Interview: Renn

Today we’re joined by Renn. Renn is an extraordinary visual artist who also dabbles in embroidery and sings in their state’s LGBTQ+ chorus. They have mainly worked in traditional mediums, though they have recently started branching out into digital art. Their work is fascinating in its use of color and light. It’s clear Renn is an incredibly talented and passionate artist who enjoys what they do, as you’ll soon read. 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’m something of an ace-of-all trades (pardon the pun). Most of my work has been traditional pen and ink drawings- I’ve always been the most comfortable with felt pens as my medium since you can re-do the sketch as many times as it takes to get each line juuuuuuust right before finalizing it in ink. Every now and then I’ll do a watercolor- the colors can be quite vibrant and watercolors can blend together in a way markers and ink can’t. Watercolor is something of an exercise in discipline for me; I’m not the most patient of persons even without taking my ADHD into account- so waiting for the paint to dry before adding another piece of color can be trying sometimes. I’ve ruined plenty of paintings only because I just couldn’t wait! I recently started painting digitally with my beloved Huion tablet- a much better way for me to explore painting as a medium because there are no more wait times for colors to dry! And layers! Oh do I love my layers. Working digitally, I enjoy using a limited but vibrant pallet to challenge myself to really bring out the highlights and shadows of what I’m drawing, making the artwork overall more striking.

Sometimes when I have the time + materials + energy, I craft my own cosplays (and bowties!) In my spare time I also enjoy doing embroidery and singing with the Rainbow Chorale, my state’s local LGBTQ+ chorus!

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What inspires you?

A lot of my main drive to create comes from seeing the work of other artists. You know how your brain will see someone else’s work and go “Gee I wish I could draw like that!” I take that feeling and turn it into “Well why don’t I go and draw something I want to create that will look just as good that I and other people will enjoy!”

I also enjoy doing art as an out and visible queer asexual person, because it gives other people like me the chance to see themselves reflected in my art and see themselves being represented, even if they themselves cannot be out and visible like me.

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Butterflies

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

I’ve been drawing since I was really little, like 4 or so. Creating art through drawing was something I would do to relax after school…  or something I did to avoid taking notes or doing homework… ah ha. For young, awkward, socially anxious me, art was the best way for me to express myself and communicate. So, in a way, I’ve always been interested in creative fields because that ability to create from my own ideas has always been with me. With respect to “wanting to be an artist” (I’m interpreting this as become a professional) drawing as a job isn’t something I want to do. I’m happy to take the occasional commission, or make something as a gift, but drawing as my main profession isn’t for me. Art is an escape for me, for when life gets to be too overwhelming. If that escape was invaded by the stress and pressure to constantly create and keep churning out artwork, then creating would no longer be that escape for 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?

I always sign my work (well, when I remember) with my screen-name (Renaissance Aeroplane) initials “RA” and a little airplane flying out from the “A”. Typically I’ll put it in the corner of digital paintings, and tuck it in somewhere in sight when I do pen and paper drawings.

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I’ve had that screen-name for a while, except ‘renaissance’ was spelled with two Ns since spelling wasn’t a strong suit of mine. Thus that turned into the nickname “Renn” which I’ve gotten rather attached to and started using as an offline nickname as well.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take a deep breath, and relax. Sit back, stretch your arms, and release that tension you’ve been holding in. It’s okay- if you aren’t as popular as that one artist, if that one line just refuses to come out right, if you fudged up the inking, painting didn’t come out the way you wanted it to- It’s going to be all right! There’s always so much pressure as an artist, to keep making more art and be perfect and get likes/reblogs/retweets/site traffic. That pressure is overwhelming and the last thing that will help you improve is pushing yourself so hard that creating art becomes stressful and overwhelming. So take another deep breath, relax, and continue to do what makes you happy.

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Palette Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Definitely full-on asexual; the frying-pan of sexual attraction feelings won’t be hitting me in the face anytime soon. It’s not a sensation I’ve ever felt, likely will never feel, and I am cool with that being so. I’m probably?? somewhere on the gray-bi-romantic scale of things; every now and then I’ll become romantically inclined towards someone, but it doesn’t happen all that often. *shrug*

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

Fortunately I haven’t had much experience with prejudice aside from the occasional bigot being rude online. What I have encountered more of is well-meaning but ignorant folks coming into my inbox and expecting me to educate them. Which can sometimes be annoying, and other times be emotionally draining and exhausting. So, what I’ll do is send them a few links with good articles about asexuality (or trans/nonbinary issues because I get questions about that too. Yaaaaaay.) that I’ve read through beforehand to ensure all the info is correct. Then I’ll let them know I’m glad they want to learn more, but I don’t have the time/energy to educate them one on one on the basics, that the links I sent contain more info about the subject, and once they’ve read through what I’ve sent and understand it, I’ll be happy to talk with them later.

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

That eventually I’ll “grow out of it” or “there’s always the possibility you meet the right person!” *barf* I get that for some people, sexuality can change or you can discover something you didn’t know about yourself, but that is not me. I already did all my soul-searching and exploring and I am quite happy labeling myself as ace, thanks very much. That and there’s something so gross about the insistence that I will become sexually attracted to someone. Euggggh.

