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.

Interview: Jo Troll

Today we’re joined by Jo Troll. Jo is a phenomenal dancer who has recently branched out into what they term artistic intervention. They do a lot of Irish dancing and they have danced contemporary styles in the past. They’re currently focused on tackling cisnormativity in dance. It’s clear they’re a passionate and dedicated artist with an important message, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. WP_20170918_15_51_41_Pro

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a dancer/choreographer that’s branched out into installation art and other methods of “artistic intervention”. I’m originally an Irish step dancer who strayed from the path and got really interested in contemporary dance. After a year at a conservatoire, I got really fed up with the value system in a lot of contemporary dance worlds and have been moving back towards Irish dance. I say Irish dance because that includes contemporary (but not competition) Irish step, older styles of step dancing, and sean-nos, an improvisational percussive dance form. Recently, a lot of my work has centered around my trans identity and trans visibility, and I’m currently at a point of transition where I’m trying to figure out how to tackle other concepts while continuing to challenge cisnormativity in dance.

What inspires you?

Anger. Anything that makes me even the slightest bit angry. I even made a whole piece about anger inspired by the respectability politics I was managing at my school at the time (I’m also super petty and may have built an installation based on how to most inconvenience someone that was being transphobic). It’s hard to exist in the world without being angry and it’s even harder as someone with multiple invisible identities (nonbinary, trans, asexual, aromantic…) who is usually read as female because anger is so much more likely to be invalidated by people in power. Performing is my chance to express my anger and make people listen. If you pay to go see someone, you’re a lot more likely to listen to them than if they try to challenge you in the middle of a conversation. Even if you should probably listen in both circumstances (this is a very general you).

2. Jane 3
Jane 3 [photo taken by an audience member]
What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

So, when I was ten, my mom was really sick of driving me to soccer games and bribed me out of soccer with Irish dance lessons. That’s the main story. I’ve had a lot of beginnings in dance, but I’ve probably known since I was eight or so that I was going to be a dancer. Since ten is actually a late start for dance, I’ve had a lot of insecurities which kept me from voicing that for a long time and gotten in my own way a lot of the time, but it’s always been knowledge that this was what I was going to do, not a wish or a desire.

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, everyone that knows my work (i.e. the wonderful friends that help me workshop things) claim that it’s distinct. I’d say that’s more because there’s not a lot of non-competitive dancers doing work around queer identity than because there’s anything particular to me. The most signature thing that stays true between pieces is costume – I always wear a hat and I almost always wear a skirt. The hat is just because I like hats and feel vaguely naked without one. The skirt is a very specific form of protest – people struggle to see feminine FAAB nonbinary people as nonbinary because we don’t fit the standard “androgynous” look deemed acceptable for FAAB folks. So, when I do have all the power to make people listen, I want to look as feminine as possible while I do it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If a system isn’t working for you, that’s not your fault. It’s always fine to leave, say “no”, or even make your own system. This is very true for dance – it took me a long time to learn that if a ballet teacher made me feel icky, I didn’t have to go to their class – but I feel like it is probably true for other forms of art too. There are infinite ways to make things. If something doesn’t work for you, there’s always another way.

Also, surround yourself with people that care about your work. I have a great list of people I trust to give me both encouragement and constructive feedback. It is impossible to make work in a complete vacuum (there are artists who have tried, I know), so be picky about who you work with, and find the people who truly want to make your art as strong as it can possibly be, because that is how you will find support and growth.

3. 180623 Dancing Queerly - Olivia Blaisdell (7)
Photo by Olivia Blaisdell Photography / halfasianlens, courtesy of Dancing Queerly, 2018

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aroace. Probably.

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

Hehe. Quite recently, I was speaking on a panel on queer dance and I was responding to a question about asexual dance when I was interrupted mid-thought by another panelist who went on to talk about how they would never apologize for putting sex into their work. There’s a habit in dance, especially in queer dance, to focus on the sexual and see the nonsexual and the asexual as restrictive, backwards, and uninteresting. I can make work about transness and be brave. If I make work about asexuality, I’m regressive and “hurting the cause”.

I haven’t found my answer yet, but I’m working to really figure out what it means to dance asexually. I can make statements and comments as much as I’d like, but the most important thing is to keep owning the work that I make and who I am. If someone feels the need to go on the defensive about it, that’s their problem.

