Interview: Nev

Today we’re joined by Nev. Nev is a wonderful French visual artist who specializes in comics. She’s currently taking a break from her studies to travel. Nev makes excellent use of vivid colors in order to draw the viewer in and her attention to detail is extraordinary. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. 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’m a baby comic artist who is taking a pause during her studies to travel after three years of comics studies in Belgium. I have two webcomics (in French, sorry), too which I try update frequently. I make a lot of comics and illustrations zines beaucoup I love to have a real and concrete object in my hands.

I love telling stories and drawing them, and I love to draw things related to my aesthetics (like vaporwaves things) too.

What inspires you?

I think all can be an inspiration. I’m really inspired by everyday life, and the people I talk too. But also to the things who I find aesthetic and that make strong images for me.

Also, I have a lot of inspiration which come from comics, cartoons, mangas, and a lot from the zine and underground culture and the internet and webcomics culture. I love to see what artists does near to the industry.

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

I love drawing and telling stories, so… comics were for me. I love to think about how I can compose my comics pages, how to transfer a feeling, an atmosphere, a rhythm in a story. And drawing what you had in your head is so pleasing.

I always draw and… telling stories. When I was 3 years old, I was even making sort of child zines, about a hero porcupine who was saving animals. But I know that I wanted to be an artist when I was 11/12 years old I think.

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?

Not really, and that’s a real shame! I always forgot to sign.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Training about your lack of skills to progress, but let you time to just doing your comfort zone too. Read and see a lot of different things to be inspired by a lot of things. Take the time, even I know how it’s can be difficult. And try to be nice with yourself and take pauses, it’s important.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a heteroromantic asexual between sex-favorable and sex indifferent.

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

Yes. Not a lot, because I’m out about this only with people who are understanding about that, but even with that, sometime, people don’t really know the subject and does some errors. I’m in relationship with someone who isn’t asexual, and I discovered my asexuality during the beginning of our relationship, so… it was kind of difficult at the beginning. No mean intentions, but the ignorance can create a lot of misconceptions.

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

Maybe that I’m sort of sick and that hormones can heal me. But, it’s not a question of hormones at all (and aces are not sick, thanks).

Also, that you can’t be ace and be in a relationship, and have maybe sexual interactions. Having sex doesn’t disqualify someone from being asexual, actions are not attraction (but this is not a reason to make additional pressure to aces who don’t have sex).

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

It’s okay to be lost and to have doubts, and that don’t make you any legitimate at all. When I was younger, I was really lost about my asexuality, and what I feel about it. I repressed it a lot of time, because, well, sex pressure and society, and after, because I didn’t feel legitimate because I didn’t find myself in a lot of testimonies. But you are who you are, and only you can know what you feel and if you’re attracted of not. And, really, you’re not broken.

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

They can find my work on Tumblr, here: https://la-nev.tumblr.com/, or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nev_photos/.

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

Interview: Juju

Today we’re joined by Juju. Juju is a wonderful writer who is mostly known for their fanfiction. Aside from fanfiction, they also write some original fiction and are currently working on a novel. Juju includes aspec characters in everything they write. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate writer who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write things! Most of my readers know me for fanfiction, but I also write short stories and I’m working on a novel! I also like to share stories through little video games made in RPG Maker, although I don’t often share them as much as I probably should.

What inspires you?

At the risk of sounding like an overenthusiastic alien, humanity itself is my greatest inspiration. Humans are utterly fascinating.

We have the power to wage war, and also help each other in times of need. We spend years learning each other’s languages just to communicate with people outside of our own circle. We all share the same range of emotions. We can communicate through looks without saying a word to each other; even a smile is something we can share, if we have nothing else in common.

Our experiences are diverse and universal at the same time. The relationships we have with each other—parents, lovers, siblings, friends, workmates, etc.—are varied, but when you put it all together you have the story of a life. It’s my privilege as an author to take a slice of a life, any character’s life, and portray it for the world.

