Today we’re joined by Dead Dogma. Dead Dogma is a traditional artist who works in several different mediums. He draws, does costume work, and cruelty free taxidermy. His work is quite interesting as you’ll see. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I bring things to life. I work in several different mediums, ranging from traditional drawings, to costume work, to taxidermy work. Being able to create creatures that have never existed and give them life through work like my mask making and costume work is an incredible feeling to me, especially being able to see someone wear the finished product and bring a character to our reality. I also work with the remains of animals that I scavenge myself from roadkill or animals that have died of natural causes (animals are never harmed or killed for my art, and I never support or source from individuals without a cruelty-free policy). I repurpose bones in ways such as painted skulls, bone jewelry and multimedia pieces.
What inspires you?
I really love the beauty in things that have seen or held life. I love exploring abandoned places, the forest, walking along railroad tracks and seeing old buildings. I get so much inspiration to repurpose things from this; whether it’s the remains of what formerly held literal life, or worn skeleton keys that are turned into jewelry pieces. A lot of people are weirded out when I tell them about my artwork but walk away from it with a new outlook on taxidermy or a revived appreciation of nature and it’s a really wonderful feeling when that happens. I also draw inspiration from my own path in Paganism, where I’ve met other amazing artists with the same appreciation for what’s left behind that I have.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been an artist as long as I can remember. I was always drawing, and around age sixteen I started learning how to make costumes and masks. At age nineteen I met someone who showed me where to find animal bones and from then I learned how to clean and sanitize bones myself so I could use them to make jewelry and other works of art. There have been times when I was younger that I strayed away from art but nowadays it’s my full-time job.
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 use the alchemy symbol for mercury as my signature, and crescent moons are a huge part of symbolism I throw into a lot of my work. I reference many symbols that come from alchemy, witchcraft, and various religions in my art.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Focus. I was always told I needed to exchange my career in art for a more stable career, but I am now 21 running my own successful business that I will live off of one day when my situation improves. I’ve taught myself everything I know; I actually failed all of my high school art classes because I wanted to do things so unconventionally. There is an audience for all kinds of art out there, so never amount yourself to just doing what sells. The more unique you make yourself, the less competition you have to worry about. But this can only happen when you put 200% of your time and energy into your work. Being a self-employed artist is just as challenging as it is rewarding.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as grey-asexual. It took me so many years to finally find a word that fits for my sexuality and when I found out there were other asexual people and that it wasn’t something to feel inadequate about, things made so much more sense. I felt so much better about myself and was finally about to stand up for myself against being coerced into uncomfortable situations because I had a word and an explanation that was completely valid. I have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which has a lot to do with my asexuality, and I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing partner who understands and works with me on this.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve received everything from inappropriate questions to harassment regarding my sexuality and gender identity (transmale), from other artists, fans of my work and total strangers. I remain as professional as possible when this happens but there are times you have to stand up for yourself and blatantly draw a line. Unfortunately, my partner also has to deal with this second hand. People will go to him for answers I denied and he has to reiterate the same things I tell people. It’s incredibly frustrating but I try to educate people wherever possible and answer questions where and when it’s appropriate. My policy on questions from people is to teach and not tear down; making people feel stupid or invalid will never help further your cause, be it on raising awareness of asexuality or marketing your artwork.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The idea that living without sexual attraction is completely impossible and/or the worst possible thing a person can go through. The ridiculous amount of people who try to invalidate my sexuality by asking extremely invasive questions about my personal life or telling me they feel sorry for me is something a lot of asexual identifying people have probably also experienced. It’s extremely frustrating but a lot of times I just completely decline questions about my sexuality entirely since it’s something I feel only my partner and I should be concerned over.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You’re not as weird as people want you to feel that you are. Being asexual is nothing to be ashamed of. I feel it’s important to remind people to never sacrifice their comfort and boundaries to fit into whatever is deemed normal. There were countless people who invalidated or completely ignored my asexuality and issues with intimacy caused by PTSD and I found that none of those people were ever worth my time. I now have an amazing boyfriend who works with me on my PTSD issues and learned where my boundaries were with certain things. He’s the literal exception to how I’ve felt towards the idea of relationships and I hope those of you who are struggling to find someone ideal for you find the perfect partner as well. There are people out there who will understand and have no problem with what is your comfort zone in a relationship. Never sacrifice your well-being to anyone who refuses to understand you.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You can find my work at the following sites:
Thank you so much, Dead Dogma, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.