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

Heh. I think the biggest thing I see in dance, especially in queer art circles, is that somehow or other, asexuality threatens or denies the ability to claim and own other sexualities. Or, in other terms, that asexuality desexualizes other sexualities. I understand the threat for queer artists queer sexuality of all forms has been under attack for a long time, but it becomes a problem when this is used as an excuse to silence asexual voices. The possibility of asexuality does not negate the possibility of other queer sexualities, it is simply an expansion of what queer sexuality can be, which I find super exciting. I don’t have as much patience or understanding when allo, cis, straight dancers get up in arms about this too, but it does tell me that sexuality brings up lots of feelings for everyone. We just have to slowly untangle them. I would prefer it if all allo dancers would bother to look up the definition of asexuality before getting defensive though.

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

It’s OK to struggle. These things aren’t always easy. All you can do is own where you are right now.

Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Books with characters you relate to. Music that speaks to your heart. People that make you smile and feel like you are worth something. There are loads of recommendations out there for the young acespec and that can be helpful if you don’t know where to start, but don’t feel guilty if the thing that’s right for you isn’t in the ace community hivemind, or even explicitly ace-related. Take what’s right for you.

And make art. Art is a powerful tool for self-care and self-expression. Find the way it works for you and use it.

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

I’ve got a website: jotroll.wordpress.com
And I blog a lot: jotdancing.wordpress.com
You can also find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/jotrolldance/
And on Tumblr at: https://jotrolldance.tumblr.com/

4. Jo Troll_Dance Shot - credit Ray Bernoff
Photo by Ray Bernoff

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

Interview: R.M.K.

Today we’re joined by R.M.K.. R.M.K. is a phenomenal poet who has just released their first poetry collection recently. It delves into topics like mental illness and recovery. They’re currently working on another collection about enbies, aces, and aros, which will be out this October. R.M.K. writes modern poetry and is extraordinarily talented. It’s clear they’re dedicated to their craft, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write what I refer to as “modern poetry.” It is in the same style as Rupi Kaur’s. It isn’t like “classical poetry” which I see as sometimes really dense and hard to comprehend. My poetry focuses less on imagery and more on just getting your thoughts down on paper. Sometimes on Tumblr you see it looking like “is this poetry if I just write prose and put a bunch of spaces?” Yes!

My poetry ranges from mental illness, recovery, letters, nonbinary, asexual, and aromantic themes. I talk about a lot of different stuff in my work. My first collection focuses on mental illness and recovery, while my upcoming collection will focus on enbies, asexuals, and aromantics.

The goal of my poetry collections is to inspire people to share their own stories.

What inspires you?

Rupi Kaur inspired my first book. She is the author of Milk And Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. I am also inspired by Courtney Peppernell, who writes lesbian poetry, and r.h. Sin, who writes about various subjects.

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

I got interested in poetry only about two years ago. Before then I was an aspiring novelist, and still am, but poetry is a lot easier for me to write. I’m not really sure what got me interested in poetry. It might’ve been when I found Rupi’s first book. Since then I’ve bought around fifteen different poetry books and have consumed them with fervor.

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

In my poetry I never use capitalization and show speaking or quotes as italics. It’s part of my style but is in no way unique. Anyone out there could use this style if they so wanted.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Write boldly and unapologetically and also, don’t turn your nose up at self-publishing. This is the route I am going by now. If you want to write about a nonbinary character who uses they/them pronouns, do it! Write about whatever subject you want in whatever format you feel suits it best and don’t pull any punches! Tell the story you want to tell and don’t compromise on a thing!

If anyone is looking for self-publishing, look no further than CreateSpace, an Amazon company, which will print-per-order your books and also stock in stores. You can do everything you need to with the site, even make a cover.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and also aromantic and nonbinary. I use they/them pronouns.

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

When I submitted to publishers I used my pronouns and chosen name on all my correspondences and never heard anything back. I don’t know if this is just a coincidence or if it was directly related, but I have since gone forward with self-publishing.

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

That it’s the same as celibacy, which it definitely isn’t. People are celibate for religious reasons, usually. We are asexual because we are born that way, or because of trauma. Both are valid.

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

If you find the label no longer fits, then you can drop it! There’s no shame in that! Before this I thought I was just a skittish pansexual. Before that I was totally convinced I was homosexual. It’s okay to explore.

Also, you don’t really owe anyone an explanation. If you’re asexual, you’re asexual. That’s it. They should be responsible for educating themselves if they can’t understand you.

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

On my Tumblr at rmk-poetry and my Instagram r.m.k.poetry!

The first book, entitled Days, will be available by the time you read this. The second collection, entitled Queer, (I’m on the side of reclaiming this slur, I’m sorry if you are not and I have offended you), will be coming out October 11th to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

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

Interview: Jainai Jeffries

Today we’re joined by Jainai Jeffries, who also goes by fydbac, llc. Jainai specializes in creating violent and erotic imagery to break through mediocrity. They specialize in concept design, tattooing, and violent webcomics. It’s clear they’re a dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for participating in this interview.