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

It’s helpful to ask for advice or experiences from other ace folks and to ask other LGBTQ+ folks about their experiences to help you figure out what you’re feeling- BUT what determines your sexuality, above all, is what YOU think and how YOU feel. So, if you think “Well I’ve never/rarely/only sometimes feel sexually/physically attracted to people” then congrats! You’re ace! And that is for you to decide whether or not you want to label yourself that way.

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

Y’all can find me on Tumblr at renn-aeroplane-art.tumblr.com where I post all of my recent works or if you want to trawl my old Deviantart for some of my older stuff I go by Senkokura there. If you like goofy cat pictures interspersed with the occasional drawing or selfie, then check out my Instagram at renaissance_aeroplane!

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The Witch

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

Interview: Hampermarketplace

Today we’re joined by Hampermarketplace, who also goes by Sophie. Sophie is a phenomenal visual artist and fanartist. For visual art, they mostly do digital illustration, both original work and fanart, They also do some photography as a hobby. Aside from that, Sophie also cosplays and writes fanfiction. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Homestuck Collage

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Sure thing! I’m mostly a digital artist, though I don’t know if “drawing” or “painting” describes best what I do, but in any case, I have a lot of fun doing it. I draw a lot of Homestuck, (I’m unfortunately rather obsessed with it—and it’s easy to share online), but I also do original work, when the inspiration strikes. Since, when it comes to hobbies, I’m very much a jack of all trades, I’ve done writing (I once wrote a 40k fanfic, several one-shots, and began some original stories I’m probably never going to finish, I’ve got a word doc somewhere full of cringy poetry), cosplay (once again Homestuck—so basically, I’m just really good at putting on grey facepaint), and photography (I take my iPhone and try to take pretty pictures I then post on Instagram so it’s not just all filled with selfies).

Basically, I just like to create stuff, no matter the medium.

What inspires you?

You mean, apart from Homestuck? I’d say my life. Ok, I know that’s vague, but I haven’t quite got a more specific muse. There is a lot to show and tell about the subtleties of everyday life, the things I see, hear, or feel. I’m ADHD, so perhaps trying to put my constant zoning out to good use is my main inspiration after all. I think sunsets are good, too. They’ve got lots of pretty colors, there’s nothing like a rainy autumn sunset to get a good photoshoot full of pinks. The city inspires me, too. The sort of aesthetics born of the layered lives of so many people, written in the concrete and the weed peeking through it, the graffiti’s, the decaying factories and the shiny skyscrapers. In painting, I draw people a lot, too. I think it’s because the figure is so evocative. I like the humanity, the feelings, the fleeting joys and pains of life, and so I try to capture them whenever I’m bored enough. It’s cheesy, but it’s true.

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

Oh boy. Well, I’ve always hung around people who drew, and the envy that I felt at their cool talents pushed me to try my hand at it. Around maybe 11 or 12, I got into manga and anime, and the thing with those, is that they make the human figure very appealing, and yet very simple-looking to draw, for someone who is just starting out. I’ve been a casual artist ever since my early teens, and recently, when I graduated high school and all my friends entered art programs, I started to realize just how much I didn’t know about art, and that’s really what helped me get much better really fast. Just a year ago, I didn’t draw half as well as I do now, because now I draw almost every day, pay attention to the world and put a lot more effort in studying the theory of art than I ever did in any of my school classes, ever.

I’m still in college, and I’m not planning on making a career out of my art, but I’ve still got some ambitions to reach a point where I can paint and draw at a professional level, for myself.

Maybe one day I’ll write an actual book or make money from my art—I’ve been offered to be an assistant photographer once, when I showed my Instagram feed to the woman whom we had hired to take our family portraits, but it didn’t work out. In the end, I take opportunities as they go. Art is just one of the things for which I have potential and interest, it’s a refuge, and I don’t want to ruin that by forcing it into a business perspective.

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?

Well, I’m known on most platforms (Instagram, deviantart, tumblr—although only for Homestuck in the last one) as hampermarketplace, and I sign my digital paintings (some of them—I often forget) as HMP. By now, it’s how I sign pretty much all of my artwork. Often, I won’t put it in the lower corner, but try to include it within the drawing, if there is writing somewhere, graffiti or posters in the background. It’s my thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You’re going to feel bad sometimes, like you can’t quite illustrate what you want, or like everyone is better than you. It’s important to learn to use that dissatisfaction as motivation, not as a deterrent. The process of improving is an adventure, to be taken one step at a time, so awaken your inner Moana or whatever, and sing about wanting to know how far you’ll go. When you’re stalling, and nothing works, push through by going back to your basics, and putting less pressure on yourself. Take a chill pill. Go watch some Bob Ross. It’s ok to just doodle for 15 minutes sometimes, you’ve got to make art time a time to meditate, to enjoy yourself. If you do it right, it won’t feel like a chore (too much—I can’t make any promises if you decide to make a living out of it). One day you’ll look back and be amazed by how far you’ve come.

