UTD kicked off fall with the SUAABtober festival on Oct. 19, an event that allows students to partake in seasonal activities like tote bag painting, a scavenger hunt, face painting and an artist alley with a range of different mediums available to purchase. The Student Union & Activities Advisory Board, better known as SUAAB, also provided fall-themed beverages and snacks.
The artist alley is always a popular spot for students’ window shopping before heading to their next class, many of them attracted to the variety of offerings, from crochet plushies and fanart prints to henna booths and caricature artists. ATEC senior Gianna Gonzalez offered a variety of anime fanart and original character prints, as well as pastel dessert themed earrings. She said she draws inspiration from the vibrancy of Japanese music and the cutesy aesthetic of her favorite media.
“[Fanart is important] because it gets the word out, and it’s important for connection as well,” Gonzales said. “When people come up, they are like, ‘Oh my god you have “Jujutsu Kaisen,” you have “Bocchi the Rock!”’ And we get the chance to talk about it and talk about interests. Especially when it is lesser-known things, it’s nice to know that someone else likes what you like.”
Sharing a booth with Gonzalez, ATEC junior Alyssa Copeland recently began to turn their art into merchandise, focusing on nostalgic fandoms that many students enjoyed in their childhood, like “Garfield”, “Pokémon” and “My Little Pony.” Copeland said she was trying her hand at custom stickers and buttons.
“It is a lot of work, but I’ve had success with it so far, and it’s been fun seeing my actual designs as merchandise that I can give to people and see on their bags, water bottles or laptops,” Copeland said.
While many booths focused on their take on different fandoms, ATEC senior Saree Castaneda sold stickers, prints and shirts featuring her original and abstract characters. She said she created her expressive characters based on emotions she experiences daily.
“I always grew up with graffiti inspired stuff, street art inspired stuff so I love the whole color scheme,” Castaneda said. “[Since my art] are just doodles of faces I was able to express myself more, especially my angry doodles because I did those at work dealing with angry customers. I also started doing cowboy style stuff because I grew up in El Paso, Texas near the desert.”
More atypical art forms emerged from the artist alley, including ATEC junior Matt Ding’s cosmetics booth. The DIY cosmetic chemist became tired of western scents and products sold at Etsy shops and decided to put an Asian twist on bath products and other cosmetics, like lychee or ramune flavored lip balms.
“I actually wanted to be another artist like the ones at the artist alley, but I’m not too much a good artist, so I decided to put my artistry through packaging and design,” Ding said. “I started making cosmetics because I wanted to buy guava lip balm, but no one sold it, not even on Etsy. So I started making my own, and that’s when I got into DIY cosmetic chemistry. I’m tired of the same scents over and over in stores everywhere … I’m Asian myself so Asian inspired scents make sense.”
Despite the Texas heat that made autumn feel like a distant dream, SUAABtober allowed students to get in the holiday spirit and participate in fall-themed activities with their friends. The artists also felt a sense of community as they interacted with each other and participated in informal art swaps.
“I honestly just love meeting new people … and we can do art trades and things like that,” Castaneda said.