Interview: Allyzah Allene

Today we’re joined by Allyzah Allene, who also goes by Ani or Ani Fangor. Allyzah is a phenomenal visual artist who works with in digital and traditional mediums. They haven’t met a material they didn’t like and work with just about everything. Their work is brimming with detail and a masterful use of lines and colors. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Self2017
Self 2017

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist that likes to dabble in just about everything I can afford. I have worked with traditional mediums like pencils (graphites, colored pencils), charcoals, markers, paints (acrylic, watercolor, oil) and digital mediums (limited photoediting, mostly digital art). My goal is to be able to learn as many mediums as I can because I want to teach art. I also occasionally write, and recently began posting my comic on Tapas.

While many other artists have a “deeper meaning” behind their artworks, or a consistent theme, I find art to be most enjoyable when it is “whatever I feel like.” I don’t like stressing over incorporating hidden meanings and “how it may be interpreted,” but rather getting the idea out of my head. My art blog and my art tag ends up being full of random half done pieces and concepts because it’s not always about finishing, but expressing my ideas. (Perhaps not the best rule to live by, but as a student, it’s enough for me.)

What inspires you?

Most of the time, the deadline. Otherwise it’s usually whatever I find aesthetically appealing enough to draw!

For my writing and my comic, though, that was inspired by the lack of diversity in the media I consumed. I got tired of the same old “boy meets girl” plot/subplot found in most things I read, and especially, the lack of characters who even vaguely looked like me. Growing up, the books I read often degraded characters that shared my race or ethnicity, and I struggled with my identity until I was 16 (a mere four years ago). I hated who I was because I wasn’t white, and I thought that I would only be successful if I were like the white characters in my books—even then, that could be a stretch, as there were very few books with girls as the lead. I didn’t find out that I wasn’t cishet until I was about 15, and by then I barely read outside of the class readings, so I wasn’t as bothered by the lack of LGBT+ positive books just yet. In my junior year, I had my “if no one else is going to do it, I will” moment and decided I would make a comic featuring a diverse cast in both ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual/romantic orientation. It took a while, but I finally decided I had put it off long enough and started publishing pages early July 2017 as my 20th birthday gift to myself.

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

When I was in the second grade, my school’s art teacher brought a guest artist to speak to everyone. I don’t remember the name of the artist, but I remember being so intrigued—it was one thing to learn about Van Gogh and Picasso in class, and a completely different thing to see someone live at work that wasn’t my teacher. The way he worked was by covering a canvas with black charcoal, and slowly erasing it away to create an image. My art teacher later caught me trying to do the same thing while waiting for my dad to pick me up, and asked me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but I remember being so happy that she thought I could, and I said yes. Since then, I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about art so that I can help as many people as possible when I become a teacher.

As for writing, we have a rocky relationship. During elementary school, I had a pattern: I would love writing one year, and hate it the next. I didn’t really take it seriously for a while, even when I started writing and posting fanfiction. I found out about NaNoWriMo in middle school, and became serious about writing original work, although the passion and motivation is not nearly as consistent as with art.

Death Lingers_Allyzah Cabugao
Death Lingers

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 know if I’ve been consistent enough with anything to have one of those! The closest thing is the stamp I use to sign my artwork (when I have it). I visited China two years ago as part of an exchange program, and the Chinese students gave me an approximate phonetic translation of my name so that I could have a “Chinese name.” I bought a stamp with that name on it to remember them and the trip, and I use it as half of my artist signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Besides the ever present “keep practicing,” I’d say “if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, put it on pause and work on something different; it’ll come to you sooner than if you keep focusing on it.” If it’s art, that one part will still be waiting for you to come back, and if it’s writing, you can always just type in something like “akdguhos” or “[COME BACK TO THIS]” and continue. (Just make sure that you go back to it before you publish it or turn it in!) You don’t have to finish everything in one go. Take a break, let your creative juices recharge.

Something specifically for visual art: we tend to hyperfixate on the small area that we’re currently working on. Every now and then, remember to step back (or, if digitally, zoom out) and look at the piece as a whole. Something might look okay while zoomed in… and then you look at the whole picture and realize that it’s completely misaligned or maybe the color palette doesn’t match the rest. I’ve worked on several semi-realistic pieces and realized that the “perfect nose” was too far right, or that it looked like the neck didn’t come from the same body as the head, because I didn’t look at the whole picture as much as I should have.

