Interview: Anne Bashore and M.E. Wilson

Today we’re joined by Anne Bashore and M.E. Wilson. Anne and M.E. (who also goes by Liz) are two phenomenal indie authors who have just released the first novel in their trilogy entitled The Portal Series. The two main characters are both a-spec as both Anne and Liz are interested in creating literature that gives aces the chances to see themselves in fiction. It’s very clear they’re dedicated artists, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

promo 2

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

We’re writers, currently working on a trilogy called The Portal Series. Our protag, Daphne Seidler, and her romantic interest are A-spec. Our purpose in writing this series is to create Ace-centered literature that allows Aces to see themselves portrayed in fiction, and portrayed in a positive light. The focus of the novels aren’t the sexualities of either character, as we also very much wanted this to be entertaining. Aces don’t need a swamp of sad literature focusing on how alienating and terrible the experience can be — we need literature that shows us as human, and as capable as anyone else is of being happy.

What inspires you?

We draw our inspiration from a lot of places — if you asked us for an exhaustive list of the things that have inspired just The Paris Portal, it would be quite long. If you mean what gives us the drive to work through our novels, it’s each other and our desire to do things better, for ourselves, and for other Aces.

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

Liz has always wanted to be a writer — they’ve been telling stories for almost as long as they can remember. The first one that they really started to write would have been probably around sixth grade. It was never finished, and suffice to say, it was terrible — it involved griffon races, bequeathed princesses, and escaping said betrothal, and that was the entire concept.

Anne’s interest in writing started in 8th grade, when her first creative writing assignment ended up being 22k words. Surprise, it was about French people.

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?

We don’t, currently — at this point, we don’t have a body of work large enough at this time to have a signature, and our next project after The Portal Series is still very much in the planning stages.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Liz: Get to work, but be gentle with yourself. Burn your fictional bridges and don’t look back. Ashes make for great soil — use it to your advantage. Find people who support you in every aspect of yourself, and who support your work. Anyone who doesn’t want to support you isn’t worth your efforts, but don’t forget to be supporting of others, too.

Anne: Don’t delete anything, as you never know what you’ll be able to pick and choose from later. And frankly, it’s always fun to reflect on how far you’ve come further down the road. However, also don’t hold onto anything too tightly. Let your characters and projects breathe and grow. Trust me, it’ll be much more rewarding in the long run. Sometimes it will surprise even you!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

We’re both Ace.

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

We probably aren’t big enough to attract a lot of attention quite yet, but there’s always the common sort of discussion about how asexuality isn’t real or how Ace-spec individuals aren’t a part of the larger Community.

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

That it’s just a matter of not finding the right person or that it’s a choice — that I’m not making enough effort to find what I want. That if I engage in sexual activity of any kind I can’t be asexual.

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

Liz: Be patient with yourself, be gentle with yourself. Anyone who doesn’t support you with whatever identity you have, whether you’re questioning or kind of certain, super certain, or anywhere in between, isn’t worth investing in. Even if you find out you aren’t Ace later, that’s okay. Life isn’t about being stable, being stagnant. Everyone will have their constants, but you are in a state of constant change. Also, people used to think that uteri wandered around the bodies of those that housed them, so if you don’t understand yourself, you’re in decent company.

Anne: It doesn’t hurt to ask questions, do research, read experiences, investigate. You’re better prepared to understand and educate others the more you know yourself. Also, don’t forget you’re part of a society that, for the most part, is just becoming aware of and educated about the whole spectrum. You probably will meet people who don’t know anything–but you telling them your experience is valuable in teaching everyone else around you. If you don’t feel comfortable telling a soul, that’s okay, too. Even if you don’t want to put a label on it, or you don’t have a neat and tidy “name” for it, do what makes you comfortable. That’s the bottom line.

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

We’re available on most social media sites at BWAuthors (Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ko-Fi, Patreaon), and we’re always happy to answer questions wherever you find us! Our first of book, The Paris Portal, is currently available on Amazon, and the first three chapters are available for free on Wattpad.

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

Interview: Emie

Today we’re joined by Emie. Emie is a phenomenal performance artist based in Malmö, Sweden and London, UK. She does a variety of different forms of performance art, including installations and video art. Emie has traveled around the world and recently gave a panel in New York. A lot of Emie’s work has a deeply feminist bent and she’s incredibly dedicated to her work, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. SexDisoriented_Tokyo_(c)DaisukeTsukuda
“Sexually Disoriented in Tokyo” Shibuya, Tokyo, 2017. Costume and Photo: Daisuke Tsukuda

WORK

Please, tell us about you and your art.

