Interview with Chris Kotsakis, Founder of Artistacon
Chris lives in Southern New Jersey in the same house where he first discovered his passion for art after doing an extraordinary job drawing his favorite characters from Greek Mythology at age 5. His 27 year professional illustration/creative direction career has been influenced by his love of comic books and adventure heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. Former collaborators have commended his professionalism and ability “to deliver superior work from concept to completion.”In a fully equipped studio, he utilizes various mediums combining traditional art techniques and digital technology.
Artistacon 2019 was founded by Chris and Janet Kotsakis after the first successful iteration of Artistacon 2016, founded by Enrico Botta, Chris Kotsakis, and Janet Kotsakis.
Artistacon is a conference for seasoned and aspiring artists celebrating the creative process and the mentorship of a new generation, it will be held in Philadelphia, PA on March 22, 23, and 24, 2019. Hosted by Moore College Of Art and Design.
This event promises to be a unique and intimate engagement featuring well-known Guests of Honor and Featured Creators. They will be conducting workshops, educational symposia, portfolio reviews, demonstrations, and displays from featured guests, all willing to share their expertise with those looking to build and expand professional bridges or pursue a career in the Arts.
Join the cast, crew, and special guests for a weekend of creative growth and inspiration is one of the oldest and most culturally important cities in the United States. Level up your creative game and explore America's founding city.
Friday, March 22, 2019 – Philadelphia Sketch Club: Meet and Greet , Drink And Draw
Saturday & Sunday, March 23-24, 2019– Moore College of Art & Design : Conference Venue
Tell me about yourself and what you do.
I’m a life-long artist myself, drawing since age 5. In 1992, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the University of The Arts in Philadelphia. Since then, I worked as a full-time freelance illustrator for many years, with diverse clients in all genres of illustration including advertising, editorial, and publishing.
What inspired you to start Artistacon? Tell us about the event and why you decided to create it.
My colleague and I were guests of NY Comic Con’s Artist Alley in 2012, and while we were speaking to people, as we promoted our own art and product, we noticed we were getting just as many questions from people asking how to get into the Art field – how did we get work, where were the best resources for learning, etc. We decided to help people who are eager to learn, and Artistacon was founded. We held the first one in 2016 in The Lyceum in Burlington, NJ.
What can attendees expect from Artistacon? What are some topics that will be covered by your guest speakers?
We use the word “intimate” quite a bit when we speak about Artistacon. This is not a “con” with 5,000 people, this is an intimate educational experience where people who are either just beginning their journey into a career in the Arts or are interested in doing so can actually meet and speak with professionals who are experienced and successful in their respective fields. Attendees can get portfolio reviews, mentorship or advice from Art Directors, publishers, Fine Artists – you name it. We have worked hard to ensure there’s something for everyone, and that is evident in our programming.
Our topics are geared to those exploring a career in the Arts. Many artists and writers have a great deal of talent, and they have to work to continue developing their craft. We will have workshops and panels from Fine Artists like Dave Palumbo, Neilson Carlin, and John Wellington, as well as writers, illustrators, and comic artists to help them continue that part of their process. But there’s a business side that many art professionals have to be knowledgeable about too, and we are providing information on subjects such as social media, self-promotion, what Art Directors are really looking for, self-publishing and many more.
How do you choose your guests of honor and presenters?
We are artists, too, and we know who we admire in the industry, and we aren’t shy about asking the best of the best to be a part of Artistacon. Most people we speak to jump at the chance to give back and share their wisdom. We also want to make that we have a diverse group of people with a variety of talents, from a variety of genres and disciplines to ensure that we are providing attendees with a great experience. I think we have accomplished that – we have 40+ presenters among our Guests of Honor, Featured Artisans, and panel participants.
What is your favorite quote or mantra that helps you on your creative journey?
All ships rise with the tide. I support a lot of artists and am passionate about the importance of the Arts, whether as a field of study, career or simply as a hobby. It has fed my soul throughout my life, and I see what it does for others who share their talents. We as an industry need to be there for each other, support each other, teach each other and ultimately, mentor the next generation by sharing what we’ve learned along the way. When we work together, all of us will succeed.
What are you most excited about in regards to your event?
Personally, I am excited about seeing many of my friends in the industry, and, in turn, watching as they share their experience and expertise with the attendees. I recharge being in an environment with other people who are as passionate about art as I am. My team and I have been working on this event for two years, and we are excited about seeing the attendees learning, networking and collaborating with our guests and presenters. Having it all come to life.
Any tips for creatives inspire to create their own conference or event?
Don’t be afraid to try. Introduce yourself, ask the hard questions – you never know what will come of it if you just take the chance.