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Lumos

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual sex-repulsed, and demi-panromantic. (As well as agender/non-binary.)

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

I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any prejudice in my major related classes yet, but that’s partially because I don’t know anyone well enough to actually care what they say, partly because I have headphones in during class almost all the time. I have had people try to get “creative” with their flirting though, automatically assuming that because I’m an artist, I draw nude people, and that I’d want to draw them … How I respond to them depends on how rude they’re being.

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

Ohh boy, there’s so many that I spent three years researching asexuality in order to academically debunk misconceptions and presented speeches about asexuality to just about any academic platform I could reach. (I’m no longer doing competitive speech as I switch to the coaching side of things, but I’m still ready to spread asexual awareness.)

The one that I hate the most is when people think asexuals are being childish if they state that they have no sexual attraction, especially if they say that they’re a sex-repulsed ace. I’ve had people say that I’ll eventually “grow up and want sex,” and when I literally had an anxiety attack due to a class assigned movie (marked UnRated and with no CW/TW in the film description, nor from the professor) that featured multiple explicit sex scenes and nudity, I was told to grow up and realize that “sex is an art form. You’re an artist, why can’t you appreciate that?” It’s frustrating that sex is seen as a major turning point in your life, the time you’ve “finally reached adulthood,” when there’s plenty of us who can live without it.

Southern Belle_Allyzah Cabugao
Southern Belle

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

Most importantly: you are not broken. Your orientation doesn’t make you any less valid than anyone else! Remember, for every person that takes you down, there’ll be many ready to help lift you back up again.

Also, it doesn’t matter if you fit some of the stereotypes or misconceptions of asexuality or not, you can still identify as ace. Things like “you can’t know if you’re ace if you’re a virgin,” “it’s just a hormonal imbalance,” “it’s because of PTSD/similar,” it doesn’t matter if these are true or not for you. If you feel like asexuality is the best label for your orientation, then you’re ace.

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

I post my work on Tumblr with the tag “#ani amount of art” on both aniamountofart.tumblr.com and aniamountofsketches.tumblr.com; on Instagram/Twitter tagged #aniamountofart on artisticAllyzah; and my comic can be found at tapas.io/series/OMNI!

Marco the Mallard
Marco the Mallard

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

Interview: Kaitlyn Shepley

Today we’re joined by Kaitlyn Shepley. Kaitlyn is a phenomenally talented animator and musician from Canada. They’re an incredibly versatile artist who has dabbled in quite a few mediums. Their work is unbelievably gorgeous and totally adorable, as you’ll soon see. I was totally in awe of the animations they sent along. Kaitlyn is just a delightful artist who has a lot of enthusiasm for their work, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a full time animator working in children’s television, mostly shows for Disney or Nickelodeon. I like doing personal stuff after work at home. My dream is to be able to get to a point where I can work on my own stuff full time. I do illustration, short films, gifs, comics, music composition, fashion design, cosplay and sewing! I think my friends would describe my style as either cute, funny or, when I’m being serious, whimsical.

commissiondump

What inspires you?

My friends in animation are all very talented artists and I think we spur each other on. I also get really inspired by indie developers, musicians and animators. Seeing them taking on big projects by themselves and getting it done makes me want to get my own ideas out there.

AroAce Drip Tee
AroAce Drip Tee

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

I’ve been drawing and making comics for as long as I remember. I loved Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors when I was younger and my interest in animation just grew with me. Things like Akira, Mind Game and Perfect Blue make me excited about being an animator.

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Silent Moon

I wrote my first song when I was 14 and made albums for my friends to listen to. I had been puttering away on my piano since I was very young. I would watch my dad play and he’d tell me how great his dad was at playing by ear. I found it became the best emotional outlet for me in high school. Now that I’ve switched to electronic music it’s just a fun creative outlet.

