Interview: Paola

Today we’re joined by Paola. Paola is a phenomenal musician from Sweden who has recently joined a new punk band called Psykonauterna. The band formed last September and doesn’t have an album out yet, but have recorded and played covers of punk and grunge songs. They’re planning on playing some gigs in the summer. Paola is incredibly dedicated and excited about music. She obviously loves music, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am the guitarist, lead singer, and songwriter in a recently formed punk band called Psykonauterna (Swedish for “the Psychonauts”).  We formed in September 2018 and so far, have been playing covers of punk and grunge songs in small gigs, though we hopefully will soon begin working on our first songs and album.  My inspirations, specifically, come primarily from the Manchester music scene of the 70s/80s/90s—things like the Smiths, Joy Division, the Sex Pistols, etc. — but I also endeavor to find my own path when I consider the kind of songs I want to write. I have been playing guitar for less than two years and spend most of my time learning songs written by musicians I admire.

What inspires you?

What inspires me the most, musically, is the punk movement and attitude.  Nearly every punk musician, especially during the early punk years of the late ‘70s, came from poor and/or inexperienced backgrounds. After being inspired by their contemporaries, people would just pick up a guitar or bass for the first time, gather some friends, and weeks later they would be playing gigs together and eventually writing songs.  As someone who has been playing guitar less than two years at this point, this “anyone can do it” attitude of punk is alluring to me and helps me to realize that I do not have to be Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page or any of the legendary guitarists of the past 100 years to make it as a musician.  If Peter Hook [bassist to my favorite band] can go from hardly knowing what a bass guitar is to writing amazing songs within a couple years, then I think I may not be in such a bad position.  I feel captivated by learning the stories of these musicians because they make me think, “Hey, this could work!”.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Yes and no.  Perhaps everyone has experienced this, but I have always been fascinated by the guitar.  As a child I would daydream about playing the songs on the radio or my iPod that had cool riffs, and from the age of about 15 I remember telling people that I wanted to someday learn guitar (I specifically remember saying I would learn Stairway to Heaven first, which I have yet to do, shame on me).  However, it was not until the past year or so that I seriously decided that I wanted to write my own songs, be in a band, and have a career within music.

As for what got me interested in my field, the short answer is all the music that I love.  I’ve always been passionate about listening to music—everything from punk to new wave to synthpop to grunge—and learning about the musicians behind the music that means so much to me.  I connect better to music than I do to novels and films, despite also being a hungry consumer of those types of media.  When I listen to a song, I often pay attention to every part: the lyrics, the bassline, the guitar, etc., and how they fit together, often getting moved by more than just the lyrics of the song. The right bassline or guitar riff or synth sound can energize me and make me feel things just as well as a well-written lyric. Shortly after picking up my first guitar and learning some of the simpler songs that I enjoy I began to hunger for more. It probably wasn’t a specific moment that this happened, but I eventually began to think, “you know, I want to do this. I want to be like all the musicians I love and admire, going up there on stage and both playing and singing my heart out.” So, I began to write lyrics.  Simple things inspired by my favorite lyricists, Ian Curtis and Morrissey, as well as my own experiences.  By September 2018, this dream started to become a reality when I grouped with several people as a band and prepared for my first gig.

