Welcome back to another Fake Geek Girls Like Us interview. Fake Geek Girls Like Us is a feature on +5 Charisma where I interview some awesome geeky and nerdy ladies out in the geek world. This month I get to chat with Cheyenne, the artist and designer behind the brand Sugarbones!

1. Hi there Cheyenne! Can you tell us all a little bit about yourself? What fandoms are you into?

Hey there!! So, I’m 26 years old artist & a designer who reside in Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada! I’m a big fan of older Nickelodeon & Cartoon Network, shows like Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Dexters Lab, all make it to the top of my list! Outside of that, I really love Sailor Moon & Dragonball Z, and spent most of my teen years obsessing over Harry Potter!
Cheyenne, the artist and designer behind the brand Sugarbones

2. For those of us who haven’t been to your online store ‘Sugarbones’ yet, can you tell us your shop mandate? What kind of products do you sell? How did you first get the store started?

All of my designs are based around a mixture exploring empowerment, femininity, sexuality, and confidence, all wrapped up in a sparkly pastel cartoon style that pulls characters from lore, such as mermaids or demons, as well as pop culture!

Right now I mainly focus on accessories, such as iron on patches, enamel pins, beanies, purse charms, etc. I really like the idea of customizing your own personal fashion with my products, and items like patches and pins are always fun because they take a certain amount of personal touch when applying em!

I started my store off three years ago when I released a street art project called Fight Like A Girl, which involved 10 designs based around consent, self defense, critique on beauty standards, and responses to sexism. I made these designs to stick around my city, and did a big wheat paste application of one of the designs on a wall in my city’s downtown core that said ‘no does not mean convince me.’ The project took off on Tumblr, and before I knew it I was selling these sticker packs by the hundreds, and it really established me as an artist and gave me the direction and support that I needed to continue my path!

An example of a pin being sold on Sugarbones.net.

3. Your work explores the intersections of feminism and fandom through a feminine perspective. Can you talk about why you think being feminine isn’t anti-feminist? Can you also speak to why you might think it’s important to explore pop culture through a feminist and feminine perspective?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve always thought there was an overhanging stigma against the colour pink, or women who embrace the more ‘feminine’ aspects of life.

In pop culture, for example, you can see trends of ‘girly girl’ characters being represented as weak, vapid, or even as villains, while female characters with more masculine traits are celebrated. For example, I’ve heard people brag about the fact that their daughters play with trucks and play sports rather than play with dolls or show interest in makeup. I think that’s so backwards! I think that women should be able to like what they like without judgement, and if that includes sugar, spice and everything nice, it makes them no less valid than women who aren’t. I try to bring power back to pink in a lot of my artwork, which is why I use a lot of pastels. I like painting a perspective of sweet and cute, while pairing it with bad ass empowerment slogans to change our expectations of cute.

As for exploring pop culture through a feminist perspective, I think it’s more important to give credit to characters where credit is due. We are given tons of characters with so many layers, and when it’s done correctly we can learn a lot about ourselves & society through a character’s struggles and growth.

4. If you had to use three words to describe your art practice, which ones would you use?

I’m so bad at questions like this!! I’d have to say Magical, Provocative & Empowering

5. How do you come up with each collection? What inspires you?

When I focus on a pop culture inspired collection, usually I’ll binge watch the series as research and try to pick out characters or jokes that inspire me! As for my other collections, I treat them very similar, although when working on original work I like to create an imaginary world in my head where these designs or characters would reside, and it helps me to create consistent enough work to call it a collection!

6. Sailor Moon seems to be a large influence to your work. How did you first discover Sailor Moon? What are the important messages that you think Sailor Moon tells?

I used to watch Sailor Moon when I was super young, on YTV (a Canadian Cartoon Network), and it was my first experience with both anime & magical girls! I think Sailor Moon really resonates with me because the characters are so diverse, yet SO realistic. The scouts are relatable on so many levels, and while they’re these Celestial super heroines, they’re still living their lives as teenage girls, struggling with a lot of the same self exploration as we are at that age! It also focuses a lot on the importance of friendship and loyalty amongst girls as a support group, which I think is such a great and important thing! Also, the monsters in Sailor Moon are absolutely terrifying, which is such a cool juxtaposition against the sparkly, magical art style. It’s super inspiring.

7. Can you give some advice to any of us out there looking to start our own online stores or small businesses?

The best advice I can give is to actually put the effort in to make it happen. Start small, and grow from there! The most tragic thing someone with dreams can do is not act on them. I always tell people that no matter what you want to draw or design, you will find a community of people out there that will embrace it. Just be true to yourself and draw what makes you happy, always!

8. Are there any artists working in the realm of fan art that influence or inspire you?

My good friend Dope Chief inspires me a LOT! He has a big collection of illustrations on fan characters ranging from Betty Boop to Rick and Morty, and really inspired me to take fan art to another level, and create something thought provoking and original with it. Definitely check out his stuff!

9. Who was the first female character that you looked up to?

I think one of the first female characters I was really drawn to was Morticia Addams! It’s hard to pin point because I love so many female characters, but throughout every Addams family experience I’ve had (cartoon, original black and white, the movies) I’ve always thought LET ME BE YOU!!!

10. Are there any books, television shows or movies coming out in the near future that you are looking forward to?

Rick and Morty! And the new Samurai Jack revamp is looking pretty cool!

Thanks to Cheyenne for chatting with us! Make sure to check out her links down below. Thanks for tuning in! Fake Geek Girl Like Us is an interview series on +5 Charisma where we talk to girls in nerd culture. Email fakegeekgirlslikeus@gmail.com if you would like to be featured!

Cheyenne’s Notes: