I'll never forget the day I met myself. August 17th, 2019 will be a day in my life that will persist in memorial infamy. Medford, Oregon was having it's first anime convention. Fans, artists, voice actors, and cos-players congregated at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center to celebrate anime, manga, and Japanese culture. It's customary to dress up as your favorite anime character at conventions like these. So imagine my surprise when I look up one moment and see someone who, if I didn't know any better, was cosplayed as me!
There were plenty of attendees in cosplay as other better known characters, ranging from popular series like Naruto and Sailor Moon to more obscure anime that only hardcore fans would be familiar with. Fortunately for me, my doppelganger didn't have any intentions of entering the cosplay contest, which was held by a panel of judges, including other professional cos-players like Sydabee, Cosplaimee, Miss Bellabean, and the Faustain Spider. He didn't stand a chance.
Other highlights of this anime convention included special guests appearances by English anime voice actors Morgan Berry and Paul St. Peter from Dragon Ball Super and Bryan Apprill and Eddie Frierson from My Hero Academia. Brandon Yates also made an appearance, who composes the music for the Youtube series, Death Battle. In addition to all of the local fan artists and vendors, this was a very successful convention, the first of more to come!
My vendor table had improved over previous conventions. I had my usual line-up of books, stickers, and poster prints. This time, however, I was delighted to be able to showcase my hand-drawn character sketches. For a small charge, I was also accepting personal commission requests and fan favorite characters.
Example character sketches I made during the show.
Initially, I didn't anticipate this service being quiet so popular, but almost from start to finish, I did almost nothing else aside from applying pen to paper, producing character after character. I was quiet literally booked an hour or more out the entire show and immensely grateful and honored by the support and enthusiasm of my art patrons! Thank you! The look on someone's face when presented with their unique and personalized sketch was the reoccurring highlight of the whole affair.
Another fan-favorite activity all seemed to revel in at my booth, was making chalk art on a small chalkboard. This was a simple, yet effective way to invite a nonjudgmental community of artistry even among those fans who claimed no personal artistic aptitude. Several blank tablet-sized chalkboards were provided with encouraging signage of Captain Falcon requesting them to "Show me your moves!" Photo images captured the artists and their individual calcium carbonate masterpieces and were posted to my Instagram. It was great to make art for others and have them simultaneously return the favor. Ani-Medford is, intrinsically, all about fostering community and sharing our mutual love for anime.
This was a successful event for me in more ways than one. I had good conversations with fellow artists, sold some books, stickers, and completed many personal sketches. I am both honored and overjoyed to have been invited this year. If you were in attendance and visited my booth or even have your oven James Art Ville signed memorabilia from the convention I'd be thrilled to hear from you. If you missed out this time around, I can't recommend strongly enough your attendance at Southern Oregon's 2nd annual Ani-Medford in 2020. I look forward to seeing you all there!