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Stun Fisk

I didn’t get into fashion until I was 17. There was a fashion show every year at my school and I’d been watching other people do it for 3 years until I told myself: I’m going to go for it. I made 3 designs from scratch that year and have continued to sew to this day. My biggest reason for sewing is to have more control over my fashion. Stores don’t usually sell what I want, so I make it myself!

bats leggings photos
Bats Leggings

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 think my friends would say that my unique signature is the noodle people I do for my comics as well as my silly sharks. I really like drawing things that make people laugh.

deviljho
Devil Jho

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If there’s something you want to do, just do it. Don’t wait until you’re good enough. Don’t wait until you go to school for it. Start now. The sooner you start, the better you will get. Webcomics, as an example, are a great way to up your art skill. It demands you to approach lots of different angles and expressions and challenges you to make sure your characters stay on model. It’ll keep you drawing on a schedule and challenge you to work through artist’s block. It’ll also let you physically see your improvement over time. Don’t redraw old chapters. Just keep going!

big boss di alternate colours
Big Boss Di

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m panromantic asexual! I also identify as agender.

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Earthbound

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

I’m largely invisible in my field. To others I appear heterosexual, especially because I work with my cishet partner. Co-workers have made a lot of uncomfortable assumptions about me. I try to come out and break the assumptions whenever I feel like the situation is appropriate. Co-workers so far seem curious and open minded. They might say offensive things, but not intentionally. Once I talk them through it, they seem to be still perplexed but understanding.

darth kaethe
Darth Kaethe

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

I think due to low visibility it’s really common for people to think that you just haven’t had good sex yet. They might think you were abused, or that you’re a late bloomer. Once people understand that it’s a thing, it’s common for people to ask me personal questions to learn more about asexuals. Aside from being invasive, these questions don’t help them to learn about how versatile asexuality is. By bringing the conversation away from me and telling them all of the different ways an asexual could feel about something, I think they end up learning more while I get to keep my privacy.

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Pastel Goth 1

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

It’s so easy to second guess your orientation. People will give you a million reasons why you can’t know for sure yet. Especially if someone’s pressuring you to have sex, nobody tells heterosexuals that they have to have sex with someone of the same sex before they can know for sure that they don’t want it. Don’t make yourself do anything you don’t want to do. Don’t be afraid of your label changing too. All you know is what you know now. You don’t have to know everything that will change in the future.

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Pastel Goth 2

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

My favourite spot is Tumblr: http://www.kaitlyn-shepley.tumblr.com, where I post art, animation and comics.

I’ve got a Storenvy: http://www.kitkatkatu.storenvy.com/, where I sell clothes and my electronic music is on Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/kitkatkatu.

I also put art and art updates on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kitkatkatu/, Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kitkatkatu, DeviantArt: http://www.kit-kat-katu.deviantart.com/, and Blogspot: http://kaitlyn-shepley.blogspot.ca/.

I’ve got my cats and outfits on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/kitkatkatu/.

Don’t be shy about messaging me about commissions or to talk!

darksouls
Dark Souls

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

Interview: Noxaura Cille

Today we’re joined by Noxaura Cille. Noxaura is an incredibly young ace who has an enthusiasm for writing. Xhe writes both stories and songs and also sings a bit. Though xhe is young, Noxaura is serious about art. Xhe submitted a story to a competition in xhyr state, where xhe wound up winning second place. My thanks to xhyr for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, alright. I’m a writer/authoress and singer/semi-songwriter (I use authoress because I prefer to deviate from the norms and it sounds more sophisticated, don’t you think?). I write stories, usually what I call/consider “Tragic/Dark Sci-fi”, though I am also working on a satirical story. Tragic Sci-fi is sci-fi, but it messes with the feels so badly that it can’t even be considered normal sci-fi any longer. I am proud to bear the title of the only Tragic Sci-fi writer, as I am the one who made the term up. I prefer to write alone, though I will sometimes ask for the opinion of a family member or classmate. I am my own editor as of this point in time (OCD helps with that), though I suppose I will have to have a professional edit my work once it is completed. Oh, that’s another thing about me: I only have fanfiction and unfinished works as my claim to the title. I get bored easily (I happen to have ADD), so almost as soon as I start a project, I get another idea and move on to another, leaving a trail of unfinished/unpublished works that I worked hard on.

If someone could give me a prompt I could have a pretty decent story written in a few minutes if anybody is interested? I am willing to look through comments/responses to find any.

Anyway, because of this, I am currently unpublished, but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer/author.

On to my second field: singer!

I have been singing since I was three and could form the sounds properly. Fun fact: up until I was nine years old, I literally listened to nothing but country music. When I was nine, I was on Charter On Demand and looking through the music, and I have a strong memory of Beyoncé. That’s right. Beyoncé.

My parents were shocked and exasperated. It is an odd sight to behold, the mix of exasperation and shock.

