Tag Archives: The Dresden Dolls

My Hero Grrrls

9 Mar

I had planned to do this yesterday for International Woman’s Day, but hell, women should be celebrated everyday! There are so many wonderful, kind, generous and strong women out there, all influencing and changing the world little by little. Mothers and other relatives, teachers, writers, artists, actors, directors; these women are everywhere. I decided to put together a top 10 of my favourite influential femmes (in no particular order) – but this may go over ten. Some are real, and some are real enough, heroes to draw power from, or at least for me.  


1. Red Sonja
From the time I was just a little strange and freckled child, I was in love with Sonja. I was raised on Conan and his adventures, which of course overlapped with Sonja’s (even though he’s technically not Conan in it, but we know..). I wasn’t introduced to the comics until some years later, but the towering, flame-haired Brigitte Nielsen instilled within me a pride in my natural hair colour – sadly a source of shame for many of my kind – and in being taller, and in some cases stronger, than some boys in school. She’s a sword-wielding heroine any girl can look up to.

2. Lara Croft

Again, Ms. Croft’s been with me for many, many years. I remember countless hours sat infront of the television, watching my dad and brothers play Tomb Raider II over and over. I could only really take care of The Great Wall, and still have trouble handling a lot of the levels, since I would get over-excited and the nerves got the better of me. But that was enough for me. Watching her shoot her way through anything – tigers, Yetis, dinosaurs – while maintaining her femininity and possessing a rather high intellect, just made me want to be her… fall-away floors, spikes and all. She also had a lot to do with my love of history and why I would always answer, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with “archaeologist or egyptologist”. We could always throw in some danger and intrigue!

3. Tank Girl

I first seen the Tank Girl movie before I really knew what was going on in it, let alone get half of the things she was saying. I remembered bits and pieces, but I always thought she was played by Gwen Stefani and not the equally as shiny Lori Petty! I seen it again a few years later and got a bit obsessed, still not completely aware of everthing. I just thought she was the single most awesome woman ever! She had funky hair (that part of me always wanted to try!), cool clothes and a tank!  By the time the movie and I were eventually on the same wavelength, I was totally hooked. I’ve slowly been building my collection of the comics (I believe there should be 2 in the mail, in fact) and soaking up all the Tankie I can find. And she’s one of the most fun characters to draw, the artists that have worked on it are simply phenomenal! She’s tough as nails, rude, crude, brazen and bazooka-brassiered!

4. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

She’s just a regular young woman… But, oh wait, she has to save the world! Boy trouble, fitting in, highschool, friends, homework. We shared the same problems, granted mine were less apocalypty, and was a heroine you could relate to. I’ve been watching Buffy for half my life – not without pause – and it’s still held in that same precious spot in my heart where it forced its way in all those years ago. I have to say though, Buffy was not the only great woman in that show; Willow, Joyce, Cordelia, Tara, Anya, and Dawn all taught girls everywhere something about grasping onto the strength we possess and, forgive the pun, living up to our potential. In particular, I was a Willow girl – nerdy, loserish, hopelessly enamoured of someone just as clueless, odd humour, easily excited, loved my library. I could go on. I even have the hair and pale complexion to match.   

5. Amanda Palmer

Fearless. Iconic. Comedian. Opinionated. Lover. Artist. Poet. Hero.

I have mountains of respect and love for Amanda. She’s a true music artist and an even truer person. My path to discovering her was all by chance. First off, I caught The Dresden Dolls late night on Channel 4, or something, performing ‘Coin-Operated Boy’ and another song. Their appearance and the set really grabbed my attention ( it was similar to the Live in Paradise set). I had missed their name but jotted down “Coin-Operated Boy” on a piece of paper. That always stayed in the back of my mind. A year or so later, I found an advertisement for the Live In Paradise DVD in a magazine and loved the photo. That too was saved. It was around then that decided to look them up since we had finally gotten a computer. Again, I was hooked!! I searched Virgin until I found Yes, Virginia, brought it home, listened to it repeatedly, and the rest it happy history. 

As they continued on, then went on hiatus, I followed them together and seperately. The music they were making was just so different to what I had heard and they were doing such interesting things. Then when she went solo…forget about it! I was awe-struck when I first heard ‘Astronaut’. But it’s not just her music and her lyrics, it’s her. She cares for the fans and does all she can to keep in touch. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, the dialogue between artist and audience. She’s not afraid to try something new, or something no-one has ever tried. Then there’s he whole thing about being half of one of the best power couples, um, ever! I really, really could go on… This went on a bit, but she is one of the only two real people on this list!

6. Zoe Washburne

Ever the feminist, Joss Whedon knows how to write kickass female characters! Zoe, Mal Reynolds’ right hand woman and one half of a most unexpected couple, is an Amazon warrior woman, through and through. She’s more than capable of taking care of herself – trusty gun at the ready – and can crack a joke (many great deadpan moments) and have a laugh with the guys. Yet, when it’s time for the more sentimental stuff, she’s a softy – looking after the poor, defenseless Saffron.  She can be dominating, which is a loved and hated quality to hubby, Wash, but can be a wife just the same. Mmm, wife soup… She’s proof that you can be the hardass leader of men and the lover.

