Interview: Eliza

Today we’re joined by Eliza. Eliza is a phenomenal visual artist who also writes and does some performance art. Most of what she does is writing and fanart, including cosplay. Eliza also does some dancing and acting too. 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.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work in multiple genres of art. I do visual art, fan art, cosplay, writing, dancing, and acting. Specifically I do fanart and writing.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is seeing other artists my age doing amazing things, which gives me the hope to be like them.

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

I actually got interested in art by accident, but it still happened. I’ve been an artist since I was 7 years old.

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?

Sometimes I put DS in my art

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Criticism is necessary, but don’t take it if it doesn’t help you. No matter what people say, you will get better in art.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an asexual aromantic

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

I actually haven’t yet. Except for the occasional ‘asexuality isn’t real’ comment. I usually just ignore the comment or delete it.

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

The most common misconception I see is that asexuality is just an excuse for not getting laid.

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

Don’t let other people tell you what you can and cannot be.

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

Other than Tumblr, where my art is at either at Unis-Trash-Stash or at xthe-space-rebels, I am also on IFunny as Uniway.

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

Interview: Shelby Eileen

Today we’re joined by Shelby Eileen. Shelby is a phenomenal poet who has recently released a book of poetry entitled Soft in the Middle. She uses poetry to express herself and has an amazing dedication to her art. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future, 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.

My art, currently, is poetry. I have one self-published poetry collection titled Soft in the Middle and almost all of my WIPs are also poetry. Writing is something I’ve always, always done and poetry has long been my preferred way to express myself in writing. I think my art has always had a lot to do with communication even if I didn’t always know it; trying to communicate better not only with others but also with myself. Picking the right words and putting them together in such a way that I feel I’ve finally made sense of something is the best thing about what I do.

What inspires you?

The thought that there is really nothing that has already been created that is exactly like what I have the potential to create. I don’t know if it’s naïve or self-centered to think, but my own individuality inspires me. Other asexual artists inspire me. Self-published poets inspire the absolute heck out of me. There’s something so pure and immeasurable about their success- they are literally the embodiment of that “she believed she could so she did” sentiment and I think that’s so badass.

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

Yep, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even before that though, I’ve always wanted to be an editor. Reading got me into this whole world and I’ve never felt like I was meant to do anything else but work with authors and be an author 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?

I don’t think I do, or at least, not yet. I haven’t been at this long enough to figure that out. I would almost prefer to have readers pick up on a “unique signature” on their own, whatever that could be, without me actively trying to tie all of my works together. I find myself focusing a lot more on the differences between my projects than on the similarities anyway.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make friends with people who are already doing what you want to do! Social media is a great way to do that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. Since figuring out that I’m ace I’ve grown to absolutely love that part of myself. The label brings me a lot of comfort and peace. I also identify as queer, bi, and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum.

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

Online and in the poetry/writing community, no. I have yet to see anyone criticize my work specifically for reflecting my asexuality. My family and many of my irl friends haven’t ever commented on my asexuality though, and seeing as I explicitly state that I am asexual in my work, it definitely feels like they avoid it because they’re confused or made uncomfortable by it. Silence and passivity on the matter can hurt just as much as outright objection or disapproval. That doesn’t feel nice but it’s not the absolute worst reaction I could get, I suppose. I handle it by constantly reminding myself that my work is first and foremost for me and no one else. Even if I don’t show it or admit to it often, no one is more proud of me than me for what I’ve accomplished so far- as long as I feel pride in what I do, negative reception is easier to deal with.

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

Oh god. That asexuality and the mere concepts of sex and intimacy can’t overlap at all. That asexuals are just straight people weaseling their way into the LGBTQIAP+ community. Asexuality as a sexual/mental health issue. Asexuals are broken. Asexuality isn’t real. Everyone is demisexual. Asexuals can’t have relationships. It’s disgusting how common it all is.

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

It’s REALLY okay to question stuff and be unsure or even unhappy with where you’re at in regards to your orientation. You’ve come this far on your own and that’s something to be proud of. You should never hesitate to investigate, dissect, confront, and share all of the feelings you have. I dealt with orientation struggles/ general unhappiness by seeking out a bunch of books with asexual characters. A lot of them made me feel so much better about myself- quite frankly, it made me feel like less of a freak. Getting swept up in stories with characters that you can relate to that get a happy ending is great medicine.

