The Spectrum Muse–Pictures and Story Behind The New Redesigned Spectrum Award

The new Spectrum gold (left), grand master (center) and silver (right) awards are made of bronze and 15 inches tall on a marble base.


Spectrum Fantast Art announces the new redesigned Spectrum award unveiled at the Spectrum 22 awards ceremony on March 23, 2015 at the historic Folly theater in Kansas City, Missouri. The new awards are designed by Colin and Kristine Poole.

Spectrum-Awards-003The Silver Awards are bronze with a silver nitrate patina. This creates the luster of silver while still being decidedly a bronze. The flame of creation is cast in sterling silver.

The Gold Awards are bronze with a golden patina. The flame of creation is sterling silver gilded in 24K gold.

Around the base of the sculpture, inscribed text alludes to ancient cuneiform writing pressed into clay tablets and features the artists’ invocation to the Muse: ‘Sing within me Muse, Dwell in my imagination, Inspire me to bring forth my creations.’

Spectrum Grand Master Award


Spectrum Grand Master Award
Spectrum Grand Master Award

The Grand Master Award has to be distinctive, so the sculpture has additional embellishments that are iconic to the body of the work of this year’s recipient–a nod to their unique brilliance.

All of the bronzes have a polished black marble base.

When the new director, John Fleskes, assumed his role with Spectrum 21, he began to lay the foundation to create an entirely redesigned award to further serve as an encouragement through the form of respect and support to the artists whose work is selected by the Spectrum jury for special recognition.

There is significance in both being nominated and in winning a Spectrum award. It serves as a recognition of achievement that is made even more significant when it comes from a jury of their peers. When it comes to peer awards—artists to artists—there’s a purity that adds meaning to the honor. The Spectrum award is not something that can be won; they’re earned.

“The Spectrum awards have always been about providing the artists with an award that they could call their own,” explains John Fleskes. “I wanted to hand out an award that people would hold and say, ‘this is too nice to be an award!'” With that goal in mind, Fleskes was on a secret quest during the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event in 2013 to find the perfect person to make the award. “I walked the floor and spent a significant amount of time at each of the sculptures booth to get to know the creators and get a close look at their beautiful works. Once the show was over I had seven people in mind who I knew would do an amazing job–and they had no idea! A month later, after consulting with Arnie and Cathy Fenner, we made our choice.

“The work of Colin and Kristine Poole immediately made an impression on me. The combination of sophistication, elegance, with a fine art flavor and touch upon the fantasy element made me feel confident that they would create something of a timeless and graceful nature. Plus, we had a few conversations during the show which gave me the assurance that they would be fun to work with. I wrote Colin and Kristine to inquire if they had the interest in taking on this monumental task. To my delight they were enthusiastic. They ended up pouring a tremendous amount of energy into every facet of the task for almost a year.”

“When John approached us about creating a new award for Spectrum, our answer was an unhesitating ‘not only yes, but hell yes!'” share Colin and Kristine Poole. “We’d be honored, delighted, thrilled and flat-out tickled pink!” For the Poole’s, having the opportunity to create an award that acknowledges the talent, imagination and creativity of the best of the best in fantastic art is nothing short of a dream.

“Within moments, a myriad of concepts raced around in our minds,” recalls the Poole’s. “One thing was certain, we knew from the start that we were going to go all-out with this. It had to be a bronze sculpture – after all, this is Spectrum! We’re sure if adamantium had been an option, we would’ve pushed for that!”

Fleskes gave the Poole’s carte-blanche to come up with a concept and design. “My style of art direction is very hands off,” explains Fleskes. “We began with extended discussions as we brainstorm topics and ideas to get the ‘feel’ of what we wanted. Then I turned them loose knowing that the outcome will be superior. It’s an exciting and invigorating process. I had no idea what the Poole’s would come up with, but I knew that the award would be superior. I was never concerned.”