I’m an artist and film activist from Sweden who’s spent over a decade working in London as a filmmaker and cinema worker.

My main disciplines as an artist are video, performance and installations.

It was only in recent years I started exploring the field of performance art and transgressing various art disciplines. I make stylized, political work that is influenced by my background in DIY arts, avantgarde clubbing and queer/feminist activism.

My A Sexual Series includes a variety of works that explore and visualize our struggles as asexuals to find acceptance in the world, on a personal, local as well as international level. It also provides various methods for dealing with those struggles and gives a nuanced picture of asexuality to a wider audience, who may have no previous knowledge of these terms or never encountered any of these themes before.

“A Sexual Series is a sex positive asexual’s perspective on our contemporary sexual culture.

A Sexual Series is inspired by posthumanist theory and gender studies.

A Sexual Series works with contradictions as a premiss to find greater understandings of human and posthuman thinking.

A Sexual Series explores the queer identity asexuality with the intent to raise awareness of the sexual construction of teenagers from both liberal and conservative environments and offer alternative ways of thinking about desire and attraction.”

I’m so pleased that my work in A Sexual Series has an international appeal and has already showcased in two art venues in Tokyo (JAP), Athens Museum of Queer Arts (GRC), multiple places in Sweden. It just premiered in New York on Jan 25th at Utopia School @ Flux Factory and in London on Feb 8th for Cuntemporary’s Deep Trash Romance event at Queen Mary University. My hopes and ambitions are to continue bringing the work to more countries globally!

Whilst showcasing the work, I try to find more participants for my international documentary about the asexual spectrum. I call it Ace of Baes and the aces featured so far represent a variety of cultural experiences, being from Japan, the US, Sweden, Estonia, India, Greece and Spain. I am currently looking for an ace producer to help me secure funding for a group shoot. (Holla!)

What inspires you?

Everyday life, encounters, people, the world, technology and meditation – spending time in my own mind. And reading!

3. techtest_SexDisorientation
techtest_SexDisorientation: Emie, featured in the documentary QUEER by Daniela Runesson, Thara Schöön & David Falck, 2017

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

I’ve identified as a filmmaker since I first touched a video camera at the age of seven! Then I started curating my family gatherings at the age of 10, turning them into social and performative happenings!

I carried on pursuing my dreams of making a living – or more importantly, a lasting impact on society – and during production of several films DIY, I started my own international production company in London.

The move into contemporary art wasn’t an obvious one, but it makes sense to me. I was in my late twenties and disappointed with some encounters of sexism in the film industry – similar to those that came to light during this current #metoo revolution! So I decided I would explore the field of progressive video art – only to realize that everywhere is a patriarchal world, with artists calling #metoo as well! My hope is to return to film as my main medium at a later stage in my life, but as an artist.

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 can see a reoccurring trend with a lot of deep pink in my video works. And cyborgs in my performance art!

Being inspired by post-humanism and monster studies, the cyborg as a symbol, metaphor and identity really appeals to me, as I’ve had scoliosis surgery (reinforcing my spine with three long metal rods). My crip experiences really had an impact on my self-image and I share similar feelings of resemblance towards the Monster of Frankenstein as scholar Susan Stryker has expressed on behalf of the trans community in her My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage from 1994.

Bodies reshaped by science.

Recently I’ve started exploring glitch art as a metaphor for queerness.

A digital glitch, a rebellious pixel, reminds me of queers.

To go against normative expectations of you.

5. aligning_glitch
aligning_glitch: “Straightened” physically and culturally by the hetero norm.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t overthink things, do something and reinvent it if needed. Challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zones. Don’t wait for people to invite you, do as much as you can yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Doing it together is a really good method to progress as a creative being. DIT is the new DIY! Move away from the individualist idea of the sole artist by collaborating and start art collectives!

2. asexual_rebelbyDaisukeTsukuda
“Asexual Rebel” Shibuya, Tokyo, 2017. Costume and Photo: Daisuke Tsukuda

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex positive, panromantic, demisexual.

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

Oh, definitely! Try dating as an open asexual…! The worst part is not that the Jungle is so much thicker than average for us in a context of this ultra sexual dating culture, it’s the fact that people in general show no interest in you beyond the sexual. Or you come out and they just fall silent and let their own preconceived ideas control their behavior and actions (usually non-actions). The only person who’s asked me a genuine follow-up question after coming out as an ace person (who listened carefully and didn’t judge me or argue their point), is the person I later ended up falling for and am still seeing today!

