Interview: Allyzah Allene

Today we’re joined by Allyzah Allene, who also goes by Ani or Ani Fangor. Allyzah is a phenomenal visual artist who works with in digital and traditional mediums. They haven’t met a material they didn’t like and work with just about everything. Their work is brimming with detail and a masterful use of lines and colors. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Self 2017

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist that likes to dabble in just about everything I can afford. I have worked with traditional mediums like pencils (graphites, colored pencils), charcoals, markers, paints (acrylic, watercolor, oil) and digital mediums (limited photoediting, mostly digital art). My goal is to be able to learn as many mediums as I can because I want to teach art. I also occasionally write, and recently began posting my comic on Tapas.

While many other artists have a “deeper meaning” behind their artworks, or a consistent theme, I find art to be most enjoyable when it is “whatever I feel like.” I don’t like stressing over incorporating hidden meanings and “how it may be interpreted,” but rather getting the idea out of my head. My art blog and my art tag ends up being full of random half done pieces and concepts because it’s not always about finishing, but expressing my ideas. (Perhaps not the best rule to live by, but as a student, it’s enough for me.)

What inspires you?

Most of the time, the deadline. Otherwise it’s usually whatever I find aesthetically appealing enough to draw!

For my writing and my comic, though, that was inspired by the lack of diversity in the media I consumed. I got tired of the same old “boy meets girl” plot/subplot found in most things I read, and especially, the lack of characters who even vaguely looked like me. Growing up, the books I read often degraded characters that shared my race or ethnicity, and I struggled with my identity until I was 16 (a mere four years ago). I hated who I was because I wasn’t white, and I thought that I would only be successful if I were like the white characters in my books—even then, that could be a stretch, as there were very few books with girls as the lead. I didn’t find out that I wasn’t cishet until I was about 15, and by then I barely read outside of the class readings, so I wasn’t as bothered by the lack of LGBT+ positive books just yet. In my junior year, I had my “if no one else is going to do it, I will” moment and decided I would make a comic featuring a diverse cast in both ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual/romantic orientation. It took a while, but I finally decided I had put it off long enough and started publishing pages early July 2017 as my 20th birthday gift to myself.

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

When I was in the second grade, my school’s art teacher brought a guest artist to speak to everyone. I don’t remember the name of the artist, but I remember being so intrigued—it was one thing to learn about Van Gogh and Picasso in class, and a completely different thing to see someone live at work that wasn’t my teacher. The way he worked was by covering a canvas with black charcoal, and slowly erasing it away to create an image. My art teacher later caught me trying to do the same thing while waiting for my dad to pick me up, and asked me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but I remember being so happy that she thought I could, and I said yes. Since then, I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about art so that I can help as many people as possible when I become a teacher.

As for writing, we have a rocky relationship. During elementary school, I had a pattern: I would love writing one year, and hate it the next. I didn’t really take it seriously for a while, even when I started writing and posting fanfiction. I found out about NaNoWriMo in middle school, and became serious about writing original work, although the passion and motivation is not nearly as consistent as with art.

Death Lingers_Allyzah Cabugao
Death Lingers

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 if I’ve been consistent enough with anything to have one of those! The closest thing is the stamp I use to sign my artwork (when I have it). I visited China two years ago as part of an exchange program, and the Chinese students gave me an approximate phonetic translation of my name so that I could have a “Chinese name.” I bought a stamp with that name on it to remember them and the trip, and I use it as half of my artist signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Besides the ever present “keep practicing,” I’d say “if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, put it on pause and work on something different; it’ll come to you sooner than if you keep focusing on it.” If it’s art, that one part will still be waiting for you to come back, and if it’s writing, you can always just type in something like “akdguhos” or “[COME BACK TO THIS]” and continue. (Just make sure that you go back to it before you publish it or turn it in!) You don’t have to finish everything in one go. Take a break, let your creative juices recharge.

Something specifically for visual art: we tend to hyperfixate on the small area that we’re currently working on. Every now and then, remember to step back (or, if digitally, zoom out) and look at the piece as a whole. Something might look okay while zoomed in… and then you look at the whole picture and realize that it’s completely misaligned or maybe the color palette doesn’t match the rest. I’ve worked on several semi-realistic pieces and realized that the “perfect nose” was too far right, or that it looked like the neck didn’t come from the same body as the head, because I didn’t look at the whole picture as much as I should have.