After a series of emails and phone calls with Fleskes, the Poole’s had enough information and freedom to focus on the task at hand. A concept was born within a few weeks. “We often hear of the ‘Artist’s Muse,'” begins the Poole’s. “Of the nine muses in ancient Greek mythology, there actually wasn’t a muse for the visual arts–in those times, painters and sculptors were considered merely technicians who copied nature. Given the incredible range of imagination and creativity demonstrated by artists in this field, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to create the Muse of Creation to reward their achievements.

“We submitted three mockups showing the evolution of ideas we had for the Spectrum Award. From these three different possible directions, the final choice was unanimous between John, Cathy and Arnie.

Spectrum-Awards-002“In this version, the Muse is portrayed as a classic, French-style sculpture, an elegant presence you might find on a monument in Paris – quiet, simple and direct.  She is wearing an elaborate horned headdress which can be seen either as ornamentation or as part of her being. In this rendering, the Muse is enchanted by the artist’s creation and is herself presenting an award to the artist. In her outstretched hand is the ‘flame of creation’–a three-dimensional adaptation of the Flesk Publications logo.

“Creating 17 bronzes on this scale for much less than the typical foundry bid provided us with a bit of a challenge from the beginning. The uniqueness of these awards with the combination of materials would have been cost prohibitive to hire out, but we felt it was important to have these awards be different from all others. We began problem-solving with our typical ‘jump and then figure out how to sprout wings’ approach.

“We have both worked in bronze foundries and have cast our own work start to finish–including molding, wax pouring and chasing, investing with ceramic shell, pouring the actual bronze, de-vesting and chasing the bronze and patination. Kristine’s experience with silver casting also came into play as the Muse progressed. This background in bronze and silver casting processes proved critical as we were able to take on parts of the production that were too expensive to hire others to do, parceling out the mold making and the welding/patinas to the best in their fields in Santa Fe.

“This has been an adventure–not the Bilbo Baggins type (although at times it has seemed like Orks were at the door), but more akin to Iain McCaig’s ‘Shadowline’ creatures flooding our lives and keeping us awake through the night juggling persistent and inflexible deadlines, to allow the other participants in the process the time they required to complete their parts.

“As we write this, our studio is a beehive of activity as we are in the final all-out push with the award ceremony just around the corner–our excitement grows day by day.

“One of the great things about the entire process was experiencing people’s enthusiasm to be part of the project. More often than not, when we told people about Spectrum and the award, they were more than generous with their time, expertise and facilities. An example of the typical scenario we encountered was when we approached an engraver to produce the nameplates on a tight schedule, he responded with ‘there is no way I’m not going to be part of this! Whatever you need, I’ll make it work.’ He, like so many others, was ready to dive into a challenging time frame and work with us to make all the parts come together. Throughout the entire process, John has been exceptionally supportive and encouraging–and frankly a delight to work with. We would like to express our immense gratitude to all of these people who jumped in to help and in particular, special thanks to Brad Neighbor, Chris Gugelman, Mike Massey, and Diane Tintor.”

“Beyond the recognition of individual achievement, the awards—the iconic trophy, the ceremonies, the traditions—are a celebration of us all, of the art community as a whole,” adds Spectrum founders Cathy and Arnie Fenner. “The more attention that is attained for what we do the better it is for everyone and awards—and the electricity and excitement of presentation ceremonies—are invaluable ways to grow the public’s awareness and (hopefully) appreciation of who we are. They’re educational moments.

“That was the motivation behind the Spectrum Awards ceremony as part of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. It would have been infinitely easier—and cheaper—to give the awards out in a hotel ballroom or in the convention center, but…where’s the fun in that? Artists and their works affect our lives every day in an infinite number of ways so it only seems right that for at least one night of the year there’s a spotlight on the art community with a gala in a real theater with all the trappings.”

The Spectrum 22 awards were presented on May 23 at the historic Folly Theater in Kansas City during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4. You can see all of the award winners for each category here.


