Lady Geek of the Week: Bonnie Burton

Kicking off the 2013 Lady Geeks of the Week is the lovely Bonnie Burton. She’s a flourishing author, journalist, vlogger/blogger, and tweeter (@bonniegrrl). Her outrageously successful website Grrl.com (launched in 1996 – I was 5!) was one of the first geeky pop culture sites geared towards women. It receives over 1 million hits per month. She’s definitely a who’s-who in the Lady Geek world.   

Burton has about a thousand different projects on her hands, so we were so grateful when she took some time over the holidays to answer a few of our questions.

Read on to learn about her crafty beginnings, her sassy 13-year-old self, and her fictional crush.

Q: What inspired you to launch one of the first women’s pop culture websites, Grrl.com?

A: At the time, in the mid ‘90s when the web first started, there weren’t any web sites just for geek girls. I wanted to mix the DIY feminist sensibility of Riot Grrrls with women who loved to be geeking and the result was Grrl.com! I even made a print zine companion to the Web site. It started as tributes to my favorite girl icons from Bettie Page to the awkward girl who won the National Spelling Bee Rebecca Sealfon. There are dating tips & bad dating stories, comic book reviews, weird collections, craft & gardening tutorials, and more. Plus links to my vlog Ask Bonnie, and other web shows I do. I’m about to undergo a redesign for the site – a first in almost 10 years! So stay tuned for more geeky fun! My web site has always reflected everything I love about being a geek girl, so hopefully I can inspire other girls to be proud of their geekiness!

Q: We love the premise of your book Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change. What prompted you to explore the topic?

A: Bullying has always been a sensitive subject for me. I was bullied as a kid, but worse than that I was often betrayed by would-be best friends that are best referred to as frenemies. None of the “How to Be Popular” books in the school library every explained how to deal with bullies or friends that secretly want you to fail in life. So I wrote the kind of book I would have wanted to read as a teen. I interviewed my favorite women icons in music, art, acting, business and activism for their advice and stories as well. Great stories from the likes of Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s and Tegan from Tegan and Sara made this book what it is – a modern approach to dealing with frenemies/bullies and how not to turn into one yourself. The book was recently picked by Barnes & Noble as part of National Anti-Bullying Month, and I get emails from parents and teachers who all say the book has helped them with students in trouble – which means the world to me. 

Q: You have quite the track record when it comes to crafting. Your books and your new web show highlight the benefits of scissors and felt. What led you to combine crafting with geekery?

A: I’ve always been a crafty kid. I didn’t grow up with a lot of toys and video games. I’d rather spend my day making toys rather than begging my parents to buy them. My mom was a children’s librarian so she’d often bring home old magazines like Highlights and Cricket, which had craft projects in the back. I’d make everything from space mobiles to doll house furniture. Then when I discovered the Muppets, I turned most of my socks into puppets! I also was part of 4-H and Girl Scouts - which have very big crafting components to them. Crafting as an adult takes me back to being a kid where I couldn’t wait to get covered in glitter and make something fun. I still get giddy making puppets!

Q: If you could take any fictional character out for a drink, whom would you choose, and what would you drink?

A: Sherlock Holmes. I’ve had a crush on that character long before Benedict Cumberbatch perfected him in the recent modern-day interpretation in “Sherlock.” I know he’s a highly-functioning sociopath, and most likely never drinks. He’d probably size me up in 2 minutes while making fun of my shoes. But he’d still be fascinating to watch in action. And my favorite cocktail is called Blood & Sand. So in a way, that might intrigue Sherlock. 

Q: We know you’re quite the fan of Bettie Page. Can you give us a few tips on channeling the late, great Queen of Curves?

A: Bettie Page has always been a role model for me because she was so unusual in her day. She made bangs popular. She was a vegetarian when it was unheard of. She went to the gym regularly. And she put the fun back into burlesque. It wasn’t seedy or salacious to her. Dressing up in corsets and leopard print bikinis was acting for her. She could look like a minx in one expression and an approachable girl-next-door in another expression. Her life was tragic, but she was such a muse and inspiration that I think she would appreciate how much we all loved her. 

Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

A: Good question! To tell you the truth, the older I get the more unsure I get about what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. My 13-year-old self was so goal-driven and sure of herself. I actually admire my 13-year-old self. She’d never put up with jerks or date douchebags. She’d always stand up for herself and never listen to the haters. Half the time, I try to channel my inner teen self for pep talks and to remind myself that I’m not a big loser. I think my 13-year-old self would be proud of my accomplishments and excited to see what I did next! 

(Photo Credit: Nicole Love)

Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.

Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Nancy Etcoff

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Would you believe that if you wore more makeup, your colleagues would think your more professional? That your boss would believe you were more competent? That potential clients would perceive you as more capable? Well, that’s the results of Harvard psychology researcher Nancy Etcoff’s latest study.

The results are shocking to say the least. Paid for by Proctor and Gamble (known for making CoverGirl cosmetics), the study confirmed that women who swapped au natural for the blush brush and lipstick tube not only were considered more competent, but also more amiable, respectable and trustworthy.

There is some indication that women that wear makeup feel more confident and therefore behave more confidently, however, the New York Times run down stated that the woman in the study weren’t allowed to look at their made up face before being analyzed by a panel. Here’s how it went down:

The study’s 25 female subjects, aged 20 to 50 and white, African-American and Hispanic, were photographed barefaced and in three looks that researchers called natural, professional and glamorous. They were not allowed to look in a mirror, lest their feelings about the way they looked affect observers’ impressions.

One hundred forty-nine adults (including 61 men) judged the pictures for 250 milliseconds each, enough time to make a snap judgment. Then 119 different adults (including 30 men) were given unlimited time to look at the same faces.