7. Penelope Garcia

My name is Sarah and I am a Criminal Minds addict. One of my favourite characters from the show is Garcia, the uber geeky, super stylish, techie goddess! Yup, that’s her full title. Garcia has to deal with a lot! She didn’t sign up to the BAU to fight crime and investigate murders (in fact, she didn’t sign up at all…), yet she has to bear the weight of some brutal stuff. Researching murders and criminals of every kind, watching videos of killings to find clues within the soundtrack; basically seeing and learning more of the world’s evil than most folk aught to. It’s this very reason that she decorates her office with colourful toys and fluffy and sparkly accessories, and keeps conversation light with her quirky humour and phone answering technique. She finds a way to seperate the two worlds and not become a disturbed shut-in, as some might do in her position. She’s also incredibly independant and has been since a relatively early age. She doesn’t need a man (but she does eventually get a cute’n’geeky one in the form of Nick Brendan!) and is completely comfortable with herself. Just look at her fabulous wardbrobe and her interaction with Derek. Oh, the flirting and the nicknames! I have respect for the character as well as the real women, and men, that old similar jobs.

8. Lisbeth Salander

Lisbeth is a more recent addition to my list of heroines. Ever since I seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – what, last year – I loved her. She’s the outsider, not in the awkward highschool way but in the severely abused way, and just doesn’t take anything lying down. She’s been through hell and made it, and doesn’t show any sign of letting herself get dragged back into that mess again… of course she is, otherwise what would the trilogy be about? She’s pierced, tattooed, almost shaven-headed, dresses in dark colours, and is very beautiful. Lisbeth is as complex a character as they come, and I really have to applaud Noomi Rapace for her performance. Lisbeth may do her best to stay out of trouble, in her painfully introverted and terse way, but doesn’t cower away from a fight. If you’ve seen the movies or read the book, you know what I’m talking about! Yes, she’s rough around the edges but I think she’s one of the finest heroines in modern culture.

9. Frida Kahlo

Okay, I will keep this short since I could literally write over 3,000 words on her! She was an incredibly influential woman and paved the way for many artists, both female and Mexican. Comfortable with her sexuality, unafraid to show the world her inner self and willing to take a stand for her political beliefs.  Her life was hard, and that’s an understatement – countless operations, a result of an accident when she was young, and a passionate turbulent marriage to Diego Rivera. And, of course… her art! It’s just amazing. I knew the bare bones of her history a little over a month ago when I decided to write about her for a college essay, now I am a massive fan and cannot wait for the exhibition of her and Diego’s work here next month!!  

10. Xena, the Warrior Princess

Oh, how I miss the days of watching Xena and Hercules! She was just the coolest. The costume, the weaponry, that war cry – you know you’ve tried to iminate it. I can remember playing Hero Quest with my brother when I was little and my character name on the score sheet would always be ‘Xena‘ (and what a good game!).  She reminded me of Red Sonja, more so with that whole Hercules cross-overy goodness. And then Gabrielle was just awesome too. I always wanted a staff to swing around, hit bad guys with, help me on treks through forests… all of which I do so often.

11. Awesome Gals Everywhere

I’m not forgetting Wonder Woman – how could I? It’s just that I didn’t grow up with her. I knew of her, and the iconography of her as the strong woman, but that was about as far as my knowledge went. My knowledge has grown some over the years, but not by much. The comics are on my to buy list, and season 1 od the tv series and the animated movie (with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion) are sitting on my shelf waiting to be watched. I have to mention Wonder Woman Day, as it’s just a fantastic organisation.

Also, the women behind Geek Girl Con, and all the other geeky girls I follow through blogs, twitter, facebook, harass in person (she’ll get this is her, I hope). There’s too many to name, but they know who they are and must know just how amazing each and every one of them is.

Finally, my fellow Geek Girls (usually found ‘on the street’). I’m forever grateful for having the opportunity to have met all of you, even online, and to get to work with you. You all, quite simply, rock! 

I’m gonna be mushy here and add: My Mam. She ain’t nearly as geeky as the rest of this list, but she’s my hero none the less 🙂


How about you folk? Care to share yours?


Artist #11: Lucy Coombs

8 Mar

After a short break from interviews – break for the site, not me! – we’re back in top form with Lucy Coombs. Her skills range from detailed pencil work to rich paintings. She’s recorded beautiful landscape scenes and captured personality and character in portraits. Her body of work and style is diverse, and I’m glad to see she’s receiving some of the attention she deserves. Like Sylvia K, she’s had some of her art used for Amanda Palmer’s merchandise over on Post-War Trade, including some gorgeous Christmas cards (although they are sadly no longer available, it being March and all).

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What first interested you in art?
Honestly, I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t interested in art at all. My mother always encouraged my brother and I to be creative – to paint, draw, make things – so, I guess that’s where it all started.



Did you get much encouragement to continue or make a career out of it?
To continue it as a hobby, yes. Not so much to make a career out of it, although I do have some good arty friends who are extremely encouraging and supportive of what I do.