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Lumos

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual sex-repulsed, and demi-panromantic. (As well as agender/non-binary.)

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

I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any prejudice in my major related classes yet, but that’s partially because I don’t know anyone well enough to actually care what they say, partly because I have headphones in during class almost all the time. I have had people try to get “creative” with their flirting though, automatically assuming that because I’m an artist, I draw nude people, and that I’d want to draw them … How I respond to them depends on how rude they’re being.

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

Ohh boy, there’s so many that I spent three years researching asexuality in order to academically debunk misconceptions and presented speeches about asexuality to just about any academic platform I could reach. (I’m no longer doing competitive speech as I switch to the coaching side of things, but I’m still ready to spread asexual awareness.)

The one that I hate the most is when people think asexuals are being childish if they state that they have no sexual attraction, especially if they say that they’re a sex-repulsed ace. I’ve had people say that I’ll eventually “grow up and want sex,” and when I literally had an anxiety attack due to a class assigned movie (marked UnRated and with no CW/TW in the film description, nor from the professor) that featured multiple explicit sex scenes and nudity, I was told to grow up and realize that “sex is an art form. You’re an artist, why can’t you appreciate that?” It’s frustrating that sex is seen as a major turning point in your life, the time you’ve “finally reached adulthood,” when there’s plenty of us who can live without it.

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Southern Belle

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

Most importantly: you are not broken. Your orientation doesn’t make you any less valid than anyone else! Remember, for every person that takes you down, there’ll be many ready to help lift you back up again.

Also, it doesn’t matter if you fit some of the stereotypes or misconceptions of asexuality or not, you can still identify as ace. Things like “you can’t know if you’re ace if you’re a virgin,” “it’s just a hormonal imbalance,” “it’s because of PTSD/similar,” it doesn’t matter if these are true or not for you. If you feel like asexuality is the best label for your orientation, then you’re ace.

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

I post my work on Tumblr with the tag “#ani amount of art” on both aniamountofart.tumblr.com and aniamountofsketches.tumblr.com; on Instagram/Twitter tagged #aniamountofart on artisticAllyzah; and my comic can be found at tapas.io/series/OMNI!

Marco the Mallard
Marco the Mallard

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

Interview: Keelan

Today we’re joined by Keelan. Keelan is a wonderful visual artist who hasn’t met a medium he doesn’t like. Right now, he’s focusing mostly on ace pride/positivity and autistic pride/positivity, both of which are greatly needed in today’s world. His work is so beautiful, brimming with color and life, as you’ll soon see. 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 art is mostly fanart, sketches and positivity/pride drawings. I have also done a bit of costume design and costume making for some local theatre. I’ve experimented with a variety of mediums such as oil paint, acrylics, chalk/charcoal, photography and ink + bleach but I mostly stick to pencil and digital drawings because it is what I am most comfortable working with, and what I have the most access to. In the past year or so my art has been focused mostly on asexual/a-spec and autistic positivity because they are both important parts of my identity and I want to express that and my love for the two communities. I’ve been drawing with pencils for a long time, but digital art is still very new to me because I only started exploring it last year.

What inspires you?

Other artists and their work are a huge inspiration to me. Seeing the beautiful work other artists create inspires me so much and motivates me to keep on practicing and improving. Sometimes they inspire me to try new things as well. I probably wouldn’t have begun to explore digital art if I had not seen and been inspired by the progress of other artists on social media. I am also inspired a lot by the communities I am a part of, such as the online asexual and autistic community. They have given me the confidence and inspiration to express myself more through my art and take pride in my identity through it.

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

I’ve wanted to be an artist ever since I was little, and I began to put effort into learning and improving my art when I was around eight and wanted to be able to draw my original character properly. That goal from when I was a kid has been motivating me for years to keep on trying. Unfortunately, because my main focus was being able to draw a character that meant that for years I didn’t explore anything outside of drawing people in pencil and pen. I only began to pick up exploring other things such as colour and different mediums when I chose to do Art in GCSE when I was fifteen. Even though my career goals are a little different from when I was younger, I still want to continue being an artist as a hobby.