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

Amazon buy link for soft in the middle! http://a.co/fLDIzIw

Goodreads page! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36812982-soft-in-the-middle

My Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are all at briseisbooks. My social medias are not exclusively for my writing, they do contain a good amount of personal content as well!

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

Interview: Sierra Sonora

Today we’re joined by Sierra Sonora. Sierra is a wonderful visual artist and fanartist. She specializes in nature photography, taking pictures of local flora and fauna, showing the beauty of life in vivid color and detail. When she’s not taking picture, Sierra dabbles in fanfiction and fanart. She’s also currently endeavoring to write a novel. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with a bright future ahead of her, 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.

My art consists of a variety of mediums. One includes the photography of natural landscapes as well as nature, such as local Flora/Fauna. It also includes writing of both original work and Fanfiction. I also draw in what can be considered an Anime/Cartoon style of me, my friends, pets, and Fanart on mostly regular sketchbook paper with pencil/pen and colored pencils, or I will digitally upload my art and work on it with a paint program. I thoroughly enjoy singing, and write poetry, but have yet to compose any original songs-although I have written at least 3 parodies that revolve around different favorite pairings of characters from TV shows I watch.

What inspires you?

The need to create and channel my emotions inspire me to do all of the above. I often struggle with verbally expressing my emotions, but through art I can slow down and think things through-especially when I draw. The joy of others also inspires me, as I find happiness in making other people happy with my art. I find that when I share my art, whatever the medium, I feel a meaningful and spiritual connection with the ones I am sharing with and that connectivity is vital to me.

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

Ever since I was little, I enjoyed watching cartoons, reading books, and drawing. It’s hard for me to say that I’ve always wanted to be an artist, because what I do doesn’t really feel like “art” to me; I see it as a coping mechanism and a way to make others feel happy. Put simply, I view my art as a tool, and that prevents me from seeing it as what I feel “art” actually is.

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 have one thing in my art that I include; it’s a simple necklace of mine that I’ve had for about 8 years now; a simple black nylon string with a silver eagle talon pendant holding within its three claws a white marble. This necklace is a special possession I hold, and I like to include it when I draw myself or a main character from one of my original works.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

As cliché as it sounds, I am going to say it anyway because it’s true: Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your art, whether it is photography, mixed medium, paintings, writings, drawings, fandom related, etc. Don’t give up. You, as a unique individual with your own perspective on life, your own unseen and secret views, have so much to offer to the art world. Whatever it is, it may not turn out quite the way you want it to the first time-this is only reasonable; you are new at things, and with novelty comes practice.

It may even take a long time to feel comfortable where you are on your journey in creation. I still have 10-year-old art lying around that makes me cringe every time I see them, but I keep them to remind myself of the journey it took to get where I am, and to propel me to work hard and push myself further. I highly recommend you do the same-keep your art, every scrap. You’ll be glad you did so later on down the road.

Another piece of advice that is repeated over and over again for good reason is this: Don’t compare yourself to other artists if it is only going to result in self-loathing or any form of negativity. It’s not worth it, and it won’t help you become better at your passion. Trust me, I know. I’ve done it, and it only made me want to quit art altogether and it would make me feel inferior/jealous. How terrible is that- to want to give up on something that brings you joy because you feel you are not adequate? To feel negative, nasty feelings towards others because I was not secure enough in who I was as an artist? It’s terrible, and unfair to yourself and the other person.

So I say this: don’t compare. Just create. If you must compare, try to do so with humility- recognize that you aren’t where you want to be yet and have patience with yourself.

My last piece of advice is this: Be kind to yourself and be kind to others; you’re not the only one struggling. Reach out to one another with love, offer emotional support when possible, and practice constructive criticism on yourself and others. You, as an honorary member of the art world, are here to uplift, inspire, create, and comfort through your works-whatever they may be. We need you, and you belong here. My sincerest hope is that this advice has been useful/helpful and uplifting to those who read it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Aromantic Asexual. Personally, I find that when I am in a relationship, I can adapt to the other person and provide physical intimacy such as hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, even if I don’t necessarily feel a desire to do so, and when/if I marry, I am willing to provide them with the sexual intimacy that I know my partner will deserve if they are not Asexual themselves.