I sing in a high soprano (I prefer a neutral tone. You’ll know what I mean if you ever hear me), though I can always go higher, to the pitch of a tenor. My mom tells me my voice has a “tinkling/bell-like quality”. I sometimes have trouble finding the correct octave for a song, especially country songs, because my brain says “GO LOWER” while my voice says “DUDE I CAN’T DO THAT LOW! THE LOWEST I CAN GO IS, LIKE, G-FLAT/F-SHARP!” (Fun, fun fact: my vocal cords are 2 ⅓ inches tall/long) and the argument ends up kind of in-between, where I go from, like, G-flat to E-sharp, and it sounds funky because I keep switching. Sometimes I have to completely drop out because the singer goes below C4 and I can only go up to A5 because I’m a soprano. Duh.)

Oh, I just remembered something. When I was around six, my cousin (she was around 5 at the time) said she had a passion for singing. I told her that, no, she can’t have a passion for singing because that’s my passion and she wasn’t gonna steal it.

Ah, six-year-old me was still a little chienne.

I have been writing songs since I was about nine. Now, I’ve always dreamt of writing my own songs and playing guitar and being a famous singer. Well, I can’t play guitar, but I’m alright at piano.

Back to the topic at hand.

I used to think that I couldn’t write songs, simply because every attempt came out unorganized and unending.

At one point, I gave up completely.

And then my grammy told me that I could actually do it.

So I tried again… and failed.

However, I started asking myself what I was doing wrong. I began looking at song structure, and soon, I could write a song that seemed decent to me.

But my mom told me it sounded like I was going to commit suicide.

And I, being me, took that personally.

And began working and working.

And now, I can write songs with semi-ease and they make sense. I’m proud that I’m closer to my dream…

Maybe. But America is full of dreamers.

(A little-known fact about me is that I am great at memorizing songs. All it takes is hearing it once or twice and it is forever engrained. I also do this in my sleep. I am not joking.

I remember hearing a song on the radio that I thought I’d never heard before, and then proceeding to sing along, word for word.

It can get pretty freaky sometimes)

What inspires you?

The only answer is anything and everything has the ability. I can, however, assure you that the result of my inspiration will be dark. Sorry that I’m not sorry.

Oh wait.

No I’m not.

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

As a child, my parents would read me stories, as some parents do.

However, even at age three, I had a decent grasp on the English language.

Sometimes, I would take the book from my parent and read the book.

As for singing, well…

I was a troubling child. I didn’t eat anything but oatmeal, I was severely malnourished… (my birth parents’ work. My grandparents raised me and are, essentially, my parents. Oh, and they adopted me around two years ago. So…)

So I would have a radio playing country music (the only music my then 40-something year-old parents liked) every night.

Now, I don’t sleep well without it. Or some other form of music.

And, actually, the first thing I wanted to be was a paleontologist. Three-year-old me could pronounce that, too. She—my agender identity is a very new and fresh thing. Younger me identified as she, so she was she—could also read books with words like dinosaur and she could count all the way to one hundred, just like a big girl! Aren’t you proud, person I’ve never met before?

I stopped wanting that when I turned around seven and realized I would have to go outside and work with bugs (I have entomophobia. It’s actually pretty bad).

But I have always loved to sing, and my imagination is still so wild. It helps me write, but doesn’t help me sleep, if you catch my drift.

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?

Besides my sign-off? Um… Let me see…

I already mentioned how it is tragic, yes? Well, another key point in my work is that I am both a poet and a narrator.

I use metaphors a lot. And I mean, a lot. Most are very, very extensive and last a long time.

Oh, and character names are usually something unusual and unique for the first name, followed by something completely normal for a surname, but sometimes with an odd spelling.

I like using animals, and nature.

I just really like these things.

Oh, and femininity is a prevalent factor. Despite my agender identity. I also enjoy writing about children. Small, small children…

And storms. And snow. I LOVE writing about snow. You don’t want to know what I can do with the simplest prompt of “snow” or even “rain”. *evil laughter*

I’m tempted, so tempted to show you…

It’s on Wattpad, if you care enough. *sticks tongue out*

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You can do it.

Probably.

I’m not gonna lie; you will have to actually get off your cul and do stuff. Maybe learn a new language or two.

Expand your grammar a bit. This works in both writing and songwriting, which is a subcategory of writing, in my opinion.

Oh, and don’t plagiarize. That isn’t cool and nobody likes it.