Generally, we need an intersectional perspective on how power dynamics impact our emotions and sexual behavior to fully understand the idea of sexual attraction and desire. And it would help if people learn to self-reflect, listen and be curious rather than douchebags.

4. sex_dis04
sex_dis04: Exposition of Emie’s Sexual Disorientation (performance video). Documentation by Anette Skåhlberg.

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

That all asexuals are the same.

In fact, I was surprised by the diversity within the spectrum and the intelligent level of thoughts and conversations about sex and sexual behavior in the ace community.

Some people argue that sex positive aces shouldn’t be included in the asexual community, but where would we belong? The lack of sexual attraction is what unites us, no matter our sexual behavior and whatever reasons behind it.

But actually, I’d like to challenge the phrasing of the question and proclaim that I believe the majority of people have misconceptions about their own sexual attraction to others. I believe the estimated ‘1% of the world population being asexual’ is a massive understatement.

So I can’t wait to live in a world with a greater understanding of what the ace community means when we talk about ‘lack of sexual attraction’ and do another poll. The problem is that everyone is so caught up in the middle of the sexual culture, that we don’t realize the power the sexual norm has on us. It’s an extremely hard norm to remove and distance yourself from, so I have the utmost respect for my ace siblings out there, because I know the inner self-dissecting and acceptance you need to go through before you can even consider coming out as ace!

Now, if I’m right when I believe there are a lot more than 1% of aces out there, suddenly we’re touching upon the infected question whether or now we belong in the queer community or not. If the queer community includes around 50-60% of the world population, is it still queer by definition? Personally, I’d like the definition of queer to stand for radical thinking and norm-breaking behavior. Capitalist queers is for me a far greater contradiction than asexual queers, as the status quo way of thinking is so influenced by colonialism and the global capitalist norm – especially in terms of how we are expected to conquer, consume and collect our lovers and relationships.

My utopia is relationships with ourselves and others built on curiosity, acceptance, love and consent.

Coming from a post-humanist standpoint, I want to move beyond the humanist idea of the polarized mindsets (white/black, man/woman, left/right, us/them…), so I would claim that the ace spectrum is building a complex parallel across the sexual dichotomies homo/hetero. We’re opening up the straight-line way of thinking about sexuality and attraction into a fluid mind map in 3d, which automatically encourage self-reflection and openness both towards yourself and others.

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

You’re not alone. Find people who are into similar things as you. Deepen the relationships with people that respect you for who you are and let those encourage personal development in you, as you in them. Grow! Do what you love, not what people around you and society at large say what you ought to do. Learn to respect yourself, your body, your (non-)desires and your boundaries (extremely important!). Don’t let people take advantage or disrespect your comfort zones.

This is what I wish I’d heard when I was a teenager.

Instead, I was under the impression that everyone was like me and shared similar conflicting feelings, but was just better at pretending and performing.

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

If anyone’s in the UK, I’ll perform at Goodbye To London // This Dancefloor Isn’t Here Anymore’s event about disappearing queer spaces in London on Valentine’s Day! https://goodbyetolondon.wordpress.com/

www.happyendingsproductions.co.uk
www.facebook.com/HappyEndingsProductions
www.twitter.com/happyendingsltd
www.instagram.com/semiemie.

6. M-E
M-E: A Video Selfie, 2015. Distributed by FilmForm.

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

Interview: Dancey

Today we’re joined by Dancey. Dancey is a wonderful artist who has been drawing for going on five years now. They enjoy drawing in a cartoon style and dabble in other forms of visual art like clay figures. When they’re not drawing, Dancey is very into game development. They currently work with RPGs and visual novels. It’s obvious Dancey is a very talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do a variety of creative activities, but the main ones I do are game developing and drawing. I was never really interested in making my own art look realistic, so I usually go for a more cartoonish look in my drawings. My art style is pretty simple, it usually doesn’t have any shading in it, though I am practicing shading my art. As for game developing, I usually make RPGs and visual novels, and I’m currently doing everything on my own, because why not? I’m also planning to improve on animating, which is hard to do with my slightly low patience and being unable to finish the first frame.

What inspires you?

A lot of things, actually, sometimes from other games and drawings, but I also get inspiration from things you generally wouldn’t expect to get inspiration from. Though, one person I have to mention is my sister, who is also an artist. She inspired me to start drawing myself, so I had to thank her for that. There were also people who inspired me to try to get better at art, and because of these people, I got to where I am now. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop there, though, there’s always room for improvement!

