This article was originally published in 2015 on HOWDesign.com
That movie, the one you love — there were at least 300 separate pair of hands making it a reality. That concert with your favorite band, it took months of planning and thousands of people to make it happen in your town. These numbers are not exact, but the idea is key. For each single thing that exists in the world, a wealth of blood, sweat, and skill brought it to life.
MondoCon is a celebration of that concept. The convention, curated by the Mondo gallery, the boutique poster arm of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, brings illustrators and designers from all over the globe to the Marchesa Theater in Austin, Texas to fill the halls with their unique part in the entertainment industry.
In only its second year, MondoCon mixes film screenings with panel discussions and exclusive poster releases. Fans who were able to attend the screening of Tim Burton’s 1989 ‘Batman‘ walked away with a limited edition poster from Australian illustrator Ken Taylor, and the fortunate who filled the theater for the 1985 Richard Donner classic ‘The Goonies‘ left with an exclusive poster by Tyler Stout.
MondoCon attracts a strong crowd of collectors of posters, vinyl records, toys, and other cinematic ephemera, an audience aware of the names of each artist on the marquee. Unlike Comic-Con and other major pop culture events, there are no hidden corridors for the talent to be ushered through. No secret rooms. At the Marchesa (and offsite hall at the Holiday Inn), the fans are able to meet the artists in the hotel lobby, in the bar. At the food trucks. We are not treated as throngs of pests but, perhaps, welcomed as friends.
What MondoCon, and Mondo as a business, has achieved should not be taken lightly – they offer honest engagement between artist and fan.
Each artist that weekend had a story they brought with them. For example from the UK, among his many other prints illustrator Richey Beckett brought along the remaining copies of his recent poster ‘Ktulu’, an illustration he created for metal icons Metallica to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their second album ‘Ride the Lightning.’ With Beckett was his wife Fiona, who had recently decided to work alongside her husband, turning his freelance career into a family business. She was there to help in the booth — unpack and set up, tear down and ship the remaining pieces back to England.
For artists like Brian Ewing, Gary Pullin, and others — as soon as MondoCon came to a close they flew back home to restock their posters and head to New York the following weekend for New York Comic-Con. UK based illustrator Thomas Hodge (The Dude Designs) created the official MondoCon 2015 show poster and used his trip to the States as a book tour of sorts for his amazing collection ‘VHS Video Cover Art: 1980s to Early 1990s,’ heading from Austin to Los Angeles for series of book signings. There is no rest. Only work.
Outside of Mondo’s own exclusives, each artist brought new and rare work to the collectors who flocked to Austin. Canadian illustrator Jason Edmiston painted over a dozen new pieces, continuing his successful ‘Eyes Without a Face‘ concept from his March 2015 solo exhibition. Edmiston had these new paintings alongside prints and original drawings, offering fans insight into his process and the chance to own a part of it.
Art director, illustrator, and Mondo creative director Rob Jones created a new body of self-portraits in line with his 2014 show Grief, placing his personal trials and traumas on paper, prints, t-shirts, and 1″ pins.
East coast based illustrator JC Richard, known for his inspired landscapes and panoramic takes on film properties, had a limited number of his ‘Cinderella‘ exclusive 12″ x 36″ 18 color screenprints released through Disney, a new partnership for the freelance illustrator that will hopefully keep him busy in the Disney universe.
MondoCon 2015 marked the first major convention by recently assembled The Vacvvm, a collective of illustrators from around the world. Its roster of eight announced a new addition, with members Aaron Horkey (rural midwest), Brandon Holt (Minnesota), Jessica Seamans (Wisconsin), Joao Ruas (Brazil), Ken Taylor (Australia), Mike Sutfin (California), Nicolas Delort (France), and Vania Zouraviov (Russia) being joined by Canadian artist Randy Ortiz.
The Vacvvm released new prints by each member, creating some of the longest lines of the weekend.
These are artists playing a small but vital role in the machine that is major popular culture properties. Gig posters, album artwork, and t-shirt designs. Film posters, comic books, and DVD package design. They ship their artwork and fly themselves to Texas to set up a booth to share with the public, that body of collectors that understands their work and their mark. Their names.
These are the artists that continually put their hands in projects, making the art in the world a little better for it.
Baltimore based photographer Holly Burnham joined the writer to chronicle the events at MondoCon. More photos from the event can be found HERE. More of Burnham’s work can be seen at HollyBurnham.com