Interview: Maddie

Today we’re joined by Maddie. Maddie is a wonderful fanartist in different K-pop fandoms and anime. They co-run a K-pop fanblog with a friend of theirs. They draw a lot of portraits. Aside from drawing and writing, Maddie also cosplays for anime conventions. It’s clear they’re an incredibly enthusiastic artist, 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 mostly work as a fanartist in the K-pop fandom. I follow a lot of groups and I love to either draw portraits or write short fanfics that are compiled on a blog I run with a friend. I am planning on doing more portraits in the future and will continue to write! Along the fanart lines I also cosplay as a hobby and go to cons whenever I can. I also am going to make a blog dedicated to short comics about my daily life as a nonbinary aroace person, so look out for that!

What inspires you?

I’ve always wanted to write, I’m writing a novel currently but it’s a long process so fanfics are my main ones. My mom actually pushed me to follow my passion for drawing and writing. She has her own poems published so she just inspires me to work hard. Also the groups I listen to inspire me (obviously), but song lyrics and seeing how members act/interact help inspire my stories. Cosplay wise the look of the character is what inspires me to try and portray them, I want to try and capture their personality.

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Suga from BTS

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

I’ve been drawing and writing since I was little. I had an active imagination as a kid so I was constantly coming up with these amazing worlds to write about or drawing them if I could. I’ve always considered myself a “chill artist”, it’s not my main career goal, but it’s a hobby I adore and would love to continue doing- even if it just stays a hobby.

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

Not that I can think of actually, I don’t know if do anything really “unique” in my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep practicing! I know it’s hard and your first pieces might not be good, but you can improve immensely with some practice. I try and doodle something once a day, even if it’s just a doodle beside my lecture notes or something. Try small writing prompts too, just doing short one paragraph writings can improve your writing ability!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a cupioromantic asexual! I’m also nonbinary.

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

A bit, the K-pop fandom in general is very hypersexual and sexualizes members of groups a lot. So being ace making content for the fandom can be a bit tough. Some people think I’m prude for not writing smut or something, but I’ve learned to shrug it off and respond with a simple “I can’t write it.”

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

Probably that it’s just a choice like celibacy, or that I can’t want a relationship. I’ve heard both of these so many times it makes me want to scream. Or there’s always the joke of “are you a plant?” I think it’s hard for people to grasp that there are people who simply don’t see people in a sexual way, crazy right? It doesn’t help that I’m sex-averse and people, especially my mom, will say it’ll happen when I “meet the one.”

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

You are not broken. First and foremost, you are totally normal. I know it’s tough, trust me I felt broken until I found out asexuality was a thing and I wish I would’ve found out about it sooner. Don’t let others put you down for your sexuality, they just don’t understand it- you are valid.

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

I usually post art to my personal blog, which is at timelord-from-ohio, but I don’t post my art often. The fanfic blog I co-run is at 98aroha97bangtan94, I’m Mod Phoenix. Lastly, the blog I’m planning on putting the comics on is at lifeofacupioromanticace!

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Eunwoo from Astro

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

Interview: Caoimhe

Today we’re joined by Caoímhe. Caoímhe is a young fanartist who does a lot of drawing and some cosplay. She started out drawing anime but is currently developing her own style. Caoímhe demonstrates an incredible use of color and line that make her images really stand out. She’s very talented, 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 guess I’m a fan artist really. I do traditional art of shows I watch and fandoms I’m in. I started off drawing anime and I’ve started getting into my own style more recently. I’ve also done some small cosplaying bits for conventions, nothing major though.

What inspires you?

As a fan artist, what I’m interested in really gives me ideas. I’ve been very into musicals recently like Hamilton (I know I’m basic) so I decided to draw my friends as characters from it to help improve my drawing somewhat realistically. I also get random ideas from conversations with my friends so I’ll jot them down in the notes on my phone. I always have little ideas that I want to pursue, it’s more finding time to actually do them is the work.

When I do cosplay, I pick characters I like and/or admire. My favourite cosplay is Heather Chandler from Heathers as I love to act as a bitchy character.