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

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned what letters were. I used to write little stories for my younger brother on notebook paper, lying on the floor in my bedroom. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read them; I read them to him! In elementary school when they taught us the writing assessment, I used to pray that I’d get a narrative prompt (sadly, I never did).

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?

Unique feature? That’s a hard one… I have a terrible time recognizing themes in my work; usually other people point them out to me and I just accept that they must be right, haha.

I guess I can say I do enjoy writing about belonging; I like to do character analyses in my work in the form of introspection. I also really enjoy writing sibling relationships, especially if it’s found family and siblings. I love ships as much as the next fan, but there’s something about “they’re like a brother/sister to me”. That’s a deep platonic love that never gets as much recognition as it deserves.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make the content you want to see in the world. Who cares if it’s entirely self-indulgent? If it makes you happy, do it! Do it, do it again, read it and enjoy it; the best part is that sometimes, other people will like it too!

Practice doesn’t have to be boring. How do I practice writing? I read books. I watch movies.. I look at screenplays. I go to the theatre, if I can. I play video games. I study the plot, the dialogue. Look at your favorite stories—why do you like them? What’s your favorite part? How do the character interact? Of course, grammar is important and the fundamentals are there for a reason, but no one said practice had to be all textbooks and essays.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! I find men and women both aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t experience sexual attraction to them.

When I first learned the terminology I thought I might be gray-ace or demi, but I realized that I was only tying into some of the myths surrounding asexuality. I was letting people who didn’t know me tell me who I was, based on generalizations. It wasn’t until I asked myself who thought I was that I was able to come to terms with my own sexuality.

I also identify as heteroromantic, or at least gray-romantic to some extent.

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

Oh, for sure!

I think what I’ve heard the most is that I’m “faking” being an asexual because I write nsfw content. That’s also the most laughable, since I never realized you could only write about your own experience and nothing else! I’m openly sex-positive; sex is a beautiful, intimate thing… it’s just not for me.

I’ve also gotten anon hate on social media from people who don’t like my headcanons, especially if they’re on the ace spectrum. If it’s a LGBT ship it’s homophobic to have them as ace, if it’s a straight ship it’s too pandering. Can’t win for losing, right? Beyond that, it’s usually the same old “asexuality isn’t LGBT, you aren’t oppressed, make your own community” garbáge that exists all over social media (mostly Tumblr).

It always hurts the worst when it comes from mutuals that I trusted; sometimes people I considered my friends share or say aphobic things and I want to shout “Don’t reblog those lies! Ask me, I’m right here, I’m always willing to talk about my own experience with you!” But, if I said those things, 9/10 times I’m accused of stirring up discourse or being too defensive.

I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut, write what I want, and freely use the Block feature. Life’s too short to worry about what some faceless person on the internet thinks about me, and besides: probably they’d be too cowardly to say those hurtful comments if we were in the same room together.

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

“Asexuals hate sex and look down on people who don’t.”

I know aces who are sex-repulsed. I know aces who are married with kids. I know aces who are fine with giving, not receiving. I know aces who only dislike intercourse. I know aces who have sex because, for them, it’s a way to be close to their partner.

Sex positive, negative, neutral— we all share one important thing: we don’t experience sexual attraction. That is what makes us asexual… not our opinions.

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

It’s okay to be asexual.

If you think you’re 1% ace today and 99% ace tomorrow, you can say you’re ace. If you’re not sure yet, you can say you’re ace. If you think you might change your mind, or you’re using this label until you figure yourself out, you can say you’re ace.

Sexuality is fluid and confusing, and it’s even more confusing if you don’t experience it at all. We’ve been there. We are there. We know. The people with the loudest voices and biggest hatred are often the minority. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Remember to love, and allow yourself to be loved. Love isn’t binary, it’s not limited to intimacy or romance. Love your friends, your family, your pets, and (most importantly) yourself. Love is so many shades, a thousand thousand nuances that we can experience together as humans. Don’t lose hope by focusing on one color when you’re surrounded by a rainbow.

