Welcome to another installment of Behind The Things.

One of the greatest ways to get to know someone is by looking at their stuff. What do we cart from between dorms, storage units, and houses? Stuff that we love. Stuff that represents important life events. Stuff that changed our lives.

Each Mad Genius is represented in a tableau of objects from their life. They’re intriguing and delightful. The stories behind them are funny and moving. What do these objects mean to us geniuses? We’ll tell you.

Jessie Kotis is a Motion Graphics Animator at Mad Genius

Hendrick’s Gin

Gin and tonic is my spirited beverage of choice, and if you’re going to have gin it had better be a good one. There are really two types of gin: the crisp, bitter yet refreshing variety and those that taste of stale christmas tree. I prefer the former, and with the suggested cucumber slice, please!

Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

This novel has everything. From the origins of  the comic book golden age, to attending a party gone wrong with Salvador Dali, this has romance, dark humor, and mythology (with a heaping side of angst). I love a book that both charms me and gives me all the feels. Luckily, this is it.

Kishi Bashi’s “Lighght”

This was the first album I listened to by Kishi Bashi, and it holds a special place in my heart due to life things I was going through when I would listen to this album on repeat. I also admittedly have a thing for violin-infused pop, what can I say. He is one of those artists, however, that are infinitely better live. I’ve seen him 3 times and he has never disappointed (I also may have taken an embarrassing picture (link maybe?) with him at the bar after the show one time.)

Wanna see my sweet as heck dark elf, brah?

Why yes, I have been playing Dungeons & Dragons for years. These are my dice. When you’re a grown person you don’t have to play in your mother’s basement, fortunately, and there is usually an adult beverage involved.

Silk Scarf

Old silk scarves are some of my favorite cheap second-hand purchases. Good for looking pretty around your neck or for sleeping in your pin curls like the vintage beauty you are.


One of the many types of nerdy things I collect is chirashi, or Japanese mini film posters. I have two here, one for Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue (the original inspiration for Black Swan, highly recommend) and one for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood. Truthfully, Phantom Blood is far from being the best Jojo adaptation (that would be Diamond is Unbreakable, thank you) but this chirashi is so cool and unusual. The die cut shape and matte texture really set it apart from the usual glossy mini poster.

Lots and lots of drawing tools

Besides making art on a computer all day, I am all about doodling and sketching in the real world. I’ve got everything from your traditional lead pencils to sable inking brushes. The little thrill from trying out a new pen is one of life’s best quiet moments, in my opinion. I enjoy shopping for art supplies so much it almost becomes like collecting anything else, complete with reading exhaustive reviews on pen enthusiasts’ sites for an item less than $2. Do you even paper weight brah? Current favorite pencil: Palomino Blackwing Pearl.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

When you’re as heavy a sleeper as I am, you have to have an alarm clock that can wake the dead, and these old-fashioned bell style clocks do the trick. It’s shrill and terrible and it works. At least it’s cute.

You’re an adorable novelty item, Charlie Brown

I also collect vintage novelty glasses, and this Charlie Brown one from the Camp Snoopy collection is a favorite of mine. His speech bubble says “Rats! Why is having fun always so much work?” I can relate.

Spirited Away

Probably my favorite Miyazaki movie. And what way to better immortalize it than in plush form? This No Face is just so dang cute, you guys.

Cartoon Modern

This lovely coffee table book contains two of my favorite types of art: mid century modern illustration and old cartoons. Those colors! That expressive line work! Any time I need some inspiration I can turn to this and get delighted all over again.

Pop-Art Coca-Cola Puzzle

My family actually has a long history of working for Coca-Cola, starting with my grandfather and continuing to this day. This puzzle is a promotional item that my mother got in the 70s that brings a smile to my face every time I see it on my shelf.

Contemporary: Architecture and Interiors of the 1950s

Another book about 50s design, but this time about architecture. Can you tell I like mid century design? This particular spread has photography by Julius Shulman (look him up) of architect Richard Neutra’s (look him up too) Kaufmann House (heck, look this up as well). Everything I love about this era of architecture can be summed up in this spread.

Two Favorite Films

If I felt like I had my favorite animated films covered already, my live action favorites had to make an appearance as well. I know quite a few people would say The Royal Tenenbaums or Blade Runner is their favorite film, and I can’t help but agree. One has a great aesthetic and is quite funny, and the other has a great aesthetic and isn’t funny in the slightest. What range I have.

Black Coffee

Truly my main source of power. Its bitterness fuels my soul in a way nothing else can quite match. From french press and espresso to plain ol’ drip, any time, any day.


Jessie Kotis is an award-winning illustrator, animal-lover, and trivia aficionado. She is one of the reasons this website looks so great. Read more about Jessie here.