Today we’re joined by Olivia Lam, who also goes by the moniker Clothbender. I met Olivia at C2E2 when she spotted the asexual pride flag. We got to talking and she showed me some incredible pictures of her art on her phone. I was simply amazed by her talent and I’m fairly certain that my jaw hit the floor. I was even more intrigued when she explained how she created these fantastic pieces: she’s a 3D print artist. She uses a 3D printer. How freaking cool is that!? Olivia was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to be interviewed. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a 3-D print artist; in a nutshell, I make 3-D models, print them out, and finish the prints to create a finished piece. Until recently my body of work consisted mainly of replica video game props, but I have recently started creating my own designs.
What inspires you?
This might be an unorthodox answer, but two things inspire me: the challenging and the unknown. Most of my work starts as some sort of concept, be it actual concept art or an abstract idea. The challenge of taking a concept and getting it to work in three-dimensional space is something I very much enjoy.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I became interested in my field through a strange series of events. First I wanted to make a costume to wear to a convention, then I discovered prop making, and finally I had to figure out how to make props in a small condo with strict noise ordinances. That is when I discovered 3-D modeling and printing.
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?
Nope! I’m known for my masks and shiny paint; otherwise there are no distinguishing aspects of my work.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Embrace failure, it’s a much better teacher than success.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as a gray-hetero-romantic, hetero-demi-sexual.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
In the field of 3-D printing, there is a fair amount of ignorance due to the diversity of its community; artists, engineers, doctors, and makers are just a few of the many groups that are involved in 3-D printing. Fortunately, most people are very accepting once they learn about asexuality, so I haven’t experienced a lot of prejudice. When I do encounter prejudice, it usually manifests as incredulity.
For example, I have dealt with a handful of people that believe they can “cure” me of my sexual orientation (or lack thereof). I deal with these people by simply living my life, business as usual – once they realize they can’t “fix” me, they either learn to accept my orientation or cut communications with me.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The most common misconception is that, when learning I am an asexual, some people think that I have an abnormal reproductive system. I’ve heard everything from, “Do you not have reproductive organs?” to “Can you reproduce with yourself?”
Amongst people that are aware of what asexuality is, the most common misconception is the aforementioned case in which people think they can “cure” me of my sexuality.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Listen to yourself. You know how you feel and what you want better than anyone, even if those feelings and desires are confusing. Be patient, write down your thoughts, do research, and learn more about yourself. However, don’t lie to yourself.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you so much, Olivia, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.