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Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photographs copyright © 2015 Flesk Publications. Videos © 2015 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2015 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Spectrum 22 Award Winners Announced!

The Spectrum 22 Awards Ceremony was held in conjunction with the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday, May 23, 2015. Congratulations to all of the gold and silver award winners and to the Rising Star and Grand Master Award recipients!

Wylie Beckert's Colder Wind. Wylie is the recipient of the Spectrum 2015 Rising Star Award.
Wylie Beckert’s Colder Wind. Wylie is the recipient of the Spectrum 2015 Rising Star Award.

Rising Star Award — Wylie Beckert

Spectrum Fantastic Art is proud to announce the recipient of the inaugural Rising Star Award to the Spectrum 22 Awards Ceremony. This award recognizes and acknowledges an emerging artist who demonstrates exceptional abilities and dedication in the fantastic art arena.

Scott Gustafson -- Spectrum 2015 Grand Master
Scott Gustafson — Spectrum 2015 Grand Master

Grand Master Award — Scott Gustafson

Over the nearly thirty-five years that span Scott Gustafson’s career, he has had the opportunity to fulfill commissions for a number of varied clients and publishers such as Celestial Seasonings, Playboy magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, The Bradford Exchange, Dreamworks and The Greenwich Workshop.

Some of Scott’s illustrated books include The Night Before Christmas, Peter Pan, Nutcracker, as well as two original titles, Animal Orchestra and Alphabet Soup. His book of Classic Fairy Tales, released in the fall of 2003 by The Greenwich Workshop Press, was awarded a Chesley award for best interior book illustrations from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.

Scott is among only two artists who have appeared in all twenty-two volumes of Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art.

The Grand Master Award is decided upon by the Spectrum Fantastic Art Advisory Board each year. To be considered, an artist must (1) have a career spanning at least twenty years, (2) have achieved a level of excellence in their work that they’ve maintained throughout the course of their career, (3) have inspired other artists with their attitudes and accomplishments, and (4) still be living.


Yuko Shimizu -- Tokyo Night Show
Silver Award: Yuko Shimizu — Tokyo Night Show
Taylor Wessling -- Barbarians: Faust
Gold Award: Taylor Wessling — Barbarians: Faust


  • Nominated: Johnny Dombrowski — Murder on the Orient Express
  • Nominated: Edward Kinsella III — Vernacchio
  • Nominated: Victo Ngai — The Cloisters



Scott Gustafson -- Jack and the Sleeping Giant
Silver Award: Scott Gustafson — Jack and the Sleeping Giant
Dan dos Santos -- Taking Flight
Gold Award: Dan dos Santos — Taking Flight


  • Nominated: Jeffrey Alan Love — Radiant State
  • Nominated: Petar Meseldzija — The Giants are Coming
  • Nominated: Sam Weber — cover for Dune by Frank Herbert



Alex Alice -- Castle in the Stars
Silver Award: Alex Alice — Castle in the Stars
Audrey Benjaminsen -- Bernadette, page 1
Gold Award: Audrey Benjaminsen — Bernadette, page 1


  • Nominated: Tula Lotay — Rebels
  • Nominated: David Palumbo — The Beast
  • Nominated: James Turner — Rebel Angels


Concept Art

Audrey Benjaminsen -- Fairy 3
Silver Award: Audrey Benjaminsen — Fairy 3
Sung Choi -- The Parade
Gold Award: Sung Choi — The Parade


  • Nominated: Te Hu — Wonders: Gate of Luxor
  • Nominated: Kellan Jett — Meeting
  • Nominated: Allen Williams — The Good Dog



David Silva -- Dragon vs. Raptors
Silver Award: David Silva — Dragon vs. Raptors
Forest Rogers -- Venetian Harpy
Gold Award: Forest Rogers — Venetian Harpy


  • Nominated: Dan Chudzinski — The Mudpuppy
  • Nominated: Mark Newman — Gallevarbe: Death’s Siren
  • Nominated: Dug Stanat — A Bird From His Brim Will Guide Your Last Breath



