When I first went to UK Games Expo in Birmingham back in 2014, the attendance was a huge nearly 6,000 people. This year, apparently larger than Origins in the US, the attendance was more than double at 12,500 people! This year was the first year the trade hall, amongst several other aspects of UKGE, moved into the NEC 1 with roleplaying at the Hilton Metropole, where formally the entire convention was located. In addition to trading, I was once again a guest artist and I again provided art for the treasure hunt, took part in a seminar and co-ran a workshop.
How To Draw Like A Pro
This was the second workshop co-run with Gillian Pearce in which we looked at how to handle a very open-style art brief for a monster design. We had a lovely range of people, young and old, varying from students, hobbyists, people wanting to get into the industry and even the odd person already in the industry just wanting to get a few tips. The group was given a brief for designing a monster, purposely kept very open for interpretation, allowing each person to use this to focus on an aspect of art they want to practise or get advice about. Gill put together a wonderful booklet, which included my original brief for all who attended, and I also brought along a few interesting props, including skulls, horns, pine cones, feathers, etc. It looked like I’d brought the cultist’s table to the workshop! Overall, I think everyone had lots of fun and they all left with a monster or two, and it was fantastic to see everyone’s own interpretations of the brief.
The Importance of Art in Gaming
I felt privileged to be in a panel of six artists, including myself and Ralph Horsely, Gillian Pearce, Andree Schneider, Vicki Dalton and James Hayball. We all came from varying styles and companies with whom we’ve worked, so we could really present lots of perspectives on the subject.
From left to right: Vicki Dalton, Linda M. Jones, Gillian Pearce, Ralph Horsely, Andree Schneider, James Hayball
This year the seminar focused on how art can enrich the world of gaming, complimenting the words in the case of RPGs and express tone in other games. We also discussed how art can really define the diversity of popularly recurring subjects, such as orcs and airships, such that you can easily tell to which product that interpretation belongs. Coming from a cartography perspective, Gill covered the importance of maps as a visual aid for both running and playing the games.
I felt the seminar went really well, and there was some nice recognition from attendees of my pieces for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition (finally released this year, and one of which was used on the programme cover of my first year as a guest).
It’s always fun attending UKGE and the organisers did a really good job considering the massive change this year and increase in attendance. It was wonderful hearing the response on my latest dragon art, Rose Guardian, and hearing thoughts about my Patreon project.
One of the fans of my dragon art, a lovely lady who also backed me on Patreon, was getting the artists to do interpretations of her dragon persona, for which she even had her own design brief. This was really fun to join in with and to see how different everyone’s dragons styles looked, though I had to make sure to add in her favourite flower.
There was also some wonderful cosplay characters, of which I only managed to nab a few photos, but there were so many great costumes. A particular favourite of mine was, because I’m also a fan of vampires, was the gentleman who dressed as Victor from Underworld.
As always at conventions, it was fantastic getting to see faces old and new and this year a wonderful surprise running into Nick Angell.
Back before I got into freelance, me and Nick used to work together in the Woolworths cafe and it was Nick who directed me to DeviantArt, from which I started posting up my first pieces of work online and getting in touch with other artists and, well, the rest is history. Nick, meanwhile, went off to do comics, but was there with his first card game, Sandwich Masters, released through Big Punch Studios. Which looks awesome and hilarious, and all the more amusing as I remember us making unusual sandwiches in that cafe!
All in all, it was an awesome time and thanks to the organisers for having me as a guest again and I hope to attend again next year.