When most people hear the word “research,” they think stem cells and elaborate science experiments, but this kind of research about human behavior is critically important to our understanding of our culture. I can’t help but wonder if this same experiment were done 40 or 50 years ago that we would have had the same result.

Congrats to Etcoff for discovering something that has struck me every single day when I applied my foundation each morning. …I can’t help but think: “this is what I have to do to get respect in the workplace?” with every swipe of the sponge.

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Lady Geeks of the Week: The Baker Street Babes, Part 1

The Baker Street Babes are our Lady Geeks of the Week! The Babes are a group of Sherlock Holmes fans who produce a witty, charming, and highly successful podcast in which they discuss “everything from canon to Cumberbatch, Charles Augustus Milverton to Jude Law, and dancing men to Jeremy Brett.”

Being Geek Chic was chuffed to be able to interview a few of the Babes. This week, we’re featuring Amy, Ardy, and Lyndsay. Next week, we’ll treat you to a few more! Can’t wait another week for more Babes? Follow on Twitter @BakerStBabes.

Read on!

Q: What has led you to your passion?

Amy: My passion for all things Sherlock Holmes was kindled in 2010 when I re-read the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after the BBC “Sherlock” series came out. I developed a passion for all things Holmesian and wrote my own novel about Holmes and Irene Adler, The Detective and The Woman, which was published by MX Publishing earlier this year.

Ardy: Depends which passion we’re talking. My first passion was reading, and that kicked off everything else, so my answer to this would have to be: the local public library in the town where I grew up. I read widely and indiscriminately when I was a kid, and somewhere in there were Lord of the Rings and the Sherlock Holmes stories, and the rest was history. I also owe a lot to my sixth-form English teacher, who kind of crystallized that passion for reading, and for stories. And, of course, I owe the fact that I’m on the Baker Street Babes to my friend Kristina Manente, who is awesome.

Lyndsay: When I read the Sherlock Holmes mysteries as a kid, I had no idea that massively fangirling over them would quite literally lead to my professional career. I read them so obsessively that I absorbed a lot of Doyle's style, and my first published novel was a Sherlock Holmes pastiche called Dust and Shadow. Since then, I’ve been a novelist and short story writer and Sherlock Holmes commentator at large, and it’s all thanks to my childhood geek niche.  Geeks, be aware: you can really rock this geek thing, and make it work for you. Own your inner geek. All we Babes have found each other through this very specific passion, and it has led to some truly amazing opportunities and friendships.

Q: What inspires you in the world?

Amy: I’m inspired when I see people being creative in positive ways, using their gifts and talents to uplift and encourage others and to bring light into our world. The Internet and other forms of media are amazing at facilitating this because they allow us to experience the joy of what people create all across this earth. 

Ardy: People who follow their passions. Whether it’s an artist or a biologist or a musician or whatever, watching someone at work, doing something they love, is always special.

Lyndsay: Bravery, self-sacrifice, heroism that isn’t easy, protagonists who are good but not nice, antagonists who are wicked but sometimes right, noble people who struggle with giant flaws, eccentric forms of unconditional love.

Q: When did you first realize you were “geeky?”

Amy: I’ve always been geeky; I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t. I started reading Shakespeare on my own when I was about 10, and I’ve never stopped having geeky interests, whether in classic literature, Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, or any other of a myriad of things.

Ardy: Probably in school, in the not so fun way that I just didn’t really fit, I was sort of on a different planet from my peers and misunderstood a lot. Probably that’s part of every teenager’s experience, but I always think that for geeks, it’s tougher because there’s all this stuff in your head that you really can’t talk to anyone about. That’s actually one of the reasons that it makes me really happy to see kids at conventions. It’s only later in life, when I went to uni, that I met other people who loved the same stuff I did and were just as happy that there was someone to talk to, that I understood that “being a geek” was a thing and that it was okay and there were lots of others like me.

Lyndsay: I recall pretty clearly telling my mother when I was maybe thirteen that it was okay I had crazy hair and entirely mismatched thrift store clothes because I “didn’t want to be normal.” In retrospect, I have no idea what on earth I was yammering about, since I grew up in a Pacific Northwest mill town and I can guarantee you that I knew precisely zero “normal” people to base my distaste of normalcy on. I was operating in a vacuum on that one. Maybe I’d seen "normal" people on TV or something and decided it wasn’t for me.

Q: If you could take any historical figure out for a drink, whom would you choose, and what would you drink?

Amy: Wow, that’s a hard question! I’m part Native American, and I would really love to meet Sacagawea and hear all about her life. She’s such an inspiring woman with an amazing history. I’d probably take her out to my favorite tea house and have a beautiful pot of Earl Grey. 

Ardy: I think I’d want to have a Gin & Tonic with Queen Victoria.

Lyndsay: Can I say Sherlock Holmes? Please? Oh, all right. In that case, I would really love to take Samuel Clemens out for a stroll through the rolling countryside and have a little bourbon picnic with a bucket of ice and the whiskey of his choice. I would trust his judgment on the subject. I’d want to know all about newspaper reporting during the Silver Rush, and writing Huckleberry Finn, and a complete list of the best pranks he ever pulled, because I am sure they’d be stunners.

Q: What would you tell you 13-year-old self?

Amy: I think I’d tell my 13-year-old self to “just keep swimming” and never give up!

Ardy: I’d tell my 13-year-old self not to be so serious all the time and to take pride in being a geek. To enjoy life. And to never feel ashamed to be spending the summer holidays cooped up in her room with a book.

Lyndsay: I’d tell myself at that age, you know what, Lyndsay, you’re going to stay this geeky, and get even geekier–but it’s going to get so much less lonely later on, so just trust that you’re going to meet more of your peculiar kind. And many other peculiar kinds you’ll get on with like a forest fire. 

Q: What would be the title of your memoir?