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. I used to have a habit a few years ago, of signing all my art with my initials. I don’t do it as often anymore; however, I try to keep it up (inconsistently) with any art I post online. In all my autistic art I make an effort to include the neurodiversity symbol; a rainbow infinity symbol.

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Dai Li Agents

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep on trying. It can be difficult and very frustrating but the thing about art is that you are always learning. Even those artists who seem to have mastered it all are still learning and making mistakes and improving. Art takes practice and time so its fine if you struggle with and take a long time to learn something (such as how to draw hands or animals). Looking back on your old art might make you cringe but that’s only proof of your progress. Its proof that you have grown a lot and will probably only continue to grow and become more skilled.

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Proud Ace

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am panromantic asexual, though I also identify with demi-romantic.

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

I have encountered a little. In my life offline I experience it less because not as many people know I am asexual. I have received some ignorant and slightly insulting comments from people who do know, or from people who don’t know I am asexual but have heard of it. It always hurts and frustrates me a bit to hear it. I tend to either speak up about it or let it slide depending on the situation and how well I know the person. I don’t handle confrontation well so I admit I tend to avoid it even when it might be best to speak up.

I have definitely experienced more prejudice and ignorance online. I am fairly open about my sexuality online and I post most of my asexual positivity art on my blogs and it has caused me to receive some unpleasant comments as a result. I find it is best to delete the messages, block the sender and not let it bother me. In fact it usually motivates me to draw even more ace positive art.

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

That asexuality is just a lack of interest in having sex or a form of celibacy. It’s a misconception that frustrates me a lot because I have seen it be used against asexual people to invalidate them or make incorrect claims based on that misinformation. It is also, I suspect, where the comments from my family that I “just need to meet the right person” or that I am a “late bloomer” come from.

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

You aren’t broken and you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with being asexual and there is a wonderful community out there for asexual and aromantic people. It’s okay if it takes you a long time to come to terms with being asexual and it’s okay if you aren’t sure of your orientation.

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

I post a lot of my art on my Tumblr main: keelan-666.tumblr.com under the tag #keelan-art and on my side blog: autistic-space-dragon.tumblr.com under the tag #space-dragon-doodles. However neither blogs are purely art blogs so a lot of other stuff is posted there too. I also have an Instagram: keelantheace.

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Ace Positivity Post

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

Interview: Carly Ann

Today we’re joined by Carly Ann. Carly Ann is a phenomenal artist who does a lot of visual art and SFX makeup. She works in a wide variety of mediums when she’s drawing. Carly Ann is also incredibly passionate about makeup and it’s truly something she loves to do. Her work shows an incredible attention to detail and it’s very apparent Carly Ann’s a gifted artist. Her passion shines through in her interview, 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’m a bit of a jack of all trades in the visual arts as I never hesitate to take on a new challenge or venture into a new medium. My main focuses tend to be in drawing and special effects makeup, though I even work in costume design and prop making. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon and have continued with it as a hobby into adulthood. It has only been in the past couple years that I decided to make it my life’s work, that art is what brings me the most joy. My typical drawing mediums include graphite, charcoal, and ink, though I have even dappled in oil pastels and gouache. Even my subject matters tend to bounce from everything to photo-realistic portrait work, abstract expressionism pieces, and even still life.

As for special effects makeup, this interest has been a more recent development. Upon reaching my teenage years and continuing into the present, I have stepped into alternative fashion. Makeup has always been a means of self-expression for me in this unique lifestyle, from simple dramatic looks to bordering on stage makeup. But I never considered it as a form of artistic expression or a potential career path until two years ago. I hit a state of severe depression about halfway through my sophomore year of college. I was not happy with the career path I was originally on, but too scared to take on art as it is stereotypically thought of as not a reliable income source. One of the few daily activities in my life that kept me going during this time was waking up hours before class to do intense, dramatic makeup. I would watch YouTube videos and teach myself all these creative ways to manipulate your features through cosmetics. After I reached my lowest point in my depression, I asked a friend what they thought I should do and they said I always look my happiest when I am doing my makeup. That was all the convincing I needed to realize that my heart truly was in the arts, thus I became an art major and dedicated my life to it. Since then my work has been focused in sculpture and I have done numerous projects in special effects makeup. Needless to say, I have never been happier or more confident in myself than I have at this point in my life.