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

I was never really into art as a kid. I was very much a bookworm, so whilst other kids played GAA (football and hurling) I would read books or work on coding. It wasn’t until I started secondary school and a girl I became friends with got me into anime. I started with Ouran High School Host Club and got into a few others. I don’t know why but I decided to draw some of the characters and I’ve been drawing for around two and a half years now.

It’s the same for cosplay, I became friends with people who would go to conventions and I started going to them too. There’s not a major amount of them as I’m from Ireland though, but I try to get to them when I can.

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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?

Not particularly. I do sign my work and date it, so I can look back and see where I’ve improved more than anything.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Whatever area of art you are in, practice. It’s the only way to improve. I say this as someone who is still a young artist trying to work on her art. But also try not to compare yourself to others too much. Yes, you’ll always feel like there are those who are better than you, but by constantly criticizing yourself, you’ll only make yourself feel worse.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and bi/panromantic (haven’t really figured it out yet). In regards to my asexuality, I’m open to intimacy just not sex, though I’m not outright repulsed by it, I just know it’s not for me.

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

I personally haven’t experienced anything like that in real life, though I have met people who don’t get asexuality which I kind of expect. Online, I have seen a lot of ace hate, especially on Tumblr and Instagram, where there have been ace hate pages and just so much abuse thrown at the community.

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

That all ace people hate intimacy. Obviously some do, but many of us are fine with and enjoy things like cuddling, kissing and such. There are even aces who do have sex, but I feel like it’s not really shown as much in the little representation the ace community has.

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

You don’t need to have it all figured out. I’m still trying to figure out my own identity, but once you are ok with who you are you’ll be fine.

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

I’m not particularly active on Tumblr, my Instagram is really where it’s at:
https://www.instagram.com/caoimhedraws/

I also post updates as I draw on my Snapchat CaoimheDraws

I don’t always post what I’m doing so if you want to shoot me a DM to see what I’m working on or to talk, feel free!

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

Interview: Mady

Today we’re joined by Mady. Mady is a phenomenally versatile young artist who hasn’t yet met a medium she didn’t like. She specializes in music, playing both the flute and the piccolo, though she does play other instruments as well. When she’s not making music, Mady enjoys drawing, photography, and baking. She clearly has an enormous amount of passion and enthusiasm, 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.

So I do participate in a few different artist outlets. Music is what I am most skilled in as I’ve been practicing and performing for about 10 years now. Flute and Piccolo are my main instruments, though I do occasionally mess around with others! My favorite pieces to perform are usually from a movie score or a stage musical. I love how easily the emotional flows from them since they are designed to illicit a specific emotional response from an audience while a composed piece on its own is more open to interpretation.

As for other things I do a lot whenever I have free time! I like to write, cosplay, bake, take photos, doodle, etc. Honestly most artistic outlets have become a hobby of mine even if I’m not that good at it!

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What inspires you?

Gosh I feel like there are so many things. Honestly, I tend to find most inspiration in the people around me. I’ve met so many people over the years that are so dedicated and passionate about their craft that I can’t help but also want to be the best I can. That sounds so cheesy to say, but it is how I feel!

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

Well for music I would almost be tempted to say it was in my blood. Kind of like a destiny thing! Everyone in my family is musically inclined. I mean literally everyone. To be honest at first I very strongly strayed away from anything musical. My dad is musician and plays in a band on his off days from work so for some reason when I was a younger that caused me to shy from it.

In fifth grade I joined Orff Orchestra to get out of sitting in the gym in the morning and that was kind of the end of that line of thinking. The middle school band teachers came and did a presentation on beginning band and the rest if kind of history!

Everything else was something I picked up along the way. There was no specific moment like with music. They were hobbies that I just came to enjoy.

