Do you ever wonder what some of the tags, terms and genres you encounter on travels around Folksy actually mean? The Kapowder Room Secrets is a fortnightly column in which Konnie Kapow investigates the various themes and styles to be found in the wonderful world of Folksy!
This fortnight I am looking at one of my favourite things – Geek Chic. Oh how I love a geek!
So, what is it then?
The dictionary I have access to right now is too old to even consider a term such as ‘geek’ for inclusion therefore a swift ‘googling’ tells me what you probably already know, that there is more than one meaning of ‘geek’.
Probably the main three though are the socially inept, fashion unconscious, ‘uncool’ person; the obsessive, a person who knows and loves a particular subject so well they’re likely to attend conventions and own a lot of merchandise, including I suspect costumes; and there’s the computer or ‘tech’ genius.
My own personal concept of ‘geek’ was somewhat informed by movies, TV soaps and American teen sitcoms such as Saved By the Bell and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It would seem that the male geek is less upwardly mobile than the female who is often a mere make-over (an eyebrow tweeze here, a removal of scrunchie and glasses there) away from total babe.
In recent years however, perhaps due to the rise in tech and internet culture the Geek has become King. Films like Hackers and The Matrix made computers sexy and now we have Napoleon Dynamite, The Inbetweeners, The I.T. Crowd etc.
What does Geek Chic mean to some of our Folksy sellers?
Everyone can go to Top Shop and come out looking vaguely in fashion, but to pull off the geek chic look you need to be a little bit creative, and that’s why geeky things are the best!
Geek Chic to me is when normal people look at my items and a glazed look comes over their face and they tell me how “”different”” my things are. Then someone really cool walks by and spits their tea out with joy… it’s something in their language, something a little bit underground and something very different from most items you see in the craft world. Emily, Geekery by Emily
Items that are based on a scientific and/or technological theme, so that includes any branch of science, computing and technology. Many of my own creations are inspired from my background in research biology and my husband’s background in IT. Caroline, Mint To Be Stationery
I like to think of myself as geek chic… I was kind of born a geek and needed glasses since age 6 so I’ve embraced the geek chic lifestyle! Chunky plastic specs have always been a feature of my face and these are a symbol of geekdom. If you can work a computer and rock a slightly square fashion style, that’s geek chic! Vicky, Stars N Scars
Techno-Nerd. Immature male teen awkwardness and social ineptitude as a style statement, or lack-of-style statement. Jonathan, Jon Burgess Art
Fashion, design and art incorporating things like comic culture, maths, science and programming. A lot of geek design makes reference to things that not everyone will ‘get’. I think that part of the appeal is being able to make a connection with someone when they do get it. Writing something in binary, or using a mathematical equation to declare you love is what it’s all about! There is a lot of nostalgia involved. Retro gaming is always popular, pacman, mario and space invaders are great examples of enduring designs. Louise, Wall Envy Art
What does ‘Geek Chic’ look like?
Anything to do with video games, computers and cult TV.
There are also on-going trends that have caught on – those big black nerdy glasses have caught on with so many teens that they’ve actually stopped being geeky now! Emily, Geekery by Emily
It can be anything – the quirkier and self-referential the better. Things that make you say “oooh that’s clever!” I also try to combine recycled with geek in my creations, for example, I have a range of recycled floppy disk notebooks and binary art “love” themed cards (that incorporate the actual floppy disk in them too!) Caroline, Mint To Be Stationery
Chunky specs, ties, pinstripe or tweed suit jacket, humorous slogan t shirt. Vicky, Stars N Scars
Bill Gates but maybe after he’d read a couple of fashion magazines and had some money to spend. Anti-fashion, but as it has the word ‘chic’ appended to it, it has to have an awareness of fashion outside that of the normal geek. There is an element of dressing down and artifice in Geek-Chic because in many ways it is an oxymoron, like military intelligence. Jonathan, Jon Burgess Art
What makes it so popular?