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

As I said with who and what inspired me, my sister was the one who got me into drawing. She draws quite a lot, and I decided to follow in her steps, and found that I really enjoyed drawing, so it started turning into a hobby. I didn’t really think much of drawing until I was 7 years old, in which I started drawing more, and I started to put effort into improving, then that’s when I wanted to become an artist.

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 do, though I don’t really put it on my work often. If you’re wondering what it looks like, think of the letter ‘D’ turned to the round-side down, then put an upside-down ‘W’ on the top of it. It should look something like a cat.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be passionate about your work, if you’re not drawing because you like to draw, then you don’t have to draw if you don’t want to. If you want to draw, then you can, and you shouldn’t let people stop you. Ignore the people who put you down, and cherish the people who support you!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panro ace.

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

Only once, and it was while I was talking to my so-called friends, who I actually don’t see as friends anymore after thinking about things. When they asked about my sexuality, I said I was asexual, in which they didn’t know what it meant. I told them what it means to be asexual, and they replied, “It’s not possible to not have a sexual attraction, you have to be attracted to someone.” It did annoy me, but I decided that they weren’t worth my time if they were just going to say that. So I would just ignore people when they say things like, “It’s impossible to be ace,” or, “You just haven’t found the right person.” My ‘friend,’ I can live life my way, and you don’t have to control it, so mind your business, and I’ll mind my own.

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

That asexuality doesn’t exist, and/or that aces aren’t LGBT+. They are, people just don’t believe it, which I find upsetting.

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

Well, likewise with art, ignore those who put you down, and cherish those who support you. Those who don’t support you aren’t worth your time. You get to live your own life your way, and they can’t control the way you live.

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

My main account on Tumblr is Danceykitty, and my game/comic/etc. development side-blog is Cat Pause II. I also post my artwork on Deviantart, my account is Danceykitty, likewise with my main Tumblr account. Also look out for art in the Cat Pause account, as I post art there as well, which are often previews to the characters and story in the form of drawings, though I also post character references and concepts, sprites, and sometimes just random drawings. I also post updates about my games, and their progress. There’s not much, but there might be more soon.

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

Interview: Maeden

Today we’re joined by Maeden. Maeden is an awesome cosplayer who is perhaps best known for her wonderful Supergirl. She puts a lot of time and effort into her cosplays and it shows. When she’s not working on cosplays, Maeden also enjoys drawing (both digital and on paper) and does some graphic design. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. IMG_1381

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love to draw both digitally and on paper, but my main artistic medium is cosplay. I started off by doing characters who wore “street clothes” that I could just approximate and wear as-is, but have recently grown my skills to make heavy modifications to base pieces. I strive for accuracy and am always looking for ways to improve.

I also run a YouTube channel that is mostly centered on cosplay, with occasional fandom rants and tip videos.

What inspires you?

Honestly, Supergirl. Specifically, as played by Laura Vandervoort. Seriously though- when I first discovered the character, my life was really awful. But striving to embody her helped to keep me from becoming bitter and angry. I saw someone who had lost everything and was severely displaced, but was still kind, and hopeful, and strong. I decided I wanted to be like that. And I wanted to pay tribute to her, starting by writing her and adopting her bright, bold aesthetic, to eventually bringing a full-fledged portrayal to life.

I don’t agree with all the ways she’s been depicted, as I’ll mention more later, but aiming to be more like my ideal version of her keeps my head held high.

6. Photo May 30, 11 30 32 PM

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

I just love creating. With cosplay, I went to my first con without cosplaying and just realized I’d enjoy it more if I were playing a character. A few months later at my second con I cosplayed for the first time, and haven’t stopped since.

As far as my drawing, it just started as something to do when I was bored. Over time I improved and realized I was pretty OK at it, and wanted to share it.

2. IMG_2515

What’s the best thing you’ve experienced through your art?

Being able to bring my ideas to life. I’m so often disappointed by how the character I love is represented, but by both drawing and cosplaying- especially the latter- I can realize what I would like to see, ranging from queer headcanons, to creative and unique stories that respect my muse.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Pursue what you’re passionate about. People may call it an obsession- and that’s fine! Be driven and proud of your work.

5. 799bf3b7-4084-4f59-bd24-3bc709de6de9

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual Panromantic. With most people I just say Bi though, and even that’s wild or complicated to some.

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

In the cosplay community, most are very accepting of everyone. I also don’t introduce myself as Mae the A-spec, so I haven’t had occasion to tell many people. But those I’ve happened to mention it to are perfectly accepting.