Sam Bosma -- Critical Education
Silver Award: Sam Bosma — Critical Education
Tran Nguyen -- A Distressed Damsel
Gold Award: Tran Nguyen — A Distressed Damsel


  • Nominated: Jensine Eckwall — This Circle: Walking Into The Wind
  • Nominated: Edward Kinsella III — Gland Monster
  • Nominated: Victo Ngai — Cocoon



Laurie Brom -- Bad Seed
Silver Award: Laurie Brom — Bad Seed
Rovina Cai -- Fake It
Gold Award: Rovina Cai — Fake It
  • Nominated: Ed Binkley — Rikshaw Pass
  • Nominated: Jeffrey Alan Love — Skyrim
  • Nominated: Jessica Shirley — The Child Sleeps



Paul Bonner -- Beowulf: Mother
Silver Award: Paul Bonner — Beowulf: Mother
Cynthia Sheppard -- Momentum
Gold Award: Cynthia Sheppard — Momentum


  • Nominated: Donato Giancola — Descent from Caradhras
  • Nominated: Rebecca Leveille Guay — Time and Chance
  • Nominated: Omar Rayyan — A Night at the Races





John Fleskes

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Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photographs copyright © 2015 John Fleskes. Videos © 2015 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2015 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Claire Wendling Sketching Videos

Hi, everyone,

I had the opportunity to meet and film Claire Wendling on April 19, 2015. In these two videos she completes four sketches in these two videos in her new book Iguana Bay 2.0 at the Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose, California. Stuart Ng Books sponsored her appearance at the show and published this new edition of her popular art book. Visit Stuart Ng Books to order signing copies.



John Fleskes
Flesk Publications
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Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and noted photographs copyright © 2015 John Fleskes. Art and photographs copyright © their respective owners. All Rights Reserved.

Spectrum 22 Nominations Videos

Watch the Spectrum 22 nominations for the eight categories. The Gold and Silver award winners will be announced during the Spectrum 22 Awards Ceremony held at the Folly Theater in Kansas City, Missouri on May 23, 2015. Visit for more details.



John Fleskes

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photographs copyright © 2015 John Fleskes. Videos © 2015 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2015 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live This Weekend–Artists at the Flesk Booth

It’s time for some Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4 news!

The show will be in Kansas City, MO in the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom running May 22-24, 2015. The five special guests of the show are Karla Ortiz, Tim Kirk, Scott Gustafson, Donato Giancola and Julie Dillon.

In addition, the Flesk/Spectrum booth will be hosting a group of thirteen more artists: Daren Bader, Brom, Bill Carman, Frank Cho, Craig Elliott, Gary Gianni, Jim and Ruth Keegan, Aaron Lopresti, Iain McCaig, Victo Ngai, Steve Rude, Mark Schultz, plus SFAL guest Karla Ortiz.

Furthermore, there will be over 200 artists exhibiting at the show. We’re also organizing far more workshops than before. We want everyone to have the opportunity to grow, learn and to be inspired. We have top artists in the industry giving extended live presentations. These are at no additional cost to the already affordable entry cost.

You can learn more about how to attend and exhibit at “The Art Fair With a Sense of Wonder” at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live website.

Here is a map showing where the artists can be found a the show and some information and sample art by those artists who will be at the Flesk booth. (The five special show guests are already highlighted on the SFAL site.)


TOK-cover-webDaren Bader. For the past 20 years, Daren Bader has been an art director for the video game and entertainment industry, working with a large variety of companies, including Disney, Nintendo, and Capcom. Currently he is the Senior Art Director for Rockstar San Diego and is best known for his work on the critically acclaimed Red Dead Redemption, which won over 150 Game of the Year awards in 2010. On the weekends, Daren is a freelance illustrator for various trading card games such as Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft, amassing well over 200 cards in the field. He has also done the occasional book cover, including a series of covers for fan-favorite R.A. Salvatore. Daren’s work can also be seen in 14 of the 21 Spectrum Annuals, as well as in his monographs “The Art of Daren Bader” and “one hundred drawings.”