What inspires you?

The concept of duality is something that I not only embody in my artwork, but in my life. Contrasting ideas, beauty meets horror, life meets death, dark meets light, have always fascinated me. Much of the artwork that I do for myself embraces these conflicting elements. People tend to fear the darker aspects of our world as they hold uncertainty and the unknown, but I want my art to show that there is no need to be afraid. There is beauty in darkness and just as the shadows can conceal, the light can blind. Finding balance between the two, understanding that life and death go hand in hand, is the root of much of my work.

As for artists I find inspiration in, they range from tattoo artists to special effects makeup artists, both of which are career paths I am looking into for the future. One of my favorite tattoo artists is Ryan Ashley Malarkey, an independent artist from Kingston, Pennsylvania. Her fine line black and grey pieces are simply breathtaking in their detail, and tend to feature many of the dual elements I mentioned before. In special effects makeup, Mykie, also known as Glam and Gore on YouTube, has been an incredible source of not only inspiration, but information. Much of her work does not involve expensive products, which when you’re a poor college student, it’s much appreciated. Not to mention her YouTube channel caught my eye with its contrast. Many of her tutorials marry beauty and blood, from gory Disney princesses to neon zombies. I’ve referenced a number of her videos in order to achieve my own unique looks.

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

I suppose you could say I have always been interested in in the arts. My family has been very supportive, always making art supplies available, signing me up for dance classes, as well as encouraging theatre and music-related extracurricular activities throughout my education. The arts, in all its vast forms, are something I could not imagine my life without. Music and theatre helped my cope with my shyness and social anxiety. Drawing became an outlet for my vivid and creative imagination. Makeup has taken on a form of self-expression, a means of showing the unique individual that I am, inside and out. I even currently work within the costume shop on my college campus, it has already become a means of sustaining myself financially. Though, I never really considered the career path of an artist until recently due to the financial risks society likes to associate with it. There was always this fear that my art would never be “good enough”, that I would not be able to apply it in a way to sustain myself and it could never be anything more than a hobby. But thanks to dedication, practice, and the encouragement of those around me, I have gained a lot of confidence that being an artist is the right field for me.

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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?

I have actually put a bit of thought into my signature. Writing out my full name can be such a hassle, and admittedly I am not a huge fan of my handwriting. Instead my signature consists of a rather stiff and scratchy looking moon with a star hanging off the top. The intention is for it to not only mimic the imagery of the night sky, but also hold my first and middle initials (the moon for “C” and an “A” hidden within the lines of the star). It’s simple, but unique, and once more embodies the idea of lights in the dark.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Honestly, I feel as if I could write an essay of advice alone for aspiring artists, but to be brief I will touch a few main points that helped me pursue my passion. The first being, do not be afraid of risk, whether that is taking on an unfamiliar medium or dedicating your life to art in general. It’s all a learning experience, and you are bound to make mistakes, but do not let those hold you back or make you believe that your art is not worthy. Practice does not make perfect, practice gives you a better understanding of who you are and how your art is an embodiment of that. All art is “perfect” in its own way as it is an extension of yourself, and you are wonderful. Do not feel pressured to meet the expectations or abilities of those around you, or you run the risk of losing the creativity that is the root of all art. That is when it becomes more of a chore than something enjoyable. Also, it is okay to take breaks from time to time. Do not think that you need to dedicate every waking moment to creating something. There is value in stepping away from a piece and allowing yourself time to meditate on your ideas, as well as recharge your creative energy. Finally, never let anyone devalue your art or the life of an artist. There are those out there who will attempt to discourage you, make art seem trivial, almost juvenile. But they just fail to see how we are all constantly surrounded by art. Art enriches our lives, gives us beauty and even an escape from reality from time to time. There will always be a need for art, your work will always hold value. You will always have a purpose in this world as an artist.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as both asexual and aromantic.

