and I played a card game called Red Dragon Inn, which can accurately be described as a drinking game without real drinking, though that makes it sound far less fun than it is. By the time we had a winner, we were all ready for bed.

Saturday, January 18th

I got up at a decent hour and grabbed some coffee at a nearby shop. On the way there and back, I saw three incredibly tall palm trees and realized I had never seen real palm trees like that in person before! In the convention area of the hotel, I ran into another friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, and we talked while browsing the Dealer’s Den. I found an artist with a neat style and commissioned her to do a sketch of Moth Monarch in the sketchbook Rondie had made at MFF. After a bit more shopping, I started to feel funny, so I went down to the convenience store in the hallway and bought a Luna bar to eat.

This proved to be a big mistake. I felt much sicker and had to return to the room, where I remained for the next several hours dealing with intense nausea and weakness. Thankfully, my wonderful roomies came to the rescue with water and drinks; one even went to get the convention EMTs to check on me, though I insisted she stress that I was not dying, only very miserable. The EMTs did a very thorough job asking me questions and trying to be supportive while they figured out what was the matter. My hands were so cold that they had to prick my fingers four times to get me to bleed so they could test my blood sugar. They gave me a Gatorade, said I should be okay with more rest, and approved Rondie’s suggestion of giving me some anti-nausea medication. I started to feel better after I’d had more to drink and let the pill work. Rondie fetched me a salad from Frascati, which I ate super slowly; then, feeling about 80% normal, I decided to make the best of the situation and go enjoy what was left of the day.

Artwork of Moth Monarch by Christine Knopp.

The artist I’d commissioned had finished the sketch, so I thanked her, then went to play Cards Against Humanity in the game room with a bunch of friends. I’m good (or awful, depending on how you see it) at that game and had a blast amusing the other players with completely terrible card combinations. At 7 pm, I followed Shiro to the TF jam and hung out doodling bugs. A bee costumer came by and about made my night.

A bee costumer!

I managed to snag yet another friend, Kiry, to go with Rondie, the roomies, and I for dinner and drinks somewhere, as I’d said several times before the con that I’d like to do something together in memory of my dad. All the local bars were over capacity, too loud, or both, so eventually we just got a bottle of white zin from the hotel bar and took it up to the room while I ordered some food. We split the bottle four ways, toasted Dad, and engaged in silly tipsy conversation for the rest of the night. Rondie and I even performed an episode of Deep Space 9 we’d accidentally written while trying to figure out prices for the art show, complete with character voices and a guest appearance by Tuvok.

The hour grew late, we bid Kiry goodnight, and then the rest of us managed to keep each other up until 3 am by talking about life in the dark.

Sunday, January 19th

Rondie and I picked up our remaining pieces from the Art Show. I’d made one sale – “Colony Construction” – though before the con was over, I was contacted with an offer for two other pieces, and a third piece was spoken for before I left California. I also had interest expressed in “Mother Moon I” that led to a commission of a similar piece I’m currently working on. All things considered, I’d say it was a good show!

“Colony Construction” sold!

I spent most of the rest of the con with Shiro. We talked to other artists he knew in the Dealer’s Den while I made a few final purchases (a sticker and some caffeinated soap). He and his roommate got their pictures taken in their costumes and cooled off in the lounges. It was 7 pm and time for me to go before we knew it.

That evening, I had dinner with my con roomies and two of Rondie’s aunts at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was a new experience for me, and I tried everything even though I was still a bit nervous about my stomach and unknown food. Food is always an adventure with Rondie.

Monday, January 20th – Thursday, January 23rd

I was supposed to go home on Tuesday but found out my flight was cancelled shortly after checking in for it. The soonest I could reschedule was Thursday, which gave me more time in California! Rondie and I went to bookstores, coffee shops, the Winchester Mystery House, and the second Hobbit movie in the extra time. I drew, she wrote. We saw Pacific Rim and listened to a mix “tape” she’d made for me titled “All Hail Moth Monarch.” It was a lovely – if entirely unplanned – vacation, and I’m beyond grateful to her aunt for tolerating my presence in her house that much longer.

Rondie’s friend, Dafydd, slightly concerned he won’t be able to finish our banana split.

San Jose was lovely, and I can only hope I’ll find myself in California again next year. My next destination is Dallas, TX in late February!