Interview: Teloka Berry

Today we’re joined by Teloka Berry. Teloka is a phenomenally talented visual artist from Australia. She’s a digital artist and specializes in comics. She also does portraits, original characters, and fanart. Aside from that, Teloka also does crafts. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly 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’m a digital artist, and primarily a character illustrator and story-teller. I do stuff like portraits, comics, original characters and fan-art, and sell crafts and merch like stickers.

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My very favourite things to do are comics, both short ones and long form ones! I like stories with a strong focus on acearo, queer and neuroatypical characters who are just having adventures in various genres, and my personal schtick leans heavily towards acearo girls who want to form lasting commitments and have relationships with other girls.

I have two long-haul projects. Let’s Celebrate!, my queer magical girl themed webcomic has been live for almost three years now, and features an acearo lead and a bunch of silly festive super powers. It’s very lighthearted but still explores various celebrations from around the world, mental illness and communication, and features a bunch of monsters that the girls/guys/nb-pals fight with improbable weapons like giant candy canes. You can see it here: http://letscelebrate-comic.tumblr.com/

My second long haul project is collaborative with my girlfriend which we’re hoping to release early next year, and it will be an online graphic novel in installments. It’s a supernatural, Lovecraftian kind of adventure-thriller, structured around the Great Australian Road-Trip in rural Queensland. It follows an established acearo f/f couple, who accidentally enter an outback region they can’t leave filled with frightening “Locals” and those long roads that go on “forever”.

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What inspires you?

I’m going to sound super cheesy when I say this but… my girlfriend? Haha, I’m pretty inspired by personal experiences and personal interests, I suppose. I spend a lot of time drawing and illustrating stuff based on things we’ve done together or concepts we talked about and came up with together.

Maybe also like … spite, to be honest. I’m kind of tired of heteronormative stories and the same straight white male leads who fight the Big Bad and get the girl with very little actual effort. I love to write and see stories about girls, especially queer and neurodivergent girls, doing cool stuff and saving the day and being in genres they’re generally sidelined in, like action stuff or zombies.

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That aside I find music and bright cheerful colour palettes quite inspiring, and use both of them a lot in my work. And the work of other artists who I look up to, of course! I’m pretty visual so if I see something that is just aesthetically pleasing to me (like some architecture, a posing angle, fairy lights in a shop window) I’ll probably think about how to incorporate it into an art piece sooner or later.

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

I’ve always been really crafty and drawn or scribbled stuff, so I guess so? I got serious about artwork at about 13, when I entered high school and fell in with fellow artsy-sorts who enabled the habit. I started out like most teens on DeviantArt back then with an anthro fursona, and made more friends online that encouraged me, and so I just… persisted with it. I don’t think I ever had particular plans to be an artist, or to be anything for that matter, but it’s probably my stand out skill now. I draw every day and love my stories and characters a lot!

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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?

Probably like I mentioned in that first long ramble I did, I have a really strong narrative interest in queer stories, and especially a focus on acearo mentally ill girls and healthy relationships. Artistically/Stylistically though… no, haha, I have absolutely zero consistency in my work, I’m so bad at that!

Usually when I pitch it to other people they’ll say stuff like “sparkles!” or “colours!” or “same face syndrome!”, so maybe that’s the answer here? I like colours a lot and playing around with harsh lighting. I also draw a lot of birds, because… birb.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

1. Give it a go! If you want to do it, just do it. It’s worthwhile, even if all it ever does is bring you happiness or relaxation to create; that’s super important and you deserve it.

2. Quite difficult, but don’t compare your creation to other peoples work negatively. Be critical of your own work, sure, and always, always strive to improve. But your work is not anyone else’s but your own, so try not to be disheartened if it doesn’t look like something else you wanted it to look like. It looks like it’s yours, and that’s the best thing it could be.

3. This one is for minority groups in storytelling especially (I figure relevant here on an ace positive blog), and something I’ve struggled with a lot but: Tell that story about your own experiences/preferences if you want to tell it. Create your own representation if you can and want to.

It’s not self-centered, it’s not “too much”, it’s not unpalatable, it’s not boring, and it’s not cheesy. Don’t feel like you can only put one character from a minority group in your story, and don’t feel like you can’t have characters who you relate to or have traits like you in your story. You do not have to write in something for “someone else” to relate to or have straight white men in your story for it to be “acceptable”, regardless of what popular media seems to be trying to say.

