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Written by: Tabletop Crafter

Get to know the artist behind the stories of dinosaurs Derek and Irene, and read about their passion for embracing geekiness!

We sat down with Mini Geek Boutique to chat all things geeky, business, and science!

Tell us who you are and what you do!

I’m Tracy and I run Mini Geek Boutique; a place where you can be your own hero and embrace your inner geek. I’m an illustrator, who alongside my dinosaur buddies Derek and Irene, create whimsical and fun drawings and turn some of those drawings into comics and products such as stickers, clothing and stationery.

Tell us more about you outside of your business. What do you like to do? Do you work alongside the business?

It sounds cliche but I love spending time with my family, I’m a grandparent and I love spending time with the grand-goblins. I enjoy playing video games, usually RPGs such as Dragon Age or Assassin’s Creed and I can usually be found curled up on the sofa with the cats watching a movie (it would normally be Lord of the Rings extended edition).

I have a teaching background and that is used quite a lot in the things I create, whether that's a product or an article for the blog or a social media post. I am always looking to educate and learn and my dinosaurs help with that.

How did your business start?

It seems like a million years ago now, but it started because I couldn’t find anything geeky enough for my son when he was a baby. I had the means to design and make geeky things so I did!

How did you get into tabletop gaming and/or nerd culture?

It wasn’t until I met my now husband that I knew anything about Games Workshop, Dungeons and Dragons (Of course I knew about the 80s cartoon, I loved that as a kid!) and RPGs, he introduced me to tabletop gaming and showed me this cool thing called miniature painting and that being a geek wasn’t just about liking comics and being good at maths. 

What do you like best about being part of the TTRPG or fantasy community?

Oh my God, where do I start? I’ve never seen such an open and welcoming community! Growing up I always felt very out of place, that my hobbies and passions were seen as “weird”, turns out my people were just hiding on the internet like all good introverts. I love that you can talk absolute nonsense and someone will “get” you. The community is passionate, open and excitable! I love it. 

We have to ask, why dinosaurs? And who is your favourite?

I have always loved dinosaurs. Right from when I was young, and that continued from watching Walking with Dinosaurs with my eldest when they were young and then carried on into my adult life. They were always there in the background, and I always thought they were so cool, to try and comprehend that things that big were alive millions of years ago is mind-blowing. But why dinosaurs? I love them. Derek and Irene started because a couple of years ago I was launching a dinosaur Christmas jumper and in the build-up to the launch it was suggested I try and do something a bit different. I had some of my son’s old dinosaur toys on a shelf and it just went from there. I wanted to give the launch an MGB edge, so I included Derek and Irene talking about the featured dinosaurs and I tried to do it in a fun way. And it just had this ripple effect. Derek and Irene have their personalities now, Derek is the hyperactive, inquisitive one and Irene is a big sister to Derek, helping and guiding him through life. I have collected several more dinosaurs over the years and they are becoming quite an integral part of MGB.

Asking who my favourite is, is like asking who my favourite child is. I am impartial. (It’s Derek)

What’s a hidden gem product, something you absolutely love but doesn’t seem to get the attention you feel it deserves?

My zines! I love them so much, they tell short stories about the adventures of Derek and Irene and include little activities for the kids. I spend a lot of time writing and creating the stories and creating finished products and I don’t think they get the love they deserve. 

What inspires you to create? 

There are so many things that inspire me to create. Sometimes things come naturally to me and I can translate that into a new piece that evolves into a product or just a piece of work. People inspire me, I’m lucky to have an amazing eldest who is an incredible illustrator. My son inspires me every day and sometimes he will tell me a story that might light a little spark that turns into a story. I have found a lot of artists online who have inspired me to create and to continue doing so. Since becoming a member of the Hub I have been able to share those ideas and the community has always given me honest feedback and that allows me to push my creative boundaries further. 

We know women in science and history is an important subject for you, do you have a favourite? Tell us all about them!

It’s no secret that Ada Lovelace is a hero of mine. She is considered the first computer programmer before computers (as we know them now) were even invented, she was the daughter of Lord Byron but never met her father as he died when she was very young. Raised by her mother and taught logical subjects such as maths and science, Ada was able to think creatively in ways that could be considered groundbreaking. She saw a future where computers would help us listen to music, they would help us in everyday life and she foresaw Computers being used for greater things. 

What does being a geek mean to you? 

Being a geek is so important to me, I am a very proud geek. I believe if you have a passion or a hobby it makes you a geek, whether that's miniature painting, being an artist, enjoying video games, watching your favourite football team every week, or playing DnD with your buddies, it makes you a geek. I believe that being a geek is the best! People shouldn’t be ridiculed for being a geek and that’s one of my main values for MGB.

Do you have any exciting products or projects coming up that we should know about?

I've just launched a new collection based around reading, a very personal project and one close to my heart. It even includes some digital download products (like reading logs) that I've not done before so it's very exciting!


Where can we find you?

The Mini Geek Boutique website is the best place to find me and I’m usually hanging about on Instagram (@minigeekboutique).

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us or share?

Thank you so much for the chat and the opportunity to share my business! 


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