Having sex doesn’t make you less ace. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting to be closer to your partner doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting children doesn’t make you less ace. You are allowed to ask for physical affection without it having to lead to sex. You are allowed to want to kiss, to cuddle, even to make out or pet your partner without it having to lead to sex. You do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. You don’t owe the world, or anyone in it, anything that will bring you harm.

You are not broken. You are valid. You are loved.

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

You can find my work at https://archiveofourown.org/users/Jubalii! Just look for the sheep, haha! I’m also on Tumblr at https://heyheyitsjuju.tumblr.com/. On Tumblr I post fanfiction as well as more about my original stories, OCs, etc.

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

Interview: Fish-Heads

Today we’re joined by Fish-Heads. Fish-Heads is a wonderful visual artist who does a little bit of everything. He does drawing, painting, large scale installations, and has recently been dabbling in digital art. He enjoys drawing monsters in particular and his drawings are vivid and unique. It’s clear he loves what he does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I try not to limit myself to one particular medium over another, so I consider myself a ‘jack of all trade’ kind of artist. Painting, sculpture, large-scale installation, drawing; whatever feels natural to that particular piece at the time is what I roll with. Recently, however, I have started dabbling in digital art for the first time, and have quickly fallen in love with it.

What inspires you?

I enjoy working within the realm of monsters. Inner demons, monsters living under your bed, tricksters and lonely souls; depicting monsters has become a quick and cathartic method for me to cope with my own struggles throughout life.

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

I have been interested in art since I was a little kid. As I got older though, art making became a way for me to escape reality and the tribulations of mental illness. Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have been a part of my existence for most of my life, so art making gave me those few moments of solace in the day to get away from it. Even after receiving my BFA and MFA, art continues to pull me away from life and steer my mind toward calmer places.

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

Mouths and teeth have been a consistent staple throughout most of my work. I like to think there is a strange and disgusting beauty to mouths; they showcase so much of our internal and external emotions. A smile can depict happiness and willingness, but it can also express fear and uncertainty. Likewise, frowns can express sadness, illness, and pain. I use mouths as my primary focal point because they are so malleable and squishy, and have been an effective outlet for depicting my own emotions to the viewer.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try not to get caught up in finding your niche style or medium; always allow for experimenting and exploration in oneself. Do not fall prey to comparing your art with other artist. If you are not having fun making your art, then what is the point?

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a Demibisexual.

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

I would say the number one type of ignorance that I experience, not only within my field, but in general, is the assumption that aces, of any kind, do not exist. Since I do live within a fairly touchy ‘red’ area, confronting such ignorance is a relatively fruitless endeavor, so I tend to ignore it. However, despite being afloat in a red sea, I am comforted knowing that I am far from the only one out there; and have made a number of friendships with others just like me.

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

Sexual relationships = happiness, therefore aces are not happy. This misconception has plagued me for so long, and only continues to be more prevalent the older I get. The notion that one must be in a sexually-active relationship in order to achieve happiness has always rubbed me the wrong way. I have been walking through my life knowing many fantastic and brilliant people, people that have brought me significant amounts of joy, and never once did I ever want to sleep with them.

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

You are not alone, there are others out there just like you. Even when things get tough, remember to turn toward that which brings you happiness, and run with it.

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

Website – www.fish-heads-monsters.com
Twitter – at LoneFishMonger
Teespring – https://teespring.com/stores/fish-heads-inc

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

Interview: Sara

Today we’re joined by Sara. Sara is a phenomenal visual artist who does a lot of illustrations. She also dabbles in a few crafts, but illustration and designing stationary is where her passion lies. She’s also going to be running a conference session in London about archaeology and the history of gaming (which was signal boosted on this site a few weeks ago). It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do illustration and comic strips and I design stationery. I sometimes wander into graphics or various sewing projects but I’m mostly an illustrator.

What inspires you?

My friends ^_^ usually my best work starts with me thinking of something I want to draw for someone and then getting so excited I can’t stop till I’ve got in down on paper. The thought of how happy it will make them sustains me. Aside from that, the artists who really inspire me are often comic artists and colourists. There’s something about how economical comic art has to be and how much it communicates that I really love. My favourites are probably Erica Henderson, Fiona Staples, David Aja, Ed Brubaker, Matt Hollingsworth, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Adrian Alphona.