For example, when we started on the roadtrip story I mentioned earlier, we thought “is two whole acearo girls in a story… too many? should one of them at least… be bi?” and while scripting I’ve often wondered ”is this chronically anxious character having too many anxiety attacks…? should I just have them handle this thing better so that their mental illness is showing less?”. And the answer to those things is obviously no. Show that mental illness. Have only acearo leads. Have a whole cast of POC. There’s no such thing as “too much” representation of your minority characters and stories, and if they’re based on your personal experiences or desires- great. Because nobody else can tell that for you; it’s yours.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a cis girl (she/hers) and I identify as asexual and aromantic, though I might more accurately be quoiromantic as I don’t really understand the difference between platonic and romantic relationships, though I absolutely don’t experience attraction regardless. I previously considered myself panromantic because I “want to be emotionally intimate” with friends quite intensely and have close relationships, but I later realized that I don’t experience romantic attraction so… aromantic-spec it is.

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

I’ve actually experienced very little ace prejudice. I’ve found straight people to be confused and commit some naïve-microaggressions at best, and mostly they just want me to explain what it meant and expressed general confusion about how I could not feel sexual attraction. (except for those dudes, you know, the: “well you just haven’t been with ­me yet” narcissists.)

I also had an abuser who ID’d on the ace spectrum, who would constantly guilt me about my orientation and say I would be a disappointment to my partner/s, that I was “broken”, or that I was just “trying to be holier than thou” and all kinds of toxic shit. So it really can come from anywhere.

The absolute worst ongoing prejudice I’ve seen has been from gatekeepers in the gay and lesbian communities. No surprises there. So many “sapphic safe place” blogs will reblog artwork of my girlfriend and I, which is clearly f/f and I get the lovely gift of seeing their acephobic descriptions on how ace people don’t belong in the queer community and queer is a slur, while they profit from artwork literally featuring two acearo girls.

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

Lately there’s plenty of stuff going around tumblr especially about how asexuality doesn’t equal celibacy, and that it’s not a choice. True, absolutely! But I still very often see asexuality conflated with sex repulsion, or a lack of libido (and aromance with a lack of interest in close intimate relationships at all).

Sure, it can be that way, but it’s not universal for all aces or aros. Just like any orientation, asexual people can sit anywhere on the libido and/or repulsed spectrums. They are not the same at all, and it’s super toxic that it has become popularly interchangeable, because I’m often seeing ace characters who “hate to be touched” and it just…

Ace people can be sex positive and interested in intimacy.

Allosexual people can be sex repulsed or simply disinterested.

And sex repulsed people of any orientation can also still be highly sensual and have a libido and still really want to have sex (that’s me!).

All these things are separate experiences. Neither drive nor repulsion are intrinsically tied to each other or to asexuality, which is the lack of sexual attraction, and not the lack of desire for touch.

I think that’s a super important distinction that’s often lost. My stories focus on this a lot, and almost all of my comics and stories feature acearo characters who still actively seek close emotional intimacy- because aro people are not unfeeling robots- and who also like to experiment or be close to their partners physically- because ace doesn’t necessarily mean no libido or interest.

And it’s super alienating to sensual or libido aces to see the narrative that “to be ace means you can’t ever want to have sex with someone else” perpetuated. It feels like something that, in years to come, is going to segue into Ace-Gatekeeping-v2.0, and I’d like to see communication and compassion stop that before it happens.

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

Auuhhh… uhmmm I’m really not an ideal person to put in like… advice giving roles. I’m still learning stuff myself; the Living Experience is pretty enormous! But perhaps the best thing I found (for me) was to have close friends who I could talk to about being ace and aro. If you have other friends who are already knowledgeable or confident in their own sexuality and ID on the acearo spec then that is probably the safest way, and they can explain things to you and answer questions.

There are also a variety of previously linked ace-help blogs and websites, and probably honestly… a lot of the artists featured on this blog would probably be happy to answer anon-questions and stuff about their experiences if you get in touch? I’d be happy to, for sure. That might be good for anyone who feels isolated or confused and doesn’t want to have a name attached to their questions!