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 haven’t finished any of my self-written songs yet, but when writing lyrics, I keep in mind the thought of writing songs that can touch a variety of audiences.  Of course, I endeavor to “write from my heart”, as in lyrics that mean something to me since good lyrics often come from the author’s experiences and feelings.  However, most of my songs so far have been neutral in that they talk more about the feelings aspect and don’t focus specifically on a certain gender in either the perspective or the subject of the song.  Most are not even explicitly or implicitly about romantic relationships. I have these half-written song lyrics that are about different painful experiences I have gone through—mental illness, losing friends—that have nothing to do with going through a breakup, which is contrary to what many songs of varying genres are about.  Like the late Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks said, “I enjoy writing songs that do not exclude anyone.  The only people they exclude are people who don’t know anything about love.” In my case, I consider the broad definition of the word love.  Though it may not be as direct a signature as other artists include, it is my way to let my identity shine through and to include people of varying genders and sexualities, much in the way Pete Shelley did.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice? Dare to try. I know it is cliché, but I never would have made it half this far if I didn’t just dare to try.  Emphasis on the dare.  If I didn’t for example dare to attend that club for musicians who wanted to be in a band, instead of listening to the voice in my head saying that the others would be much better than me, then I would still be playing chords by myself in my bedroom. Not only were we all at a similar level, but we also developed and learned so much together—things I never would have learned and experienced if I didn’t take that step.  I think this applies to any artistic field.  Maybe you want to be a cartoonist but don’t feel good enough at drawing to do the pieces in a local newsletter. Well, you never know until you ask.  Or maybe you want to a publish a novel but feel insignificant, unskilled compared to the authors on the bestseller lists.  Sure, they may have experiences, skills, and techniques that you feel you lack, but their skills do not take away from yours.  Dare to send in that art portfolio.  Dare to contact that publisher.  Dare to answer that “band members needed ad”.  I can’t promise you would achieve everything directly, but I also won’t suggest you would “fail”.  When you ignore that nagging voice in your head that says you are not as good as everyone you admire and that you therefore won’t succeed, impressive things can happen.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

It is all a bit hazy for me, but I have been calling myself demisexual/romantic because I’ve only felt those kinds of attractions toward one person (a friend), though since it has been over a year and seems unlikely I will experience it for a blue moon or several, I sometimes consider myself more on the aro/ace side of the spectrum. This doesn’t much have to do with the ace spectrum, but I also like to think I could be pan.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Fortunately, not, though that could be in part to the fact that I am not completely out to the “real world”.  Only a few close friends and some LGBT+ friends/peers that I have met in real life know my identity, and with my friends/peers/contemporaries/etc in the music industry the topic of dating or sex has never come up, so I haven’t had the opportunity or necessity to share. However, the people I associate with seem welcoming to LBGT+ people and I would expect them to be understanding of me.

I will perhaps face more difficulties as I gain more experience in this field, considering how sex is typically seen as an essential part of music industry.  It is almost expected that musicians would have sex with their “groupies” and indeed I jest about wanting a “rock n roll” life first when faced with questions from friends I am out to about marriage/dating.  But so far, most ignorance has come from coworkers pressuring me about having a boyfriend and have had nothing to do with the music industry.  I will just continue being unapologetically myself no matter what prejudice or ignorance I may someday face.  In a way, it will feel truly punk, standing up to the stereotype of musicians being male and getting with their groupies, solely by being myself.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Gosh I come across so many all the time I scroll through the internet, more so when it comes to being demi specifically, but I think by far the most common is that asexual is a label used by people who want to feel special for being celibate and/or for not being interested in having sex.  It frustrates me to no end! We are not just people who are celibates, or prudes, or uninterested in sex who want to be “holier than thou” because of that.  We do not feel sexual attraction or feel it rarely in some cases.  Some aces are even the opposite of those labels and have sex with their partners as an act of intimacy, even if they do not feel attraction.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Take your time and don’t be afraid to try different labels that may or may not fit.  It is okay to not be sure of your exact identity and to change from different labels if you realize one does not fit anymore. It is also okay to not have a label or not want one and to just consider yourself aspec, because that is a catchall term that will always be there for you. Remember also that you are not lesser or immature for not feeling sexual attraction or for feeling it less than your peers, no matter what they say to the contrary.  You are a loved and precious individual.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My band does not have an Instagram account or anything yet, but if you want mini updates you are welcome to follow either of my personal Tumblr blogs, at winterknightdragon and at thequeenisstilldead where I sometimes post my cover songs and will eventually share the link to our band Instagram.  You are also welcome to dm me if you want a link to something. My work is all over the place now so that is the easiest way.  You don’t have to be shy! I’m not scary just because I am in a band.