Amy: The title of my memoir would be People Would Be Less Likely to Think You’re Stupid than that You’re a Man, which is something my sister recently said to me in an attempt to bolster my flagging confidence. 

Ardy: My memoir… dear God. “Over the Wires, Between the Bookshelves” would probably be apt, because literally and figuratively, that’s where I spent a lot of time in my life.

Lyndsay: I think it would be most appropriately titled It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.

Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.

Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geeks of the Week: The Baker Street Babes, Part 2

As promised, The Baker Street Babes, Part 2 are our Lady Geeks of the Week! Last week, we interviewed Amy, Ardy, and Lyndsay. This week, we present Maria, Taylor, and Kristina

The Babes are a group of Sherlock Holmes fans who produce a (witty, charming, and highly successful) podcast in which they discuss “everything from canon to Cumberbatch, Charles Augustus Milverton to Jude Law, and dancing men to Jeremy Brett.”

Follow the Babes on Twitter @BakerStBabes.

Q: What has led you to your passion?

Maria: Concerning Sherlock Holmes: A general interest in Sherlock Holmes from my childhood on; but I only grew really passionate about it when I started looking into it during my British Studies classes at Uni where I went to several Doyle and Sherlock Holmes centered seminars. BBC’s Sherlock just rekindled that interest and turned it into something amazing. Concerning my passion in general, which is literature: Some of my oldest memories are of my parents of friends reading books to me. I started reading fairly soon, even though I am slightly dyslexic (which made writing essays and dictations in school extremely hard); I read fantastic fiction throughout my teenage years, but when I started University, I just fell head over heels for English Literature, mostly thanks to my extremely wonderful teachers (now colleagues). I just loved reading literature, talking about it, writing about it; and eventually I found that I’m pretty good at teaching it, too, so this is why I am now doing my doctoral thesis in EngLit and hope to stay at Uni and teach. 

Taylor: I have a complete inability to simply like something. I have to become totally obsessed with things I enjoy. I like to immerse myself in things fully and always have. I became obsessed with The Lion King when I was in 5th grade and my room totally reflected. Lion King sheets, curtains, and even a laundry hamper. Now my room is like a shrine to all things British. My obsessions transfer into all forms of media too. Of my two favorite bands I have seen one live 50 times and the other, I lost count, but I think I’m somewhere in the 70’s now. No.

Kristina: Spontaneity. I’ve always been a geek, but about very different things. It changes ever so often and it’s mostly because I take a right instead of a left. It’s never planned. I got into the Holmesian world because I decided to see a play, met a Sherlock fan in line, and voila here I am. I’ve never been afraid of just taking the next step, okay, scratch that, I’ve been terrified, but I’ve never backed down. Passion is terrifying. Absolutely horribly terrifying, but that’s what makes it worth it in the end. I suppose I’ve always been very well mentored by so many amazing teachers, professors, and friends who have helped me along and pushed me when I needed to be pushed. While I haven’t always succeeded, I’d like to think I’m made them proud. That’s very important to me. I don’t really do things for myself, I’m always thinking of someone else.

Q: What inspires you in the world?

Maria: Kindness and patience. There is nothing more inspirational than people showing kindness to others without asking for anything in return. It makes me want to be kind and tolerant.

Taylor: Books, music, and social planning. It seems like those things are at opposite ends of the spectrum but while I always draw inspiration from books and music I seem to accomplish more in my efforts to organize groups of people with a shared love particular musicians and books.

Kristina: Travel. It’s a really easy answer for me. I’m an absolute nutter for travelling and experiencing a new culture gives me a high unlike anything else. I’ve been to places beautiful and war torn and both exotic and mundane. No matter where I go there is always something beautiful and something sad about it, and time and time again I’ve come to realize that even through all of the world’s differences, human beings are the same. The kindest people are those who have the least and the most beautiful places are those who have seen horrible things.

Q: When did you first realize you were “geeky?”

Maria: Well, I started reading fantastic literature as a child and stayed up night after night to read more and more; I guess that was when I knew. But it took me a while to understand that there’s a label for that kind of interest group :) I’m also very much into motor sports and movies and remember the weirdest tiny facts about things.

Taylor: I think it first really hit home the day I spent over $100 on a rare Lion King trading card in 5th grade. My collection is still only missing two cards and they were both only handed out at the Super Bowl in 1995, making them ultra rare.

Kristina: Probably when I was twelve and I found myself writing my own stories based off things I enjoyed. I devoured the Redwall series and so desperately wanted to be a white mouse named Danneal. I guess I have a think for mice as The Great Mouse Detective was my favourite movie of all time, and pretty much still is. It was at this time I discovered role playing and I basically wrote stories with other kids my age based on the Redwall series, people I’ve still friends with to this day actually. I just loved writing in these worlds and through that I started to write my own stories. I preferred writing and being in my own imagination than being out with friends or anything. I was the kid who doodled and wrote in class. I knew it was a bit weird, but it made me so happy, I didn’t care.

Q: If you could take any historical figure out for a drink, whom would you choose, and what would you drink?

Maria: Giovanni Battista Belzoni; and it’d be Whisky and I’d have him tell me his tales about excavating Egyptian tombs. (I’m also an Egyptologist, so some awesome first hand experience from back in the day would be amazing.) 

Taylor: I really can’t answer this question. I’ve been thinking about it for about an hour now. I’d really like to have a drink with someone who could answer a big question or explain something to me. Like it would be cool to know what happened to Amelia Earhart, the Roanoke colonists, or Jimmy Hoffa. It would also be neat to know sit down with King Arthur and find out if/where Camelot existed and talk to Shakespeare about whether or not he actually wrote all of his plays. I’m better with current figures though.

Can I have a drink with Stephen Fry? Preferably a Pimm’s.