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

You can find my artblog, where I post most of my art and links and updates on the above mentioned projects here: http://berryartistic.tumblr.com. I should warn that there are some suggestive works on there and it’s pretty heavy on the f/f content. There’s nothing graphic and no actual nudity, mostly just implications of intimacy and some power dynamics, but it might be a bit much for some minors or anyone intimacy-repulsed, so take it with a grain of salt.

Let’s Celebrate! is completely PG and can be found here: http://letscelebrate-comic.tumblr.com/ which has links offsite to places like Tapastic.

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

Interview: Sami Mariano Vacari

Today we’re joined by Sâmi Mariano Vacari. Sâmi is a phenomenal visual artist who does illustration and animation. They’re currently studying animation at uni. They do some Overwatch fancomics and have an original webcomic entitled Dead Hearts, which is currently on a temporary hiatus while they finish up at uni. Sâmi’s work shows an incredible attention to detail and color, as you’ll soon see. It’s clear they have an incredibly bright future ahead of them. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love designing characters and digital cut-out animation, but I also do illustrations and comics! I create mostly Overwatch fancomics for my art blog, at least they are the most popular thing I do and I try to keep them frequent. I’m an animation undergraduate in my last year of uni, I’ll be working on my conclusion short film for a year, and I hope I can create something very good to add to my portfolio!

I also have a webcomic project that’s currently on hiatus so I can focus on uni, it’s called Dead Hearts. The main character is an aroace trans woman, and it’s something that doesn’t follow her all the story but it has a big impact on how her life plays. It’s a project I’m hoping to go back to as soon as I can!

What inspires you?

What keeps me going forward is mostly the fact that I see so little of myself in animated TV shows. I’ve seen a growth in them the last years, but I see a lot of ace and non-binary characters alike being portrayed as robots or aliens. Very hard to find them as just common human beings who happen not to have sexual attraction. I try to create stories I would like to see myself.

All ponies
All Ponies

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

I grew up with anime, specially magical girl animes. I’ve always loved Sailor Moon, it’s still my number one show! My first serious piece of illustration was a Sailor Jupiter fanart when I was in fifth grade, and I’ve never stopped creating since then. When I discovered I could go to university and get a degree in animation, I didn’t think twice!

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

I guess my work has a very cutesy feel to it, my color palettes all have pink in it somewhere. I’m fascinated by that fantasy sunset color palette with a pink-purple-blue gradient so they are pretty recurring in my work.

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Anamaria

 

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I guess, most of all, you need to be having fun with what you’re doing. I see many friends starting out and worrying too much about technique, and I see that hindering them from finding a style they can call theirs. You gotta have a base too but you can’t forget the creativity when creating.

Also, animation has a very interesting concept that is, why is your film important? We are asked this question when presenting ideas to producers and studios. Creating content for others isn’t only you fulfilling your artistic need to share your ideas, but it also has a big social impact when it is experienced by other people, an impact we sometimes undermine. I carry this very close to me when creating my work. What will others experience when they see you work? It can change your perspective.

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“Before Contact” story

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m pan-demisexual/romantic, I have always been, it’s just easier to put it in words now.

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

My animation classmates have been the best. I didn’t disclose me being ace to all of them, but the ones I did, were very understanding. But I also understand they are all pretty much outliers, and many others I know wouldn’t be too welcoming to it.

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Concept Aliens

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

I see the whole “humans can’t be asexual, they reproduce, they’re not plants” a very lot and it’s very annoying by the sheer plainness of argument. Also the whole “asexuality is just a phase” be it someone thinking that you’re just a late bloomer or anything else.

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Dead Hearts avatar

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

Take pride in what you are. It’s you and if you’re ace, it’s great! It’s not just some phase and it’s something very real for many people all around the world.

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

My art Tumblr is faeri-sami, and I also post frequently on my Instagram stories faerisami. Some of my comics are on tapastic too.

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

Interview: Hill

Today we’re joined by Hill. Hill is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital mediums. She draws mostly people and dabbles in fanart, though she also enjoys drawing original character. She is currently working on a comic called “AVG” and plans to draw more comics in the future. It’s very clear that she’s a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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“AVG” c1p7 fin

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mostly draw people! Faces are my favorite part to draw; it’s all about the wacky expressions! I started at a young age (about 3rd grade) using traditional methods. I tried all kinds of mediums like pencil, inks, paint…but my favorite for a long time was inks. I liked them because you could create a stark contrast. I would draw characters from “One Piece” and “Bleach” in inks all the time.

