Guests of honor



After 17 years designing and art directing book covers, Lauren Panepinto has worked in every publishing genre and collaborated with artists of all disciplines. As the Creative Director of the Orbit Books division of Hachette Books for the past ten years, she has been developing covers in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Thrillers. She has designed bestselling covers for Iain Banks, Mira Grant, James S. A. Corey, Brent Weeks, and Margaret Atwood, among many others.

 Not content to just design covers, Lauren has written about science fiction and fantasy art for ImagineFX magazine,,, and as a columnist at Muddy Colors. Her latest essay appears as an intro to the book Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art. Lauren has been very active in the role of art business education, not only at a panelist, presenter, and portfolio reviewer at SDCC, NYCC, Spectrum, and Illuxcon, but also as a founding member of the Art Business Education group Drawn & Drafted, which offers educational material at She is an adjunct professor in the graduate program at NYU. She is a frequent art competition judge, most recently for the Society of Illustrators, Infected by Art, and others. She is also the cofounder of the online art gallery

 Lauren graduated from The School of Visual Arts with a degree in Graphic Design and Advertising. She has worked in fashion (Perry Ellis), television (MTV), and for boutique design firms, but found her true calling in book publishing. She has worked at St. Martin's Press/Picador Books, at Doubleday/Random House, and was recently made a Vice President at the Hachette Book Group.

Click here to learn more about Lauren Panepinto.



Since 2005, Chris has contributed artistically to various animated films, television shows, video games and music videos for companies such as Disney, Universal, Hasbro, Electronic Arts, Activision and Geffen Records.

He is currently working as an Illustrator at Disney Theatrical Productions to commemorate the 20th anniversary of The Lion King on Broadway and, simultaneously, as a Character Designer for Disney Television Animation.

In 2012, Chris opened The Oatley Academy Of Visual Storytelling where he teaches courses in Composition, Color Theory, Visual Development, Character Design, Social Media + Self-Promotion, Digital Painting and Visual Storytelling.

Chris has served as a Creative Technology Consultant at Disney, where he helped to optimize the pipeline and processes for the Art and Story departments by creating specialized Photoshop workflows and collaborating with his IT department to develop new, proprietary software tools.

He has consulted in similar ways on projects at Amazon.comBLT Communications and Adobe. ImagineFX Magazine called him “The best kind of teacher.” Many of Chris’ students have become professional animation artists or illustrators and consider his teaching to be an essential part of their success.

In addition to his work as Director of The Oatley Academy, Chris has served as a guest speaker at art and film schools across North America, including SCAD, Ringling, CCAD, Emily Carr, Art Center and TheFilmSchool Seattle.

Chris also hosts The Oatley Academy ArtCast – the #1 illustration podcast on iTunes, paints en plein air as often as possible, sings, plays guitar and writes songs.

His life mission is to cultivate empathy and healing in the world through storytelling by educating and empowering visual storytellers.

Click here to learn more about Chris Oatley.



The creator of Inktober, Instructor, and Illustrator.

Jake is an illustrator, writer, and teacher based in Utah. Since 1999 he’s worked on everything from animated films to comics to picture books. Jake has lived in six states, working at the best studios with the most amazing and talented people in the country. Now he freelances out of his studio in Provo Utah.


David Weisner

As a child growing up in suburban New Jersey, David Wiesner re-created his world daily in his imagination. A swamp, a cemetery and a landfill bound the outskirts of his neighborhood, exotic lands that became anything from a faraway planet to a prehistoric jungle. When the everyday play stopped, he would follow his imagination into the pages of books, wandering among the dinosaurs of Charles Knight, the surreal landscapes of Salvador Dali and the fantastic universes of Jack Kirby. The images before him generated a love of detail, an admiration for the creative process, and a desire to tell stories with the pictures he himself was drawing.

As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, he developed the narrative aspects of his work and realized that the picture book was the perfect form in which to present his stories and images. 

David Wiesner has been awarded the Caldecott Medal three times – for Tuesday in 1992, The Three Pigs in 2002, and Flotsam in 2006. Three other books of his, FreeFall, Sector 7, and Mr.Wuffles were named Caldecott Honor Books.

Among other honors, Wiesner has received the top picture book awards in Japan, France, Germany and South America.

 David was the 2008 United States nominee, and a finalist, for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. He is currently on the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy Of Fine Art.



