Today we’re joined by Gwyneth Ochsner. Gwyneth is a phenomenal artist who is incredibly versatile. They haven’t met a field they don’t like: writing, visual art, and music. Gwyneth is an artist who does it all. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
Most of my work is in illustration, and I do original and fan art. I prefer to work traditionally, with paper and pen, but I sometimes draw digitally in MS Paint. I’m also a writer, and have already finished writing one book, and am working on publishing it. I do write fan fiction, but I tend to write more original fiction stories. I hope to work professionally as an actor, with a focus on voice work. I also write music and sing, and have performed several times for my schools in the past.
What inspires you?
In terms of illustration, I am inspired a lot by comic book artists like Kris Anka and the like, as well as various artists online. However, I do often draw inspiration from filmmakers and animators, like Wes Anderson and Tim Burton, especially in regards to staging and colour schemes.
For my writing, I think two of my biggest influences are Douglas Addams and Laurie Halse Anderson, the former for his humour, the latter for her realistic and inclusive writing style.
My main inspiration for wanting to be a voice actor, if I’m being honest, is to be the voice of some child’s favourite character. I enjoy doing impressions, and nothing makes me happier than the absolute joy on a kid’s face when I do the voice of, say, a Disney character.
As for music, I draw my inspiration from various places, but an embarrassingly obvious influence on my original work is definitely the jazz music my dad always listened to while I was growing up.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always been interested in illustration, ever since I could hold a pencil, but I didn’t really start focusing on it until a friend introduced me to anime in third grade. I’ve been drawing like a maniac ever since.
Like illustration, I’ve always been interested in writing, but my interest in it has been pretty consistent, mostly spurred by my mother and Oma, my mother being a poet and screenwriter, and my Oma having been a librarian. Not to mention my whole family are bookworms.
I’ve always been a theatre kid, but what really made me want to be a voice actor was seeing an interview with Rob Paulsen, one of my favourite voice actors.
Also with music, I’ve always been interested, my whole family having been musically talented growing up, and my mother has a degree in music history and used to write songs for me and my brother when we were children.
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?
Not particularly. In all aspects of my art, I still tend to experiment with my style.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Whatever it is that inspires you, whatever it is you want to do, you hold on to that, never forget where your love of art comes from. There is so much you can do with your craft, and if more people put their all into what they care about and makes them happy, the world, I think, would be a much nicer place to be.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am Aromantic Asexual.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not much in voice acting, but plenty in illustration, and especially writing and music.
There are very few ace characters within visual art, and we seem to be non-existent in major comic books. It’s a similar case with fiction and music. There are next to no ace characters in popular fiction, and you would be hard pressed to find an openly-ace, popular musician, or any songs written about asexuality. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of romance heavy novels and compulsory heterosexuality, and forget about ace songs, it’s nearly impossible to find a song that doesn’t include sex or romance.
The biggest prejudice I’ve found in all of these is in the fan community. Fan art and fan fiction are very much driven by shipping culture, and a lot of fans refuse to accept any ace or aro headcanons lest they interfere with their ships. It’s really disheartening.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Well, the one that I’ve personally had directed towards me is the idea that I’m too young to know, that I haven’t met the right person, that I’ll change my mind someday. Basically that I’m wrong, that asexuality is a type of immaturity or that it’s just plain not real.
Although, while I’m on the subject of reactions to telling someone I’m ace: Don’t ask ace people if they masturbate! Seriously, I’ve been asked this, it’s just rude. If you wouldn’t ask a gay person that, why would you ask an ace person? Honestly!
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I’ll tell them what I wish someone had told me before I went through years of discomfort and confusion: Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction. Aromanticism means not experiencing romantic attraction. Asexuality is a completely valid orientation. Aromanticism is a completely valid orientation. We exist. I exist. You exist. You are not broken, weird, or inhuman for not wanting to have sex, not finding anyone attractive, not wanting to date anyone, no matter what your classmates might say, no matter what your family might say. You are real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you, Gwyneth, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.