At its heart, Geek Bomb is fundamentally about celebrating, inspiring, and getting to know women in geek. Founded by our Boss Bomb Maude Garrett and featuring a Bomb Squad filled with diverse, talented, and totally badass ladies, Geek Bomb has a mindset much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Females are strong as hell. And it’s about time we start celebrating that again. So, we’ve decided to relaunch Women in Geek, our interview series that spotlights, shows off, and talks about the wonderful ladies who are leading the geek entertainment field.
Joining us for this round is Vanessa Walton, better known as Creature of Habit! A brilliant costume designer who specializes in ethereal, whimsical made-to-measure garments, Vanessa has made a huge splash in the nerd world. We had the opportunity to “sit down” with her to chat about her background, how she started off in the realm of fantasy costuming, and who some of her biggest inspirations are.
Geek Bomb: First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
Creature of Habit: I think my first inclination that I was a geek was when I started attending conventions in the early 2000s. It was such a small community and often scrutinized by those around me. I’m so glad to see how much the geek community has grown and how widely accepted it is!
I am a designer who creates custom fairytale gowns. So, I’d say that my geeky interests lead me to how I make my living now!
GB: Let’s get our foot in the door by asking how you got your foot in the door. What’s your industry origin story – how did you get started? What advice can you give to those looking to break into your industry?
CoH: When I first began attending anime conventions, I was instantly drawn to all of the cosplayers and their intricate recreations of the designs of characters that I loved. I began making my own costumes to wear to conventions and was constantly talking about cosplay to my classmates — so much so that they started calling me “the cosplay evangelist.” [laughs]It was a very small community then, but so much fun. I was constantly inspired by what I saw others create, and it fueled me to start creating more. Eventually, I started to create costumes for friends, word spread, and I started tackling costumes for clients I had never met before. It was a very organic and very cool process.
My advice to those looking to get into the costuming world would be learn as much as you can and craft a very strong portfolio. Share your work! Social media is so great for that. Share your designs [and]your progress and process. People love learning about that and it helps to build a network of people who may want to commission you later 🙂 Be kind and engaging to everyone, and supportive to fellow artists.
GB: What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry or maybe even still overcoming?
CoH: Running a small business is full of big obstacles. There will be setbacks and hard lessons, sleepless nights and stressful days. But at the end of it all, it’s so rewarding to make a living with your art and inspiring others.
I don’t know if I can pinpoint any one obstacle that was the most difficult because things are always changing and growing. As your business grows, your successes grows — and so can setbacks. There is always something to be improved upon; it’s a constant tweaking process. It certainly isn’t easy, as there will always be obstacles and more things to overcome, but that is part of the journey. And if you love what you’re doing, then it’s all worth it.
GB: Picture yourself at ten years old. What advice would you give her? What would she love to know about present-day you? Anything by which she’d be surprised?
CoH: Ten-year-old me would have never in a million years guessed what I’d be doing with my life now! Sometimes I still don’t believe it myself. [laughs]
I would tell her that she’s doing just fine and to have faith in herself that everything will work out beautifully. I feel so grateful to be living the life that I am.
GB: Who are your female role models and/or inspirations?
CoH: Oh man, that is a tough question to answer because I have SO MANY. I am constantly meeting new women who inspire me and who I want to work and create with. My list is endless!
Two of my closest friends, who are also amazing designers and who are always inspiring and sharing ideas with me, are Jessica Dru and Reilena. I love creating art with them and can envision us running around in faerie wings together even when we are little old ladies!
I recently shot a rainbow-themed editorial with fine artist Charmaine Olivia, and that was a dream come true! I’ve followed Charmaine’s work for ages and to meet and work with her was magical. She is a ray of sunshine, just like her vivid paintings!
GB: Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters of all time?
CoH: Sailor Moon! Sailor Moon is actually what got me interested in anime, and then going to anime cons, [getting]into cosplay, and now making costumes for a living. I also always have loved Storm from X-Men. And, of course, Ariel from The Little Mermaid — though maybe not her life choices to leave her family and go after a man she met once! [laughs]
GB: How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
CoH: I think the fantasy costuming realm is expanding at a rapid rate right now, and it’s so amazing to watch! More and more people are wanting to create their own fairytales or draw inspiration from stories that they loved as a child. One of the main things that I [constantly]hear from people is the lack of availability for unique fabrics, trims, and notions. I think it’s so incredible that people like Yaya Han have teamed up with big companies like JoAnn Fabrics to offer more to the market that wasn’t available before. I’d love to see more stores carry unique and whimsical materials. Let’s all be magical creatures together!
GB: Where can people discover more about you? Socials/website/podcast or channel links.
CoH: I’m most active on Instagram at @creaturehabits.
Thanks again to the lovely Vanessa Walton/Creature of Habit for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!