Edge Control Expo is back and only one month away! Based on last year's success, we had to touch base with the organizers Zabi Hassan and Dhenzel Obeng to figure out what attendees can expect at this art-packed experience in 2017. To register to attend and learn from some of the industry's top artists, visit their website.

First of all, can you give us a recap of how last year's conference went? What major takeaways did attendees leave with?

Last year’s event went better than we could’ve hoped for. We had more people attend than anticipated, and the lectures were not only informative but they were also highly motivational. We owe a lot to the guest speakers & our portfolio reviewers/supporters who were so interactive with everyone during the two days as well. Speakers were drawing during the after party, Crush Visual brought prints and even attendees brought art books to share. We were even pleased to learn that some attendees were offered jobs.

The real value was during the networking half the and after hours hang out. That’s really where everyone gets to know each other and learn far more beyond what a few lectures and a portfolio review can give. Hanging out at a Denny’s at 5am with 20 people is a real bonding experience.

While it’s difficult to paint the picture of the event, every attendee left with something different - a lot of knowledge was passed down through the lectures and a more personal critique was given during portfolio reviews. But we guarantee that everyone left inspired, including ourselves.

Awesome! We're thrilled to hear it was such a success. In what ways will this year's Edge Control Expo compare? What are you changing this time around, and what worked last time that you'll repeat again?

We’re keeping the the same awesome vibe of last year’s event with 6 awesome and diverse guest speakers and a highly communal event.The only difference being, this year’s event has more industry professionals attending aside from the speakers. The professional attendees range anywhere from senior art director for triple A games, film art director, to veteran concept artists. We even have a few returning artists from last year like John Polidora, Kalen Chock and Jomaro Kindred. You can expect a bigger variety of professionals to get a portfolio review
from, (aprx 10). We aimed to bring together as many inspiring people as we could for the next gen artists who are eager to meet their heroes.

Instinctively, we did what we felt was right. We were given feedback on what was good and what was bad. We’re going to continue listening to both our gut and to the people that attend our event.

What should artists attending expect to bring with them? For instance, will you still be offering portfolio reviews?

Attendees should bring their portfolios to get a portfolio review. You’re able to get it reviewed from any of the portfolio reviewers which includes the guest speakers & various professionals.

But they should also bring their sketchbooks, art books or any work simply because it’s a great way to meet people. It’s also handy for taking notes from any of the lectures.

Tell us a bit about the speakers. In what ways to their specialties vary, and what in particular attracted you to this selection?

Aside from the fact we’re fans of the speakers work, we tried our best to listen to the feedback from last year’s event. However, we found it was almost impossible to implement all the suggestions. As a compromise, we split this year's event between a concept art-esque half and an illustration-esque half, catering to what we found was the common theme among suggestions. Six is not a very big number, so we tried to diversify the artists through style, workflow, experience, and mostly through how they think and what we felt their artwork represented. From the concept side, Alex Brady will unequivocally shed a different light on the concept art field with her brilliant mind and unique design sense. Joon Ahn is an incredibly versatile concept artist/illustrator who works at Riot as a senior concept artist doing
world building. Nacho Yague, also a very experienced artist, his work shows amazing interiors and exteriors for triple A games slightly stylized shapes and realistic rendering.

On the illustrative side, Jana Schirmer has the most intensively realistic work of the Day 1 presenters, and has done countless art for various RPG’s like Applibot or Legend of the Cryptids. Mike Azevedo has an eccentric, colorful style by comparison and does more fantastical design work for Riot Games. Even Amundsen’s work is like an ode to classical fantasy drawing that is just wonderful to look at. After speaking with them, we feel that they each have something unique to give to artists. It’s important to get information from everywhere, even from places where you might not be interested in or would never expect to have anything.

If people aren't able to attend in person, what steps should they take to stay connected to the happenings at the 2017 Edge Control Expo ?

We have put a lot of thought into how we can deliver a glimpse of ECE to the people who can't attend, but we found it’s a very difficult task. We’ve thought about livestreaming our first event, but couldn’t do it due to the costs. But we learned afterwards that what makes ECE strong, is the communal vibe and the intimate one on one with an industry professional. That’s something we can’t deliver through online methods, but we are aiming to bring more streams throughout the year to share 2 hours of our future guest speakers time with artists
all over the world. At the very least you can watch our livestreams we have with guest artists
or our youtube channel.

We do our best to banter and ask questions that provoke information that isn’t typically passed down through the concept art field that you can find anywhere. We’re all people and are all artists, but one of the few things that separate us is experience.

Conversely, what will people experience at the show that they wouldn't be able to access virtually? What sets Edge Control Expo apart from other similar-minded conferences?

We realized that Edge Control’s biggest strength is that it’s a community event. Being present for any event means you get to interact with the industry directly through a community of people. That’s something invaluable that you can’t get looking at text or hearing voices over the computer.

Having a drink with a guest speaker, to share sketchbooks, even making lifelong friends with people you would have never met otherwise - the physicality of being there strengthens any sort of connection or impact that you can’t get anywhere else. Anyone will tell you who’s been to any event that it’s something that MUST be experienced.

We’re so lucky to have industry friends that support what we do and bring things to the event - Crush brought prints last year, John Polidora wants to bring his books to sell for this year, etc. One thing we have at Edge Control that we push is portfolio reviews, not only from the guest
speakers but various studios and professionals in Toronto or internationally as well.

Edge Control isn’t a grandiose art extravaganza, it’s meant to connect people because that’s the most important event quality. We’re trying to do more than just have these events - we want to hold workshops and turn it into a studio where students can learn in a working space. In whatever we do in the future, it will always be about the community because people need to involve themselves more with people. You can learn and get good in isolation, but you need a balance.

It doesn’t have to be our event, just go to one.

What's the best way to register?

If you would like to follow us and listen to our streams or simply keep up to date with Edge Control, we post everything on Facebook and Twitter (@edgecontrolexpo). If you’re in Toronto by August 19th and 20th and would like to attend the event, you can get tickets at

We’re excited to see some old faces and new faces at the event this year! Hope to see you there!