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Montage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual, low libido but not sex repulsed per se, and somewhere in the grey areas of romance, probably demi, although I still think of myself as a lesbian because I’ve always had a strong aesthetic attraction to women, and if I were to fall in love, I feel like it would be with a woman, or someone woman-aligned. I identify *mostly* as a woman, although I won’t deny to some gender fluidity as well.

Usually, the womanlier I feel, the gayer I get, then on some days I’m just what is gender and what is love, I want to blog about cats. My main on Tumblr is like 75% cats, 20% beautiful women and 5% ace positivity. I think that sums it up pretty well.

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

The most kind of ace prejudice or ignorance I’ve personally encountered is from myself. I’m usually quite down-low about it, I’ve come out a couple of times, but not to everyone, and I’m pretty sure most people going through my art aren’t even aware of my sexuality—I come off quite gay in real life. Since I don’t do commercial work, I can easily surround myself with people who are OK with my orientation, and anyway, I live in some of the most progressive places, where no one would openly challenge you on stuff like that, even if they disagreed with it. I’m lucky in that regard. I’m always afraid that people will still hold subconscious prejudice towards me, though, I don’t think I’m paranoid, but I need to get over it if I want to be myself, and work towards deconstructing those prejudices. When I’ve actually come out, I’ve been met mostly with love and acceptance—just once a bit of confusion. Also, once I came out to a sex-loving vegan by saying “I don’t like sex, but I do like ice cream” and she just told me “You go girl! Live your best life!” and anyway, she gets it.

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

I think this one is not an explicit, but an implicit misconception that even well-meaning people will hold, and that is this idea that aces don’t like to talk about sex, or be exposed to sexuality, and that the goal of asexual activism is to make a world where it’s possible to ignore the fact that sex and romance exists. I mean, some aces may be uncomfortable with discussions about sex, or don’t want to be exposed to explicit sexual content, but truly, anyone may have these holdups regardless of sexuality. The basics principles of consent, human decency and content warnings should be plenty to cover that. In my experience, most aces I’ve met are more than eager to talk about sex and the different types of attractions, so long as they are allowed to openly share their experiences without feeling like outcasts or weirdos. Unless they tell you otherwise, it should be perfectly fine to share your latest thirst with your friend who came out to you as ace. You don’t have to stop being yourself, and most asexuals don’t want to be treated like little kids with bleeding hearts that can’t handle the sexiness, neither do they want you to stop being yourself: they just want to be allowed to be themselves as well.

This is pretty abstract, I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but I feel like this needs to be said more. Asexuality doesn’t exist within queerness as a form of “Don’t force sex on me”, because, honestly, sex shouldn’t be forced on anyone, but rather as a force of “It’s OK to live in accordance to how you feel, regardless of social norms or whether or not it aligns with the majority around you,” because that represents much better the aroace community as I’ve known it: diverse, open, with a wide range of worldviews and experiences, just wanting to live their truth.

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

It’s not easy to find out who you are. Being asexual is challenging, because it’s probably even only one part of the identities you’re going to have to cope with—asexuality doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with the prejudice of being gay, bi or trans—but it’s also challenging in and of itself. You’re going to have to deal with conflicting cultural ideals about chastity, lust, marriage and family, with a world that you’ll never quite understand despite your best efforts to do so, and which probably won’t even try to understand you. You’ll fidget in your psychology or sexuality class, not quite capable of explaining how you know for a fact the textbook is wrong without sounding like you’ve spent way too much time on Tumblr. You’ll smile, glad, at queer representation in the media, not quite daring to ask for some yourself—afraid it’ll take away some gay or trans kid’s chance to see themselves on screen. You’ll feel like you don’t exist, like there are no historical figures or public personalities who can bear your flag in your name, you’ll doubt yourself.

Don’t. There is nothing to doubt about it, there is nothing to be ashamed about. You’re on the frontline of progress, of our growing understanding of love and sexuality, as a society. Asexual people have always been there—the world just didn’t have a box to place them in until recently. Before that, we erred like bohemians among dandies and spinsters, bisexuals, pilgrims and nuns. But today, there are words for it, for asexuality, for aromanticism, for all the maybes and in-betweens. We are many, more than you would think, and we are solidary—to one another, and to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people, and to all other minorities, and it is our strength. Through sharing our experiences, through creating new words to define how we feel, we help people from all walks of life define themselves. So maybe, really, we’re something like great.

You can be proud.

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

My main blog on Tumblr is chaoticintellectual, though, like mentioned previously, it’s mostly  filled with cats and pretty women.

I have a Homestuck blog where I post art frequently, called Hampermarketplace, for all the filthy Homestucks out there

I write on AO3 under the name miki_and_company

Hampermarketplace is also my DeviantArt, though I don’t post much on there, but I do show my original art there more,

And finally, my Instagram, still hampermarketplace, where I post a lot of my photography.

My inboxes are open to talk, I’m quite friendly and impishly verbose, however I’ll be gone and inactive for most of the summer, sadly, but I’ll be back without question next fall.