Neilson completed his undergraduate training at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, receiving a BFA in illustration. He concluded his formal studies privately under figure painter Michael Aviano, a pupil of the legendary instructor and illustrator Frank J. Reilly. Through Aviano, Neilson traces his instructional lineage directly to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of 19th century France.

Neilson specializes in commissioned sacred and devotional art. After years of working in the commercial and gallery art markets, a conversion to Catholicism prompted him to commit his talents and career to serving the Church. He was one of just four artists commissioned to adorn the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI. This 14-month long project culminated in the execution of four, 11’ x 4.5’ multi-figure paintings of Catholic Saints Gianna Molla, Peregrine Laziosi, Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Father Miguel Pro. Other clients include The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, MO, The St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN, Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church in Buckingham, PA, Epiphany Roman Catholic Church in Normal, IL, and St. Rocco’s Roman Catholic Church in Avondale, PA.

In addition to his commission work, he has taught drawing, painting, and composition for more than fifteen years at Studio Rilievo School of Painting in Kennett Square, PA. Through Studio Rilievo, he is training the next generation of artists in the representational tradition.

His work has been exhibited all over the world and in major publications.

Click here to learn more about Neilson Carlin.



Dave Palumbo is a freelance illustrator and fine artist. He has provided genre themed artwork for everything from book covers and collectible card games to advertisements and concept design. His work has received multiple honors including several Spectrum medals and a Chesley award and has shown in galleries and exhibitions from New York to Paris.

David Palumbo is represented by Richard Solomon Artist's Representative

Past clients include:

Ace Books, Blizzard Entertainment, Centipede Press, Dark Horse Comics, Daw Books, Heavy Metal, Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment, The New Yorker, Night Shade Books, Pyr Books, Roadrunner Records, Rolling Stone Italia, Scholastic, Science Fiction Book Club, Scientific American, Simon and Schuster, Subterranean Press, Tor Books, VH1, and Wizards of the Coast.

Click here to learn more about Dave Palumbo.Click here to learn more about Crystal Sully.



Jon has been an active freelance illustrator, author, and adjunct professor for fifteen years.  His specialty is mythological art and storytelling.  He teaches Intro to Illustration, Illustration I, Concept Art, World Building, and Digital Painting at Lyme Academy.  His work has been published in film, television, video games, novels, comics, album art, board games, and trading cards. His work is displayed in solo and group shows throughout the country, he is represented by Haven Gallery in New York, and he is internationally acclaimed in the illustration field. He is often invited as a Guest of Honor to illustration conventions and exhibits work with the finest fantasy and science fiction illustrators in the business.

Jon is the Art Director of the Spartan Museum of Art. He is also currently writing and illustrating an original mythology series called Astromythos. He received his bachelor’s degree in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, and his master’s at the Hartford Art School’s Illustration MFA Program.

To learn more about Jon Sideriadis click here.



A graduate of the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC, Mark’s work as a professional inker has brought him national recognition working for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse, Image, and Chaos.  He has worked on such titles as Justice League, New Avengers, Siege, and Batman/Superman, to name a few, and his work on Thor brought him a nomination for the prestigious 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards in the category of Best Penciler/Inker or Penciler/Inker Team (Marvel).   

Click here to learn more about Mark Morales.



After the publication of her first novel at the age of eighteen, Dani Hedlund founded the international literary nonprofit Brink Literacy Project (formerly Tethered by Letters). Over the course of the last decade, Brink has grown into one of the largest independently-funded literary nonprofits in the nation, with bases across the US, UK, and Southeast Asia. She is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of F(r)iction, an art and literary collection specializing in boundary-defying work. Since its inception in 2015, F(r)iction has risen to critical acclaim, becoming one of the fastest growing literary journals in the world. In her ever-elusive free time, Dani lectures about the ins and outs of the publishing industry, writes very weird fiction, and runs a strange little board game company called Bad Hipster Games.

Click here to learn more about Dani Hedlund and Brinklit.



Jon Schindehette is an industry veteran with over 30 years of experience under his belt and has worked with a wide array of gaming, toy and media companies. Currently, he is the Studio Art Director at Dire Wolf Digital gaming company in Denver, CO and is the founding member of ArtOrder llc, a publishing company that specializes in products that celebrate creatives and offer profit sharing business models. Jon has been a mentor and educator in the creative industry for many years and delights in sharing his experience and knowledge with fellow creatives so that they can grow their skills, diversify their income channels and fulfill their passions for creating amazing and impactful works.

