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  • Ash Stryker

Inaugural Blog Post (Post-ISCA Conference)

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Hello, world.


I've started the odd blog entry here and there, beefing it up with SAT words and lovable anecdotes, just to move it to the trash bin. These early drafts all met the same fate. But, after this last week in Las Vegas, when I attended the 30th annual International Society of Caricature Artists conference, I decided it's time I pull the trigger. Metaphorically, of course.


To the uninitiated: it's a weeklong event where a bunch of caricature artists gather and talk shop while drawing rigorously and without sleep for days on end. There's a host of seminars, of which was one I gave (on digital art technique,) as well as an awards banquet honoring the work made throughout the week. It's an experience that can only be lived and hardly extrapolated in 500 characters or less.


This year's conference was a big one, happening after a year off from the ISCACon as we knew it, in which the 2020 one was hosted entirely virtually. Still a fantastic, enrapturing event, but unequivocally bereft of its usual magic. I wasn't sharing the same space with a group of like-minded peers, agonizing over a pile of drawings just so they can be pasted on a wall for a day and taken down the next. This year I did just that, and it was everything I wanted and needed from 2021.


This year is marked with a lot of personal growth, a metric that concerns me more and more as the years press on. As I age I want to see myself, the visage of Ash, change. I ache to see her cultivate love for the world, love for art, and to express it freely. I feel that was possible this year, which isn't always the case when needing to prioritize financial security. Tit for tat. I'm taking chances, putting my heart on the line, taking Kierkegaard's leap of faith into a future that is uncertain, but so beguiling. I have no goals outside of pushing myself and seeing where life takes me. This week proved to me that those risks pay off. I just gotta put myself out there.


I made 9 pieces in total over the 4 day period when we could compete. All digital, in my main art program Photoshop. I was happy with my work, and pleased I could balance it with socializing with old and new friends. I met some of my heroes, like Brian Oakes and Marlo Meekins, finally spent time with coveted friends like Jeff Pecina and Kelly O'Brien, and even had the pleasure of befriending Kevin Nealon, a fantastic artist on top of his successful career in comedy. All-in-all, this week was magical, if you'll forgive how overused the word may be. Magical really sums it up.


I have eyes on my work that inspired me for years. Eyes that see the world in ways I admire. And to those of you (I assure you, you know who you are) who supported me throughout the week, thank you. It made winning three awards and making it to the board of directors even more impactful. I owe you all greatly, and I vow to pay it back through diligent board work.


I didn't want to write this just to rattle off humblebrags, but to express in so many words how much I'll hold onto these memories. Standing on stage with the likes of Kiko Yamada, Lindsey Olivares, Joe Bluhm, Damon Renthrope, Kev Jackson, Mike Graessle, and Daniel Stieglitz humbled me to my core. I cannot fathom how I made it up there, but now it's my goal to share it with more and more members every year, if I can.


So to ISCA: thank you for making my life and my art meaningful. Can't wait to see you all again throughout the year, and back in the ballroom come next November.


With love,

Ash

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