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

Interview: Luke

Today we’re joined by Luke. Luke is a phenomenal fanartist who I met at Indy PopCon. A few days later, he sent me an email and I was impressed with wonderfully passionate artist. He’s a cosplayer but he also enjoys writing quite a bit, mostly fanfiction. Luke is an incredibly dedicated, passionate, and excited artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I don’t think of myself much as a writer, but I do write fanfiction (mostly Star Wars) and a lot of backstories for original characters of mine. So, I don’t really consider it “original” writing of my own, but it’s still a fun pastime for me to have. My two main works that I have are (not so surprisingly) Star Wars fanfics on both AO3 and Wattpad because seriously, have you seen the Wattpad app? It’s so nicely organized and easy to use. I also am a cosplayer, but I don’t consider myself to be that good of one. I used to cosplay Hetalia mainly, but I slowly drifted away from anime and found more fun in cosplaying Star Wars and emo stuff. (cough, cough MCR cough, cough)

What inspires you?

One of the main things that inspires me to write and cosplay are my friends. I have so many friends who are amazing at writing and cosplaying, I always look up to them and think “dang I wanna be like that someday”. Other things that inspire me are the cool people I find through the internet and social media, like Tumblr and Instagram. I’ve found some awesome writers and cosplayers online and, although I’ll never have the confidence to actually talk to them, I always look at them and get all teary eyed like “I love you, let me be like you,” you know?

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

When I was younger, I loved to read. Like, I had an entire shelf of books in my room and when I was bored, I would just pick out a book that I’ve read 30 something times before and read it again. I wasn’t into any specific genre, but I always steered away from romance and sci-fi. Which is ironic because that’s basically all I write about now. But after entering high school, I found myself hating reading. I’m not entirely sure why, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I was forced to read books I hated/didn’t want to read. But now, as of finally graduating, I’m trying to get back into reading. And not just fanfiction, I mean actual books. When I was younger, I wanted to be an author. As I’m going through old stuff that I wrote when I was younger (and cringing, I might add) I would think back to how much I loved to read and write. And now that I’m getting back into it, it’s making me much happier. It’s like a coping mechanism for me. And as for the cosplaying, I honestly have no idea when or how that started. It just kind of happened.  I have the memory capacity of a two minute old goose, that’s probably why I don’t remember.

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 think I have a specific feature in my writing, other than the fact that’s it mostly consists of dialogue and really strange references to inside jokes I have with my friends. (It’s a whole fiesta) But I do sometimes write fanfics based on really emo songs that I listen to. As for cosplaying, I usually just carry around something funny with me at conventions so people will get a laugh out of it. Like with my General Hux cosplay, I have a stuffed orange tabby cat that I like to hold for pictures. Her name is Millicent. I love her.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I may not have great advice for cosplaying because I’m still an amateur myself, but for my fellow fanfiction writers, I’d say just keep writing, Cliché, yes I know, but it’s true. Out of all the ways to improve your writing, practice is the one of best answers. Look at other people’s writing styles and see what you like about them, and try to incorporate some of their style into your writing. But don’t copy them completely, trust me I’ve done stuff like that before and it’s a bad idea lemme tell you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and biromantic. I don’t like the sexytimes, but I will, in fact, hold a person’s hand if I like them. I like guys more than girls, but that’s probably because I’ve only had a crush on two people in my entire life, one a boy and the other a girl, and I got to kiss the dude and oh goodness, I could go on for hours about this guy.

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

I haven’t really had to deal with any sort of hate from people about my asexuality. At least, not yet. But it’d be nice to keep it that way, ya know?

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

The only misconception I’ve really gotten was that asexual people don’t like sex. Which is true for me, yes, but I do know some asexuals who enjoy sex. I’ve had to explain to my sister a few times that me being ace means that I don’t look at somebody and say “damn, I wanna bang that”, and that I, instead, think “damn, I don’t feel sexually attracted to that”

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

Man, I’d just say keep searching around on the internet (trusted places of course) and ask any friends who are LGBT+ and might know a thing or two about asexuality. Or a person who is actually asexual, if they’re around at all. It’s hard to go through those kinds of things alone, so try to find someone who understands what you’re going through and is willing to help.

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

I have like two whole places that I post my work, which are, like I said before, AO3 and Wattpad. My AO3 is https://archiveofourown.org/users/sirbuttsalot and my Wattpad is https://www.wattpad.com/user/sir-butts-a-lot I also use Deviantart sometimes, which is https://sir-butts-a-lot.deviantart.com/.

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

Interview: Marie-Pier

Today we’re joined by Marie-Pier. Marie-Pier is a phenomenal seamstress who uses her incredible skills for fashion design and cosplay. A dedicated cosplayer, Marie-Pier has cosplayed as various characters from different fandoms. Aside from her costumes, she also makes the accessories that go with her cosplays. Marie-Pier has also designed regular everyday outfits as well. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Elsa
Elsa

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hello! I am Marie-Pier and I am an artist in the broad sense of the term. From drawing, to writing and even programming (it’s an art, believe me!), I enjoy many aspects of art, but my favorite outlet at the moment is sewing and cosplaying. For me, the main appeal of this activity is the fact that it’s so versatile and it encompasses most of my other passions. I draw my own concepts, I make my own patterns and I often have to handmake accessories, which allows me to build up so many skills. I haven’t made a ton of outfits and costumes thus far, but that’s because a lot of care is put into everything I make, which ends up being quite time consuming. Among the characters I’ve cosplayed, one can count Queen Elsa, The Evil Queen (Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time, Emma Swan (“Dark Swan”, also from Once Upon a Time) and a few other simpler cosplays like Wednesday Addams.