Bill Carman
Art by Bill Carman

Bill Carman has worked as a designer, illustrator, and art director at universities, ad agencies, publishing houses and for large corporations. Since graduating with a BFA in visual communication/illustration and an MFA in painting he has always free-lanced and exhibited. Bill is currently a professor teaching illustration at Boise State University. He has been featured in many exhibits and publications including Society of Illustrators New York Annuals (gold medal, silver medal), 3×3 Magazine professional annual, American Illustration and Spectrum (silver medal). He is the recipient of the bronze, silver and gold medals from CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education). Bill authored and illustrated a children’s book, What’s That Noise?, published in 2002 by Random House Books. Painting for exhibitions and commissions continues to be where most of Bill’s time is spent when he is not fishing.



Frank Cho never had any formal training in art but taught himself to write and draw by reading art books and comics. He launched the comic strip Liberty Meadows on March 31, 1997, distributed worldwide by Creators Syndicate. From day one, the strip was a critical success, hailed for its hilarious writing and superb art. In 2002, Cho moved the hugely successful strip to Image Comics.

Impressed by his comic’s writing and art, Cho was recruited by Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief at Marvel Entertainment. Since then, he has worked on many top-tier books at Marvel, including Spider-Man, The Mighty Avengers, Hulk, X-Men, Shanna the She-Devil and Savage Wolverine.

In his spare time, Frank Cho works on video-game designs, movies and oil paintings for various art-gallery shows. He also works on his creator-owned projects, such as Guns & Dinos, Zombie King, Skyborne and the upcoming World of Payne with famed novelist Thomas Sniegoski.

Frank Cho has won many awards, including the prestigious Emmy, the National Cartoonists Society’s awards for Best Comic Book and Best Book Illustration, the Eagle Award, the Charles M. Schulz Award for Excellence in Cartooning, the Scripps-Howard Award for Best College Cartoonist, the College Media Association award for cartooning, Spain’s Haxtur Award for Best Artist, and the Max & Moritz Prize, Germany’s highest award for an international comic strip. He also was nominated for the coveted Harvey and Eisner awards.

Craig Elliott
Craig-Elliott-Forest Awakening-SpectrumFAL3-art-sample
Art by Craig Elliott

Craig Elliott has worked primarily for Disney and Dreamworks, designing their animated films such as Hercules, Mulan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Treasure Planet, Enchanted, Monsters vs. Aliens, The Princess and the Frog, Rio and The Lorax. Craig has also done fully painted comic book and cover artwork. A multi-faceted artist, he is also an accomplished landscape architect, fine artist, sculptor and most recently, jewelry designer.

Flesk-Publications-Comic-Con-San-Diego-2012-101ggGary Gianni has adapted and illustrated a wide variety of books, including John Henry, Kidnapped, Moby Dick, The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, The Complete Conan of Cimmeria, and more recently, Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road. His comic’s work includes Classics Illustrated, The Shadow, and The MonsterMen. He won an Eisner Award for his illustration of Heroes, a tale included in Batman: Black and White. Gianni served as the illustrator of the Prince Valiant Sunday comic strip for nearly a decade, an endeavor which also served as the subject of his, The Prince Valiant Page.

