Today we’re joined by Jay at Wolfberry Studio. Jay is a phenomenal visual artist who works in digital illustration. Their work is mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres and features people of color, who are underrepresented in such genres. Jay’s work shows extraordinary attention to detail and the images evoke such an amazing sense of imagination and beauty. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and talented 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 am a digital illustrator who works mostly in vector. My fantasy and sci-fi illustrations focus on people of color who are under-represented in these genres.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by legends and myths from around the world. I enjoy exploring the differences and similarities between stories from different cultures. Stylistic influences include Chinese classical painting and Japanese animation.
In addition to visiting museums and galleries regularly to gain exposure to a wide range of styles, I do live drawing outdoors. Nature can inspire, even if you are not a nature painter.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I was one of those kids who got reprimanded for doodling in class in elementary school. I saw drawing as a way to tell stories. I drew comics about my classmates.
As I grew older, I became increasingly aware of the role of visual art in disseminating social messages. I had observed the lack of diversity in certain genres. One day, I realized that instead of complaining about other artists not drawing what I want to see, maybe I should draw what I want to see. That was when I decided to pursue formal artistic training.
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?
My studio signature is consists of the Chinese characters for Wolfberry Studio. Wolfberry is another name for goji berry.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
It is OK to feel disappointed with your work sometimes. The fact that you are self-critical is a good thing. It shows that you are ready and willing to improve. In art school, I saw that the artists who improved their skills most quickly were the ones who were the most open to critique.
Regarding how to deal with the gap between where we are as creatives and where we want to be, Ira Glass of This American Life says it best in a 2009 interview: (http://www.mcwade.com/DesignTalk/2011/04/nobody-tells-this-to-beginners/)
He was talking about video producers, but his comments can apply to just about any field.
We are all on a journey to getting better. It never ends.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not in professional relationships, since the subject has never come up with clients.
I do want to say that I am pleased by the presence of out asexual artists of all levels in online communities. Their visibility paves the way for the rest of us.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Some people think that asexuality is pathological, and that aces would be happier if they weren’t asexual.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
There is no need to fit yourself into someone else’s concept of a happy, fulfilling life. What’s right for others might not be right for you. You are the only one who knows what’s right for you.
People shouldn’t be giving you a hard time for being asexual any more than you should be giving than a hard time for being allosexual, or for being a football fan, or liking ice cream, or being into whatever else they’re into but you’re not into.
You’re the only one who has to live your life. You’re not living it for anyone else. Seek out people who respect you and accept you the way you are.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you, Jay, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.