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Thank you, Paola, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Senta

Today we’re joined by Senta. Senta is a phenomenal illustrator who works mostly in digital mediums. He does enjoy using ballpoint pen on occasion. He has his own style, but can also adapt to a variety of other styles. It’s clear he’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. CU2

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I draw, mostly digitally but sometimes I like drawing with ballpoint pen. My personal style is kind of muted colors and darker settings, but I do lots of other stuff depending on the vibe I’m trying to show. I take a bit of pride on the fact that I can cater to people’s interests, that’s especially useful in my line of work, I’m an illustrator 😉

What inspires you?

People inspire me, mostly fictional characters to be honest, but I love to draw people, I love to create characters and create stories for them. I do a lot of fan art of whatever I’m interested in the moment, or whatever catches my eye. Sometimes it’s just a photo or something that gives me a vibe for a character and then I have to draw them.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I honestly don’t know how I started drawing, but I’ve been doing in since I can remember. I used to draw with chalk on paper when I was a kid cause my kindergarten didn’t have pencils for all of us. I’ve always wanted to work in the field, yes, but I wasn’t sure what would I do exactly, I wanted to be a graphic designer for a long time until I realized what that was and that I couldn’t really draw much, then I went and studied to be an Illustrator 🙂

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 sign all my work as Senta, but someday I will come up with a tiny character or something to hide in all my work, I really want to do that, but I’m not sure what. I follow at least 3 artists that do that and I loooove it, I love to search for the little Easter egg in all their art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m not great with advice, but I would say PRACTICE! Practice a lot, and surround yourself with people and things that inspire you to create. Nice supporting friends that share your passion for art are truly special, whether is online or IRL. Also, really practice! Nobody is born knowing how to so stuff, all those awesome artists that you love? Those people busted their butts off to get there.

3. John
John

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as ace and quasiromantic bi (that label is pretty recent 😉 ) but I usually go with queer, it’s shorter.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not necessarily on my field. I’ve encountered it online, where I post my art, or in fandoms I make art of, but it’s never about the art itself (thankfully). Either way I try to let it go and not let it affect me too much. People are ignorant, a lot of people are, and if I offer some education and they deny it by being close minded then there’s nothing I can do about it… That said, it does affect me sometimes, and then I just go and talk to supportive people, I vent a little and then I usually forget why I was upset in the first place.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I’ve had a lot of “being asexual is basically being straight”, some “you have to be attracted to someone”, and a few people invalidating queerplatonic relationships and saying they’re “basically just friendships”… As I said, ignorant people ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Look, I’m the kind of person who loves labels, I looove having a word to explain how I feel, to know that there’s someone out there who feels the same, so I hate it when people say “you don’t have to label yourself, just be you”. But as much as I hate it, they do have a point… cause even if you don’t find a label, it doesn’t mean you’re alone, there’s so many people in the world I’m 100% sure there’s at least 50 more people who feel the same.

Specially in the asexual community, we talk more openly about it being a spectrum, so it’s hard to find your place in it, and it might even move around, but it’s ok, take your time. I’d say don’t rush anything, don’t pressure yourself to know everything, it’s ok not to know. And don’t be afraid to change your mind, that doesn’t mean you’re fake, you’re just figuring things out, and to be honest, we all are… Be patient with yourself, be kind, and don’t let anyone define you, only you can decide your labels (if you decide they’re for you 😉 )

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’m on Tumblr: sentaart (and the-doctor-is-ace is my personal blog) and Instagram: senta_art

4. Miranda
Miranda

Thank you, Senta, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Celine Chin

Today we’re joined by Celine Chin, who also goes by Rururinchan. Celine is a phenomenal fanartist from Singapore. She loves to draw her favorite characters and write fics as well. Celine also creates YouTube videos. She also does a bit of original work on the side. Her work is beautiful, brimming with emotion and detail. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Creative Notebook
Creative Notebook

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art primarily focuses on things that spark emotion in both myself and others. I am a fan-artist most of the time, and I love just drawing my favourite characters, putting them into stories in fanfiction, and making videos to express how much I love the shows/books/movies etc. I also use art/writing especially to express myself, often during the more stressful times as it helps me get through those times a little easier.

What inspires you?

Inspiration and I have a weird relationship. I tend to get random bursts of inspiration at any given time, sometimes for ideas that are simple enough, and sometimes the ideas are just so ridiculous and wild it’s hard to figure out what to do with them. I write most of it down as soon as I can though, and these little lists I keep are what I would go to first if I need an idea for content. If not, I like to go on YouTube, and pick videos and music to watch/listen to based on my artistic mood of the day. Music tends to give me more inspirational vibes though.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Art has been a hobby to me for literally all my life. My parents tell me that I learned to draw in colourful crayons before I could speak. I remember being a child and drawing whatever made me happy or sad, and I was always so proud of them even though my art was not of average kid-quality back then. I was proud of the fact that I created something myself, and it never went away, only growing more and more over the years.

Drawing was my primary art form as a kid, then when I got to my teens, I started trying out more creative art forms, like sewing, baking, singing and dancing, etc. The one that stuck was writing, as book had become a major part of my life around then too. Again, that pride of being able to create something with my own hands was no less than a wonderful feeling. Also, it was the first time I was creating full stories. It was amazing.

I took media and animation studies in polytechnic after secondary school, and there my love for video work and photography took off. Now, I could put my art and my stories to good use in video format. It’s ridiculously tedious half the time, but the satisfaction at literally watching all your hard work pay off at the end? It’s the best.

So yes, I’ve always wanted to be in artist, but really, I’ve been one all along haven’t I? Career or not, art is what brings the most joy to my life, aside from those close to me of course!

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?

Not at the moment. I’m working on my name as an artist, and would love to create my own signature symbol but I’m a little stumped on that for now as I’m still figuring out what defining feature I would like to highlight about myself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The best advice I can give is: Please never try to hold yourself back by making your own expectations too high. I’ve seen many, many people give up on creativity despite loving it simply because they felt like their content was never “good enough”, and it’s only harder when they compare themselves to people around them.

On that note, I’d also like to say that you should never assume art is something that strictly requires “talent”. Would having a natural affinity for being creative and good with your hands be useful as an artist? No doubt it would, I can’t deny that. However, once you firmly decide that “talent” is a strict requirement and that you may not have that “talent”, it’s over for you, because once you get into this mindset, everything you do will never feel “good enough” to you, as you’ll keep feeling that you simply don’t have the “talent”. It harms your creative self more than you may think, I knew someone who hated their own art and gave up because they taught they were the only one in their family without the “natural born artistic talent”, and despite being fairly decent at their craft, they ultimately gave up because they resigned themself to believing that they would never do as well as they didn’t have the “talent”. Also, by believing “talent” is necessary, you undermine all the hard work artists put into their work. Many spend years and years and years working on their craft, and trust me when I say that most of them still think their work isn’t as good as they would’ve liked. But they post it anyway, because it’s at least “good enough”.

Don’t weigh yourself down with invisible chains. Let yourself be “okay” instead of “perfect”. You’re only human, let your art reflect that. Study the art form you want to learn, look up references and helpful tips, practice and practice.

All artists will hate their art sometimes. Even I stopped for a while during some darker times in my life, but if you feel that art is truly something you love, never give up on it, even if nothing BIG ever comes out of it. If you love it, if it makes you happy in any way, it’s already doing it’s job for you right.

