Computer Arts - ICON5 - Review
Computer Arts
September 2008

ICON5 – The Big Picture
Lawrence Zeegen attends the New York City illustration conference that delivers on all fronts…

ICON5 – the US illustration conference, held this year in a huge smart mid-town Manhattan hotel in early July, aimed high and delivered on all fronts. The conference theme - The Big Picture was more than just a slogan, as ICON5 President and Chair of Illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art, Whitney Sherman, explained in her introduction – ‘It’s the perspective through which we see our future,’ she announced. Sherman’s promise that ICON5 was to concentrate on ‘celebrating our creative freedom, regenerating ourselves and provoking thought’, sounded a call-to-arms, and battle-cry for the illustration industry, and offered an insight into what the four-day event was about to deliver.

Now in it’s fifth year, ICON5 has gone from strength to strength with over 450 delegates in attendance, chiefly made up of professional illustrators drawn from across the US and Canada, all corners of Europe and as far a field as Hong Kong and Australia – this was a truly international event. And the programme’s super-sized line-up of key speakers, events, break-out sessions and seminars exceeded expectations. NYC’s illustration elite, well-represented with star turns by Gary Panter, creator of Jimbo, Seymour Chwast of Pushpin, Marshall Arisman of the School of Visual Arts and Tristan Eaton of Kid Robot, ensured the event was as big as its bite. Studio visits to meet influential artists, topical discussion-focussed lunches, book signings and workshops – no stone was left unturned in guaranteeing that ICON5 delivered on The Big Picture.

The ICON5 twelve-strong Board spent three years planning this year’s event and the result was an impressive rota of speakers and events that provided an unequalled conference for today’s contemporary illustrators. From tours of the Society of Illustrators historic premises on 63rd Street to digital colouring workshops with James Jean, LA-based DC Comics award-winning illustrator, and from Steven Heller, author of over 100 books on design, interviewing Stanley Hainsworth, previously Global Creative Director for brands such as Nike, Lego and Starbucks to openings of exhibitions at the New York Times Gallery on 40th Street – ICON5 had it all and more besides…