is better with tiny dinosaurs,” so says Lynn Hatfield, one of the artists who
displayed her work at the Geek Chic Local Artisan Exposition in Burbank on
February 9. Hatfield, under the company name Foulbitten, does galvanically
etched copper pictures with salt water and a battery on her kitchen counter,
and offers a free tiny plastic dinosaur with every purchase. This sort of
offbeat, goofy fun is typical of all the artists at Geek Chic.
Chic was the brainchild of Donna Ricci, who runs the store Clockwork Couture,
where the event was held. Just before Christmas, she held a Geek Garage Sale,
where people sold books, games, collectibles, and other things of a “geeky”
nature. When that was a success, she decided to hold another event,
specifically for people who make their own wares. Those wares range from
clothing to jewelry to etched glass to independent comic books. And through it
all, the geeky vibe remains.
the term geek used to have a negative
connotation, in recent years, millions of self-professed geeks are owning the
term and bearing it proudly as an important part of who they are. According to
Ricci, geeks are people who are passionate about their fanaticism. But what
that fanaticism is, is different for everyone. It could be fanaticism for their
art, for television, movies, and pop culture, or for anything else. The uniting
force, though, is the passion.
can see that passion in every booth at the exposition. The vendors, many
dressed in varying degrees of geeky apparel, are eager to chat with anyone who
will listen about their work or philosophy, or just trade pop culture
references. Their stories are all different. But they’re the same at their core:
independent artists trying to make a living by sharing what they love with the
people around them.
Enright, for instance, founded WE Comics with his wife Mairghread Scott in
order to publish the comics that they themselves wanted to read—comics geared
toward varying demographics, not just the typical 18-35 year old males toward
whom mainstream comics usually aim. Comics such as How I Spent My Summer Invasion and Jimmy Brass: 2nd Grade Detective are about children, but
they’re heralded to be enjoyable for people of all ages. Scott’s more mature Triage title features a strong female
protagonist with whom women can identify, but it appeals to men as well.
Cameo did glass etching as a hobby and had a number of pieces simply lying
around the house. Then she found a shop that supported local artists and sold
some of her pieces to them. From there, she began making and selling her art—which
includes glass bottles, vials, and similar items, as well as jewelry,
sculptures, and paintings—on Etsy, which then evolved into selling it on her
vendors sharing their passions include Fanboy Comics, which produces “The
Katniss Chronicles,” an online radio dramatization of the popular Hunger Games series, and Sebastian
Kadlecik, whose comic book Penguins vs.
Possums tells the story of an ancient war between those two species, and
the destruction they leave in their wake.
no one is more passionate about what they do than Ricci herself. Her store,
Clockwork Couture, sells Steampunk paraphernalia—a branch of science fiction set
in the Victorian era, which is hallmarked by goggles, gears, and top hats. But
more than simply a genre, Steampunk has become its own social movement. Fans
dress up in elaborate costumes and build gadgets and props that reflect the
Steampunk aesthetic. The store sells everything from Steampunk clothing to jewelry
to an assortment of bottles with Victorian-style labels, and much more. Many
people at Geek Chic, both customers and vendors alike, showed up in full
in front of the store is a life-size replica of the TARDIS: the blue police
phone box from the popular British sci-fi show Doctor Who, which is an instantly recognizable symbol to geeks
everywhere. Ricci says that as they were building it people driving by would
see it, turn around, offer advice and corrections about the design and then
drive off. It’s this uniting camaraderie inherent in geek passion that is
perhaps one of the reasons it’s become a badge of honor.
Ricci’s goal to use this uniting spirit for the benefit of others. “In
Steampunk,” she says, “looking good and doing good go hand in hand.” Which is
why she’s so eager to use her facilities to support local artists and give them
this opportunity to showcase their own passions. She believes supporting local
crafters is vital to the economy, and plans to continue hosting similar events
at regular intervals.
addition to doing good for people, Ricci also works to do good for animals.
Upstairs from her shop, she runs a cat rescue. She saves cats from terrible
living conditions, loves them, cares for them, and tries to find them good
homes. Sometimes she has to work hard to gain their trust, since the humans
they’ve dealt with in the past have betrayed them. She also works with rabbits
and other animals, and once even rescued a horse.
around Geek Chic, it’s easy to see what Donna Ricci is so excited about. The
vendors at this exposition are truly passionate about what they do, but also
very talented. Looking at all the items being sold, from pins shaped like
Tik-Tok or L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, to Alice in Wonderland artwork or
geek-themed baby clothes, it’s difficult not to salivate a little—and even more
difficult not to buy everything in sight. That’s what’s great about geek
culture. Everyone’s area of fanaticism is different. But the passion is the
same. It spreads around, getting everyone excited about the passions of others,
making them want to join together and support one another. And it’s what turned
geeks from a group of outcasts into a community of heroes.
Couture’s next artist event is a Cruelty-Free Craft Faire on April 6, devoted
to animal-free products, including vegan food trucks. The store is located at
707 South Main Street, in Burbank. Look for them online at http://www.clockworkcouture.com/.
Hatfield’s copper etching can be found at http://foulbitten.com/.
Comics can be ordered from http://www.wecomics.com.
Cameo’s artwork, sculptures, and glass etchings can be found at http://www.kitcameo.com/.
Katniss Chronicles can be heard at http://www.thekatnisschronicles.com/.
the comic “Penguins vs. Possums” is available at http://www.penguinsvspossums.com/.