Spectrum 25 Judging Event Videos and Interviews

The Spectrum 25 judging event was held on February 24, 2018 at the Flesk Publications offices in Santa Cruz, CA. We were joined by the exceptional industry talents consisting of Terry Dodson, Tyler Jacobson, Tran Nguyen, Karla Ortiz and Chuck Pyle who spent the full day reviewing the Spectrum Call for Entries submissions. The group got along exceptional well as they made their anonymous votes followed by the group discussion to select the nominations for special recognition.

I had the pleasure of interviewing four of the judges. I hope you enjoy them along with a video highlight from the day.



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Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Spectrum 25 Awards Ceremony Stories and Pictures

Arnie Fenner, John Fleskes, and Kathy Chu backstage while preparing for the Spectrum Awards Ceremony.

Hi everyone!

We have a special treat. This is written by Kathy and John and shares stories and pictures from the Spectrum 25 awards ceremony. The pictures are at the end of the post for those who may not want to read the whole thing.

The Spectrum 25 awards ceremony was held at the historic Brookledge Theater in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, May 5th. This special venue, owned by LA’s legendary private club for professional magicians, The Magic Castle, made this ceremony exceptionally unique  for Spectrum’s 25th anniversary.

Since we were not hosting Spectrum Fantastic Art Live this year in Kansas City, we took this as an opportunity to hold the awards ceremony in Southern California for the first time. Since it was the 25th anniversary of Spectrum Fantastic Art, we wanted it to be something special. With the help of Bob Self, we were able to get in contact with Erika Larson, who manages and takes care of the Brookledge theatre. Because this venue was so exclusive and was an invite only theatre, we met with Erika several months in advance to see if we could hold our ceremony there. After spending some time taking a tour of the space we instantly fell in love with it. After sharing more about Spectrum and the importance of its community, Erika was gracious in her willingness to let us use the theatre for our ceremony. We are so grateful she did, as it made this year’s ceremony an event to remember.

Every year, the ceremony takes an extensive amount of time to plan, and this year was no different. We normally start planning about a month in advance. The first thing we work on is finding an artist be a speaker for each category. We try to find artists from each specific category because we ask them to do a small introduction that relates to the topic before announcing the award recipient. Some people are excited to have an opportunity to speak and be a part of the ceremony, others who may have no or limited public speaking experience bravely take on the responsibility. We make ourselves available to bounce ideas off of and to help mold their speech when asked. We were lucky this year and found a wide variety of speakers, even pulling in a few shy artists who opened up and did wonderfully once on stage.

During the time we look for speakers, we also start contacting all the award nominees to see who would be available to join us for the evening. We also sent out a newsletter and put out posts on our social media accounts letting people know to contact us if they wanted to attend the event. Because of the intimacy of this year’s venue we wanted to make sure nominees, presenters and those who were included in Spectrum 25 could be there. Due to limited seating, we had to create a wait list for everyone else who reached out. We were grateful to squeeze in all of the nominees, presenters and their guests.

The next thing we did, was reach out to see if we could find people in the L.A. area who could help us run the projector and help take pictures at the event. We were lucky and found a San Jose State University alumni, Justin Vu, and professional photographer, Mark Berry, to work the event.

The next step was making sure we had everything we needed for the ceremony. That included creating the background graphics and videos for the ceremony. We also had to make all the award name cards (including the phonetic spelling for each award recipient) and all the envelopes. These are all made specially for each year’s ceremony. We also created a special 25th anniversary award ceremony print to hand out to guests. We also wanted to make sure we brought our Spectrum office copies to get them signed by the artists who were in the books. We keep one copy of each book (Spectrum 21-24) for display in our office, we take these to all the Spectrum events we attend to have them signed by the artists who attend. Since we were driving down to L.A. from Santa Cruz, we also decided to load up John’s truck with previous Spectrum books to hand out to the guests as well. Everyone who attended received a free copy of Spectrum as a special gift.

We drove down a day before the event so we could start setting up and have enough time to be ready for the ceremony. On the way, we picked up snacks and refreshments for the ceremony. We arrived in L.A. midday on Friday and picked up the awards from William Stouts house. We had them shipped there as it was easier and safer than shipping them to Santa Cruz and driving them down. We then drove straight to the theatre to start prepping for the ceremony itself. We were able to drop everything off for the show and get the awards set up.

