The inaugural Geekie Awards are making quite the buzz around the nerdstream universe as a fresh and new way to recognize the skills and talents of geek culture writers, bloggers, cosplayers, designers and especially artists of all disciplines.
Even before the official nominations and awards have been announced, the Geekies are already keeping their promise of recognizing individual talent by choosing El Paso, Texas illustrator and character designer Jorge Baeza for the design of the award itself.
Baeza’s stylized cartoon-like work has been featured in Geek Monthly and HD Review magazines, and he has been a poster artist for El Paso’s premiere comic-con EPCon. He has also lent his talent to product packaging, logo design and private commissions.
Baeza himself is exceptionally excited to be the man behind what many hope will become the geek version of The Oscar.
He thinks Geekie Award co-creators Bill Ostroff and Kristen Nedopak noticed his work for the first time when they saw his Customized Storm Trooper caricature she shared on the 501st Legion’s Facebook page.
“I was approached by Bill through my Facebook page first and Kristen emailed me a few days later,” he said. “I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of this event from the get-go!”
As an independent artist, Baeza said the opportunity to work on the Geekie goes well with the award’s mission to help recognize the talents of those who aren’t normally in the spotlight.
“I think for every mainstream geek artist, cosplayer, et cetera, there are —unfortunately — thousands of independent creators that due to the lack of connections, knowledge and a variety of other reasons, do not get their work in the spotlight,” Baeza said. “That’s when the Geekie Awards come into play.”
Baeza said his inspiration for his work comes from several individual artists as well as media.
“As an artist, I grew up bombarded with all kinds of visual imagery from cartoons, TV shows, books and comics that many of their creators, to a certain level, became if only slightly, a part of my style,” he explained. “With that aside, I could say that the artists that have influenced me the most are Stan Goldberg (Archie/Marvel), Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory/Samurai Jack), Darwyn Cooke (DC Comics) and even Mort Drucker (MAD Magazine) to a certain degree.”
As for the look of the award, Geekies recently released a concept of the award itself, with a classic retro superhero-meets-robot-meets space ranger touch. Although this may or may not be the final award design, Baeza feels the selected design will really convey the essence of what the awards are all about.
“We are currently discussing the final details on the 2D design but at this point it’s a bit hard to tell how soon the product will be complete,” he said. “A lot of work, time and love is being invested on the award and my hopes are that the public will find it not only ‘cool,’ but iconic and representative of the originality of the Geek attitude and spirit. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Since Baeza’s involvement in the award was first announced, he said he has already received several congratulations from “fellow geeks,” artists and friends.
“That’s what I like the most about being a part of this community — people tend to be more supportive of each other in this arena than in others,” he said.
Nedopak said when they were looking for an award artist they posted this need on Facebook. When they saw his work they knew quickly it was what they were looking for in the award.
“We knew we wanted a custom piece of art by an indie illustrator (which we will eventually turn into a sculpted action hero),” she said. “When I saw Jorge’s work, it just clicked. He’s incredibly talented, and his style fits perfectly with our brand language. He’s already drawing sketches that have us excited!”
He feels being picked as the award’s designer may help him get the word out of his art to a greater audience, but is happy for the opportunity either way.
“I think that it can help put my name out there just like it will do for the contestants and winners,” Baeza said. “Even if it didn’t, the fun of being part of something this awesome would be enough for me.”
Lisa Kay Tate
Staff writer and resident geek mom
Author’s note: Your resident geek mom also hails from the Sun City here on the border, and is extra-pumped to see a member our city’s talented arts community receive this type of exposure. Salud!