Reasons why you shouldn’t support Colossalcon, part one.
Do you love and support your convention’s AA? Do you believe that people should be treated fairly, especially by a professional organization?
Then please, please spread the word about this unfair treatment. Things need to change, and we have the power to change it.
I am writing this post not only because Colossalcon used to be my favorite convention, which I have been attending for six consecutive years to cosplay and volunteer at my (now)girlfriend’s art table… but also because a great injustice has been done to the hard-working artists who attend. This con has had our love, our praise, and constant support.
But this year, we refuse to support them back.
Note: Mister Donnell Shoffner’s name has not been edited out of the above images, as he has been posting publicly on the Colossalcon FB page… as well as handling all of the AA public relations. He has been commenting as his personal FB page, which is also for public viewing. All of this information can be seen publicly. I am merely spreading the word.
Here are some general points that I’d like to make clear regarding this whole fiasco.
As you may have heard, the AA was switched to a jury system this year. The artists who applied for tables were all aware of this information. However, the artists were not informed how they would be juried… and this has caused a great deal of distress, and mistrust, among the artists.
Naturally, people have been left wondering why they didn’t get a spot. These are artists who have supported this con for many years,and whose art was always accepted… “always good enough” and who have developed convention-specific fanbases. They are now completely left in the dark… people who look forward to this convention, who work hard, and even some who travel from out of state to attend. Was the art actually judged? Was it judged fairly? Did personal biases come into play, both to the artists themselves or their artwork? There is no way to know… especially given how the jury has reacted once artists started sending in their inquiries.
Now, a jury system is all well and fine. Rejection happens, and that’s certainly life. We would never deny that. But the way that the situation has been handled has been strictly unprofessional, and oftentimes downright rude. It’s one thing to be told that you didn’t receive a table, it’s another thing entirely to be told why… which is what the artists want. That’s a simple enough task. Instead, the artists received a rudely written email, simply explaining that all artists were ranked, but their ranking (or reasons for their ranking) couldn’t be known… Here’s what it said: “The top 30 average scores were accepted right away. The next 30 were wait-listed. The final 200, while possessing scores, were not ranked in any order, because what would the point be? No one wants to be #230 on the wait list. “
It would have been a lot simpler to simply say “Here’s who got in, and who didn’t…and here are the reasons… thank you all and good luck ” rather than this very strange and shady-sounding ranking system… which is still not described in any way.
Why is all of this unfair, you might ask? BECAUSE THE ARTISTS WERE NEVER INFORMED ABOUT THE CRITERIA UPON WHICH THEY WERE JUDGED. And as it stands, still haven’t been. What good is a system if it can’t even be elaborated upon? What exactly was scored? What did this system involve? Were only certain genres accepted? Was it all new blood being brought in? Was it actually just personal bias, being covered up by a professional nature? We have gotten nothing. Instead of a little information, the artists have received defensive, poorly-written, rude, and condescending responses… none of which actually answered the artists questions. All the artists require, is a bit of information as to what they can improve upon in the future for a possible AA spot… is that truly so much to ask?
Upon receiving so-called “hatemail” from upset artists and con-goers, the first image was how Donnell responded… as you might agree, it was written towards “the few” who had sent hatemail, rather than “the many” who did nothing at all.. They contradict themselves by saying that “being in the bottom 200 doesn’t mean your art sucks or that we think your art sucks” (in those exact, and quite unprofessional terms) directly after saying “the overall quality of art was exponentially better this year.” They go on to include all accusations thrown their way, in a defensive and downright rude tone… even going as far as to deny any bribes that may have occurred, in which judges could have slept with the artists for an in.
Even more, to add insult to injury, they encourage the rejected artists to show up at the Thursday Craft Fair… at the cost of admission, of course… and to “walk past us with your twenties fanned out and make us extremely jelly.”
This isn’t professional. This is dealing with children. Who wants to support this sort of behavior? Certainly not me.
But it gets worse.