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

I always drew as a kid. My mum drew too and she took me to the park to draw one day and did the whole ‘draw what you see, not what you know’ lesson and from there I was hooked. I mostly drew from life when I was younger because I wasn’t confident about having a style of my own but eventually started experimenting. I was always imagining the inventions or clothes or stationery or musicals I would design. I had big dreams! I really got into stationery when I was a teenager and discovered Artbox (the South Korean stationery brand). I loved the idea that you could have something so small and simple but the details and colours and the character in the designs could make it really beautiful. In stationery simple images with a lot of personality work the best. I’d say that alongside being an inventor, author and philosopher, being an artist is one of the first things I ever wanted to be.

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 guess I use a lot of block colours. The symbols I use on my personal work are a blue postbox with teeth and a flying apple with an eyepatch but they don’t really show up in stuff I post online…

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry about developing a style and sticking to it. It’s ok to be trying something totally different or using things you’ve seen other people do. Your style is a side effect of all the people’s work you’ve seen and imitated and absorbed bits of and rejected other bits of. It will just happen without you noticing it. The link is you. If you’re doing it, it’s your style. And don’t just be passionate about art, be passionate about other things, learn about them, get excited. That’s where the ideas come from.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual and aromantic!

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

Not in art because I mostly work with people who are my friends already. But I have in my day jobs. I’ve met people who took it as a challenge, someone followed me home from work once trying to convince me that having sex with him would change my mind (that was hella scary… if someone does that to you, call the police!). Other people were perfectly nice in most ways but just flat out failed to believe me. Most people are lovely about it though, if slightly confused! Usually my reaction is just to stay cheerful but firm. If people try to speak over me or deny my experiences I keep explaining and don’t let up.

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

That we’re not queer enough!

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

Sometimes it feels scary not having a map in life, even if it’s freeing at the same time. Other people seem to shape their lives around their sexual relationships so much and doing your own thing without all those rules to follow can make you feel pretty lost. I still find that scary so I can’t say for sure it gets better but I can say there are a lot of us and we’re all getting through day by day and making a future by living it even if sometimes we can’t look ahead and see our future clearly. Even when you’re lost, you’re not alone. Everything you are is real.

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

Tumblr: theamazingsaraman
Instagram: lilibetbob

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

Interview: Brittany L.

Today we’re joined by Brittany L. Brittany is a wonderful visual artist I met at Indy PopCon. She does a lot of traditional visual art, specializing in acrylics and watercolors. Brittany also does a little digital art too. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Father Sky

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I think my favorite medium is paint. I’ve used acrylics and watercolors, but I’d like to learn how to use other types of paint like oils. In high school I started learning how to do digital art using the Adobe Cloud and it is a blast, so I want to get better at that too. Basically, I’m interested in a whole lot of things and would like to just keep trying new things and getting better at what I love to do.

What inspires you?

I seem to be inspired by random things. I’ll just be going about my day and then think of something. It can be a bit stressful because I can randomly forget things just as easily, so I have to make sure that I write things down as I think of them.

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

Art has always been incredibly important to me for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to make things and what others might’ve called junk I would find some sort of craft to give it a purpose. Over the years I have gotten involved in different kinds of art; as a kid it was visual art, but in middle school I got involved with theatre and writing then in high school I joined show choir and developed an interest in graphic design. That’s how I ended up where I am now.

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 usually sign my work as “Blu” because it takes the first letter of my first name and the first two letters of my last name. And blue is one of my favorite colors!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s cliché, but my advice is to keep practicing if art is something you really love. But practicing does not just mean doing. Of course, you will have to actually make some art. However, if you are becoming too frustrated with yourself and over criticizing your work then you can take a break from doing and absorb art. Watch videos of art tutorials. Read books about art. Find artists with styles you like to gain insight for what you want to do with your own. And just remember while you are growing that it is okay for your work to not turn out exactly as you expected. That’s completely normal.

