Interview: Schi-Lee A. Smith

Today we’re joined by Schi-Lee A. Smith. Schi-Lee is a phenomenal artist who is incredibly versatile. She does a lot of visual art and even teaches painting classes. When she’s not doing visual art, Schi-Lee enjoys writing and writes both original work and fanfiction. Schi-Lee also has a passion for singing and even has some karaoke fans. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an impressive amount of passion, 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.

Well, I paint quite often, I actually teach painting classes sometimes.  I sing, a lot; I have some fans at karaoke.  I draw with pen or pencil, too, and I write, both fanfiction and original works.  My writing is usually like what I read, sci-fi ish, and I pride myself on making realistic dialogue.  I like to paint and draw realistically, haven’t quite gotten abstract down.  My singing can be just about anything, I can sing Creep by Postmodern Jukebox and Highway to Hell just as easily.

What inspires you?

When I was a child, it was my Dad.  I still have his drawings and poems around my house, and when I was very young, he would record us singing on a giant cassette tape recorder thing and let me do skits in between songs.  He was very artistic, and just about all my artistic tendencies stem from him.  Now, it’s still that in a way, but also I just want to see the beauty in the world, and add to it if I can.  Lots of people love hearing me sing, and love my writing, and love my artwork.  If I can make someone else happy, then I’ve succeeded.

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

Technically my field is Biology, that’s what I’m majoring in in University, but I’ll always consider myself a musician, artist, and writer.  My Dad never put me down for any art I did, so I was never afraid to get into something I wanted to do, and it’s always been with me since childhood so even if I never get any recognition for any of it, I’ll always be an artist. Therefore it’s not as much something I want to do, as something I’m doing, even if I stay obscure.

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

I do, actually.  My Dad’s signature was a heart with ‘LAB’, his initials, in the center, all interconnected, it’s really neat.  I made one for myself when my initials were still SAB, but it looked really weird, so when I got married, I changed it to a kind of horns, or something, to match SAS.  It’s hard to draw with a mouse, but it’s basically this.

Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry about what others say is art, art is what you want it to be.  I have friend who play metal that people say isn’t music, but it is to them, and it makes them happy.  Draw/sing/write/do whatever to make you happy, or to get it out of your head, don’t do it for others.

And don’t be put down if it sucks at first, most everyone’s first drawing of a person is a stick figure, just practice, and practice a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic asexual.  I suppose if one goes for this part, I’m sex-positive.

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

I have encountered some people that didn’t really know what it was, but my friends were very supportive and defended me before I could.  I have awesome friends.  Thankfully I have yet to encounter any prejudice or ignorance that scared me like I know plenty have, so I thank God every day for where I am in life.

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

That we hate sex, or we never have sex.

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

You aren’t alone, that feeling that you don’t understand what all the fuss is about?  Other people feel it.  It’s not weird to think that a ‘hot’ person isn’t hot, according to your body. You don’t have to pretend.

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

Well, I have a YouTube channel, youtube.com/schihigh, where I’m attempting to post my singing and music videos I make on.  I also have a Tumblr and a specific tag with my art on it.  You can just search ‘schi’s art’ on schi-walker-locked.tumblr.com.  If someone were to want commissions, they could message me on Tumblr, or email me at schihigh@yahoo.com.  Just put commission in the subject.

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

Interview: NotAVampyre

Today we’re joined by NotAVampyre. NotAVampyre is a wonderful YouTuber who specializes in media analysis. She makes videos analyzing TV shows, films, and even musicals. Her videos vary in length and subject matter, but all are incredibly interesting. It’s clear she loves what she does. 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 video maker on YouTube where I create analysis content about movies, musicals, and television shows like Degrassi, Steven Universe, and Peter Pan. The type of video ranges from review to talking at length about one aspect that I found notable in a work.

What inspires you?

The things other artists create. They are the catalyst for what ends up in my videos, whether it be positive or negative. I’m also inspired by other video creators who paved the way for me to see YouTube as a viable place to start making art, and who helped me consider ways that I could further the genre of videos I make. I haven’t fully implemented the fruits of this consideration yet, but I hope they see daylight in the near future!