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

I’ve encountered, blessedly, a little amount of ace prejudice/ignorance. Generally, it was from people asking me how I could not want sex, and I generally would deal with it as such; I’d tell them I just didn’t find sex interesting, or I’d tell them I found things to enjoy out of life that was more fitting for gaining pleasure than sex, such as books, or video games, or eating. I was never called a freak, or anything of that nature, which is a blessing and I hope my experience helps others. Mostly the people who I have talked to were rather open-minded and just curious, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. For those of you who have experienced ace prejudice, my heart goes out to you.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is the notion that Asexuals just don’t want sex. Which isn’t true as we know- our orientation is about sexual attraction, not the actual desire for sex. Like other orientations, it varies for everyone. Personally, I don’t want it, but that doesn’t make me any more Asexual than someone who does.

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

You’re not broken. That is the most heartfelt advice I can give. You are not broken, and you’re not alone. The love songs will say you’re incomplete without that “special person”. It’s a lie. If you can find someone who is whole and spend the rest of your life happily with them, then wonderful. But you are not broken and you are not incomplete. You are you, and you are not alone- we’re here with you, flying under the same purple, grey, white, and black flag and we’re proud to stand with you.

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

You can find out more about my work through my Tumblr account, my username is “Willchild”. I don’t post much art or works there, to be honest, but I think after this interview I will if it can help bring joy to other artists and help them feel more secure about posting their own art. Please feel free to tag me in your art, I would be ecstatic to see it; or message me/ask me, from one artistic Ace to another.

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

Interview: Janice Worthen

Today we’re joined by Janice Worthen. Janice is a phenomenal poet and writer from Idaho. They’ve been published by The Rectangle, on a shirt for Backwords Press, and had a poem included in bags of coffee for Nomadic Grounds. Janice also edits Night Music Journal and is always looking to publish work by asexual writers (if any of you out there are interested). When they’re not writing or editing, Janice also does photography. They’re clearly a very dedicated artist. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My work is a way to share my internal world, my thinking through the internal and external, in a format that is more comfortable to me than speech. It’s my way of communing, of sharing things that move me, shatter me, anger me, transform me. It’s me extending a hand—a vulnerable act, a gesture of trust. I spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds—thinking about systems, webs of connection, history and its repercussions, the future, the present, the joy and agony of the moment as it’s passing, and myself in relation to all these things—and my work is my way of grounding those thoughts. With each poem, each photo, each sketch, I think I’m really just asking, “Are you there?” I think my work is waiting for an echo. I guess I’m twanging a thread, waiting for the vibration of return.

What inspires you?

Hands down, the underdog. Anyone (or anything) who looks into the face of their own destruction and doesn’t give in. Anyone who, even in defeat, holds on to who or what they are, their joy, their right to be. It’s so easy to give in to fear, to sell out, to back down. But it’s so beautiful when someone stands their ground, turns the tide, shakes the foundation of the powerful. I hope that, in the face of all I fear, I rise.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer because writing made me feel real, feel valid. I was a shy, quiet, fat kid who spent most of their time in the library. A kid who clearly didn’t fit the gender binary. I think because of these things it was easy for others to dismiss me, and because difference is so often seen as threatening, to bully and try to break me. But when my voice was a whisper and easy to ignore or speak over, I found my writing was harder to dismiss. My self was harder to ignore and deny. My writing forced others to see me as human. Through my writing, I existed.

But writing was also a way for me to have a conversation, to become a part of all those books that gave me comfort, that fueled my imagination. It sounds weird, but writing felt like a way to give back, to say I hear you. I hear you.

Only recently have I focused more time on photography. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer. I don’t have any fancy equipment. My degrees are in writing, not photography. But capturing a moment and sharing that moment with those I care about is something that gives me great joy.