3. 2017-07-22 20_F

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

That it’s a medical/psychological “condition” or that it simply means a complete disdain for sex. To me, it means that sex is never my imperative with anyone when meeting or getting to know them.

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

It’s OK to not be sure. How I identify has changed more than once as I’ve grown and learned about the spectrum. There’s no rush or need to pick a label if you don’t know; just be yourself!

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

I’m everywhere, man. Most of my cosplay photos go on my Instagram and Facebook:
https://www.instagram.com/maedencosplay/
https://www.facebook.com/maedencosplay/

My YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4nKr6HiN6bdNGwIgC0c9-w

I also have a TeePublic shop: https://www.teepublic.com/user/maeden

And I post some stuff on my Tumblr, at Maeden.

I’m also a partner with fandom culture site Cosplay Spotlite – http://cosplayspotlite.com

4. dec6daa3-d743-47d3-87a9-cf106e16f352

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

Interview: Ale

Today we’re joined by Ale, who also goes by Silveranchor online. Ale is a phenomenal illustrator who specializes in traditional mediums. She mostly does fanart and portraits. Ale’s work is bright and remarkably detailed, showing an artist with an amazing eye, as you’ll soon see. It’s clear she has an incredibly bright future ahead of her and is definitely an artist to watch. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. The Sun Summoner Alina Starkov from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
The Sun Summoner: Alina Starkov from “The Grisha Trilogy” by Leigh Bardugo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an aspiring illustrator. I do traditional art, mostly fanart and portraits. I draw characters from books and some TV series. I work with graphite, coloring pencils and I’ve recently started trying with watercolors.

I also dabble a bit in writing and singing, but they’re not my main focus.

What inspires you?

Apart from books, people. I find inspiration in faces, bodies, features, and clothing. I love looking at different people around me and think about how I would draw their noses or their hair.

4. alestyle
Ale Style

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

When I first started getting into fantasy books, I spent a lot of time looking for fanart and I always felt moved by it. That made me want to do fanart of my own and that’s how I discovered that I liked drawing. It took a while for me to start doing original art and even more for me to realize that I wanted to pursue a career in illustration. I’ve only recently started looking into art schools, but I’m excited about the future.

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’m still trying out new things and finding my style, so the only things my pieces have in common are that they’re all of people and they have my actual signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To never give up or stop trying. Artistic talent is something you develop over time, so never feel discouraged if a piece doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Getting better requires practice, so never stop creating.

3. Isobel masquerade
Isobel in her masquerade gown from “An Enchantment of Ravens” by Margaret Rogerson

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. I’m pretty sure I’m on the aromantic spectrum, but I’m not 100% positive where do I fit, so I label myself as aro flux.

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

Not really. I’ve found that other artists are more open minded and accepting than most other people.

5. Karol Sevilla
Karol Sevilla

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

Probably that it isn’t an actual orientation. Most people think asexuals are just confused or repressed, or maybe even traumatized.

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

To love themselves and take it easy. Figuring yourself out is a process and it comes with time. I took a long while to figure out I was asexual and an even longer time being comfortable with labeling myself. It’s okay if you’re not there yet, a long as you feel good with yourself.

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

I post my pieces on my Tumblr and Instagram.
http://silveranchor.tumblr.com/tagged/my-art
https://www.instagram.com/silver_anchor4/

Also, some of my older work is in my DeviantArt
https://thatrockingfangirl.deviantart.com/.

2. A Butterfly on the Nose
A Butterfly on the Nose

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

Interview: Jessica

Today we’re joined by Jessica, who also goes by stormleviosa online. Jessica is a wonderful up and coming writer who recently had a short story published in an anthology. She’s currently a student studying English and writes in her free time. Jessica hopes to write longer narrative forms, such as novels and novellas, in the future. She’s clearly a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her 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’m a writer when I have time but mostly I’m a student because education is important. I’ve written a few short stories and I’m currently working on longer pieces (novellas or eventually a full-length novel). I also write a lot for my college newspaper which I am also an editor of.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a specific inspiration for my work. Some of what I write is heavily based on current affairs, particularly those I have an invested interest in such as the refugee crisis. I also write from prompts or based on other author’s works which includes dabbling in fanfiction. For my most recent piece of coursework, I wrote a short story based on 1984 with heavily implied connections to the Brexit situation in the UK.

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

It sounds cliché but I’ve been writing since I was a young child. I read a lot of books (and still do) which helped develop my skills and it escalated from there. I’m also useless at art so being able to express myself with words rather than images was important.

