If you weren’t already aware that June 1st marked the start of Pride Month, you would most likely have been reminded by the slew of big-name companies changing their social media icons to rainbow-tinted versions of their logos at the stroke of midnight. While it’s nice to see Pride acknowledged in the mainstream at this time of year, there are plenty of actual LGBTQ+-led creative businesses that are putting in the work for our community all year round – and they deserve to be celebrated.
With that in mind, we’d like to invite you to step inside The Haunted Bouncy Castle – an online shop full of Halloween-inspired art, from plushies and stickers to mugs and t-shirts, all designed by two queer Glasgow-based creatives. We spoke to the creators of this spooky shop Jinx Peregrine and Jonas Holt about their art, the work involved in running both a shop and a micro-press, and how the joy from their community keeps them going.
Hi Jinx and Jonas! Tell us about the two of you as artists – how did you begin creating art together?
Jinx: I enjoy making spooky art. I do spoopy cute art too, as it’s nice to have a balance of both. I trained as an oil painter for over a decade, and worked as a budding gallery artist. I met Jonas in Berlin, when I was working with a gallery and doing artist residency programs there. We met in a comic shop, and kinda fell in love fast. We’ve been together seven years now – and I feel blessed every day that I have them in my life. We started making queer comics together when we first met, but after a while we just couldn’t sustain it as we were both growing towards other kinds of creative outlets. We still collaborate on art, crafty projects, our micro-press, and we are planning an illustrated horror book of our own in the future.
Jonas: I started out as an illustrator and comic artist and I love design work as well, but a few years back I discovered that what I really want is to keep learning new skills and that processes of fabrication are incredibly inspiring to me. Everything I do these days is based in spooky, spoopy or Halloween themes, and I love coming up with new things together with Jinx and finding ways to make them a real existing object, while ever expanding my toolbox of skills. Everything we make together is an extension of our interests, the things we love and care for, and our values and convictions.
“We wanted to create a place for people like us who felt excluded from the horror genre. A place where we could uplift each other and create a more inclusive community.”– Jinx Peregrine
Where did the idea for ‘The Haunted Bouncy Castle’ come from?
Jinx: It’s funny, the idea actually came from an enamel pin we made some years ago. I love bouncy castles, and we came across a very gothic one in a mall in Berlin once. We were like, “how cool would that be, to have a haunted bouncy castle?”. Jonas made this amazing drawing, then it became one of our popular enamel pins. We had more serious names for our business planned, but we were like, who are we kidding – we love spooky stuff, but we also love a good sense of humour.
What does running a shop like The Haunted Bouncy Castle involve?
The daily running can vary depending on new projects. Mainly it’s running several, if not too many, social media accounts. Designing the post, coming up with text for the post, and then posting at a decent time so people can see the post.
The fun part of our job is coming up with spooky designs for our plushies, stickers, print merch, mug, and t-shirt designs. We usually work on creating a new one monthly – but with pandemic times it’s been pretty stressful, so we’re trying to be kinder to ourselves. We also have a physical shop in Glasgow on standby that we are currently trying to renovate; but again, Covid times have made this a difficult and slow process. We are still excited to open it when it is safe again.
You also run a micro-press, Artemisia’s Axe And The Corpse’s Tongue – why did you set that up?
Jinx: We set up Artemisia’s Axe and The Corpse’s Tongue because we didn’t feel seen in the horror genre. I’m a horror artist and writer who faced numerous barriers applying to art shows, publishing opportunities, and so on. It still is a very frustrating experience. We wanted to create a place for people like us who felt excluded from the horror genre. A place where we could uplift each other and create a more inclusive community for LGBTQ2SIA+ horror creators.
What does the running of the micro-press involve?
It’s been a rewarding learning experience. We are new to the publishing world, so we are educating ourselves all the time on the proper structures so our creators feel safe working with us as well as uplifted by us. As we are only two people currently running this micro-press it is a lot of work since we do the formatting, editing and designing of our anthologies. Thankfully we have an excellent production place Comic Printing UK, who has been an absolute star in helping us produce our first beautiful anthology.
We are two neurodiverse people with varying disabilities. It’s hard running a business, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Hopefully in the future we can hire more people to assist with our micro-press work. We are currently in the process of putting together our second anthology Skulls and Spells, which we are so excited about.
“When we meet other people in our community, the response from them about our shop is heart-warming and validating. The positive response from our community gives us strength to keep going.”Jinx Peregrine
What has the response to your work been like?
Jonas: The response from our customers has been a joy. Most are a part of our community, and are so happy to find people like us. We feel we are building a supportive and inclusive community of spooky loving people. As Jinx is also a streamer, we have been fortunate enough to meet people from all over the world who have bought spooky gifts from us, which is heart-warming. Every time we get an order for our handmade gifts we are delighted and excited.
Why do you think it’s important that inclusive businesses like yours exist to support and amplify queer voices?
Jinx: As queer people, we didn’t feel seen or uplifted by our society. It’s hard on a daily basis to feel erased in media, online culture and job opportunities, just because we are queer nonbinary people. I didn’t grow up in a place that accepted people like me. When I finally moved away from that place to Berlin and now Glasgow, it was the first time I felt some sense of queer community – which is amazing and sad at the same time. If I had this feeling when I was a kid, maybe I wouldn’t have had so many years of depression, anxiety, isolation, and fear of being me.
That’s why when we started our small business we were adamant about being openly LGBTQ2SIA+, because we want to create a place where people like us feel safe, seen and supported. When we are able to have our shop in Glasgow and open safely, it will not only be a retail space but a place for community gatherings like movie nights, creative workshops, artist residencies, spooky markets, and cosy crafty get-togethers.
We would say that as an openly queer business we have hit some blocks I feel other businesses don’t receive. Most search engines actively suppress anything with the word queer or LGBTQIA+ in it, as it is deemed ‘adult’ content, so unless people have their adult content switched off we are likely not to be seen – hence us having to edit ourselves down a lot, which is really triggering for us.
On the whole, being open about LGBTQ2SIA+ community is hard – but we wouldn’t have it any other way, as we are done being suppressed by mainstream media and culture. I was in the closet for a big part of my life, and I have no plans on going back in there. When we meet other people in our community the response from them about our shop is heart-warming and validating. The positive response from our community gives us strength to keep going.
What are your hopes for the future of The Haunted Bouncy Castle & Artemisia’s Axe?
We are hopeful that after we are vaccinated and the world is a safer place, we will be able to open our shop. It may sound small, but after the last year we are just so happy to be able to get a chance at creating our community space.
With Artemisia’s Axe we are planning on our Kickstarter for our second anthology, which we are hoping to release in the autumn. After this anthology we plan on doing more singular publications for LGBTQ2SIA+ artists that enjoy creating horror and gothic works. We have big plans for the future!
You can visit The Haunted Bouncy Castle here.
Artemisia’s Axe have launched a Kickstarter for their new queer horror anthology Skulls and Spells – you can find the Kickstarter link here.
Follow @BouncyHaunted and @ArtemisiaAxe on Twitter for the latest shop and micro-press updates.
You can also follow the shop on Instagram at @the_haunted_bouncy_castle.