Today we’re joined by EJ Oakley. EJ is another remarkably talented and remarkably versatile artist. They do just about everything, from painting and drawing to music to filmmaking. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I dabble in a lot of different types of visual art. I used to solely draw manga but I branched out from that and changed my style a lot when I started taking Visual Arts as a serious school subject. Now I do anything and everything from painting canvases to digital art, and I still find time for the occasional sketch or two.
Personally I love making glitch art and collages. I’m probably going to sound really pretentious but I really like how you can make something beautiful out of an error, or out of fragmented pieces of things that could come from many different places. I also like drawing with charcoal because I was born messy.
I also make short films documenting the times when I go out and do interesting things, which is not very often because I’m quite boring. I like filming things that people normally just pass by or don’t really appreciate, because it’s “trash” or it’s something that they’re so used to passing through every day, like a bus stop or tube station.
On the side; I’m the bassist and co-frontman in a band called Drop Bear. We don’t have anything up yet but I’m really excited for when we start recording.
What inspires you?
Other people. We have life drawing classes at school and I always get really excited whenever I find out we’re going to have a session because the human figure really fascinates me. It’s really interesting to see the body as how we all know it and then capture it and represent it on paper as something else, something different.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I did sort of always want to do something related to art. I used to really want to be a comic book artist. That was my burning desire throughout my childhood until I was about fifteen when I then realised I probably wasn’t good enough. Now I want to be a graphic designer, which is probably as much of a long shot, but hey, kids can dream…
In terms of my current “field” (if one could call it that) I guess I really got interested in it when I realised that people could actually make money doing what they liked, and I always liked the idea of representing thoughts and concepts in a visual, graphical way. Whether it involves drawing it out or chopping up a couple of pictures and pasting them together on Photoshop. In my current school and the school I was previously at I was (and am) head layout designer for several magazines in circulation around the school, and it’s a fantastic 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 work with a lot of classical figures and busts. The sculpture sections at the British Museum and the V&A are two of my favourite places; you’ll probably find me there most weekends I’m free actually. I like contrasting these really pure, smooth images of human beings against glitches and errors and static, because that’s what life is really like; nobody’s that perfect in real life.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t do what I do, which is basically look down at your work and think, “Oh, great, that’s shit, I’m never making art again.” (I have to stop myself from doing this and give myself the following pep talk on regular occasions.) Art is a process and a journey, not a fixed thing. Make art regularly and don’t worry about consistency, you could produce a couple of sketches or a massive painting, as long as you’re keeping yourself moving down the path and on this journey.
You’ll constantly be improving all the time as you practice. Your style may change. You may change as a person and start to draw different things, or get better and worse at different mediums. It doesn’t matter. People change. Just keep going and keep moving and you’ll be all the better for it.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am biromantic; I (sometimes) experience sexual attraction towards those who identify as male but only experience romantic attraction towards those who identify as female. I’m not even sure if I’m describing this right.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
A lot of people I’m friends with just do not know what asexuality is. Either they’re unaware it exists or they think it’s something other than it actually is. (I once heard someone say that they thought asexuals hated children. Although I do dislike small, loud children; I’m very sure this is not true of all asexuals.) If I try and explain it to them things generally work out, though. I’ve never been bullied or been the butt of discrimination because of my sexuality, thankfully.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Whenever I mention asexuality to someone, a response I get a lot is, “what, like plants?” Several people have also asked me if asexual people reproduce by splitting themselves into two. This is a real thing.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
If you’re unsure why you feel a certain way, don’t worry. You unconsciously know what you want and what’s best for yourself, even if you can’t or won’t consciously admit it. Go with what you feel, and don’t try to change yourself, because that will make you feel even worse. And if you don’t know where you fit on the spectrum, it’s okay. You don’t even have to try and label yourself, or feel uncomfortable if you don’t fully fit under one umbrella or another. You won’t ever be asked to sit down and describe your sexuality in three words or less. That doesn’t happen. Really, it doesn’t.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My work is scattered all over the Internet:
My “official” art portfolio (for bidniss only aaiiight?) is at http://waterjump.tumblr.com
My art/personal Instagram (for sketches and small stuff, this is updated more often than the portfolio) is at http://instagram.com/doyjivision
My Instagram for photography is at http://instagram.com/totalstrifeforever
I have a YouTube account for films at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF4oDxHbDSHd68zAkXDRcbA
And I also have a YouTube account for covers of songs I like at https://www.youtube.com/user/snowpatrolling
I have a Bandcamp for the previous band I was in (which is now broken up but you’re still welcome to enjoy the tunes) which is at http://thefountainkings.bandcamp.com
And I have a mostly abandoned Wattpad account (which I might revive soon, but if you’d like to read the half-finished story on there that would be brill) at http://wattpad.com/user/hallidays
If you want to follow my main (music-oriented and sometimes personally-oriented too) blog you can find me at http://roryloveless.tumblr.com
Thank you so much, EJ, for taking the time to participate in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.