FMU celebrates cool art with guests

FMU’s Department of Fine Arts, Campus Activities Board (CAB) and Office of Student Affairs hosted their first “Cool Con” on March 21 in the Smith University Center (UC) to celebrate art and give students a chance to interact with people in various art fields.

The convention featured many artists, including illustrators, a video game designer and cosplayers. Exhibitors set up booths in the UC at 10 a.m., where students were welcome to talk to them about their work or purchase items.

Throughout the day, guests gave presentations and held discussion forums in UC 218 and 219. James Sizemore, a toymaker and filmmaker, gave one of these presentations. He explained that it took him a long time to find his calling in life, starting as a painter and drawer before learning he had a passion for creating toys and special effects.

“Regardless of what you’re going to school for right now, you might end up doing for something completely different,” Sizemore said. “That’s okay. The things I learned while painting still shows up in my films. Everything you learn is interconnected.”

Sizemore also explained that his interest in creating monsters for horror films started at a young age when he learned that, “we all have monsters and creatures living inside of us.” He showed one of the first drawings that he made as a kid, a staircase surrounded by monsters, to show how far he has come and to encourage students to push forward.

“Life can be like an endless flight of stairs with little monsters peeking out,” Sizemore said.

Cosplayers Amy Hinson, Shane Carmichael and Jess Clapper hosted a discussion about cosplay, or dressing up as fictional characters. The trio said they found a love for cosplay because it allows them to bring characters to life and express passion for stories they enjoy.

Clapper said her favorite part of cosplaying has been the joy she sees in other people. She shared a story of a kid that asked her why her character, Miraculous Ladybug from “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir,” was not in Paris.

“Experiences like that are part of what makes this fun,” Clapper said. “Kids love it. Adults love it. Everyone gets so excited, and so many of us enjoy inspiring other people.”

Carmichael encouraged anyone interested in cosplay to try it, even if he or she is inexperienced or does not fit the height and weight of the characters.

“Don’t be afraid to show your own side of characters,” Carmichael said. “Don’t let others bring you down.”

After the exhibitors left, the Student Government Association sponsored a presentation by M. Wayne Miller, a science fiction and fantasy illustrator. Miller said his biggest piece of advice to students is to do assignments on time.

“Meeting a deadline is the most valuable thing,” Miller said. “There’s a bigger penalty in the real world. I missed a deadline once and I lost that client forever.”

After Miller’s talk, students participated in a guessing game and drawing contest to win copies of “Black Panther” or a poster of the movie. Later, students gathered in the Thomason Auditorium in the Lee Nursing Building to watch “Black Panther.”

Freshman Haley Farmer said her favorite part of the convention was the cosplayers.

“I thought they looked really good and it was impressive how much work they put in,” Farmer said. “I’m hoping I can have outfits like those one day.”

The event was funded by the FMU REAL grant program, the FMU PEAK grant program, the FMU Artist and Lecture Series and the CAB.