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 like to write about things I am passionate about and problems that need to be resolved. Often, I try to include characters that are marginalized or misrepresented by the media to spread the issue to a wider range of people. It is something that challenges my writing but is very rewarding for me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing! If you truly feel passionate about it, write about it and don’t let anyone convince you it’s worthless. If you hit a writer’s block, work around it by writing something else. But at the same time, it’s OK to take a break if you need to. Your writing will only suffer if you work yourself into the ground.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t encountered any yet although this may be because I’m not out to many people. My sexuality does make it difficult to write romantic subplots between characters because I don’t experience those kinds of feelings.

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

Mainly that asexuality is something you will grow out of. My parents don’t know I’m asexual but whenever I mention that I don’t want a relationship they tell me I’ll change my mind. It’s not a phase to grow out of and that’s perfectly alright.

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

Don’t worry about figuring it all out right this second. You have all the time in the world to sort out what you feel and if you never find a label that fits that fine too. Any feeling you have is valid so don’t worry about categorizing them all right away.

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

I don’t have much published work but my most recent is in the DoveTales anthology (published later this year) which is compiled by Writing for Peace. There is more information on their website or you can ask me questions directly via my blog (stormleviosa.tumblr.com). I sometimes write fan fiction on AO3 under an account with the same name (StormLeviosa).

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

Interview: Annie O’Quinn

Today we’re joined by Annie O’Quinn. Annie is a phenomenal visual artist who mainly paints for fun. She mostly does digital and fanart at the moment, though Annie is also a painting instructor. When she’s not doing visual art, Annie also writes. She hasn’t published anything just yet, but is currently working on a couple books, which feature asexual characters. It’s clear that she’s a very talented artist with a bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. steampunkdavis-cropsm
Steampunk Davis

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fairly new artist, as far as finding my style, but I currently do illustrations for fun and I work as a painting instructor at one of those paint and wine places.

What inspires you?

STORIES. More than anything. I’m a writer as well, actually. Is it weird to say my own stories inspire me to draw? Although books, TV shows, movies — if they have a good story, I’m inspired for sure!

Also, of course…. Aesthetic. If it’s pretty, I want to draw it.

2. viktor-flat-crop-sm
Viktor

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

From a young age, yes! It’s actually kinda funny because, hah… I had a friend who did art and I wanted to be better than her. But I was a little kid, okay! I continued because I realized I loved it. However, I was barely able to do it because I kept being told it wouldn’t make me money. (Which might be true for now, but at least I’m happier even through the struggle!)

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?

Hah! I should say I’m not willing to reveal it just to cover up the fact I don’t have one.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t let others force you into other fields, but also don’t put so much stress on making money off of your art that you lose your inspiration in it. Never give up on a goal because someone out there is supporting you, no matter the struggle.

3. angel_painting
Angel Painting

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m panromantic asexual! I have zero sexual attraction, but I’m not repulsed by the idea. I’m in a great asexual relationship now!

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

Definitely ignorance. At work, I had a girl who actually almost started crying because I said I was actually okay with never being with anyone romantically, if that was how life took me. I had another girl tell me that I’d change my mind when I met the right person. Growing up, I had people tell me I was a prude and stuck up for not being active. I had a guy offer to help me “get to know the city” in school when he found out. The list goes on. I call them papercuts, but they can add up. Learning the term, which was just a few years ago, really helped me in accepting myself and the fact I didn’t have to compromise that part of myself to be with someone. But before I knew? Before I found a good support for it? I didn’t handle it that well. I ignored it and made sexual jokes or let people assume things without corrections. I don’t put up with it at all anymore, though. And I write about it a lot, actually!

5. ToiletCatAries
Toilet Cat Aries

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

That is means I can’t have a relationship with someone. I’m on the aromantic spectrum somewhere probably, but even that doesn’t mean I can’t have one. Along with people thinking that I’m judging them for loving sex. I am definitely not! If you have that attraction, great! It’s a pretty common thing to have and excuses aren’t needed. I would say those are the two things.

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

You don’t have to figure it out right now. You don’t have to rush it. It might even be different depending on the person you’re in a relationship with, your current live situation, or the phase of the moon… That’s okay. My mom discovered she was asexual and genderqueer when she was sixty-two. Just listen to yourself above what others tell you.

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

Aoqart.tumblr.com is my art Tumblr! Or you can see my art and my cats on Instagram, which is also aoqart. You might see me in artist allies occasionally! Thanks so much!

4. korrasami-sm
Korrasami

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