Today we’re joined by Mei Lian Hoe. Mei does a bit of everything and is quite the multi-talented artist. She’s an 18 year old Malaysian student who’s studying English literature in England. She’s mostly a visual artist and is working on creating a comic that focuses on diversity and fighting for what one believes in. She also once published a novel as part of NaNoWriMo, which she has participated in for five years now. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m mostly a visual artist in Digital Art, but I also do a lot of novel writing in my free time. I love creating stories and universes and characters that interact with the environment and the world. I try to work on creating very diverse characters both in appearance and in personality. I specialize in characters facing to the right and highly flawed superheroes. I also draw comics and such, and I’ve been planning quite a big comic project for when I’m slightly more free in the future, where I can mix my two biggest artistic loves!
As a side note, I’m a bit of a Jack-of-All-Trades, since I was also a tap dancer, and a piano/violin player, and a singer, and let’s face it we all do a bit of crocheting now and then, right?
What inspires you?
SUPERHEROES. I love superheroes so ridiculously much, it’s hard to imagine my life without them. I think it was spurned from youth when I watched Static Shock, Teen Titans, and X-Men Evolution as my staple TV shows. I just loved the idea of being able to save the city and helping each other out and everything. I just absolutely love the Marvel Universe. Recently, a huge inspiration has been Big Hero 6, because it’s a movie about super nerds (like myself) and superheroes (my favourite) and an Asian main character, which is fantastic to see! I think watching superhero movies always inspire me and drive me to do more development of my own universes.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Art and writing were always things I loved to do. Creative Writing, especially, when I was a little kid. I remember writing fanfiction back in the day and telling my entire family that I wanted to be an author, and they just laughed at me as if it wasn’t viable. Guess who’s laughing now (spoiler, it’s me, I have a book). I guess I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to pursue something artistic. I think drawing and writing were always sources of catharsis for me, as a Malaysian girl frustrated with the way she was always made fun of for everything she liked and was. Art always gave me an avenue to be someone different and express myself. I went from heading towards a lifetime of Accounting (I did Accounting as a subject in IGCSE, I do Economics now, and I almost applied for Accounting in University), but then I changed directions completely after coming to the UK for Sixth Form, and now I’m applying to English Literature! You could say that I’ve been secretly waiting for my time to burst out of my Asian ‘Economics, Business, and Accounting is Key!’ lifestyle and into something that I myself can enjoy and be happy with.
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?
Long legs. Long legs everywhere. My friends point it out a lot, but I can’t help it, it’s so much fun. Also stupid grins is a big one. Why not also add my obsession with varying noses there too?
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Well, seeing as I’m young myself, there’s not much I can say to people older than me. I just think the best thing to do is to keep drawing and to keep writing, and just to keep doing what you want to do. Don’t do it for the recognition or the ‘fame’ or whatever, do it for you. Just keep practicing and keep at it. I think the key is to find someone who will give proper constructive criticism to help you develop. Joining forum-based competitions for creative writing can be very helpful, especially if they give critiques! Furthermore, I think if you really wish to practice your comicking skills, please, please, please look into joining Original Character Tournaments (OCTs) in deviantArt. They seem like a lot of work, and they are, but they really help you develop your art and comic skills, as well as characterisation.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I do have friends who give me weird looks, but I don’t speak about it much verbally. I just accept it right now and I hope that in the future I and others’ work will be able to change the way people perceive asexuality.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That you can’t find someone attractive if you’re asexual. I find plenty of people attractive, but that doesn’t mean I wanna bang them, you know? You can appreciate people for who they are and what they look like. Also an annoying thing is the assumption that people who are asexual cannot fall in love. I think it’s a problem for a lot of sexualities, as it gets muddled with romantic attraction. I want romantic relationships in movies and books with an asexual where it’s happy and just perfectly lovely.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It may be confusing at first, I will admit. I was never sure, because I only begun realising my own asexuality probably last year. I’ve heard of it before that, yes, but I never considered myself asexual, until I stared hard at myself in the mirror and read a few descriptions and such, and realised that this was me. I guess it was harder for me, because I had, and still have, a crush on one guy, but I realised that that was romantic and not sexual. I think for anyone struggling, you just need to take a deep breath and a step back and examine your life from the outside. It’ll be confusing, maybe, but eventually once you can accept who you are, you’ll feel way more at home with yourself.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My art blog is a wonderful place to go to if you wish to see my art and my conceptual designs for a comic I am currently planning for to start in the summer or after in this year.
For those interested, Captain Hero is a story about a homosexual, aromantic, Japanese-American prosthetic-clad superhero who suffers from bipolar disorder and attempts to protect his city from the overzealous super ‘villains’. The ‘villains’ often being people fighting for causes that the government wishes to shut down and brush under the carpet. It’s a story about corruption, political justice, accepting yourself, and societal prejudice. Also science. It’s also about science. To fellow ace people looking for characters that are also ace in this, so far there are 4 ace characters, one of which is married, two of which are happy being mutually happy together, and one who is happy single.
Okay enough of that, if you wish to purchase my book, An Unremarkable Murder, you can do so over on Amazon:
Or the hardcover with a hilarious under leaf by me:
It’s about a serial killer and a girl who’s also a bounty hunter. It’s nuts, we all love nuts, don’t we? Unless you’re anaphylactic. Uh. I’m very sorry.
If you want to just to follow my regular account where I sometimes post existential things, it’s here:
Thank you so much, Mei, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.