Today we’re joined by Erika, who also goes by one-true-houselight online. Erika is an awesomely versatile artist who dabbles in a few different fields. They do a lot of writing. Erika specializes in poetry, much of it focusing on mental health and their experiences. They’re currently working on an original story, which features three main characters who are ace and the fourth is a dragon. When they’re not writing, Erika dabbles in fanart and has written a few comics. They have also been in the theater too. It’s very clear they’re a dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I have a couple of thing I do. For a while, the only thing I did was write poetry because when I tried to write other things, I never liked what I started and never finished. So I wrote poems on many things, gravitating towards my struggle and life with mental illness. It became a coping mechanism for me. I started drawing for the first time in a long while because again, I felt like I couldn’t. But I drew a comic of a moment in the D&D campaign I am a part of because I wanted to, and I recently sent in a comic as fan mail to Rhett and Link. I also have been getting into more narrative fiction! I’ve written two fanfics: a tiny one about Rhett and Link as children, and one Psych one where I explore Shawn being aro-spec. I’m also working on an original story with three ace main characters, one of whom is non-binary. So that’s fun. I’ve also been doing theatre for years, and I’d like to think I’ve created some art there as well.
What inspires you?
I love that I get to create things in ways I feel comfortable doing so, and I love that doing so can help me understand things better. Like, when I would write a poem about my anxiety, I could use interesting turns of phrase to define what before was just unintelligible screaming in my head. Drawing my and my friends D&D characters made the game feel more present. I explored my fear of heights and the demiromantic part of myself in my fics. I had just recently figured out I was non-binary when I started my original piece, so I got to write a character going through similar things. And my time in theatre has let me see the human condition in so many ways.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Most of the time, I started by just fooling around with the field until I realized I really liked it.
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 have a weird symbol I draw that combines my first and last initials. You can see it in the last panel of the comic attached. That’s just for the small amount of drawing I do, though. Beyond that… I don’t think so?
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Hello young artist! I will repeat the advice you often get: keep practicing, you are good enough, don’t give up. All that. And also: do the art that makes you happy. Do the art that makes you feel things, that means something to you. Yes, if/when it becomes a career, that isn’t always possible. But understand what you want to do, what makes you feel whole. Then, even when you don’t have a ‘dream’ project, you know why you are where you are. If that makes sense.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am asexual and akoi-demi-bi romantic. I know. I don’t find it any easier to understand than you do.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Um. I mean, there is the ever-present ‘entertainment must have sex to be good/wanted by a lot of people’, but since I am a hobbyist at best, I don’t get too much problem with it? And obviously my coworkers sometimes don’t understand everything, but I have been so lucky to have people who do their best and listen to me.
Handling it for me is either just explaining or sarcasm. Again, I am in a position of privilege where I can do that without fear from most people I encounter.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Probably just ‘how’. A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around how it is possible. I also get people assuming it means someone just doesn’t like sex, but since I am sex repulsed I generally try to explain that while I might be like that, not everyone is.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Hello friends! Guess what? I love you in the least creepy way possible. And for real, you are fine. It’s hard. I felt so amazing when I figured out I was ace, and I still sometimes get crippling self-doubt and fear. We live in a world where our identities are erased, ignored, joked about, misinterpreted, and so many other things. But we are who we are, and we will be ok. If you want to find someone, you can. If you don’t want to, you will be fine. You deserve to be happy and loved in a way that you are OK with. Don’t let people tell you that you deserve less of anything.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You can find me on Tumblr and AO3 at one-true-houselight. I tagged everything about my RandL comic as ‘comic’ (I know), and some D&D stuff fell in there as well. My writing tag is ‘I write sometimes’. Ask me theatre stories if you want a fun time. Have a lovely day!
Thank you, Erika, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.