Warning: potentially triggering material in this interview and the images included. Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this interview don’t reflect those of Asexual Artists.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Its aim is to murder off the mediocre and cliché.

What inspires you?

Exploring the unseen and untold. The countless unexplored (or rarely explored) ideas and concepts.

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

I always loved fantasy and hearing stories I never heard before.

Where does “always” start for you? Let’s just say, yes; if we don’t count the half day I considered being a Veterinarian, or the month or so I reached out to the FBI about being a sniper/assassin.

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 change it periodically: For the past year or so, I’ve been stamping my work with “©fydbac,llc”.

I hope that’s what you meant. Is it what you meant? …We’ll just say that’s what you meant.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Undercharging yourself (anything under $20 for line art) is a sign of an amature, and makes you look unprofessional (like you have no respect for yourself).

Don’t half ass shit: like relying on only social media. Work on your presentation and business as hard as you work on your craft.

But then again, there are folk out there who are half assing it, but still making $2k+ on Patreon, so da fuck do I know?

Point is…there are countless paths to maintain an art career. There is no “correct” one. But they ALL share one thing: Luck. [Don’t obsess over it.]

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex: Ace [thought not ruling out demi, cause I think I have the capacity, but never had such a connection]. Romantically: Aromatic (my idea of “romance” doesn’t fit into the general category of this era I think).

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

No. I actually still don’t understand how prejudice against ace is possible: The lengths folk go to infringe upon someone’s existence over something that ain’t they fucking business is just utterly ridiculous to me in general.

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

Probably, “you just haven’t found the right person yet”. That was mostly just before I realized I was Ace, or just as I was realizing it. Cause I have yet to share that I was Ace to those people, (no reason why I haven’t, I’m just not one to share myself unsolicitedly).

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

I don’t think I can give “advice”, as I never “struggled” about it. I guess I can share my personal attitude about things pertaining to myself? What other people think have no relation on what I think about myself and how I view the world. They have their world, and I have mine. Sometimes they brush against each other to learn from each other, but…yeah, my orientation has never been a “struggle”, so don’t think I can help

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

Official: http://fydbac.com
Webcomic: http://ipity.me
Tattoo boutique: http://fydmi.ink

My current primary social medias:
http://twitter.com/fydbac
http://instagram.com/fydbac

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

Interview: Anne Hawley

Today we’re joined by Anne Hawley. Anne is a phenomenal novelist and editor who writes queer-themed historical fiction. She has a novel entitled Restraint, which features an ace secondary character. Anne is currently working on a new historical novel that features an ace protagonist, which is exciting (we need more historical fiction featuring aces). It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate writer who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Laughing

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write novels featuring queer characters in historical settings, exploring issues of identity and acceptance. I’m also a Story Grid Certified fiction editor, helping other writers shape their novels and screenplays.

What inspires you?

People’s individual search for wholeness and self-acceptance. The search for meaning. My stories revolve around people on spiritual journeys, and my editing work is focused on helping writers find and tell the story that’s in their heart to tell.

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

I’ve been writing since I could read. I started my first novel when I was nine. I was inspired by fantasy novels and wanted to create my own worlds.

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 always name something after a notable feature in my hometown of Portland, Oregon USA

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’ll permit me to change the question, I’d like to say something to aspiring artists who may not have started young, or aren’t young anymore. Ageism is real and insidious in our culture, and it has a huge silencing power. Just as the dominant culture would still prefer it if you were allosexual and cisgendered (though thank goodness that’s changing), it would like you to be silent and invisible if you’re not young. If you have a story to tell, tell it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aromantic asexual. I think “autochor” is probably a term that applies to me.

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

There’s not much ace representation yet in fiction, and as a person who came to the identity late in life, I’m still working to change my own ingrained belief that “nobody” wants to read stories without sexual tension, or about individuals who are fulfilled without romance.

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

That asexual people don’t really exist, and that people in my age group who claim that sexual identity are simply resigned to being “too old” for love or sex–or that we’re some sort of holdover from an earlier and more prudish, sex-negative era. We aren’t.

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

Many, many people in older age groups like mine have never even heard of asexuality. If you’re like me, hearing about it at a late age might create a real internal struggle, especially if you’ve given a lot of energy over the years trying to conform to old cultural standards of “normal” sexuality.

It helps to read as much as you can about all the nuances in the spectrum of asexuality, and realize that it’s okay to try on different names and labels. It might take a while to feel at home with one or another of them. But you might also find, as I did, that little by little embracing asexuality solves so many mysteries of your life.

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

https://annehawley.net

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