Today we’re joined by Joey. Joey is a wonderful visual artist and singer who does both drawing and painting. He uses art as a kind of catharsis and his pictures are filled with gorgeous colors. When he’s not creating visual art, Joey enjoys singing. He has a particular fondness for showtunes and opera. It’s very clear he’s a passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
This is a complicated question because I’m involved in many forms of art. As far as visual arts are concerned, I enjoy drawing and painting. I use these as ways to express my emotions and interests when others are unwilling to listen. The other artform that I am heavily into is singing. I prefer singing showtunes or opera, but any singing makes me happy. Sometimes I go busking with my friends, and my voice alone can make a lot of money. I’m currently training to become an actor, and I dream of being famous one day for my talent.
What inspires you?
As an aroace people might think that I’m cold or uncaring(not to throw “cold or uncaring” aces under the bus of course!), but my inspiration for much of my art comes from my love of life! Some of my art is from a darker time in my life where I had to use my art to vent, but I’ve always tried to use my art to make sense of the world. This carries over into my singing as well when I pick songs to sing. I naturally feel connected to the music, and songs have always been a great way for me to communicate feelings.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I have always been an artist. When I was younger I would create houses out of paper for my stuffed animals until I had a whole village. Eventually I started to take drawing more seriously, and that evolved into a love of painting. Within the last 2 years I gained an interest in musical theatre, particularly singing. Although singing and drawing are my two main creative outlets, I’m a lover of all forms of art. I’ve always been a thoughtful person, and art helps me to feel calm and joyful.
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?
In my visual art I often end up sneaking pride flags into my work! Admittedly I more often put in the trans flag than the aro or ace flag into my work though. This is because being trans, while being a tough journey, is something I often feel more validated in. Recently I’ve been on a kick to feel more confident in my aroace-ness, and I know I’m gonna use my art to accomplish this. Time to make all of my art in purple, white, grey, and black!
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
One mistake in my thinking as an artist has been that there’s an age where it’s too late to try. I was so nervous to get into serious singing, because I thought it was only something I could do if I already had experience since childhood. When you’re an artist you will see people who have more skill than you, but the best way to prove yourself is to keep trying anyway. If it takes until you’re old to master your skill then so be it!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identified as aroace for years up until about 1 year ago when I kind of broke and gave up on identifying as such. Being aroace, but receiving no validation or help other than through the internet coupled with my other emotional issues made me internalize it, and for almost a year I identified as straight. I’m not sure why I choose that out of any identities (awfully heteronormative), but I was so tired of constantly questioning my own identity that I wanted an easy lie. This lead to almost dating one of my friends that I really cared about, which lead to me panicking and breaking up before it even started. A few months ago I got myself in a good enough place where I was finally able to realize again that I was aroace! Trying to forget my identity did a lot of damage, so now I’m just trying to get comfy with the label for good.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
To me, I feel like artist spaces are usually more open to queerness in general, but I often feel disconnected to these communities. It was one of my friends that happened to collaborate on lots of my art that refused to understand why I didn’t want to date my friend I cared so much about. Other than rude/ignorant comments, the rest of the prejudice is more implied. In theatre, almost every single has romance. As a soprano, almost any role I could possibly be assigned is the love interest! Of course this is what acting is for, but I think there’s an idea that romance is put into stories because it’s relatable to all. As an aromantic, singing songs over and over again about the inevitability of love can be heartbreaking.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I think a lot of people assume that alterous love has to be accompanied by romance and sexual attraction. The thing is, I think allo people experience alterous attraction too, but they can’t tell because it’s mixed in with those other feelings. We may not experience more alterous attraction, but I think perhaps it’s easier to identify something if it’s not mixed in with other feelings. All my theory aside, people really do misunderstand when I want a platonic life partner. It might be what has made me so anxious to identify as aroace too!
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I would say that accepting yourself can be hard, but all of us aces are in it together. Sometimes it can feel like you’re going in circles with your identity, but I believe that your value is great no matter whether you find the right identity immediately or not. I would also say to not be afraid to go outside the box. Sexuality is a strange thing, but I can promise that having a strange or unidentifiable identity is a-ok! If you wanna use a rare label, or maybe step outside the SAM model? I say go for what makes you feel at ease.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I do not use the internet as much as I should to get myself out there, but I do have an Instagram (smallbirdboy) that is mostly my art!
Thank you, Joey, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.