Keegan,_Jim_and_RuthEl_BorakJim and Ruth Keegan are the creators of The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob, which appears in every issue of Conan, Solomon Kane, or Kull from Dark Horse Comics. They’ve also illustrated several books for Del Rey including Crimson Shadows and Grim LandsThe Best of Robert E. Howard, Volumes One & Two. Their work has appeared in the Spectrum annual, and has been exhibited at The Society of Illustrators in New York. al-picAaron Lopresti’s first big break came in 1993 when Publisher Dave Olbrich and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ulm hired Aaron to draw Sludge for Malibu’s new Ultraverse comic line. One thing led to another and soon Aaron had a full blown career in comics. Aaron’s career in commercial and comic art has continued on for more than 12 years. In that time Aaron has worked on a wide variety of characters including: Spiderman The X-men, The Hulk, The Avengers, Batman, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, Superboy, Xena, Star Trek, Gen 13, Mystic, and the self published Atomic Toybox (just to name a few). In 1995 he founded the successful comic art studio, Studiosaurus that lasted until 1998. Aaron lists his art influences in two categories, comic and illustration. His comic fluences are: Frazetta, Berni Wrightson, Neal Adams, Michael Golden, Steranko, Brian Bolland, and anyone else who is good. Illustrators who have influenced Aaron over the years are: Frazetta(again), James Bama, William Stout, JC Leyendecker, Brian Froud, Robert McGinnis and Chuck Jones.

Iain McCaig
Art by Iain McCaig

Iain McCaig divides his energies between a lifelong love of storytelling, and a passionate belief that everyone in the world can learn to draw. McCaig is best known for his cover art for Jethro Tull’s Broadsword and the Beast and his Star Wars designs for Queen Amidala and Darth Maul. His other films include Interview with a Vampire, Dracula, Terminator 2, Hook, Peter Pan, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Disney’s John Carter. He is also a Chesley nominated illustrator, having illustrated books ranging from Fighting Fantasy to J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit. Shadowline: The Art of Iain McCaig, a 28 year retrospective of his film and publishing work came out in 2008. Currently, McCaig is developing an original live-action feature film, Book of Secrets.

Spectrum-22-Call-for-Entries-FleskVicto Ngai: Forbes 30 Under (Art and Style) honoree and Society of Illustrators NY Gold Medalist Victo Ngai is a NY based illustrator from Hong Kong, graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. “Victo” is not a boy nor a typo, but a nickname derived from Victoria – a leftover from the British colonization.

 Victo creates art for newspaper and magazines such as the New York Times and the New Yorker; makes books for publishers such as the Folio Society, Abrams and Tor Forge; and works on advertisement campaigns with companies like the McDonald’s, IMAX, MTA Art for Transit (New York subway), Lufthansa Airline and General Electric.
Apart from drawing, Victo’s biggest passions are traveling and eating. She’s hoping that one day she will save up enough to travel around the world and sample all kinds of cuisine.
Steve Rude
Steve Rude
Art by Steve Rude
Art by Steve Rude

Steve Rude’s career began in 1981 with his and co-creator Mike Baron’s groundbreaking Nexus comic series. This space saga catapulted Rude into the field of comics, where he became highly sought after by major publishers. During his first few years in the industry, Rude’s efforts led to numerous awards, such as the 1984 Russ Manning Newcomer Award, the Kirby Award for best artist in 1986, and numerous Eisner’s for artistic achievement. For over two decades, Rude has drawn hundreds of comic’s greatest iconic heroes, and has galvanized the art world as a comic magazine artist and illustrator.

Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz
Art by Mark Schultz
Art by Mark Schultz

Mark Schultz is a storyteller by nature as well as by profession. He could always draw and his storytelling tends to lean toward the visual, although he can cobble his ideas into words as necessary. His interests in adventure fiction and the sciences led him to create his award-winning Xenozoic Tales comic series. He has illustrated a collection of Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria and written the science primer graphic novel The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA. Between scripting the weekly newspaper adventures of Prince Valiant and producing images for his art series collection, Carbon, he continues to chip away at the illustrations for his novella Storms at Sea.

I’ll have a few more artists announced who will be appearing at our booth as we get closer to the show date.



John Fleskes
Flesk Publications
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Text and noted photographs copyright © 2015 John Fleskes. Art and photographs copyright © their respective owners. All Rights Reserved.

