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when I first got into the furry fandom almost 8 years ago now, My belief was that the only way to get in touch with the physical side of it was to attend conventions. A convention was seemingly the only reason we fuzzy people seemed to gather in one spot and flaunt our stuff like peacocks. It was a beautiful image, but it wasn’t strictly true. Conventions can be a great Avenue into making new friends and learning new things, but as I’ve learned over the years it’s not the only way to interact.
Becoming a self employed fursuit maker has come with it it’s own set of new rules and new ways I need to view conventions as a whole. Gone are the days of simply going for the heck of it, as a glorified hangout for friends and a good spot to spend money on things I don’t need. Now, I got to conventions always with a calculated purpose, whether that be marketing, ‘intel-gathering’, or research, and refreshing my oft-times worn out artistic muse. As hard as it may be to believe, it gets tiring being able to create 24/7! Your brain is always on overdrive and sometimes that can be exhausting. Being so isolated from the creative community is hard. Social media makes it easier, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a colleague’s work in person so you can quietly and simultaneously admire it and dissect it in turn.
The beautiful thing about how many fursuit artists already exist in the fandom is that none of us really do everything the same way. There may be standard practices that a lot follow, and even more that are kept as trade secrets, But we all have our own way of figuring things out and visually problem solving. Some things work for some of us, some don’t. These differences are fascinating and enlightening to see. So next time you go to a convention, take a look at all the suit’s eyes and wonder at how many different ways there are to make a simple vision port to the soul.
That said, as a maker my eye has long been trained to be shrewd, discerning, and calculating with every glance and picture taken. I stop and admire the impressive suits, I compliment the ones I truly like, and I take photos with the ones I want to study later. Just by looking at a photo of something an artist can learn a lot more then an average person can. It’s something we develop over years and years of practice, and if you are looking to do the same someday, you should definitely notice how deliberate your glances are when surrounded with hoarders of walking pieces of art! It will amaze you all the tiny details you may miss because you’re so busy walking from one side of the convention center to the other, for lack of anything better to do.
Sometimes at a con if I’m not too busy I’ll just sit and people watch. Discreetly, of course, but I’ll sit with a sketchbook or my phone and just...watch people. The way they move, talk, the way their tail wags when they laugh. It sounds creepy and voyeuristic but it’s really just a part of the artistic psyche. We observe, therefore we create. I don’t always see human beings walking around. I see shapes, I see social interactions and emotions, I see costume making methods I’ve never seen before. I see individual creativity and the talent (or lackthereof) of the performer.
It’s all a delicate, fascinating dance, and it’s what keeps me coming back to conventions more so then the obvious reasons of self marketing and self promotion. If anything, I go because there is this electricity of creativity in every human being present, even if that human can’t make suits or draw, or write. That person is there because they have created something, even if it’s just a character, or the vague beginnings of one.
If you’re looking to attend conventions for any reason that is business related, be it self marketing, to sell your wares, or to observe, just always remember to preserve that sense of wonder and deliberate observation. You have something to learn from everyone there, and you never even have to talk to them!
That kind of thinking keeps you humble, and it keeps your artistic spirit growing.
So keep learning, keep trying new things, keep really LOOKING at the world you live in, and enjoy being an artist to the fullest! We ALL have the capacity to create, and we’re all in this fandom because we have. <3
Cheers, and see ya next time!