Today we’re joined by Oliver. Oliver is an incredibly talented visual artist who also identifies as aro-ace. He is incredibly passionate about his art and it really shows in his work. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.
WARNING: The 2nd to the last image in this interview could potentially be triggering and/or NSFW.
Please, tell us about your art.
I started drawing when I was really young. I lived in an incredibly small town in the middle of nowhere, so entertaining oneself was a survival skill. The TV was not utilized often, but I was allowed to us MS paint on our bulky 1990’s computer. Drawing, since my discovery of it, has always been an important survival skill for me.
My art, within the last several years, features carefully picked colors and symbols to convey meaning. Generally, my art’s symbolism and color palettes are confusing, or allow for many interpretations. That is less intentional, and more a cause of my own conflicting thoughts. It is a visual record of who I was, am, and will be. I can look at any one of my drawings and remember what the air smelled like when I drew it, who was around me, the weather, what I was wearing. It is a powerful thing and an integral part of my being.
What inspires you?
Life! I love life. When it’s ugly and dirty, when it’s beautiful and bright. It all inspires me. Though, what truly spurs my hands into motion is a sense of need. I like to write, draw, create things for a purpose, to be something useful to other people. Or sometimes I just want to make something that is useful to myself. Though, I’m always surprised by how many people benefit from something I created only for my own satisfaction.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I don’t think I ever did want to be an artist, I was just born one. I don’t believe I ever said “I want to be an artist.” I said “I am an artist.”
My thoughts and feelings bottle themselves up, I’m not good at releasing this kind of tension. So you could say my interest in drawing was sparked by a need for catharsis. I experience an inexplicable feeling of relief and peace when finishing a piece, or even looking at it years after the fact. My drawing instructor in high school always told us, “Art is a gift you give to yourself that no one can take away.”
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?
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t do it for anyone but yourself. Do it because it makes you feel good. Practice, practice, and practice some more, and if you cry because you’ve erased a hole through your cheap printer paper, well you better scream too because that sucks.
Honestly all of my best pieces, the ones I am most proud of, came about when I was just trying to do a warm up doodle. Try to find your rhythm and enjoy what you do.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as a quoiromantic asexual, I also happen to be trans masculine.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Yes, I suppose I have. Though what I’ve seen, or been involved in, most of it didn’t require a reaction. It’s all microaggressions that don’t bother you until it’s midnight and you can’t sleep because the poem you wrote three years ago about asexuality for valentine’s day was stapled with too many responses of “slut shaming” and “hateful.”
There are some people who are not worth reasoning with, they are only present in your life to be contrary. They do not care what you have to say, so you should perpetuate the same attitude. Celebrate yourself and let their anger fuel your self-love.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Asexuals, aromantics in particular, are not interested in relationships! Please friend, no one can live alone. I am searching for my corner of love in this world just like everyone else, do not be fooled just because the type of love I feel is different from your own.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I struggled a lot with coming to terms with my asexuality, actually. Realizing my transness was not nearly as difficult as accepting my asexuality and aromanticism. Being trans, oppression aside, was just moving from one social box to another. Asexuality, however, was breaking the box and willfully existing in white space. It was scary, but because I no longer had to live inside boxes, I found peace with my less masculine interests and settled a crumbling foundation inside of me.
If I have any advice for asexuals or questioning individuals, it would be; don’t ever settle. Even if it’s scary, even if it’s painful. Don’t settle. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
This is my drawing tag, you will also find links to my other works (writing, costumes, etc) in my blog’s side bar.
Thank you, Oliver, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.