Hello Skkawliens! We’re excited to share SKKAW.BLOG’s first con experience post the pandemic lockdowns (at least in California) – attending SiliConSJ 2021! We chose to attend SiliConSJ because of (1) access: it’s a SF Bay Area con and we’re based in the bay and (2) we’ve attended this con before, and had a lot of fun attending it in the past.
For some background SiliConSJ, which started in 2014, was originally headlined by Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple Inc.) and sought to bring best of technology and pop culture together, and, spoiler alert, they did! It was a blast, it brought together astronauts, comic-creators, makers, writers and celebrities alike all with a common passion (science, tech and pop culture). In 2019, Adam Savage joined to “to bring a new dimension to the event which embraced the maker ethos and community” quoting the SiliConSJ website.
In comparison to our past SiliConSJ experience, this year was a bit more subdued. There were less vendors, artists and con attendees. This is most likely due to the restrictions the organizers implemented for health and safety due to the pandemic, as well as a drop in attendance, which is definitely understandable.
We still had a lot of fun at SiliConSJ this year! I mean we even attended in full cosplay as “Din Djarin” The Mandalorian himself (link to that post to be posted soon). Hence the Mando cosplay in the photos below. With all that, said, lets start off with some photos from the show floor:
As you can see, there was still a lot of fun stuff to check out: cool futuristic cars, Adam Savage’s astronaut cosplay including his Iron Man Mark I cosplay (which he wore at the show floor incognito), Legion M display (a fan supported entertainment company), and of course NASA and droids! SiliConSJ would not be complete without NASA and droids, which is definitely a mainstay at the show.
One thing we appreciated this year, and one thing we always enjoy and support from our local conventions, are the showcased vendors and artists. Again, there was much less of vendor and artist scene this year in comparison to before, but it was still a good turnout in our opinion. We met a lot of talented creators at SiliConSJ and here are a few of them we encountered:
We were instantly drawn to Michelle’s booth and art. Her Filipino inspired digital illustrations and stories really interested us. A large fact is that, I myself am Filipino and moved to the US quite recently. Thus, I have a personal connection to the stories and illustrations Michele creates. We most especially liked her series of Visayan Gods and Godesses (Visaya is an island region within the Philippines). We also really enjoyed speaking with Michele. She shared that she used the pandemic to re-connect with her Filipino roots and it really showed in her art. We highly recommend you check her art and stories out at www.mdraws.net and @micheledraws (IG).
We were also really drawn to The Art of Dave Law. Dave’s work had some influences of Tank Girl and gave us that sci-fi / fantasy indie vibe reminiscent of the late 80’s early 90’s comics (think Heavy Metal, Rogue Trooper, Dark Knight Returns). We especially liked his use of colors combined with typeface and also hues and his use of deep contrasts. Dave Law also experiments with layering of vintage looking Ben-Day dots in his art, this early comic printing technique gives his work a nostalgic feel. As you can see, we liked it so much we had to get a couple o copies of Dave’s work. It was so worth it. Be sure to check it out yourself at www.davelawart.com!
I, personally, was drawn to the Art of Mai Van. I am a HUGE sci-fi fan. You name it, I enjoy it: Isaac Asimov, The Expanse book and TV series, among others. So when I saw her work, I had to check it out. I mean, come on I was in a Mando suit! I personally, like her use of colors and imagery. She was also super cool and we appreciated the con conversation we had. Be sure to check out Mai Van’s work here: www.artofmaivan.com
And of course we also met some cool and interesting authors. We met L. S. Johnson, she writes speculative fiction where her first collection, Vacui Magia: Stories (4/5 stars Goodreads.com), which won the North Street Book Prize. It also was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. We also met E. M. Markoff, who writes about “damaged heroes and imperfect villains”. One of her books, Nurture & Kill (4/5 stars Goodreads.com), has some Mando & (dark) Baby Yoda feels.. From the book cover summary “Eutau struggles to care for his young nephew even as the babe begins to manifest dark powers of the most dangerous kind”. So, being a Mando at SiliConSJ, we felt like it was serendipitous to meet at their booth. If you like fantasy or looking for something new to read, you may want to check out their work. Here’s a link to their websites: L. S. Johnson: www.traversingz.com & E. M. Markoff: www.ellderet.com.
The next three creatives need no introduction. Punished props have been building professional quality props since 2012. They have very detailed tutorial content, including books, to help anyone build to the best of their ability. SKS Props is headed by Kevin S. Smith, US-based Award Winning Artist creating who specializes in creating professional quality Props, Costumes and including Fine Art. SKS Props also sells high quality EVA foam used in many cosplay costume builds (think cosplay props and armor). Finally, but definitely not the least, is Downen Creative Studios. We have been following Downen for some time, and totally enjoy their work. If you haven’t seen their Hela custome, you’re missing out! Are you budding cosplayer (like us, wink wink)? If so, and aren’t already aware of these amazing creators, you can check them out yourself here: punishedprops.com, sksprops.com & downencreativestudios.com.
Meeting Adam Savage
Aside, from the amazing cosplay we encountered on the show floor and our own cosplay experience (more on that later), the highlight of our con experience was meeting Adam Savage himself. I, Skkaw, was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to meet him. So, lining up in full Mandalorian Beskar armor (which I proudly made myself) I proceeded to get my book (well Adam’s book) signed – Every Tool’s a Hammer. While at his booth, Adam was kind enough to listen to me explain about how I built my own Dark Saber sword. He even inspected it. There was a little mishap, when Adam actually accidentally pushed my sword off the table (it was totally an accident!), but me and my Dark Saber brushed it off because – like I told Adam, I had reinforced it just for that occasion! He gave me a strong approving fist bump (something not everyone gets nowadays with all the plexiglass and safety precautions, and as you can see I was clearly wearing Mando gloves!). It was such a memorable experience.
Plus his dedication to me was just golden: “Stay Obsessed”. I couldn’t have heard much more approving and supportive words from the maker extraordinaire to a budding maker myself. I mean, when we (SKKAW.BLOG) tweeted about it (proud as heck) Adam Savage and Tested.com retweeted our tweets to thousands of people worldwide! I mean, how can you top that for a con experience?? Grateful doesn’t even begin to express how we feel, how I feel, as a maker, creator and just plain old geek/nerd.
Overall, we had an amazing time at SiliConSJ 2021. It being the first con we attended post lockdown was just the beginning, the cosplay appreciation, the cool creators we met and literally amazing experience meeting Adam Savage just made our experience phenomenal. Like we said in our last SiliconSJ post, if you appreciate the sciences and pop-culture, we can’t recommend SiliConSJ enough!
We hope you liked our highlights from SiliConSJ 2021! Do you have any fun SiliconSJ stories? If so, feel free to share some of them at the comments section below. Also, be sure to like, subscribe and do all that fun social-media stuff to hear more from the SKKAW.BLOG team.
Also, big thanks to IG@mark_lynch for some of the creator photos and writing contribution.
Until the next con!