In high school I started the change from traditional to digital art, mostly because my sister was doing it and so it was cool. I had no idea what I was doing, but stuck with it. I currently use Photoshop Elements 12 and a Wacom Intuos Tablet. Doing digital art allows me to make speedpaint videos set to music! I love creating comics and portraits of my own characters. I have one comic that I’m currently working on, called “AVG” and several more planned.

What inspires you?

Music is my greatest inspiration! I can hardly ever draw without something playing. I feel like it adds more emotional strength to any piece I work on. My best friend is a music teacher and she always inspires me when she shares her knowledge.

I’m absolutely inspired by other artists! There’s so many artists I look up to and have learned from, like: Eiichiro Oda, Tite Kubo, Kohske, and Rebecca Sugar. They’ve each influenced my art style in some way. My friends on DeviantArt have inspired me too! They’re always trying new things and it makes me want to be better!

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AVG c3p0

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

My sister is the person who got me interested in art! She was drawing long before I ever wanted to. When we were little, we loved playing with paper dolls and you couldn’t buy Pokémon or Digimon paper dolls, so my sister drew them. I picked up art, because there were so many characters we wanted to add and it would take a while for her to draw them all! I wanted to help out! Next thing you know I was drawing celebrities with giant heads and tiny bodies (they were awful)! It was always just for fun, but I really became invested in art when I started reading “One Piece”. I wanted to learn to draw the characters and I needed to practice for an upcoming art scholarship opportunity. It worked out!

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 signature is my initials HRH with three lines through it. I wanted to have a cool signature and played around with a bunch of options. I’m not sure when I got to that one, but it stuck!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

What always helps me, especially if I feel art block coming on, is sketching. Sketching has led to some of my favorite pieces. It takes pressure off and can result in some really fun ideas! Always keep trying, because in just a year you can make so much progress!

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Princess Leia (grey)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual. I don’t know where I am on the romance end yet, that one hasn’t quite clicked like being Ace did. I had originally identified as Demisexual, but when I explored Asexuality, I felt it fit me better.

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

I haven’t encountered much prejudice or ignorance in my field. I’ve really only told those I’m close with or potential significant others. The only time I personally experienced it was when I identified as Demisexual and someone I know said they “never heard of it, so it must be fake”. I wanted to cry, so after that, I mostly kept it to myself. Since I’ve identified as Ace, I’ve only had positive reactions from those I’ve told. I’m happy to be a part of this interview, because it is a positive experience for everyone, especially artists, in the community.

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SU Crystal Gems for V 6 fin

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

“If you haven’t tried sex, how can you know you’re Asexual?” I just know. I don’t experience sexual attraction. I don’t mind talking about sex and I am interested in the possibility, but I don’t feel I need it to happen.

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

It’s okay to wonder about it. You don’t have to figure it out, now or ever. It’s about what suits you and your needs and what makes you feel comfortable. Either way, you’re always welcome in this community! You’re valid and you’re loved! 🙂

I’m very proud to be a part of this community! I’m even crocheting a scarf, though I dropped an abysmal number of stitches haha … I hope that if you find yourself in this community, that you can be proud too!

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

You can find me on DeviantArt: https://drawuntooblivion.deviantart.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drawendlesstars
YouTube, where I post short animations and speedpaints: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-RyTP_dlLqlkuF2hBIEAIw
and my comic is on Tumblr: https://avgcomic.tumblr.com/ and my website: (where I also plan to share other comics) https://avgcomic.com/.

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We Go Everywhere Together 4

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

Interview: Lima

Today we’re joined by Lima. Lima is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in drawing characters, both her own and others. Lima is an art student in Germany and hopes to be a storyboard artist. She is currently working on a personal project, which she’s very excited about. Lima’s work is brimming with details and vibrant colors, which make the images pop off the page. It’s very clear she’s a remarkably talented 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.

