HELLO NERDS… and other readers of the fabulous Urk-Art Blog.
Sarah and I met our freshmen year of college through the Penn State Graphic Design program. We bonded over our shared appreciation for all things “nerdy” and it definitely got us through the more difficult weeks of school.
Our late nights were complemented with marathons of X-Files and Star Trek episodes. Our days off with Lord of the Rings. For my senior magazine, I recreated the world of Gotham and she was my first choice for Barbara Gordon. We spent so much time surrounded by these different universes that we basically Pavlov-ed ourselves to only function creatively when it had something to do with Sci-Fi or Fantasy and consequently when a TV was on the background.
So, when Sarah reached out to me to guest blog on her site, it took me about three seconds to figure out what to write about. May you enjoy the below ramblings that were squeezed from my mind grapes.
The following post was written while watching 30 Rock.
“LEMON, WE’RE NOT JUST HIRING AN ACTOR, WE’RE HIRING A COWORKER, A HUMAN BEING, AND I SAY WE HIRE THE ONE WHO LIVES BY THE CODE OF THE ROBOT: CARE, LOVE, LIVE.”
Jack Donaghy to Liz Lemon in Season 4, Episode 4 of 30 Rock titled “Audition Day”
I grew up with a big nerd of a father. His influence on what I watched, read and listened to pretty much shaped me into a 60 year old trapped in a 24 year old’s body.
I remember being so excited in high school when the original series of Star Trek was available on IMDB. I had seen some of the more iconic episodes because of my Dad but I was never able to watch them in order until then. I was so captivated by the characters and storylines that Gene Roddenberry created. The cast alone was spectacular.
That’s young William Shatner for those of you who have never seen the show before. Look at him. Look how handsome he is. There is a reason that Chris Pine was cast as Captain Kirk because look at the original. For those of you who know him from Miss Congeniality, this is what you’ve been missing out on.
I’ll just leave that there for you to take in.
The main event of this post isn’t Captain Kirk. It’s his half-Vulcan science officer, Mr. Spock.
By the time I hit senior year of college, a whole new generation of Star Trek fans had been born along with the new movie franchise and more people my age were starting to become familiar with the series. Luckily, due to a well-scripted black hole, audiences were able to witness Leonard Nimoy reprise his role. My Dad and I GEEKED out when we saw it in the theater and I still get chills when I rewatch it.
Again. Zachary Quinto? Awesome – BUT without Leonard Nimoy, there would be no Spock. At least not the same one. You know the iconic Vulcan Salute that we are all familiar with? Without his input on the character, it wouldn’t exist. Fun fact: he based it off of a Jewish blessing that he witnessed being performed when he was a child.
The February before graduation, Leonard Nimoy passed away and a couple days later, as most people did, I started to rewatch the original series because of it (this time, on Netflix).
Then, between several all-nighters at school, graduating, moving to a new city, starting a new job, and figuring out what it means to be an adult, I completely blacked out. Before I knew it, it was September 2016 and the Star Trek original series was celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
At this point, I had hit a milestone of my own: one year at my job. I was starting to get restless with my day to day design work and the stress from my job began to really weigh me down. As a goal for the year, I had decided that I’d start to design for myself again. Except this time, without any rules or limits. If I was doing this for me, it didn’t matter if the projects completely failed. As long as I dedicated a small amount of time towards creating things that I liked, I’d feel a small bit of accomplishment.
Little by little, I started making things: hand-lettered stationery for friends, wedding invites for coworkers, I even started to re-do projects from school that never really took off. Everything was created for the sole purpose of just existing. No portfolio pieces. No promotional items.
That’s when things really started to click for me. I have a job, I’m not looking for another one and I probably won’t be for a while. So, I deleted my college portfolio and oh boy did it feel good.
It’s like finding your journals from middle school at your parent’s house and then making the horrible decision of reading through them. At the end, you’re just so embarrassed and you don’t even recognize the person writing everything and because your parents most likely wouldn’t approve of you randomly setting it on fire in the backyard, you throw it away without the complete satisfaction of knowing that it’s gone forever. That’s how I feel about deleting my college portfolio. It’s gone from the internet but remains on a hard drive, tucked away in a safe place. You know, just in case I want relive my worst nightmares later in life.
With my portfolio finally gone, I knew I needed to start coming up with some type of content to take its place. The most obvious next step was a blog but I had nothing to fill it with. Creatively blanking out is one of the most frustrating experiences for me but two things have always helped: surrounding myself with creative people and long commutes to work.
One of the greatest things about the Penn State Design program are the friends you make and the help that comes from them as they are growing and learning in the business. At the time, a couple of alumni from the program were working on a business called “TACKY RODEO” (check them out!) and I found out a lot about how to create enamel pins. Since I already had a small collection of my own started, the idea of designing one was really intriguing (**it’s also incredibly expensive, so enter with caution on this DIY project).
The only problem was that I didn’t have an idea and if I was about to invest in making one, I wanted to make sure it fit. I decided to table it for the time being and continue to focus on figuring out my blog.
One day, I was running errands in the city and passed a bunch of posters for the Star Trek 50th Anniversary. One of them had a picture of Spock giving the Vulcan Salute. Slowly after seeing that poster, I started to form the idea for my pin traveling to and from work on the train.
Simple, slightly girly and incredibly nerdy, this pin would be a perfect gift for someone like me.
A woman’s hand giving the Vulcan Salute.
I researched the idea a lot because it seemed almost weird that it didn’t exist already. I even had friends and family look it up. While there are a few Vulcan Salute pins out there, all of them are predominantly based on Leonard Nimoy’s hand with his palm facing forward.
Naturally, I panicked thinking that I had to create it before someone else did, finished the design and had 100 pins made – that’s the minimum amount (re: expensive).
Shortly after the order was delivered, I debuted my blog but I wasn’t quite ready to show these babies off. I had no idea how to package them if I were to sell them. I mean, I had a lot of ideas but nothing that made sense at the time. A couple weeks went by and due to a friend being busy that day and another friend declining the offer to go in his place, I was given the perfect opportunity to debut them in my own, nerdy way.
Ladies and gentlemen, New York Comic Con:
It’s impossible to describe the energy of this event. I went late in the afternoon on its last day and this place was poppin’. It took me back to the times where I waited in line at midnight for Harry Potter books and Batman movies. Except, well, 100x bigger and nerdier. It’s as if all of the incredibly nice people in New York that you rarely see everyday came out of their apartments and gathered for this event. They were so comfortable in their element. (Shout out to Barb in the above photo.)
I wandered the artist alley, met my Batman idol, Scott Snyder, circled around the different exhibits and beamed with delight at everything I saw. As I continued to walk through the Javits Center, it dawned on me that there really is no better texture for this pin than that of a blurred background full of nerds. So, I took it off and held it up proudly.
Despite everything it took to get this 1 inch piece of metal made and the sheer luck of being offered a chance to go to Comic Con, I couldn’t have been prouder of the completion of a design project than I was when I took this photo.
It helped me learn a valuable lesson about myself: when I put aside all of the worry about what others are going to think and just do something that I truly love and care about, I’m able to make some really cool shit. And I’m likely not to try to set it on fire 1o years down the road.
I mean – look at how happy this nerd is.
DIY info for this project:
- My pins are soft enamel so there is a beveling in the details of the pin. Hard enamel pins are also available and have a smooth surface when they are created.
- I used a picture of my hand as a reference point in Adobe Illustrator for the design itself.
- Once I finished my design, I outsourced the pin creation.
Vulcan Girl Salute pins are $10 and can be purchased directly through me by DM-ing my IG account: @jennabril.
Now go out there and get your nerd on!