Announcement: Ace Art Show

Hi all!

I know this is short notice, but I’ve been swamped with work. I still have interviews that need to be scheduled and posted, apologies for that.

One thing that has been occupying the majority of my time has been the Asexual Conference in Vancouver, which I’m co-curating an art show for. I’m hoping some followers of the site might be interested in attending (more information about the conference can be found at the following link: https://asexuality.wixsite.com/conference)

We’ve recently gotten a flyer for the art exhibit:

art exhibit

Aside from co-curating the art exhibit, I shall also be speaking on a panel about being an asexual author. I will probably speak on what it’s like to be an asexual fiction author who also happens to be from a non-traditional family. Copies of my books will be available for sale and I will be more than happy to personalize them for anyone who is interested.

Here’s the flyer for that event:

book launch

I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things soon, but traveling kind of eats up all my time. I’ll figure out a balancing act eventually.

Anyhow, I hope to see some followers of the site at the show!

Thanks everyone!

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.

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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! 🙂

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Enamorarse

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

Interview: Reggie Morrison

Today we’re joined by Reggie Morrison. Reggie is a wonderful writer who has just started working on her novel. She has dreams to publish one day and that’s always a great thing. The world needs more openly asexual authors. It’s clear Reggie is a driven and passionate artist, 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 primarily consider myself a writer, but I am currently unpublished. I’m working on my first serious novel that I hope I can one day publish. I also do some redecorating type projects regarding mostly shelves at this point; meaning I clean, repaint, and then paint details and designs on them.

What inspires you?

I wish to be able to inspire and relate to an audience with my writing. So far, my novel has themes of over-turning societal expectations and figuring out who one is internally and externally. I had my own self-identity issues and faced some people who deemed my asexuality fake, so I want to write characters who are also ace and be able to portray other minority groups accurately as well to represent more people.

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

I’ve always been much more invested in my English and art classes throughout school. I started by writing fanfiction my freshman year of high-school which wound up being a large mash of pretty much any fantasy idea I’d ever seen or had. It’s safe to say it was not good, but it was my start. After that, I wanted to write something more cohesive and thought out. I am also tired of reading the type of books that typically wind up having straight white characters “find love” or finding love being a “correction” of a character.

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 necessarily have a trademark of sorts, but I hope to have unique, realistic characterization. Even in side characters, I want them to be just as complex as real people, not just a comedy relief.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make sure you do what you love for yourself and it’s never selfish to want to keep some of your talent and energy to create recreational pieces. Do what you enjoy for a job, but also make sure you don’t burn yourself out before you can create for yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I ID as Asexual and Bi-Grey-Romantic.

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

It wasn’t in my field because I haven’t been in my field exactly, but I have come across people otherwise who didn’t understand asexuality.

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

Most tend to think that if I’m asexual then I’m a “pure innocent bean who knows nothing about sex” or it means I have zero sex drive.

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

Reach out to other asexual people and talk about how it makes you feel and how to correct others. Some may not want to be corrected so I would ignore them if you can. If you can’t, you may be able to take it up with an authorial figure.

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

My only social media is Tumblr at Generic-Ginger and Snapchat, but I’d like to keep that for personal friends.

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

Interview: Jenny Prater

Today we’re joined by Jenny Prater. Jenny is a phenomenal author who writes a bit of everything. She writes novels, short stories, poetry, and even fairy tale analysis blogs. She has recently released a poetry book about being ace this past Valentine’s Day. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer. 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 an author; I write novels, short stories, poems, picture books, and fairy tale analysis blogs, though mostly only the poetry and blogs have been made available to read. I’m currently working on starting my own small press, so I want to wait to release most of my work until I have that going. I have two larger poetry books published through Amazon, and two chapbooks that I hand-bind and sell on Etsy. My last one just came out on Valentine’s Day; it’s called “Dear Somebody,” and it’s a collection of 12 poems about being asexual.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired mostly by folklore—not just the traditional stories, but their history. I love the idea of all of these very similar patterns being followed in so many places and time periods. Folk tales are a great example of collective storytelling. You can never attribute them to any author, because everyone who’s heard a story like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, over thousands of years, has heard it and told it slightly differently. When I write a poem about Sleeping Beauty or a short story based on The Little Mermaid, I’m participating in an ancient conversation. Story as a reflection of community is something I just think is really beautiful and inspiring.

