Interview: Diane Ramic

Today we’re joined by Diane Ramic. Diane is a phenomenal freelance illustrator who specializes in prehistory, science, fantasy, and science fiction. She does a ton of paleoart and dinosaurs are frequently in her work. Diane has also written a couple children’s books, including a coloring book of scientifically accurate dinosaurs. She has a passion for science and it shows, 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 freelance illustrator and graphic designer, and my work tends to focus on prehistory, fantasy, and sci-fi. So, you’ll find plenty of dinosaurs, dragons and aliens in my art. I also illustrate children’s books, and have written a few of my own as well! I love combining art and science into a work, as those two fields have both captured my imagination since I was very young. Educational media is something I try to work on whenever I can.

What inspires you?

Nature for sure. Thinking about life that existed in the past, and life that may exist in the future, it just makes me want to design or re-create them through art. Astronomy is a huge inspiration for when I need to do alien designs, and just thinking of the cosmos gets me in the creating mode of thought.

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

Well, when I was seven, I wanted to be a Velociraptor. I even started walking on my toes, all hunched over and with my arms mimicking their folded up arms. When I found out being a Velociraptor was physically impossible (for now), my next goal was to be a paleontologist, and that turned into wanting to be a science-minded illustrator. Fossils are a fantastic base for knowing as much as we can about these extinct animals, but the only way we can really know what they looked like in life is through artists reconstructing them in their work. For most of the public, their first impressions on prehistoric animals comes from the media, be it in movie, toy, or book form. That’s why it’s important, when you’re working with paleoart, to incorporate the updated science in your work. It brings me great satisfaction to help contribute my work to the paleoart community, and help educate the public about the lives these wonderful animals lived.

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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?

Beyond designing aliens and their environments, I really, really enjoy doing the math for figuring out the planet’s mass and composition, atmospheric pressure, its place in the solar system, the mass and age of its star(s), how many other planets it shares the star(s) with, etc. Even if no one ever sees these things, it’s just very satisfying to have it all work out in your head and on paper.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m a visual artist, so this will be in that category of art. Study from life as often as you can. Once you’ve got a good grasp on the basics of how objects interact with one another and understand color theory, you can experiment with distorting and exaggerating figures, and play with color choice. A lot of online resources are free, and try to share what you’ve learned with others. There’s a lot of gatekeeping in the artist community, even though that doesn’t help anyone. You will most likely have to go through plenty of rejections, and that’s OK, too. Just pick yourself back up and keep going as best as you can. And whatever you do, don’t make fun of younger or less experienced artists’ work.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am definitely both ace and aro, and have felt this way as long as I can remember. I’m actually pretty relieved to not have developed any romantic or sexual feelings; I feel they would get in the way of me doing my work.

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

I think the most common thing is being told again and again that what I am doing is unnatural, and going against nature, the person’s gods, or “how it should be.” The “late bloomer” stuff can get kind of annoying, too. I’m about to be 23 as of this writing, I’m pretty sure if I was going to develop any other orientations, it would have been a thing by now. And if nothing else, I’m pretty sure there are plenty enough humans on this planet, the global population isn’t in danger of going extinct anytime soon, haha.

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

Probably that we are seen as cold, unfeeling robots. I understand a lot of ace people out there definitely have the same range of emotion as anyone else, and being compared to a robot is very dehumanizing. But as someone that also has a lack of emotion/empathy/etc. in general, I actually kind of like the description.

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

You are a valid and real person, and you know yourself better than anyone else can. You might be confused at first, thinking “Is something wrong with me?” or “Am I really like this?” and that’s ok. Sometimes feelings can shift over time and you may find yourself having a different experience than you do now, and this is normal. Part of what makes living things special is their ability to grow and change over time. You’re not alone. Do what makes you comfortable.

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

I have a website at http://dramic.wixsite.com/home, but more frequently post on my Tumblr at  http://dianeramic.tumblr.com. I’m always working on new projects, so I hope you stop by to see what’s new! I’ve also got an Amazon author page; feel free to check out what new books I have available!

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

Interview: Nilah Magruder

Today we’re joined by Nilah Magruder. Nilah is a brilliant visual artist and writer who I met at Capricon. She moderated a great panel that I was on about friendships in SFF and I was ecstatic to find out she was a fellow ace creator. Nilah’s work is absolutely gorgeous and I’m so excited to check out her new projects. Her upcoming graphic novel, M.F.K., looks particularly intriguing. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

By day, I’m a storyboard artist in the animation industry. In my free time, I make comics and children’s books. My most recent projects are HOW TO FIND A FOX, a picture book about exploring the outdoors and perseverance, and M.F.K., originally a fantasy webcomic that will be hitting bookstores in graphic novel form in September.

What inspires you?

Life! Stories! Observing the world, its nature, its people, its politics is a huge inspiration. I also get inspiration from other people’s art.

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

I saw the pencil tests for The Lion King for the first time when I was twelve (I’m old, and The Lion King was still under production at this point) and from that moment I wanted to work in animation. I’d loved drawing from a young age, but I don’t think I ever considered it a serious profession. I had no concept of how to become an animator; it was more a pipe dream than anything. So at first I was interested in pursuing music, writing, or something more practical like accounting. It wasn’t until I was applying to colleges that I found out you could study animation, and it rekindled my interest.

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?

Nothing unique or consistent like that. My work is kind of all over the place, actually, because I’m always trying new things. If there’s anything, I guess I draw a lot of girls.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work on the fundamentals. Explore styles and influences. Be a sponge. Work hard, but don’t work yourself sick. Your health and life are important. Take breaks, stretch, exercise, eat well, sleep, enjoy the world around you, and learn to say “no” when you need to.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and aromantic.

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

I guess ace erasure is what I encounter most commonly. Most people don’t seem to have a concept of what asexuality is, so there’s very little representation in animation and comics. I’m trying to be more open about my own sexuality, but in the meantime, I include asexual characters in my work. The main characters of M.F.K. are asexual. In my own canon, asexuality is always present.

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

I’ve been hearing the “asexuals are just straight people who wish they were queer” rhetoric a lot lately. And also the idea that it’s the same thing as celibacy, like it’s a choice. It’s sad, and also annoying to have your identity and feelings treated as invalid… something that I’d think more people would relate to, honestly.

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

Asexuality is a fairly new term, but asexuals have always existed; we just used different language in the past. So don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong in the queer community. We’ve always been here.

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

I’m on Twitter (nilaffle) and Tumblr as nilaffle, and Instagram as nilaffles. My website is nilahmagruder.com. You can find M.F.K. at mfkcomic.com.

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