Today we’re joined by Eli Martin. Eli is a wonderfully talented visual artist. She’s an aspiring comics artist and judging from the work she sent, she has an incredibly bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a visual artist, I hesitate to call myself an illustrator since I’m not certain that would be a fair classification. Let’s go with ‘aspiring comic artist’. I’ve experimented with it a little and I definitely enjoy both reading and telling stories in a more visual medium but I’m still very much a beginner in that regard. Mostly I’m just a hobbiest.
I like to work in a combination of digital and traditional media. My colours are digital and I have done fully digital pieces in the past but currently I prefer to do my sketching and line art traditionally. Sometimes pen, sometimes pencil, almost always very cheap. It works well for me. I enjoy how tactile traditional media can be, the texture of pencil against paper, and the commitment required when working with pen. It helps me not get too hung up on lines and details that aren’t 100% Perfect and keeps things loose.
What inspires you?
I think my biggest inspiration is probably the artwork of others. I love to immerse myself in stories written and drawn by other people, seeing the diversity of their characters and the way they choose to tell their stories. If I had an unlimited supply of double sided tape I would undoubtedly cover my walls, floor to ceiling, in prints so that I could spend the rest of my days surrounded by rad art and comics.
I also take a lot of inspiration from watching other people. It’s a newer thing for me but I just love going somewhere quiet and drawing the people around me. Humans are very interesting and when figure drawing isn’t available to me I find drawing unaware strangers to be a great learning tool (and whenever I AM able to attend figure drawing I probably spend just as much time drawing the model(s) as I do the other artists). It also gives me a chance to practice backgrounds and miscellaneous objects as well – which are something of a weakness of mine.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Much like a lot of artists out there I have been drawing for a very long time. I started when I was very little, drawing people with wings and tails and the like and sometimes drawing my pets (though I found that a bit frustrating at the time so I didn’t do it a lot). I would trace pictures of Pokemon from a game guide I had, make up random families of characters that for some reason always involved a ‘punk’ girl with a mushroom cut, and in later years I would draw a lot of magical girls.
I remember getting really annoyed when I was little by people who would ask if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I would tell them no, that I liked doing it for fun and that doing it for money would take that away. I’ve changed my mind since then, as you do, but I’m still not sure if a career in art would be good for me. At least not right now. I’m not nearly disciplined enough for that right now, but I would like to make at least some money off of it. Maybe as a side thing, I don’t know.
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’m not sure if I really have very many repeating symbols or motifs in my artwork. I like adding halos into my work, just spots of light or colour around a character’s head to break up an otherwise flat background. I am also very fond of including plants and another organic shapes into my drawings. They very rarely resemble actual identifiable plants but I find the process to be very relaxing.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Be relentless and fall in love with your artwork. Even if you draw something and you think it looks terrible celebrate the shit out of it because you made something and that’s awesome. Find some way to make every step of your process enjoyable even if it means completely reworking how you approach things and producing some ugly pieces in the meantime. I love doing line art, for example, but I only started to love it after I realized that pristine lines with no overlapping ends and immaculate details simply weren’t my thing. I now do in minutes what I used to fuss over for hours before getting frustrated and giving up and it feels great.
Just figure out what works best for you and have fun drawing.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m asexual and have known this since I was around 16 or 17? I’ve tried to identify my romantic orientation in the past but currently it’s not something I feel any particular desire to label.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Due to the nature of asexuality (and my nearly nonexistent romantic history) the topic very rarely comes up in conversation – especially where work is involved. I also have no real experience with the professional side of art so I can’t really comment on that. I definitely find the lack of representation to be frustrating at times, especially the idea that a story can’t be interesting unless there are at least two characters who want to get into each other’s pants, so I try to make a point to include more ace characters in my own work.
As for ignorance – that’s something I am much more familiar with. I’ve been very lucky in that almost everyone I have spoken to about it have been very receptive. Many are eager to listen and understand new concepts which is always exciting. Just keep your head on your shoulders, treat it like casual conversation, and sidestep any comments regarding amoebas. I can’t guarantee it will always work but it can’t hurt.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I’d probably have to say that the biggest misconception I’ve seen has simply been that once you know one ace person you apparently know them all. I’ve seen some people who believe that if one asexual person is uncomfortable talking about sex then that must be true for all aces and anyone who is comfortable with the topic is, therefore, Not Actually Ace. Surely I don’t need to point out how flawed this logic is.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Names and labels are a powerful thing. There’s really something to be said about knowing that there are other people out there like you, that there’s actually a word for what you are experiencing. It’s great and it can give a sense of community rather than one of otherness. It means you’re not an outlier anymore.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable identifying every part of yourself and giving everything I name you don’t have to. Understand who you are, your likes and dislikes, and if you find a word for it and it makes you feel good go for it. If you don’t? That’s totally fine as well. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of the deepest workings of you identity and it’s okay to be uncertain.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
The best place to find my work would be my tumblr, curlyhorns.tumblr.com
I also have a twitter, @leaningowl, though I’m still trying to get the hang of it
And if deviantArt is more your thing I do have an account there as well, curlyhorns.deviantart.com, though it is by far my least active site
Thank you so much, Eli, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.