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

Over all, within my work as an artist I have never faced any ace prejudice (outside the field is another story). Since I have only recently taken on the ace/aro terms to describe my orientations (about half a year ago), I have only just begun expressing this aspect of myself openly to a select few individuals in my field, all of whom have been incredibly open-minded. My employer in my college’s costume shop (who identifies openly as both heterosexual and heteroromantic) has spent hours discussing sexuality and the LGBT+ community over our work with me in a completely accepting manner. Any questions she has had have been asked both politely and completely out of curiosity with a desire to gain a better understanding of the ace/aro spectrum. In general my college campus is very friendly towards the non-heteronormative and non-cisgendered community. We even have posters currently up around our buildings welcoming those that identify as agender and asexual to the LGBT+ organization on campus. However, as I am a senior with the intent to graduate in the spring, I am a little apprehensive if that will change once I am involved in the professional art world. But with more light and acknowledgement being shed on asexuality and aromanticism as valid identities, and the spectrum they encompass, I am confident that with time we will all be better understood.

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

The most common misconception that I have personally encountered is that ace/aro individuals are cold-hearted or emotionless. While this has not been expressed by anyone within my artistic field, I have been confronted with it by people in other areas of my life. I have been called a “man-hater” and told that I “do not even count as a girl” because I do not experience romantic or sexual attraction and am personally uncomfortable with affectionate physical contact. In reality, ace/aro people, including myself, hold just as much emotion as anyone else. These aspects of our identity pertain only to our lack of sexual and romantic attraction and by no means imply hatred or devalue our sense of humanity. I have found this to be one of the most toxic forms of ace/aro misunderstandings as it enforces the ideas of being “broken” or inhuman, which simply are not true. Regardless of attraction or lack thereof, ace/aro people are just as deserving of respect and love.

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

Just as I could for aspiring artists, I feel as if I could go on for pages of advice for fellow ace/aros, despite having only come to understand my own identity less than a year ago. The best advice I could give is to love in the way that you feel most comfortable with (and is obviously consensual). As I have questioned my sexuality over the years, trying to put a name to it, I have caused myself an incredible amount of unnecessary stress and grief. Even after accepting my own ace/aro identity, I still find myself dwelling on these unnecessary thoughts. What if it really is just a phase as society tries to accuse? What if it’s rooted in a medical issue relating to libido? What if I never find anyone who will be satisfied with being in a platonic relationship and I spend the rest of my life alone (albeit with a lot of cats)? But in the end I just need to take a deep breath and clear my mind. I need to remind myself that I am human, I am not perfect, but I am not broken. Most importantly, what it all comes down to is what makes me comfortable and happy, whether that is being in a strictly platonic relationship or finding in time that I identify somewhere else on the vast spectrum of sexuality. Regardless of labels, regardless of any changes I may experience as I further understand myself, I am still valuable as a person and deserving of love.

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

Most of my work gets posted on my personal social media; this includes Twitter (necromanticdoll), Instagram (necromanticdoll), and Tumblr (necromanticdoll.tumblr.com). As I build my portfolio and career I may make accounts dedicated solely to my art, but I will be sure to keep things updated on any changes via my personal accounts.

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

Interview: Jen White

Today we’re joined by Jen White. Jen is a phenomenal equine artist. She has a real passion for drawing horses and her work is absolutely stunning. Jen works with a variety of media, mostly traditional. She shows an amazing attention to detail and color, which results in the beautiful images you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Anatomy

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

For the past few years I’ve been marketing myself as an equine artist.  I play with other subjects occasionally but horses are my favourite.  When I started really limiting my subjects to equines, I began to have a lot of fun experimenting with how I wanted to portray them, the style I was going for in my pieces.  Right now I’m working primarily with watercolour as a base, but I also use ink, charcoal, pastel, and gold leaf.  Just about all of my current pieces are a healthy combination of two or more of these mediums.

In terms of what I’m actually doing with the work, it’s been a bit of a gradual journey down to road towards  essentialism, bringing the subject down to its very base elements. Currently I’m playing with muted colours, limited palettes, and seeing just how big I can go using watercolour as the base medium.

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November Wind

What inspires you?

I love the play of sunlight, I think that’s what draws me to a subject initially.  After that I’m looking for action or the emotion but it’s always the play of light and then colour that I see first.

