I'm back from NYAF. It was magnificent. A big part of that was due to Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano being there — both of whom I was able to greet, although not sit down in detail with. There's a longish discussion of the Amano panel here at AMN, although I'll chomp out the best bit here.
At the end of the panel the moderators unveiled a goodie: four Vampire Hunter D T-shirts designed by Amano himself. Rather than just chuck them into the audience at random (hey, it worked for Del Rey and those compulsively squishy gavels), they elected to pick people, have them stand up, say why they were an Amano fan, and have the best responders picked by Amano himself.
In the end we had to play jan-ken-pon with Amano to determine the winner.
The responses were wide-ranging and perennially enthusiastic:
"It makes you want to be an artist yourself!"
"You are contemporary Art Nouveau."
"When I was little I used to copy Final Fantasy art all the time; I owe myself to you as an artist."
"I went to art school because of you."
"This is the only reason I'm here for this convention. There's no limit to what you can do with your imagination and he's proof of that."
"Amano has created some of the greatest watercolor work that I didn't even think could exist."
"Amano made sure Final Fantasy is never final."
"To me it's more than just artwork; it's the one thing that brought me and my brother together, looking at the artwork for Final Fantasy and playing the games. We're both in our 20s now, and we come together for Final Fantasy, still."
"I don't care about the shirt — just, thank you for being in New York, you've ben an influence, And thank you for signing the book earlier!"
My own answer:
"Your art makes me feel like I'm dreaming even when I'm wide awake."
I guess he liked that one.