It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate for anything geeky. I’m a member of the Potterheads, the SPN Family and Thronies (to name a few), and I’ve been to my fair share of cons at this point. So undoubtedly, there may be some readers out there who want to know more about what it means to belong to a fandom, or to attend cons. And this is what this post is for, because as it turns out, there’s a whole blooming book dedicated to both of those things.
The author herself! Keep up to date with everything Michelle is working on over on her Instagram and Twitter
Michelle Jose is a graphic designer, illustrator and now a published author. Inside Fandoms and Conventions is the ultimate guide to fan culture and cons, exploring how readers can tap into their inner nerd and make the most of fan events. Not only that, but the book includes amazing interviews with high profile figures in the industry, including Gil McKinney, Curtis Armstrong, Erin Lefler and of course the wonderful human that is Sebastian Stan.
I personally think that this book has been a long-time coming. Cons aren’t just about putting on a Spider-Man suit and buying some merch. There’s some invaluable information that you can get from these events, and if you play your cards right, it could change your life forever. This book is also not just for fans; it may be for loved ones who wish to know more about what excites and motivates fans. So no matter who you are, there’s something valuable to take away from this book. (Plus, there are some quirky and adorable illustrations that bring the whole thing to life).
It's safe to say that once I got the opportunity to chat with Michelle about her debut book and career, I was extremely excited. Michelle has always had the creativity streak within her from being very young. She was particularly into drawing and art, as were her siblings. In her words; “Creating art is a self-expression. I like the process and how I get more indulged in my work as time passes by."
Following her interests, she decided to train in the art of graphic design at university, whilst pursuing illustration as a side project. Despite what assumptions may say, the two subjects are actually quite different. It was actually on this course that Michelle got the idea for Inside Fandoms and Conventions, as her thesis was to design a book. As she already had a passion for all things nerdy, it seemed natural to use this within her academics. But when she shared her vision to her peers, the response evoked something within her.
“When I pitched this idea in class, no one had any idea what a 'fandom' was. We’re all a fan and passionate about something, and finding your group or community of people who share the same passion is pretty awesome. That’s why I decided to write this book; to educate my fellow humans about the wonderful world of fandoms and conventions!”
From fan to interviewee, Michelle fulfilled her dream of speaking to one of her favourite actors and biggest inspirations, Sebastian Stan
Being a multi-hyphenate, Michelle has to balance her time well. Currently, she works at a non-profit organisation, with freelance design work on the side. “I try to work smart instead of working hard, and enjoy living in the moment. When people say 'work hard', I’ve always felt so pressured to just get the work over with, instead of actually finding a strategy to do work more efficiently and have fun at the same time.”
Communication is also key to improving and balancing your career according to Michelle. Connecting with your colleagues - be it IRL or on a platform like LinkedIn - could be the ticket into getting that dream job that you want. After all, you never know when a connection may come in handy further down the line. But it’s not just professional contacts that you can make at fan events. Sometimes, they can be the base ground for forming lifelong friendships, as Michelle relays:
“My friends in the Supernatural and Marvel fandom are some of the most supportive group of people I know and have become some of my best friends in life. I have no idea what I would do without them. Also, without fandoms or Comic Con, I probably would be doing something that just makes good money. But my friends taught me a lot about just living in the moment and pursuing what I’m passionate about, and to keep creating.”
Becoming an author is by no means easy. It involves a great deal of discipline and energy, and Michelle credits those who surround her for helping the book become a reality. With only a semester to complete all the research - including the interviews - it was certainly a big challenge. But by cutting out toxic relationships and asking for the support of her family and friends, she found the will and enthusiasm to continue on with the project. She also wanted to give special credit to her editor, Alicia Z. Ramos and Mintmintdoodles, the illustrator of the character doodles within the book.
The book in all it's glory! Pick up your copy on Amazon; and find out more over on the website, Instagram and Twitter thread
If of course there are any aspiring writers out there looking for some inspiration, Michelle has some very concrete advice to bear in mind. “You need to find ways in order to stand out in the crowd. It’s not being an attention seeker. It’s more about finding your purpose in life and creating an impact on people’s lives and change in our society.
“Research is also important. If you want to be a writer, artist, etc. it doesn’t just happen. Great timing is the key to success and happiness. Even if you’re gifted and talented, you still need to do the work and follow through what YOU want to achieve. Success will not come to you magically. You will make mistakes, and there will be ups and downs, but it’s just a part of your journey. It’s up to you how to make the best out of your life. Don’t give up. Always keep fighting!”
Michelle goes to prove that if you put in the graft and find your niche, then you can truly create something magical. And if you’re still not sure, then I recommend you pick up a copy of Inside Fandoms and Conventions for yourself, and see what all the fuss is about.