Return of Staple!

After a five year hiatus, STAPLE! the Independent Media Expo is returning on April 13-14, along with its goal to bring together Austin’s renowned and beloved community of independent artists.

Written by Ruby Krimstein

After a five year hiatus, STAPLE! the Independent Media Expo is returning on April 13-14, along with its goal to bring together Austin’s renowned and beloved community of independent artists.

For its 16th showcase since 2005, the two-day event is promising a vibrant and engaging experience for local artists and art lovers alike at a cost of $12 per ticket and free entry for kids 12 and under. The expo will feature over 100 local artists in the Mabee Ballroom at St. Edward’s University and exhibit a dynamic array of mediums including comics, zines, crafts and tabletop games.

The project’s founder, Chris “Uncle Staple” Nicholas, says that STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo seeks to recognize the value of independent art as something broader than a collection of individual disciplines. This is important for many creatives at a time when being a professional artist can often be a financially risky endeavor, which was Nicholas’ own initial experience when he first began creating and self-publishing comics.

“It’s really hard to distribute this kind of work,” he said in a conversation with me before the event, “It’s a lot of work to make it but then once you’ve made it, getting it out into the world is a whole nother ball of wax.” 

The common challenge for Independent artists to distribute and sustain themselves through their art, stems partially from the fact that producing art can often be a personal, passionate and even a laborious effort. For many independent artists and creatives, the presence of financial, social and psychological barriers can put pressure on their ability to share their ideas and fully embody their internal drive to create. Observing these challenges for artists is what Nicholas says ultimately inspired him to found STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo. 

“Art is a form of communication and communication is a human need,” Nicholas states, “We have to communicate.” 

Being from a comic book background, Nicholas holds a keen appreciation for mediums that straddle traditionally separate creative realms, of which he says independent art has a unique capacity for. “[Art] is a form of expression,” that he says occurs best when someone “has this inspiration, or this desire, to get their thoughts out into the world, and… various mediums in which they can do it.” 

The event is a product of this goal to amplify and celebrate the expressive, collaborative and educational function of art: “It’s a very powerful medium to get any kind of story or message out”, noted Nicholas. Emphasizing the value when it comes to reaching young people in particular he added, “We’ve always tried to involve younger folks in the show because that’s the next generation of people who’re going to be making stuff, right?”

Many who are independently moved to practice art do it from a place of innate love or highly personal vision, and STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo has long been committed to giving those people with something to express a place to fully and broadly express it. After nearly two decades, the Expo’s reach has expanded and so has its impact: “People hear about it and show up to come and support the artists because it’s very important,” says Nicholas. “That’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps the artists coming back to this.”

Panel discussions and presentations will include:

  • Q&A with Guest Comics Creator Ron Rege’ Jr
  • Webcomics 101 by TheStarfishface – A How To
  • Webcomics Roundtable Discussion, with Mattie Lubchansky, Litterbox Comics & TheStarfishface 
  • Indie Tabletop Role Playing Game Design & Publication
  • Comics and Zines in Education – A Presentation by St. Edward’s Faculty
  • Working with a Team in Animation – Featuring Powerhouse Animation
  • “Don’t Panic!” Managing Your Career as a Digital Creative

The full lineup of guests, exhibitors, and panel descriptions can be found at  

Tickets are available at Eventbrite:

Uncle Staple has also provided ACCENT Student Media with two free tickets to give away to our student readers! If you are interested, we will send the access link to the first person that responds to this Google Form:

Photo courtesy of Uncle Staple with credit to Henry Lister.