Meet the Flesk Crew

Hi, everyone,

Running a book publishing business could not happen without the help of a hard working group of people. I like those who are fun to be around, are smart and have a good work ethic. The day to day tasks can be demanding, but we share the enthusiasm for what we do and can feel proud of what we accomplish.

There are three core elements to what goes on here at Flesk Publications. The first is Flesk, where our focus is making beautiful art books. The second aspect is focused on the yearly Spectrum annual. And the third area is the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event. (I wrote a separate Spectrum Fantastic Art Live post which goes into the details of that crew.) Each of the following individuals represent the Flesk crew who assist in all three of these areas.

Keith Silva is my full duty assistant. He manages the office, orders and emails. He also edits and puts together almost all of the videos that we post each week. He’s been going through all of our film archives that run back approximately 10 years, as well as taking new footage to make clips out of. He also serves as a secondary camera man when needed. Keith also helps me with book production by scanning art and by doing the first pass on the color correcting. He maps out books by following my blueprints, helps to review books for quality control prior to printing and just about anything else that I ask him to do throughout the day. He pays attention to details and works with pride.

Josh Ford is both an old-time Flesk crew member and a new one. Josh has been helping at shows for years where he has proven himself friendly and hard working. He also helps with orders, emails and the general office odds and ends needs to help keep things flowing.

James Walker has been with us since starting in 2002 by helping at the Flesk booth at events. He serves as the lead at events by setting up the booth and making sure things go smoothly.

Heather Chang, Veronica Otto, Rachel Silva and Gary Velo come in on occasion when work piles up. Good examples of this are when a new book comes out, or we are doing Kickstarter fulfillment. At times we may have hundreds of boxes to pack and ship and I always want pre-orders out the door as soon as possible so as many people get them at the same time as possible. Also, Laura West helps on occasion at Comic-Con and we are always glad to have her there.

Martin Timins is our chief copy editor. He is instrumental in raising the standard of the text within our entire line. He works with all of the artists and writers to improve their manuscripts.

Arpad Terek is new with Flesk. He is a book designer who is helping us to get caught up on the backlog of thirty books in development. Between Arpad and myself we are chipping away at the pile.

Tracy, Vineeta and Jocelyn are my secret money task force. They handle the Flesk accounting, bookkeeping and banking needs. You cannot run a business without having good people looking out for you and the money end of things.

That brings me to myself. In general I prefer praising others and pointing out their achievements. For the sake of this blog post, I’ll touch briefly upon some of the things that I do. On most days I split my attention between Flesk and Spectrum. The first thing that I do once I arrive at the office is sit down with the crew and discuss our goals for the day. I share any news that is helpful to keep them updated on what is going on in the business. I’m fairly open about everything that is going on. These are good people who I enjoy spending the day with.

Once they have their tasks and are busy working I turn my attention on what I need to do. I usually start with emails and phone calls to update or answer questions relating to books or events to make sure everyone who needs something is taken care of. This can keep me busy until lunchtime or take the full day depending on what’s going on.

On a good day I’ll get to work on whatever book project I am working on late in the day. Three that are hot on my plate are Spectrum 22, Art of Elfquest and a new Harvey Dunn book for the South Dakota Art Museum. All three are in a good place as they are being tightened up and prepared for the final design stage

It takes hundreds of hours each week to run these three aspects of the business. And with your support we will keep at it!



John Fleskes

Flesk Publications
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Text and photographs copyright © 2014 John Fleskes. Videos © 2014 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2014 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Meet the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live Event Crew

Flesk-home-banner-29Each year, after we wrap up Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (SFAL), we like to send out a well-deserved thanks to all of the attendees, exhibitors, Spectrum 22 nominees and awards winners, speakers and special guests for making the show a success. But who is “we?” I’d like to fill you in on who the hardworking individuals are that make up the SFAL team. With the show just three weeks away I think it’s a good time to highlight the special people who are currently active in bringing you this amazing art show.

