Interview: Mushki

Today we’re joined by Mushki. Mushki is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in comics. She has recently finished a comic specifically about asexuality. She has a running manga-style comic entitled Peripety. Aside from that, she also does mini comics, random illustrations, and fanart. 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. SkrimWEB
Skrim

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make comics! I got one long manga-style comic called Peripety that I hope will reach about FMA length. And many mini comics and random illustrations/fanart.

What inspires you?

Stories that are about found families, adventure, brotherhood…psychology, compassion, human depravity mixed with human beauty…etc.

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

Reading stories or playing video games with compelling stories – that’s the language I understand, and I guess I just couldn’t help it when I started speaking that language as well. So yeah. I’ve kind of always wanted to do it in some way, though at first I thought I wanted to be a novelist instead.

2. Gods Acre Pg3
Gods Acre Pg3

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?

Ummm… When it comes to stories, I guess, I’m always putting secret symbols in my stuff. Flowers, motifs, animal parts, etc. Things that represent certain things or mean something to a certain culture.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make LOTS of stuff, make lots of BAD stuff, keep good posture, and have FUN.

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Final Page 1

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Ace / Aro

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

Not so much about my work. But when people want to show me their work, and it has sexual content in it, some berate me and tease me about me being ace. I really just ignore that? And give them a solid critique anyway. I find kindness is the best way to make people feel bad.

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

That I just haven’t found the right person. That I need to try it. Many people who express this have good intentions, but seem unable to understand that not desiring sex or romance is even possible.

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

Don’t be pressured into things. There’s a difference between getting out of your comfort zone, and doing things you don’t want to. When people tell you to try things, ask yourself if you actually WANT what they’re suggesting. If you don’t, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean your denying an opportunity for growth.

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

I post my comics on Tapastic, (https://tapas.io/MushkiKizou) and I sell my art on Etsy! (https://www.etsy.com/shop/MushkikizouArt) Still working on a good way to sell my comics online, but you can bet it’ll be on Etsy someday.

4. Sepas hoard of boys
Sepas Hoard of Boys

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

Interview: Kaylee Schuler

Today we’re joined by Kaylee Schuler. Kaylee is a phenomenal author and visual artist. She writes a number of different things, including short stories and poetry. She’s currently working on a novel with an aro-ace protagonist. When she’s not writing, Kaylee enjoys drawing. She frequently draws characters from her stories. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. E2-E

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an author and an artist. I usually write short stories, but I’ve dabbled in poetry, spoken word, and am currently working on a novel that happens to feature an aro-ace protagonist. I’ve self-published a children’s book and plan to self-publish its companion once my edits are done. One of my short stories just won 10th place in a Reader’s Digest competition, so I’m very excited about that!

What I value most in writing is emotion, so I try to write things that make people feel. I try to tell stories that I think are important, that I know no one else can tell. I strive to write pieces that are powerful, influential, and cathartic. Even though it’s a lofty goal, I want to write something that will change the world.

As for art, I started out with sketches and drawings, but I currently work with a variety of mediums, some of my favorites being watercolor and digital. Good old graphite never fails me, though.

I create art about pretty much anything — I draw a lot of people, often characters within the stories that I write. Drawing for me is somewhere between a hobby and a potential career. I’m currently studying it in college, but I still draw mainly for myself and create things that I want to create.

What inspires you?

I get inspiration for my work in everything I experience. The villain in my novel is based on a character who showed up in just one episode of a TV show from the ‘90s that I used to watch reruns of. Another character is named after a friend who was super supportive of my writing. I write the books I want to read, so I often take inspiration from a lack of content. I don’t see enough diversity in the media I consume, so I want to add that to my work. My visual artwork is often inspired by my writing or other people’s work that I enjoy. The main thing that inspires me is the hope that someone out there will encounter my work and be inspired to create something of their own. Art is such an incredible force for change, and my desire to be a part of that drives me to create.

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

I’ve been writing for my entire life. It’s something that comes naturally to me, but even beyond that, I feel like a part of me is missing if I’m not writing something. It’s a huge part of who I am. I started writing my self-published book when I was 8 years old and haven’t stopped since.

I’ve also been creating visual art as far back as I can remember. Just like my writing, my artwork feels like an extension of my very being. Because art, be it written, visual, or otherwise, can be a catalyst for social change, and because I’ve always wanted to use my talents to better the world, I figure that the best way for me to make an impact is to combine those two things. My desire to improve this world and my desire to create go hand in hand.

