Bros before Frodos
In another era, Noelle Stevenson might have been a starving artist. But thanks to the way Tumblr works, she was able to amass an audience of 20,000 fans in a little less than three months.
In “The Broship of the Ring,” Stevenson envisions characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy as their modern day typecasts.
“I put the comics on Tumblr at the beginning of the summer not expecting anything to happen,” she said in a live interview with the Daily Dot. “It all happened so fast.”
Now, Stevenson’s renditions of geek icons as hipsters, frat boys, hippies and bikers are so popular, she sells prints. She’s even made enough money to buy a new art tablet in a single day. Not bad for a 19-year-old.
“Selling prints is great,” but she’s not able to pay for school with it, the Maryland Institute College of Art student said.
Her success started one night when Stevenson was watching “The Two Towers” with her family. Inspiration hit and she decided to doodle a picture of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli as a trio as “bros.
She then posted it on her Tumblr, Gingerhaze. “It caught on really really quickly, with over 600 notes in just a few minutes, and dozens of messages demanding that I draw the rest. So I did. And it all just kind of snowballed from there,” she said.
Stevenson owes this speedy rise in popularity in part to Tumblr’s unique structure. On other sites people often fail to credit content that they link to or repost. But on Tumblr, reblogged posts are automatically credited to the original creator. That means Stevenson’s gotten a lot of credit.
After her drawing took off, she had no choice but to keep at it. Her follower count increased to 20,000 people, all clamoring for more Broship from Gingerhaze.
Though Stevenson is not in the least secretive about her real name, her Tumblr’s popularity has caused its title, “Ginger Haze,” to become a pseudonym of sorts. Stevenson said the name isn’t symbolic.
“I was ordering a Hazelnut latte,” she said. “But at first they thought I’d ordered a Gingerbread latte. When they handed it to me, the cup said Ginger, crossed out, and Haze below it.”
She pauses and runs her fingers through her short, gingery hair.
“Nobody’s asked me that until now. I’ve always wanted to tell that story.”
Many of Stevenson’s drawings come as a result of a call-and-response system with fans. They submit questions to her. “I have 2,000 I still need to answer,” she said. She sketches what they want to see. However, the most rewarding part, she said, is when other artists find her blog and offer her work.
“The best is when I get art work and illustration work. Because people know about my blog, they’re more likely to ask me to contribute to things,” she said.
Stevenson said putting her artwork online has opened up a lot of doors for her before she even finished school. It’s all an aspiring artist could ask for.
“Hopefully, comics will be enough to support me after I graduate,” she said.