Hello, and welcome to Meet the Artisans, a series where I get to know the talented craftspersons that make up the Variant Ventures Artisans Guild! So far, I have spoken to several of our gifted craftspersons. This week I talked to Artisan Member Games by Bee!
J (he/him): What can you tell us about Games by Bee?
Games By Bee (they/them): I’ve been sewing my whole life, so when the COVID crisis started and I was looking for something to fill up all my new free time at home, I naturally started experimenting with some loose fabrics I had laying around. At first I was just making items for friends, but then in June I was laid off from my full-time job and suddenly had even more time to fill. So, I opened Games By Bee! It’s been a really amazing experience, and I think my designs and skills have really improved in the last eight months. I can’t wait to see how the shop continues to grow, and to meet more amazing people in the TTRPG community!
J: How did you get started in TTRPG?
Games by Bee: My first TTRPG experience was with the release of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e, when I was about 10 or 11. My best friend got a box set of the core rulebooks, and we spent hours admiring the character art and “playing” D&D, which was basically just rolling dice at random intervals and telling a wild and crazy story together. We definitely understood the true joy of TTRPGs early. 🙂
J: What are your current favorite TTRPGs?
Games by Bee: There are so many good ones out there, it’s hard to narrow it down! Right now I’m in the middle of an awesome Scion 2e campaign, though I’ve houseruled a fair bit of it for my table. I’m also really in love with Pathfinder 2e, some of the new content coming out has been so unique and exciting. The next ones I want to try are the Mistborn RPG and Brinkwood, which just wrapped up its Kickstarter recently. And there’s always the standby favorite Mouse Guard RPG.
J: What does a welcoming table look like to you?
Games by Bee: In the times of in-person meetings, my partner and I always hosted. We would cook lots of food for everyone’s dietary needs, have a stocked mini fridge with sodas and drinks, have pencils, scratch paper, dice, etc. waiting at every seat, things like that. We want our friends to be able to show up and just think about the game, so I guess that’s my answer for a physical table!
More generally, I think it’s important that a group be respectful and kind, and that players feel comfortable bringing up ideas and issues to the group as they arise without fear of being shot down or talked over.
J: Your designs are both beautiful and detailed. Where do you get your inspiration?
Games by Bee: Hahaha, well, that’s very kind and a very interesting question! I actually find designing to be the hardest part of the process by far. I have aphantasia, which essentially means that I don’t have a mind’s eye. Since I can’t see patterns in my head in advance, designing means a lot of tedious holding up fabrics next to each other and judging the fit. My partner helps a lot with this step. They’re really artistic.
J: What is the mark of a quality dice tray?
Games by Bee: I think it’s important to balance aesthetic appeal with functionality and sturdiness. I designed my trays with the goal of being able to assemble and disassemble them quickly, and not worrying about damaging them or losing small components when throwing them in a bag or backpack. I want my work to look pretty, but also last through normal wear and tear!
J: Any advice for others looking to start their own Etsy shop?
Games by Bee: That’s a tough one, I’ve felt like I’m stumbling around in the dark myself a lot of the time. I guess just be patient and expect that sometimes sales will be slow, it’s just the nature of the thing. It can be really difficult to keep up with self-promotion, at least in my experience – don’t be too hard on yourself if you skip a day from social media to recharge! Take it slow and steady, and get to know all the amazing folks in the community!
J: How many sets of dice is too many?
Games by Bee: I think that’s a question everyone has to answer for themselves! Personally, I tend to buy one new set for each new character and resist the siren call of new sets the rest of the time. We also try to keep a couple pounds of Chessex dice around for the table and to bring to conventions, where we run a lot of one-shots.
J: What is a charity/non-profit we can help you signal boost?
Games by Bee: Again, there are so many great options out there. Personally, I would like to urge people to support the organization Run For Something. Its goal is to help young progressives, particularly BIMPOC/LGBTQ+ individuals, start their political careers by successfully running for local office. So much policy change is affected/impacted by local politics – by filling these seats with diverse, progressive voices, our whole country will benefit!
*Photo Credit: Games by Bee