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 one of those artists who’s never been able to pin down a style. I suppose that’s a blessing because it gives me greater freedom and versatility in the content I create, but it’s also a curse because most of my pieces aren’t recognizable as belonging to the same artist. One thing I aim to do is include as much diversity in my work as I can. I think everyone deserves to see someone in media who they can relate to. I’m still learning how to improve my art and my representation, but I feel like making an effort to be inclusive and diverse is crucial to being a good artist and a good person.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Art is something so incredibly personal to each individual. My advice is, first, to not be afraid to pour your soul into your work, and only share it when it’s ready. Share it first with people you trust. This especially applies to writing, though also to visual art you’ve worked particularly hard on. Find people who will build you up, not tear you down. And a note on criticism—at the end of the day, this is your work. Create for you. When people tell you what to do with your craft, that’s what they want. I’m not saying to never listen to criticism. Feedback can be very useful and it will help you grow as an artist. But make sure you put what you want first and remember that, at the end of the day, what you do with your work is up to you. And try to remember that critiques are about the work itself, not the part of you that you put into it. On a different note, something I want to stress is that artists have to support each other! We all face challenges in art and in life and I believe that we can never spread too much compassion and positivity. And finally, never give up on your dreams. One of my creative writing professors once shared something with us that his friend told him—the reason successful artists become successful is that they’re the ones who don’t give up. If you want to create, create. Keep at it, you’ve got this!

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Mental Illness

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual. I always knew there was something different about me, and finding labels for my feelings was an incredible relief. I’ve never felt romantic or sexual attraction, and I’m also sex-and romance-repulsed. This definitely affects my work, especially my written work, because you create what you know. It’s hard for me to imagine being anyone other than myself, holding any identity other than aroace. As a result, much of my work features characters who are asexual and/or aromantic.

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

Specifically related to my art, I haven’t come across much negativity. I think this is largely because most of my work concerning asexuality hasn’t made it very far out into the world yet. I worry that readers won’t understand the way my characters feel and interact with the world, and I worry that artwork about my asexuality will result in negativity directed at me. I think it’s likely that I will encounter prejudice or ignorance when my work spreads around a little more, and when faced with it, I think I’ll have to remember that all of us are ignorant to something and that the only way to educate is through understanding. I’ve been uninformed and misinformed about countless topics, and I was able to learn more about them when people treated me with respect and open-mindedness. I will strive to do the same. If that fails, though, if I run into someone who can’t see my point of view and won’t make an effort to do so (as I have frequently encountered outside the art world), I’ll need to remember a mantra my therapist once gave me: “They’re doing the best they can.” Sometimes, other people’s “best” isn’t enough for us. But we have to remember that we all have our limits and that, sometimes, our knowledge is beyond the limits of someone else. At that point, I’ll have to take a step back from my stubbornness and abandon the argument. It’s not always worth it.

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

I commonly see this both outside and within the LGBTQ community, and the latter can be particularly frustrating. Many people think that asexuality is synonymous or similar to abstinence, which isn’t true. They believe that asexuality is simply a lack of desire for sex, and that’s not quite true. Asexuality is a lack of attraction (and even beyond that, it comes on a spectrum). Not all asexuals are sex-repulsed or sex-averse, and some asexuals engage in sexual acts for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, many people seem to think that being asexual is the same as being aromantic. I often find it difficult to explain that there’s a difference between romantic and sexual attraction and that some asexuals do, in fact, feel romantic attraction.

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

The main thing that’s often said but can never be said enough is never be said enough is you are NOT broken. I spent years of my life thinking I was and became resigned to the idea that one day I would have to have a relationship, even though I didn’t want one. Here’s what I have to say about that: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have to try to force yourself to feel something you don’t. Wherever you lie on the spectrum, you are valid, you are seen, you are whole, and you are not alone. You may feel guilty sometimes for not reciprocating someone’s feelings. You may feel empty sometimes, or alone, or angry. And all of that is valid—your feelings are always valid—but you don’t have to feel any of that. Teach yourself that you don’t need to be ashamed of your orientation. It’s a part of you, you can’t get rid of it, so you might as well learn to love it. And you can. I have.

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

I don’t yet have a proper website, but you can find me on social media. My art Tumblr is https://www.deepspaceart.tumblr.com and my main Tumblr is https://www.deepspaceace.tumblr.com. I’m also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/deep.space.ace. You can find my art on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/deepspaceace. You can read some of my written work at https://www.wattpad.com/user/CelestialFalcon. You can buy my children’s book at https://app.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/midnight-a-wolfs-tale/ce878c14-8bd6-44ad-bb38-93b585c582e9?isbn=9780984719808 .

