Sunderland is twinned with Washington, so Sunderland council and Cohesion organised to send over a group of artists and I was one of the lucky ones that got to go.
Artomatic is held at buildings that are yet to be occupied, this year it is in a new development which has nine floors. That's a lot of space!
There are different food stalls, bars, performance areas, a shop and even a tattoo parlour in there.
We arrived two days before it opened to set up our work (which is a lot to accomplish in two days, but somehow it all came together) and stayed for the opening weekend and a few days after that to follow up business contacts we'd made.
I have 3 paintings and 3 canvas prints on show as well as 20 editioned comics. I sold one piece straight away which, obviously, I was super happy about.
Artomatic is also showing the entries to this years Washington Posts Peep competition.
Bryan Talbot put me in touch with his friend Greg Bennett, who runs Big planet Comics in Georgetown (http://www.bigplanetcomics.com/index.htm) and is involved with SPX (http://www.spxpo.com/), and he's in a band - http://www.thejetage.net/. We talked about comics, he told me lots about DC and even showed me the steps they used in the Exorcist. I also met up with some members of the DC Conspiracy (http://www.dcconspiracy.com/), Evan Keeling and R.M.Rhodes. We exchanged comics and talked about making and distributing small press stuff. I got some good ideas, and we've agreed to keep in touch and share any useful information.
I also, almost, met Obama. He went to the Five Guys burger bar opposite our hotel, just as I was going in to starbucks. I got to see him heading out with his convoy of secret service scary cars. Here is a five guys cheeseburger, as favoured by Mr.President:
I also came across this shark poster on the street:
These have been all over the internet the last few days because Jessica Alba has been hanging them up all over the place. I don't know if she put this one up, the main office of the charity she's supporting is in Virginia, so it was probably one of their people that put it up.
I made it to the Natural history museum, which has a giant squid and some Meg jaws. Sweet. I also went to the botanical gardens, National museum of the American Indian (a day too late for their comic exhibition. Grr.), the Renwick Gallery, the aquarium (you have to pay for that, it's very small but they have some nice sharks and an alligator and some cute little newts),the air and space museum and lots of national monuments.
And, if museums aren't geeky enough,check out their metro stations:
You could launch a Viper out of that thing!
I'm working on Book 2 of Monstrum at the moment, I'm only a few pages in to pencilling. I'm aiming for a late September release in the hope that I'll make it to SPX and have some spangly new comics to hand out (I'm too late to get a stall). But, with all the other stuff I have going on at the moment it'll more likely be a November release. Hopefully I'll look back at this post in September and laugh to myself, "Oh, I finished it so quickly, I managed two extra issues as well. And a film adaptation."