2. Inara and Talus
Inara and Talus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! Still working on the romantic side, but it’s somewhere on the aro-spectrum. I do find girls at least aesthetically attractive a lot, so I overall identify as a a sapphic aro-ace person.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Unfortunately yes. I live in Singapore, where anyone that isn’t gay/lesbian/trans is considered a “weird normal person” (“normal” as in cishet, it sucks). I’ve tried to include asexuality in my works in school, and have often received comments about how it was childish, misinformation, or simply something that didn’t exist. Explanations don’t work when people don’t want to listen. I’m not free from the prejudice online either. Sometime ago on Tumblr, I made asexual headcanons for characters that were popularly seen as gay and pan respectively within the fandom (but were not confirmed in canon) and got quite a bit of anon hate for it, the comments ranging from how I was homophobic or how I shouldn’t be “forcing a ace headcanon on young teens since they aren’t sexual anyway”.

It’s hard to handle, that’s for sure, but in the end it’s not my job to educate the ignorant. I will support those who do and help to bring up fellow aces in my community when I can, but the bigoted don’t deserve my attention as far as I’m concerned. I block them when I can, and move right on to making more asexual headcanon posts out of spite. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just here to live my life and exist as a person, not be an informant for people who refuse to take in any information they’re given anyway.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Definitely the misconception that we hate sex. I myself am a sex-repulsed ace with a very low sex drive, but it irks me when people assume we’re all exactly like that. Let asexuals who are open to sex be sexual without calling them fake aces. Like damn.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You might hate it sometimes at first, especially if you’re younger and/or on the aro-spectrum. With how our society focuses so much on romance and sex as a requirement of love and happiness, it’s sometimes easy to fall into a trap that no one will ever love you and that you won’t ever be happy. Even after you get more comfortable with your sexuality, you still might feel like that every now and again, even if you’re an allo-romantic ace who’s fine with sexual intimacy. Just remember that who you’re attracted to, or lack thereof, doesn’t define who you are. There’s nothing “broken” or “unnatural” about you for being ace, and I want you to know you’re valid and you and your sexuality deserve to be respected. There are so many types of love out there, not just romantic and sexual. Keep those you see as your family close and treasure them, and don’t let go of your passions and things that bring you joy. Don’t forget that self-love is important too. If you’re like me, who took a long time figuring out how to love myself, don’t try to force things, but also give yourself chances to be proud of the things you’ve done. If you’re an artist like I am, take pride in your artwork (within reason), and let yourself be confident in your skills in yourself. You’ll get there. 🙂

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Tumblr: http://rururincreative.tumblr.com/ (Art Blog)
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/Rururinchan
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE_pHKt0IeMJVwbjdWtvA0A
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rururinchan/

3. Sunset
Sunset

Thank you, Celine, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Hope

Today we’re joined by Hope. Hope is an amazing special effects artist who does incredible work with makeup. She also creates moodboards. Her SFX is eerie and graphic, something straight out of a horror movie. She’s a self-taught artist and is clearly very talented. It’s obvious that she’s an incredibly passionate and creative artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a self-taught special effects artist. I learned what I know mostly through YouTube videos but I’m constantly learning more and always improving. I really love special effects because it’s a medium to express myself in a unique cool way. I think that special effects has really helped me to embrace my creativity and my uniqueness because I think that society has a little box that they want girls especially to fit in and that’s just not me.

What inspires you?

I think the things that inspire me most are the amazing creations of other people and often things I read about in books. Special effects is such a rare but amazing hobby and it’s so cool to meet others that share that love that I have. Often I will see a really cool look on Pinterest and then recreate it with my own special twist. I also really like imagining what a wound would look like in a book and then bringing it to life.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I first started finding out about special effects when i found this YouTube channel called glam and gore. Before this I had seen SFX in movies and pictures of Halloween costumes but I never really never thought of it as something that was accessible to me. When I started watching this channel it was like a whole new world was opened to me. I thought it was crazy how someone could make a wound so realistically out of cotton, latex and paint. Halloween was right around the corner so I figured “why not it looks like fun” and bought some basic supplies. That why not was the beginning of my new found passion for SFX makeup and an amazing hobby that allows me to be myself.