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’ve noticed that mirrors pop up often in my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Sometimes the work that you get the most pushback on will make the most difference. Seek out and listen to feedback but always ask yourself what the motivation behind that feedback is. Sometimes people will criticize/dismiss/mock your work when they really want to criticize/dismiss/mock you. And sometimes the work you feel like throwing away will be treasured by someone else who might live in the same moment, the same thought, and the same place as you, even if they come after you. You can be a friend, ally, or even hero to that person. Be open, but also be assertive and bold and confident in your work, your experience, your perspective. Even when it’s hard, keep making your art.

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?

Oh, yes. I’m an asexual in a very sexual field. I’m constantly aware of this. I’m constantly reminded of this. Many in my field consider sex or desire as essential to art, liberation, and even revolution. They simply can’t comprehend and are sometimes hostile towards someone who doesn’t feel or think the same way they do about something they’ve put at the center of their art.

As an asexual, I often feel like I exist outside my own field. Since I’m not willing to participate in the secret handshake, I’m not allowed in the club, a club that is often abuzz and fueled by gossip surrounding sex and desire. Because I’m an asexual, I feel like I’m not allowed to have an opinion on work or artists in my field, and any opinion I voice is invalid. Not only that, but anything I say that goes against the dominant narrative of sex and desire is seen as an attack, not only on the writers and work that value sex and desire, but an attack against liberal or progressive values or even the sexual liberation movement itself. I find this odd because I’ve been accused of being too progressive and consider myself more progressive than many of the liberal people I know. And I see the growing acceptance of asexuality as a victory of sexual liberation, not something at odds with it.

My orientation is virtually invisible in my field. I was once excited to come across a published poem about asexuality for only the second time in my life only to learn the writer is not asexual but felt at liberty to write with authority about my orientation. The 2016 VIDA Count found that The Times Literary Supplement was “one of the few publications to publish asexual people this year.”

Prejudice and ignorance are often expressed through microaggressions, which are common and remind me how invisible my orientation is. A poet I know once said that a way to express disapproval of certain voters is for “us” to stop sleeping with them, as if “we” as writers are sexual gatekeepers, a single unified sexual force that rewards or punishes behavior with our shared sexual prowess, the primary implication being that everyone is allosexual. With each casual comment like this I become unwelcome, not part of the community, invisible.

I came out because I realized it was important to counter the all-too-common assumption that people like me don’t exist in my field. After I came out, it felt like I’d actually been erased (no pun intended) completely. Perhaps this is just perception, perhaps it’s a reflection of my work, but it seemed like people suddenly weren’t interested in reading anything by me, published or not, or having discussions with me about others’ work, etc. I had placed myself on the outside. I could observe but not participate. I often feel like I’m throwing my work at a wall now, but I don’t regret my decision to come out. Others will find me, and I will find others, and we’ll make new, more inclusive communities. That’s how I handle all this: reaching out, standing up, speaking out.

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

Phew, the most common. I guess in my field, among members of my community, the misconception I most encounter about asexuality is that all asexuals are hostile towards, afraid of, or somehow consider themselves above sex or allosexuals. I myself am sex positive. Sex is great for other people who want and get fulfillment from it, and I think sexual freedom is vital. Sex just doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and I wish others felt as positive toward my orientation as I do toward theirs. It’s funny because many of the people who are afraid I’m judging their orientations and lifestyles don’t realize they’re actually the ones judging and afraid of mine.

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

Find or plug in to your community. Even if you’re an introvert like me, it helps to see other asexuals being their asexy selves and to know you aren’t alone. Join asexual groups and follow asexual artists on social media. Read and watch anything by and about asexual people. Don’t be afraid to find a support system and to cut toxic people out of your life that break you down instead of build you up. Embrace the struggle. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. You don’t have to be certain of anything right now. Don’t be afraid of the present or the future. Just by existing, you are shaping that future. Don’t be afraid of you. This might be easier said than done, but repeat it like a mantra: I am not alone, I am part of a community, I am valid, my experience is valid, my voice is important, I matter, my art matters, I am paving the way for others like me.

