Geek storytelling through art

Whenever I go to a comic con, one of the items that’s always on my to-do list is buying a new piece of artwork from one of the vendors at the con. 

First off, it’s a great way to support artists who are trying to make a living on the convention circuit, and second, I love hanging up these pictures in my home as a unique way to express my geekiness. 

When I talk about mediums for geek storytelling, I primarily think of movies, TV, or books. However, there’s also a wide and wonderful world of geek art out there that also deserves some attention. Artists are able to take scenes and characters from your favorite franchises and add their own spin, depicting that world in a new and creative way. 

When I see a piece of geek art hanging on a wall, it tells two different stories. One, it communicates an artist’s unique vision and their personal interpretation of a famous scene or character. Two, it tells me a story about the person who purchased that artwork and decided to hang it up in their home, office, etc. When you walk into my house, you’ll figure out pretty quickly that I’m a Star Wars fan, and that my favorite characters are Rey, Kylo Ren, and Darth Vader.

My favorite item in my geek artwork collection is this Rey and Kylo Ren art print set by artist Michael “MK” Matsumoto. I’m just absolutely in love with these pieces, and they’re extra special to me because they were a gift from my dad, who I inherited my love of all things geeky from. He saw me admiring them at a con and then surprised me with them at the end of the day. 

What’s interesting to me about this set is how well it communicates the “dyad” concept introduced in Episode IX, even though these pieces were created long before that movie came out. Kudos to Matsumoto for anticipating where the story was heading!

Kylo Ren and Rey were described by director J.J. Abrams as “two sides of the same coin” and I think this artwork really illustrates that. It depicts how Rey and Kylo are alike (two powerful young Force users) but also very different (one dark side, one light side). These pieces look as if they could easily be translated to stained glass art hanging in a medieval castle.

And speaking of medieval… The newest piece of art in my collection (I’m actually still waiting for it to ship!) is this medieval version of the fight in Snoke’s throne room from “The Last Jedi,” featuring Rey and Kylo as medieval knights

Artist Jake Bartok has actually done a full series of medieval Star Wars pieces, featuring characters from all three trilogies. Since the sequel trilogy is my favorite era of Star Wars, I chose to buy a print from that particular collection, but it’s well worth checking out the others. 

Star Wars characters in a medieval setting is a great gimmick; in fact, I don’t even really like to use the word “gimmick,” because that term tends to imply a cheap cash-in. Bartok’s medieval Star Wars series is anything but that — it’s a lovingly crafted tribute to my favorite franchise. This Star Wars/medieval mash-up art works well because Star Wars is really more of a fantasy in space (rather than hard sci-fi), and it draws on classic Arthurian themes. 

I found these two posters at my favorite regional con (shout out to Planet Comicon in Kansas City, Missouri!), and I love the simplicity of the art style. I like the clean lines and colorful silhouettes, which are still easily identifiable. 

I really enjoy being able to chat with the artist who created the piece I’m buying, and I’m excited that I got artist Matt Peppler to sign my Rey poster at Planet Comicon several years ago. It’s cool to be able to tell the artist in person how much you like their artwork, and then you have that memory to come back to every time you look at the artwork hanging on your wall. 

While I love looking at geek artwork, I am sadly not skilled enough at drawing, painting, or graphic design to create something like all those pieces I referenced above. However, I do believe that every geek is worthy of expressing their love for their favorite franchise through art, whatever form that may take. You don’t have to be an amazing artist to find joy in creating art. 

During the pandemic, I started dabbling in crochet. I found a pattern for a Rey doll on Etsy (the shop name was RoseberryArts). I struggled a lot at first; I probably restarted this project 5-6 times. But when it finally clicked, I discovered a new lifelong hobby. 

I’ve since adapted that Rey pattern to other Star Wars characters like Finn and Kylo Ren, and even made a pirate’s parrot and did a series of Game of Thrones characters. Geeky crafting became one of my favorite memories from 2020. 

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