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Oceans of Neptune

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Finding how I wanted to identify myself was really difficult for a long time until a really close friend of mine just casually told me that if I wanted to, I could use asexual and heterosexual to identify myself simultaneously. I had thought of it before that conversation, but I felt like I couldn’t do that because I figured most aces would just call themselves heteroromantic asexual or a gray ace. For some reason those terms just didn’t work for me personally.

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

I started wondering whether I was asexual during my freshman year in high school. This was also when I developed my first crush. Both of us grew up in religious families, but his environment had different ideals than my own. When I brought up my questions to him he said he would have to break up with me if that was the case because it went against what he believed in. I was so head over heels for him at this point that I forced myself to say that I wasn’t asexual at all so that he would stay with me. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only change I made for him. It was all really damaging to me as a person. We ended up breaking up a couple months later anyway and I was devastated for a long time. But thankfully we have both grown so much from this experience. He apologized for the way things were and how things ended, and we are actually friends now. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience. Even though it was hard for a while, I’m grateful for what came out of it.

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

That aces just haven’t met the right person. I feel like that idea comes from a very basic idea of asexuality. Not all aces are the same; it’s different for everyone! Some like to have sex and others don’t. Some experience romantic attraction and others don’t. So, while some aces may meet someone that they’ll date, have sex with, marry, etc., others won’t because that just isn’t for them.

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

Be brave! Even though we make up a small percentage of the population, out of 7 billion people that’s a lot of individuals. None of us are actually alone. I went to my first pride festival recently and I meet other asexuals, which was something that had never happened to me before. Since then I have continued to find resources and spaces online for asexual individuals (such as this blog!) or to spread awareness about asexuality. I’m even in a subreddit called r/asexuality, and people post questions in there all the time to get help trying to become comfortable with their orientation. Find ways to talk to other people in your situation. If you are religious and are struggling with that aspect of it, try to find someone you trust who is safe to talk to about your journey. I talked to so many other friends who are also religious after my first boyfriend told me it was wrong, and they helped to reassure me that it is okay. You do not have to suffer in silence. I am open to having a conversation too if it will help a fellow ace in need; my Instagram is at brii.the.blu.bird. And please, please remember to be kind to yourself while you are on this journey.

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

The public Instagram account that I mentioned before (at brii.the.blu.bird) is a separate account I made in hopes of starting to share my work more. There isn’t much there right now, but hopefully I will be able to start uploading more work soon. I also have some writing on Wattpad under the username at brii_the_blu_bird.

_Rings of Saturn
Rings of Saturn

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

Interview: Megan Hustmyer

Today we’re joined by Megan Hustmyer. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist and author who does a bit of everything. They paint, sculpt, and do illustrations. On the writing side, they write poetry and prose. Megan is currently working on a novel featuring an asexual succubus. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist and a writer. I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I write prose and poetry. My work has undertones concerning self-love and acceptance, which is especially potent for me personally as a queer creator. I really love imagining queer creatures, aliens, monsters, realms and the like.

I’m working on my first magical realism novel, which focuses on an asexual, non-binary succubus living in contemporary America. So they’re pretty much screwed, but they make their best go at it.

What inspires you?

I’ve always loved fantasy, science-fiction, magic, mythology and folklore. More recently I’ve been attracted to queer theory, particularly the academic work of Ela Pryzbolo, an asexual scholar who writes theory on asexuality. I’m heavily inspired by her mission to expand and fuck with the limitations of asexuality/sexuality. I believe that a narrow definition of queerness isn’t queer at all. Which is why I want to write about an asexual succubus, it’s a great way for me personally to explore the identity of gray-sexuality and be able to look at sexuality through an asexual lens.

I also love ‘We Were Witches’ by Ariel Gore, trees, and affirming that nature is gay.

