For our next interview, we’re joined by Emmalie Hall. Emmalie is an incredibly talented visual artist who does a bit of everything. She’s majoring in interior design but also does semi-photorealistic sketches, paintings, stylized fanart, minimal digital work, and set design. She also writes both original fic and fan fic. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
My work tends to sort itself into one of three categories. The first would be “traditional” art; most of my pieces are sketched by hand, usually in varying densities of graphite, but also occasionally in colored pencil. I like to draw a wide range of subjects, but I particularly enjoy flowers or objects with a metallic finish. The more complex something appears, the more fun I can usually have drawing it.
I also do fanart, if I happen to have an idea that I like. These are usually pencil-on-paper sketches as well, but sometimes I’ll work with digital mediums (GIMP is my preferred program) to create fan pieces. Generally speaking, my fanart is more cartoonish than it is realistic.
The third category I would have to term “set design”. In high school, I helped design and build the sets and props for all of our many shows. I’ve done work on productions as well-known as Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to name but two, as well as more obscure plays like Break a Leg. While I do help considerably with the physical construction process, I was also usually the one to be assigned the task of painting or sculpting the more intricate details after the main build.
Unrelated to my visual artwork, I also consider myself a writer. I’ve put together poems and short stories, and I have an original novel that I started back in November which is still being written. Most of my written works, however, are fanfiction. Thus far, I’ve written several stories for Les Misérables, Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens, and the BBC Sherlock fandom. These range from short, 1,600 word stories to several in the 50-60k range, and then one Les Mis fic which reached a total of 94k+ words by the time it was done.
What inspires you?
I find myself greatly inspired by architecture, as well as by pieces of music. Lyrics in particular can often give me a starting place for a drawing. Beyond that, I find that inspiration comes from the idea itself that I want to convey. I think very carefully about what I want to portray thematically in a piece of art, and then the semantics of it works itself out in what I feel is the best way to represent said theme.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
My major is interior design (ID), with a minor in theatre. I’ve loved art ever since I was very young; my uncle is a painter, my aunt an incredible seamstress, and my mom loves to scrapbook, so I was exposed to it from early on. I would not have been older than six when I decided that ID was the path for me. One evening, I came inside to find my parents watching HGTV and said something to the effect of, “You can do that for a job?!” That was more or less the end of it.
As for theatre, that was something I came to a lot later. Prior to my freshman year of high school, I was terrified by the idea of speaking in front of even one person, let alone a crowd. I was in eighth grade choir, however, and my teacher also taught choir at the high school. When I learned that he was going to be directing our musical (I had the honor of having Phantom be my freshman show), I decided that no matter how scared I was, I would audition anyway. Truly, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I fell in love with the stage, with acting, and with the opportunities offered in tech to create professional-quality set pieces.
Art is a necessity and a comfort in my life, and I couldn’t be happier to do what I’m doing.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I’m not sure that I have any particular repeating motif to share, but when I work in color, I work in a lot of color.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Somewhere along the line, somebody is going to try to talk you out of going into the arts. Parents, teachers, and peers may question the wisdom of entering what is traditionally a very competitive field, and may try to encourage you to become a businessperson or something instead (I’ve actually heard, “You should be a doctor” from a lot of people). Do not allow them to sway you from something that you are truly passionate about. Parents and counselors and so on can provide guidance, but it should be guidance only, and not a dictation of what you must do with your life.
That does not mean that you cannot change your field, if you find that what you thought you would like just doesn’t work for you, but ultimately it’s your life and only you have the right to decide how you feel and what you want to do. Few things are as rewarding as knowing that you will be able to do what you love every day, instead of having to wait for the occasional free weekend to pursue a hobby.
You have talent, and you have ambition. Those two will take you far, if you let them.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as demisexual. I have to have a very particular kind of emotional bond with someone to be at all attracted to them. Physical appearance and gender have no bearing on my attraction or lack thereof whatsoever.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I have yet to come across any especial prejudice within my field specifically. Then again, it hasn’t really come up in conversation hitherto.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
A lot of people say things like, “You’re still young”, or, “You just haven’t met the right person yet”. These people generally aren’t of ill intent – usually, they are trying to reassure me that I won’t end up old and alone or some such. Still, it is frustrating that people will not just take me at my word when I say that I don’t experience allosexual attraction. On the other hand, if I go further and try to educate people, explaining that asexuality is a real orientation and what it means, then I tend to get either reactions of positive interest or at least vague neutrality.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Being asexual does not mean that one cannot have wonderful relationships. Whatever one’s accompanying romantic orientation, whether you is looking for a significant other or people to call friends, you can and will find people who will accept you just as you are. So often, being asexual is treated as a lonelier sort of orientation; in a world which is as highly sexualized as ours, we are lead to believe that sex is the end-all-be-all of our lives. This is not true for us, and I don’t particularly believe that it’s true for allosexuals, either. It’s only social conditioning which makes us believe otherwise.
My advice is this: remember to communicate. Let your friends or partner know when something makes you uncomfortable. Make sure everyone is on the same page with what you want out of the relationship, and be sure that they respect that. Respect for you and your boundaries should be at the core of anybody’s relationship with you – and know too that respect goes both ways. Someone who really cares about you will not pressure you into doing something that you aren’t comfortable with, but realize too that everyone communicates differently, and that while some people are great at interpreting body language and may immediately know if something is wrong, other people may need to be told more bluntly that you’re not okay with their suggestion.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
A lot of my work, very old to more recent, is available at emari-chan.deviantart.com. I haven’t added anything new in a couple of months, but I should be updating it soon.
Thank you so much, Emmalie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.