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Comic Art and Video Games and Beer, Oh My!

Token 2 @ Emporium Logan Square  | 1/13/16 |  6-11pm

What better way to end a hump day after work than a couple of beers, arcade games, and meeting some awesome illustrators? 

Held in Chicago’s Logan Square, Emporium Arcade Bar has always been decked out with graffiti and murals (see above) done by locals like JC Rivera. So it was the perfect scene for an art show of this particular theme. It was tables on tables of prints, paintings, buttons, all around the venue – kind like a more digestible C2E2 (although cosplay at an art show I would not be against). And best of all, the focus of the night was on anime shows, manga, video game characters, and comic book characters. *Cue nostalgia & giddiness for this fangirl.* 

My Star Wars-obsessed self was smiling from ear to ear when I spotted this Force Awakens work floating around. Obviously had to snag these illustrations by Nick Lacke – who is “a designer by day and illustrator by night,” as he told me – and chat with him.

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Nick Lacke and his prints (Photo cred: Elisha-Rio)

I always love hearing what an artists day vs. night job is. The majority of artists out there that I’ve met thus far always play multiple roles in their career, but it’s all for the sake of keeping their mind and creative outlets fulfilled. Props to artists who are hustling at different jobs and still getting their art on for their own endeavors.

I wasn’t expecting to see much Miyazaki-ness at this show, but was uber glad I did when I swung by Nimbus Prints’ table – an Etsy shop IRL with rad anime/manga-inspired shirts. I talked to one of the owners, who had been screen printing shirts since 8th grade – and he’s now 23. I can’t math at the moment and am too lazy to remember how old we were in 8th grade, but man, that is some dedication! It all goes back to how commitment to doing what you love can pay off.

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Nimbus Prints (Photo cred: Elisha-Rio)

So here’s the thing about selling work at an art show – it’s kinda like designing a billboard pinned up on a highway. Make the message big, clear and most importantly, attention-grabbing for people zooming by you.

I definitely got these vibes from Mike Freiheit & JB Roe’s set-up. Not only were their illustrations on point – there was a “Sketches of your dad as Batman” sign on Mike’s table that seriously pulled me in (I’m totally regretting not getting one done!).  Providing live art at the show can never go wrong because 1) you get to network and chat it up with other folks and 2) it’s good practice to draw and improvise while others may be watching you work.

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Left: JB Roe, Right: Mike Freiheit (Photo cred: Elisha-Rio)

No matter what art show you’re at, talking to your neighboring artists and/or fellow visitors can be the ultimate step for collaboration and getting more exposure. I really loved seeing Chicago Creatives – an up-and-coming social platform dedicated to showcasing and providing the ultimate support for local artists. Throughout the space were well-produced videos featuring artists like JB Roe and featured works of the artists in their network.

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Chicago Creatives (Photo cred: Elisha-Rio)

Although there are wonderful organizations out there that are specified by the type of work you create, it’s great to know that there are folks out there building hubs for any and all artists to help one another. I’m super proud of how supportive the Chicago art community is, no matter what the medium you work in. And it’s art events like these that make you realize Damn, we’ve got a city full of passionate artists.”

Be proud, Chicago. And bravo, Easy Press Co. team for putting together an awesome Token 2! Looking forward to the third!

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Elisha-Rio Apilado

Artist, dancer, future art therapist. Advocate of the arts for social good and mental well-being. Will travel for art museums, because art bucket list.