The fact that it’s NOT popular.
Yes, your mum now knows what a lolcat is and is probably on facebook, but the internet is like a big city. There are places that are ideal to show your granny, and there are places that you don’t go at night. It’s those kinds of cool niche areas that inspire new trends and slowly drip into the mainstream until you find them on the front page of Folksy. Emily, Geekery by Emily
People like to show that they’re passionate and interested in something – almost like people like to buy a band T-shirt at a gig and then wear it. In the past to be “geeky” wasn’t a label that people would celebrate, but times have changed and it’s seen as interesting, cool and different today; something to be proud about. Caroline, Mint To Be Stationery
Because you don’t have to try too hard. Also lots of celebrities like to play with geek chic styles, for example the large plastic frames worn by the likes of Tinie Tempah, Scarlett Johansson and Justin Bieber show that it’s cool to be a geek :) Vicky, Stars N Scars
I guess it has some non macho caché. It’s not playing by the normal male rules. It’s not Rock n Roll. It’s more accessible and real to the ordinary guy maybe. You don’t have to pretend to be tough or dumb. Jonathan, Jon Burgess Art
There is a lot of humour in geek design; there are so many in-jokes and Internet memes. Geek chic designs are often not clear to those not ‘in the know’ and the people who buy them enjoy connecting with the people who do ‘get the reference’. Science is getting a lot of attention with great shows like Wonders of the Universe on TV. A lot of fictional TV is especially geeky at the moment too, Dr Who is back with full force. I think geek chic products are especially popular on Folksy because of the number of Internet shoppers that are geeks! Louise, Wall Envy Art
Who’s your favourite geek?
Simon Pegg – he’s gone a bit Hollywood now but if you watch Spaced, which I think was one of his first TV shows, it’s just so riddled with references and in jokes, it’s amazing. Emily, Geekery by Emily
Prof Brian Cox, Ben Goldacre, my husband (!) – a great mix of science and computing. Caroline, Mint To Be Stationery
I think it’s got to be either Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs…. without them I wouldn’t have Facebook on my iPhone! Vicky, Stars N Scars
Bill Gates. Jonathan, Jon Burgess Art
Gia Milinovich is a very chic geek – I love following her tweets. Lots of science and great humour, and her husband isn’t bad either! Louise, Wall Envy Art
Why does ‘Geek Chic’ work well within a crafting context?
I love the contrast between really old fashioned craft and bright modern imagery.
One of my cross stitch pieces is based on the old “”Home Sweet Home”” samplers only it’s the localhost IP address. (I bet you have no idea what that means but my friend who’s a software developer was grinning like mad when he got it for Christmas!)
I also make lovely old granny square blankets but of 8-bit computer game characters. I’m working on a Mario one next. Emily, Geekery by Emily
You can produce individual quirky items that have a following without compromising to a mass market. It’s incredibly complimentary to share my creations with a very loyal following of people who are very passionate and knowledgeable about their subject. Caroline, Mint To Be Stationery
Because there’s lots of things to gain inspiration from. Geeky words and phrases, computer terminology, video games, internet memes, science, maths… the list goes on! Vicky, Stars N Scars
Crafting is quite geeky in a way. Concentration on one thing to the exclusion of others maybe? It can lead to being seen as eccentric. Geeks are eccentric, but not in such an enviable way as crafters. Jonathan, Jon Burgess Art
Artists can react to the fast pace of internet and geek culture when they are producing products on a small scale. Artists can create items that appeal to a relatively small number of people but the internet gives them access to that niche market. Louise, Wall Envy Art
More about our columnist
Konnie Kapow is a superhero card designer on a mission to save the world from dull and namby pamby greeting cards! Her offbeat sense of humour combined with quirky card designs make her shop a popular destination for card shoppers. Konnie lives in Glasgow with her artist husband Mr Kapow! where they can be found collecting rock n’ roll memorabillia and knitting in bed.