When I make “regular” outfits, I often go for little black dresses, although my most recent creation is an autumn/spring wool coat.

What inspires you?

I’m mostly inspired by the gothic aesthetic, as well as fabrics. I love things that look graceful and elegant, but I also have a soft spot for more structured/tougher looking outfits.

As far as cosplay characters go, I am mostly drawn to evil or dark characters, because more often than not, they’re the ones with the best outfits! It’s also always fun to portray villains or anti-heroes because they’re usually really confident and completely unashamed to be themselves.

One of my idols in the designing world is Eduardo Castro, the costume designer for Once Upon a Time, hence why most of my cosplays are from that TV show. Let’s just say that I am easily won over by impressive gowns and really captivated by anything that sparkles.

When I make actual clothes, I usually go for things that I am unable to find in stores. I don’t really care about what’s trendy; I simply make what I want to own and what I know would look nice on me.

Emma-Regina
Emma-Regina

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

I’ve always loved arts and crafts, as well as dressing up. Both my grandmothers used to make clothes and costumes for me. I would draw what I wanted to have and give them the drawings so that they could make it.

In high school, I decided it was about time I learned to sew on my own. As a longtime fan of Halloween, I started making my own costumes and I attempted to outdo myself every year. By the time I finished High School, I learned about conventions and cosplaying and began to consider it.

A year later, in 2014, I joined a fashion design club and took that opportunity to make my first wearable garments and my first real cosplay (Queen Elsa from Frozen).
What I grew to love the most about cosplaying is the amount of skills I got to learn from it. Each costume of mine came with different challenges that allowed me to learn things I wouldn’t have otherwise. (E.g. woodworking, making 18th undergarments, sourcing screen-accurate materials…)

However, despite my love of sewing and costume making, I would not want to make a career out of it, because it is my own way of clearing my mind and relaxing. I never really try to force myself to work on a project; I just let out my creative energy whenever I feel like 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?

There is a little something special I try to include in all my cosplays and it’s a bit of an inside joke. It began when I made sequins out of plastic soda bottles to cover the entire surface of my Queen Elsa bodice. Ever since I discovered how versatile a material plastic bottles could be, I’ve incorporated at least one element made from them in all my costumes. Thus far I’ve used them to make sequins, a hair comb, detailing on a dagger’s handle, and a necklace.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There are three things I would tell young aspiring artists. Firstly, practice makes perfect. The more you practice your skills, the better you’ll get. Don’t be scared to tackle huge challenging projects, they are the ones that provide the most learning experience. Also, don’t be scared to ask for help when you need it.

Secondly, don’t feel bad if you start preferring another art form over what you currently are into. Do what makes you the happiest and build as many new skills as you like.

Lastly, follow your own quality standards no matter what others say. If someone tries to tell you that you can’t possibly do something of a certain quality, don’t listen to them. Trust in your abilities and in your will to learn and perfect your craft.

Fashion-Design
Fashion-Design

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual greyromantic/aroflux.

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

Since my favorite character to cosplay (the Evil Queen) is known for being quite sexy and alluring, some people think that I dress like her to attract the male gaze and seek attention. Some even said that if I really was asexual, I wouldn’t choose to dress like that. I had thought about that sort of thing before making my costume and it almost stopped me from making it because I was afraid of conveying the wrong message, but ultimately, I decided to not care. I cosplay the Evil Queen/Regina because I love her as a character and because her outfits are beautiful and intricate works of art. I chose to not let people spoil that for me.

Orientation has nothing to do with the way we dress and asexuals have the right to be confident, comfortable in their own bodies and wear whatever they like.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is that asexuals simply haven’t met “the one” and that they’ll change their minds one day. There are a lot of people who think we need to be “fixed or cured” and that does get very tiresome in the long run. Also, some people think that we can’t be in a relationship if we’re asexual, which is not exactly true.

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

This is not really an advice, per say, but I think that those people need to hear that they are not broken, no matter what society tells them. Today’s world is so overly sexual, but we must not let that discourage us. Even if we’re a minority, we’re out there, we’re valid and we shouldn’t let other people tell us otherwise. If you think that you might be asexual, just follow your gut feeling and let that guide you. Set your own boundaries and limits and respect yourself; do what makes you happy.

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

I am on multiple social media under the name Silyah246.

For sewing and cosplay progress (and the occasional daily life post), find me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/silyah246/
For more professional high quality photos, you can head over to my DeviantArt page: https://silyah246.deviantart.com/
For more fandom orientated things and the occasional makeup tests, my Tumblr is the place to go: http://www.silyah246.tumblr.com/

I am also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/silyah246) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/Silyah246), but I use those less frequently than the others.

