Today we’re joined by Nikki Wicks, a.k.a. Candlewix. Nikki is a remarkably talented illustrator who has also dabbled in writing. Her illustrations are quite beautiful as you’ll see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
By trade, I’m probably best known as an Illustrator. I’m actually in my 3rd year studying at Columbia College Chicago as an illustrator. I hope, in the future, to deal with concept art and character designs for an animation house like Dreamworks or Pixar.
What inspires you?
I kind of let everything around me inspire me- so it’s hard to pinpoint specifics. I’m heavily inspired by other illustrators around me in my program at Columbia, including but not limited to my roommate. I’m also heavily inspired by mythology and fairy tales; the works of different animation studios like Disney and Laika; and music. I suppose what really inspires me depends on what I’m working on at the time.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
This is probably a pretty standard/boring answer, but I really have always wanted to be an artist. When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time drawing people or drawing characters from my favorite cartoons like Sailor Moon and The Powerpuff Girls. Whether or not I wanted to be an artist was never much of a question for me- it was just always the perfect fit.
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?
I’ve yet to start hiding any kinds of Easter Eggs in any of my artwork. However, my artistry name could be considered a pun based on my last name, Wicks. A wick in plain English is the part of the candle you light- the part that burns- and thus came about my studio name, Candlewix.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I’m going to give some advice that young artists are probably pretty sick of hearing: never give up, and aggressively practice without apology. Art is made up of TONS of work- and you can definitely get where you need to go if you just keep on trying!
My other advice would be to surround yourself with other artists so you can learn and grow. Maybe they’ll finally help you solve some artistic question with the way they do a certain thing in their style. However, beware- never compare yourself to others. Every artist has something unique to offer and works differently- don’t mark your success by how ‘like them’ you can be. Mark your success on how like you you can be, and bringing yourself and how you work to the point of success you feel happy with.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify primarily as a demisexual and panromantic, so the more ‘gray-a’ area of asexuality.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Within my field as an illustrator, I don’t think I’ve encountered much prejudice, but some ignorance– though never anything harmful. Most people don’t know much about what being ace is and will ask me questions in the most respectful way they can- and I am more than happy to answer their questions so that they feel they can better understand it.
As a student however, I have experienced what I could call a sort of moment of prejudice- I had encountered someone who had feelings for me and was convinced my ‘lack of attraction’ was somehow intentional. This person was convinced that, and would tell me, that one day my ‘sexual appetite would catch up with me’ and that I would go about sleeping around with anything that moved at that point- and that ‘they would be waiting when that happened’ or ‘would be glad to show me now’. I handled this by explaining simply that it really wasn’t how it worked, and if they really thought this way and didn’t want to recognize me as I was- then they had no business being in my life. I simply affirmed my identity, and let them know I wasn’t going to compromise it.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I think the most common misconception I encounter is the idea that because I fall on the asexual spectrum, that I don’t experience any kind of physical attraction to people or aesthetic attraction. Though sometimes it is the case for some asexuals in the community, it is hard to explain to people sometimes that my asexuality doesn’t mean I A.) don’t want to engage in some physical acts with partners such as holding hands/kissing/cuddling or B.) am unable to find people attractive on an aesthetic level.
The best way I found to have worded it in the past is “Aseuxal for me doesn’t mean I don’t like suckin’ face, it means I don’t like suckin’ dick” and “I’m asexual, not blind.”
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You have all the time in the world to figure out who you are. You are allowed to explore this part of yourself in any way you feel is appropriate and is within legal parameters- and you 100% reserve the right to change your mind. You could be pansexual yesterday and asexual today and move on to being heterosexual tomorrow and gray-a before lunchtime and it is still a completely valid experience. Don’t let anyone define it for you, and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t allowed to feel around the territory. And when you find that place? Don’t let anyone take it from you. Other people have struggled the way you are, and we are here for you. You are part of a community- and you matter.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My work is available on just about any platform- Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — I’m basically looking to take over the web. My two biggest haunts are however candlewix.tumblr.com and facebook.com/candlewixillustration. Feel free to totally say ‘Sup?’ at either place or anywhere you might find me- I would LOVE to hear from you and talk.
Thank you so much, Nikki, for participating in this interview and project. It’s very much appreciated.