Today we’re joined by J.B.. J.B. is a wonderful visual artist and writer. J.B. mostly writes but also does a lot of painting, woodburning, and sculpting. J.B. is very into creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to J.B. for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
Sometimes I paint, sometimes I burn pictures into wood, sculpt or whatever I can lay my hands on.
Mostly I write.
Not because I chose to, but because I do not really have a choice. If each of my creative urges is a voice, writing has not only a megaphone, it is also standing right next to my ear and at the same time, tapping me on the shoulder. Craving attention like a 4-year old who really, REALLY needs to pee and has been hopping on the spot for the last half hour, but does not dare to go alone.
When I write, I sit in front of the screen and my mind goes dormant. Like someone flipped a switch. Pictures form in front of my eyes, words appear like someone is whispering them in my ear. My hands write on their own. Most of the time I have a rough Idea what I have written. The general idea that character A wants to confront B at a certain place.
How the place looks, the characters look and sound and what is around them, I usually do not notice. It appears like in a dream and flashes away as the scene continues. Characters burst through doors or appear suddenly without me ever thinking about them. Without me planning on further Characters. They just step out of shadows, come in and are active.
I never ask why or how. I just watch, while my mind conjures up the images and my hands write.
Only afterwards, when I read through what I have written and correct, I realize the details I had already forgotten. The cat that streaked round the corner while the characters were talking. The rain that splattered on the floor and sounded like applause. Or how one of the two characters was pausing a moment during talk, coughing dryly and then pulling his hat lower in his face, pressing his thin frame deeper into the shadows.
Details like this just come and go. And when an Idea like that appears, I have the choice to either write it down immediately or wait with the scene repeating in an endless circle in my mind, shoving all other thoughts away until I sit down and write.
That is mostly what I do.
What inspires you?
It’ not something I can control. When I am outside and hear a rustle in the leaves, a scene might flash up with ear-splitting loudness. Someone being chased, frantic, hiding. Looking behind himself, breathing hard, eyes almost round with fear.
Why? From what? What goal does he have?
Might be just a normal bird that I hear. I cannot control it.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I don’t know if I could call myself an artist. Is it art, if you do not really have a choice? I don’t think I have a choice if writing knocks me down like this. People sometimes call me an artist. Yet I do not think that I could compare with true artists. Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo. They made masterpieces. But I can’t do what they can. So no.
I neither see myself an artist, nor do I wish to be one.
But if I could continue writing and have other people enjoy what I write, maybe being able to make a living from it… well. That would be something that I really wanted. Just write and see where the story goes. I know the general path. But I want to know what the details are.
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?
Being shackled to the story. Quite literally.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I really don’t know. There are a lot of sayings like “follow your dreams” or “do what you want” or whatever. Most of them are hollow to me. They tell you what to do, yes. But not HOW to.
HOW to pay your rent if you follow your dream but cannot live from it.
HOW to know if what you do really has a future. If you are really good enough or maybe should be honest with yourself and just do it as a hobby because maybe you are good, but not good enough.
HOW to constantly defend what you do from critics and still struggle on, doing good work, believing in yourself against all odds and not to fall into the pit of self-doubt.
I am not that good on the advice part.
Maybe that’s the thing about advice though. There is an uncountable number of them. And maybe we all have to pick the ones that suit us an support us best?
Not really sure about that.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Uff, I am not that good on definitions there. Because I hardly ever think about it.
I see myself neither as male or female, I do not really have the urge to define myself there.
I write what my characters feel, that is enough. I do not think about it for myself and that is perfectly all right with me. Most of the time, sexuality is something that I do not think about for myself. I do not feel important enough to think about it and define myself.
Plus, whenever I try to concentrate on it, my mind taps me on the shoulder and says “while you are focusing on that totally unimportant stuff, let me tell you about this AWESOME idea I have…” and then it is gone again.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
No. I usually avoid discussions about sexuality and people are usually very quick to spot that I do not want to talk about this. If someone insists, I listen, but I do not discuss it for myself.
A wall works best for me.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The most common that I have seen so far? I really don’t know. There are so many things that run nose to nose toward the finishing line like racehorses. Sometimes “That is a lie, you just don’t want to talk about it” is in front, then “special snowflake wants to be important” beats it by a millimetre. Only to be immediately shoved out of the way by “so asexuals have no feelings at all?” And when no one is watching, “things that people dream up in their spare time after they have read stuff on the internet” creeps up from behind.
It is a weird mixture of prejudices and false accusations and media confusion. Mix that with the inability to peer into another person’s mind and heart and maybe throw in a little ignorance and you get a mixture that threatens to explode with things I would never have dreamed about.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Again the advice thing. The only thing that I can really say and that served me well is:
Tread carefully and keep your secrets to yourself if you want them to stay secret.
I am comfortable to not talk about this to people and kill the unpleasant conversations quickly.
But that suits me. I think, people need to see what fits them best. Maybe some people are best suited with discussing it until they are sure, maybe they aren’t. Everyone is different after all.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
That is still pretty difficult, if you do not speak German.
So far, my book has not yet been translated into English. I hope it will be soon. But for everyone who speaks German, my book is called “Der Fluch der Dunkelheit” (The Curse of Darkness)
Thank you, J.B. for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.