Today we’re joined by Mara. Mara is an incredibly enthusiastic and talented visual artist who enjoys drawing a variety of things. They enjoy drawing humans, animals, and fantasy creatures among other things. Their art has a delightful sense of whimsy to it and it’s obvious that Mara absolutely loves what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
Well, my favorite things to draw are people, animals, furries and hybrid/fantasy creatures. My style isn’t always the most consistent but I have fun with it so it doesn’t usually matter all that much. I have a lot of characters and would like to produce comics and games with them in the near future.
What inspires you?
My main inspiration is the idea that anything is possible in art. The laws of physics, society, logic, and anything else can be ignored if you want. It can transport you to a different time and place, culture, world, universe, or simply another person’s shoes. It’s a powerful medium and a universal language. No two people’s perspectives are exactly the same, and art allows people to share those views with everyone else.
As for people that I look up to… I read a lot of manga and follow a lot of really cool artist.
Manga Artists: Irie Aki, Mori Kaoru, Douman Seiman, Inio Asano, etc.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I got started with drawing Neopets and Pokémon. Shows like Naruto, Sailor Moon, Hamtaro and Inuyasha were also inspirations even though I didn’t draw much fanart for them.
I’ve always enjoyed doodling, even though I haven’t considered it a possible career until recently. It’s kinda silly thinking about it now, but one of the main reasons I began drawing more seriously was because I couldn’t afford to commission people as a kid, but wanted my characters to look pretty too. My art isn’t perfect or anything, but at least I can say I’ve come a long way since then (and have had the opportunity to commission some great artists since then too!)
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I don’t have anything in particular that I can think of. The last iconic image I can remember using was back in 2010 when I was making a comic for myself and a couple friends. Every page had this little legged fish with cat ears named Landfish somewhere on it. The comic was basically giant inside joke & parody of all things anime.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Create what you love, even if it’s for your eyes only. Share what you’re comfortable with who you’re comfortable with. There’s only one you, and you’re the only one who can share your flare with the world. And know that if it’s something that you love, there’s probably at least one other person who will love it along with you… No matter how weird or bizarre it might be to the majority.
Also, there’s nowhere to go but up as long as you love what you’re doing. Nobody was born knowing how to do anything, and hard work & perseverance have a lot more to do with skill than being naturally good at someone. Keep creating whatever it is you love, and when you feel like your art looks especially bad that usually means improvement is right around the bend. Climb past the art block and boredom. Strengthen your weaknesses, find something that excites you and inspires you. If you feel like you need a break, take it, and come back with fresh eyes, ears, or mindset.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as a panromantic-demisexual, but still find myself more on the asexual side of things.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I have. I can’t say I handled any of it very well though since I tend to avoid conflict.
I said I was ace to my bi friend and they responded saying maybe I was pansexual. I just said that was pretty much the opposite though and the conversation moved on.
Another time, someone I know started talking about sex. It made me uncomfortable so I mentioned that I was ace. I thought it would help move the conversation along but instead it turned into a “How to be Sexual & Do the Sex” talk. They didn’t listen to me when I insisted it wasn’t an issue, so I wiggled out of the conversation and haven’t been able to talk to them since then. I feel kinda bad about feeling awkward around them, but it feels really weird being patronized like that…
Thankfully my partner is accepting of my sexuality and super supportive. I’ve also been fortunate enough to make some really great friends who have also turned out to be ace or demi. It’s really great having a few people in my life who are completely understanding. My family is fine with it too, but took it more as a celibacy statement than anything. For religious reasons they reacted much more strongly to finding out I was in a same-sex relationship.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The biggest misconception… I would have to say is that asexuals can’t be certain they’re asexual unless they’ve tried having sex (and if they didn’t enjoy it? It wasn’t with the right person or it was with someone who wasn’t skilled enough.) Sexual people know they’re sexual long before they have sex though, so it miffs me that it’s so hard for them to believe the opposite can also be true. If you have to try something first to know if you like it or not, then every heterosexual person needs to try having homosexual sex at least once to know they’re not bi/pan/gay/etc.
I’ve known gay people that’ve experiment with the opposite sex for that exact reason, but at the end of the day they’re still gay. It’s also important to note that sexuality can be fluid, and things may change. Everybody is different, but there’s no deadline for having it all figured out.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I would have to say, don’t compare yourself to other people. You don’t need anyone else to approve of your sexuality for it to be valid. Being ace has a lot of benefits to it too. The main thing being, we don’t have to worry about getting caught up in the hook-up culture.
For me at least, the biggest struggle with accepting my sexuality was my curious nature. When something’s popular, I want to know why and to form my own opinion on it. This made growing up in a sex-obsessed culture really confusing. On one hand, the media promotes sex like it’s the holy grail… then on the other hand religion often treats it like the end-all of sin (except under very specific circumstances) … And I just never “got it”. There are so many double standards too, I feel like life is so much simpler without it all. I’d be lying if I said I never wondered (and sometimes still wonder) how it would be to be just like “everyone else”, but I’m really glad I don’t have to worry about any of the issues that can go along with an active libido. I’m glad I can focus on self-development instead of self-promotion. I’m glad that I can be just friends with someone. I’m glad that I can offer another perspective on sex to this beautifully diverse world. I’m glad that I can share words that will hopefully help some of you out there who feel alone.
I hope that those of you who are currently struggling will also find joys in being ace.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
At the moment I’m only active on my Tumblr (marachi-art.tumblr.com) but I’m thinking of starting to use Twitter for original works and sketches too. We’ll see!
Thank you, Mara, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.