If there’s one thing geeks of all backgrounds have in common, it’s our love of pinback buttons. Go to any con and you’ll see them all over jackets and backpacks, declaring the wearer’s love for TV shows, video games, and Internet memes. Stephanie Byrd of Red Fish Rue Fish is taking the trend to the next level with The Button Down Pinback Party, a new social event launching at Intervention 7!
So what’s The Button Down, and what do we have to do to get our pinback on? We interviewed Stephanie to find out.
InterventionCon: So, first things first — tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, Red Fish Rue Fish.
Stephanie Byrd: I started Red Fish Rue Fish back in 2013. I am, in general, a ball of creative energy. But I didn’t simply want an outlet to sell my own creative output, I wanted to build a business that could also be helpful to others. In addition to selling my art and accessories, l also offer button making services for individuals, local small businesses, fundraisers and even parties.
IC: What inspired you to start the Button Down Pinback Party? What sorts of things are you hoping to do at your events?
SB: I’m a service oriented person, and that is how I run Red Fish Rue Fish. I really wanted a fun way to help connect people through creativity. I wanted to get people engaged creatively, and I wanted to help artists who were already very much engaged creatively to expand their reach. Buttons are a fun, non-intimidating medium. It’s a small space: you can write a word, you can make the whole thing a smiley face or you can draw something really intricate. So many people shrug and say things like “Oh, I’m not creative” or “Oh, I don’t have anything important to say” – and that’s just not true! At the same time, there are so many creators out there looking for opportunities to get their work in front of an audience. Button Down events get at both of those issues by providing a friendly space for people to create as well as collect. Conventions are such a great place for The Button Down because in addition to the love of buttons, there’s an existing friendly, open, creative environment to build upon.
The cross-pollination in the events is really exciting to me. Featured artists are able to engage by contributing to the limited edition collection for the year – sometimes as few as 24 buttons of a design are made. So there’s that collectability factor. I’ve been able to get non-print artists engaged, too. I didn’t want to do the live events in silence, and I thought what a great opportunity to get some new music out there. So I started reaching out to indie musicians and that’s how I was able to get Nate Maingard involved. Karan Ashley just crowdfunded a new movie called The Order, which launched right out the gate with this great logo, and she was happy to have logo buttons become one of the freebies. So here are all these independent creators who have never met and maybe have nothing to do with each other in terms of genre, helping each other to succeed while enabling their fans to be exposed to something they might not have been otherwise.
IC: Why do we as geeks love pinback buttons so much?
SB: Buttons are a really accessible way to our express ourselves! We geeks love seeing our favorite quotes and pop culture references on merch! We love getting into our fandoms and showing that we’re Team This or Team That. We’re also really serious about supporting the creators behind the things we love so being able to get our hands on even a small piece of that art is important and meaningful. Since they’re pretty affordable, there’s this fun, guilt free, instant gratification that goes along with snagging a few buttons at a con. There aren’t too many ways to show off your love for 18 different fandoms at the same time without going flat broke! Smaller buttons can also offer us a rare opportunity to add a geeky little something to our workwear. (You’re totally thinking about Office Space now, aren’t you? “Chotchkie’s” got a little carried away with their mandatory flair and enforcement!)
IC: So what can participants in The Button Down expect at Intervention 7? How can we prepare in advance to participate?
SB: At Intervention 7, participants will have the opportunity to swap buttons as well as make a button of their own to take home. If you’ve got pinback buttons tucked away in a drawer somewhere at home, dust ‘em off and bring ‘em out! If you’re an artist and you’ve got some buttons made up that you’d like to hand out, this is also a great opportunity for that. We’ll have some colored pencils available, but if you’ve got special markers or other supplies you’d like to use, bring those!
IC: Where can people go for more information?
SB: People can like and follow Button Down Pinback Party on Facebook. We also snagged www.buttondown.party as our Tumblr domain. Twitter updates happen through the @RedFishRueFish feed.