Kristina: So I studied history and archaeology at college. You have no idea how difficult a question this is! While I was eventually seduced by medieval history, my first love in history was Napoleon, so I’d have to say him. I have a soft spot for Nappy-poo, he was a fascinating person and clinking cosmopolitans with him would be a wild night. I’d ask about how he felt taking over Europe, why he wanted to, and his saucy love letters to Josephine. Seriously, read those, they are scandalous.

Q: What would you tell you 13-year-old self?

Maria: The Latin and English lessons you are taking in school will actually be helpful one day. 

Taylor: If you start going to Jump, Little Children shows now you can see them way more than 50 times before the break up.

Kristina: Oh my. First off I’d tell myself to stop straightening my hair and then I’d say I’m sorry for how sucky the teens are going to be and that you won’t always be so lonely and you’ll make new friends and discover so much.

Q: What would be the title of your memoir?

Maria: “A life of coffee, books and laughter”

Taylor: Probably my twitter tagline. Books, Brits, and Bands: My Life as a Fan

Kristina: I think it’d have to be Into The Great Perhaps. I recently stumbled upon the quote “I go to seek a great perhaps,” which were the alleged last words of Francois Rebelais, a 16th century French humanist. While for him it may have been said with a more religious connotation, for me it’s all about just taking that leap of faith and taking a chance.

Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.

Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Kaitlin Stewart

Meet this week’s Lady Geek of the Week: Kaitlin Stewart. Liz first introduced Stewart on Being Geek Chic a few weeks ago and announced that Stewart’s instagram account, PwnLove, “is the coolest instagram account out there.” Liz wasn’t exaggerating.

Stewart’s currently on day 125 of a “365 Days of Video Games Fashion” quest. So cool, right? Sometimes the geekiness is subtle, sometimes it’s loud, and sometimes, it’s a pair of socks. Whatever the occasion, whatever the day brings, Stewart pulls off these geeky fashions like nobody’s business.

Check out Stewart’s blog PwnLove.com for even more geeky garment goodness.

Stewart’s raking in the PR buzz, too. Check out her interviews with The Daily Dot and the Geeky Hostess. Being Geek Chic’s interview gets a little more personal. We dive into her passions and frustrations of being a geek – which include being forced into the role of Donatello when she actually had an affinity for Raphael…

Q: What has led you to your passion?

A: Since I was little, my parents always encouraged me to play video games. The first video game was a Sesame Street counting game on the computer quickly followed by beating Mario and Adventures in the Magic Kingdom on the NES.

I fell in love with fashion when I was a tween. I loved clothes, make up and accessories. I love to take fashion risks and try something new. I could spend hours flipping through catalogs and magazines, exploring different style websites, watching runway shows and shopping for clothes. My bedroom in my childhood home is covered in magazine clippings of my favorite outfits, ads, pictures and inspiration. It wasn’t an instant connection to combine my two passions of video games and fashion but when I look back now, it seems like a natural fit.

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Lady Geek(s) of the Week: Stacy Smith & Stephanie Gall

A new study released by USC today proved a theory that we’ve all known to be too true in our current movies: women are underrepresented in film. Here’s a snippet from the paper:

In a survey of the top 100-grossing movies of 2009 — including “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” — researchers found that 32.8% of the 4,342 speaking characters were female and 67.2% were male, a percentage identical to that of the top-grossing movies of 2008.

Smith and Gall worked with Marc Choueiti and a team of undergraduate researchers to identify a scary set of information that we as consumers really need to start to pay attention to.

Here’s some charts from the study, which can be found here.

They show a scary reality, which isn’t just that women are under-represneted in the films themselves as well as behind the scenes, but that when they are represented, they are represented in ways that focus highly on sexuality.

In fact, some of the statistics on the prevalence of sexy attire at ages as low as 13 is really unsettling.

So what do the researchers say about this?

Smith said:

“Viewing sexualized images of females in film may contribute to self-objectification in some girls or women, which in turn may increase body shame, appearance anxiety and have other negative effects.”

If we don’t start talking about this, things will never change. I’m thankful studies and research like this is happening, so we can all be more educated about what we watch.

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Lady Geek of the Week: Natalia Tena

You’d probably recognize Natalia Tena as the incomparable Nymphadora Tonks. If there are two characters in the Potter series that I wish we got more of in the movies, it would have to be Tonks and Lupin. The reason? It’s almost entirely due to the incredibly perfect casting of Ms. Tena.

The famed story about Tena getting the part of Tonks goes like this: She drank a glass of red wine before the audition and in the chaos of the moment (and perhaps with the help of a little Pinot) she tripped over the chair. The casting directors immediately noted that clumsy moment, which is of course a prime trait for Ms. Tonks and cast her for the part.

Tena got her start in films by being cast as Ellie in About A Boy. For those that haven’t seen it, Tena really does steal the scene in a hilarious moment where Marcus accidentally sings some inappropriate words when he doesn’t think anyone is listening.

Of course, Tena’s career is continuing to blossom Post-Potter. She was cast as Osha in the new HBO Game of Thrones series, which has been renewed for a second season, so you can count on seeing more of her there. And if you really miss Tonks after you see the final movie this week, then there’s always this Trailing Tonks featurette from the Order of the Phoenix Blu-Ray Special Features to remind you of your favorite purple-haired person ever.

During this very special Potter Week at BGC, we’re so happy to name Natalia Tena our Lady Geek of the Week.

Lady Geek of the Week: Leigh Lahav

Leigh Lahav, our Lady Geek of the Week, is a spunky and sophisticated, 26-year-old “animator, illustrator, comics lover, sometimes singer, and mostly a gib gabber.”

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Her recent animated short “Fangirls” was picked up by The Mary Sue, Jezebel, YouTube’s Twitter account, and more. Lahav scripted, animated, and voiced this quippy, adorable video, which highlights the length fangirls go to for their beloved geeky outlets. The fangirl meeting is hit with difficult news, but the ladies remember always, “to be a fangirl is to have hope.” Tugging at your heartstrings already? Go check out the rest of Lahav’s animated shorts here.

