I have to wind up Hi Ex 2010, get my skates on quickly and paint like the wind now, as the South West Ross Highland Open Studios week is on during the first week of May and I'll be pulling an exhibition of paintings together.
meanwhile, what is Hi-Ex? Why ? How did it go & What effect might it have on my own art ?
here . Rich & I are huge comic fans, we were travelling the length of the country to go to comic events & when Judith the out-reach worker at the venue asked if we could get some comics creators up to Inverness, it just snowballed into a full blown convention from that. There are no other comic conventions North of Leeds let alone in Scotland which seemed mad give the wealth of HUGE comic names that have come from Scotland and the connection with Dundee and DC Thomson.
So we run this thing, we aim to have a family feel and get new folks into comics, we also want to scotch the myths that comics are silly & just for kids, its as valid an art form as any. Then theres raising money for a worthy Charity, in this case Children 1st, bringing some life to Inverness, and getting new people creating and participating ...all good stuff.
We do really well at getting charity donations of people, hundreds of goodies to giveaway to ticket buyers, getting support from within the industry, fantastic goodwill from creators and incredible press coverage. What is a struggle for us is the amount of work it involves, effectively voluntary work. The size of our team is limited by our geographical remoteness, we are 65 miles away from the venue and 100's away from anyone we could delegate to.We get incredible help off Mike who does our website in Eire, and Dave in Birmingham who helps with design & publishing. My Daughter Ish, helped this year by Lukáš were fantastic at the weekend running around like superheroes. An other problem has always been funding, the established organisations just didn't want to know, until after a couple of years of banging on doors we got some assistance from the Highland Regional Council which made a tremendous difference. We might not make a loss this year for the first time ! We have definately raised over £2000 with the Charity Auction, Raffle and Artists donations.
Our distance from town also means that we are effectively outside all of the normal business networks so its very difficult to meet Town businesses that we can work with..again lots of banging on doors.
Rich has a day job, so spends all his evenings trying to divide his own writing projects with working on Hi Ex. I am freelance ( although on fire call around 158 hours a week ) so can work away at Hi Ex in my own time, sadly at great detriment to my own art work ( Thats another post !).
This all sounds rather negative, why do we do it then?
Because we love to see our favorite creators. Because we love to see all those children running around having the time of their lifes. Because we love to plant some creative seeds, which even after 3 years are starting to grow healthily in some Highland young people. Because we love to watch people making new friends, and new creative projects. Because we love to support a worthwhile cause, Because the comics industry faces new challenges & we want to promote & support it in our own we corner, Because...we can.
While we do enjoy the weekend, It can be incredibly stressful for us two who go a week or so with little sleep and have to do everything from lugging boxes, postering, to guest liaison & customer care. This year was less stressful than the previous two because there was no snow blocking the roads( although it followed us the Monday we finished! ), also there was such a great buzz from so many wonderful people it was impossible to not have a great time.
There are some fantastic reviews from people who attended, they can give you a better overview than me;
So what does this all mean for my art ? am I an events organiser or artist? how do I pick up my art reins after months of this? Well being in a room with all these talented people is one heck of a creative stimulus, once I've done some more number crunching and Hi-Ex e-mails I shall post some thoughts about my own work what I picked up from the weekend. Read those reviews in the meantime & I'll be back!