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

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is not just to be yourself but to do it for yourself. Because the moment you do things for other people is the moment that you lose a piece of yourself. If it makes you happy do it! If it doesn’t or makes you feel bad stop and figure out why. If you can fix the problem and continue in a healthy way do it. If you can’t then stop. Your health is your first priority. Your happiness is the first priority. Your art is for you. If you love it and other people love it amazing. If it makes you happy even though others hate it continue. There are always going to be haters in the world so that’s why you have to be your biggest fan.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I proudly identify as biromantic. This means that I don’t have sexual attraction to anyone but I have romantic attraction to both males and females. More on the male side lol.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not really in my field but a lot in general. In my personal life my parents are well meaning but they keep telling me that I’m too young to know that I’m ace and I might change when I’m older.

In general there is a lot of stigma about bisexuals and asexuals and whether they are LGBTQIA+ (It’s literally in the name) so being both means double the amount. I think all sexualities are equally important and shouldn’t get hate. I believe the best thing to do is to make your point once calmly and if they don’t listen let them look like the jerk and idiot. Don’t bring yourself to their level.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That asexuals will change or need to be changed.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You are valid. You are loved and amazing. Don’t listen to anyone who says that you are too old or young or too anything. The only qualification for being ace is not having sexual attraction. That’s it! Having sex doesn’t make you less ace. Masturbating doesn’t make you less ace. Fantasizing doesn’t make you less ace. Having romantic attraction doesn’t make you less ace. There is no such thing as a fake ace. You be you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My main blog is at thefightingfangirl but if you just want to see my SFX work my side blog is at monsters-gore-andmore.

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Thank you, Hope, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jaime Hawkins

Today we’re joined by Jaime Hawkins. Jaime is a phenomenal visual artist who has a company called Queen Cheetah Designs, which sells enamel pins that she designs. Aside from making enamel pins, Jaime also does quite a lot of fine art. She’s heavily inspired by nature, which shows in her work. It’s clear she’s a driven and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Printmaking. I’ve always loved learning any type of art I could get my hands on – drawing, painting, digital art – you name it! When I have the time, I enjoy drawing on my tablet and taking on small freelance design jobs. My biggest endeavor, however, is my merchandise company Queen Cheetah Designs. Last year the trend of “Enamel Pins” came back around full force, and I decided to try my hand at designing some! I started out with moths, and have since branched out to beetles, spiders, and other nature inspired pins. It makes me really happy to see my designs come to life as physical merchandise that people like to wear, and it makes me feel like an accomplished artist! My designs did so well that I kept making them, and now I have a pretty successful side job running Queen Cheetah Designs. I hope to branch out in the future to apparel and other merch!

2. beetle_collage
Beetle Collage

What inspires you?

I think animals and nature have served to be my most important source of inspiration for my drawing and my merchandise design. It’s a subject I have always loved, and there is endless beauty and creativity that can be found in creatures, plants, and our other surroundings. From striking color palettes to unique patterns, as an artist I feel like I can learn so much from what already exists in nature, and apply it to my fine art and design work.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

From a very young age, I was interested in art. I would doodle on my homework and draw mash ups of animals to play as during recess. I took art lessons with another girl at a local framing shop for a few years, where I learned most of the basics of fine art.

I can’t quite remember how, but “design” specifically caught my eye around middle school. Packaging design, logo design – I found it all really fascinating how much thought went into a design and the finished result. It’s been my driving passion ever since.

4. atlas group photo
Atlas Group Photo

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 wish I could say I had a signature style, but that is something I still struggle with as an artist. I do tend to enjoy drawing somewhere in between realistic with a fantasy flair thrown in. I’d like to refine this over the next few years, but developing anything in art takes time and practice!

6. Swift edited
Swift

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Drawing – Most of what you create will not be for profit, or even for other people. There is a lot of pressure nowadays to instantly start creating and making money, but it’s important to take the time to draw for yourself. Learn what you like to draw and how you want to draw it. It should be fun, not something you feel pressured to do. And no matter what level you are now – just keep going. Practice as often as you can. (DRAW THOSE BACKGROUNDS). Think of how proud younger you would be of your talent now, and strive to make them proud.

