Today we’re joined by DragonReine. DragonReine is another incredibly talented, enthusiastic, and versatile artist. They’re a self-taught freelance illustrator and also a fanfiction writer. They also make art tutorials on Patreaon. Their work is absolutely gorgeous. I was awestruck by the pictures they sent to go with their interview: the realism and expressive faces are quite remarkable. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a part-time freelance artist who specializes in illustrations and portrait art, with my favorite subjects being romance and people of color. My choice of medium is digital, specifically Adobe Photoshop and occasionally Corel Painter.
Currently I am focused on commissions, both private and commercial, and I have painted several book covers. You can check this link about what sort of commission work I do: http://dragonreine.tumblr.com/commission-reine/
I’ve recently started a Patreon, where I offer tutorials on how to paint digitally, using my methods.
I am also a fanfiction writer, when my wrist needs a break from drawing! I tend to write romance, usually m/m romance.
What inspires you?
With my art: Other artists and creative types!
It’s such a cliché answer, but that’s exactly why I enjoy taking commissions so much.
Many of the people I work with are writers and role-players, who have a creativity that I sometimes feel that I lack. A large part of the fun with working with my clients is trying to see their vision thorough their stories, and capturing that on canvas, and it’s always a great feeling to have them keyboard mash at me and yelling “OMG THAT’S MY CHARACTER(S) I RECOGNISE THEM”.
With my writing: Looking at characters and trying to figure out what makes them tick.
Put it this way: when we consume stories that isn’t our own creations, it’s basically like watching puppets dance on a stage. We see the puppets, we see what they do, and we are told by the story why they do the things they do. But we are limited by what the story is willing to tell us, which is often not the full story, you know?
So when I write fanfiction, I like to explore their possible motivations, their thoughts, their emotions. I always ask myself (and the characters I’d decided to explore) the Who/Why/What/Where/When/How questions. And from there, I kind of just, put them in a scenario and see how they react. Rather like method acting, really, haha!
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been drawing and writing for as long as I can remember. More or less since I’m old enough to think and to hold a pencil in my hand at the same time, haha!
It’s a form of stress-relief as well as a way of problem-solving, when I was in school. I’ve always been an introverted person, and I have difficulty reading other people in social contexts. Art and writing have been kind of a way to organize the disjointed cues I pick up from social interactions, and to figure out the patterns of behavior that allow me to be less socially awkward. It is also convenient excuse to take a break from social interactions. People tend to leave you alone if you say that you’re in a creative mood and need to finish this project now, I’ve found.
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?
Well, my art almost always has the signature of my pseudonym, “Reine”, unless it’s for a cover. It’s mostly for identification purposes.
I’m not really fond of inserting personal symbolisms or features into my work. Largely because I usually paint for hire and it’ll be incredibly egoistic of me to some random feature into the artwork that has nothing to do with the client brief, solely so I can visually proclaim “this is my art, done by me, by my hand”.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t rely solely on inspiration to start making art. If you intend to turn art into a career, you NEED to view it as work. Which means yes, dedication to the craft and developing a routine is essential. “Inspiration” is a fickle creature, and frankly a complete waste of time. Discipline is a lot more reliable and a far healthier alternative.
Make art every day. Even if it’s just a doodle and/or a drabble. Art is a skill, and like all skills, you get better with practice. And when practice becomes habit, you’ll find yourself WANTING to make art even if you can’t, and EVERYTHING can be inspiring.
Don’t go lower than minimum wage if you decide to pursue art for pay, even if it’s only a part-time thing. Lowering your art prices may get you “more” customers and exposure, but frankly you’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re hurting the market for other artists. Artists are often underpaid, and frankly the starving artist stereotype is not fun for those who struggle to survive because of underpricing.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Autochorissexual. I think about sex a lot, but it’s all in my head and it’s with characters, not real people, and certainly not myself. Still have that “never have felt sexual attraction towards people and/or characters” thing going on, though, which makes for, err, unfortunate assumptions by other people about me, as you’ll see in my answer about misconceptions.
Also maybe aromantic, not sure about that one yet.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
A lot of artists who write/draw erotica seem to think that if you and/or characters don’t have sex, you’re weird and abnormal and “lonely”. Poor you, who cannot feel that “intimacy” of sex, doomed to be forever alone. Or if the character is in a relationship, they’re “not really in love” and are “robbing” their partner of happiness.
My immediate reaction to strangers who I know I won’t have to deal with in the future is to either stare them down without saying a word until they drop the subject, or (if I’m feeling irritated on that day) I’d very loudly and dramatically act out the part of the poor lonely soul they think I am, complete with flowery “woe is me” lament.
If I intend to foster a relationship with the ignorant person, I’d bluntly tell them that my sex life is no one’s business but mine. And if I want to keep things friendly, I’d send them some reading material on asexuality.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Asexual people hate sex, dislike any mention of sex, and want nothing to do with anything about sex.
I write a lot of porn. I write very detailed and elaborate porn. I draw erotic art. I have very open and explicit discussions with friends and family about what is healthy sex and what isn’t.
I just have no interest in personally participating in sexual acts, nor do I develop an interest in having sex when looking at “attractive” people, which means I’m still asexual, at its “base” definition.
And I know people who are like me, who identify as ace but aren’t repulsed by sex.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You aren’t broken.
You aren’t “frigid” or “unfeeling” or “weird”.
You’re just wired differently, and that’s okay.
Sometimes the only resources and support group(s) you can find are entirely online. That’s all right. Go online, join AVEN, get yourself educated, and talk to people who are supportive and understanding of your experiences.
If you’re still figuring things out, that’s all right. Sexuality is a complicated thing, and some people only figure out their “real” sexuality decades after they first start questioning. It takes time, sometimes. Take all the time you need.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My deviantART gallery: dragonreine.deviantart.com
My Patreon: www.patreon.com/dragonreine/
My Facebook page: www.facebook.com/dragonreine/
My Archive Of Our Own author’s page: http://archiveofourown.org/users/DragonReine
And finally my Tumblr: http://dragonreine.tumblr.com/
Thank you so much, DragonReine, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.