Fan*Alley was opened by Eva Sowinski as a brick-and-mortar shop in Anaheim in the year 2015. It served as a haven for anybody looking for unique, quirky, or nerdy gifts and artwork created by local artists. In 2016, Eva decided to close down the shop, feeling that she wasn’t able to share the amazing art that surrounded her with others when she was stuck behind a store counter. She chose to take Fan*Alley on the road and create the first GZAEXPO as she closed shop.
As a child, Eva lived in a rural town in Northern California without access to art classes, enrichment programs, or any of the online services that exist today. She studied movies by Don Bluth, Disney, Warner Bros., and watched cartoons for research. Being self taught, she lacked the skills to be involved in the industry when she moved to the city in 2000. After working front desk at a poorly run art school and teaching cartooning in after school programs, she realized she should host her own event. She wanted an affordable EXPO to educate those hungry to join the industry while also focusing on their own work.
The first annual GZAEXPO was only 1 day & proved to be a success. The show was catered toward students and those trying to break into the industry. Once the weekend was over, Eva’s email was flooded with requests for another EXPO and the hopes it would be a 2 day event.
February 2017 was the 2nd Annual Ground Zero event and expanded to a 2 day EXPO filled with not only panels, but hands on workshops and demos. Industry pros shared knowledge, reviewed portfolios and spent one on one time at their booths with eager artists wanting to learn more.
GZAEXPO has grown tremendously in just 2 years and is now a free event held at Art Institute of Orange County in Santa Ana. 2018 will be the 3rd annual event and it won’t be the last!