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

I can’t think of anything that really that stands out to me. I think everything I do just kind of has a look or sound to it that relates back to me in a way? Which I do think is true of most artists. There isn’t something tangible for my art; it’s more of a feeling if that makes sense?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try not to compare yourself to those around you and never give up! This is something I personally have a problem with and always need to remind myself. It’s okay not to be at the same level as someone else, no matter where they are in life. You’re allowed to go at your own pace and that isn’t a bad thing!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Panromantic Asexual! (Though I’ve found I tend to lean more towards ladies than fellas)

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

Mhm personally I haven’t dealt with too much as I’m not very vocal about my sexuality. It’s kind of on a need to know basis so I’d be willing to bet most people I know, excluding my friends, have no idea I’m ace. I did have a friend once brush me off and patronize me, but after talking with them they came to understand a bit better. I, of course, have also had the general stupid comments about being a plant or partaking in mitosis.

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

Probably that it doesn’t exist in the real world and that it’s only a “Tumblr Thing” It’s frustrating to hear because for me personally without Tumblr and the internet as a whole making information about sexuality so accessible, I wouldn’t have realized I was ace. I spent a long time confused and unsure of what was wrong with me. I never really had physical crushes and was never able to relate when my friends would point out someone and gush about how ‘hot’ they were. Tumblr helped me start looking further into terms and information and has led me to where I am today. It’s not a perfect site and definitely has its faults, but I really do think it has the potential to be a wonderful place for spreading information.

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

It’s okay to be unsure and afraid. You don’t have to have all the answers. Even just recently I had to make some adjustments to how I see and refer to myself. Life is constantly a learning experience and that’s okay! Have fun being yourself!! No one else can do it better!

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

I post anything I create that I’m proud of on Tumblr at venasven. Any and all of my cosplays and photography can be found on Instagram at the same name! Venasven!

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

Interview: Chloé

Today we’re joined by Chloé, who also goes by Chloek3. Chloé is a phenomenal cosplayer who specializes in cosplaying video game characters. She is incredibly enthusiastic and absolutely loves her art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Photo taken by Emykitteh, Art & Cosplay (https://www.facebook.com/emykitteh.cosplay/?fref=ts)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a cosplayer. I cosplay mainly characters from video games. I’ve been cosplaying since 2014, making one cosplay a year. So far, I have cosplayed Link and Sheik from The Legend of Zelda/ Super Smash Bros, Levy from Fairy Tail, and Henry from Fire Emblem. My next cosplays are going to be Kaden from Fire Emblem and Dead Hand from The Legend of Zelda. I cosplay for fun and have no intention of making a living out of it.

What inspires you?

I get my inspiration from the games/shows I cosplay from! When I enjoy a character and its design, I get the urge to cosplay it. Then I make plans to do it. I also get a lot of motivation from the cosplay community and the fandoms.

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

I’ve always gotten very excited about Halloween, sometimes planning two or three costumes a year for the different Halloween events. At one point I saw a cosplay of Link on the internet and really wanted to dress as him for Halloween. While I was volunteering at a Help Center, I saw some green fabric and fingerless brown gloves and thought: ‘That’s it, I’m making this costume!” A few years later I heard about anime/comic conventions and asked a friend if she wanted to come to one with me and make matching cosplays. She said yes but I ended up making my cosplay and going to the convention alone. I still had a blast and I’ve been going every year since then.

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Photo taken by Emykitteh, Art & Cosplay (https://www.facebook.com/emykitteh.cosplay/?fref=ts)

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 include a lot of hot glue and love, but I doubt that counts as a special feature, haha!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Have fun with your art! I had no knowledge in arts and crafts when I started making my own costumes. I was absolutely not prepared to make a costume, but I did it anyway because I loved the character. I had fun and as long as you have fun, that is all that really matters. Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t cosplay for any reason. Creating is so gratifying, don’t let them take that from you.

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Photo taken by Yadonashi (https://www.facebook.com/yadonashi/?fref=ts)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual. I don’t really know about my romantic orientation, but I do not feel the need to label it.

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

I don’t really go around telling other cosplayers ”Hey, by the way, I am asexual. How do you feel about it?” Some of my cosplayer friends know and they are pretty cool with it. The only rude thing that has been said to me related to both asexuality and cosplaying was when I was making my cosplay of Henry from Fire Emblem. I had made a post on Tumblr saying that I had just realised that this character’s costume had all the Ace Pride colours and that it somehow made me happy. Someone reblogged it and commented ”When you look too deep into something’.’ That was kind of rude. Can you just let me enjoy the small things that make me happy?