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

I’ve always wanted to create art, but I never found a medium that fit. Drawing was fun but I never wanted to practice, and poetry was a great outlet but relied too much on inspiration. But something clicked with YouTube analysis. I’ve always had deep thoughts about my favourite fiction stories, but as a shy introvert, I had nowhere to voice them. I also had no idea that other could be interested in these type of opinions until my friend showed me other people doing what I was already doing in my head. Talking at length about art and why I feel the way I do about 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’m still finding my style, so at the moment I do not, though it would be fun to have!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep looking for your style. If something doesn’t fit, don’t give up on your creativity. You will find a place tailor made to you skills and that need your personal touch that only you can give. Just don’t use it as an excuse to not practice though!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m biromantic asexual. That’s actually really nice to say having gone 23 years of not knowing there was a name for how I felt. While not entirely sex repulsed, I don’t care much for it and truly could live without it.

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

Luckily, I haven’t encountered it in the comment section of my asexual related videos. I’m certain though that it exists on YouTube, but just not in the channels I subscribe to. If and when it does come up, I’d try to clear up misconceptions if the person is just honestly misinformed. Information and representation is key to ending ace prejudice.

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

That all asexuals don’t want sex, and therefore asexuality is not a sexual orientation. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be fore aces who love sex but are constantly told that it makes them not ace.

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

You’re not broken. It’s okay if you don’t fit in a clearly outlined box. People are often more complicated than that, and even those who seem secure in their labels are questioning. Explore yourself, and if a better descriptor comes along, welcome it. You weren’t lying. You were figuring yourself out.

I went 23 years thinking I was just a super mature probably straight girl, and discovering that I am asexual only re-contextualizes my past. Not invalidates it.

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

Most of my work can be found at youtube.com/notavampyre, but I’m hoping to start uploading videos to Tumblr as well.

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

Interview: Scott Pete

Today we’re joined by Scott Pete. Scott is a phenomenal photographer who is just starting out and already displays a remarkable amount of talent. Aside from photography, Scott also runs an asexual meetup and discussion group, in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, called ‘A Space for Aces’ (Twitter & Meetup). His photography shows an incredible eye for beauty in nature. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist who 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.

My photography (as art, rather than play) is still somewhat in its early stages but I’m developing the idea that photography is inherently surreal; a facsimile of reality, copied under a certain set of conditions and translated into the photographer’s visual language.

What inspires you?

The effortless, self-unaware beauty of nature. The play of water, moss, and plant life. Light and motion.

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

I used to buy disposable cameras and try to get as many good photos on a roll as I could. When you’re 9-years-old, 24 exposures usually isn’t enough. I was given a 1.2 megapixel digital camera at 15 started playing with Photoshop and editing techniques.

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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?

A common theme in much of my photography is a long exposure, resulting in any moving objects leaving a trail. For example, when I’m shooting a waterfall, I’ll set the camera to expose for 3 to 4 seconds to give the water a soft texture and make a still image look like it’s in motion.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you want to do, but look to other artists to help you develop your craft. The study of art is just as important as your raw talent and the moods, concepts and images you convey through your art. I’ve been reading books on photography theory but, also, studying paintings and their painters, trying to see the images conveyed by the music I listen to and, (if this makes any sense) trying to feel the emotional texture of what other photographers are putting out. Do whatever you can to mindfully develop your style, your technique and the personal language of your art.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual, Biromantic.

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

Not in my field, but the prejudice and ignorance I encounter in my daily life, I face head-on. I don’t worry about seeming pedantic because the only way to combat ignorance is with education. I try not to use the word “actually” and I have a kind of script that I follow.

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

That asexuality means having nothing, as if it’s void that speaks of an emptiness of being. That “you seem so normal, though” and implying there’s something broken or abnormal about being Ace.

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

Those who are uncomfortable with the idea of asexuality are probably uncomfortable with themselves. If a person is ignorant, you can choose to educate them or not to do so. It is your choice and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for who you are. Everyone has questions about their identity at some point in their life. You are valid and no one can ever take your identity away from you.

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

I’m on Instagram at scottpete_photography and on Twitter at scottpetephoto. I’ll be starting on Zenfolio in the next couple of years, too.

