Today we’re joined by Rae Bartels. Rae is an incredibly talented art student who is studying at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. She is incredibly passionate about her field and her enthusiasm comes through in her interview. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing much more of her in the future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I draw cute things, even if they’re not meant to be cute! Hahah! But in all seriousness, I’m an illustration major with a love of animation. I don’t think I’d have the patience for actual animation but I hope to work in either animation or gaming as a storyboard artist. I adore telling stories with my art. Even the littlest of doodles can tell the grandest of tales in my book!
What inspires you?
So much. Everything from whatever I’m watching (Steven Universe and Gravity Falls are my current kicks which have been apparent in my art) to whatever song is stuck in my head. But my biggest inspirations are my friends be they artists like the fantastic Heather Nunnelly who drive me to improve and also help guide me, or are super amazing best friends like my BFF Cendra who always cheer me on no matter what. Then there’s my datemate and cowriter for our new webcomic, Ethan Thinnes, who is an absolute sweety and makes me want to draw more than ever. I guess it’s the great people I surround myself with that inspire me in the end!
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I wanted to be a scientist up until I learned that you could be an artist professionally! For the first 7ish years of my life it never occurred to me that you could draw for a living (admittedly a hard living but still a living!) until I discovered Manga and then things kinda escalated from there. I still want to be a scientist, specifically a marine biologist, but I’ve always struggled with math and keeping concise and detailed notes so I decided to save that for another day.
As for what specifically got me into the art field, well it was an American made manga called ShutterBox by the beautiful and talented Tavisha Wolfgarth-Simons and her awesome husband Rikki Simons. I saw a commercial for it in 2003 from Tokyopop and was like “that sounds like a cool book!” and had mom take me to Walden’s Books. We asked the clerk for the book and she showed me the manga section and my little brain EXPLODED! BOOKS MADE OF ART! I was amazed! I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. From there it’s evolved into wanting to do a bit of everything, but no matter what the love of the art is there.
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?
Uh, I don’t really have anything like that yet. Hahaha!
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Keep drawing. Anatomy is important even if it doesn’t seem like it. Draw from life. Don’t be a prick when people give you a critique unless the person is clearly also being a prick in which case find the gold in their comments and then leave it at that. You can rock this!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am an asexual with a sex drive. Which for people that don’t really know what this refers to, here’s an analogy I’ve used that seems to help others understand!
You’re really hungry so you walk up to the fridge. Upon opening it, you realize NOTHING looks good. So you close the fridge and walk away. Or, in the case of being in a committed relationship, you grab the one thing you know will take the edge off (aka BF/GF) and enjoy that. That’s me and how I work.
I also identify as panromantic, but that’s a whole different conversation.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not really in my field, but when talking to people I get odd looks when I say I’m asexual. It takes a good while of explaining to get through to them, and often times I feel the person will just pretend that they understand to get me to shut up.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That we’re sexually oppressed or that asexual is another word for abstinent. I’ve had to guarantee people that from my own experience that’s very much not the issue and that there can be very sexually liberated asexuals. It’s not about if we have sex, it’s about if we get look at someone find them sexually attractive or not! We also can tell when someone is generally attractive. I don’t look at people and go “I’d bone them”. I do look at people and acknowledge things that are aesthetically pleasing though. In short, people think asexual people are robots and it’s annoying.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I say if you don’t know what to call yourself, try on a few “hats”. I was bisexual for a long time because I wanted to date all genders (panromantic yo). Finally I found the asexual with a sex drive label and it fit me. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with. Be you and only you.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you so much, Rae, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.