Making Merchandise/ Pins – It takes more than an idea to be successful at selling merchandise. It is a tough and tiring job. You have to be your own manager, designer, PR person, and salesman. Kickstarters are a great way to fund a potential design, but be careful that you are prepared to handle the responsibility of ordering your merchandise and fulfilling orders. Don’t jump into it – take time to plan. But if you feel prepared, it can be a very rewarding endeavor!

3. Moth_collage
Moth collage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual, Panromantic.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Relating to the art/ design field specifically? I would say not really, but then again my art usually doesn’t relate to my sexuality. But there are plenty of individuals you interact with online who are outspoken with the fact that they think it’s “not real” or that “we’ve just had bad experiences”. I try to educate where I can, and when it seems like the people might be receptive. A lot of ideas about asexuality spring from ignorance. Some folks just don’t want to understand though, and sometimes you just have to brush it off and move on. Find solace with others who share your experiences.

7. Divided edited
Divided

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That all asexual people are sex repulsed, and hate all types of physical contact. I’m what you would call a sex apathetic asexual. I have no interest in it, and have no desire to seek it out, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a light switch that stays off.

It does become a problem when I desire other attention from partners that traditionally leads to sex. Like making out, or cuddling – it’s either all or nothing. This leads to a very frustrated ace that doesn’t feel cherished but feels hypocritical asking for more physical contact “as an ace person”.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Asexuality is a spectrum, and everyone experiences it in their own way. Being Ace is really hard at times, especially when it comes to finding a partner. It is important to find someone who respects your comfort levels and communicates with you to find out how to approach that part of your relationship. It’s tempting to push your own comfort levels aside to make them happy, because it may make you feel desired – but it will breed resentment in time if there is no respect for your likes and dislikes as well. For people like us it is especially important to make friends and not rely entirely on having a partner to feel fulfilled.

If you find someone, make sure they love you AS someone who is asexual, not DESPITE the fact you are asexual.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find all my enamel pins and current merchandise on my Etsy shop -> https://www.etsy.com/shop/QueenCheetahDesigns. You can also follow me on Twitter at Jaime_Hawkins or on Instagram under Jaime_Hawkins_Design to stay up to date on my art and any upcoming designs.

Thank you so much!

8. Rainbow TVhead
Rainbow TVhead

Thank you, Jaime, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Rachel

Today we’re joined by Rachel. Rachel is a phenomenal artist who does a bit of everything. She writes both fanfiction and original work. She does a fair amount of visual art, mostly drawing using a variety of mediums. As if that’s not impressive enough, Rachel has also done quite a lot of work in theater, both on stage and behind the scenes. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented and passionate individual, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do a ton of art! I write original stories and fanfiction for a variety of genres. I draw, mostly in the traditional sense, and I have a background in theater where I performed, directed, stage managed, was a set designer and constructor for anywhere around 12 productions.

What inspires you?

I am inspires by many things. My drawings are often spur of the moment. They could be inspired by fandom and I’ll create fan art, or be very whimsical and I’ll create some sort of abstract painting.

My writing is often angsty or very light and touching (there’s not much in between most of the time, haha). Fanfiction is inspired by the movie Rise of the Guardians, Spider-Man and Deadpool and occasionally Supernatural! I hope to have more content for these fandoms in the future, and maybe other fandoms, but I have been focusing a little bit more on my original content. I write short stories that are fiction or real-life event inspired. I also have some poem(ish) writing and I’m working on developing my voice. I never want to stick to just one genre because I find so much expression in several forms of writing.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been drawing since I’ve learned to hold a crayon. Writing I’ve always loved and have wanted to create more of. I love reading and when I discovered fanfic, it was an instant attraction. In recent years, I’ve decided I’d like to make publishing a novel one of my life goals.