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

Interview: Nya Holmes

Today we’re joined by Nya Holmes. Nya is a phenomenal musician who plays the bass. She plays in jazz bands and orchestras. When she’s not playing the bass, she plays the guitar just for fun. It’s clear that she’s a passionate and talented artist who loves music, 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 a classical and Jazz bass player, but above all that I am a musician. I can play all kinds of music, pretty much anything you put in front of me I’ll be able to figure out eventually, so long as it’s on my instrument. Music is my entire life. I dedicate all days of my week to go to a performing arts academy at my high school where I am in the top jazz and orchestral ensembles. I’m in outside ensembles as well, dedicating my Sundays to music from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. I love it, and hope to do it for the rest of my life.

What inspires you?

Honestly, the thing that inspires me the most is my friends. They are all incredibly talented musicians, and we all motivate each other to be the best version of ourselves. Besides that, it’s listening to recordings of accomplished musicians and orchestras that truly inspiring. Listening to the Berlin Philharmonic, or people like Bozo Padzick inspires me to be the amazing bass player I know I can be. My ultimate goal would be to play in pit orchestras of Broadway musicals, so going to musicals really inspires me and gives me an extra boost of inspiration to continue my craft.

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

I became interested in my field through school. I began guitar in second grade, then started bass when I was in sixth grade. Before this however, music has been around me my entire life. I looked around and I wondered why I didn’t play and instrument and wanted to so badly. I felt like I didn’t have a talent, and I’m so grateful to have found one. I guess I always wanted something, and I hoped it would be creative because I am greatly influenced by my father, who is an artist and an animator. He went to art school, so that concept has never been foreign to me and with my mother signing me up for music classes at a young age I have definitely always wanted to be creative.

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?

Being a musician, it’s hard to include your unique touch to work that was written up to hundreds of years ago, but I guess whenever I perform I make these really dumb faces that make people think I’m upset or in pain, but I’m really just concentrating.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cheesy but just keep going. If your art is making you unhappy, take a break. Take a walk. Then come back to it. Always come back to it, remember why you love your art, then keep going.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a bi-romantic asexual.

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

I have been fortunate enough to not encounter any ace prejudice in my field but that’s most likely due to the fact that I live in Los Angeles, a very liberal place.

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

That I asexually reproduce. They don’t actually think that, but it’s the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when I come out to them as asexual. Other than that they usually don’t know what I’m talking about, and when I add into this that I also identify as bi, they become even more confused. It seems like they cannot distinguish between romantic and sexual attraction.

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

Find people who understand and support asexuality. It’s impossible to go through something alone, so find people who understand to talk to. If that’s not feasible, then read about asexual people who have gone through what you are going through.

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

I don’t post too much about music but the best way to contact me would be on my Instagram, which is at nyaholmie, I plan to post more about music in the very near future.

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

Interview: Ellen

Today we’re joined by Ellen. Ellen is a phenomenal freelance artist who does both traditional and digital art. She loves to draw and specializes in both cartoons and realism. Her work has an incredible vividness to it and demonstrates a masterful use of color. She’s a talented and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Pride

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is a combination of cartoons and realism. I have been developing my art for 8 years. I love to draw humans, animals or mythical creatures. I use drawing as an escape from the hardships that I face, when the pencil touches the paper or when my stylus touches the tablet, I enter a world where I can express myself without being judged for who I am. In some ways art can be very therapeutic, whether it’s because of school or life in general, I pick up the pencil and doodle away……until the lead snaps or the battery dies on my stylus.

What inspires you?

My friends, they have inspired me and stood by my side through thick and thin. They have supported me for the longest time and they’re the reason I’m still drawing! My dad is also my biggest inspiration, he has supported and inspired for many years. I remember when he would put up my pictures on the fridge when I was in preschool.

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

I started drawing in 1st grade. I would just draw the usual stick figures with noodle hair. But, one specific person kick started my love for art. When I was in 4th grade, this one girl taught me how to draw humans in a way that looked like a human it didn’t have all those advanced features that an actual human had. Ever since then I started to develop that style into what it is today. I never thought that I would ever become an artist but, look at me 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?

Whenever I draw my main human character, I draw this little curl on the top of their head. This trait came from my love of anime as a child and it carried through my style for as long as I can remember. Also I draw the tips of shoes/feet very pointy.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Always take constructive criticism! It will help you in the future when you want to become professional!