Have you studied art or are you self taught? Do you have any plans to study it?
I had art classes all through school and college, but most of what I do I’ve learned myself, just through trying things out and lots of practice. At the moment I don’t have any plans for studying art, as in a fine art degree. Personally, I think if I were to study fine art it would eventually become tedious, taking away from all the fun of it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere. Music, other art, books, friends, movies, dreams, nature, cities…this list could go on and on. Sources of inspiration are limitless.

Who are some of your favourite artists?
A few friends, Sylvia K, Audrey Bishop and Robin (who you’ve already interviewed), as well as Hieronymus Bosch, Dali, van Gogh, Degas, Chagall, Hockney…there really are too many to list here. With the internet and online portfolios, it’s so easy to find new and amazing artists to be inspired by all the time.

What are your hopes for your artwork? Do you see it in your future as a career or just a hobby?
Well, both, sort of. I am currently studying Graphic Communication at UCA, Farnham. I love design as much as I love art, but I view them slightly differently – graphic design I see as my career path, and art, while I can use it within design and for illustrations etc., most of the time I like to keep it just for me, for fun.

Which of your pieces are you most proud of?
That’s a tough one. Perhaps a painting of Amanda Palmer that I did a few years ago. I spent a week working on it in my spare time, late at night, whenever I could, and it made me fall in love with painting all over again.

How would you describe your style?
I’m not sure if I have a definitive style yet. I like to try different things, different techniques, different materials. Maybe  there’s a style that follows through into each piece, but I’m not sure. I do have a penchant for drawing or painting people, mainly faces.

What made you focus more on that area more than another?
Drawing or painting people and faces? I always feel like just by looking and really seeing someone and studying every detail of their face, you can tell so much about who they are. I find it fascinating.

What’s your favourite medium to work in?
Aside from the often overlooked, but most important, pencil, I like painting with acrylics. However, last year I tried out oils for the first time and absolutely loved it.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
Not at the moment, I’m extremely busy with university work right now, but I do have a folder filled with various ideas for paintings that I’ll hopefully get to work on eventually.

What drew you to base a lot of your work on Amanda Palmer?
Her music, both solo and with The Dresden Dolls. I found a connection with her music that I’ve rarely had with other bands or musicians, and that provided a lot of inspiration for me.


Can you give me an idea of your creative process?
Whether I’m drawing or painting, from a photo or from my head, the first thing I do is sketch. I will spend hours sketching things out before I even really start, so that everything is perfectly positioned and arranged in the way that I want it to be. After that, I’ll just jump straight in with whatever medium I’m using and work on it for a few hours at a time. I’m very patient with drawing and painting, if something isn’t right, I’ll work on it for however long it takes to make sure that it is.

Artist #9: Bec

22 Feb

Stencil maker, photographer and an artist incredibly capable of tricking the eye into thinking one of her drawings is a photograph, Bec is an artistic triple threat! Her deviantART is full of unbelievable renderings of Amanda Palmer & The Dresden Dolls, Tegan & Sara and Radiohead. As well as that, she’s taken some great photos and knows her way around a stencil. And these stencils are painstakingly made, just check out the one below… you’ll know the one.

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What first interested you in art?

Being able to create things that are limited only by my skills and imagination.


Did you get much encouragement to continue or make a career out of it?

Not so much from my family, but definitely from friends and people who see my artwork online.



Have you studied art or are you self taught? Do you have any plans to study it?
Self taught. I’ve considered studying art many times in the past few years, but I’m happy with the career pathway I’ve chosen for now and any study I do would be for my own personal interest/as a pastime.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
The many amazing photo-realistic artists whose work I’ve seen online. I feel like they help to push me and improve my skills because they give me something to strive towards.

Who are some of your favourite artists?
Alyssa Monks, Banksy, Andy Warhol… and all of the people I follow on deviantArt.

What are your hopes for your artwork? Do you see it in your future as a career or just a hobby?
I hope to just continue making art as a hobby, maybe taking a few commissions. Perhaps one day when I’m sick of working in science I’ll make the switch and focus more on my art.

Which of your pieces are you most proud of?
My ‘Brisbane City’ stencil, mostly because of how long it took to create. I never thought I’d finish it.

How would you describe your style?
I’m not sure, maybe photo-realism. Whether I’m drawing or stenciling, everything I do is based off a source photo with the intention of creating something that’s very close to or resembles the original.

What made you focus more on your focused area more than another?
Doing a sketch based off a photo was the first thing I did in a high school art class that really impressed my teacher, who convinced me I had a skill that I should practice.

What’s your favourite medium to work in?
Graphite pencils.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
I have a stencil that I’ve slowly been working on for months, and I just finished a sketch today.

What drew you to the themes or people you base a lot of your work on?
Music. Almost everything I draw/stencil is based on a musician.

Can you give me an idea of your creative process?
For my sketches, I usually search for a photo that has interesting textures and contrasts, then start penciling in the main outlines and shapes to get the proportions right, and then go back and fill in the detail. I constantly re-do and alter minute details until I’m happy with how it looks. For my stencils, I usually select multiple photos and edit them in Photoshop to see which would work best as a stencil, then design and print out the layers, cut them out and spray them.

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