Click here to learn more about Jon Schindehette



John Wellington was born on January 8, 1961 in Santa Monica, California. He has lived in France, Italy, and New York City where he currently resides. John received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983 and his MFA at The New York Academy of Art in 1990.

From 1985 through 1993 John Wellington worked as a colorist primarily for Marvel Comics, painting a number of graphic novels such as the Moebius/Stan Lee Silver Surfer, and coloring numerous monthly titles.

John Wellington has taught traditional painting techniques at The New York Academy of Art and privately in his atelier for two decades. He also lectures and teaches painting workshops across the county and runs an en plein air workshop in Paris every summer. His paintings have been in numerous exhibitions and art fairs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Paris. 



Born into an artistic family, Dorian Vallejo's career began when he began illustrating book covers while attending the School of Visual Arts, in New York. As the field increasingly began to incorporate the use of computer-generated images, Vallejo felt the need to pursue other avenues with his art. His love of traditional media and the figure, drew him to portraiture and to focus on personal work, which he shows in galleries. These days Vallejo spends most of his time creating paintings and drawings for sale through galleries.

Artist's Statement:  Artistically, I engage ideas that converge philosophically and aesthetically. I am fascinated by the process of individuation and its potential for archetypal expression.
To that end, my paintings and drawings often suggest a symbolic narrative. This narrative is meant to represent our mediation between the limits of perceived reality and the quest for excellence.

I am also interested in beauty as a metaphor. Here is where I seek to capture the transient poetry of life.
Increasingly, what I find exciting is paying attention to the visual stimulus life offers on a daily basis. This seems like the proper work of an artist.



SETH C. POLANSKY‘s concentrations lie in contracts, intellectual property, and start-ups. He founded the professional firm Seth Polansky LLC in 2005. Through both this firm and his corporate experience, he has enjoyed a diverse and rewarding practice.

As an adviser and counselor to business, he has repeatedly negotiated successful outcomes with domestic and international entities – including the US government, UK government and multiple state agencies.

He has counseled small businesses and artists in securing copyright, trademark and other intellectual property protection, and aided them in navigating contracts.

He has helped countless families by securing their peace of mind through wills, trusts and prenuptial agreements, and has offered assistance with disputes.

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James Bennett began studying art at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania. His professional career as an illustrator started soon after receiving recognition from the Society of Illustrators and RSVP as a scholarship student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Bennett's conceptually humorous illustrations have since appeared as covers and interior pieces for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Business Week, TIME, MAD, The L.A. Times, Golf Digest, Maxim, and Readers Digest among others.He has produced art for RCA Records, American Express, Paramount Pictures, Citibank, Hasbro, and Milton Bradley.

James Bennett has completed a number of picture books,two of which have appeared in the top 5 of The New York Times Best Seller list."Tell Me A Scary Story... But Not Too Scary,"written by Carl Reiner and the picture book"Halloween,"written by Jerry Seinfeld."The 2000 Year Old Man Goes To School," written by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, and "Tell Me A Silly Story" by Carl Reiner have been added to the celebrity bookshelves.

Bennett's awards include the prestigious Hamilton King Award, which acknowledges an illustrator's outstanding body of work represented by the "Best Illustration of the Year,"the Stevan Dohanos Award from The Society of Illustrators in NYC.The "Creative Show" in San Diego which recognizes the best in advertising for the year, awarded him a gold medal, and he has won both gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators Annual Shows in New York and Los Angeles.He has been featured in magazines such as Communication Arts and Fantasy Art from China.

         His most recent adventure was being featured on ESPN, Opening Night at Wrigley Field, painting live, during primetime.

          Bennett has been a member of the Executive Board of Directors at the Society of Illustrators, and a member of the            Illustrators Partnership of America, and the historic Sketch Club of Philadelphia.He has taught classes in illustration and portfolio technique at The School of Visual Arts and Pratt in New York, The Universtity of the Arts in Philadelphia, and has lectured extensively at various art institutions nationwide.He recently received an Honorary Doctorate Degree after delivering the commencement speech to the graduating class of Bucks County Community College. Bennett's paintings are part of the permanent collections of The Society Of Illustrators in New York City and The National Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

The father of two sons, Steven and Brett, James lives and works in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.



Mike Manley was born in Detroit, Michigan and has been drawing and working in comics and commercial art since he was 15. He has been a working comic book professional since the age of 23. His powerful and expressive drawings, dynamic inks and strong story telling skills, have made him an in-demand artist for some of comic's top titles for all of the major publishers.