Well, I love to draw characters the most, whether they’re my own or someone else’s. I love to give them a story, make them act with their poses and expressions! I also really like making little comics or storyboards – which is why I’d love to be a storyboard artist someday!

When I use colors, I love to use complementary contrasts to bring out different sides of a character!

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What inspires you?

Many things! Mostly my favorite shows, like Star vs the Forces of Evil, Steven Universe and my all-time fave: Kim Possible. There’s also a lot of artists I look up to, like Babs Tarr, Stephen Silver, Mergan Ferguson (at littledigits on Instagram) Loish, Pernille Ørum … there are so many! Also Hayley Williams (singer of my favorite band Paramore) never fails to inspire me with her energy on stage and gorgeous outfits!

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

I guess I’ve always been a very creative person bursting with way too many ideas. I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember, but only recently I discovered I also love telling/creating stories and making characters interact with each other. I guess the biggest factor is and was my undying love for everything animation and reading a lot of comics growing up that sparked my wish to be part of the creative, pre-production stage. That’s what made me sign up for art school and hopefully my education will help me reach those big goals of mine!

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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?

Hmm … I guess I have a thing for drawing big, button-y noses! I have kind of a button nose as well and it’s something that other people pointed out in my art. I also love drawing big, expressive eyes and fluffy, voluminous hair!

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry too much about ‘having a unique style’! Style is something that comes on its own over time. Just let yourself get inspired by everything around you, study other people’s art and definitely use a TON of references! References are your best friend!

And remember to take breaks once in a while! Being an artist does not mean working 24/7, surviving on coffee and no sleep. Practice as much as you can, but also take care of yourself – your older self will thank you for it! (:

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an aromantic asexual, but I do consider myself more of a gray-asexual. I’ve felt very uncomfortable about labeling myself for years, until I researched the term ‘aromantic’ and it’s like a light bulb went up above my head and everything was clear.

The whole story is: we did a personality quiz in school, where we were supposed to prioritize things like ‘love/romance’, ‘money’, ‘fame’, ‘family’ etc. and without even thinking I put ‘romance’ at the bottom of that list and that got me thinking and the rest is history 😀

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

In my field, no. I am very lucky to be surrounded by young, open-minded people and I’ve even encountered another ace person in my class.

Truth be told, I am not that comfortable explaining my sexuality to people who might be ignorant, so I usually keep it on the down-low. If someone directly asked me, I wouldn’t lie, though.

It’s mostly because I feel aromanticism/asexuality is so severely underrepresented that it’s hard to be taken seriously in a society that actively promotes women having sex, having children, having romantic partners etc. that if you don’t want any of these things, you are the ‘odd one out’.

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

Probably that it’s simply ‘being straight without sex’ or that all asexuals have to be aromantic as well, which of course is wrong. I even heard someone say that asexuality can only be caused by some sort of mental/physical disorder and that every healthy person has a sex drive. What people don’t understand is yeah, I might have a sex drive but that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to act on it. Also the fact that I’m aromantic doesn’t mean I’m a cold person without feelings.

I love very strongly – just not romantically. I love my friends, my family, art and many things. I am a very emotional, sensitive person and I’d love for people to realize that romance is not the ultimate life goal for everyone.

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

I’d ask them for a hug and say: you’re not alone.

There’s a lot of false information going around, and not a lot of media representation, which is important especially in these days.

But despite what other people might say: You are 100% valid.

Your feelings are real and you are not weird, or broken. You are a wonderful individual who deserves just as much love and appreciation as any other member of any other (LGBT+) community.

Don’t be afraid to be proud of yourself and take all the time you need to figure out what you’re comfortable with.

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

I am most active on my Instagram: at sparkly_eyed_dork where I post sketches, comics, full illustrations and more (mostly fanart).

There’s also my Tumblr: sparkly-eyed-doodles.tumblr.com (which is still on hiatus, but I’m planning to revive it in the near future.)

Also: I don’t wanna promise too much, but I’m gonna start my very own webcomic soon!

I can’t say too much about its content yet, but I’m working on it non-stop and I can’t wait to share it with everyone, so stay tuned for that!