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

I didn’t actually start to think of myself as an artist until I was in my sophomore year of college, majoring in fine arts. I knew there wasn’t a way I could just not have art in my life. Before that, I considered it a hobby. I also daydreamed a lot, and for a long time I thought that it was unhealthy, but now I’ve come to terms with my imaginative sight-seeing and I use it as a processor for my art, my stories, emotions, and anything else I need it for.
Art itself is a fantastic processor. I’ll always be thinking about a lot of things at once and it can be overwhelming, so the artistic process is very helpful for me. I’ve always felt there was a link for me in particular between art and healing. Especially when drawing or painting, I’m able to think in ways on paper that would be too confusing in my brain. There’s a link to be made between art therapy and tarot readings… hmmm.

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?

An underlying fondness for grossness.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fuck shit up.

They’re gonna tell you that it’s hopeless, that it’ll waste of time and you’ll just be a starving artist. Fuck that shit up. They’ll say that the art market won’t have you. Fuck it up. They’ll say there’s nothing to be done.
Fuck.
It.
Up.

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Marsupial Love Affair

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-asexual or as I’ve grown fond of, ‘grace’.

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

For the most part, I encounter ignorance. Whenever you’re open about being something ‘abnormal’, you kind of also become a spokesman for that identity, which has its positives and negatives. With asexuality, I’m still learning about it myself, similar to my gender identity.

I met someone who considered even acts of flirting or ‘feeling sexy’ to be sexual in nature, which is an arguable stance, and yet also admitted that the act of sex itself wasn’t always inherently sexual. By his definition of sexuality, which also included dancing and finding people attractive, I was sexual. By mine though, which is influenced by my conception of sexuality in contemporary America, I was gray-asexual. He had also been born in an earlier time in another culture. In that situation I was with someone I trusted and I valued his opinion, so it was a little hurtful to hear that he just didn’t understand my identity, but I’m glad we were able to talk about it openly.

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

That asking whether or not someone masturbates is an appropriate response to learning that someone is asexual.

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

Sexuality is confusing. It could be argued that asexuality confuses it even more. Is asexuality a lack of something? Or is it a presence? If it’s not a presence, then what is that feeling that completed me when I first identified as ace? Even if you’re unsure (I still am most days), if you know that feeling, you don’t have anything to prove. You’re not naive. You’re not broken. You have the courage to claim a name that fits you, and you wear it because you feel good when you do. That’s all you need.

And once again, fuck it up. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means taking a rad bubble bath and reading manga. Maybe it means doing drag. Maybe it’s creating a loud sign and going to a protest. Maybe it’s singing as loud as you can. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite album. It’s whatever gives you strength. It’s doing what you need to do. It’s taking care of yourself.

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

The novel I’m working on is still under the radar for the most part, but I’ll be sure to post updates on it via social media and my main website.

My fine art, sculpture, social practice work, can be found here: meganhustmyer.carbonmade.com

My graphic design an illustration portfolio can be found here: meginetdesignsthings.myportfolio.com

My Instagram:  m.g.aoh or _meginet

my landscape
My Landscape

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

Interview: Abi Stevens

Today we’re joined by Abi Stevens. Abi is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital art and illustration. She makes colorful illustrations featuring monsters, myths, and folklore. Abi also does additional work about chronic illness and has recently run a successfully funded Kickstarter for enamel pins. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Black Shuck
Black Shuck

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a digital illustrator and I make colourful and detailed illustrations inspired by mythology, folklore, history and all things fantastical. My work is often influenced by elements of ‘visual history’, by which I mean historical art forms, architecture and objects. In particular I love stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts. You can see references to these sources in the stylized borders and iconography in my work. I also enjoy including hidden details in my work and incorporating symbolism such as the language of flowers.

More recently my subject matter has expanded into more personal areas; exploring my experience with chronic migraine, and I plan to expand into other chronic illnesses and mental health issues as well. Most recently I have been creating enamel pin and sticker designs incorporating the words ‘chronic warrior’ and ‘migraine warrior’.

What inspires you?

Growing up I was obsessed with fantasy and science-fiction books and I devoured every story I could get my hands on. It was my own personal escape from reality and so this early love of the fantastical has carried heavily over into my own creative practice. I think we all enjoy stories of lives grander and more bizarre than our own. In some ways my artwork is still a means of escape, but one that I can share with everyone else.