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

I’m on Instagram (at impossibleblossom). I’m also on Tumblr (janiceworthen.tumblr.com), and you can find links to some of my poetry there. I’m also the editor of Night Music Journal (nightmusicjournal.com), and I’m always accepting submissions of poetry, essays, and hybrid work. I really encourage fellow asexuals to send me work and pass along the invite to your LGBTQIA friends!

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

Interview: Bob Josef

Today we’re joined by Bob Josef. Bob is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in Zen doodles, which he puts his own spin on. He draws a number of fandom related things as well. His works show an interesting use of space and lines, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I think I’m kind of all over the place, and what I do is for my own satisfaction, but in the last like 2 years I’ve been doing a very simple version of what is called “Zen doodles” I say it’s simple because if you Google it what comes up looks nothing like what I do. I also do this squiggly thing that fills up a page and you don’t know where it begins or ends, what part is the object and which is just empty space…I do these the most because coming up with ideas of what to actually draw.

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What inspires you?

Way too many things honestly. Probably my biggest inspirations are the internet (other people’s fanart), books, movies, Podcasts (Welcome to Night Vale), just looking at cool things gets me going. I LOVE taking pictures of sunsets because they are absolutely stunning pieces of natural art.

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

Um…I don’t really know what got me interested in drawing, it kinda just happened when I was in school, and it happened all over my homework and notebooks. Freshman year of HS I specifically dedicated the left side of my notebook pages to just doodling while taking notes. I haven’t always wanted to be an artist but at the moment I really enjoy spending time to create something…actually I hate the process, drawing is super tedious but the result is always worth the work.

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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?

Well, it’s not something I put in my drawings but I like it’s my style for drawing faces, it’s an ever slightly modified version of the Epic Face. It’s just so simple to draw that I use it for like signatures on cards and things like that and my sketch/notebooks are filled with them.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Let people compliment what you’ve created, you may absolutely hate it because it doesn’t compare to the work of pros on Tumblr or Deviant Art. But to your friends and family it might as well be just as good, so accept their compliments and use them to motivate you to improve and impress them more with the next thing you make.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

At the moment I am Aromantic Asexual, I am totally open to the possibility that it can change should I meet a special person. Or maybe it doesn’t and I’m alone forever…that’s OK too.

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

In relation to art? No not really, I’ve just started posting anything on a dedicated account outside of my personal one, and it’s not really ace-centric. I do however reblog ace positive things in-between my doodles. In real life, when I came out I had a cousin say I was going to hell with the “gays” because instead of liking the same gender, I like none (attraction wise, I’m sure all genders are nice people), and that means I won’t make the babies to “replenish” the earth. It was a real punch in the gut that anyone, especially one of my relatives, could say something so ignorant and (insert sexuality)-phobic.

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

Probably the “you just haven’t met the right person yet,” which may be true, but in my experience I don’t want none of that sexy-time mess. And I don’t feel the need to date people. (Not that I don’t want a partner, cuz I do, I just don’t feel the need to seek it out.)

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

Give yourself time to come to terms with it, there is no rush to figure everything out and then come out, and get all the things ace (or any other orientation) pride. Just slow down, breathe, research, and when you are comfortable with what fits you, feel free to come out. Just be prepared that people won’t understand and you will most likely have to explain yourself over and over. If you ever feel like it’s all too much, search Ace Positivity on Tumblr and just scroll through all the cool things people make and say for/about us.

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

Well like I said before I just started out so I’m only on Instagram and Tumblr. On Insta; I’m at gandalftheace42 and gandalf-the-ace on Tumblr so it’s easy to find me! I don’t post things terribly often but I am in a painting class at my college so I will be posting updates on my projects that we are working on there. But yeah perhaps later down the road I will be super cool and make art and make them into shirts like all the cool people on tumblr.com do! Thanks for checking out my stuff if you do and I’m always open to talk to anyone if you want (desperate for human interaction) okay BYEEEEEE!!