Have a great day! 🙂

4. enamorarse
Enamorarse

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

Interview: KelbremDusk

Today we’re joined by KelbremDusk. KelbremDusk is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in digital art. She does a bit of everything, including webcomics. Her work is eerie and interesting to look at. It’s clear she’s a passionate individual who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

12-13x

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a digital artist, I’ve been working with a tablet for about 11 years now. I was never big on traditional art, even when I didn’t have access to a tablet but recently I’ve been trying to get into oil painting and so far it’s been kinda fun.

I draw everything from original to fanart and even in comics. I have a webcomic which is unfortunately in hiatus right now but I also make short comics for my various characters and worlds.

On the side I’m currently working on a novel, which I hope to finish this year (or at least early next year) called Black Sun Rising. Four friends on a post apocalypse roadtrip with no main character romance.

What inspires you?

I get inspiration from everything. Stories, movies, illustrations, photographs, everyday objects. It’s wild. The more abstract I can make something that would normally be mundane and boring, the more fun it is to work with.

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

This was never really a plan of mine. I just kinda started drawing around 2004, I drew a lot before that but something just made me keep going. Boredom, the need for a creative outlet. I didn’t have a lot of friends, didn’t go out much. Mostly stayed at home in front of the TV. So I needed something to do.

I guess Anime was the thing that really made me keep going. Especially Inuyasha and Wedding Peach and Doremi.

And the new novel writing stuff, that also just kinda happened. I’ve been working on that story in my head for about 4 years at that point and I wanted to make it into a comic first but that would have taken ages and it got really demotivating. So one day at work, while my boss was out, I just opened up word and kept writing and writing. By the end of the day I had the prologue done.

Sometimes things just happen I guess???

aceincubiclub

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?

Oh boy, if I were to reveal more of my stories, you’d certainly see a pattern in them. Especially when it comes to family. Lots of single parents … or no parents at all.

Another thing would be about two characters which show up in every story in some way. Either as an actual character, a background character, the name of a cafe, a street name etc. Look out for that.

And my unique signature you might even be able to see on the pictures featured in this interview. The winged skull wearing a crown. No real symbolism behind it other than 1. Skulls are cool, 2. Crowns are dope and 3. I only added the wings to make the logo rectangular.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Find a medium that suits you and go nuts with it. If you suck at watercolor, even after countless hours and desperately trying, watercolor might not be your thing and that’s ok! “Practice makes perfect” but sometimes you just gotta acknowledge that you can’t be the best in every medium.

Look at references! Poses, faces, buildings, plants. You are not obligated to draw everything from memory. Nobody is going to come for you for drawing from a reference. The old masters did it, so you’re allowed do it as well!

cherubim

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an Aromantic Asexual. I dabbled in many different identities in my search to find the right one and about 4 years ago, after lots of back and forth and self-reflection, I settled on this.

It was a long journey to come to this conclusion. I spent my entire school life thinking something is wrong with me for never falling in love with anyone, while my friends and classmates had boyfriends and girlfriends. This continues into my time at trade school. Where I even had people telling me that they’re interested in me romantically but for me it was just … never an option. I don’t know how to behave around such people. I’d have to let them touch me and they’d want to be around me and my social battery is just not capable for that amount of affection.

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

Most prejudice and ignorance I get is not at work cuz my coworkers or boss doesn’t care. It was from classmates and trade school and my own family (mostly my dad).

“What do you mean you don’t want to have children?” and “Oh you just haven’t found the right one yet” are the most common. I never outright day that I’m asexual, to avoid awkward conversations, but I say “I don’t date” and for some reason that really grinds people’s gears???

Like I said, my dad is the worst one. He’d constantly ask me when I’d bring my boyfriend over and it made me so uncomfortable. Or whenever I had a good announcement he’s ask “Are you pregnant?” He thankfully stopped doing that for now thanks to his new wife (who is super lovely and really understanding). Whenever he brought up the topic I’d just roll my eyes and tell him to shut up.

I was never able to tell my mom about my asexuality before she died, but I’m positive that she would be understanding as well. She already accepted that I never brought home any boyfriends and didn’t even ask or pester me about it. So I feel like she knew.

persona FC_eulenspiegel

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

According to some, all asexuals are just plants and have no libido. Wrong, there’s different types of aces just like there’s different types of gays and lesbians and bi people. Some aces are sex repulsed, but not all. Some aces enjoy a good wank at the end of the day and some don’t. People are different and you can’t throw them all in the same drawer.

“Oh you’re just saying you’re asexual because you can’t find anyone to date you!”

Fam, no, that is the complete opposite of what I’m telling you. I don’t want to “find anyone to date” I don’t date. It’s simple as that.