How I handled it? I ignored it. Those people are not worth my time. If happy people make them unhappy, that is their problem. I’ve encountered more ignorance with people who weren’t artists than with people who were. But even then, I’d say people are usually chill about it. It’s just that a lot of people don’t know what asexuality is.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is that if you’re asexual, you will not have/want sex. Asexual does not mean sex repulsed or a nonexistent libido. It simply means that I am not sexually attracted to other people. An asexual individual can decide to have sex for a variety of reasons, and they might even *gasp* enjoy it. Now, some asexual individuals decide not to have sex and that is also OK!

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

You are perfectly fine, and you are not alone. What are your worries? Are you worried that you can’t live a satisfying life without sexual attraction? Because you absolutely can. Are you worried that you are going to end up alone? If you want to be in a romantic relationship, you can be! You can reach out to the asexual community for a potential partner, and a lot of allosexual people are open to having a relationship with an Ace person. Those who are not are just not worth your time. You absolutely don’t have to have sex if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to be in a romantic relationships, that is also totally OK! Your life will not be less meaningful, either way. You can achieve amazing things and impact people’s lives in the best of ways without sex or romance in your life.

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

I have a cosplay page on Facebook. That’s where I post pretty much all things related to cosplay. It’s at Chloek3 Cosplay: https://www.facebook.com/chloek3cosplay

I am at Chloek3 on WorldCosplay: https://worldcosplay.net/member/584050

I am also on Tumblr: www.chloek3.tumblr.com
But this is my personal blog where I post about anything and everything, including cosplays. If there is ever enough interest, I might make a blog only for cosplays.

I have made an Instagram not too long ago at chloek3official where I will post my Cosplays but also landscapes and dogs.

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

Interview: Katie

Today we’re joined by Katie, who is also known as KatieBug Cosplay. Katie is a phenomenal cosplayer. They have been cosplaying for a few years and take a special delight in bringing characters to life. Katie is awesome and so passionate about 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 am a cosplayer, and I have been cosplaying for almost 5 years.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by characters that I really relate to in anime, TV shows, movies, and games.

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

Halloween has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember because I love dressing up. I have known about cosplay since I was in middle school, but I didn’t start cosplaying and going to cons until I was just about to start high school. I’ve also been drawing and creating art since I was very young. Though as of recently, I’ve turned my creative energy more into writing and cosplay.

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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?

Many family members and friends call me KatieBug as a nickname, and it really stuck, so I decided to use it as my cosplay handle online. While I’m not too fond of bugs, ladybugs are one of the more manageable ones for me, so I don’t mind being associated with them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep going. Even though it may seem like what you’re making isn’t the best you can do, practice makes perfect. Keep at it and keep improving.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

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

I have not experienced any ignorance in the cosplay world, and I hope it stays that way.

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

I have had a few instances where individuals believe that my identity is fake or just a front for attention. This is not something I have chosen for myself, it is who I am.

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

Don’t mind what other people say. There are so many misconceptions about the asexuality spectrum out there, and you just have to prove them wrong. Exist and own it. Go out and be the best person you can be, regardless of your sexual orientation, or lack thereof.

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

You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as at katiebugcos and on Tumblr as katiebugcosplay. You can also contact me via email at katiebugcosplays@gmail.com.

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

Interview: Kerstin

Today we’re joined by Kerstin. Kerstin is a phenomenal fanartist and visual artist. She writes a lot of fanfiction and cosplays as well. When she’s not writing, Kerstin enjoys drawing. She has been drawing and writing for years and has a great deal of passion for both, 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 mostly a writer, especially a fanfiction writer nowadays. I started with original stories when I was about nine or ten years old and continued to write original works until I was maybe sixteen. I never lost interest in writing but somehow I barely ever finished anything because I didn’t have the drive to write without getting any feedback. That’s where fanfiction came in. It’s a great way to practise writing, explore different styles and genres and also get feedback from people who love the characters as much as I do.