I’d like to start with Shena Wolf, who seems to be exactly where she is most needed at all times. We haven’t been able to figure out how she does this yet. As Event Organizer, Shena is in charge of guest relations, the tiny emails that keep us all up to date (yes, even all of us here), and logistics relating to a variety of important matters. She even plays a large role in organizing the panels and workshops. Shena makes sure we all show up where we need to be. She generally makes us look good. That’s not all that she does, but it gives you an idea.

Amanda Banion runs registration and makes sure everyone is armed with an SFAL badge. This guarantees that everyone who is a guest or attendee has access to all places that matter most. She also coordinates and manages the volunteers for the show. Amanda’s background in film has made her our go-to person for AV advice and an invaluable asset behind-the-scenes during the awards ceremony.

Lazuras Potter manages the show website, works on regional event promotion with galleries, radio, and TV stations, and runs the infrastructure for the Spectrum 22 awards ceremony at the Folly Theater. The awards involve weeks of preparation and is no small task; it requires meticulous planning and close work with the theater staff, the presenters, Arlo Burnett (who creates the videos for the memorials and Grand Masters), and Helpful Bear Productions (who puts together the videos of the award finalists and winners). Most people don’t see Laz, but we are all grateful to have him.

Carl Anderson and Jeff Smith are grouped together since they make quite the team in assisting with panels. Whatever the speakers need to during their panel, Carl and Jeff make sure they have it. They also write and post news items on the SFAL website and elsewhere, visit with regional schools and colleges, and network with booksellers, comic shops, and RPG retailers, all in an effort to help spread the word about the show. They are always enthusiastic and have a ready smile to great and help anyone who asks.

The volunteers! Running an event requires the help of dozens of people who can handle the many tasks to make SFAL run smoothly. No matter how small the task that they assist with, each pair of extra hands is greatly appreciated. They play a large part in making sure we all have fun!

Arnie and Cathy Fenner do everything else! The countless details needed to run a show are identified and handled by our Spectrum founders. A three day show takes months of preparation as they manage hotel and convention hall arrangements, coordinate and arrange the exhibitor booths, outline the core tasks that need to be assigned and managed, select locations, arrange for after-event happenings, secure event guests and speakers, set schedules and implement their forty years of experience in the industry to inspire and motivate us all. It would take a few thousand words to touch upon the full range of details that they coordinate. Trust me when I say it is impressive what Cathy and Arnie continue to accomplish. We learn and are inspired by them with each new day. Also, they write a lot of checks!

This brings me to myself. I spend much of my time planning out the next year for Flesk, Spectrum and SFAL. For example, the task that happens today is oftentimes something that I initially conceived of anywhere from one to three years ago, or maybe more. I plan far into the future and have more patience than most when it comes to achieving the goals that I most want to hit. I place great importance on the creative side, future growth, team and business dynamics, core infrastructure for a sound and sustainable future, working toward an improved workplace for our employees with a mindful eye on how to incorporate better pay and benefits, a sound environment to help artists and the community, plus communicating with the artists, our crew and associates on a daily basis–these are some of the areas where much of my attention goes. Oh, and I want to make sure we have a new book or two and some bonus goodies to premiere at SFAL. I also like to invite artists to fill up our booth at the show. I don’t write as many checks as the Fenner’s, but the stripe on my credit card gets a little worn out.

No single individual runs SFAL. It’s a cumulative team effort by a dynamic, passionate and energetic group who understands that what we do here is not for praise, but for the benefit of the art community. We focus on our mission of being inclusive, welcoming of all and focusing on a positive experience where people can grow and leave knowing that they have created fresh connections that will result in new lifelong friends in the industry and beyond. We take great pride in what we do. We trust that our fourth SFAL will be as enjoyable for you as we know it will be for us.

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live runs from May 22-24, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for details.


John Fleskes

Flesk Publications
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Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photographs copyright © 2014 John Fleskes. Videos © 2014 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2014 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.