To promote the fantastic arts and provide an annual showcase for contemporary artists.
Believing that there was a tremendous amount of high-quality fantastic-themed art work created each year that somehow wasn't being represented in other annual art books and shows, Spectrum was established in 1993 by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner with the intent of providing creators with a regular showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and otherwise uncategorizable artwork created each year.
A Call For Entries went out to the arts community and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A blue-ribbon jury convened to make selections from the work submitted and the results appeared in the first full color book, Spectrum 1, published by Underwood Books in 1994. A new installment in the Spectrum series has appeared every year since. Unique in its concept, significant in its content, beautifully direct in its execution, Spectrum is designed for readers who want to satisfy their sense of wonder while simultaneously serving as an invaluable resource for art directors, art buyers, and artists from all walks and sensibilities.
The focus isn't the only characteristic that sets it apart from other art annuals: Spectrum was the first to specifically feature categories devoted to 3D, comics, and unpublished works. Likewise, Spectrum was the first book to significantly cut the time between the jury's selection and the appearance of the annual. Spectrum appears within eight months of our jury's selection.
Spectrum is open to every artist who wishes to participate and can adhere to the competition's rules: international entrants are welcome. Students, fine artists, and illustrators are all treated equally. There are no limits on the number of pieces an artist can submit and there is no pre-screening prior to judging.
The press run for Spectrum matches or significantly exceeds the circulations of the other art annuals/source books published each year. Spectrum is sold in the mass market through all the major bookstores. Copies are also sent to many art directors and publishers to maximize exposure for the artists featured in the book. More eyes means more opportunities. As an international resource, participants report receiving commissions for work from clients from around the globe who have cited Spectrum as their contact source.
Spectrum doesn't exist to categorize or define fantastic art; rather, it exists to honor the imaginations of very special artists who delight in helping us see the world in a wonderfully different light. It's our job to help them reach a wider appreciative audience.
Arnie and Cathy Fenner, who for twenty years had spearheaded the ongoing Spectrum annual publications, announced at the second "Spectrum Fantastic Art Live" event in May 2013 the transition of the book to a new director, editor and publisher. Beginning with Spectrum 21, John Fleskes of Flesk Publications will assume those responsibilities.
Spectrum will continue to evolve and improve with each volume. Many frequently asked questions are answered on the FAQ page, but feel free to contact us if you have a topic we haven't addressed.
John Fleskes is the president and publisher of Flesk Publications. As a long-time admirer of a wide spectrum of artists' works, he felt their creators had slipped into obscurity, or lacked the means to gain exposure. In answer to this dilemma, he founded Flesk Publications in 2002. He has published over forty-five books to date. John has contributed to numerous books as writer, editor and designer and serves as the director of the annual showcase "Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art." In his spare time, John enjoys spending time at the seaside, surfing, and photography.
In 1993 Cathy and Arnie combined both their personal and professional interests in the fantastic arts to form Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art—but that has not been the limit of their celebration of the field. They have written, designed, and edited a series of titles devoted to the works of Frank Frazetta, Jeffrey Jones, Jon Foster, Robert E. McGinnis, John Jude Palencar, Dave Stevens, and many others that have been published by Underwood Books. The Fenners have also co-curated (with Irene Gallo and Gregory Manchess) two Spectrum exhibits at the Museum of American Illustration in New York City and have sponsored numerous student scholarships for aspiring artists. Together they've received ten Locus Awards and been nominated for the Hugo Award. Cathy and Arnie are constantly thinking of ways to expand the public's awareness of and appreciation for the fantastic arts and the people who create it; they're currently working on a new book about the history of the field. In addition, they are the head organizers of the annual event, Spectrum Fantastic Art Live.