Today we’re joined by Erin Malo. Erin is a phenomenal visual artist who was interviewed some time ago on this site. She has done quite a bit of work since then, including some design work on asexuality. She works in a number of mediums, both traditional and digital. Her work is fascinating and diverse, showing a great amount of talent. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a 4th year visual communication design student, and I work primarily with logos and identity branding. I also love both digital and traditional illustration, and traditional art when I have the free time. Photography is a recent darling of mine as well. I guess I do a little bit of everything!
What inspires you?
When it comes to design, I get really inspired by other creators. I can scroll Instagram and Pinterest for hours, looking at all the amazing and unique ideas people have! In my illustration work, I’m endlessly inspired by the various D&D campaigns I’m in. I feel like I’m always doodling the characters and the monsters we come across. For my traditional art, I’m inspired by the body and the natural world.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist, as far as I remember. I loved art as a kid, so I did it a lot and got good at it. I didn’t want to formally pursue art after high school because it’s such a difficult field to break into, especially in a fairly small city like Edmonton, so I looked into animation, interior design, and visual communication design, and settled on the latter. It turned out to be much closer to my heart than I expected, and 4 years into my degree I’m still loving 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?
No, I don’t think I do.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Nobody can create exactly what you can. Don’t get discouraged because there’s artists out there better than you. Just do your own unique thing, and do it lots, and share it with everyone you can. You’ll find the people who love what only you can do, even when you don’t always love everything you make.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as asexual when asked, but I’m probably more specifically demisexual. I’m biromantic as well.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve received very little negativity in person when it comes to my identity. I’m pretty open about being asexual, so if people have a problem with me, they’re staying quiet. I presented a zine I made on asexuality to my design classmates in my second year, and I got polite curiosity and even some praise for my openness.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Definitely that (some) asexual people never have sex, or are incapable of sex. It’s very difficult to explain to people that attraction is highly separate from libido – especially when those people are people you don’t necessarily want to sit down and have a conversation about sex with. An unfortunate part of coming out as ace (I’ve found) is having to do the internal work to understand how your own attractions and feelings mesh together, and then articulate that to others if you want them to have an accurate picture of what asexuality is to you. Not that it’s anyone’s business. I just have less and less pride about it every passing year and I’m fine detailing the nitty-gritty to people who ask me questions. Aces with big ol’ sex drives exist, and I’ve had to become fine with explaining that to non-aces.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You’ll probably figure it out, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. It doesn’t matter how long you identify as ace, you will likely always doubt that you’re “actually” ace, and that’s okay. If it’s comforting to you and it describes your experience better than other labels in the moment, by all means, use it. Also, if you’re feeling like aces aren’t accepted in the queer community, get off Tumblr, and go make your presence known in a LGTBQA+ group in your school, community, whatever. You’re much more accepted and wanted than others would have you believe.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’ve got an art blog on here at neon-biology, and an Instagram account full of art at erin_aceous. As well, if you’d like a free 12-page pdf. of my zine on asexuality, titled “Visible”, you can email me at emalo[at]ualberta[dot]ca.
Thank you, Erin, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.