PopLurker would like to thank Designer-Con for providing us with Press Passes in exchange for convention coverage.
I can say with confidence that Designer-Con is one of the most unique and incredible shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.
Formerly a two-day show at the Pasadena Convention Center, Designer-Con took the opportunity to grow for the 2018 convention season. Now located at the (sprawling and huge) Anaheim Convention Center, DCon is celebrating three days of art infused fun.
In the past, I hadn’t considered attending Designer-Con because I was under the impression that it was really a show for artists by artists. Perhaps that was the case at one time, but today, anyone who loves to look at beautiful things will get something out of this show. Many PopLurker readers know that usually, toys and art prints get me juicy. If I can find those items at a show that spark my interest, I’m typically good. But at Designer-Con, toys and art prints are the bread and butter. As for the meat and potatoes?
Custom toys and one of a kind art, sculptures, and exclusives.
From big companies like Funko, Mondo, and Super 7 to independent artists and custom action figure and robot collectives, everyone truthfully brought their A-Game to DCon. And at the risk of backlash, I have to admit this. One of my favorite things about Designer-Con?
There were no cosplayers in sight.
If you go to conventions because you are a cosplayer, or seeing unique cosplays drive you wild, then that’s seriously awesome! Go to the convention and have the best time according to your agenda. Absolutely no judgment there! But for me– while I like the energy cosplayers bring for other attendees, I like to cast my focus out to vendors and artists. Because really– how did conventions begin? Exactly– it was fans and artists in a room together discussing and sharing the thing they all mutually love.
Now, because this is an artist show, there was no shortage of quirky characters to look at! Everyone looked super cute. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I saw a young woman wearing the exact same outfit I was wearing that day. Denim jackets ran rampant at DCon. If nothing else, I learned that the trend is returning.
Good. Denim jackets are awesome as hell.
I feel like I could have had four days at Designer-Con and not have even seen anything. The Anaheim Convention Center sports two large exhibition rooms, C and D and the rooms were packed with artists and vendors. As for the crowd, the convention was full, but not bursting at the seams. I was able to park and successfully stop to look at things.
Some of the standout booths for me was David “Mecha Zone” White’s Mechanauts action figures booth. Many of his incredible pieces were sold out. I spoke with David for a minute and he informed me that it takes twenty hours for each sheet of robot parts to print from his 3D printer. From there, he prints various parts depending on the different colors of thread he has loaded up in his machine. From there, he sands and assembles his robot creations before glossing them up and unleashing them into the world for adult collectors.
I also had the chance to sit down with pop surrealist artist Camilla d’Errico for a one-on-one PopLurker exclusive interview. I love the feminine sensibilities and I was so touched and delighted when Camilla gave me a signed copy of her stunning new Mermaids coloring book.
Which I will never color in because my art skills are garbage town. But hers are sensational.
You can never go wrong when Scott Zillner from Planet X Toys has a booth set up at any show! And for DCon, there was an amazing mix of robot/meccha products, Godzilla toys, customized ‘Green with Evil’ thrones, and original artwork.
Dumbgood Apparel had a killer set up with their Japanese candy and anime-inspired clothing line. For a complete highlight on this awesome brand, check out my PopLurker interview with marketing coordinator Price. We went into detail about their new Cowboy Bebop apparel, which is so seriously cool.
Artist Kristina Drake had some of the most incredible glass sculptures I’ve ever seen in my life. How she made floating teeth look like magical crystals from the forests of Europe is beyond me, but there was seriously some of the cleanest and most lovely art I’ve ever got to see in person.
I also loved Ms. Fancy Bootlegs, which was an awesome booth that featured non-licensed toys from familiar franchises. Mostly MOTU toys from Mexico and weird movie toys. ET and Robo-Cop have never looked better! No but really, I love toys. And I love bootlegs and customs.
I have no idea what they were selling here. But there’s a stack of tube TVs that were playing weird VHS and closed circuit distortions. I was happy.
One thing I will say (and again, just my personal opinion) is that I felt a disconnect with some of the booths. Certain artists only had top-shelf items, meaning they had original artwork in the $200+ range. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t follow any artists closely enough to hunt them down at DCon in order to buy their newest and most expensive piece. Now that said, I’m sure other patrons feel differently! They might even go to DCon just to hit their favorite artist’s booth and that’s okay! But I’m just more the sort of person who likes to see a big range of prices. Reel me in with your $15 piece and when I’m in love, I’ll drop the $300.
Everyone forges their own path.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the show actually did have an array of panels. Smartly, the programming was limited. There were only a few headlining panels on Saturday and even fewer Sunday. But that was good! Focused to a specific art movement or industry niche, it was a great opportunity to hear some of the professional artists speak about their crafts.
Designer-Con 2018 was an amazing show. The energy was high and there were so many people who clearly knew and admired each others’ work. There were rows of toy makers who were comrades and intentionally design their pieces so that they can snap together with part of their friend/colleague’s toy. There were artists who described the show as a family reunion. There were artists who don’t work the convention scene, but they prepare all year for Designer-Con. It’s their show. It’s the show. And after attending it this year as press and getting to walk around, learn about the show, its artists, its history, and enjoy the mellow yet happy energy all around…
Well…it’s almost making me want to give that coloring book a try myself.
Plus…guys…there was an after party!!!
PopLurker can’t wait to check out Designer-Con 2019 if we’re welcome to and hope that all of the artists and the show runners had as much fun as we did!
PopLurker’s Designer-Con 2018 Gallery
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