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Lucas Licensing Portfolio Review at WonderCon

RUEL DeGUZMAN I'm trying to squeeze in a little bit of work into my portfolio. I got a few pages to complete. I'm hoping to possibly get a chance to work with Lucas Licensing. I've done some comic book portfolio reviews then I changed my path to more concept art. I've been to the San Diego Comic-Con and previous WonderCons. But I didn't do it for a couple years because of previous reviews where I got a lot of good feedback and felt I had a lot of work to do. So I waited a little while till I felt confident enough to come back.

The thirty-year-old DeGuzman is waiting to get into is the Lucas Licensing Portfolio Review. The company handles $8 billion in licensing and merchandizing for properties such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones . Troy Alders is Lucas' director of licensing and merchandise, he also teaches at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He likes coming to these venues because he gets to meet artists who are also obsessed fans.

While WonderCon fans enjoyed the bustle of the convention, young artists were getting serious face time with Troy Alders at the Lucas Licensing Portfolio Review (Tony Weidinger)

TROY ALDERS: You can find people here that you can't find at any agency or trade publication. You find people here who have basically dedicated 18 hours a day to their favorite popular culture thing and sometimes you get amazing work that you couldn't find anywhere else because the level of passion and commitment they bring to their work. Fans like this really only exist at places like Comic-Con and WonderCon.

Among those fan artists waiting in line with DeGuzman is Mark Hyzer , who already has his foot in the door professionally.

MARK HYZER: I graduated from Cleveland institute of art just one year ago and I've been doing freelance artwork for Wizard and Magic. and every time I see one of these portfolio reviews I go to it because they give you some tips and more often than not they will give advice.

Hyzer's art is very polished. He says the innovation he introduced to his work was including children in the fantasy art.

MARK HYZER: Everyone does fantasy art work with monsters and fire but as a side gimmick I put children in. If you have a monster, a car on fire, and children, suddenly people read things into it.

In contrast to Hyzer is Heather Dresbach. She's still in school.

HEATHER DRESBACH: I just want to show my portfolio to Lucas Licensing to see what I need to work on. I graduate in December and I just want feedback from them.

Falling somewhere between the two in terms of skill and experience is Austin Bath.

AUSTIN BATH: I came to WonderCon because I love comics and digital entertainment. But I was hoping to find some job opportunities as well. I think I'm a pretty harsh self-critic so I don't know if I need to be shot down any more. I've come to realize that there are lots of opportunities but I think for every artist what's more important is being happy with your own work and being confident about it and being able to present yourself in a confident way and that will only happen if you know you are good, if you know you're hot shit and you work really, really hard. That's what I've learned.

Bath brought an iPhone with the digital art he's created. Alders says people bring laptops, jump drives and iPhone as well as more traditional portfolios to these review sessions. But Alders says he's giving advice about the concept of what they are doing rather than the technology they trying to use. He wants these artists to think about what it is they want to do, what kind of a career they want to pursue and then create a portfolio geared toward getting them that job. Alders has tips for artists at the StarWars.com site . At these portfolio reviews, Alders can spend hours a day talking with young artists.

Troy Alders at the Lucas Licensing Portfolio Review at WonderCon (Tony

TROY ALDERS: I usually come sit in a room and there are usually a few dozen people lined up with their cases and drawings. I do it very much one-on-one where they present all of their work or the work they have brought to show me. Of course they are hungry for a job and want to work on Star War, and I basically go through and tell them what works best, what could make their portfolio stronger and how they could present it better.

This year, like every year, Alders says he doesn't know what he's looking for but he will when he sees it.

TROY ALDERS: I'm looking for what I haven't seen yet. It takes many hours to find that gem but when you do it really pays off and it invigorates what I do. I had a lady show up with boxes of bronze sculptures and had a guy who had made action figures and characters out of tape and trash. It's anything you can imagine. There was a woman once who painted tons of Converse shoes, that's all she brought to show me.

An artist gets his work reviewed (Tony Weidinger)

But when the work's good Alders says it stands out. A few years ago he was working on artwork for Revenge of the Sith when he met Felipe Machado from Bogot & aacute;, Columbia at WonderCon. The young man was a designer and photographer. He was also in heavy metal band.

TROY ALDERS: He had all these photo collages and illustrations and typographic logo designs and they were almost heavy metal band evil looking and they had fire and I needed stuff that was kind of dark and fiery and evil and Darth Vader and I looked at his stuff and everything he had from the photo collage to typography is perfect.

So Darth Vader got a fiery biker makeover on mouse pads, trading cards, and posters. This year Alders didn't make any deals. But Alders did spend time with dozens of young artists, taking some business cards and offering advice. But Alders will be back and there's sure to be another endless flow of young artists hoping for that big break.

Look for information on the Comic-Con website about the portfolio review opportunities coming up this summer.

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