Be original or you can just give up now.

And it’s probably gonna take a while for anything to happen.

But quitters don’t make it in this field. You have to have the drive to create and then you have to have the guts to act on that drive.

And always keep trying.

If at first you don’t succeed… by God, you keep at it until success hunts you down and hands you a pure diamond plaque that doesn’t have sparkles, but shines in the right lighting.

(Yes, I did pull that quote right out of my brain. Thanks for noticing)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as an agender female aromantic-biromantic sex-averse asexual with an apathromantic mindset.

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

Weeellllll… no, not really. And there is a simple reason for that: my fields are very specific but also very inclusive at the same time.

Acenegatives hardly ever find me because… I’m a writer, a singer and songwriter that goes (mostly) unnoticed, and an unpublished authoress. I don’t broadcast my asexuality to the world (in my field). Heck, I barely go into the world. I can do my job right here from my bedroom.

Well, at least I didn’t broadcast it until I started writing my latest (and only) satirical nonfiction book. *wink*

However, I have a feeling that the backlash will be large (or at least significant).

Now, recently, I posted a rant to my Tumblr about the ace discourse and my writing style just so happened to leak through… And I dealt with the acenegativity the way I deal with all people that get on my nerves.

I blocked the acenegative.

I also replied, saying that they were a perfect example of what I was talking about.

(The post, their reblog, and my reply to the reblog, are on my Tumblr [noxauracille]. Finding it may take a bit of scrolling, but you should find it within about five minutes, probably less)

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

This is kinda difficult…

“It’s a phase”, “are you sure it isn’t a phase?”, “[you’ll]* grow out of it”, “how do you know you don’t like it?”

The second to last was said by someone I considered an acquaintance, as we sometimes talk about school and other stuff while our parents work.

But she said that with such certainty…

My main problem is that this ties in with “you’re too young to know” and “how can you know it if you haven’t tried it?”, which can also lead to things like corrective behaviors (because I am positive rape is not the only “corrective” tactic) and generally a lot of confusion and hurt.

*Her original words were “she’ll grow out of it”, as she was talking to my mom.

She couldn’t even say it to my face.

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

This is going to sound really cheesy, but…

You are not broken, and you are not alone. Just be yourself and don’t listen to what everyone else tells you about you. In the words of Rihanna and T. I., live your life.

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

Once again, I’m unpublished and therefore I don’t have a lot of places for this. However, I am NoxauraRiddle13 on archiveofourown, NoxauraCille on FanFiction.net, and Noxaura_Cille on Wattpad.

Wattpad is where I post songs I write (most of the time), and my non-fanfiction (and some fanfiction that I can get by with) stories. If you want my “serious” projects, go there. Hopefully, in the future, I can get even more organized, finish my novel, and then I can get my website fixed up.

Man, that sounds so awesome…

Maybe I can even do the coding myself! (Anybody got any pictures they will let me use for it? Heh, I’m kidding. Creative Commons should work… Though it would be really helpful of anybody has a picture of a night sky, preferably with some stars, maybe some moonlight… Perhaps the moon itself, solitary and alone? Just some ideas for what I’m looking for…)

…sorry for the little ramble on coding a website and pictures…

I just love the sound of keys. I love it so much that my Kindle notification is a person typing on a computer.

I’ll wrap this up now. Bye!

~Nox

(I’m also bipolar)

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

Interview: Chuang Wang

Today we’re joined by Chuang Wang, who is also known as millenniumfae online. Chuang is a phenomenal versatile artist who works in a number of fields. They mostly do digital illustration and animation, but they’re also working on a short film and do a lot of painting and drawing. They also happen to be a fellow Guillermo del Toro fan (be still my heart). Chuang demonstrates an amazing amount of talent and there is so much emotion and beauty in their work. I was amazed at how they use color and lines to draw the viewer’s focus in. This is an artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Acesurvivor
Ace Survivor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fourth-year full time student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, working primarily digital illustrations and animations. I make movies, paintings, comics, and drawings, and I write my own scripts and stories. I’m currently making a short film called The Amber Witch, which has been over a year in the making, and will be finished within the next six months. I’ve also worked with phone game app developer teams. You might have also seen one of the pop-up ads that I’ve animated.

What inspires you?

