Growing up G33K

G33K, pronounced “geek,” Art Show is experiencing growing pains.

From November 22-24, Kitchener City Hall got a little geekier as the Rotunda was taken over by the G33K art show. This is G33K’s second year in the Rotunda as it made the transition from the small Kaufman Arts Studio to the Rotunda in 2012.

G33K Art Show aims to bring comic, sci-fi, fantasy or anything one would consider “geek” art to a larger audience. Though the main focus of G33K is to allow the public to better familiarize themselves with local artistry, this is also an event to network. G33K allows artists to intermingle with each other, creating valuable contacts within the creative community.

Now in its third year, G33K is starting to think about the festival in the long term and what potential changes will have to be implemented to confirm G33K’s status as a viable and important art show.

“I’ve been discussing with some industry professionals and my communication/marketing manager on the concept of having to rebrand the show. Some of the things that we’ve discussed over the show weekend were whether the name [G33K] draws in the proper audience or not,” mentioned Miroki Tong, artistic producer and founder of G33K Art Show.

G33K gets its name inspiration from leet speak, or “1337,” a type of chat speak used online in chat rooms in the early 2000’s. While it is a clever way to get Tong’s message across, it has proven to be surprisingly alienating for some and inviting for others.

“People get really turned off by the word ‘geek’ or they don’t understand what the double threes mean. For me it was very common … sometimes you think everyone knows because you know [and are familiar with a subject],” said Tong.

“It’s not about the industry; the industry will know what your show is all about or what your brand is. It’s the general public and if the general public gets turned off by the name then you can’t pull them in.”

Tong is also considering adopting the well-known moniker of ‘ComiCon KW” or “Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)” but feels those will alienate G33K from the original message Tong is so passionate about.

With a name as broad as G33K, it allows for a wide berth of both industry professionals and attendees.

“I really welcome anyone. On the application it says ‘try me’ because art and creativity exists in so many mediums and forms. There is really no definition of art. Art for me is anything that is stimulating and creates passion. The word geek itself sort of means to be so passionate and knowledgeable about something you’re a ‘geek’ about it,” said Tong.

Exhibitors at G33K 2013 included Nanowrimo, the creators behind Kill Shakespeare, Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, and respected comic book artist Kent Burles.

G33K also held various panels such as “How to Pitch Your Comic to Publishers and Audiences” to better inform burgeoning artists on how to enter these creative fields.

Though Tong is deeply passionate about giving artists a chance to be exposed, she is currently not interested in creating a mentorship program.

“The opportunity is there and I just need to address it in a broader sense. I don’t want to do something like that until the community is ready for something like that … to mentor someone takes a lot of energy … if the artists are not ready to accept criticism and be proactive, I don’t want to set them up with a mentorship because that’s a lot of resources and a lot of risk.”


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