IlluxCon, the first convention dedicated solely to fantasy art and illustration, will be held Thursday through Saturday at the Altoona Heritage and Discovery Center in downtown Altoona.
The convention will feature many of the biggest names in fantasy illustration - which encompasses fine art, book illustration and cover art, film concept design and more, of a fantasy or science fiction nature. Many of the artists and painters coming to the convention are multiple-time Hugo Award winners (the Hugos are the fantasy/science fiction genre's version of the Pulitzer Prize).
Among the big names heading to the show are:
This “cyberangel” is the official image of IlluxCon and was created by Australian artist Patrick Jones, from an idea by IlluxCon organizer and Altoona resident Pat Wilshire.
* Boris Vallejo of Allentown (best known for illustrations of Conan and Tarzan, as well as film posters including ''National Lampoon's Vacation")
* Michael Whelan of Connecticut (16-time Hugo Award-winner, frequent cover illustrator for Stephen King)
* Greg Hildebrandt of New Jersey (with late brother, Tim, painted the first ''Star Wars'' movie poster and is among the best-known ''Lord of the Rings'' artists)
If you go
What: IlluxCon fantasy illustration symposium
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Sunday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Altoona Heritage and Discovery Center, with additional events held at Penn State's Devorris Downtown Center, Altoona
Tickets: Four-day passes are available for $150 and include access to the show and all lectures, demonstrations and discussions (limit of 200), available at www.illuxcon. com; Seniors admitted free on Friday; Show is open to the public on Sunday with admission of $15 at the door and free for children ages 18 and under
* John Jude Palencar of Ohio (cover artist for Christopher Paolini's ''Inheritance Cycle'' books, which include "Eragon")
* Bob Eggleton of Rhode Island (eight-time Hugo Winner for Best Professional Artist)
IlluxCon is the brainchild of Altoona resident Pat Wilshire. Wilshire, a long-time fan and collector of the genre, had been discussing the need for such a convention with his wife, Jeannie. The discussion reached a new level when a pair of artists got involved.
"Last summer, we went to visit a couple of artists, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell (Vallejo's wife, also a fantasy artist)," Wilshire said. "They invited us out to visit and my wife, Jeannie, mentioned that this is something that someone should do. They got very excited about it and said 'You have to do this.'"
That push from two of the bigger names in the industry got the
"While we were out on our trip, we talked about it," Wilshire said. "We started off setting it up (and) we started contacting the artists that I knew best."
The plans quickly grew as the Wilshires took the organization of the convention entirely on their own shoulders.
''We've been working on the show for a little over a year," Wilshire said. "(We've spent) lots and lots and lots of time. The show is much more hands-on than your average symposium."
The convention begins with the official opening and a show preview from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Friday and Saturday will be filled with demonstrations, lectures and discussions, all of which will be held at Penn State's Devorris Downtown Center, two doors down from the Heritage Discovery Center.
The demonstrations and lectures are a big draw for the attending artists - more than 55 in all. (Visit www.illuxcon.com for a full schedule of events.)
In order to make IlluxCon more artist-friendly, Wilshire has put a limit on the number of attendees for most of the convention. Only 200 four-day passes were made available, with 100 free passes for Penn State students on Friday and Saturday. Only Sunday is open to the public.
That sort of scaled down event means the artists can mingle and attend as many lectures and demonstrations as they want.
''The artists won't be chained to their tables like they normally would be (at a regular convention)," Wilshire said. "When I was describing the show, I said it was 'like the San Diego Comic Con without 11,000 people dressed as stormtroopers.'"
One artist who is making the trip to Altoona for IlluxCon is Patrick Jones. The 46-year-old Australian doesn't mind the long trip to the U.S. due to the uniqueness of the event.
"It's the first time in history that these great fantasy and science fiction artists will be in the same place at the same time," Jones said in an e-mail interview. "It's a real testament to Pat Wilshire's will and tenacity that he managed to make the impossible happen.
"I would have come by rowboat for this one!"
Jones got involved with the convention early, as his work won him the job of creating IlluxCon's official image - a "cyberangel" in ruined church.
"Considering the caliber of artist I was up against I was flattered just to be asked, and knocked out when I go the go-ahead," he explained. "(The image) was Pat's vision. ... Then, like the best art directors, he left me to it, trusting my interpretation."
Jones is just one of many artists coming to the event, but Wilshire said that Whelan is the marquee name for IlluxCon.
"(Whelan is) as far as contemporary artists, probably the top of the heap," Wilshire said. "He won (12) Hugos for Best Professional Artist before taking his name out of contention. He doesn't normally do much in the way of shows."
Several of the IlluxCon artists will hold book signings at Barnes and Noble in Altoona on Friday and Saturday. Palencar will be signing at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by Ruth Sanderson (children's book illustrator) at 7 p.m. Saturday's artists will be Justin Sweet (concept artist for the "Chronicles of Narnia" films) at 7 p.m. and Joe DeVito (painter and scultor known for works involving "King Kong") at 8 p.m.
Both nights of signings will be free and open to the public.
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.