True fire obsidian

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

You will feel alone, you’ll feel pain, you’ll feel like there’s nobody in the world who feels like you but I will tell you now that that’s not true. Don’t force yourself to do things you don’t want to do just because you think you might be broken. You’re not broken, you never were.

Go into yourself, find yourself, acknowledge and cherish the things that make you happy.

I still feel extremely alone, I haven’t found many people who feel like me yet but I’m hoping that through this I can reach out to some of them.

I can always lend an ear for anything.

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

Here’s a bunch of links you can find me on and look through more of my work.

Tumblr: http://kelbremdusk.tumblr.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1NaDNqgbf5SN5HnfYiOR-A
Twitter (although there’s barely anything): https://twitter.com/eatshitdr0pdead
My webcomic: https://tapas.io/Kelbremdusk
and my NSFW discord server (you can pm me for that one)

life

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

Interview: Anne

Today we’re joined by Anne. Anne is a phenomenal artist who specializes in crochet. She crochets the most extraordinary things: from dishcloths and scarves to actual sculptural crochet. Anne enjoys making things that make people smile. Her work is beautiful and adorable, filled with gorgeous vibrant colors. It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. 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 crochet as a hobby, mostly small pieces like amigurumi (sculptural crochet) dishcloths, potholders, market bags, scarves and hats. I like to create things that make people smile or bring people comfort.

2

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by people most often. I see a pattern and think of someone who could use that. I love the feeling of something coming together in my hands, stitch by stitch.

My mind becomes so engaged through my hands and my tools, that even if a project sits in a drawer after I finish it, I can pick up that piece and remember something. I love that feeling.

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

A therapist suggested I take up a hobby at a time when I was unemployed and unhappy. I had been working with one of those Nifty Knitters you find in craft stores, but I never thought of myself as a crafty or creative person. Since she crocheted, she suggested I try that; the supplies and instructions were right next to the Nifty Knitter looms, so I grabbed a book and taught myself. I never expected to succeed, but I was determined to get out of my depression.

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I tell people that it took a lot of swearing and frustration, but I sure had the time and the stubbornness. I did the basics for a while, making plenty of mistakes (I still do) Right as I was getting confident, my friend got me interested in Bloodborne. I watched Let’s Plays and chatted with him about it a lot. (Spoiler Alert) I ended up creating the Moon Presence infant from the game, a black, slug/squid like creature (it’s cuter than it sounds!) It’s the first pattern I ever drafted myself. I had to learn Amigurumi techniques first, and then prototype a bunch of different ways to create the shape. I even gave it a little sweater. In the end, he said it was a good neck pillow and his cats liked it. I knew from then on that I could create anything I wanted.

5

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 often have a chance to “sign” my work, so I don’t have a maker’s mark as such, but every piece feels unique. Even if I’m working off a pattern, I get to choose the yarn color and style, I have my own way of doing things and modifying it to fit my needs and desires. In the end, it’s my hands that have created it, and no one else’s hands could do it quite the same. I know every inch of that piece and it’s mine.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Play! Play is how you discover your next project, or the next skill you need to develop. Play will often inspire you to something you didn’t imagine before. The pressure to make money and produce value can often take us away from the freedom to experiment without consequences. I take a very loose philosophy with life and crochet. If there’s too much tension, you won’t be able to work with it, or the thread may even snap.

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If you feel you’ve lost your spark, it will come back, perhaps differently than before. If you get stuck on something, then maybe it’s not the time for that project to happen. The whole reason I crochet is to relax and be happy, if I get away from that, I can’t do it. Don’t loose sight of the reason you create.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and aromantic, because the basic definitions feel right to me. Beyond that, it’s complicated. I’m a fan of the word queer, because attraction is strange. I grew up with very clear, heteronormative expectations to marry and have a family, and now I have a very different concept of what that “family” could look like.

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

Mostly ignorance. If I go to knitting and crochet circles, I’m often the only queer person there, and the only single person in my age group.  Crochet is included in the “homemaking” arts, and I have zero interest in that field. People will ask, “Who are you making that for?” And more often than not, the answer is, “myself” because I don’t have a partner or kids. It can also be a good conversation starter if I’m making something in ace or gay pride colors, I get to explain why I chose them. I see more assumptions about gender when it comes to fiber arts, myself included.

10

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

Most people assume that it’s a function of my anxiety. It’s not. Most people assume I’m never interested in sex, or I have none of the accompanying desires. I often have to remind people that I do experience attraction, but not the way most of them are used to it. I guess the biggest misconception is that I don’t have feelings for anyone, and that I’m somehow innocent or that I’ve given up. I haven’t given up on love or people, I’ve accepted who and how I love, and I have learned to love myself and my curiosity.