Regina-V1
Regina-V1

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

Interview: S.R. Hunt

Today we’re joined by S.R. Hunt. S.R. is a phenomenal fanartist who creates art for a variety of fandoms. She specializes in hand-drawn sketches and animatics, which I highly recommend visiting her blog to check out because they’re really cool (some examples: Guns and Ships, Farmer Refuted, Coco animatic, Coco animatic 2, It’s Quiet Uptown). Her work is brimming with color and an extraordinary amount of detail. It’s clear she’s a passionate and 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.

I’m a fan artist, mostly. I create hand-drawn sketches, comics, animatics, and occasionally I dabble in photography and cosplay. I strive to improve my craft every time I get inspired by a different piece of medium, often times stepping outside my comfort zone just to get better (I mean, how can you get better if you don’t step outside your safe, artist bubble?).

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What inspires you?

Tons of things! Most recently, I’ve created fan art for Pixar’s Coco, Hamilton, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, and the occasional Pokemon drawing. But if I had to pinpoint a specific inspiration, I’d have to say the animated works of Disney and Pixar. I grew up with those movies, I was born a hop, skip, and a jump away from Disneyland, and Finding Nemo was the first movie I saw in theaters. When I was 15, I sent a letter to Pixar, telling them that I wanted to work there when I grew up, and they actually replied back! They sent me a letter telling me to become an intern when I reached college, and they included an autographed photo of Finding Nemo signed by the film’s director, Andrew Stanton, and the film’s producer, John Lasseter! I carried that letter with me every day for the rest of my high school career as a reminder of what I want to do with my life; create something that moves people. So, I draw, I create storyboards and comics, and I try to improve so that one day I can walk into that building and create something that’ll inspire and move millions of people.

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

I started drawing in elementary school. Just simple comics drawn on notebook paper starring Pokemon and Neopets. I was never much of a writer (I’m still not), but it gave me something to do when no one wanted to talk to me. My doodling habit continued all throughout  junior high and high school, and even though I wasn’t as good as the other young artists in my class, I just kept chugging along. When I decided I wanted to join the animation field, I didn’t really have a specific job in mind. I wanted to animate, but I lack the nifty wacom tablets and photoshop tools that every other animator on YouTube has. I’m also not very detailed when it comes to my drawings (I’ve described my drawing style as “glorified stick figures”). That’s when it hit me; storyboarding, the blueprint for animation. So, with a pencil and sketchbook in hand, I began making animatics. I began by making animatics set to songs from Hamilton, then silly little gags with the cast of Coco. They aren’t as polished as other animatics, but they get the job done.

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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?

Oh…that’s a toughie…I’ve never really thought about it…I guess it’s that my drawings are very round. There aren’t many sharp edges. Even my signature is very round.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Draw what you want. Don’t let people tell you what to draw. If they request something you don’t feel comfortable with, it’s your right as an artist to say “no”. Don’t worry about the number of likes, comments, notes, reblogs or whatever. If people like what you do and it gets popular, great! Just don’t let that be the driving force for your art. When I create, the thought of “will this be popular?” or “gotta keep the fans happy!” never crosses my mind. I make it for me, and I make what I want to see. And finally, work with what you got. I wanted to create animatics, but instead of sighing and saying “I don’t have the technology to do such a thing…” I worked with what I had. And what I had was a pencil, a sketchbook, an iPhone with a free movie editor app, and an idea in my brain. Don’t let your financial situation hold you back.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m not sure what the technical terms are (my apologies), but I’m interested in having a partner with no sexual interaction. Kissing is fine, but no…ya know. I’ve never had a boyfriend or girlfriend in order to learn my boundaries, so that’s where I stand at the moment.

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

I haven’t, actually, because it never really comes up. I can only think of one moment where I brought up that I was asexual to a classmate in high school, and he was very supportive. He said that he never met someone like me, and that he was interested that such people exist. I’ll show my support for my LGBTQ friends and fellow artists who are open about their sexual orientation, but I don’t bring up my asexuality that often.

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

Probably that I’m not interested in a romantic relationship. Like, I’m not interested in dating or getting married. That’s not really the case. I would like to date, and I’d like to get married, but only with the right guy (or gal, ya never know). I’m just not comfortable with…ahem “getting it on”. There’s sort of a reason behind that, but I’ll spare you the details.

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

Don’t listen to the people who tell you being single sucks or that being a virgin is dumb. It’s your body, and your life, and it’s okay if you aren’t interested in a sexual relationship.

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

I have a Tumblr (judgechaos), a DeviantArt (JudgeChaos), an Instagram (s.r._hunt), and a YouTube channel (S.R. Hunt). Those are the main places I post my art and animatics, so feel free to say “hi!”

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

Interview: Eliza

Today we’re joined by Eliza. Eliza is a phenomenal visual artist who also writes and does some performance art. Most of what she does is writing and fanart, including cosplay. Eliza also does some dancing and acting too. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work in multiple genres of art. I do visual art, fan art, cosplay, writing, dancing, and acting. Specifically I do fanart and writing.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is seeing other artists my age doing amazing things, which gives me the hope to be like them.