Be sure to take a scroll through Lahav’s Tumblr site for doodles, comics, jokes, and more. And follow this Lady Geek on Instagram @leighlahav. Oh, and did we mention that Lahav and her husband share an adorable Tumblr over at I Like Your Silly Face? Because you should check that out, too.

But before you run off into cyberspace trying to catch up with Lahav, check out her interview with Being Geek Chic.

Q: What has led you to your passion?

A: AAAH which passion? Animating? Fangirling? Ukulele playing? Folk Dancing?! Well that last one I don’t really do. Wish I did though.

So heh, I have many passions but I mostly draw and animate. Animation is something I always obsessed about, and it holds within it many skills I like to practice (drawing, directing, editing, voice acting..) so it was a natural choice of career for me. (It’s frustrating as BALLS though!)

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

A: Mainly Pop culture obviously. I adore Fan-art and most of my drawings are in that nature. It’s easier for me to express myself through other characters and use their story to reflect something about myself. (…Or just draw their butts because it’s fun. Mostly that.) My favorite creations in college were those related to pop culture references. My teachers didn’t like it one bit though!

Another great inspiration for me is, please don’t hurl, love. I find that when I have someone I adore and want to make happy or impress I create the best things. (Like this video I made for my husband’s birthday…)

Q: You can choose one superpower. What is it?

A: Holycrap SHAPESHIFTING for sure! I wouldn’t even mind if it comes with Mystique-ish blue skin and freaky yellow eyes. Imagine the cosplay possibilities! My main conflict though would be whether I should shapeshift first into a cat or into Tom Hiddleston (and just stare at myself all day long).

Q: If you could take any fictional character out for a drink, whom would you choose and what would you drink?

A: Tony Stark! He’s super fun, has great taste and probably knows all the hip new places to go to. Also according to Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World Prelude #2, he likes Mad Men and Game of Thrones so you know we’ll have lots to talk about. I’d drink some fancy colorful Margarita and hopefully coffee in the morning after (wink wink, nudge nudge.)

Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

A: “You know that Y2K party you really don’t wanna go to cause you think it’ll suck? But your mom makes you cause she wants you to be more social?

Don’t go. It DOES suck. Draw instead. What’s that? Pokemon fanfiction? Yeah, I guess you can read some THEN DRAW.

 Q: What would be the title of your memoir?

A: "Stop being a loser, now animate!”

Emma Bauer is a Being Geek Chic Contributor. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.

Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Catherynne Valente

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If you know a young lady, maybe around age 10 or 11, who repeatedly tells you she’s “bored,” then it’s your duty to go pick up a copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. It’s a charming book about a young lady named September who is whisked away on an adventure that turns out to be unpredictable and dangerous.

If you’re a lady in your twenties who likes to be entertained then I also suggest you pick up a copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Indeed, the very things that make this book so wonderful for a young girl also make it a charming read for a woman who is drawn in by expressive writing, fanciful illustrations and unconventional storytelling.

Valente’s career is enviable. She’s published poetry, two novels and has been nominated for her fair share of literary awards. However, it’s her triumph with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making that stands out. In 2010, the book won the Andre Norton Award for YA literature before it was even printed in 2011. It also earned the incredible honor of becoming the first self-published work to win a major literary award. In 2011, the book went on to become a bestseller, which is no big surprise.

There’s an incredible story there for writer’s who wonder about the value of self-publishing and whether they too can “make it” if they publish on their own. Valente’s willingness to do so is a lovely reminder to writer’s everywhere to believe in their work.

One more amazing thing that just HAS to be pointed out about Valente: she offers an incredible amount of her work for FREE on her site. You can check that out here.

After you check out The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, skip on over to Rules for Anchorites where Valente blogs. You can also follow her on Twitter @catvalente.

Lady Geek of the Week: Leigh Luna

The week’s Lady Geek of the Week is the lovely Leigh Luna (@ourobora on Twitter). She’s a spunky and quirky artist whose strongest passion is creating comics. She’s currently a student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, studying comic art, illustration and graphic design.

Head to Luna’s personal website to snag a sampling of her work. My personal favorite comics of hers are the poetic and personal “New Mexico” and the tragic and simple tale of love, loss and regret in “Boats and Ghosts.”

Click a little deeper into Luna’s website to see some of her fine art or browse her whimsical illustrations. Fall a bit further into the rabbit hole of Luna’s mind when you scroll through her Tumblr of art, musings and mischief.

Check out Being Geek Chic’s interview with Luna to discover her one chosen superpower, the genesis of her comic book passion, and her message to her 13-year-old self that will surely make you say, “aww!” Read on!

Q: What has led you to your passion?

A: For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawing and making comics. My mom likes to tell people that I came out of the womb with a crayon in my hand. My parents have both been really great in guiding me into making comics. They gave me a lot of the Calvin and Hobbes and Betty and Veronica comics as a kid. They have always encouraged me to read comics and to make art. I’ve been drawing basically my whole life but didn’t start getting very serious about making comics as a profession until four or so years ago. That was when I “seriously” started making comics.

Q: When did you first realize you were “geeky?”

A: I had some realization that I was geeky as a child when I read all of the Red Wall books and watched Star Trek with my dad. I also got called a geek a lot in middle school due to my Manga obsession and Deviant Art addiction. However, I didn’t actually start calling myself a geek until I was in high school rocking my Batman t-shirt and attending comic conventions.

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Q: You can choose one superpower. What is it?

A: I would really like to be a mermaid. Hands down. I have a bit of an obsession with mermaids, and really the ocean in general. I have been a swimmer most of my life, and have always felt at home in the water.

Q: If you could take any fictional character out for a drink, whom would you choose and what would you drink?