I’m very inspired by other artists as well, I’m always at my most productive after going to a museum or a viewing an interesting gallery of work.  Something about what this person did with this colour or what that one did with the light or line work gets me revved up.  I’ll typically come back home and spend several hours in my studio working on new pieces and fleshing out ideas.

Right now I’ve been quietly working on a future series of anatomical work, attempting to portray equine biomechanics in a 2D format has been an interest of mine for a while.  I’m collaborating with some experts in the field over the next few months to hopefully bring the series together.

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

I’ve always wanted to draw and paint, I was that kid that carried around a sketchbook everywhere and spent hours and hours filling it with sketches of people and animals that I clipped out of magazines. I’d always been told that watercolour was difficult and temperamental, and I honestly didn’t like the look of a lot of what I’d seen of the medium, which put me off it for a long, long time.

At first I thought I’d like to be a hyperrealist acrylic or oil painter, so that’s the direction I went with a lot of work in my late teens and early 20s.  You can still see the reflection of that in my current work, I think, but it’s no longer the focus.  Once I realized that watercolour could be harnessed and directed I haven’t looked back.

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Sketches

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?

The subject, horses, is the most obvious, I suppose. Aside from that, I tend to want to leave bits and pieces of the paper untouched or partly finished. I like mixing paint directly on the surface of the work and letting the unpredictability of the medium create some of the drama, or allowing the paint to run.   I think that the contrast between unfinished and hyper detailed bits is exciting.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For visual artists?  Quantity over quality.  Your skills won’t improve until you’ve put in hours of practice, and until you really have a solid grasp on your medium(s).  It’s easy to get frustrated when a piece doesn’t turn out the way you’ve expected, and the most common mistake I’ve seen in artists just starting out is to spend way too many hours on an ambitiously detailed piece before they’ve developed the solid skill base to pull it off, and then they get discouraged with the results and quit, or only do one once in a while.

So my advice is to fill sketchbooks with as many quick little life drawings or still lifes as possible.  Get good at drawing shapes, relationships, figuring out how to portray light.  It’s time well spent.  Play with your medium of choice, too.  Don’t be so in love with a piece that you’re afraid to experiment with it.

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Spring Rain

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demiromantic Asexual.

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

The subject doesn’t come up very often, quite frankly.  Not in the spheres I travel in, in any case.  The most common form of it I come across is just general heteronormativity, which I generally address by casually mentioning the struggles of people right across the LGBT+ spectrum, including asexuality.  My goal is to maybe make people stop and think, take a moment to question their views without trying to ram it down their throat.  I’ve found that in conversation buffering asexuality with other sexualities on the LGBT+ spectrum will sometimes open people up to the concept.

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Thor

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

It’s existence.  Erasure is the biggest problem we face right now.  There’s a case for societal heteronormativity and the hypersexualization of modern media, but I would say that the major issue for asexuality in particular at the moment is visibility.  In my experience, intolerance often stems from a lack of knowledge or understanding.

My own awareness of asexuality didn’t come until nearly a decade after all my peers were sexually active and getting married and starting families and all the rest.  And at first it was like, well I’m just a late bloomer.  Then it was that I hadn’t found the right person, that I was too focused on my career, that dating is exhausting.  But secretly I was so disappointed in myself.  I couldn’t understand why I felt the need to avoid or deliberately sabotage myself in social encounters that would lead to meeting romantic or sexual partners, and spent most of my 20s thinking I was somehow broken.

If I had known, if I had somehow been taught that there was a label for what I was, it would have been a great comfort and saved me years of confusion and many awkward, gut-clenching situations. Knowing that you aren’t broken, that there are others like you, and that you are valid… it gave me a sense of self-confidence that I didn’t realize I was missing.

If we could have some form of representation, some canonical character or real life person talking about their experiences in some form of media… that would go a long way towards helping our cause, I think.

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

Take your time and do your research.  It’s never too late to figure out how you identify, if labels are important to you.  And switching later on is ok, too.  I spent a few years identifying as an aromantic, and as I get older my complete aversion to having a romantic partner is mellowing out a little bit.  Nothing is set in stone.

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

You can find/chat to me at equineart.tumblr.com, or check out my website jenwhite-equineart.com

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