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

Always. My parents have videos of me, age 3, wandering around the house telling stories out loud about princesses and dinosaurs. I’ve never not had a story running in the back of my head; at some point it just seemed natural to start writing them down.

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 really don’t! I do so many different kinds of writing, there’s not really one key feature that would carry through well in all of them. Though I guess I’ve never really gotten through an entire book without making some reference to folk or fairy tales, now that I’m thinking about it. I just don’t really do it on purpose.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Focus on making things before you focus on making good things. It’s so easy to get caught up in making something perfect and never actually finish. Finish first. Fix later.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and, like, a tiny bit heteromantic, sometimes, depending on the day. Sometimes dating sounds fun, but mostly boys just seem gross.

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

Not in my field, no. But it’s only been a couple weeks since I released my first project that deals really directly with asexuality, so time will tell, I guess.

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

That I’m a late bloomer or haven’t met the right guy yet. You know, at 25, I’m pretty sure I’m done blooming.

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

You’re not broken. I remember being just so confused about what was wrong with me, in middle school when all the other girls were starting to feel things that I wasn’t. It took a long time to figure things out, and that time was…not pleasant. But everything is fine! You’re not falling behind and nothing is wrong with you!

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

I’m kind of all over the place. You can find me on most social media sites under the username “konglindorm,” which is the name of my favorite fairy tale, but I think the best places to find out about my work are my fairy tale blog, http://konglindorm.blogspot.com/, and this page here that has links to all my published books: http://konglindorm.tumblr.com/books.

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

Interview: Elowen

Today we’re joined by Elowen. Elowen is a phenomenal author who is currently hard at work on her first novel. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy. The novel she’s currently working on features an ace main character and it sounds like a fascinating story. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer, 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’m a fantasy and science fiction writer, albeit still unpublished. At the moment I’m working on what I hope will be my debut novel, a fantasy novel set in a bronze age-world heavily inspired by Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq). One of the main characters is an asexual priestess, the other is a cis-het single mother who fights against the religious establishment. This story is a complete overhaul of my very first novel, combined with some elements from my third, and it has taken me several months of research and false starts, but I finally have a completed first draft that I think I can work with.

What inspires you?

Everything, really. The world around me, other people’s lives and relationships, other fantasy and sci-fi stories, my own experiences of being “the odd one out”. There’s a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea that I have stuck on my computer: “The great and mighty go their way unchecked. All the hope left in the world is in the people of no account.” It’s this quote that inspires me to continue working on my current novel. I want to try to tell the stories of people of no account. The ordinary people who are made to suffer because of the greed of those in power.

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

When I was six, I found out what a writer was and I decided I wanted to be one. I still have my old notebooks from that time, with stories that blatantly ripped off Care Bears and My Little Pony, though I’m glad to say that later on, my stories became a bit more original ,-). Unfortunately, although I definitely have creative family members, none of them are or were professional artists, so becoming a writer wasn’t considered a proper career choice, and my writing ambitions were reduced to keeping a diary when I was a teenager. I went to university to study science instead, and later theology. It was only when I moved to a different country that I came back to wanting to be a writer. One of my “problems” is that I’m multi-passionate. I play baroque violin, I was a fanatic badminton player in my teens, and in my early twenties I got heavily into Irish dancing, for example. Only when I moved away from all these “distractions” and started afresh in a different country was I able to come to terms with the fact that I’m just interested in many different things, and reasonably successful at pursuing those interests. My love for science got me into writing science fiction, and my fascination with religion, mythology and anything magical got me into fantasy. Fantasy, to me, isn’t ‘make-believe’, it’s a modern type of mythology meant to explore fundamental ideas about the world, and about life. Together with science fiction, I think fantasy is the perfect genre to explore alternatives to reality.