Drawing has always been important to me, too. I’ve drawn for pretty much my entire life, anything from little doodles or abstract art to manga to attempts of realistic art. I mostly draw people, many original characters, but recently I’ve started using real people for references as well and tried myself in art studies.

Lastly, I also started cosplaying about four years ago. I don’t do it regularly but it’s a lot of fun, especially when you see other people’s reactions to your portrayal of their favourite character. I’ve made cosplays that were close to the originals as well as freeforms.

What inspires you?

Honestly, pretty much anything can inspire me. Photos, buildings I pass, sceneries I see while going for a walk, music, people or objects around me, characters I adore,… Occasionally I’m inspired works by other artists, especially when it comes to drawing – I just love Renaissance and Romantic art. In fanfiction it’s the canon characters mixed with headcanons, oftentimes also conversations with friends that give me ideas. I’m also a big fan of thrillers and medieval European literature and I try to combine these two types when I write.

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

Ever since I was a child I’ve been reading tons of books and soon started coming up with my own stories. It just fascinates me how words can create worlds and capture one’s imagination but everybody still has their own pictures in their mind while reading the exact same story or sees different things in the same painting. I love the emotions art can elicit. I’ve wanted to become an author for years now and just graduated in art history and German literature and I hope that it will help me pursue my dream.

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 really have any signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep creating, no matter what field of art you like. You will get better, even if it might not seem like it occasionally. Practice is crucial, but so is having fun. Create what you’re interested in, not what you think you should create. Accept constructive criticism and don’t beat yourself up if you think your art isn’t getting any better. It is. You just need some time. And remember, no one will ever be able to create the exact same things you do – your art is one of a kind and you should be proud of it.

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Jensen Jeffrey

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as akoisexual and akoiromantic. Now and then I find some people attractive but it usually doesn’t last very long and if this attraction is ever reciprocated it just fades away.

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

So far I haven’t since I only recently started including asexual characters in my writing and most people don’t even know I’m on the spectrum.

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

The misconception I get confronted with all the time is that people on the spectrum don’t ever have sex and can’t have functioning relationships because sex “is a crucial aspect to any romantic relationship”. People don’t seem to understand that sexual attraction and enjoying sex are two different things, that you could have sex even if you’re not physically attracted to that person and that there are people who make relationships work just fine without sex.

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

Personally, I was glad to find a term that describes me because I felt a little less alone, but it’s not the most important thing to find a label for yourself so if you’re unsure, that’s okay. You’re not strange, you’re not alone, and you’ll be fine. You might encounter individuals who won’t be able to understand your orientation but their opinion doesn’t matter. Find people who accept you the way you are. Try to stay true to yourself – I know it can be hard, but it’s okay to struggle and question your orientation, I still sometimes do that, too. Your orientation does not define what kind of person you are.

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

I occasionally post some of my artwork and cosplays on my Tumblr: http://crazy-walls.tumblr.com/

My fanfictions can be found on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/crazywalls

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

Interview: Hale

Today we’re joined by Hale. Hale is a phenomenal artist who does both visual art and fanart in the form of cosplay. She has degrees in graphic design and fine art. Hale is also a great cosplayer who has an admirable love for bringing characters to life. 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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DC Huntress

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Right out of high school I started as a graphic designer. I got my Associate of Science in Graphic Design, so a lot of my art from back then is focused on design principles. During the rest of my undergrad (Art History Bachelor’s with a minor in Fine Art) I took other fine art classes, but I still stuck with shapes and forms that were more simple or geometric – meant to advertise an idea or be a backdrop rather than a focus. Now that I’m going for my Master’s in Business Design and Arts Leadership, I make a lot of presentation graphics. A lot of the projects I work on take lengthy case studies or papers and turn them into design works that are understandable or fit a brand image.

Outside of school, I also cross stitch, take photos, and I cosplay. The cross stitches I make are usually based on old 8-bit graphics from video games. I tend to cosplay as video game characters, as well, though I enjoy anime cosplay, too. I’m currently interning at a photography business, so I’m learning to take portraits of family and weddings. This is informed by cosplay photography, but it’s also something that I just enjoy as a hobby. I took several photography classes at school, but they were more fine art focused rather than portrait focused. I like going down different avenues of thinking or going through different art worlds for my work, so it varies a lot.