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

Interview: Jojo

Today we’re joined by Jojo. Jojo is a phenomenal versatile writer and visual artist who describes herself as “a figure skating writer and artist who dabbles in cosplay props.” For writing and visual art, Jojo specializes in scifi and fantasy. She does both traditional and digital art and has a degree in animation. When she’s not writing, drawing, or animating, Jojo enjoys making various props for cosplays and even has a blog dedicated to cosplaying on a budget. She’s clearly a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Arc Reactor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast, and most of my art is themed around that. I do a lot of digital art and pencil drawing in an actual physical sketchbook, but have a degree in animation and like to play in Flash when I have time (RIP Flash). Most of the time though everything I draw stays in sketch form. Drawing helps me work out ideas and logistics, which translates into writing very elaborate Sci-Fi worlds. I have one that I’ve been writing for a literal decade that I’m finally only just starting to amass into something like a novel. So far it has a tone I didn’t expect but I’m actually liking it. Fingers crossed.

I’m also a hobby prop maker, I make small manageable props and things that won’t weigh too much for cosplay using items from the dollar store.  I’ve done a Squall cosplay, an arc reactor, the purgatory blade and Samulet from Supernatural, Mad Max: Fury Road’s Bloodbag equipment, fake skulls, phasers, and Wonder Woman Armor from the new movie!

What inspires you?

I love ice skating, space, human goodness, animals, the sky, large swaths of nature, dungeons & dragons, stars, anime, food, Star Trek, multiverse theories and FOOD.

I adore food, it’s one of those things everyone can agree is amazing, and it’s something that comes in so many forms and says so much about each culture. If I didn’t enjoy eating it more than making it I might be a chef instead of a writer today!

Star Trek and anime started me on a very interesting path when I was very young. Star Trek is about a positive future, and anime is all about a protagonist finding out what makes them tick and then using it to do a thing. In my case I spent more time trying to figure out the ‘whys’ of my life than the ‘hows’ but luckily the two seem to go hand-in-hand so I believe even more in the power of being the protagonist of my own story.

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Fury Road Fanzine

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

Well, Starship Captain isn’t a viable career path (yet) so I settled for doing what I love. I always knew I’d be an artist, my father is an artist, both grandmas on both sides of the family are artists, and my grandfather is a former NASA engineer. I had a lot of people saying ‘if this is what you want, do it’ my whole childhood, it never occurred to me to try and pursue anything else. If space became a viable option I’d go there, but honestly I’d never stop creating art.

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?

Goodness, I actually don’t think so. The only thing I can say for sure is I try to make really stylistic varied body types, but I don’t think that’s a symbol, just a preference. Every main character I’ve ever had (once I got out of my ‘every character is from CLAMP’ phase- and shut up, you know we all had that!) has had a different body type that affects how they do things. I do it for fun and also because it adds different lifestyle choices they have to make.

Inktober_Ikali
Inktober Ikali

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice is always Go for whatever that thing you want is. Seriously, go for it. The world out there isn’t made for doing the bare minimum to get by and then dying. If you can do something to get yourself ready to do That Thing you want, then do it. Work that retail job, but put all that money (as much as you can) away so you can eventually tell the customer they’re wrong and try what you want to do. If you have something you love to do, there’s probably a way to live off it if you want. And if you don’t want your art to be your job be sure of this: Don’t live to work. Work to live. Your art, your passions are worth pursuing even if you’re the only one passionate about it now. Your art doesn’t have to ‘contribute.’ Support your friends, but if they don’t support you back get new friends. Be loyal to yourself.

But seriously; be who you are, even if society isn’t a fan. Because screw them, society elected Trump, what the hell do they know? You’re you and you’re stuck being you forever, so try to get along with yourself. Artists are often eccentric, and I know that’s hard, but listen up, bb artists, you’ll be alright. Everyone’s actually really weird, some just hide it better than others. There are weirdos just like you who want to be friends, but are too nervous to fly their own personal flag. Put yours up, they’ll come. It’ll be hard, but you’ll find your people because they’re out there, they’re just hiding.