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Two Time

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Biromantic Asexual 🙂 but I’m still contemplating if I really like boys or not

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

Unfortunately, yes. Sometimes I’m really scared to go to a pride event because I’m scared that I will receive backlash due to my orientation. And I have been told constantly that “It’s just a phase, you’ll grow out of it” or “You don’t belong here because you’re basically straight!” Every time I make something pride related and I don’t add the lesbian flag or if I add the ace flag, I will get attacked by other artists who will flood the comment section saying that I’m homophobic for not adding the lesbian flag or that asexuality doesn’t exist and that I should remove it, and that really hurts my self-esteem. I try to ignore it and move on.

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

That we’re all just whiny virgins who can’t get laid or that we are just “innocent space beans uwu.” another thing that I’ve encountered is that all asexuals are sex-repulsed, some asexuals can have dirty minds or they can view that kind of material, it’s all up to them what they do. If you’re sex-repulsed, that’s fine, but all of us are different.

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

You are not alone, trust me. I was having trouble with my orientation when I was figuring out where I belonged in this community. You are valid! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not, you are a part of this community and you matter! We are one huge asexual family.

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

You can follow me on:

Deviantart: https://www.deviantart.com/datshinyzoroark
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/datshinyzoroark/

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

Interview: Casye Erins

Today we’re joined by Casye Erins. Casye is a phenomenal writer, actress, and podcaster. They mainly act on stage and in film. They’re currently focused mainly on stage and are currently rehearsing for an upcoming production. Aside from writing and acting, Casye also has a podcast called This is Lit, which discuses books. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and actress. I do both stage and film work, but right now I’m focused on the stage. Currently, I’m writing on a one-person musical to debut at next year’s Fringe Festival. I also do immersion theatre and local community theatre. I just finished a production of the musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and started rehearsals for Shrek: The Musical. My most recent project is a podcast called This is Lit where my co-host and I drink and talk about our favorite books.

What inspires you?

Music is definitely an inspiration for me, which is why I love musicals so much. I also find a lot of writing inspiration in my real-life experiences and the experiences of those around me. The one-person show I’m currently writing could probably be described as “artistically embellished autobiography.” I believe people are most impacted by stories that are rooted in authentic feeling.

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

I learned to read at a very young age and have been writing my own stories ever since. My first performance experiences were also very young; church plays and the like. I always knew I wanted to be an actor, and I always loved writing, but it wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized that I could write my own material. Seeing creators like Lin Manuel-Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights) and Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) who didn’t wait around for parts that they could play really inspired me to start working on my own material.

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 know that I do. As an actor, unless you’re A-list, it’s hard to cultivate a specific type or characteristic that people associate with your performance, mainly because you can’t afford to say no to parts that don’t necessarily fit.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Two things. Number one: just keep working at it. I’ve been a performer for the better part of two decades and still don’t make my full-time living at it. If you want to have a job in the arts, you’ve got to be willing to grind. The other advice, which kind of goes hand-in-hand with the first piece is: if you’re able, create your own content. If you are an actor who can’t find roles that fit you, write your own. If you’re a pianist that can’t find an orchestra that jives with your personal style, compose your own sonata and try to find a way to perform it. Take the initiative and you’ll be rewarded.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as biromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t experienced active prejudice in my field, mostly because I’m very selective about who I’m completely out to. Most of my colleagues are aware I’m bi, but not that I’m ace, because I don’t trust that it would go over well. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of roles for asexual characters that I’ve encountered, which I ascribe mostly to ignorance. It would be nice to be able to play a character who is actually ace sometime in the future though! I have hopes that it will start happening more frequently.

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

I’ve come across a lot of misconceptions, but I’d have to say the most common is that asexuals are “frigid” or incapable of love. It’s a very dehumanizing concept. Non-aro aces can still want and find romance, and aroace people can still feel platonic or fraternal love for their friends and family.

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

Honestly, it’s hard. I struggle with it sometimes too, and that’s after almost a decade of identifying this way, and while having a very accepting and understanding partner (who is allo!). It’s okay to struggle with your orientation, or to have doubts. But be gentle with yourself and surround yourself with a community of people who love and care about you, and those doubts will get less frequent over time.

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

Since acting is kind of impermanent (unless it’s on film), I’ll encourage you to check out my podcast at www.litliteraturepodcast.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at casyeerins or under the same username on Instagram.

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