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

If you’re struggling with your orientation, find other people who talk about it. Read about their It’s not always going to be a clear and fixed thing, and that’s okay. Respect that part of yourself, and you’ll learn a lot about it.

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

I’m on Reddit, u/theta394 where I post my progress and finished objects. I’m also on Pintrest at anelysis and Ravelry at SailorArtemis collecting patterns.

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

Interview: Inbar

Today we’re joined by Inbar. Inbar is a phenomenal visual artist and writer who has been running a webcomic for almost a year and a half. It’s entitled Just a Sidekick and it’s a superhero story that sounds fascinating. Aside from the webcomic, she’s also currently studying animation and is working on her final movie. When she’s not working on the webcomic or animation projects, Inbar also writes fanfiction. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

5. My So-Called Face
My So-Called Face

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The main project I am currently working on right now is a webcomic called “Just a Sidekick”, it’s a superhero ensemble story with a large focus on character interactions and character development. I’m also studying to be an animator, I’m in my last (fourth) year – and although I currently haven’t done any animation work that isn’t technically school work, I’m fairly proud in my animations. Currently, I just started work on my final movie, an urban fantasy called “Shoshi Ben-Abraham: Good Witch (Usually)” about a soft pastel witch and outgrowing the influence of toxic parents. In additions, I do some writing. The stories that I have online (and in English) are mostly fanfiction on AO3 (I’m currently writing for the Ace Attorney fandom), but I’ve also written original fiction before. Mostly short stories, but I’ve dabbled in poetry too.

What inspires you?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like I’ve got stories overflowing in my brain all the time and I just need to grab the not-sucky ones and share those in the best medium possible. But I guess my biggest source of inspiration is… other works of art and storytelling media. Not in the sense that I consider myself a rip-off artist or that I steal ideas, but I just… I look at a work of fiction and find something about it I like; a particular character, a trope, a relationship, a plot point, a design aesthetic or even just a feel that the work inspires, and I go “That’s neat, I wonder what I could do with that. I wonder if I can give this idea a take of my own. A spin that takes the stuff that I like but makes it unique enough so it’s mine.” I used to go roaming on the TV Tropes website all the time, find a trope I think has cool potential and think what I could do with it. I’m a fan and analyst as much as I am a creator, and I think it reflects in my artistic process. Also, “Just a Sidekick” started out a middle-school piece of crossover fanfiction that mutated so much that I was better off just making it original fiction, so that’s something.

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

I’ve been drawing and making up stories since I can remember myself. As a kid, I used to draw in any given opportunity, on anything I could find. On the final first grade, I had to stay after everyone had left to clean up the desk in my classroom as punishment for all the desks I doodled on. After that, my parents started buying me blank “drawing notebooks” to draw on instead. I filled them up, sometimes an entire notebook in one school day, with illustrations (and sometimes stories) I made up. I also always really liked animation, cartoon shows were my favorite form of entertainment as a child (I was always inherently biased against any kid’s show with live-action actors, they were always less interesting to me.) However, up until middle-school I didn’t consider animation, comics or art in general as a future career option. I thought of them as a hobby, my first dream (well, after I outgrew wanting to be a puppeteer-air hostess-cook-kindergarten teacher-robot scientist-farmer) was to be a zoologist. I love animals and I love reading facts about them, I thought I would enjoy becoming a scientist who studies them. But around middle school I started realizing it wasn’t a very realistic dream, I didn’t have a head for the sciencey subjects and I only really enjoyed knowing about animals from a distance and without all the icky stuff. Around that time, as I was reconsidering what I want to do with my life, I was watching some special feature about the history of Pixar in one of their DVDs (maybe the Incredibles?). Someone there said that they got into animation because they grew up watching Disney animated movies and so they wanted to do so themselves. That seemed like the right angle to go at, a lot of people answer ‘why did you decide to become an X’ with “well, I grew up inspired by X and I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation”. And what was my favorite form of media as a kid? The one I would like to advance forward to the kids of tomorrow? Cartoon shows! That’s when I decided that one I day I’ll be the creator of a cartoon show, or if that can’t happen – I’ll at leas be an animator. Also around the same time I was suddenly starting to have some problems with art class in school because it was starting to lean more ‘realistic’ and toward live-drawing – while I, I realized, care more about the art of telling stories via my drawing. The move to comics and animation is only logical from there.

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?

My signature is the Hebrew Letter Ayin (the first letter of my name) stylized and with a dot in the middle to make it look like an eye (another meaning for the word “Ayin”). Although I don’t use it on a lot of online content. In terms of recurring storytelling motifs, I guess most of my stories have a mostly-female cast, and I really like the trope where a character has to face against a pre-character development representation of themselves.