A: Honestly, I think I would just want to go grab some chocolate milk with all of Miyazaki’s lady characters and ask them to teach me the ways of their adorable spunk.

Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

A: Take off that damn eyeliner and learn to play the banjo. When you’re older, you’re still going to want to know how to play the banjo! In about a year when you decide comics are lame, don’t do that, stick with your gut. And guess what? You’re going to be real proud of me because I’m still making comics.

Emma Bauer is a Being Geek Chic Contributor. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.

Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek(s) of the Week: Marilyn and Mimi or Mari Mi

This week’s Lady Geeks are a duo who run the stationary company, Mara Mi. This two person start-up stationery company was formed in Minnesota, so it’s got a special spot in my heart. 

The art of a well-written Thank You card is really under-appreciated these days. Inspiring stationary might motivate more of us to take five minutes out of our day and write a Thank You to our colleague, our aunt or our boss. Who knows what might change when you spread mutual thankfulness.

Their stationary is charming, irreverent and youthful. You’ll frankly be excited to get a card with their logo on the back. In 2010, they opened a store and cafe in downtown Stillwater and here’s what Minneapolis-St.Paul Magazine had to say about it:

The bright, open space is a beautiful paper nirvana filled with cards, stationery, invitations, décor, and more—and they even have a section dedicated to all things bridal. Find wedding books filled with inspiration, products for stress-free planning, and DIY kits including invites, thank you cards, favor boxes, and place settings. And now that the companies have merged, if you can’t find an invitation design that suits you, a team of designers in the lofted space above can help custom create your perfect look. While you’re there, be sure to stop at their quaint café for a cup of coffee or even ice cream!

If you’re in the Twin Cities, I recommend stopping by their store, but if your online here’s some suggestions worth checking out:

Thomas Paul Orange Elephant Thank You Cards

Vintage photo Invitations

Pinecone Paper Straws

Red Festive Bottle Tags

Follow Mara Mi on Twitter (@Mara_Mi_store) and check out their website here.

Nancy Schwartzman

Stacy Smith & Stephanie Gall

DW Diaz

Lady Geek of the Week: Erika Svanoe

I’ll admit, when my high school self was turning through the pages of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice, I spent some time daydreaming about finding my very own Mr. Darcy. (Who’s with me?) Operating on exactly that premise, Lady Geek Erika Svanoe has developed your next favorite party game: Marrying Mr. Darcy.

The objective? Pick up 19th century skills and accomplishments to fetch yourself the most eligible bachelor. Now, we have to consider the game within the context of Jane Austen’s world. A well-matched marriage was often a gal’s main objective. Today, not so much. 

So we asked Svanoe about how she would translate the game into contemporary society, how she became a ‘Janeite,’ and what Austen character she’d love to meet for a drink. Read on! 

Q: How did you discover your passion for all things Austen?

A: It was probably about five or six years ago that I became really addicted. I think I stumbled across the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries by the BBC and ended up binge watching the whole thing. After that I read the original novel, a ton of novel adaptations, and other movies. I really became obsessed for a while. 

Q: Let’s say Jane Austen’s characters were plucked from their era and dropped into the present. Instead of securing the ‘best’ husband, what would the winning character of Marrying Mr. Darcy look like to you? 

A: This is a tough one. I have to say that I think the web series “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” and “Emma Approved” did a great job of this. They are both fantastic modernizations. I can’t think of any sweeping generalizations but I’ll take a stab at what the Bennet sisters might look like. Elizabeth would write Op-ed pieces for the New Yorker, Jane would work for a charity organization, Mary would be an engineer who plays french horn in a community band, Kitty would rise to middle management in corporate America, and Lydia would become a fashion accessories designer after finally graduating from college after six glorious years of parties and fun times. She becomes well-known for bringing back the bonnet. 

Q: If you could take any Austen character out for a drink, whom would you choose and what would you drink?

A: Even though I am happily married, I would probably say Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey. He is funny, flirty, and smart and comes to like a woman who is straightforward and sincere, despite the fact that she can’t pick up on any of his flirtations. This would be especially enjoyable if he looked like JJ Field in the 2007 television adaptation. I feel like Henry would be pretty fun to hang out with. I imagine we would drink some happy hour beers while eating some fried appetizers because that’s how I roll.  

Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

A: Try to keep being yourself, everything turns out cool. You’ll learn to talk to boys eventually. Eat all the nachos and Little Debbie Cakes you can now because you won’t be able to keep that up forever. Be nice to people.

Q: What’s the title of your memoir?

A: This is more of a motivational title. “Get out of your own way: How to get over your fear and do the stuff that you want to do.”

Emma Bauer is a Being Geek Chic Contributor. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, dog lover, tea drinker, art appreciator, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. Follow her on Twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Ashley Masog

Ashley Masog (@ashleymasog) is an artist, illustrator, and creative Lady Geek to the core. Masog’s bright, full of energy, and as an artist, unafraid of the unknown. We were lucky enough to meet her and ogle at her work at MSP ComicCON this past weekend. Check out some of her original work here, and get a sneak peek at Chester the Snail, her work-in-progress book about an adventurous (and ridiculously adorable) snail here

Want more? Follow Masog on Instagram to get behind-the-scenes on her life, and see sketches of her in-progress works, like this drawing of the inimitable Scarlet Witch. And you know you need more drawings of Hulk giving his fellow Avengers a bear hug in your life. 

So go ahead and read on for this Lady Geek’s interview with BGC! 

Q: How did you discover your passion for being an artist?

A: I discovered my passion at a very young age, with the help of my grandmother. She would sit in the porch during the summers and paint and draw flowers, and rather than making something for me, she would teach me how to create it myself. It was hard, but I enjoyed the process of art making and it lead to experimentation with other paints and drawing materials. I’ve had some kind of sketchbook at my side ever since.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration in life?

