Don't forget: GeekCraft Expo PDX is June 10 and 11 at the DoubleTree Portland, just two weeks away--RSVP now! Here's a sneak peek at another one of our awesome returning exhibitors, Nerd Wood Designs.
We talked with Josh Edwards about the exciting new products he's offering this year (Nerdy candles! Baby Groot planter!) and how he creates sleek sci-fi art from natural materials.
GeekCraft Expo: What’s new with you this year?
Nerd Wood Designs: A few things, actually. I started doing soy candle making! I've always loved candles and good-smelling stuff, and I basically created themes for the scents. So you can expect to see candles like "Quidditch Field," "Hyrule Castle," "Rivendell," and "The North Remembers," to name a few, which of course smell like their names might suggest. I'm also doing a bit more graphic design, with my focus at the moment being National Park-inspired illustrations focused around different fandom locations. Right now I have a few postcards featuring Endor, Tatooine, and Hoth. Fun stuff.
GCE: Can you give us a brief “origin story” of Nerd Wood?
NWD: Yikes, brief eh? Okay. It started with my growing dissatisfaction in retail management, where I spent many long years. To do something creative, I would go home and take a few pieces of scrap wood and house paint lying around the house and make simple stencils and paint minimalist-style art that I liked. Friends seemed to like it and encouraged me to try to sell it at shows (that took some persuasion, as I didn't think it was worth showing anyone else!) and it sort of took off from there. I had virtually no woodworking experience, as was the case with the graphic design and candle-making aspects of my work, but I was eager to learn and just make cool, nerdy stuff from fandoms that I loved! Things just sort of took off from there.
GCE: How do you balance the natural, rustic quality of wood with the often sleeker aesthetic of sci-fi and superheroes?
NWD: It really depends on the theme and the presentation. Sometimes I like the juxtaposition of doing a worn, rustic-styled rendition of something that normally has that very bold and slick look. Plus, wood just has really great natural character. In terms of art and architecture style, I will always gravitate toward rustic or craftsman style over modern, but sometimes a bold two-color design just looks cool with a style that you would normally expect to be more vintage looking. Of course, I do a lot of projects on the fly and just experiment. Even with sufficient planning, I never know how the final piece will look or feel until I'm actually staring at a finished product.
GCE: What do you like best about working with wood?
NWD: In its raw state, it's got character, but it's often a bit unremarkable. But add a coat of oil, or stain, or a really watered-down layer of paint, and the grains really look great. Plus, it's a natural element and I like accentuating the knots and blemishes that exist. Also wood is fairly forgiving in terms of making mistakes.
GCE: What is the typical reaction of someone seeing your work for the first time?
NWD: It's cool when people walk up to my booth and are familiar with all of the nerdy fandoms I have. I love hearing things like "I feel at home in this booth!" Geeky stuff is much cooler today than it was when I was in high school, which I have no problem with, and I don't often see other artists that mix mediums the way I do.
GCE: What are your favorite characters and TV shows/movies? Oh man, where to start.
NWD: Well the obvious answers are Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones and Han Solo, of course, but I love really well-executed villains. People gave Kylo Ren a lot of flak, but I thought that his emotional instability and conflicted nature made him a more genuine bad guy. But to name a few of my favorite characters, I'd say Bret and Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords, Gene from Bob's Burgers, Peter Venkman [Ghostbusters], and Bernie Sanders.
GCE: What surprised you the most about GeekCraft Expo 2016?
NWD: I wouldn't necessarily say surprised, but I was so happy at how successful the event was for everyone involved. The artists and vendors, the organizers, the attendees; it was just really great all around. I kind of knew it was going to be a popular show, so I was just really happy that it was and is continuing to grow.
GCE: What kinds of things will you be bringing to the show this year?
NWD: More of the same mediums, but plenty of new pieces. I always have something new at each show! I've got a few art/prop pieces, several new pieces of wooden wall art, as well as my nerdy fandom candles. One of my favorite new pieces is a baby Groot succulent planter!
Thanks again to Josh for the interview. See you at GeekCraft Expo PDX--and don't forget our kickoff party at Bridge City Comics June 9.