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 love inventing religions and write about made-up gods. I also love writing about mentors, and I think that’s because all my life I’ve been looking for one myself. I had teachers and mentors, of course, but none of them could really help me figure out where my real talents lie. They were all specialists in their field, while I have to see ‘the big picture’ and explore many things at once.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love doing, but play the game if you have to. I.e. if you need a steady day job to support your own artistic efforts and have stability in your life, it doesn’t make you any less of an artist. Keep learning and stay curious. You’re never too old to try something new.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m grey-ace leaning towards being demisexual, and I also identify as genderfluid between cis-female and non-binary. After having been a happy single for most of my life, I’m now in happy, stable relationship with a man, so to all intents and purposes I’m a cis-het woman, but I don’t feel that way. For me, sex is a form of intimacy that I can enjoy because it brings me closer to the man I love, but I’d have no problem going without it for the rest of my life. It’s something to enjoy like a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate, nothing more. Sex has never played an important part in my life. I am however a very touchy-feely type of person with people I trust, and that kind of non-sexual contact is much more important to me.

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

No, because so far I’m only out on Twitter, where I use an alias.

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

I think that having no interest in sex is often “infantilized”, as if being ace means you’re not developed enough yet to join in with the adults. At one point I was convinced that the only difference between YA and adult fantasy is that in adult fantasy the characters explicitly talk about sex and genitals, and have sex. I thought that my own writing was not adult fantasy because I didn’t want to write about those things.

Another thing is that I can have platonic crushes, meaning that I am attracted to certain people (or even fictional characters) for their intellectual insights or artistry or their personality. One example is the actor Alexander Siddig. I’d love to be able to have a deep conversation with him one day, but there is no way on earth I’d ever be interested in any kind of sexual contact. And yet many people confuse these things. I can also admire physical beauty in certain people, but even then there’s no sexual attraction involved, and many people find that hard to grasp. That always puzzled me, until I discovered I was ace.

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

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Sex is overrated. There, I said it.

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

Well, there’s nothing to find yet, but you can follow me on Twitter if you like (at scriobhann_si). I love connecting with other artists!

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

Interview: Anila

Today we’re joined by Anila. Anila is a wonderful fanartist and jewelry maker. They write in a variety of fandoms and enjoys writing fanfiction. They aspire to publish some original work some day. When they’re not writing, they enjoy making jewelry. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

face

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a creative writer – mostly fanfiction but I’m working hard to finish my original works. It’s a dream to be published someday.

Other than that I make wire jewelry.

What inspires you?

To be honest, it can be anything from a long-forgotten scribble in the margins of old lecture notes to something a passer-by might be wearing. On one hand that means I’m lucky because I can draw from most things but on the other hand all these WIPs can get me down.

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

I’ve always been good at writing – and when I started showing it to other people they were interested and, more importantly, they were affected. That made me want to write more.

As for jewelry, my mum bought a jewelry making book when I was a teenager and it seemed to stick.

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 writing tends to have an overabundance of commas, an abuse of semicolons, and a tendency for things to come in threes. Just like that previous sentence ;D

It’s hard to have a signature when it comes to wire jewelry, since it’s so freeform.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try not to put yourself down too much, though I understand it’s easy to do so.

Having friends act as cheerleaders is a blessing and can be one of the few things to keep you out of a slump.

Also, specifically for writers, if you understand the importance of receiving feedback in your work please be the change you wish to see the world – when you read online works, leave comments you yourself want to receive.

jewellery

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a biromantic grey-ace. Basically I can have feelings for just about anyone regardless of gender, but wanting to be intimate is not necessarily included in that.

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

While writing there is a big lack of ace representation. And of course there are the people who insist that so-and-so character simply cannot be ace because there’s no evidence that that is so – to which the reply is that this is fanfic, everything is possible, and ace-spectrum people do exist. There was also one person who tried to tell me that I couldn’t be grey-ace because of my smutty works, which… still makes me sigh.

On the outernet, where I’m closeted anyhow, there is very casual prejudice – the expectation that of course everyone has sex and you’re some sort of deviant otherwise. I do my best to educate when I can, though admittedly I tend to get defensive and annoyed very quickly.

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

That people need to have sex to live. Nope, bzzt, wrong, try again.