My love of fantasy and science-fiction naturally expanded over time into a fascination with mythology. As an atheist I find the incredible range of deities and monsters we have conjured up across the world fascinating. There are mythical creatures so ingrained in our modern collective consciousness that everybody can recognise them. These imaginary beings are powerful historical heirlooms and vehicles for education and social narratives.

This sense of wonder carries over into my historical inspirations. I enjoy dramatic historical narratives and learning about different cultures through their past. However it is historical art forms that really spark in me a sense of wonder: details of architecture, stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts jump out at me and inspire me to create my own art.

Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

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

Growing up I enjoyed creating but I was curious about a lot of things and my ideas for the future were pretty vague.  I was interested in pretty much anything that didn’t involve maths and for a long time I couldn’t make my mind up about what I wanted to be: a writer? A fine artist? A psychologist? A historian? A teacher? It took all my teenage years, 4 A levels and a Foundation Degree before I really knew what an illustrator even was! By happy accident it turns out I chose to study the one subject that can encompass all of my varied interests at once. As an illustrator you get to explore all sorts of subjects and there are so many possibilities for what you can do with your work that I never get bored. It’s an ongoing process; learning, improving skills, observing and researching, and overcoming challenges and deadlines, and I don’t think I could ever be ‘done’. Once you’ve chosen to be an artist, I think it changes the way you observe that world, and it really becomes a way of life as much as a vocation.

Kickstarter

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?

It’s not so much a signature per say, but I like to hide narrative or historical details in my illustrations: things that people who look hard enough will appreciate but that might go un-noticed on a first pass. This can mean anything from references to the language of flowers, to stained glass window references and various symbolism. I love the idea of people discovering something new in my work each time they look at it. For example ‘Volant’ (my flying mythological creature illustration) includes interactions between the larger mythological characters and smaller real-life animals that you may not notice on a first look: such as the moths being drawn to the flame the Phoenix carries, the blue tits trying to protect their friend from the Griffin, and the Siren’s child trying to catch a bat.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

First of all, to always be true to yourself and try not to be swayed too much by the trends on social media. It’s helpful to be aware of current trends but the best way to improve your work and stand out from the crowd is to stay true to your own interests. Passion for your subject is what will pull your best work out of you.

And second, don’t compare yourself negatively to other artists. Everyone is at a different point in their journey and has different resources available, so the only point of reference that is truly relevant is the measure of your own personal progress.

mental health online
Mental Health Online

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I dither a bit to be honest as I’m still figuring myself out, but I usually go with Grey-Ace.

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

Not yet. To be honest my sexuality doesn’t come up much in conversation and while I’m pretty open about it online, it hasn’t been discussed in a professional context yet, or really in many personal ones. I’m hoping I’m lucky enough to avoid that kind of behaviour in the future as well. I know others haven’t been so lucky.

mental health
Mental Health

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

Probably the idea that all asexuals are sex-repulsed and A-romantic. There’s actually a wide spectrum of asexuality and this clumsy assumption left me feeling completely out of place for a while. I didn’t feel like I fit clearly under straight or LGBT+ labels and that was a lonely feeling.

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

I think to pay close attention to their instincts and how their body is feeling. I’ve got some uncomfortable memories from times where I squashed down my instinct that something didn’t feel right with the idea that I should want certain things, I must feel a certain way, or put another persons wants before my own comfort. Our cultural preconceptions of what ‘normal’ is can have such a huge negative impact on our ability to cultivate a healthy self-image, and if your on the ace spectrum it can require a lot of effort to re-program yourself to listen to how you really feel and not how you think you should. This is possibly the biggest hurdle to being comfortable with your orientation.

migraine
Migraine

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

I have a website at www.abistevens.com which displays my portfolio and also a blog with an introductory blog post explaining more about my work.

You can also find me on Twitter (AbiStevens_Art) and Instagram (abistevens_illustration).

At the moment I am running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Chronic Warrior and Migraine Warrior enamel pin designs I mentioned earlier. The first pin has already been funded and we’re on our way to the second. You can find that here.

poster
Poster

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