The day of the ceremony was definitely a hectic one. Due to some technical difficulties, we were unable to use the projector provided by the theatre and ended up needing to find something to show all the background art and graphics needed for the ceremony. With the help of John’s smartphone, we were able to narrow down some options and were in and out of Best Buy within 15 minutes with a brand new large screen TV. Because of the different format, we had to figure out how to project the background videos we had created without showing any of the extra video details and be able to time all the videos to each speaker and award winner. Lucky for us, Justin Vu showed up right on time and was able to help us get the computer and TV set up properly. Colin and Kristine Poole were also miracle workers and showed up early to help us set up the snack and refreshment table. We also had all the presenters arrive a little early so they could do a run through and practice their introductions.

After a quick change out of our street clothes and into our formal outfits, finally, we were ready.

The doors opened at 6:30pm and the guests started to arrive. Because of all our pre-planning the ceremony ran smoothly. We are so grateful to everyone who helped us run the event because without them, we would not have had such a successful evening. All the guests were happy and everyone had a wonderful time. For us, this is what makes the months of pre-planning worth it. To be able to create a gathering where the Spectrum community can get together and celebrate is not only meaningful, it helps to encourage others. All the award recipients had an emotional response and made sincere and expressive acceptance speeches. Everyone who attended left with a want to do more to create and inspire others to do the same. This is why Spectrum exists and why we find the awards ceremony to be so important to have and to share.

Below are pictures from the event, thank you to everyone who joined us for the evening and we hope to see everyone at next year’s event!

The Spectrum 25 Awards set out before the ceremony

From left to right: John Fleskes (Spectrum director), Kathy Chu (Flesk VP), and master of ceremonies for the evening, Bob Self (publisher of Baby Tattoo Books.)

Spectrum regular and one of the nicest guys you can meet at a party, Luc Desmarchelier.

John and Kathy talking with Te Hu prior to the ceremony starting. Te ran over his opening talk with us before the show began.

Our magician guest who performed during the event talking with William Stout (left).

Bob Self, Joel Beren and Olivia De Berardinis graced us with their appearance.

Bob Self, Master of Ceremonies, energetically welcoming the guests.

Colin and Kristine Poole, both involved with Spectrum for many years, introducing the Rising Star Award, which they created and announce each year to highlight an outstanding newcomer to the field.

Miranda Meeks graciously accepting the Rising Star Award. She had arrived earlier that day after flying in from Utah. Until an hour before the show we were unsure if she would make it, and we were thrilled when she arrived.

Te Hu, introducing the Advertising Category. This was his first time on the Spectrum stage and he was energetic and charmed everyone.

Laurel Blechman surprised and happily accepting accepting the Advertising Silver Award. Laurel gave an emotional acceptance speech while dedicating the award to Glen Orbik.

Tim O’Brien, the president of the Society of Illustrators, introducing the Book Category.

Victo Ngai, most nominated in a single year and one of the best of her generation, accepting the Gold Award for the Book category.

William Stout, introducing the significance of the Comic category and how much it has changed throughout the years.

Craig Elliott gave a memorable introduction to the Concept Art category.

Anthony Francisco, Marvel Studios senior visual development artist passionately accepting the Silver Award for the Concept Art category.

Wangjie Li was very honored to accept the Gold Award for the Concept Art category.

Arnie Fenner presenting the Memorial to honor artists who passed away in 2017.

Brynn Metheney, who has been in Spectrum many times and has attended many past Spectrum events, introducing the Dimensional category.

Jessica Dalva, gracefully accepting the Silver Award for the Dimensional category.

Paul Sullivan, introducing the Editorial category with an extremely well-researched and educational talk.

Tim O’Brien, who was very surprised, accepting the Silver Award in the Editorial category.

Edward Kinsella III gave a heartfelt speech when receiving the Gold Award in the Editorial category.

Karla Ortiz excitedly introducing the Institutional Category shared a story of her experience while being on the Spectrum 25 jury.

Alina Chau, introducing the Unpublished category and the opportunity it presents to artists who challenge themselves to work outside of conventional projects when submitting to Spectrum.

Michael MacRae, who was stunned to find out he won an award, receiving the Silver Award in the Unpublished category

Andrew Hem, gave a moving acceptance speech for the Gold Award for the Unpublished category.

Iain McCaig, exuberantly introducing Claire Wendling as the Spectrum 2018 Grand Master and how she influences others.

John Fleskes making his closing remarks for the ceremony, thanking everyone who was involved and congratulating the award recipients.

A group picture of all the attending award winners.

A group picture during he after party with many of the presenters, award winners and nominees.

View from the stage during the Spectrum Awards Ceremony.

Enjoying the after party that went into the late hours of the evening.

Karla Ortiz and Iain McCaig have are contagious with their enthusiasm wherever they go.

