Monday, October 14, 2013

Thank-you JemCon Portland 2013!

Jem and the Holograms

Two Dutch guys and a friend!
Kimber's wedding

The Canadians are NOT that cold!
Another adorable Canadian!
The lastest version of the infamous Jem Waterbed
Laurie Jean-(AKA Tivia) last years winner of the Jem portrait contest and me.
One hot day summer in 1984 I received a phone call to do some packaging art for a new Rock doll for Hasbro called Jem. The hapless art directors had tried out every possible artist for the packaging until in desperation they called me- an illustrator who they had used previously and lived, fortuitously, 15 minutes away. It was rather like a search for Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind". I saw the other illustrator's work and saw that they did not get it. They were timid, cutsie Barbie, Gumby-like drawings. God couldn't anyone DRAW anymore! I just pulled out the stops, closed my eyes and saw Janice, Sheena Easton and Joan Jett. I must say my drawing rocked and they loved it! I was swamped with packaging illustration for about 1 1/2 years.

The doll along with an insanely popular TV cartoon only went into production for 2-3 years. As I understood  it they were disappointed with the first years sales of only 12 million dollars and  discontinued production. However, Jem and her friends have had an afterlife that would make a Tibetan Lama jealous. The packaging, and dolls become collectibles. There are JemCons annually as well as Jem lookalike contests. People from many countries in the world are collectors and affiicianados. Among them are students, college professors, architects and furniture designers.

The Jem Cosplay convention was a total blast. We had our own Jem Rock group- backed by the pink wigged starlight boys- including two adorable guys from Holland who brought 3 pairs of silver sequined pants. The fashion contest was insane! Jem wannabees including a Kimber in a bridegown. The Crazy Canadians brought there own special brand of je ne sais quoi, including a charming Jem burlesque

I wish I had taken pictures but I was so busy- TJ Scheussler kept me on schedule (run-ragged). We had panels on how the songs were composed and recorded- fantastic, how the packaging was designed and doll hair rooting- really neat!

I have never met a kinder, warmer, more generous group of people. Altogether over $2,400 was raised for two charities in 3 days.

Chris Howe won the Jem portrait contest- so I hope he is working on his costume!

Thank-you guys for making me feel like a STAR!

They haven't posted any pictures yet but they will be here.

A final note- I did not find out until I got home that my physics professor husband was a faithful watcher of the Jem cartoon!


CaseBot said...

I really enjoyed reading your recap of JemCon 2013, Sharon! I can't believe that after living back home in Maine for 2 years, the year I move to Canada, they hold a JemCon in Maine! I'm so sorry to have missed it and the chance to meet you and hear you speak about your role in the amazing Jem packaging. Sounds like you had a great time at the con, and you should know you have SO many fans all over the world. Stay outrageous! -Casey Sanborn

Sharon Knettell said...

I had a blast! Everybody knocked themselves out for me. I never felt so special. I m sorry you could not make it also. I can't wait for the pics to be posted.

Ty said...

Sharon, you really ARE SPECIAL and you deserve all the praise and adoration! I couldn't even tell you the story about laying on the floor looking at your Jem art as a kid. It means the world that you came to be with us. You're a hero!

I have been meaning to email you but I just haven't gotten back into the swing of things since returning from Maine. I am so glad you came though. Seems a lot of the people who worked on Jem are always "Um, what is this? Are these people ok? Is this something I want to do?" when we invite them. And then we twist your arm and talk you into it and you end up seeing how much you really do mean to all of us. Your artwork and your stories are treasures. Although it may not be the legacy you planned on, it is in our hearts forever...

I will be in touch soon.
I believe you can see some photos on the website here:

- TJ

Sharon Knettell said...

Jem is still very special to me. If I have a 'legacy' let a good part of it be the generous and warm people who love Jem. I will never forget that Jem made it possible for me to buy a home and studio.

Siansonea said...

Sharon, your artwork on the Jem packaging is pretty much the only reason I bought those dolls back in the day. The dolls themselves were underwhelming, but those illustrations were out of this world. I was truly inspired by your work, and it really made me raise the bar on my own illustration. :)

Sharon Knettell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon Knettell said...

Blogger Sharon Knettell said...

Now you've got me curious about YOUR WORK. Send a link.

Those dolls needed serious help! I had to imagine them as real people.

I was a fine arts major- and had a love for the figurative. Then as now I still work from models- live now but from photographs then.

Good incisive drawing is the backbone of figurative work either commercial or fine.

There are many examples of fine artists who supported themselves as designers and illustrators- Ad Reinhardt and Carl Frieseke to name two.
One thing I have learned about the arts is you always have to step up your game! Thanks for the reminder and comment!

February 19, 2014 at 4:07 PM