A: It is an artist’s go to statement to say that they pull inspiration from everything. As infuriating of an answer that is, I can say that it is absolutely true. There are just some things that you HAVE to draw, or paint, or translate into some other kind of medium. Whether it be a really amazing tree that I see on my way to work, or the guy sitting across from me at the coffee shop with the permanent scowl on his face - small things are enough to inspire me to bring out the pencil and paper. This goes for daily events, too. If I have a bad day? I draw it. If I have a particularly strange date? I draw it, and there’s a whole mini comic devoted to that topic alone. Inspiration is all around us, you just have to have that certain eye to turn it into something.

Q: If you could take any fictional character out for a drink, whom would you choose and what would you drink?

A: Talk about the most difficult question ever! I am a person who practically devours books and fictional media, so there are countless possibilities for this one, but I would have to say that I would really, really, really enjoy taking Tony Stark out for a drink. As for the drink itself I can’t exactly picture Tony Stark sitting there sipping sangria, despite that being one of my go-to drinks, so it would probably be whiskey or bourbon.

Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

A: I would tell my 13-year-old-self to stop comparing her work to other people. It’s toxic and it doesn’t get you anywhere, nor does it make you better than anyone else. Everyone develops at a different rate and just because someone is “better” than yours right now, doesn’t mean that your work is never going to be good enough.

Q: What’s the title of your memoir?

A: Why Doesn’t Starbucks Deliver?: The Memoir of a Sleep-Deprived Artist

Emma Bauer is a Being Geek Chic Contributor. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, dog lover, tea drinker, art appreciator, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. Follow her on Twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Rachael Thomas

Meet Rachael Thomas.  She’s a graphic designer, a YouTube mischief-maker, and a college student—for a few more months.  She’s on the verge of graduation, almost ready to enter “real-life,” (something that I am happily putting off till next fall).

Thomas also designs parody t-shirts for a plethora of different fandoms, including The Hunger Games, The Office, Lord of the Rings, even Mulan. Her Hunger Games District t-shirts have already received Liz’s stamp of approval. Thomas takes requests, too!

Follow her on Twitter (@rachaelnthomas) to request special fandom designs and for special discounts and giveaways.

Thomas and two other lady geeks make up the Schemestresses on YouTube.  Their short, quippy videos are sure to make you smile.  My favorite involves Thomas distributing “How to be a princess” flyers around her school (click here for a pdf). The satirical poster promotes a step-by-step guide for becoming a princess. Thomas’ campaign was perfectly timed for the anniversary of the royal wedding, when single girls like me are reminded that there’s only one British prince left. Thomas spreads a very important message: “Everyone needs to know that they can still be a princess. It’s just a fact of life.” And Harry’s always been the cuter one, anyway.

Oh! And remember Liz’s Hunger Games dinner party?  The Schemestresses try out a few more recipes, complete with video demonstrations for people like me, who pretty much specialize in toast and buttered noodles.

That’s all for this week!  Stay chic and always geek.

Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. On twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Claire Parkinson

NASA and scientist Claire Parkinson having been working since 20101 to bring a new book, Women of Gooddard: Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, to the world. And while you can’t quite yet buy it online, you can buy the book check out the accompanying exhibit at the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center for the next 10 months.

The idea behind the book is simple: there have been many women who have spent their careers working at NASA, specifically at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and their work and stories would be a great insight into women’s role in the STEM fields.

Parkinson has a long career working with NASA on aqua related missions, but this project had her working to gather the stories of 103 women and to shed light on the what helped the women achieve success in their careers. It includes the stories of women who contribute to the Hubble Telescope Mission, various shuttle launches and space research.

These stories need to be told to help promote STEM to young girls. If more girls saw how other women succeeded, had fun and changed the world through their work: then perhaps they would be motivated to try it for themselves.

You can learn more about the women working at NASA at: http://women.nasa.gov/

Lady Geek of the Week: You? Your syle guru? Your career mentor? Your mom?

Does your hairstylist design wickedly cool cosplay costumes in her free time?

Is your professor redefining the world of cosmetic chemistry?

Is your sister a filmmaker on the cusp of winning an Oscar?

Are you just simply amazing and the world needs to know? 

Let’s get to know these ladies on Being Geek Chic! Send us your nominations for Lady Geek of the Week to emma(at)beinggeekchic(dot)com. 

Make sure to put “Lady Geek Nom” in the subject line and in the body give us the following information:

- Name
- Twitter handle
- Why you’re nominating this particular Lady Geek
- Any links to more information about this gal or her projects, i.e. blog/website/whatever

If you are worried that the person you want to nominate has already gotten the Lady Geek of the Week crown, check out this page in the archives to see all our past Lady Geeks.

Lady Geek of the Week: Catherine Levene

The Lady Geek of this week is Catherine Levene, co-founder and CEO of the über-hip Artspace, an online art gallery that eliminates the snobby, elitist aura from art collecting. Artspace is accessible and engaging. It’s a perfect starting point for aspiring collectors but also a haven for art aficionados.

Levene is a “digital media innovator and entrepreneur with more than 15 years experience building successful online media companies.” Prior to launching Artspace, Levene left DailyCandy, where she worked as the COO and General Manager, and traveled around the world, cultivating her love for art.

But her passion didn’t begin there. When she was in her early twenties, Levene developed a zeal for collecting art – but didn’t exactly have a disposable income to throw at Picasso’s and Rothko’s. She saw the need to make art available to a wider audience. The vision for Artspace was born!

ArtSpace is sort of like a flash-sale site for art. They offer exclusive works from established and up and coming artists with prices that range from budget-friendly to high-end. Ultimately, you get the inside access of a professional curator thanks to the convenience of an internet connection.

