Waving all Browncoats!
We're deep in planning mode for our next Can't Stop The Serenity event - this one is in Irvine, on Sept 22 (tix and more info here). One of the things we've really been enjoying, as we've been promoting CSTS events, has been this year's gorgeous official artwork. If you didn't know, every year, CSTS Global has a big art contest to choose the official art, and voting is open to the public! This year's winner is Nick Kremenek, an artist you may not have heard of but whose work you have most definitely seen - if not on our official event page, then on some your favorite QMX and LootCrate items!
We had the opportunity to chat with Nick about his work and his experiences in the Firefly art world:
California Browncoats: First of all, how many CSTS official art contests have you won?
Nick Kremenek: I’ve been lucky to win two years - 2017 and 2019.
CABC: How did you get started making Firefly/Browncoat inspired art? Were you a Browncoat first or did the art lead you into the fold?
NK: I’ve been a big Joss Whedon fan ever since Buffy. So when a friend of mine bought me the DVD set of Firefly, I was instantly hooked. Then years later, I was creating some art for Margaret Weis Productions and they asked if I was interested in doing some illustrations for their Serenity Role Playing Game books. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. That work later led me to get a job at Quantum Mechanix, where I worked a ton of Firefly projects. So I think I was a fan of Firefly first and, when I started working on the art and seeing how amazing & in-depth the ‘Verse they created was, I became a Browncoat then.
CABC: Any favorite products that you worked on for QMX?
NK: I hit the ground running when I started there. My first piece was the “Jayne Cobb’s Thrilling Heroics Rum” design, which was put on a shirt and a flask. That ended up being fairly popular and a gratifying moment for me. I was also really thrilled that all the challenge coins I created came out super shiny. But I think my proudest moment was helping to design the look and feel of the Firefly Crates (that QMx worked on with LootCrate). I designed the original box art as well as many pins and the postcards. Getting to work on that crate during its first year and trying to help make it as cool as possible was a ton of fun!
CABC: We've given away a lot of those QMX products you worked on as prizes for various fund raisers. They remain extremely popular today! What's the most difficult thing about making this kind of work? How do you keep it original and put your own spin on it?
NK: For me, the most difficult part is making sure I create art that is not only true to the show but also something us fans would cherish. I LOVE creating in-universe art and I often take great pains in trying to make everything I create feel like something that you would either find in the ‘Verse or at least a respectful nod to the property. As for keeping it fresh with my artistic signature, well, because the Firefly universe is a space western (in its simplest terms), it gives me a lot of wiggle room to incorporate both Western and Sci-Fi Elements (as well as the Chinese overtone to the ‘Verse). I get to play with how much of each genre to mix in to the Creative Bowl, so to speak. I also am a Font Nerd and love to use a wide variety of different typefaces (which can really help with design aesthetics).
CABC: Is there any specific work or artist from Browncoat fan art world that you find especially inspiring?
NK: I love the artwork that Jason Palmer has created with the Firefly crew; every time I see them, they inspire me to keep drawing and improve my craft. Megan Lara’s Art Nouveau-style pieces of the crew are astounding as well (which always reminds me that I can think outside the box and still make the art look super cool). But seeing the continued artwork from hundreds of fans globally is inspiring in itself – just knowing that there is still a huge fan base that loves this universe as well puts a smile on my face.
CABC: Are you working on any other Browncoat inspired projects right now?
NK: I do have a couple of projects in the pipeline (that I’m not allowed to talk about yet) but when I can, you will be one of the first to know!
CABC: Browncoats are known for standing up for causes that they believe in. Besides CSTS/Equality Now, do you have any heart felt charities or causes you would like to let us know about?
NK: There are quite a few great and worthy causes out there to fight for. But the one that pops in my mind first is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There are so many people in emotional & mental pain that may not be easily diagnosed (or they put up a good façade to others). And it feels like the numbers are rising. So this cause is particularly important to me.
CABC: Finally, we have to ask - do you have a favorite character from the verse?
NK: Despite the fact that ALL of the characters have such great writing and personalities, I have to go with Captain Mal. He’s the one I relate to the most. I would follow him into the fray, guns blazing.
Thank you Nick for bringing your creativity and unique vision to the 'Verse! You can follow Nick on his social media and his (very funny) website: http://www.nickkremenek.com, facebook at Nick Kremenek Art and IG at @NickKremenekArt. Also, look forward to meeting Nick at a signing at our booth at SDCC20!
We will be offering an unopened Firefly LootCrate (from Nick's oeuvre) as a prize for suggested donation drawing, as well as lots of other fun stuff! The Irvine event will also include an auction and door prizes, and feature a live set of Firefly inspired music from The Fallen Stars (voted OC's best live band, OC Weekly Best Of, 2015!) Susie Searight from Browncoat WayStation will also give us some info about their convention, and you know that lady loves to hand out swag! Basically, everyone leaves with a prize, people!! If you haven't grabbed your tickets, do it here!