What inspires you?

When it comes to the art I make as a student, I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. I don’t directly copy from them, of course, but I first get an idea of the brand that currently exists (or if I’m working on rebranding, the brand that I want to exist) and then search for images on Pinterest that fit that idea. For example, I might type “plants” into Pinterest to get an idea for a logo for a farming agency that hasn’t already been done. Or if I’m working on a case study write up about Etsy, I might type “orange” into Pinterest, since one of Etsy’s brand colors is orange. Making mood boards helps me get into the right mindset of the project I’m working on and sends me down different avenues I might not have thought of if I just had a sketchbook in front of me (sort of like the 2-D art version of the Youtube wormhole)

I find that RPG video games inspire me the most in both cross stitching and cosplay. For example: Pokemon, Dragon Age, and Ace Attorney are all games that I’ve used in my work. Usually when I cosplay from an anime, it’s because I’m doing it as a group or because it’s meaningful to a certain point in my life. I don’t usually just pick from an anime because I enjoy a certain character like I do with video games.

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

When I first got into all three of my degrees, I didn’t really know what I was getting in for. I just kind of went for it. I never really considered myself an “artist” because I am not as good at drawing or painting as some of my artist friends. I enjoy art and always wanted to do something related to art, but even now I feel some hesitation to call myself an artist. With all three of my degrees, I sort of took a baby step into the field first and then just jumped in without considering all of the consequences. For example, I started college as a PSEO student, meaning I took college classes as a high schooler for credit. I took Graphic Design as an elective, and then after graduating high school, decided that would be my career path. The same thing happened with Art History where I took an art history class as part of my Associate’s and decided to jump into it as my Bachelor’s. I took a year off in between my Bachelor’s and my Master’s where I tried to decide what I wanted to do. I still didn’t think I was an artist, but I had an art degree (kind of). I didn’t want to work on commission, and I had a vague idea of working in a museum, but didn’t really know how to get there. I went for my BDAL Master’s with the idea that it could get me headed in the direction of a nonprofit organization without needing to pick a certain area (Museum Development or Museum Studies seemed too specific)

I guess I was always destined to be involved in art in some capacity. I’ve always surrounded myself with other artists as friends and peers. I feel like artists get better critiques and feedback from their friends, especially if those friends are also artists. Friends got me interested in video games, in anime, in design; I wouldn’t have become an “artist” (in the loosest sense of the word) without my support. That being said, I don’t think the traditional categories of painter, writer, sketch artist, etc. necessarily make sense anymore in today’s digital world. Art doesn’t have to fit into one category to be art, so although my friends may fit into those categories better than me (and for a long time I didn’t consider myself an artist because of it) that doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t good art. It just means the ways in which my art gets critiqued needs to be different. I have always wanted to do what I do, I just didn’t always consider what I do to be “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?

Not so much in the art I’m making now, but I focused on stars quite a bit when I was starting out professionally. I said earlier that I use a lot of geometric shapes, and a star is more visually interesting than a simple circle, but I’m come to appreciate simplicity a little more than when I began. Otherwise, my signature is more literal. Especially in designing case studies, you get credited for “visual layout” or for creating charts that better convey the information. So my unique signature in my more recent art is literally my signature. I don’t do anything like that for the art that I consider to be more of a hobby (cosplay, cross stitching, etc.) and I use the basic metadata info for my photos and digital art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try lots of different areas of art. Even if you’re a painter, and you’re always going to be a painter, there are lots of unexpected avenues you can find by trying something new. I never considered myself a sculptor, but my school required me to take a 3D class and some of what I consider to be my most unique art (if not my best) was 3D. It was hard, and not something I particularly enjoyed, but it broadened my horizons.