To those of you not hiding: Kick ass, take names and don’t let anyone tell you that eccentric = bad. Do no harm, but take no shit. XOXO

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Mugiwara Puppies

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex neutral aromantic asexual and it annoys me! “Nothing, nope not even that” is a hard orientation to be and massively inconvenient to explain. Especially when “maybe your first experience with sex was bad?’ doesn’t apply to me. Sex was … fine. I would have rather gone for ice cream, but eh, okay, we had fun together and I loved the guy so okay. So there. Tell your parents THAT. I actually tried it! It’s fine! Not the best but whatever who cares.

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

Strap in folks, you ain’t gonna BELIEVE this one! I’ve been holding onto this story for a special occasion and I guess this is it:

I used to work at a big corporate company, and our department took us out for a Christmas Dinner every year. Nice! This particular year I get sat between two men I know, across from a woman I don’t and she’s MILITANTLY lesbian. I’m talking about the type who won’t go five minutes without being like “So because I’m a lesbian” and we’re all sitting there like “we get that you’re a lesbian, Carol, go on…”

So Carol (she’s Carol now) is drinking because it’s a Christmas Dinner/Party and we’re all happy and buzzed and chilling and ALL OF A SUDDEN out of nowhere she says “I’m a lesbian so you won’t get it-‘ a pause then she turns to me and says ‘you’re not a lesbian right?” FINALLY. Thanks for finally asking, Carol! But no, I’m not a lesbian and I say so. “I’m Ace,’ I say, assuming her militant sense means she’s active in the LGBTQA+ space and she’ll know what I’m talking about. I was young and foolish.

She has no clue what I’m talking about. I now have to explain to her and my two straight male friend/coworkers what being asexual means. I do so, because why the hell not, I’m already in deep. Straight male friends go ‘oh okay, so you’re not attracted to anyone’ and go on with their meal. GOOD JOB STRAIGHT MALE FRIENDS YOU’RE ACTUALLY THE HEROES FOR ONCE!

Carol says “Oh. So… what happened to you? To make you like that?”

A pause. A horrified pause. A horrified pause where my two straight male friends and everyone within hearing radius at the table realizes Carol just asked if I was assaulted or molested or abused to make me asexual. I see straight male friends glance at me in horror.

But I am two drinks in, and I am transcendent. Instead of getting embarrassed and answering honestly straight out, I ask, as loudly as I want because FUCK YOU CAROL “Did you just ask me at the company Christmas dinner if I was sexually assaulted?” A horrified silence falls. I stare at her as she realizes she has come to the WRONG HOUSE. She starts stammering and backpedaling but OH NO, not today, Carol. “Not that it’s your business,’ I say loudly, ‘but I was born this way.”

She correctly decides to excuse herself to powder her nose. Run Carol, run.

This is when straight male friends, and actually the entire department, show some goddamn solidarity, kids. The boss (who I don’t actually think heard the convo) has already paid the bill, and as one, while Carol is in the bathroom, the whole department decides dinner is over. Everyone is talking and acting like it’s normal, but the whole table- myself included- gets up and leaves while Carol is in the bathroom at this restaurant.

It was ignorant, and it could have been very embarrassing, but I was able to realize I wasn’t the one who should be embarrassed, and if you can remember that next time someone tries to shame your asexuality, you can ditch Carol at a restaurant on Christmas too. The End.

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Phaser

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

People seem to think three very incorrect things. They think something had to happen to make you asexual. Like it’s their damn business to know if it did. Two: that their opinion on you being ace matters (pro tip: hell no) and three: that being ace means you don’t care about being cute and flirty. You get to be as damn cute and flirty as you want, cuz it’s fun! They still ain’t gettin’ none of this, so they better step off.

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

I am struggling too. I get you. It’s hard to be ‘nothing’ when you’re conditioned to think everyone gets ‘something’. Some people don’t and that’s okay. Again, society is dumb, so find something that works for you, whether it’s a Poly tribe, a best friend, a cat, two best friends and a cat, or an online community of people who get you better than the physical ones. Whatever works for you is the right orientation for you. If you wake up tomorrow super attracted to someone, fair enough. You’re a changing person and regardless of how you wake up tomorrow, today you’re ace and that’s your choice to identify- or not! Ace is just a better word for ‘nah nothing really works for me’ and gives you a bunch of other people who get it. Aro’s also a hard one, because you have been told your whole life you want something, but then when you have it, it’s… fine. I had a great relationship for a while, but I felt like we were friends who slept in the same bed. I was later informed that’s not how most people feel (?) Doesn’t de-legitimize my relationship, just means what I’m looking for and what others are looking for might be different. Which is fair, and valid. Labels exist for you, not for the world. You do you, as the saying goes. That’s my advice. I won’t tell you it’s not hard, it is, but it’s also worth fighting for yourself and what you want, not what society or parents or friends want for you.