In 1982 at the age of 21, Mike was the art Director for the Detroit Metro Times, a weekly city newspaper.

In 1984 Mike moved to Philadelphia and started working for Marvel and DC comics. Mike finally landed at Marvel with the popular Transformers comic and quickly moved on to other established characters like Conan, and Spiderman

While working for Marvel, between 1985-1990 Mike also worked in children's books and did a wide array of licensed character work. For Macmillan Publishing Mike did a series of books featuring Raggedy Ann & Andy. For Golden Books and Western Publishing Mike worked on several children's fun and activity books. Barbie,He-manCaptain PowerTiny ToonsGhost Busters and the Muppets are just some of the characters he worked on. 

In 1989 Mike did work for West End Games on gaming books featuring Star Wars.

In 1990 Mike co-created and drew the character Darkhawk for Marvel.

Not content to stay in place and in demand, Mike moved back to DC Comics in 1993 and became the regular artist on their most popular character Batman, starting with the 500th issue which sold 2 million copies. Mike drew the book at the height of the character's popularity. While at DC, Mike added Superman and Shazam to his roster of work.

In 1994 Mike drew Barb Wire and Comics Greatest Worlds for Dark Horse Comics. Mike returned to Dark Horse again in 1997 to draw the Predator, based on the popular movie.

In 1995 Mike formed Action Planet Inc. to publish his own comics and ideas. Starting with Action Planet Comics, featuring Monsterman, and now with his on-line web comic G.I.R.L. Patrol Mike is venturing out to do what he has always dreamed of: his own characters his own way.

1996-to present. Mike joined the staff at Warner Bros., doing storyboards and background designs from his home in Philadelphia on the highly successful Kids WB SupermanBatman and the new smash hit, Batman Beyond animated TV shows. He has also worked on a spot for Disney's One Saturday Morning, and the upcoming Clerks animated eries based on the Kevin Smith movie. Mike's also done work on Spawn for HBO and on MTV's Spy Groove series. 



Jason C. Poole is an adjunct professor at Drexel University and the Dinosaur Hall Coordinator at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.  Jason has excavated dinosaurs on three continents: Africa, South and North America. Paralititan, Dreadnoughtus and Suuwassea are three dinosaurs worked on by Poole which are new to science, and two of them are supermassive titanosaurs.  Jason can often be found in the Academy of Natural Sciences Dinosaur Hall Fossil Lab preparing newly found fossils which will spend the rest of their afterlife in museum collections. Mr. Poole is also a Paleontological Artist who has published in National Geographic and whose art work appears in many museum and private collections, as well as on his blog.  Jason’s experiences have also produced several popular publications, including The Lost Dinosaurs Of Egypt and the award-winning A Dynasty of Dinosaurs coloring book.


Jeremy WIlson

Jeremy Wilson is a Virginia transplant, living and working in Richmond. He grew up in a small town in Upstate New York in an art household, surrounded by fine art and classic illustration. His background was traditional painting at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Art and since has been pushing the limits of painted versus negative space. He seeks to perfect his images through design and negative space, carefully curating shapes to imply space.

He has done work for Editorial, Book, Magazine, and Comics. Most recently working for: Martina McBride, Orbit books (Hachette), Random House, Scientific American Magazine, Bob Jones University Press, Boom! Comics, Titan Comics, and Wizards of the Coast.

His work has received awards from the Society of Illustrators; Los Angeles (54, 55, 56), Spectrum (24), and the Overluk 2017 “Best Cover”



PAT SHAND writes comics (Robyn Hood, Family Pets, Vampire Emmy & the Garbage Girl), novels (Charmed for HarperCollins/Joe Books), Devils Due Publishing and pop culture journalism (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics).

He has great success with kickstarter campaigns including Destiny NY Volumes 1 2, &3,Clonsters, Prison Witch and Afterglow

He has wriiten novels for Marvel Including Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor And Avengers and wrote for Modern Dread Anthology

He has a successful podcast Called Space Between

he lives in New York with his wife Amy and their veritable zoo of cats.



Crystal Sully is a monster maker who lives in the beautiful state of Colorado with a husband, some cats, miniature donkeys, and a dingo. She graduated from Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design with a bachelor’s degree in fine art specifically in illustration. She currently does creature art and illustration within the gaming, film and publishing industries when she’s not busy taming dragons.

