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ICON 4: I Done Sprained My Elby Bone

This may sound like my dog ate my homework; but I had every intention of posting something from each day of ICON 4. It certainly seemed like the bloggy thing to do.

But the microbes had other plans.

A massive staphylococcus infection in the right arm landed me in the hospital. At the time, I didn’t know what was happening because there was no scratch, bite, cut or puncture which could explain an infection. There is a patch of dry skin on my elbow, so that’s probably where it started; but I’ll spare the details and get to the point.

I recently had a fortune cookie that read “the wise man knows everything, the sage man knows everybody” — trite, but true. My own education wasn’t complete until I moved to New York and began meeting fellow designers. Just seeing how people spoke about work, clients and money helped crystallize my thoughts; and understanding the humanity — including the fears, jealousies and pettiness — of well-known designers helped build my confidence.

In general, it was the same at ICON: a conversational tag-team at the elevators and a nightly mixer at the bar. The stories of bad budgets and bad clients weren’t new, but the strategies for dealing with them sometimes were. A few illustrators have taken things in their own hand and are investigating licensing. Children’s books are usually the first response, but a few are looking to something on the scale of a Fido Dido.

While I regret not catching the presentation by Kessels Kramer and have now missed two Steve Heller/Seymour Chwast interviews, the trip wasn’t a complete wash. I return drained, but invigorated; the rolodex is a bit fatter; the bookshelf a little more crowded; and I find myself contemplating licensing concepts.

So, my recommendation to those attending future design conferences: blow it off and go hang out in the bar. I bet you’ll learn more there than in some of the sessions. Seriously.


Department of Small Ironies: Conference organizers asked each participant to contribute a piece for a custom-printed Sketchbook. I repurposed an illustration done for the string quartet Ethel — which was a drawing of a right arm. Yikes.
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PUBLISHED ON Jul.13.2005 BY m. kingsley
m. kingsley’s comment is:

I know... I know... I've just quoted a fortune cookie. Blame it on the fever.

To make up for this lapse in judgement, click on the Kessels Kramer link a few times. Brilliant.

On Jul.13.2005 at 04:02 AM
feelicks sockwl jr’s comment is:

In between beers at the Illustrator Conference in San Francisco

I had the pleasure of meeting Micheal Hodge, staff illustrator at The Dallas Morning News (the paper I grew up reading). His mouth was moving but I wasnt really listening. Something about how many illustrations he did and how he was collecting quite a body of work from it. “Good Paper” I recalled. He nodded. “But then again, they endorsed you know who in the you know what (election)”. “True” he conceded, then proceded “...but the editorial page always disagreed”. I thought, boy, now theres a strange one. Thats like Ebert & Roeper handing us 2 thumbs and in the same motion asking us not to shell out the 10 bones. I dont get it. I dont buy it.

Hours later I ran into another pressman (who served as

keynote too)— the film critic Elvis Mitchell who recently departed from his duties at The New York Times. I doubt many of those in the audience knew Elvis cut his teeth at the Fort Worth Star Telegram and Dallas Observer). I did.

There were some interesting conversations but these two hit me like an old friend. No, we’re not in Dallas anymore. I thought about my recent puzzle with the New York Times and how I kinda complained about it. I thought about the apartment I had after leaving Dallas and how it was 5 just blocks from where I was standing—in a seedy neighborhood in the Tenderloin. I thought about the cardboard boxes I slept on and the blue U-Haul sheets I kept warm with. And the hookers. I thought about home. Dumb luck. And hard work.

See you at the bar— at ICON5

On Jul.13.2005 at 01:47 PM
Von Glitschka’s comment is:

Hey Mark,

It was nice meeting you in person at ICON4.

Overall the conference was informative and I was able to glean some good things I can apply but it wasn't as inspirational as the last one in Philly.

Some of the sessions didn't live up to their description. The 'Future Tense' session started good and they even passed out overhead projection plastic sheets and sharpies for people to submit questions on during the Q&A at the end but then Craig Fraizer went into a 10 minute rant and then never did the Q&A. That was kind of annoying.

I did find a cool street vendor in Chinatown that hand carved my company name in Chinese characters.

Here is the stamp:

Here is what the stamp looks like:

So that was pretty cool.

After lamenting the slow painful death of FreeHand I was given a free copy of CS2 Illustrator so that was a very nice surprise. Oh yeah, there was a dancing carrot at the Saturday night function too, don't want to leave that important fact out of the equation.


On Jul.13.2005 at 11:05 PM
feelicks sockwl jr’s comment is:

I ditto the "not as inspirational" part

but conclude that SF (a much finer location)

made this event more enjoyable.

Santa Fe (ICON2) remains the best to date.

On Jul.14.2005 at 11:15 AM
Tatiana’s comment is:

I had a blast at ICON 4. I'd have to agree the bar scene after the sessions was great. I made a lot of contacts and learned a lot from everyone's stories. The stamps made a great ice breaker too, even helping me win a camera!

See you at ICON 5!

On Aug.07.2005 at 10:30 PM