Today we’re joined by Amelie. Amelie is an absolutely phenomenal illustrator. She graduated art school with a degree in illustration and currently works as a freelancer. Her work has such a beautiful sense of whimsy and the way she uses color infuses her work with so much vibrancy and life. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I work in a few different areas with regards to illustration—pattern design, character design, and more recently comics. I work on freelance projects and am supported in my personal endeavors over at my Patreon.
I work digitally because I am very, VERY messy art-wise and digital gives me the room to muck around without wasting physical pieces of paper or supplies. It’s also better because I’m visually impaired to the point of being legally blind.
My favorite thing to do with my visual art is to celebrate the things that lift my spirits.
What inspires you?
I said I’m blind earlier. That inspires me to make art as much as I can before my sight deteriorates completely. If it does.
What really attracts me to an artwork is colors and the “physicality” the colors elicit. Something can be abstract and nonrepresentational in its visuals but still able to give off a sense of lushness. Gigi Digi, Olivia Huynh, and Sachin Teng are people I’ve been following for a while and who I’d say have achieved that kind of quality in their work. You can really feel like they things they portray are “solid!” I guess you could say as a result, my stuff is really texture-based, which naturally lends itself to pattern and textile design.
Feelings inspire me as well. I always put my own feelings into my work, whether I’m trying to squeeze out a certain feeling or if I’m just happy about what I’m working on, I try to show it.
Someone once said my art was like having a blanket wrapping around your eyeballs. She meant that in such a good way though. That makes me laugh, but it’s essentially what I’m trying to do!
Another thing that drives my character-based art is diversity. As a first generation Vietnamese-American, non-binary girl surrounded by American media and living in a predominantly white suburb, I never really saw anyone like me growing up on TV or otherwise. Even now, there will be a get-together and I’ll still be the only southeast Asian in the room, haha! I wanted, and still want to see more characters that go through experiences that I personally relate to. At least in more recent comix, I’m working on my struggles growing up and walking a line between assimilation and heritage.
Lastly, to not make this list too long, my partner. She’s the one who I’m not afraid to bounce ideas off of. I can ask her whether something is off, or could be better, and she’s not afraid to help me step a step back and look at it. She’s also an incredibly talented writer and I’ve done some illustration work for her. Bonus: she’s also ace.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’m going to be honest and tell you the entire reason I got into the visual arts was because I had a less than stellar childhood. I loved video games, I loved TV, there were a lot of hobbies I wanted to be into when I was a child. I think that my parents didn’t understand what nurturing those things means for a kid growing up in the US. Every hobby cost money and they didn’t want to spend money where they thought things were useless so there wasn’t anything left but drawing on pieces of printer paper.
I started out drawing as any kid did. Who knows what I drew? My parents never kept anything. I bet I drew a lot of self-portraits as stick hands and feet. Then, in elementary school, I started to draw Pokemon fanart as well as inside jokes shared between friends. I never learned how to take notes. No one ever taught me. I spent much of my third grade years drawing a comic titled “The Stupid Bird”. I laugh out loud every time I think of me, a small child, being SO ableist without knowing what she was saying. Also, The bird spoke entirely in swears, but the swears were censored with symbols such as “#”, “@”, etc… I don’t know why I thought that was funny. From middle school onward, drawing was pretty much my escape, but I didn’t get seriously into art until I attended art school. That’s when I really wanted to hone my skills, knowing I never had quite a foundation like many others were fortunate to have.
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 include my logo in my works sometimes. Sometimes I forget. But its purpose is to making stealing and ripping harder. It’s just a circle with a lowercase a in it. I prefer lowercase a’s. They’re round and non-threatening.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t be afraid to fall down, art is learned, not blessed to. And don’t be afraid to start something-anything-because you think it’s too late. I’m a late bloomer myself. Try not to be self-deprecating unless you know exactly why you don’t like how something you made come out. I’m not saying that because I think it’s whiny to be self-deprecating. It’s healthier in the long run. The more you’re able to keep your own morale up, the more you will be able to bloom as a person and it’ll be easier to get through the tough times.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I waiver between grey-ace and ace. I’m alloromantic.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
The worst thing I can say I’ve experienced while attending college is being in a conversation where somebody remarks someone is hot or sexy or something. I would just hang back and not say anything if it was a bigger group but in a one-on-one conversation, I would lie and nod, say “yeah, definitely,” that kind of stuff. Erasure is so not cool!
And of course, we’re entirely swamped by hetereonormativity in media today. As if drawing a sensual naked woman is edgy (sarcasm).
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it doesn’t exist. Or that it exists and it’s rare. I’m talking about the aces are unicorns or dragons rhetoric.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Introspection is always a difficult game to play. It requires time, your patience, and self-care. If you’re spending most of your weeks confused, find a quiet block of time and dedicate just to you. Whether it’s consuming your favorite show, eating a special treat, or just sitting there thinking about yourself. Do that for as many days as you can. Quiet 5 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever.
Also, anything you feel is valid. Having a fluid sexual orientation is valid.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Store – store with new stuff being added soon
Patreon – support my work and get previews of my current projects
Portfolio site – see my favorite things and a list of my current personal works
Thank you, Amelie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.