In the five years since its inception, the Reno Punk Rock Flea Market has become a microcosm of Reno’s DIY ecosystem. Established by and held at The Generator, the event consists of nearly 100 independent craftspeople, small business, community action organizations, and a two-day lineup of the region’s punk, metal and rock bands.
Here is what three local artists will be bringing to this year’s Reno Punk Rock Flea Market, taking place April 30 and May 1 from 10 am to 6 pm.
For the past 10 years, Jill Colbert has plumbed the depths of dark fantasy illustration under the sobriquet Manfish Inc. Born and raised in Incline Village, she attended art school in Savannah, Georgia, then found a way to combine her love for visual art and metal music after a meeting with one of her favorite bands in 2012.
“I made some fan art for the band Halestorm, and I was in a meet and greet, and the vocalist Lizzy Hale saw my work, gave me a bear hug, and told me how much she loved my artwork,” Colbert said. “When I got home, I got an email from her that said, ‘I really want a piece by you. I want a private commission …’ Instantly, like, a light bulb went off: this is who I want to work for, and this is what I want to do.”
Colbert has gone on to make logos, album covers and merchandise for metal bands all over the country, combining the genre’s darker themes with whimsical elements that set her illustrative style apart. With the help of her mother, another artist who owns local crafts store Handmade at the Lake, she recently started stocking her own Etsy page as well.
“As an artist, sometimes I like to branch out and do some just really cute and whimsical items,” Colbert said. “I like to paint mushroom butts right now, which have been really popular, or adorable cryptids because I can’t be dark and brutal all the time.”
Colbert has collaborated with the Generator before. After selling out of her entire stock the first year she attended in 2018, she continues to value the Market as a way to connect directly with her audience beyond the limitations of commissioned work.
“A goal of mine is to have something affordable for everyone,” Colbert said. “I have prints, affordable originals, pins, and stickers, and all that good stuff. Just a lot of creepy, but also a lot of cute.”
Black Botanical Press
When Hazel Lyon returned to Reno from Olympia, Washington, where she got her degree in sustainable agriculture, she left the verdant landscape of the Pacific Northwest with a very specific hobby—pressing flowers. She took a job as a florist in town, but soon found herself out of work when the first pandemic quarantine measures hit.
“And so, to keep my interest going with flowers, I started an Instagram just to see if anybody would want to buy a pressed flower in a frame—not really thinking anything of it,” Lyon said, “And then, slowly but surely, I just didn’t give it up and kept it going.”
In 2020 she founded her business Black Botanical Press and started working in flower pressing and preservation full time. She specializes in preserving and framing wedding bouquets, but also uses local blossoms to make custom arrangements.
“With my farming background, I really want to focus on having a sustainable, ethical business that doesn’t hurt the environment,” Lyon said. “I always try and use recycled materials. Like, I thrift a lot of my frames, I never use any chemicals when preserving the flowers, and I try and source all my flowers either from my own garden or from local flower farmers around the area.”
She considers her style to be a modern interpretation of a classical hobby, and finds inspiration in pairing minimalist frames and backgrounds with intricate arrangements of whichever flowers she has on hand. The entire drying and pressing process lasts around four weeks—which is shorter than other chemical processes which can take up to six months.
“It keeps the cost down as well,” Lyon said. “I like to keep things affordable for everybody. If somebody really wants a flower preservation, but doesn’t have that much money, I’m always willing to make something for them no matter how big or small.”
This will be Lyon’s first time attending the RPRFM, and she has been preparing flowers since January to stock small, medium, and large works for buyers of any budget.
“I’m just kind of taking it as it comes, pretty much. “Lyon said. “I never studied business or thought I would ever own my own business. It’s a lot of problem solving and learning as I go, which is cool, but just taking it one day at a time.”
In Reno, Nathaniel Benjamin’s work is hard to miss. Between his art exhibitions (of which he averages almost one per year) and his murals around town, Benjamin is one of the founding members of Laika Press, a community-run printing shop, meaning you might have seen his influence in any number of local printed merchandise. In years past, Benjamin has manned a Laika Press booth at Reno Punk Rock Flea Market, but this year he’ll be selling his own surrealist illustrations in the form of both prints and wearable merchandise.
“Naturally, I think, I am drawn towards more grotesque and, like, body horror and kind of not-so-comfortable things to look at for a lot of people,” Benjamin said. “So, bringing that into public art is kind of a process.”
Benjamin’s art features plenty of mangled and distorted biological elements, many tangling with technological or mechanical forces—all shapes that are familiar and freakish at the same time. His murals, he said, are inspired by his printmaking (in which he experiments with different techniques), and both lend themselves to simple color palettes and detailed linework.
Printmaking, he said, is both an exercise in community building for many artists who lack their own equipment—this was the impetus behind the founding of Laika—and also an efficient way to circulate his own work in between larger projects.
“I love DIY, that’s kind of even why I got into printmaking originally, which is also very much a part of punk counterculture,” Benjamin said. “I’m going to be selling my prints, which I’ve been making over the years. I’ve got some sweatshirts that I’m putting together with sewn-on, hand-printed patches and those are on canvas and stitched on. And then I’ve got some all-over print t-shirts that I got—these ones I did not print myself, for the first time.”
Benjamin has been to the RPRFM several times in the past, and said he appreciates what the event does for direct monetary support for the city’s artists.
“I really enjoy the atmosphere that they create at The Generator,” Benjamin said. “Specifically at this event, it’s curated very much towards audiences that I’m already catering to—and, like, not even just catering to, that I am involved in and invested in.”
The Reno Punk Rock Flea Market takes place this weekend, April 30 and May 1, 10am – 6 pm at The Generator, 2450 Oddie Blvd., Sparks. Admission is $5 for a one-day pass or $8 for a two-day pass. For detailed updates, follow @renopunkflea on IG.
Cover image: A detail of “Kraken Cat” by Jill Colbert.
All images courtesy of the artists.
You can learn more about Nathaniel Benjamin on this episode of the Double Scoop Podcast.
This article was funded by a City of Reno Arts + Culture Grant.