4. My Signature
Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Find something that you’re both pretty good at and have fun doing and focus on that. Also, originality is overrated. Having a unique idea nobody ever thought before is not nearly as important as presenting and delivering those ideas well.

2. Page 63
Page 63

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

The identity I feel most strongly about is “Asexual, period, full stop.” For the sake of communication, I can say that my identity is “Asexual Aromantic”, and it’s not that I’m ashamed at my lack of romantic attraction or that I don’t feel solidarity with other Aro people… but I’ve spent so much time questioning and second-guessing my own orientation and worrying that I might be ‘faking it’. But “Asexual” is the one label I’ve always come back to, the one that feels the most ‘right’, the most like home.

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

I’ve encountered ace prejudice, but not in my ‘field’, so to speak. I’m not very vocal about my asexuality outside of the internet, and online (where I am very vocal) I’m just not that well-known as a creator. One time I made a piece of art as schoolwork about my AroAceness, and the teacher started out with “Oh that’s very sad that you felt like you have to fake attraction to a boy” but ended up constantly talking about her husbands and soulmates and how wonderful relationships were as if me talking about how I was hurt by heteronormativity is insulting her relationship somehow. That kinda hurt me, especially since it was such a personal piece. I am very afraid of the possibility I might be the target of ace prejudice, though. It’s an anxiety that’s constantly on my mind.

3. Shoshi model sheet
Shoshi model sheet

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

That it’s not ‘real’. When I first mentioned Asexuality to my dad, before I came out, he dismissed it as “what crazy thing they’ll make up next” and it really hurt me. I’ve seen all sorts of crazy antagonism and misunderstanding about Ace People online, but the outright dismissal of our identities is still what hurts me the most.

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

Surround yourself with good friends who respect your identity. Even if the world can be really crappy sometimes, a good community to take refuge in can make you feel a lot better. Also, try and not get stressed about your identity the way that I did, okay? You’re probably not faking it or lying to yourself, and if asexuality feels like the most ‘right’ label for you and makes you happy – that’s all you need.

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

My webcomic, Just a Sidekick, is found at http://justasidekickcomics.tumblr.com/ and http://justasidekick.thecomicseries.com/.

My fanfiction is on Archive of Our Own under “Invader Ham” https://archiveofourown.org/users/InvaderHam

I might upload some animated projects to my YouTube channel soon, which is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTL3B4o0qQzpyd_cvzHw-jg

1. Dana
Dana

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

Interview: Naomi Clements Gettman

Today we’re joined by Naomi Clements Gettman. Naomi is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. The visual art is digital and mostly for fun. She does fanart, collages, and sometimes collaborates with her sister. When she’s not creating visual art, Naomi also writes a lot of poetry. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. tns

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art encompasses a few things. I dabble in Photoshop and making digital collaborations with my sister. Most of the time this means I will create a reference for her, she will draw line work, and then I will scan and color. Other times I make simple collages, fan-art for bands I love, or illustrate random jokes.

I also enjoy writing and have written lots of poetry, although none of it is published anywhere. I am currently in the process of collecting it all and will probably self-publish sometime soon, just to have a physical collection to share with whoever would like to read it. I am also in the process of writing a book, which is from an idea I developed in several of my screenwriting classes.

What inspires you?

I think for my graphic design things, there are certain things I create regularly, and other things I only create occasionally. For instance, I may decide I need a new Twitter or Facebook banner and I whip together a themed collage of things/characters I like. These are easy to do, and I don’t spend much time thinking about it. Other times a band may host a fan-art contest, or I may feel inspired by a line in a song, and I create a single piece I am proud of after a few weeks of mulling it over. Once I am finished with a bigger project like this, it takes a while to create something again.

For my poetry, I am inspired by the sound of things as much as the meaning. I enjoy rhyme and often write a whole poem around a single phrase that I think sounds good. Sometimes my poems are fictional stories, sometimes they are about self-doubt, sometimes they are about growing up. There really is no uniting theme, which is why I find it so hard to determine what is good and what is trash.

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

To say “field” is probably a bit of a misdirection. I am currently in the awkward techinically-last-semester-but-done-with-credits-and-looking-for-anyone-who-will-hire-me phase of life. My chosen field of study is in film/media, and I have a few different experiences under my belt; from film digitization to advertising. However, whether it is in the form of an essay, a video, a PowerPoint, or whatever else, I love being creative and even enjoy working on a team to research and complete a project. I have never wanted to be an artist in any traditional sense of the word (like being an illustrator or a musician), but I do believe that creativity and fun can be a part of almost everything you do.

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?