Whether you’re a recently (employed!) college grad, an established professional, or enjoying retirement off your wildly successful iPhone app, Artspace has it all. Better yet, every single sale of artwork directly supports an artist, institution or non-profit. So check it out! Support a fellow Lady Geek, surround yourself with art, cultivate creativity, and be a happier you.

Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. On twitter: @emmalynnbauer

Lady Geek of the Week: Katie Deedy

Katie Deedy is just the kind of girl you want to know. Barista turned wallpaper designer, she has a real knack for telling a story with her whimsical and sensitive designs.

Here’s her story: As a girl, her mother (a children’s book author) nurtured their creative connection by sharing adventures together through the woods in Georgia. Later, when she moved to New York and worked as a freelance illustrator, she realized that her wonderful designs could be developed into patterns. She picked up bar-tending and worked as a barista and saved her pennies to start Grow House Grow. The companies motto: A story for every storey. 

The thing I love most about Deedy’s designs is that they combine challenging stories and ideas with levity and grace to create a pallet that keeps drawing you in for more. For example, one design named Mary Treat, pays homage to the American-born naturalist. You’ll get a history lesson out of this wallpaper! Treat was devoted to the understanding of carnivorous plants and made several contributions to her field - including publishing many books.  She even had a scientific correspondance with Charles Darwin:

Treat and Darwin’s recorded discourse extends over five years, and most notably involves the inner workings of the Utricularia plant’s trap. Darwin believed insects wedged their heads into the traps, thus becoming stuck and then consumed. Treat’s extensive research, fueled by her curiosity and vigor for experimentation, revealed that the Utricularia plant actually snapped shut when small hairs around the entrance of the trap were triggered. Treat so influenced Darwin’s understanding on the subject that he references her several times in his Insectivorous Plants (1875).

It’s worth exploring Grow House Grow for the stories alone! I suggest Mme. Jeanne and Captain Smith. By putting one of Deedy’s wall designs in your home, you’re almost guaranteed to have a lively and educational dinner conversation every time you host.

There’s nothing I love more than art that is about something. Deedy’s the master.

Lady Geek of the Week: Emily Farquharson

Meet Emily Farquharson (aka Frogmella, @frogmellaink on Twitter). She’s the co-founder of Geek Girl Pen Pals, a wonderful online community of geeks who write letters to other geeks. On the 15th of every month, Emily and her comrade Leslie match all participants with a pen pal so they can write, tweet, and bleat to each other.

Farquharson also makes up one half of House of the Fickle Queen, an über cute jewelry and accessories store inspired by pop culture. Using a combination of upcycled old jewelry she’s been collecting for years and armed with her wits, some pliers and access to a laser cutting machine and the Internet, Farquharson and her pal Ms. Firth create whimsical and charming pieces, totally fit for a chic geek.

So read Farquharson’s interview with Being Geek Chic and discover her passions, advice, memoir title, and geeky crush…

Q: What led you to your passion?

A: Oh so many things! From a very, very young age I read whatever I could get my hands on. By the time I was 8 I had read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Hobbit and pretty much everything Roald Dahl wrote for children, which set my imagination off and opened up so many other doors. I also loved art a lot as a young one, particularly Dali and Picasso, which lead me to painting, drawing and generally being crafty. I am very lucky to have wonderful parents who did nothing by encourage me to explore, learn, read and it is something I have taken with me through my life. I am passionate about so much, not just books and art, but music, fashion, films and television, comics, science, baking and food, travel, ancient history, animation and more. I could fill a book with the things I am passionate about, because they have all shaped me into who I am in some way!

Keep reading

Lady Geek of the Week: Jamie Millard

Meet Jamie Millard! She’s a geeky, techy, spunky, literary whirlwind who’s got a ton of different projects up her sleeve. For starters, she holds a day job as a Client Relationship Manager for Fast Horse, an über-hip Minneapolis-based marketing agency.

But that’s just the beginning. She also serves as the vice chair on the board of directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Twin Cities; she’s the Editor in Chief of Pollen, a publication/community “composed of civic-minded connectors who share ideas, career and civic engagement opportunities and peer-to-peer recognition;” and to top it off, she’s the co-founder and Executive Director of Paper Darts, a literary magazine, publisher, and creative agency that’s driving the Minneapolis lit scene.

I know, right?! When does this girl sleep?

In hindsight, I should have asked this for her interview. Alas! Read on, and follow Millard on Twitter @jjmillard.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration for launching Paper Darts?

A: Paper Darts was partly birthed out of unemployment – the need to keep myself busy, inspired, and active. But also, me and my fellow co-founders felt there was an open space for a platform to tell irreverent, but resonating stories and do so in a way that embraced design like no other publishing model. To this day we are inspired by the combinations of art and lit and the new story that is created when these genres mix.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of working at Fast Horse?

A: I absolutely love the variety in projects and the core value of creativity. Everything Fast Horse touches pushes boundaries of boldness. It’s an environment where big thinking and fresh ideas thrive. Within my specific work, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work on accounts with mission-driven organizations—a space where I have extensive experience and passion. Plus, I get to list the “five video game combat moves I wish I could do IRL” in my official bio—that’s awesome.

Q: Got a 5-year plan?

A: I’m totally a 5-year plan type of gal. Actually, I used to have a 10-year plan—I even signed and dated it. Before Fast Horse, I had been previously entrenched in the nonprofit sector, and once I accepted the position, I kind of threw my 10-year plan out the window. I’ll probably sit down and recreate another 10-year plan, and then who knows, in 3 years from now I’ll probably end up throwing it out the window again.

Q: If you could take any fictional character out for a drink, whom would you choose and what would you drink?

A: I’d buy Luigi a whiskey ginger and ask him about his brother issues.

Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

A: When you get to high school and college, don’t beat yourself up so much for hiding inside and playing so many video games. You’ll turn out just fine.

(Photo Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.

Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer