Today we’re joined by Dani. Dani is a wonderful comics artist who works with both traditional and digital mediums. They are currently working on two separate stories. They obviously have a great deal of passion and enthusiasm for their art, which is always fun to read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a traditional comic artist, who’s been dabbling in visual art for about fourteen years, but only been into drawing comics for five so there’s still a lot for me to learn. I mostly work with pens, and coloured pencils, but I occasionally draw on my phone when I’m out doing life sketches. Currently I’m working on two ‘slice of life’ type of projects, the first one being a sort of growing up story, featuring a religious kid who learns to be more accepting; which is currently on hiatus for redrawing.
The second is more of a drama about a guy who tries to makes friends with someone who he assumes is his late childhood friend, which has more problematic subjects than the first one; definitely rated for a mature audience who can handle more disturbing stuff. They both feature mostly the same cast, but in a different setting and time-line. Which is fun since I get to work with the changing tastes, personalities, ages of the characters, and the evolution of the things around them.
Hopefully the knowledge, and experience gained from working on these projects will give me a better understanding of comics to better tackle much larger scale stories.
What inspires you?
That’s a tough question, drawing is so habitual I just do it, even during artist blocks I draw it out because I have to do it; like blinking. But some things do help out the process, such as watching certain movies, listening to music, or generally seeing things that sparks the drive for creativity. The genres of the movies and music vary depending on mood, but I usually get something from movies like Big Fish or Hugo, and any genre of music from the 80’s and back.
Incidentally, musicals also get me hopping.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been drawing before I could even remember, even have a drawing I did from when I was three, but I never had any real interest in the craft until I turned twelve. A friend from youth group drew me a gift, and for some reason I just wanted to draw, after that I spent every waking moment drawing on anything I could get my hands on. In high school I discovered manga, webcomics, and the like.
A friend introduced me to yaoi at sixteen, which now makes me incapable of making a character 100% straight, I guess this is a good thing depending on who you’re talking to.
Since there were already stories in my head at the time, I started dabbling in my first comic projects after graduating, but didn’t make my first dedicated project until five years ago. Oddly enough, I didn’t, and still don’t have intentions of doing art professionally. The idea of turning the tool I use for relaxation into a source of money related stress is unappealing, I would rather kill two birds with one stone and get a higher education for a better job, while using that knew knowledge to better my art and storytelling skills.
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?
Nope, no idea. I have been told that my linework is recognizable, but I never put much thought into adding anything special into it. I do, however, write a signature on illustrations when I remember to.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
If you’re serious about improving your visual art, study from life. You don’t have to take a class to do this, just go out and sketch what you see, sketch stuff/people around your house, sketch photos on the internet (pixelovely is a great site for this). I’m not saying to draw realism, but go learn from life, there is no better source for improvement than the real thing.
Don’t worry about having a style yet, it’s like a fingerprint unique to you, but it’ll come as you learn. Don’t force it, just let it happen, keep moving forward. Practice colour theory, practice perspective, and don’t ever be scared of failing. I can’t tell you how many drawings I’ve messed up due to being new to a certain medium, it’s going to happen, and that’s alright; it’s a part of learning.
If you include things like illness (mental and physical), drugs, or certain existing cultures in your stories; do your research. The internet, while not always accurate, is a wealth of knowledge; don’t be afraid to take advantage of it. If you’re only drawing for fun, and don’t care about trying to improve, good for you! Keep on keepin’ on, enjoying your craft is the number one most important thing, if studying ruins the fun for you don’t do it.
Lastly something most artist hate hearing, but learn the differences between criticism, and personal attack. As much as you put into your work, it isn’t you, criticism of your work isn’t criticism of yourself. Negative commentary of your work can be difficult to swallow, especially when the comment is harsh, but not everyone is going to like your art; and there will be people who like it enough to want to see you get better.
Part of being an anything, whether you’re a scientist, an artist, or a math teacher, is to be able to take criticism maturely; with a grain of salt. Don’t let it keep you from improving, and enjoying what you’re doing… if that makes sense.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m an aromantic asexual, although I can be aesthetically attracted to anyone. No one is safe from me thinking they look like a good drawing reference.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
No prejudice, just ignorance, which most of that comes from my work and it’s not surprising since I live in a red state. An odd thing is that apparently my mom, and grandma claim to also lack sexual attraction, but they can’t comprehend that it’s a sexuality; so they always say I’m straight. I have argued that you can’t be two different sexualities at once, but the last argument they somehow equated it to being transgender… like, I can’t even.
They are from a different era after all.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
“That’s biologically impossible”, “you just haven’t met the right guy yet”, “but you had a boyfriend before, didn’t you?”, “how can you be asexual if you’ve had sex?”, “you’ll want it when you fall in love”, “you just need someone who knows what he’s doing in bed”. The “you need a man” comment is so predictable, why can’t they break out of their comfort zone and say I need a lady for once.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Don’t pay any mind to what other people think or say, they are not you, what you do with your life and body is none of their business. Explore who you are, don’t be afraid to be “different”, don’t be afraid to be you; because no one is the same anyway. We are all perfect in our imperfections, and no one should feel inferior because they don’t meet the social standards.
I know that the idea of not being accepted is scary, but there will always be people who will care about you, if you haven’t found those good people yet than reach out. You will find people who will be there for you.
Sorry if this isn’t helpful, I don’t have much experience with giving advice about sexuality, and my “cool story, bro” method isn’t always the best way to tackle prejudice/ignorance.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m not super active since I work full-time, but here’s where you can find me, a quick warning that most of these contain some kind of NSFW material:
My personal blog
Thank you, Dani, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.