Pop-culture conventions may be notorious for their celebrity guests, panels, and release ofentertainment news, but Supanova, one of Australia’s largest pop culture conventions, has distinguished itself on an entirely different level - its stunning slice of the Australia’s art scene! Not only was there a multitude of incredible works on offer, but the camaraderie between artists, their interaction with fans, and the tangible passion that emanated from the booths made it all too evident as to why Supanova’s popularity is on the rise.
One of the greatest joys of the day was the diversity that could be seen among artists and attendees, and the sense of complete equality that encompassed them. People from all backgrounds, ages, sexual identities, and level of fandom stood without division in all areas of the hall, whether artist or interested fan. It was particularly encouraging to see a balance of both male and females behind the stalls and that their creations were presented simply as “art” and not marketed as “masculine” vs “girly” works.
This encouragement of equality was also mirrored in many of the items on offer and the subjects each artist had chosen to explore. There was a notable abundance of fan art for ‘Steven Universe’ - an animated series that has become one of the most influential mediums for promoting acceptance and diversity. The profound quality of Katie Elle’s pieces, for example, inspired both a sense of wonder in how something so beautiful could be created, as well as a desire to then watch ‘Steven Universe’ in hope that it would be equally as inspiring. While this may not seem to have a wider significance, it very much does, as the more people who can view that show and adopt its level of equality the better.
The manner in which Ev Jones captured the strength of his subjects through colour alone was a clear depiction of how power and compassion do not know boundaries as irrelevant as gender or background. His portrait of ‘Street Fighter’’s Ingrid, for example, projected as great a sense of fortitude as that of Shulk from ‘Xenoblade Chronicles’.
While such diversity was commendable in itself, you would be remiss to not appreciate the great variety in types of work on offer too. Whether you are more inclined towards the art of comic books, illustration, animation, fan art, jewellery, sculpture - any branch of creative expression, there was something to catch your eye. Animation fans were clearly elated by news that Mark Sheard and Ashleigh Beevers were not only offering artwork at Supanova but have also created Australia’s first animated sketch comedy, ‘Suspect Moustache’, for SBS2.
Even if you did not previously consider yourself an art lover, or to even have a passing interest in art, you would be hard pressed to resist stopping to examine one of the unique items that adorned the venue. The sheer range of creativity spoke volumes of the flair of Australian artists and their boundless imagination. Regine Clarke’s book ‘A Small Compendium of Illustrated Story Titles’ showed one of the most unique and beautiful demonstrations of the back-and-forth flow between illustration and idea, with Clarke starting with a story title, giving it visual life, then working backwards to generate a story about the image or a commentary on its creative process.
Some works even provided hidden treasures that could be further explored upon returning home. Chloe Pierce (aka Chincin)’s array of ‘Steven Universe’-inspired cards served like those of The Joker, luring you with stunning colourand leaving you with no choice but to discover more of their animated counterparts - a mystery which did not disappoint!
This treasure trove of colour and creativity was made all the more enticing by the interactions between all those on the floor. Chatting to the artists only furthered the charm of their work as it was immediately evident just how much time and passion had gone into crafting each piece. Though Australians may be notorious for their friendly nature and laid-back attitude, this group of artists went well beyond that, and appeared genuinely thrilled to chat to any passer by. Even a quick talk with artist Lindy Lou provided even greater admiration for her work, not only because she had relocated to Australia from Singapore to pursue her career, but also because of her obvious love for design as she spoke of her many influence.
Those wanting a more personal piece could stop by at one of the many stalls that offered on-the-spot commissions for anything as simple as a portrait, to one of a unicorn slam-dunking a frosted doughnut! Having the chance to see an artist completing such a work was as beautiful a moment as coming across a deer in the wild. The clear excitement of a fan as masters such as Richard Bailey or Cristina Driver looked up at them, to their work, then back again, adapting the subject to an illustrated form was as joyous to watch as it was to be involved.
While Australia may not yet be the leading country in those most supportive of the arts, it is clear that the creativity of the artists is among the best. If conventions there can increase in both number and patrons, and provide as commendable an experience as that of Melbourne’s Supanova, then it will be no surprise to see its animation industry, and the arts in general, expand into something as great as its overseas counterparts and one with the ability to support Australian talent.