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?

Honestly no, because my style is always changing and taking on new forms. From paint to markers to pencils to charcoal to fiction to poems I’m always shaking it up.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do it! Do it over and over again and take pictures of the work you draw because one day you can look at an old picture and compare it to your growth and see where you’ve come from and where you are now!

And write of course! Write anything. Your thoughts, your dreams, your observations, your ideas, write it all! Drown in your words. And remember you don’t have to write in order. Sometimes, writing the beginning is so hard, so write that middle part! Write down that action scene and big plot twist and get it out of your head to clear the clutter. Fill in the holes later after you get that burning inspiration to write that one scene because the rest might become easier after doing that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a cis gendered female with she/her pronouns and panromantic asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Absolutely, I had a long term relationship end because I began to ID as ace. My parents don’t fully understand my sexuality and I come across it in social media a lot. I just remind myself that I am valid, I’m not alone, I have support from friends, and that I can get through peoples ignorance because I know who I am.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I have been called a plant (as in I will only reproduce with myself, which never made sense) and that I’m prude. I’ve also been told that I just “haven’t met the right person” which is to say I’ll feel sexual desire and attraction when the right person comes into my life.

I’m not a late bloomer. I’m ace, and that’s okay.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t let other peoples judgement and opinions weigh you down. Seek allies. We’re out here and you are a valid, wonderful and a real person. You are not broken.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Oh! Look me up! On…

Tumblr: FrostedDragonHeart (Eternal Believer) and wrayghtings (Endless Words)
Fanfiction.net: FrostedDragonHeart
Fictionpress.com: FrostedDragonHeart
Instagram: rachelart_s

I accept DM/PMs on all of these so please feel free to chat with me!

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Thank you, Rachel, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Reggie Morrison

Today we’re joined by Reggie Morrison. Reggie is a wonderful writer who has just started working on her novel. She has dreams to publish one day and that’s always a great thing. The world needs more openly asexual authors. It’s clear Reggie is a driven and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I primarily consider myself a writer, but I am currently unpublished. I’m working on my first serious novel that I hope I can one day publish. I also do some redecorating type projects regarding mostly shelves at this point; meaning I clean, repaint, and then paint details and designs on them.

What inspires you?

I wish to be able to inspire and relate to an audience with my writing. So far, my novel has themes of over-turning societal expectations and figuring out who one is internally and externally. I had my own self-identity issues and faced some people who deemed my asexuality fake, so I want to write characters who are also ace and be able to portray other minority groups accurately as well to represent more people.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always been much more invested in my English and art classes throughout school. I started by writing fanfiction my freshman year of high-school which wound up being a large mash of pretty much any fantasy idea I’d ever seen or had. It’s safe to say it was not good, but it was my start. After that, I wanted to write something more cohesive and thought out. I am also tired of reading the type of books that typically wind up having straight white characters “find love” or finding love being a “correction” of a character.

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 don’t necessarily have a trademark of sorts, but I hope to have unique, realistic characterization. Even in side characters, I want them to be just as complex as real people, not just a comedy relief.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make sure you do what you love for yourself and it’s never selfish to want to keep some of your talent and energy to create recreational pieces. Do what you enjoy for a job, but also make sure you don’t burn yourself out before you can create for yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I ID as Asexual and Bi-Grey-Romantic.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

It wasn’t in my field because I haven’t been in my field exactly, but I have come across people otherwise who didn’t understand asexuality.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Most tend to think that if I’m asexual then I’m a “pure innocent bean who knows nothing about sex” or it means I have zero sex drive.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Reach out to other asexual people and talk about how it makes you feel and how to correct others. Some may not want to be corrected so I would ignore them if you can. If you can’t, you may be able to take it up with an authorial figure.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My only social media is Tumblr at Generic-Ginger and Snapchat, but I’d like to keep that for personal friends.

Thank you, Reggie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.