Tooba Rezaei, Craig Elliott, Colin and Kristine Poole.

Wangjie Le and Anthony Francesco and guests during the after party.

Thank you all for reading. We look forward to next year’s awards ceremony!

All our best,

Kathy and John

Text and photos © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos by Mark Berry. Videos © 2018 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Spectrum 25 Printer Proofs Approved

I wrapped up reviewing and approving the Spectrum 25 printer proofs!

The book will be going on the press soon. It’s right on schedule for its Fall 2018 release.



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Text and photos copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Videos © 2018 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Spectrum 25 at the Printer

Spectrum 25 is at the printer!

Picking the art for the hardcover jacket flaps was the last step that Kathy and I took care of today. At left (the back flap) we have Tommy Arnold, the back cover is by Wesley Burt, the cover is by Paul Bonner, and at right (the front flap) we have Annie Stegg Gerard.

I appreciate all of the artists for submitting. And to those who got in–an extra thanks for being so helpful when it came to providing your art and details on time. There’s over 260 people in the book, and you all were a delight to work with. Thank you!

I look forward to sending the artists who are included in the book their complimentary copy this fall.



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Spectrum 25 Awards Recipients!

The Spectrum 25 awards. Backstage, moments before the ceremony began. Designed by J. Anthony Kosar, and made by him and the Kosart Effects team.

For 25 years Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art has been celebrating imaginative works by creators from around the world. During a ceremony in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, May 5, 2018, the celebration continued with the presentation of Gold and Silver Awards for exemplary art in eight categories: Advertising, Book, Comics, Concept Art, Dimensional, Editorial, Institutional, and Unpublished. The ceremony was held in the historic Brookledge Theater and presided over by Spectrum’s Director and publisher, John Fleskes. Presenters included such luminaries of the art community as Alina Chau, Craig Elliott, Te Hu, Tim O’Brien, Iain McCaig, Brynn Metheney, Karla Ortiz, Colin and Kristine Poole, William Stout, Paul Sullivan. Spectrum co-founder Arnie Fenner introduced a memorial video devoted to the creatives who had passed away in the previous year. Bob Self served as the master of ceremonies during the evening.

Congratulations to all of the awards recipients!

Spectrum 2018 Grand Master
Claire Wendling

Spectrum 2018 Rising Star
Miranda Meeks


Gold Award
Greg Ruth

Silver Award
Laurel Blechman
ComicBase 2018


Gold Award
Victo Ngai
Serving Fish

Silver Award
Petar Meseldžija
The Old Man and the Forest


Gold Award
Alex Alice
Castle in the Stars book 2 pages 60-61

Silver Award
Gary Gianni
Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea page 11

Concept Art

Gold Award
Wangjie Li
Battlefield Scene

Silver Award
Anthony Francisco
Okoye and Nakia the Dora Milaje


Gold Award
Forest Rogers
Octopoid Descending

Silver Award
Jessica Dalva
I’ll Need Entire Cities to Replace You


Gold Award
Edward Kinsella III
My Whereabouts

Silver Award
Tim O’Brien
“Nothing to See Here”


Gold Award
Seb McKinnon

Silver Award
Piotr Jabłoński
Moaning Wall


Gold Award
Andrew Hem

Silver Award
Michael MacRae
Tip of the Spear

Congratulations again to all of the recipients!


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Spectrum 25 Awards Ceremony at the Brookledge Theater, May 5, 2018!


The awards for Spectrum 25 are designed by J. Anthony Kosar and made by Kosart Studios. The awards for Spectrum 24 are shown here.

As part of its 25th Anniversary celebration, the awards for Spectrum 25 will be presented at a gala ceremony at the historic Brookledge Theater in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, May 5th. Both exclusive and intimate, the Brookledge is a unique venue operated by the owners of LA’s legendary private club for professional magicians, The Magic Castle.

Because the Brookledge’s size is intimate this is an invitation-only event; seating for the ceremony is strictly limited to 70 and is completely booked. The doors will open at 6:30pm for those who are on the reservation list; the ceremony will begin promptly at 8:00pm.

The award finalists for Spectrum 25 were selected by a blue-ribbon jury consisting of Terry Dodson, Tyler Jacobson, Tran Nguyen, Karla Ortiz, and Charles S. Pyle. During the ceremony the 2018 Rising Star recipient, the silver and gold winners for Spectrum’s eight categories, and this year’s Grand Master Award honoree will all be announced.

