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'This is all stuff I love': Artists put twists on popular characters at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX

By Ray Boone  |  Posted Mar 26th, 2016 @ 6:25pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Making a living as an artist isn't easy. But at Salt Lake Comic Con's FanX, dollars take flight. In a section called "Artists Alley," artists have found a niche.

Batman-inspired bunnies share space with power-hungry Sith Lords — popular characters, with individual twists.

"I do my art on metal," said artist Jerry Pesce. "I used to be a rock and roll lighting guy for 20-plus years, and I'd always done art."

"We call them 'art nerdveaus,' like art nouveau-inspired nerd prints," said Tara Necessary.

"I just make watercolor prints," said Ben Byrd.

Most are traveling artists, who ply their wares on the road. Pesce is from Las Vegas, and Necessary makes her home in Denver. As for Byrd, he just took a short drive from his home in Spanish Fork.

Regardless of their origins, most starving artists agree — you can't wait around for your customers to come to you.

"I do 30-plus shows around the country," said Pesce. "We have a Yukon XL that I drive. I'm rarely home at this point. We're on the road a lot, doing the shows."

"Last weekend, we were in Chicago," Byrd said. "We had to see if we could actually take it that far on the road. We can pack all of this up in suitcases and just get on the plane."

And whether it's a cackling sea-witch, an angry plumber, or a turtle with a passion for pepperoni, most of what you'll find in Artists Alley is fan art — depictions of popular characters from movies, TV shows, and comic books.

You might think that would bore an artist to tears, but for many, it only makes their passion burn hotter.

"This is all stuff I love, so to me, this is my own fond memories," said Pesce.

"When I do my own version of a 'Lord of the Rings' piece or something like that, it's because I love those things."

"I love doing this," said Necessary. "We tend to stick to things we love. I've always found that if you try to make a piece of fan art and you aren't a fan, it just sort of doesn't work."

But leave it to the local guy to not be completely satisfied.

"I'll do a couple of my own ideas, and then I'll do some fan art," said Byrd. "If I can do a whole show with just my own art, then I'd be super happy about that."

While this does help put food next to their easels, and fulfills those creative urges in one way or another, these artists agree: the biggest reward is putting smiles on faces.

"I love interacting with the people," said Necessary. "I love seeing the reaction to the art. It is so much better than any day job."


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