Not any one thing. I’ll definitely say horror has always been a fascinating genre and source of inspiration. Good horror is successful because it’s entertaining enough to capture an audience, and terrifying enough to stick with someone after the story is over. Horror is a great catalyst for critical thinking and audience interest.

So my visual and storytelling style definitely draws from Konami’s Silent Hill series, manga artists Nakayama Masaaki and Junji Ito, Guillermo del Toro’s horror films, and others. Real life definitely offers the most inspirational horror – decay, corpses, and death particularly terrifies me.

My current Amber Witch film, a story about a witch that preserves ‘beautiful’ fresh corpses within orbs of amber, was inspired by National Geographic Johannes Bojesen’s photograph of a sheep corpse frozen in a pond. The top section of the sheep’s body had decayed to bones, and underneath the ice the sheep was perfectly preserved.

AmberWitch1    AmberWitch2

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

I didn’t take art seriously until my first few years of high school. On a whim, I began making fanart of my favorite video game and decided to join an internet forum fandom community. A pre-teen submitting their beginner art to an online forum of not-so-friendly adults went … as badly as you could imagine. I dedicated myself to improving out of pure spite. I quickly developed a work ethic, and decided to take my art skills to college, and beyond that.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

In every comic I’ve ever printed and distributed, there’s at least one onion sitting somewhere. Don’t tell anyone, but that onion is my avatar persona. Because I have an unholy love for onions. Especially raw and eaten like apples.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

‘Constructive criticism’ is 98% garbage. The only way to truly improve is to make and make more art, and to keep sight of your enjoyment. You develop a working rhythm within days, and that steady level of production is what’ll give you skill. Correct anatomy doesn’t actually exist, color palette and theory changes from person to person. ‘Good art’ goes in and out of fashion like everything else.

Not every artist draws every single day and works themselves to the bone while subsiding on cigarette smoke and pinot noir. I never did, and neither do my professional associates. This isn’t the Olympics. Improvement is sometimes just this one new technique that you decided to try on a whim, sometimes it’s you drawing this exact same pose over and over, until you couldn’t possibly mess it up ever again.

It’s not cheating if it works. Selling and crediting stolen art as your own is one thing, but using Photoshop filters, drawing aids, tracing and copying, anything that shaves off time and energy is what art has always been like, and what your idols and role models have always done. You’re only shown a carefully picked collection of finished art, and not the piles of garbage that led to it.

Iknowingme
I Knowing Me

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Panromantic asexual. My agender identity definitely muddles the ‘romantic orientation’ part, which has caused me enough drama to last my sad, queer little life.

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

Definitely not in my field of art … but my asexuality has been a rocky road from start to finish. Me being a young, brown (then-identifying bisexual) teen led to years of self-neglect. I had no reason to say no, so I always said yes. As far as I knew, my strange neurosis and underdevelopment could be solved if I ‘powered’ through it.

I knew asexuality existed, but never thought it could possibly apply to my life. What possible benefit was there in being asexual? There’s no role models, no pride, no happiness in that life. It was a tough time. I ignored my body’s various aches and pains, and it ignored me. Then I made that conscious effort to reclaim asexuality, and that fog finally began to clear. My asexuality was my way of growing into myself, in a completely different way than what I was taught.

My asexuality definitely affects my art, though. One of my popular, earlier stories was about a mythical figure called The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden, whose physical appearance was designed after the famous Xiaohe mummy, which is known for its long, curly hair and beautiful eyelashes. The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden was a story about falling in love with an emancipated (sentient) mummy, and now that I look closer, this character was very much designed in an asexual light. There’s no hint of her body or her figure, and she emits no sexual energy. Falling in love with no sexuality in the relationship almost seems like a learned skill for most people, but for me, it’s all I’ve ever known.

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

That it can be changed or compromised. I can predict these kinds of responses the minute before it happens. Sometimes, people voice some plan to change me. Sometimes, it’s subtle actions like invading my private space or belongings, or trying to ‘guide’ my thoughts and opinions. Sometimes, people get angry, because I ‘lied’ to them, or that I’m not involving them.

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

Keep it positive. Distance yourself from anything that rubs you the slightest wrong way. You aren’t owed any explanation, or behavior. Your comfort and safety is that much more important.

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

I’ve got an artblog on Tumblr, millennium-fae-artblog. I also offer art commissions, and I’m currently making various Ace pride merchandise to be sold on Redbubble and Storenvy, so keep an eye out for those!

Fenharel
Fenharel

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