Nope! I suppose I should start signing things, but I haven’t yet.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be to just have fun with whatever you are doing. Lots of ‘serious’ jobs require creativity, and lots of ‘creative’ jobs require business skills like budgeting or scheduling. Your best bet is to approach whatever it is with a good attitude, and even if you don’t love the whole job or the assignment or whatever, you can at least find an aspect of it to enjoy.

2. collage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I have happily identified as aro/ace for about 5 years now (since I was 17). The aro part of my identity came a little later, but so far everything fits. I am fulfilled with the close friendships I’ve managed to maintain, although I think I would like a QPR.

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

I have never encountered any type of prejudice in my workplace, but mostly I think that has to do with the fact that I have no idea how to be out at work. I never actively hide my aro/ace identity, but also it never actually comes up. Do people think I’m straight?? Maybe. Although it’s more likely they think I’m gay since I talk about going to pride and what not. However, whenever I do mention it, there is never any push-back from the person. Sure, there’s the usual “what is that?” if they don’t already know, but there is a never a follow-up “don’t worry, you’ll meet the right person.”

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

I have been very lucky to have an accepting family and friend group. My whole “coming out” experience is not typical, I think.  I never tried to be anything I wasn’t or even realized there was something different about me.  Even within the first years of knowing my sexuality I was on an NPR segment talking about my experience. (Check it out if you’d like, but be warned it is a few years old now https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2016/08/11/51199/asexuality-and-the-internet-s-key-role-in-the-ace/)

However, one thing that breaks my heart (even though it isn’t a misconception per se) is when I tell someone I am aro/ace, and they say they have never met anyone else like me. It happens quite a lot, and it feels horribly isolating.

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

I wish I had novel advice that could be applicable to any type of person. Sometimes the “love yourself” mantra is easier said than done, especially when you battle with anxieties and insecurities that others do not. But I’m afraid I am not that person, and the only advice I can offer is to find the connections that allow you to love yourself. Put all your energy into cultivating a small network of love, and support will be there when you need it.

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

If you would like to see my work or check out my socials, please go to https://sncgportfolio.weebly.com/

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

Interview: Zoe

Today we’re joined by Zoe. Zoe is a wonderful young up and coming author who writes YA and middle grade fiction. She has drafted three novels, all are in the genres of supernatural and magical realism. They feature a diverse cast of characters, most of them are LGBTQIA+, the kind of characters Zoe has often wanted to see in the books she was reading. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated writer 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 write young adult/middle grade books that could also count as magical realism or supernatural. My current project centres on different supernatural/paranormal beings such as angels, demons, vampires, sirens etc. It is pretty diverse compared to a lot of books I’ve read recently, and includes a gender fluid vampire, a pansexual warlock, an aroace demon in a queer-platonic relationship, a bisexual demon, a biromantic angel, a lesbian werewolf, an aroace fae who is sex and romance repulsed (There are others, as well as heterosexual characters.) It also includes all the struggles they have to deal with because of their sexualities and genders, as well as their supernatural race. (While also trying to stop a very evil woman from taking her revenge out on the whole world)

I thought it should be a bit more diverse than the other young adult/middle grade books I have read because to me, having two or three LGBTQIA+ characters in an entire 16 book world seems very unrealistic. At school, I had at least three or four LGBTQIA+ kids in each class I went to for every lesson.

What inspires you?

Usually, books I’ve read. I didn’t really know what to write about to be honest, before I started. But then I read a few young adult books of the same type I wanted to write and something clicked. With every book I read, I had a new idea for something that could happen. Of course, I didn’t steal from the books. What I mean, is that I could picture how old spell books looked, and realised a King would probably care more about having a son for an heir than a daughter. This helped me picture a possible scene for an argument between a father and daughter, in which this point could have been brought up.

Also, music inspires me a lot. I always listen to music. Classical pieces, soundtracks from movies, actual songs even musicals. Whatever it takes to give me some inspiration, I even sleep while listening to music to help me better picture what might be giving me trouble when writing. Think of it like writing fanfiction in my head, of my own stories, while I try to sleep.

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

I have always loved reading, and throughout primary school (ages 3-11) we had a lot of opportunities to write our own short stories in class. I loved it, and thought it was fun. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years ago when I discovered NaNoWriMo (I won) and realised how fun writing could be and got back into it.

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

I haven’t done the math, but there’s roughly the same amount of LGBTQIA+ characters as there are heterosexual characters (not counting small children). In any book I will ever write, I will always try to keep it as close to 50/50 as I can, because that is the most realistic figure. There’s also hardly ever any angst revolving around romance, or any explicit stuff because I strongly dislike it and have no time for that nonsense of “he loves me, he loves me not.”