All I can say is that it’ll involve friendship, music and wacky adventures! 🙂

Yo Girl3

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

Interview: Katherine

Today we’re joined by Katherine. Katherine is a wonderfully talented artist who does both writing and visual art. She specializes in comics and is currently making a supernatural drama webcomic entitled Soul to Call. She is an incredible storyteller and her work is brimming with an extraordinary amount of detail, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Self Portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Comics are my specialty, and these days I’m applying those skills to Soul to Call, a supernatural drama webcomic about found family and demons, both inner and outer.

I love writing and drawing equally, so comics are a happy union of those things for me, but I also enjoy just writing or drawing on their own. I write all kinds of fiction, though none of it is currently public beyond my comics, and I enjoy illustrating standalone pieces too! Anything that tells a story, subtle or overt, is my bread and butter.

What inspires you?

Music is a major inspiration for me. It motivates and inspires me every step of the way, from planning, to writing, to drawing. It’s even there for me during artistic blocks. Exercising with some good tunes really gets my brain moving, so if I ever feel stuck or unenthusiastic, walking to music will usually fill my head with new ideas. When I sit back down, I’m rejuvenated and excited to work on my project again.

My friends are also a big source of inspiration to me. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by some wonderful and creative minds. Chats with them leave me inspired to improve myself, and create great work!

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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 as long as I can remember, and a comic artist just as long. I’m pretty sure I was drawing and stapling together my own comics since I could hold a pencil. A cliché phrase I know, but I remember drawing comics before I even knew how to spell. I’d give my comics to my mum, then tell her what to write in the speech bubbles I’d left blank. I always made her write more dialogue than could possibly fit in the tiny speech bubble I’d drawn. I’ve gotten a little better at judging the text-to-bubble ratio since then.

I can’t say there was ever a pivotal point in which I got interested in art or comics, it always felt natural to me, and I can’t imagine my life without it. But I guess if I had to credit something for my introduction to comics, it would be my brother reading The Adventures of Tintin, Asterix, and Calvin and Hobbes to me.

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?

Does texture vomit and tons of purple count? Heheh. I use a lot of textures to give my art a rougher look, and I incorporate my favourite colour purple in anything I can get away with, but otherwise I haven’t committed to a “signature” for my work at this point.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it! If you have a story or certain kind of art you want to create, don’t wait to be ‘good enough.’ That moment will never come, especially if you just wait around for it. The only way you can gain the skills necessary to make something great is to be making things and honing your craft in the first place! Start creating! You’re gonna make some crap, maybe a lot of crap, but don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to fail! I made two failed webcomics before Soul to Call, but both those failures taught me extremely valuable lessons that lead to Soul to Call’s success.

Make what you want! Create without fear! Don’t be swayed by what you think people want to see. You have a unique vision, and your work will be that much more powerful if you stay faithful to it. And last, but not least, have fun with it. If you’re having fun, eventually people will see it and come have fun with you.

Arc2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aroace.

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

I’ve been very lucky to find myself among fellow creative aces, and some wonderfully accepting people in the webcomic community.

Sometimes readers of my comic can be a different story. So far, I haven’t encountered malice, but ignorance over the fact that two of my main characters are on the ace spectrum. Despite some heavy hints in comic, and some blunt statements outside of the comic regarding their orientation, it just doesn’t seem to click for some readers. In most of these cases, I just ignore it, and hope that my writing will speak for itself as I carry on.

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

I usually encounter the misconception that asexuality is a fancy word for abstinence or celibacy.

I also find a lot of people have trouble wrapping their head around the idea that I can appreciate another person’s appearance, and think they’re exceptionally good looking, without finding them attractive in a sexual way at all. I can appreciate a pretty person the same way someone can appreciate pretty art, folks!

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

You’re not weird, or broken, or sick, and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t deserve your time. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that sex is a be all end all to anything in life. There are so many awesome experiences in the world, and so many ways to be close to other people.

And remember that asexuality is simply a lack of sexual attraction. Is sex something you’re indifferent about? Ace. Is sex is something that repulses you? Still ace. If sex still appeals to you, you just don’t look at people like ‘I wanna bang that,’ that doesn’t invalidate you! Still ace. Don’t let people police you one way or the other. Lack of interest in sexual things doesn’t make you a childish prude, and interest in sexual things doesn’t make you less ace.

