Wizard World St. Louis Comic-Con

‘How to be a Nerd for a Living’ Panel from Wizard World St. Louis 2015

In Art, Business & Marketing, Comics, Gaming, Live Panels, Podcast, TV & Film by Nerd For A Living

Wizard World St. Louis - How to be a Nerd for a Living Panel

Nerd For A Living at Wizard World St. Louis Comic-Con 2015

Over Memorial Day weekend, Wizard World came to St. Louis with guests including Hayley Atwell, Michael Rooker, and filmmaking legend George Romero. At the show, we were excited to share our ‘How to Be a Nerd for a Living: Your Career in Nerd Culture’ panel with our hometown crowd. This podcast captures that discussion and the Q&A session with the audience afterwards.

Wizard World: Where Pop Culture Comes to Life

N4AL’s Wendy Buske moderated a fantastic group of panelists from wildly different backgrounds:

From a land far, far away (known as New Zealand), we had Weta Workshop’s Warren Dion Smith. He’s a hair, makeup and special effects artist for films including The Hobbit trilogy, The Amazing Spider Man 2, and Mad Max: Fury Road.

We had video game developer Carol Mertz, who is the Co-Founder of Happy Badger Studio and Chair & Event Organizer of the St. Louis chapter of the International Game Developers Association.

From the world of comics, we were joined by Lorenzo Lizana. He’s the art director at Lion Forge Comics, as well as a versatile illustrator, comic artist, and toy designer.

We were also joined by freelance graphic artist, marketer and rock band poster designer, Britta Buescher.

And rounding out our speaker group was our friend and frequent expert panelist, Amanda Nuckolls, founder and Chief Executive Gnome of GnomeAcres.

This panel runs the gamut from how to get started in the gaming industry to why banging on armor to make it look like it’s been through battle can lead you to your dream job. We hope you find some great insights from these smart, funny, and engaging guests.

Note: In the Q&A section, Carol mentions a number of resources for those interesting in writing or developing video games. Those resources are: Twine | InkleWriter | Itch.io

Click here to download the podcast.


Guest Speaker Bios


Warren Dion Smith, Weta Workshop

Warren Dion Smith

Raised in North Canterbury and a descendant from Waikato/TAINUI in New Zealand, Warren Dion Smith has been affiliated with the team at Weta Workshop, a Five Time Oscar winning conceptual design & physical manufacturing Facility, for over a decade. During this time Warren has worked as a hair/makeup and special effects Artist on movies such as King Kong, The Hobbit, Elysium, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Man of Steel, and the remake of the 1960’s children’s classic Thunderbirds Are Go TV series.

Warren is also the NZARH 2014 Wellington Overall Senior Champion Hairdresser. Warren specializes in all aspects of hairdressing. He is also representing The Canterbury Association of registered Hairdressers and will continue to freelance for Film and TV, as well as Weta Workshop projects.

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Carol Mertz

Carol Mertz

Carol Mertz became interested in games, design, and web development as a kid in the 90s – staying up late to code websites from scratch in Notepad, studying HTML books and dissecting other peoples’ source code. She began freelancing as a web and logo designer as early as 2002. She pursued a BA in Interactive Media from Webster University, where she learned the fundamentals of media production and animation.

After graduating, she co-founded St. Louis interactive studio The Rampant. Later, she discovered a real love for game development, so she and her Rampant teammates divided their studio efforts between interactive client work and game production (as Happy Badger Studio).

As a big part of a small independent studio, Carol does all sorts of creative work, including design, development, art, animation, voice acting, and writing. She’s worked on websites, mobile apps, comics, video games, card games, and a myriad of other creative projects.

Outside of work, Carol is the Chair of the St. Louis chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), supporting the local indie games community by organizing networking and educational events, giving talks, and participating in mentorship events.

Carol and Happy Badger Studio are currently in development on a quest-based hovercraft racing game, SmuggleCraft, set to release in early 2016 for PS4, PC, Mac, and Linux.

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Lorenzo Lizana

Lorenzo Lizana

Lorenzo Lizana is an accomplished illustrator who has created art for comic books, children’s storybooks, product packaging, toy design, storyboards for commercials & animated television programming, and more.

He is the art director for Lion Forge Comics, and is currently the artist of Catalyst Prime and Accel, both digital releases for Lion Forge.


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Amanda Nuckolls

Amanda Nuckolls

Amanda Nuckolls, Founder and Chief Executive Gnome at GnomeAcres, has been making art using various mediums since the age of 3. She grew up in a family that owned an arts & crafts business and was often a regular contributor to the many products they offered.

In 2009, after spending 20 years around llamas and alpacas, she decided she would obtain her first llama, “Oh My Darling, Clementine”. The acquisition of Clementine, combined with her lifelong love of the agricultural world, playing outside and “making stuff”, helped to spark the idea of GnomeAcres. When GnomeAcres came to fruition in late 2009, Amanda saw it as an opportunity to pursue her true passions.

Amanda has a background in website design, website development, e-commerce, online marketing, radio, newspaper, photography, woodworking, agriculture education, tractor riding and professional clowning. Because of her vast knowledge in these areas, all of GnomeAcres show displays, product packaging, promotional materials and websites are created in-house by Amanda herself.

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Britta Buescher

Britta Buescher

Britta Buescher is a graphic & brand designer and rock poster artiste specializing in marketing for bands and businesses. She works as a freelance designer at The Outlet Epoch, and as an art and marketing director in retail services. She has produced client work for Dark Horse Comics, Nickelodeon, Imagine Dragons, Dropdead, Iron Reagan, Kylesa, and many more.

Britta’s super powers include extensive social media marketing and multi–platform ad campaigns, pro-level high-fiving skills and cheese connoisseurship.

She currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her modest record collection and a bull terrier named Chief, and listens to metal daily.

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This production included music from audionautix.com.