ALSO ADVICE: Find a doctor who’s cool with you not having sex. My doctor doesn’t care, doesn’t ask why I don’t have sex, doesn’t ask why I laugh if he asks if I’m in danger of becoming pregnant. He just nods and says ‘okay’ and moves on. Find one of those. You not having sex is not a problem and if your doctor says it is: time for a new doctor.

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

My main blog is http://starshipcaptainjojo.tumblr.com/
Art is posted to http://hipster-safari.tumblr.com/ (though also to my main blog most of the time)
And my cosplay/craft blog is http://dollarstorecosplay.tumblr.com/.

Siano_Debut
Siano Debut

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

Interview: schattenmitternacht

Today we’re joined by schattenmitternacht. schattenmitternacht is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in ink drawings and watercolors. They have recently started working with gouache as well. schattenmitternacht draws inspiration from many different places and are clearly very passionate about art, as you’ll soon read. 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 do simple ink drawings and occasionally paint with acrylics and watercolors. Recently, I have started to use gouache as well. Subject to my art can be anything; people, animals, things. I love to illustrate feelings and emotions as metaphors.

What inspires you?

The world around me. I believe that beauty is everywhere and I try to capture it for me and for others in my drawings and paintings. The works of fellow artists are also very inspiring.

I do create things inspired be my personal experiences (my diary is mostly drawings) but those are things I’m not always fond to share with people.

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

I remember spending a lot of time at the drawing desk in kindergarten and going to exhibitions with my best friend’s grandmother. But only in middle school did I start to take art more seriously, when I got into manga thanks to a classmate. That’s when I wanted to get better at it.

To be honest, I never wanted to be a professional artist. It was always other people suggesting it to me and at one point in my life I thought it’s the only option available. I mean, I am an artist and I love being one and creating things but there are some aspects of being a professional artist that leave me uncomfortable with pursuing this career path. I’m afraid I won’t like drawing anymore when it’s what I have to do for a living.

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?

There is a set of symbols that I use in my more personal artworks. Arrows for example. But you don’t really get to see a lot of them. Because personal.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Challenge yourself and set yourself a goal. I for example want to create more “finished” works this year and not just elaborate sketches.

I love to do challenges or make lists of projects I want to realize because when I don’t know what to draw, I already have some to work on and don’t have to spend time thinking of something.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aro ace.

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

Not much actually.

My boyfriend asked me once if I was sure I am ace as he couldn’t understand that even though I like physical intimacy, I am still asexual. I explained to him that even if I don’t feel sexual attraction, I still like how it feels and that I think it’s fun.

I myself have never actually experienced prejudice or ignorance against aromanticism, but my friend has. Their mother keeps pressuring them to find a romantic relationship. So that’s something.

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

That

  1. I don’t have,
  2. don’t want or enjoy and
  3. am not able to have sex.

A lot of people don’t have sex. This doesn’t make them automatically ace though.

Second, I can understand how someone could think that this is what it means being asexual, as it was something that kept me from calling myself ace for some time. I don’t really know how to put this in words but you can still want to or enjoy it to sleep with someone without finding them sexually attractive. Sex is something very intimate and wanting to share this intimacy with someone does not in any way conflict with being ace.

The last one… What has my lack of sexual attraction to do with my body? It’s just another way to say that we are “broken”.

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

You are not broken. Your needs are as valid as those of allosexual people and your boundaries are to be respected, don’t ever think they are not.

If you have a hard time telling different attractions apart, look up their definitions or people describing them.

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

I am the most active on Instagram. Then of course on Tumblr and on Amino. Actually, you can find me everywhere under schattenmitternacht.

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