Today we’re joined by Danielle V. Danielle is an amazingly talented visual artist who holds a Bachelor’s degree in art and is working towards an associates degree in graphic design. Danielle is a bit of a chameleon who can work in a variety of genres. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I consider myself an octopus, with one arm in everything. I’ve done everything from scrimshaw and taxidermy to oil painting. The vast majority of what I do is in ink, marker, and watercolor though.
What inspires you?
First and foremost I am inspired by nature. I also derive a lot of influence from old myths and legends, especially those about animals, and tend to gravitate towards images of living things above all else. I especially find myself drawn to small things that are easily overlooked, and can spend hours in the summertime combing a hiking trail for tiny mushrooms and flowers. In practice, most of my work is also very tiny. For example, the last thing I uploaded is only 4×8 inches
I prefer to work very small for a variety of reasons. First and foremost because I do not have a lot of space, so most of what I do must be able to be stored comfortably in a 1-bedroom apartment. Secondly, it is in rebellion to my art teachers, who constantly browbeat me for making things too tiny because “big art looks better in museums.” Well, small art fits better in scanners, and there are more people on the Internet than there are at the open house. I also like the idea that if it was something hung up on a wall, you would have to stop and get close and make an effort to see it and take it all in. It doesn’t attack the viewer and force them to look at it, it invites them quietly to take a closer look. It also tends to be easily reproduced “actual size” so that it can more easily be shared. I don’t like art in the hands of wealthy jerks that hoard it and never let anyone else into their private museum to see it. I like art that everyone can enjoy. Small pieces of art or sculpture are easily made so affordable that nearly anyone who wants one can have a piece of it.
Aesthetic wise I’m very heavily influenced by Golden Age illustration and the art Nouveau movement (hey, I spelled that right on the first try!) and invariably find myself fawning over snippets of vintage artwork, illustrations, cartoons and postcards.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been an artist since before I could write my own name. Of course back then I had an obsession with butterflies for some reason. They usually don’t turn up in my artwork as frequently these days, though I am trying to raise a couple in a little bug cage.
It was always just sort of assumed that one way or another I’d grow up to do “something” as an artist. It’s second nature to me. I think that humans are a naturally creative species, and that the act of creating is as natural to them as eating or sleeping. Some just practice more.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Not as a whole, no. Every piece tends to have a unique set of symbols. Or not, sometimes there are no “symbols” and a cigar is really just a cigar. My only real exception to this is that when I’m feeling particularly upset I tend to draw more predatory animals doing predatory things.
I do, however, have lots of fun having people try and introduce their own interpretations to anything that I make; it tends to be really off the wall stuff that I’d never thought of. “Maybe you’re right, maybe the Cyclops cow is a metaphor for the evils of the fast food industry.” I say to myself as I eat three tacos for dinner.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I know you think a lot of what you make is schlock and you’re probably right but just because it’s schlock doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the right to exist. Sometimes schlock is exactly what the world needs, so don’t be afraid to create something because you feel it will be mediocre.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as an aromantic asexual. I’ve never particularly felt the need to be up close and personal with anyone, either in a sexual or romantic way. Sometimes I feel alienated from media that portrays romances because they feel gratuitous and I’m left not seeing the point. For that reason the majority of what I make, whether it contains a storyline or not, tends to lack any ‘romance’ at all.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
In my “field,” no, because sexuality tends not to be part of day-to-day discussions with my peers at all. When it does come up, it’s usually more of a case of personal ignorance than it is professional discrimination, and thus far those who do know about it in my personal circle have made an effort to understand me, though I could do without the barrage of personal questions such as “have you ever orgasmed?” As if a shot of dopamine would suddenly make me think romance is the best thing since sliced bread after nearly 25 years of disinterest.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it’s always the result of abuse, or religious prejudice against sex. While abuse can sometimes cause someone to lack sexual attraction to others, its far from being the ONLY reason why. I’ve talked to some people who are convinced I’m repressing horrible memories because I am asexual and have not been abused to become that way.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Don’t try and force a relationship you don’t want. Not to make your parents happy, not to keep up appearances, not because you think its not natural not to want it. The mockery I’ve gotten for trying to date and failing is infinitely more painful than the mockery I’ve gotten for not doing it at all. Relationships have to be built on honesty, and honesty has to start at home. You have to be honest with yourself, what you want, whether you want it at all, and how far you want to go.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m also zooophagous over at society6.com. Send me a message any time, I’m more than happy to answer questions.
Thank you, Danielle, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.