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

I actually got interested in art by accident, but it still happened. I’ve been an artist since I was 7 years old.

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?

Sometimes I put DS in my art

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Criticism is necessary, but don’t take it if it doesn’t help you. No matter what people say, you will get better in art.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an asexual aromantic

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

I actually haven’t yet. Except for the occasional ‘asexuality isn’t real’ comment. I usually just ignore the comment or delete it.

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

The most common misconception I see is that asexuality is just an excuse for not getting laid.

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

Don’t let other people tell you what you can and cannot be.

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

Other than Tumblr, where my art is at either at Unis-Trash-Stash or at xthe-space-rebels, I am also on IFunny as Uniway.

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

Interview: Jojo

Today we’re joined by Jojo. Jojo is a phenomenal versatile writer and visual artist who describes herself as “a figure skating writer and artist who dabbles in cosplay props.” For writing and visual art, Jojo specializes in scifi and fantasy. She does both traditional and digital art and has a degree in animation. When she’s not writing, drawing, or animating, Jojo enjoys making various props for cosplays and even has a blog dedicated to cosplaying on a budget. She’s clearly a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Arc Reactor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast, and most of my art is themed around that. I do a lot of digital art and pencil drawing in an actual physical sketchbook, but have a degree in animation and like to play in Flash when I have time (RIP Flash). Most of the time though everything I draw stays in sketch form. Drawing helps me work out ideas and logistics, which translates into writing very elaborate Sci-Fi worlds. I have one that I’ve been writing for a literal decade that I’m finally only just starting to amass into something like a novel. So far it has a tone I didn’t expect but I’m actually liking it. Fingers crossed.

I’m also a hobby prop maker, I make small manageable props and things that won’t weigh too much for cosplay using items from the dollar store.  I’ve done a Squall cosplay, an arc reactor, the purgatory blade and Samulet from Supernatural, Mad Max: Fury Road’s Bloodbag equipment, fake skulls, phasers, and Wonder Woman Armor from the new movie!

What inspires you?

I love ice skating, space, human goodness, animals, the sky, large swaths of nature, dungeons & dragons, stars, anime, food, Star Trek, multiverse theories and FOOD.

I adore food, it’s one of those things everyone can agree is amazing, and it’s something that comes in so many forms and says so much about each culture. If I didn’t enjoy eating it more than making it I might be a chef instead of a writer today!

Star Trek and anime started me on a very interesting path when I was very young. Star Trek is about a positive future, and anime is all about a protagonist finding out what makes them tick and then using it to do a thing. In my case I spent more time trying to figure out the ‘whys’ of my life than the ‘hows’ but luckily the two seem to go hand-in-hand so I believe even more in the power of being the protagonist of my own story.

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Fury Road Fanzine

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

Well, Starship Captain isn’t a viable career path (yet) so I settled for doing what I love. I always knew I’d be an artist, my father is an artist, both grandmas on both sides of the family are artists, and my grandfather is a former NASA engineer. I had a lot of people saying ‘if this is what you want, do it’ my whole childhood, it never occurred to me to try and pursue anything else. If space became a viable option I’d go there, but honestly I’d never stop creating art.

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?

Goodness, I actually don’t think so. The only thing I can say for sure is I try to make really stylistic varied body types, but I don’t think that’s a symbol, just a preference. Every main character I’ve ever had (once I got out of my ‘every character is from CLAMP’ phase- and shut up, you know we all had that!) has had a different body type that affects how they do things. I do it for fun and also because it adds different lifestyle choices they have to make.

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Inktober Ikali

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice is always Go for whatever that thing you want is. Seriously, go for it. The world out there isn’t made for doing the bare minimum to get by and then dying. If you can do something to get yourself ready to do That Thing you want, then do it. Work that retail job, but put all that money (as much as you can) away so you can eventually tell the customer they’re wrong and try what you want to do. If you have something you love to do, there’s probably a way to live off it if you want. And if you don’t want your art to be your job be sure of this: Don’t live to work. Work to live. Your art, your passions are worth pursuing even if you’re the only one passionate about it now. Your art doesn’t have to ‘contribute.’ Support your friends, but if they don’t support you back get new friends. Be loyal to yourself.

But seriously; be who you are, even if society isn’t a fan. Because screw them, society elected Trump, what the hell do they know? You’re you and you’re stuck being you forever, so try to get along with yourself. Artists are often eccentric, and I know that’s hard, but listen up, bb artists, you’ll be alright. Everyone’s actually really weird, some just hide it better than others. There are weirdos just like you who want to be friends, but are too nervous to fly their own personal flag. Put yours up, they’ll come. It’ll be hard, but you’ll find your people because they’re out there, they’re just hiding.

To those of you not hiding: Kick ass, take names and don’t let anyone tell you that eccentric = bad. Do no harm, but take no shit. XOXO

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Mugiwara Puppies

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex neutral aromantic asexual and it annoys me! “Nothing, nope not even that” is a hard orientation to be and massively inconvenient to explain. Especially when “maybe your first experience with sex was bad?’ doesn’t apply to me. Sex was … fine. I would have rather gone for ice cream, but eh, okay, we had fun together and I loved the guy so okay. So there. Tell your parents THAT. I actually tried it! It’s fine! Not the best but whatever who cares.