Also keep in mind that sexuality is fluid. If you feel ace now, but didn’t before, or don’t in the future, that doesn’t invalidate how you feel now. All our journeys are different. Be kind to yourself, and know there are tons of people out there just like you. You’re not alone.

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

You can read my comic at soultocall.com

And also find me and my art on a handful of social media like…
Tumblr: http://rommie.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rommierin
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rommiegram/

aurora_angel
Aurora Angel

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

Interview: Erika

Today we’re joined by Erika, who also goes by one-true-houselight online. Erika is an awesomely versatile artist who dabbles in a few different fields. They do a lot of writing. Erika specializes in poetry, much of it focusing on mental health and their experiences. They’re currently working on an original story, which features three main characters who are ace and the fourth is a dragon. When they’re not writing, Erika dabbles in fanart and has written a few comics. They have also been in the theater too. It’s very clear they’re a dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

D&Dcomic
D&D Comic

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have a couple of thing I do. For a while, the only thing I did was write poetry because when I tried to write other things, I never liked what I started and never finished. So I wrote poems on many things, gravitating towards my struggle and life with mental illness. It became a coping mechanism for me. I started drawing for the first time in a long while because again, I felt like I couldn’t. But I drew a comic of a moment in the D&D campaign I am a part of because I wanted to, and I recently sent in a comic as fan mail to Rhett and Link. I also have been getting into more narrative fiction! I’ve written two fanfics: a tiny one about Rhett and Link as children, and one Psych one where I explore Shawn being aro-spec. I’m also working on an original story with three ace main characters, one of whom is non-binary. So that’s fun. I’ve also been doing theatre for years, and I’d like to think I’ve created some art there as well.

What inspires you?

I love that I get to create things in ways I feel comfortable doing so, and I love that doing so can help me understand things better. Like, when I would write a poem about my anxiety, I could use interesting turns of phrase to define what before was just unintelligible screaming in my head. Drawing my and my friends D&D characters made the game feel more present. I explored my fear of heights and the demiromantic part of myself in my fics. I had just recently figured out I was non-binary when I started my original piece, so I got to write a character going through similar things. And my time in theatre has let me see the human condition in so many ways.

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

Most of the time, I started by just fooling around with the field until I realized I really liked 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 have a weird symbol I draw that combines my first and last initials. You can see it in the last panel of the comic attached. That’s just for the small amount of drawing I do, though. Beyond that… I don’t think so?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Hello young artist! I will repeat the advice you often get: keep practicing, you are good enough, don’t give up. All that. And also: do the art that makes you happy. Do the art that makes you feel things, that means something to you. Yes, if/when it becomes a career, that isn’t always possible. But understand what you want to do, what makes you feel whole. Then, even when you don’t have a ‘dream’ project, you know why you are where you are. If that makes sense.

IMG_2568

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and akoi-demi-bi romantic. I know. I don’t find it any easier to understand than you do.

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

Um. I mean, there is the ever-present ‘entertainment must have sex to be good/wanted by a lot of people’, but since I am a hobbyist at best, I don’t get too much problem with it? And obviously my coworkers sometimes don’t understand everything, but I have been so lucky to have people who do their best and listen to me.

Handling it for me is either just explaining or sarcasm. Again, I am in a position of privilege where I can do that without fear from most people I encounter.

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

Probably just ‘how’. A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around how it is possible. I also get people assuming it means someone just doesn’t like sex, but since I am sex repulsed I generally try to explain that while I might be like that, not everyone is.

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

Hello friends! Guess what? I love you in the least creepy way possible. And for real, you are fine. It’s hard. I felt so amazing when I figured out I was ace, and I still sometimes get crippling self-doubt and fear. We live in a world where our identities are erased, ignored, joked about, misinterpreted, and so many other things. But we are who we are, and we will be ok. If you want to find someone, you can. If you don’t want to, you will be fine. You deserve to be happy and loved in a way that you are OK with. Don’t let people tell you that you deserve less of anything.

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

You can find me on Tumblr and AO3 at one-true-houselight. I tagged everything about my RandL comic as ‘comic’ (I know), and some D&D stuff fell in there as well. My writing tag is ‘I write sometimes’. Ask me theatre stories if you want a fun time. Have a lovely day!

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

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.

Self2017
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.

Lumos114
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.

Southern Belle_Allyzah Cabugao
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.