I would also say, study art history (and especially non-western art history). There’s no better way to learn about your own art than to immerse yourself in art. If you can’t immerse yourself physically by making something, learning about the ways that ancient people (or contemporary people) made art is just as informative. A lot of contemporary artists make works to continue conversations that artists of the past were having. We speak of art like it’s a visual narrative of an individual’s life, but it can be a conversation with another artist or political movement. It’s easy to get inspired by other artists around you, so it should be just as easy to get inspired by artists who made works long ago.

Print
Print

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey-asexual and Grey-aromantic. I can’t picture myself having sex or dating anyone in particular, but I can imagine myself having sex / dating in general. I don’t find anyone (or I haven’t found anyone) that I’ve met sexually or romantically attractive, but I can still picture myself doing the action in a more general sense.

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

I’ve found that most artists are fairly accepting of asexuality. Ignorance is vastly more common than prejudice, in my experience. I know that there are many female artists that define their work as feminist art and engage in feminist conversation by either pointing out gender roles as necessarily sexual or making art that is intentionally sexual and thus provoking. There are also artists that focus on sexuality and gender as a social construct and assume that the conversations they want to convey apply to all people within their audience. I’ve run into the conversation in critiques where the artist will explain sexuality as a “universal experience” while they, in the same breath, explain that gender roles are not universal. I usually just question their beliefs further and try to understand why they came to that conclusion or how they justify their ignorance. In terms of prejudice, I find it much more common to experience prejudice against asexual individuals from home, or when I was in college, at the dorm, rather than directly at work in my field.

There have been a few experiences in cosplay where I have been hit on or flirted with because I was in costume (despite the ‘cosplay is not consent’ banners everywhere), but I tend to view those as one off experiences that I ignore rather than something that I personally need to address. I handle them the same way that I would handle someone flirting with me were I not in cosplay, which is usually to find a group of friends and avoid contact with the person flirting. I haven’t found any of the flirters to be particularly aggressive once I’ve left, though ignoring the problem is obviously not addressing the deeper issue, it works in those one off situations.

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

I get the misconception that there must be something wrong with me quite often. I was in a pretty dangerously sexual situation as a child that many people who know about the situation think informed my ‘decision’ to be asexual, but honestly I have never experienced attraction, so I don’t think it has anything to do with that– or there being anything wrong with me. I’ve been lucky that most people have been pretty accepting, although there have been a few of those “oh you just haven’t found the right person yet” replies that get under my skin. Still, the biggest misconception tends to be ignorance more than anything else. The fact that people in my area just don’t know what asexuality is or refuse to believe that a person may not experience attraction is the most prevalent conversation that I’ve run across.

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

I would just recommend doing your research. If a label makes you happy, use it. Don’t feel like you have to keep it forever. I’ve gone back and forth between ace and grey-ace forever in my head and just decided that in the end, it makes no difference to anyone but me. If you’re comfortable with labelling your orientation as something now, then label it. If later you decide that it doesn’t really fit, you can change the label. I know that when I first researched asexuality, I was thinking that it might fit me, but I was hesitant to agree because what if it didn’t fit me sometime in the future? What matters is your comfort now and finding supportive people might start with a label, but it might not. You should find people that support you no matter what your orientation is. That might mean seeking out a support group or forum for asexuals, or it might mean just finding a group of people that don’t care what your orientation is. It’s more important to reflect on yourself and to know your boundaries and morals when it comes to sex and romance than it is to find a label that perfectly fits you. It’s just as important to find a group of people that will help you to keep those boundaries rather than pressure you into something you’re uncomfortable with– whether that’s because you’re ace or just uncomfortable with the situation. It feels cheesy just to say “don’t worry about your orientation, the label will come when you’re ready” but the best way to find supportive people and figure yourself out is to do your research.

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

The three social media areas I update on a regular basis are-

My online portfolio: behance.net/halebi
My cosplay Facebook: facebook.com/puppyrock32
and My Society6: society6.com/puppyrock3
My personal Tumblr is: puppyrock3.tumblr.com
It has my art, process images, cosplay, etc. but also just things I enjoy, so it can be a lot to sift through. I only link it here because you can send me an ask on Tumblr as a form of contact, and I can link you to other social media pages that I update less frequently or to process images on certain pieces of interest.

godproject
God Project

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