She is the owner and lead artist of Untamed Beasts LLC



For the last 20 years Melissa Lomax and Christian “Patch” Patchell have been creating imagery for everything from comics and greeting cards to t-shirts and toys. Lomax has worked as both an in-house greeting card designer, freelancer and a long-time contributor to with her comic Doodle-Town. Doodle-Town is inspired by her relationship with Patch (the Pups) and their creative life. Her design work can bee seen in the greeting card aisles of your favorite store such as Target and Wegmans. Lomax loves using her artistic skills and imagination to create product that is professional, fun and one-of-a-kind. Melissa specializes in illustration, hand-lettering, character design, sequential art and is skilled in a variety of traditional and digital mediums. Patch is the author/illustrator of the auto-biographic book “I Put the Can in Cancer; a Journey through Pictures”. He is also the creator of the Brothers Brimm, the award-winning animated short. Patch has created comics for a popular toy line, a National Park and has self-published through digital and traditional mediums. His theory on art is that Monsters and Robots make everything better. An educator for over 20 years, Patch has taught Character Design, Comics, Illustration and most recently, a course titled “Graphic Medicine”. A class geared towards teaching medical students observation and empathy through writing and drawing comics. When they’re not working on their own creations, Lomax and Patch collaborate on comics, stories and paintings and have shown both locally and nationally. They have built a creative career on sharing a studio and sharing a life together.

You can see more of Lomax's work at and at

You can see more of Patch's work at and at



A successful Philadelphia based illustrator and instructor at the Moore College of Art and Design. Piya’s client’s include:








Click here to learn more about Piya Wannachaiwong.



Kevin Murphy is an internationally recognized award winning portrait painter and illustrator. Kevin created nearly 250 commercial illustrations for such major entities as:

  • The Rolling Stones

  • Sega

  • National Geographic

  • Lucas Arts

  • Viacom

  • Barnes and Nobel

 In 1999, Kevin transitioned from illustration into more classical avenues of traditional painting, primarily focusing on portraiture. With a growing interest to share the knowledge and experience he had accumulated over 2 decades as a professional artist, Kevin founded the Art Academy in October of 2009. His goal was simply to open the world of art making to anyone that was interested in becoming part of this wonderful and historic tradition. 



For most of his 13 years at Marvel Comics, Carl Potts was an Executive Editor, overseeing 1/3 of Marvel's publications.

Carl discovered and mentored prodigious talents such as Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Scott Williams, Art Adams, Larry Stroman and Jon Bogdanov. His creative discoveries include June Brigman and Mike Mignola. When he should have been sleeping, Carl wrote and drew comics, covers, and posters for Marvel. Among Carl's projects was a celebrated run as writer/layout artist on Punisher War Journal and his writing on Venom, Prowler, and Shadow masters. He created Alien Legion and was creator/artist on the Last of the Dragons graphic novel. The Alien Legion screenplay Carl wrote was bought by Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

Carl is currently developing his Last of the Dragons graphic novel as a TV series. Carl has given his seminar on sequential visual storytelling at Pixar, The Society of Illustrators, Blizzard, Blue Sky, LucasArts, Syracuse Univ., Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), SUNY Purchase, NYU, FIT, Ogilvy & Mather and Psyop. He teaches in NYC at School of Visual Arts and online for Academy of Art University. In October 2013, Carl's book, The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling was published by DC/Watson-Guptill (Random House).



Clark Huggins has been working in the Science Fiction & Fantasy art field for over 10 years. His work has appeared in SPECTRUM, IMAGINE FX Magazine, and the INFECTED BY ART Annual. He was nominated for a Chesley Award in 2017, in the category of Product Illustration. He has illustrated for multiple tabletop gaming properties, including STAR WARS, ANDROID: NETRUNNER, CALL OF CTHULHU, and ELDRITCH HORROR. He has illustrated numerous book covers, including his most recent, ARKHAM DETECTIVE AGENCY, for Dark Regions Press.

As a TV and film preproduction storyboard artist, he’s worked on TRUE BLOOD, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, DAMAGES, UNDEREMPLOYED on MTV, and NAKED VEGAS on the SyFy channel. Most recently, he worked as a concept artist on a joint project between Mattel toys and the Nickelodeon network, currently in development.

He is the creator of RECKLESS DECK, a genre-smashing, character creating card deck series, for igniting the imaginations & creativity of other artists, creative writers, and RPG gamers.

He studied illustration at RISD, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, and at the Illustration MasterClass and SmARTSchool. He has an MFA in performance from The A.R.T. Institute at Harvard University.