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

Strap in folks, you ain’t gonna BELIEVE this one! I’ve been holding onto this story for a special occasion and I guess this is it:

I used to work at a big corporate company, and our department took us out for a Christmas Dinner every year. Nice! This particular year I get sat between two men I know, across from a woman I don’t and she’s MILITANTLY lesbian. I’m talking about the type who won’t go five minutes without being like “So because I’m a lesbian” and we’re all sitting there like “we get that you’re a lesbian, Carol, go on…”

So Carol (she’s Carol now) is drinking because it’s a Christmas Dinner/Party and we’re all happy and buzzed and chilling and ALL OF A SUDDEN out of nowhere she says “I’m a lesbian so you won’t get it-‘ a pause then she turns to me and says ‘you’re not a lesbian right?” FINALLY. Thanks for finally asking, Carol! But no, I’m not a lesbian and I say so. “I’m Ace,’ I say, assuming her militant sense means she’s active in the LGBTQA+ space and she’ll know what I’m talking about. I was young and foolish.

She has no clue what I’m talking about. I now have to explain to her and my two straight male friend/coworkers what being asexual means. I do so, because why the hell not, I’m already in deep. Straight male friends go ‘oh okay, so you’re not attracted to anyone’ and go on with their meal. GOOD JOB STRAIGHT MALE FRIENDS YOU’RE ACTUALLY THE HEROES FOR ONCE!

Carol says “Oh. So… what happened to you? To make you like that?”

A pause. A horrified pause. A horrified pause where my two straight male friends and everyone within hearing radius at the table realizes Carol just asked if I was assaulted or molested or abused to make me asexual. I see straight male friends glance at me in horror.

But I am two drinks in, and I am transcendent. Instead of getting embarrassed and answering honestly straight out, I ask, as loudly as I want because FUCK YOU CAROL “Did you just ask me at the company Christmas dinner if I was sexually assaulted?” A horrified silence falls. I stare at her as she realizes she has come to the WRONG HOUSE. She starts stammering and backpedaling but OH NO, not today, Carol. “Not that it’s your business,’ I say loudly, ‘but I was born this way.”

She correctly decides to excuse herself to powder her nose. Run Carol, run.

This is when straight male friends, and actually the entire department, show some goddamn solidarity, kids. The boss (who I don’t actually think heard the convo) has already paid the bill, and as one, while Carol is in the bathroom, the whole department decides dinner is over. Everyone is talking and acting like it’s normal, but the whole table- myself included- gets up and leaves while Carol is in the bathroom at this restaurant.

It was ignorant, and it could have been very embarrassing, but I was able to realize I wasn’t the one who should be embarrassed, and if you can remember that next time someone tries to shame your asexuality, you can ditch Carol at a restaurant on Christmas too. The End.

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Phaser

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

People seem to think three very incorrect things. They think something had to happen to make you asexual. Like it’s their damn business to know if it did. Two: that their opinion on you being ace matters (pro tip: hell no) and three: that being ace means you don’t care about being cute and flirty. You get to be as damn cute and flirty as you want, cuz it’s fun! They still ain’t gettin’ none of this, so they better step off.

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

I am struggling too. I get you. It’s hard to be ‘nothing’ when you’re conditioned to think everyone gets ‘something’. Some people don’t and that’s okay. Again, society is dumb, so find something that works for you, whether it’s a Poly tribe, a best friend, a cat, two best friends and a cat, or an online community of people who get you better than the physical ones. Whatever works for you is the right orientation for you. If you wake up tomorrow super attracted to someone, fair enough. You’re a changing person and regardless of how you wake up tomorrow, today you’re ace and that’s your choice to identify- or not! Ace is just a better word for ‘nah nothing really works for me’ and gives you a bunch of other people who get it. Aro’s also a hard one, because you have been told your whole life you want something, but then when you have it, it’s… fine. I had a great relationship for a while, but I felt like we were friends who slept in the same bed. I was later informed that’s not how most people feel (?) Doesn’t de-legitimize my relationship, just means what I’m looking for and what others are looking for might be different. Which is fair, and valid. Labels exist for you, not for the world. You do you, as the saying goes. That’s my advice. I won’t tell you it’s not hard, it is, but it’s also worth fighting for yourself and what you want, not what society or parents or friends want for you.

ALSO ADVICE: Find a doctor who’s cool with you not having sex. My doctor doesn’t care, doesn’t ask why I don’t have sex, doesn’t ask why I laugh if he asks if I’m in danger of becoming pregnant. He just nods and says ‘okay’ and moves on. Find one of those. You not having sex is not a problem and if your doctor says it is: time for a new doctor.

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

My main blog is http://starshipcaptainjojo.tumblr.com/
Art is posted to http://hipster-safari.tumblr.com/ (though also to my main blog most of the time)
And my cosplay/craft blog is http://dollarstorecosplay.tumblr.com/.

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Siano Debut

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