When I arrive at the home studio of Cynthia Gerriets, self-made fashionista and founder of the Ten Times A Tiger fashion line, she’s not quite ready and I’m asked to take a seat. The path to the couch passes by copious amounts of Magic The Gathering cards, anime, and sewing machines. Handwritten notebooks are piled around the couch, each labeled for something different. Pulp Fiction is playing on the television, and I settle down to watch the gimp scene. You know the one. Laughing, she apologizes, but there is nothing to apologize for. You can see her love of the nerdy all around her; not just in where she lives, but what she loves to do.
Next Noble Nerd: So you’re obviously very nerdy, sitting in front of me with a Star Wars top you made yourself. I think it’s safe to say you draw some inspiration from geeky sources, but where do you personally draw from?
Cynthia Gerriets: I don’t even know where to start, it’s such a broad question! I’m inspired by fabrics, colors, and comic books. I get a lot of inspiration from comics and video games.
N3: Are you self-taught or formally trained?
CG: I think I get inspiration from my mom, who’s really artistic. But my dad was actually the one who taught me how to sew. My grandma had two boys and no girls, so she taught her boys how to sew. He’s where I learned the basics, like how to thread a sewing machine.
N3: What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
CG: I like cotton blends. I hate most polyester blends. Not only are they hard to work with, they just feel gross. I like natural fabrics, and don’t like working with leather or skins. It creeps me out.
N3: So you’re conscious of how your fashion impacts the environment?
CG: Yeah, I’m totally eco-friendly, cruelty free.
N3: How would you describe your fashion and style?
CG: Recently, I would describe my style as “flamboyant asian boy who likes superheroes.” I really like a lot of Tokyo street fashion, and a lot of in-your-face hip-hop styles, and also there’s a lot of graffiti influence and comic artists. I love Brandon Graham—I could go on about him forever. He did King City, Multiple Warheads, and a bunch of other awesome stuff. I have his work tattooed on me. Also a lot of anime: Akira, Evengelion, a lot of the more gritty cyberpunk-type stuff.
N3: What made you want to be a designer, and what does fashion mean to you?
CG: I think it’s the only thing I have going for me.
N3: Oh no!
CG: (Laugher) No, I mean the only thing I have going that would make me happy. I’m sure there are plenty of things I could do, but I feel like this is the one thing I can’t mess up. I could do other things that would make me happy, but not as happy as I am designing clothes. I enjoy cosplaying; it has all the elements of sewing that I love, and it’s connected to comic books and comic characters—it’s great. But designing is where my heart is. Fashion is showing off who you are on the inside on the outside. It’s also related to comics and their characters. If you want to feel like a bad-ass and feel amazing, you will change your hair or wear heels like Catwoman.
N3: I totally see Catwoman boots in my future.
CG: I’ll go and look at a red top and think “oh this is so Wonder Woman,” and I wear it and feel like Wonder Woman, even if it doesn’t really look like any part of the Wonder Woman costume. I feel that’s part of fashion. Sometimes everything in the worlds sucks, but if you can look and feel like someone that you idolize, then so be it. Let that show through your fashion.
N3: I often feel that way about my makeup. I call it my battle armor. Bad day? Add some smokey eyes!
CG: Exactly! You know, I’m the smokey eye queen, I’m like a sexy panda.
N3: What sets you apart from others in the industry? Or really, what sets you apart from other local Tucson designers?
CG: Oh man, I’m still a baby. I still have a lot to do. Of course, I’m different in the way that I take stuff from comic books; sometimes it shows in my work and sometimes it doesn’t. Right now, I’m kind of finding my true aesthetic, experimenting and figuring things out. I’m getting closer, and pushing myself towards it too.
N3: So last year you put together Beast of the West. What was that like, putting it on as well as showing at the event?
CG: Last year, I was going through some stuff and I thought, “forget everything, I want to do clothing. I want to do fashion here in Tucson, Tucson needs more of it and I wanted to bring it.” So I came up with a fashion and music show, which is a mix between just good old-fashioned dresses and also street wear. So, stuff that people could wear casually; there are a lot of people who like t-shirt prints. And then we have the music. I love that scene here, and I think they go together perfectly. Fashion shouldn’t be this idea that you have to wear something specific. That’s been my hardest thing putting on the show, I say “fashion and music”, and people ask me if they need to wear a suit. No! Wear whatever you want, whatever you’re comfortable in, whatever your style is because everything is pretty much going to be there. It’s more of an alternative-type fashion show.
N3: How many designers participated last year?
CG: I think there were four designers, and at this year’s show we have six. Same with the bands, three last year and five this year.
N3: How long do you expect the show to run?
CG: Last year it ended really early, around 10:30pm, and this one will go on till midnight. The way we have it timed should go from seven till midnight.
N3: Plush was the venue last year, it’s been renamed the Flycatcher so will it be at the Flycatcher, or somewhere else?
CG: Yes, Flycatcher.
N3: So you have double the designers, and double the bands, that takes a lot of work. How do you anticipate it will cut into your day job? I know that you’re also a volunteer for the Tucson Comic Con just like myself, and there’s only so much time.
CG: Well, I’m going to try and not die in the next three months. I have the show, but I also have a friend who does Lion & Wolf apparel, he’s helping me out a lot. I’m incredibly grateful; last year I was doing it all by myself, and was losing my mind. I also work at Heroes & Villains as an events specialist. So I have Beast of the West, Halloween, and Tucson Con to prepare and make outfits for. Big things are happening.
N3: How many outfits total do you think you’re going to end up with?
CG: Tucson Con will just be one cosplay, either a gender-bent Kaneda from Akira, Spider-Woman or the new Bat Girl costume. I’m leaning towards Spider-Woman, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.
N3: Are you going to do that controversial pose?
CG: Of course, I can do it right now!
N3: I know you said you’re a baby, but, do you have any advice for the nooblets out there who might want to follow in your footsteps?
CG: Don’t be scared. Just do it. Don’t think too much about it, it’s the worst things you can do. It’s one of the most annoying things in the world, it’s something I had to get good at is scheduling. I hate doing it, it drives me nuts, it makes me feel like a crazy person. I have three planners…
N3: Whoa, I was just wondering if there was an app you could use.
CG: I have one for work, we do a lot of events at Heroes & Villains. I have my own written calendar, and then I also have big calendars around. I do this to super-double-check and make sure I have everything right, because that’s the only way I’m able to do as much as I want. I seem insane.
N3: I think you just have your stuff together; I am not nearly so organized and I need to be.
CG: (laughter) I try my best, holy crap. My fiancee doesn’t believe me, but I don’t let him see the calendars. I think he’d panic.
N3: One last question. Where can we find you?
CG: I’m on Facebook as Cynthiatron. I’ve been picking favorites, as far as social networking goes; I love Intstagram, it’s quick and easy to use. Take a picture, say a little something, and you’re done. That’s also Cynthiatron or Ten Times A Tiger. It needs to be updated, I’ll get to it. I tried using Twitter, but I found it too overwhelming. I use it for work and that’s about it.
N3: So Ten Times a Tiger is where people go for commissions?
CG: For fashion, commissions would be Cynthiatron but I’m taking very few commissions right now.
N3: Do you have a store?
CG: Yes, I have an Etsy under Ten Times a Tiger. Also look for me at Tucson Con the second weekend of November, I’ll be putting together a geek fashion panel. And Beast of the West is November 29th. See you there!