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing. If someone says you write too much, or you should spend more time doing something that benefits them, don’t listen and keep writing. I was told that I spend too much time reading and writing, the only two things I do for fun, by my family who wanted me to essentially become a third parent to my brother who is only 2 years younger than me. It upset me, and I stopped both. I didn’t read anything for ages, and eventually forgot about my writing for a few months. It’s good to take a break, but on your terms, or as close as you can get.

I still struggle trying to get into writing again, because I feel like it will be hard. Because I don’t remember what I was going to do with this sentence, or because I can’t remember what that character looked like or if they are even in this book. Don’t let anyone – and I mean anyone – tell you that it isn’t worth it. Write for you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a sex and romance repulsed aroace, and I experience aesthetic attraction. I also identify as pan because my aesthetic attraction can be to anyone of any gender.

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

I haven’t experienced any. However, when I was talking to my best friend and fellow Asexual about some of the characters, trying to work out a scene, I mentioned they were both Aroace. I also have an ace-biromantic character not in that scene. She asked “That makes three on the Ace Spectrum, right? Isn’t that a bit much?” No. it is not “a bit much” because I know several asexual people online, and together we make two. In real life, in a world with billions of people, at least 1% of which (7 million I think total) asexuals, it makes sense to have a few who know each other. She knew this, it was just more of shock at seeing more than one Ace character in a single book, and she wasn’t being mean or anything.

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

I have several, and they are all from my best friend’s ex-boyfriend, although I have heard other people say stuff along these lines too.

  • (asexual refusing to have sex with her boyfriend because she’s a sex repulsed asexual) “But biologically speaking everyone needs sex.” – This isn’t true. I’ve heard it can be fun, great, stress-relieving, and a bunch of other positive things from people who continuously talk to me about it even when I tell them not to. But biologically, you don’t crave it. You don’t die without it. Biologically speaking, it is how babies are made. Nothing more.
  • “You’re not asexual because you don’t need to photosynthesize” – hahaha, no. he said this sincerely, and he meant this to hurt. It isn’t a joke. There are multiple meanings for different words in the English language. “My nose is running” does not mean you’re nose is in fact running down your face and about to make an escape to go join the party next door.
  • “Asexuality isn’t a thing. It’s just an excuse. You’re a lesbian” – yeah she’s an Aroace lesbian, but she didn’t know it at the time. She’s still aroace. It doesn’t matter what else you identify as, if you think you are on the spectrum, no one can invalidate you like this. Asexuality is a thing. It is also annoying to hear this several times in the same conversation.

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

Asexuality, and the whole spectrum, is a thing. Aromanticism is a thing. Aroace is a thing. You can be both, you can be one or the other. You can be in a qpr, you can be single forever. You can have a partner, or not. You can be a third sexuality on top of this. You can hate sex/romance with a fiery passion or you can still enjoy it. Don’t let uninformed people try to tell you how you feel, because the person who knows you best is you. And if this means having your aroace-pan awakening at 2am and grinning like a fool for three days then so be it. Because you deserve to be happy. If someone you love says the words “but biologically-“or “you aren’t ace/aro” or any variation of “it’s a fad/you just want attention.” Even after you’ve explained it to them? Even after you’ve given them a chance to learn about your orientation? Get rid of them because you can do better. Any loved one who forces you to ignore how you feel, or invalidates you, or pressures you into things you don’t want to do, is not worth your time.

When you come out to people, be ready for the inevitable vocab lesson, but don’t be upset about it and if they ask a lot of questions, try not to be offended. In all likelihood, they have no idea what any of this means because when they were growing up it wasn’t as widely known. Take a few minutes to explain. They might get it, they might not. They might be supportive, they might not. But at least they know. And if they get confused somehow and think you just came out as a lesbian, please, for the sake of your sanity, correct them. Do not let them think you and your best friend are lesbian lovers unless you, for some reason, want them to think that. It is about what you are comfortable with.

Tell the person you are dating what your boundaries are, or what you are uncomfortable with. For example, I personally despise all physical contact with all but 2 people. Maybe they can work their way in, but for now, tell them. Don’t let yourself be uncomfortable just so you don’t have to have the awkward conversation where you tell them you don’t want to be kissed or you don’t want to have sex. And if they don’t respect your boundaries, get rid of them. A person who is willing to just be platonic cuddle buddies with no pressure on either side is much better than a person who refuses to understand your orientation and the things you don’t want to do.

Also, don’t listen to aphobes, at all.

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

I haven’t published anything anywhere, but I’m always up for questions about my work in progress, or anything to do with writing (or my orientation really). My Tumblr is at solangelo3088.

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