[INTERVIEW] Spotlight on The Colorful Geek
It’s our second interview from Awesome Con last month! In June, I had the chance to chat with the awesome Elena from The Colorful Geek who just happened to have the booth next to Jordandené. We talked fandom, geek fashion, and a lot of Percy Jackson!
How did you get involved fandom?
Quite a few years ago, Harry Potter was like my [fandom] drug. For some reason, I had resisted reading it for years and years and then I went on vacation with my friend who was on business and I was at the hotel’s pool every day. I bought the Harry Potter books and I read them there and it was over after that. I was immediately addicted and read the entire series. I think it was 2003? I read the entire series as quickly as possible and then the next one came out. Right before the last book came out, someone told me what a podcast was and I just started listening to all the Harry Potter podcasts and it was like crack. They started talking about a Harry Potter convention up in Canada: Prophecy. I went by myself, got a room full of people, and that was pretty much the start of my fandom was there.
It was that convention that kind of started all of this stuff because back then, you couldn’t find a shirt like mine or like Jordan’s. I looked and I found some really ugly ones so I went to Target and bought some cheap tank tops and went to a craft shop and bought letter-shaped sponges and I just stamped Harry Potter stuff on them.
So what was the first shirt you did?
The first set… one had RIP Sirius on the front and FU Bellatrix on the back. I did four, one for each day. One was WWHD because my friends and I all had those bracelets with those letters you put on and we had WWHD for What Would Harry Do? instead of Jesus because Harry’s so much better! Another I think had RIP Dumbledore and I wrote some of my favorite Dumbledore quotes. And then for the last one, I just put Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Actually, I’m probably going to make that into a t-shirt for Geeky Con this year. It’s on the list.
Wait which House are you then?
Oh okay, we might be in some trouble then because I’m a Slytherin.
Besides Harry Potter, what would you say your biggest fandoms are?
Percy Jackson! Actually, it’s right up there with Harry Potter… it might be slightly more these days. I love Percy Jackon. I love him. I love that series so much. I’ve probably read Harry Potter more than Percy Jackson but I read Percy Jackson once or twice a year. I can’t stop reading them. Doctor Who is a big one. Parks and Recreation is massive obsession and my newest obsession is Bob’s Burgers. I did the Crap Attack shirt—I can’t get enough of that show.
I was expecting you to say Hamilton because of all the Hamilton stuff.
Well, I haven’t seen it yet.
Like everyone else.
But yeah. Bob’s Burgers is my latest obsession. That’s what’s on my mind right now.
You have a wide range of items here from the shirts to all the jewelry so how did you end up getting into doing the jewelry?
That happened about a year, year and a half ago. Honestly, I got into it because t-shirt sales are down and I wanted to do something to make up for it. People don’t buy t-shirts as much anymore. Doctor Who does not sell anymore which is crazy. But how did I start? I was looking on Etsy and then I’d see hand-stamping stuff and I just started doing it but everything I bought was the wrong stuff because the starter kits are crap. I had to rebuy everything which is pretty much how I even started printing the shirts. I learned how to do it online myself and then I did everything wrong so I took a three-hour workshop to learn how to everything properly. I did the same thing with all of this stuff. It just morphed from there. I started with necklaces and went “Let’s do some bracelets! Let’s add some charms to it!” It starts with me—because I never do my research. I’m very impulsive when I do that kind of stuff. I’ll decide to do something and I do it completely wrong because I can’t wait. And then I have to slowly do my research and buy the right thing. That’s how it always happens.
What goes into making an item?
I have post-it notes all over my living room and office area with shirt ideas and I only make about 5% of them because I work a freelance job so it takes me forever to get around to doing things. I’ll think about it and research fonts and stuff online and then I will procrastinate even more until one day, I just sit down. It’s usually two weeks before a show and I will bust out three or four designs in a week. I’ll just sit at my computer and do mock up after mock up and I’ll grab American Apparel shirt promos and mock up the designs there and send them to my friends and ask “Which version do you like most?” It’s always just very slightly different. I’ve got the screens in my closet and I’ve got a light box in my living room so I’ll close the screens, print the shirts… It takes a long time but once I sit down and focus, it doesn’t take that much time. It’s more like… I’ll be watching Doctor Who and hear a quote and go “I love that!” and write it down. Probably about once a week, I look at my notes everywhere and go “Hmmm… I have a con coming up. Which one of these should I do?” But then in the case of Bob’s Burgers, I knew I wanted to do a quote and I already had “Don’t have a Crap Attack” on my wall and knew I had to do that because it’s my latest obsession and I need a shirt and I need it right now. I think I printed that on Wednesday and I came here on Thursday.
So you do everything yourself then?
I do everything myself, yeah. I had a wrist injury a few years ago and I had to have some of this stuff made for me but now I’m back to doing everything myself.
What’s the appeal of doing cons for you?
It’s just a lot of fun. You meet a lot of people—just a lot of amazing people. Some of the cons, it’s like work but then you go to a con like [Awesome Con] and it’s just a fun convention. You meet so many people. Jordan comes with me. This is a con where we go out to dinner every night and we have a lot of fun. And then some of them… last year, I did a lot of cons and it ended up being really hard after a while but you meet people who are just like you. In your everyday life, you don’t have a lot of them. A lot of our families are not like this. We have friends now who we meet at conventions. I’m a restless person so I like to travel. I like being on the road. It’s exhausting but very rewarding. And just to be with people like yourself.
Oh and not a lot of people have Percy Jackson stuff so I get so many squees. Every convention, people come up and go “Oh my god you have Percy Jackson stuff! Nobody has it!” and then we sit there and chat about the books. Who’s your godly parent?
Ohhhh… probably Mars.
I’m Boreas from the new series because I never felt quite right with any of the other ones. I love Poseidon and I love Hermes (he’s my favorite) but it wasn’t until I read Heroes of Olympus and Boreas was there because I love the snow. I have a friend who calls me the Queen of snow. I just love it so once I read it; I went “I’m a daughter of Boreas. I’m a good version of Khione.”
I used to like to say that I’d be a daughter of Athena but then I realized… no. Mars or Ares.
I’m going to have to read all this series again. I haven’t read the new ones.
I haven’t read Apollo yet.
I haven’t read Apollo or the Norse one. I’m moving soon and I’ve just been so busy that I don’t want to read anything to addicting and we all know how addicting Percy Jackson is and how you can’t put it down so I’m not reading any fandomy things.
It can be your reward after you move.
Absolutely! I can’t wait!
Any design teases you want to give us?
What is on the horizon? I definitely want to do more Harry Potter ones for Geeky Con. I am probably going to do ‘Young, Scrappy, and Hungry’ soon and I’m going to do more Parks and Rec: Friends, Waffles, Work is on the list and I know exactly how I want to do it because I have it pictured in my head because I love Leslie Knope! My next big show is at the end of July so I will probably do them the week before I leave.
What is your dream goal for The Colorful Geek?
My dream goal… gosh. My dream goal would be to just do this and not work my muggle job. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Just to travel… It’s really hard because I live in New York City and I never want to leave New York City and it’s very expensive to live there. If I lived in a small town, I could probably be doing this full time. I’d love to do a lot more conventions, meet a lot more people… I mean, it’s amazing. My goal is to also be more organized. But just to be able to do this full time!