Mister Donnell Shoffner seems not to know what “privacy” means, and has left his FB open to the general public… so that people can see how truly unprofessional he is. The last two images in the photoset show what he and his friends really thinks about artists… here are some highlights:
- Threatening to abolish the artist alley entirely because that’s the only way to be “fair” to everyone
- Referring to not getting a table as some sort of “defeat”rather than a growing or learning experience
- Insinuating that all artists are “entitled children” who have no concept of the world… and who only want an art table to get free admission to the con itself.
- Undermining the value of artists and their hard work, by stating that artists clearly “don’t make a living” off of conventions that they attend (and if they think they do, they’re fooling themselves)
- Treating the entire situation as little more than a joke, and posting the status on his personal FB page so that “his friends could get a chuckle out of it.”
- Insisting that “any response” regarding the rejection is better than no response… because “when you apply for college, they won’t give you as much.”
- Stating that dealers would gladly pay 4 times the amount that artists pay for an artist spot.
I repeat. He actually stated… that he feels no sense of loss from artists no longer supporting this con, because the dealers pay more. DEALERS PAY MORE.
Is that what this is about? Is it all about the money?
A dismissive and defensive rejection letter is one thing… but this sort of mindset just illustrates how narrow-minded, opinionated and uninformed people can abuse a position of power.
This ignorance and staggeringly childish behavior saddens me deeply. Many artists, my girlfriend for example.. are on the pro-level (college graduated, published, the works). She’s not a baby, she doesn’t want to get into the con for free. She simply wants to support this con, as she has for many years now, and be supported in return. She wants to be treated fairly. She’s brought money and customers to this convention… family and friends and loved ones. She believes in new artists being brought in, as well as the old ones staying… as that is how conventions thrives. And in response, she hasn’t even been given the valuable information regarding how precisely she can improve in the future, or what her portfolio should include, to be considered once again someday. Insinuations that she’s a “butthurt child” or that her spot isn’t nearly worth the same value as a dealer’s table… are all simply insulting. And we refuse to support this kind of behavior from such a “professional” group of individuals who claim to have the proper mileage and credentials to judge the work of the attending artists.
In closing, a jury system is based on trust. The way these people are acting, and their disgusting behavior towards the artists who support their con with their time and money, is destroying this trust.
All people wanted to know, was the basic info regarding the criteria upon which their artwork was judged.. so that they may know if it’s worth trying again in the future, or if they should not bother at all. Criticism is part of growing. Artists know this. But they are not able to grow when the information won’t be disclosed. Instead they get defensive responses and a “shut up and deal with it, that’s life, so stop being butthurt” attitude.
Why is it unfair, you might ask? BECAUSE THE ARTISTS WERE NEVER TOLD ON WHAT CRITERIA THEY WERE SO HARSHLY, AND RUDELY, JUDGED. Instead, we get poorly-written, rude, condescending responses… when all the artists require, is a bit of information as to what they can improve upon in the future for a possible artists spot…
To quote my very knowledgeable friend, who has worked AAs fairly for many years now: “The judges MUST be impartial and fair, and they MUST have a clearly defined set of criteria to choose from that is made public well before the deadline for application. Anything short of this will breed doubt and mistrust among ALL of the artists, even those that got in.
Without either of these, artists who didn’t get accepted will wonder whether the system is rigged or if the judges are competent. Artists who do get accepted run the risk of looking like they might have done something underhanded to get past the judges. Only when the judges are fair and the criteria is public can the art community clearly see why someone made it in and why someone didn’t. Even if only the most pro artists made it in, at least everyone would understand WHY that happened.”
This con has not been impartial, and quite frankly, I’ve lost all respect for them. They are losing my respect, my business, my vacation plans… which I have planned excitedly with for many years now.
Goodbye, Colossalcon. And good riddance until you clean up your sorry act.
This. This right here. This is everything I’ve been watching and saying and seeing for three days. I loved being at Colossalcon last year, and I was considering just bumping up to a Dealer’s spot next year just to get in for sure, but after this bullshit? I’ll take my art elsewhere.