Cartoon Brew: The First Lightbox Expo Is Taking Place This Weekend In Pasadena

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The First Lightbox Expo Is Taking Place This Weekend In Pasadena

By ALEX DUDOK DE WIT | 09/05/2019 5:06 pm | 5

Artists assemble: California has a brand-new convention for you. This weekend sees the launch of Lightbox Expo (LBX), a celebration of creators working across animation, live action, video games, and illustration. The event runs September 6–8 in Pasadena.

LBX has hit the ground running: the first edition is hosting around 250 illustrators, storyboard artists, animators, concept artists, and other talent besides. The program is packed with talks, panels, and demos, and artists will be on hand to give portfolio reviews on a first come, first served basis. Here are just some of the big names that will be in attendance:

  • Patrick O’Keefe (art director, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)

  • Alvin Lee (senior artist, League of Legends)

  • Kei Acedera (concept artist, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland)

  • Mike Mignola (creator, Hellboy)

  • Daniel Arriaga (character art director, Coco)

  • Iain McCaig (concept artist, Star Wars)

  • Crash McCreery (concept artist, Jurassic Park)

  • Pernille Orum (head character designer, DC Super Hero Girls)

  • Chris Sanders (writer/director, How to Train Your Dragon)

  • Jana Schirmer (visual development artist, Marvel Studios)

  • Karla Ortiz (concept artist, Doctor Strange)

Each day will see dozens of talks from independent artists and major companies alike, covering a range of industry trends as well as broader career issues like imposter syndrome, networking, and crowdfunding. Highlights include a presentation on concept design for live-action films from vfx titans Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings); a series of talks by Netflix artists, hosted by the company’s director of character animation James Baxter; and a look at the making of Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love.

On Saturday evening, the expo will also host the first ever Concept Art Awards, a worthwhile initiative that recognizes this field’s growing importance. The awards are backed by the Concept Art Association, an organization dedicated to raising the profile of these artists. The inaugural lifetime achievement award will be split between five renowned artists, both alive and dead: H.R. Giger (Alien), Ralph McQuarrie (Star Wars), Jean “Moebius” Giraud (TRON), Ron Cobb (Back to the Future), and Syd Mead (Blade Runner).

LBX was founded by concept artist Bobby Chiu, who set up the online art education platform Schoolism, and Jim Demonakos, the creator of Emerald City Comic Con. If its mission sounds similar to that of CTN Animation Expo (CTN-X), it’s no coincidence. Chiu launched the event as a response to what he characterized as a “toxic” culture at CTN-X, which is held in Burbank, California.

Last year, Chiu publicly accused the convention of bullying and abusing artists, and vowed never to attend again; others expressed similar grievances on social media. With CTN-X’s next edition coming in November, the two events are set to compete for the attention of established and aspiring artists in the region. LBX is making a point of its fair treatment of attendees, going as far as to set up an advisory council for this purpose.

LBX will be held at the Pasadena Convention Center. A day badge costs $50; for the full three days, it’s $135. For more information, including the full guestlist and event guide, head to LBX’s official website.

Concept Art Awards