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

Take your time. There’s no rush to find out who you are. Do your research because knowledge is power. And, if you ever decide down the line that your orientation on the spectrum isn’t exactly what you thought it was, then that’s okay too.

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

My writing’s on AO3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/diemarysues), and I do yell about writing on my personal blog (http://diemarysues.tumblr.com).

Jewelry stuff is on my side blog (http://rustypliers.tumblr.com) though I am currently taking a break while I take better photos and edit them.

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

Interview: Ray

Today we’re joined by Ray. Ray is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. They mostly write fanfiction but hope to publish some original work in the future. Aside from writing, they are also a dedicated visual artist who enjoys drawing and painting. They do a lot of portraiture work and their art is extraordinarily detailed. It’s clear they’re a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My work varies, but I enjoy writing, drawing and painting. My writing is most often fictional pieces with characters I’ve created, and while I try and branch out with my artwork my strongest pieces have always been portraiture. In all my work I try and integrate what I know, in terms of my experiences and imagination. I’ll mainly referencing my artwork in this interview as it’s what most of my time and my education is dedicated to!

What inspires you?

Other people inspire me. I’m driven by seeing creators do what they love and doing it well, it really pushes me to try and be better.

But for choosing what I want to draw or paint I’m inspired by perception. I find drawing exactly what I can see boring, and I want to explore more emotive ways of portraying people and places. Usually this means playing with the features of the subject matter, taking them away or changing them through distortion or obstruction.

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

I’ve always wanted to create art. I’ve taken it at every level available to me through primary and secondary school, but it’s only recently at college I became determined to find some sort of career in it. I think most of our everyday life is the way it is because of artistic people, from film to advertising to product design, and yet it goes by unnoticed. Almost every field has a need for us, and when I realized that it only helped push my interest in the subject.

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 really? There are maybe certain things I always do that I’m not aware of, but as someone who’s still trying to find their own style and techniques I don’t think I have any repetitive patterns, but I suppose I always draw specific attention to the eyes or the obstruction of them. I feel like that makes or breaks a good portrait.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say that I know, I understand it’s frustrating sometimes. There will always be others that are around your age, who you think has work that surpasses your own. There will be times where you can’t get a picture JUST right. But you have to realize that your art is always changing and improving. It’s hard to notice day to day but try and redo a piece from just a few years or even months ago to see how you’ve changed! Practice, there isn’t a shortcut to progress! Support and learn from each other!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual, but I don’t know where on the spectrum. I’m in a serious relationship, but I haven’t been for long enough to know whether or not I could be demi. Currently I identify as a panromantic ace, meaning I can have romantic attraction to any gender but sexual attraction to none.

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

I generally encounter confusion when talking to someone about my sexuality. It’s difficult, because as someone who didn’t find a label that worked for them until their late teens, I spent a lot of my childhood thinking I was ‘broken’ or otherwise ‘wrong’. And hearing it insinuated from someone else saying ‘how do you know? Maybe you just haven’t found the right person, etc. etc.’ can hurt a lot. Especially if coming from other people in the LGBT+ community.

But I have to remember I’m valid, and that’s what I tell them. I calmly explain that I just don’t feel sexual attraction, I never have, and it really isn’t a big concern. And if they don’t accept that, I stop conversing with them.

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

The most common misconception is that asexuality is comparable to practicing abstinence, as if sexuality is some sort of choice. Another common one is that all ace people ‘become’ asexual after some sort of traumatic experience

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

I would say it’s not your job to educate others, and it’s okay to not have everything figured out! You’ll hear about how it’s a ‘phase’ at some point in your life, and this will suck. But remember that no matter what, whether how you identify changes over the years or if a label you found at 13 still works for you at 33, you’re valid.

I’m not going to tell you it isn’t a phase and you won’t experience doubts. I’m going to tell you that if it is, that’s okay too.

Take time figuring yourself out, research the spectrum of different sexualities, and don’t feel bad if things change. How you identify at this moment is still 100% valid and don’t settle for anyone that doesn’t respect that.

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

You can find more of my work on Instagram! I also do commissions; my username is at Rachel.Wyse

I’m hoping to branch into other social media sites soon, but for now the majority of my work is on Instagram.

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