The evening schedule will include the following esteemed speakers and presenters:

Master of Ceremonies—Bob Self
Rising Star Award—Colin and Kristine Poole
Advertising Category—Te Hu
Book Category—Tim O’Brien
Comic Category—William Stout
Concept Art Category—Craig Elliott
Memorial—Arnie Fenner
Dimensional Category—Brynn Metheney
Editorial Category—Paul Sullivan
Institutional Category—Karla Ortiz
Unpublished Category—Alina Chau
Grand Master Award—Iain McCaig
Spectrum Appreciation—John Fleskes and Arnie Fenner

For those attending the event, the Brookledge Theater is located in a residential neighborhood at 929 S. Longwood Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90019. Please check in at the left side entrance of the property to be escorted to the theater. Street parking is limited. Uber, Lyft, or carpooling is encouraged.

The nominated works, along with the complete selections of the jury, will be featured in Spectrum 25: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art published by Flesk Publications in the fall of 2018.

Flesk Publications is distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West. You can learn more about Spectrum at the official website: spectrumfantasticart.com

We look forward to seeing everyone on this magical evening!

The Spectrum 25 Call For Entries is Open!

The Spectrum 25 Call For Entries is Open!

This is an invitation to all professional and student artists, art directors, publishers and artists’ representatives to submit entries to the 25th Annual Spectrum International Competition for Fantastic Art. All artworks in all media embracing the themes of science fiction, fantasy, horror and the surreal are eligible for this show. Fantastic art can be subtle or obvious, traditional or off-the-wall, painted, sculpted, done digitally or photographed: There is no unacceptable way to create art, and there are no set rules that say one piece qualifies while another does not. Imagination and skill are what matters. Work chosen by the jury will be printed in full color in the Spectrum annual, the peer-selected “best of the year” collection for the fantastic arts. Click here to submit.

The Spectrum 25 Call for Entries poster art is by the revered illustrator, Scott Gustafson. This poster mails for free in the U.S.A to our Spectrum mailing list. If you would like to receive a poster you can fill out the online form here.

The Spectrum 25 jury is comprised of a five member panel of some of the most exceptional artists working in the industry today consisting of Terry Dodson, Tyler Jacobson, Tran Nguyen, Karla Ortiz, and Chuck Pyle.

“I am delighted to have this esteemed group of renowned artists as the jury for Spectrum’s twenty-fifth anniversary,” shares Spectrum director, John Fleskes. “I am honored to have gathered this exceptional group. Each is respected by their peers, gives back to the community, and are celebrated by art admirers for their superb works. Additionally, they cover all of the aspects that make Spectrum great: its diversity and core message that all are welcome. They embrace all methods and categories featured within Spectrum by artists from all over the world, while having a profound knowledge of the industry. They have my full trust when selecting the works for inclusion into Spectrum 25, along with the silver and gold recipients who will be recognized during the Spectrum awards ceremony held in the spring of 2018.”

For over twenty-five years the Spectrum annual has been a showcase for the best and brightest creators of fantastic art from around the globe: it serves as an invaluable resource book for art directors, art buyers, publishers and agents world-wide. Hundreds of copies are sent out gratis with the intent of generating additional work and exposure for the artists selected for inclusion in the annual. The circulation of Spectrum far exceeds those of other annuals and resource books; we deliberately maintain a price that makes it affordable for every budget. Our purpose and singular agenda is the promotion of the art and artists. We believe that Spectrum functions as a cost-efficient promotional forum and provides a bridge between creator, client, and aficionado as well. Spectrum is all about facilitating opportunities for creators, about growing the audience for imaginative work in all its forms, without pretension and without prejudice.

The largest of this field’s competitions is also the toughest to make; the act of entering art does not guarantee inclusion in the book. Not everyone gets in. The “excellence bar” is raised every year: the job of the jury to make selections gets increasingly difficult. Not being selected is not a personal criticism of the artist, but having your work chosen by the judges is of significance. Join with us to help celebrate twenty-five years by making this volume the best yet: considering the excellence of the work in the previous twenty-four books, it will be no small task, but we’re confident you all can do it.

For more information on Spectrum please visit spectrumfantasticart.com.



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Text and photos copyright © 2017 John Fleskes. Videos © 2017 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2017 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.


SFAL Update!

Hi, everyone,

I’m continuing to work on the many details relating to SFAL and the Spectrum 25 awards ceremony. There is much that I am excited about sharing, although it’s still a bit early to release any of the details. This is an event that I care deeply about, and one in which will remain focused on the artists and this mighty creative community.

Thanks so much for your patience from the entire SFAL team!

I’ll post the news here on this blog just as soon as information is available.



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Text and photos copyright © 2017 John Fleskes. Videos © 2017 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2017 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.