Interview: Keelan

Today we’re joined by Keelan. Keelan is a wonderful visual artist who hasn’t met a medium he doesn’t like. Right now, he’s focusing mostly on ace pride/positivity and autistic pride/positivity, both of which are greatly needed in today’s world. His work is so beautiful, brimming with color and life, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly fanart, sketches and positivity/pride drawings. I have also done a bit of costume design and costume making for some local theatre. I’ve experimented with a variety of mediums such as oil paint, acrylics, chalk/charcoal, photography and ink + bleach but I mostly stick to pencil and digital drawings because it is what I am most comfortable working with, and what I have the most access to. In the past year or so my art has been focused mostly on asexual/a-spec and autistic positivity because they are both important parts of my identity and I want to express that and my love for the two communities. I’ve been drawing with pencils for a long time, but digital art is still very new to me because I only started exploring it last year.

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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Dai Li Agents

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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Proud Ace

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ace Positivity Post

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

Interview: Rowan

Today we’re joined by Rowan. Rowan is a fantastic artist who dabbles in drawing and sketching. He has studied graphic design, animation, and fine art. However he has recently become incredibly passionate about costume design and construction. He has only recently begun working with costumes, but he’s already very enthusiastic about it. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Borovik

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve sort of bunny-hopped between different artistic fields for a long time now. I don’t have as much time for art in the ‘creating images’ sense as I used to but I manage something now and then. Depending on the style of the piece it can take me upwards of ten hours and I like to get as much done in one sitting as possible otherwise I become distracted and it doesn’t get done. I have probably half a dozen sketchbooks that are mostly gesture sketches, and a whole file on my computer of unfinished artworks.

I’m really excited about costume design and construction. It’s the first time I’ve stuck with something for over a year but the historical work is simply fascinating. I lose myself when I’m sewing – next thing I know a whole day has passed, but I have something very tangible to show for it.

What inspires you?

It’s less inspiration and more a drive to create something. I’ve taken to doodling little designs for costume at home, or sketches of little image ideas, but oftentimes I’ll just sit down in the mind frame of ‘it’s time to create’ and see what comes out.

I tend to be drawn to creating things based around characters from media I like or identify with. Some of my images can be quite dark and are driven by struggles I have with my family and mental/physical health. This can be where some of my favourite details in costume ideas I do at home – away from study – come from.

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Nightingale Armour Skyrim

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

I’ve always wanted to be an artist but I had no idea in what sense. I started off applying for fineart, and while I still consider a lot of my paintings and things my best work it just isn’t something I can gear myself up to do very often. I tested the water with a few different mediums, everything from hand drawn animation to graphic design, even trying out traditional photography at one point. None of them really stuck as something that felt enough like work – more hobby kind of things. My drive to get costume pieces as perfect as possible is what separates them from my other art styles, where I’m more content to let the odd mistake slip by.

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Undertale Fanart

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?

Afraid not, only my signature on my drawn pieces and even that is not very unique.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Oh – so much okay. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t – don’t be afraid to admit that something isn’t working out for you. When you get criticism give yourself a break, let it sink in before you look at the work again; the fresh eyes with the critique in mind will make it easier to see what you are being told, never be mad when someone says something isn’t right. If you don’t like something or something looks wrong or didn’t work? Change it. Immediately. It won’t look better later just because you ignored it. There will always be someone ‘better’ than you. That doesn’t make you bad at what you do and half the time they aren’t even ‘better’ they are just ‘different’ and you happen to like their style more than your own. Different, isn’t better and different isn’t worse – it’s just different.

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Lin Manuel Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m somewhere in the grey-ace area. It’s always been tricky for me to figure out if truth be told.

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

I haven’t really, or at least not directed at me personally – though I’ve seen some of it online directed at others, including my partner.

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

That asexual automatically means sex-repulsed and that there is no sex drive. Its a bit frustrating and honestly I don’t like people assuming they know anything about the frequency or lack of frequency in my sex-life based on my sexuality alone. And honestly its nobody elses business. I do not find anyone sexually attractive, that is what my orientation means to me.

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Self-Portrait

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

Even though I’m grey-ace I don’t feel qualified to answer this – I’ve not had much struggle with my orientation so I do not know what advice I’d of liked to hear. For me discovering the term “grey-ace” was a moment of “there’s a word for this!!” Embrace who you are, and don’t rise to people just trying to get a reaction.

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

I’m over on DeviantArt at http://a-wing-and-a-flair.deviantart.com/

I’m afraid most of my traditional pieces are not available online as I can’t get high quality pictures of many of them and a vast majority are no longer owned by me.

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Fox

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

Interview: Carly Ann

Today we’re joined by Carly Ann. Carly Ann is a phenomenal artist who does a lot of visual art and SFX makeup. She works in a wide variety of mediums when she’s drawing. Carly Ann is also incredibly passionate about makeup and it’s truly something she loves to do. Her work shows an incredible attention to detail and it’s very apparent Carly Ann’s a gifted artist. Her passion shines through in her interview, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a bit of a jack of all trades in the visual arts as I never hesitate to take on a new challenge or venture into a new medium. My main focuses tend to be in drawing and special effects makeup, though I even work in costume design and prop making. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon and have continued with it as a hobby into adulthood. It has only been in the past couple years that I decided to make it my life’s work, that art is what brings me the most joy. My typical drawing mediums include graphite, charcoal, and ink, though I have even dappled in oil pastels and gouache. Even my subject matters tend to bounce from everything to photo-realistic portrait work, abstract expressionism pieces, and even still life.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as both asexual and aromantic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Jordan

Today we’re joined by Jordan. Jordan is a wonderful and versatile artist who does a bit of everything. Her main passion is visual art and she specializes in digital mediums. She does both original work and fanart. Aside from visual art, Jordan is also interested in theater and music. She’s got an amazing amount of enthusiasm, as you’ll soon see, and her work is beautiful. 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 visual artist. I mainly work digitally but I do a lot of sketches traditionally. My program of choice is Paint Tool SAI. I do a lot of fanart and pieces of my original characters. My favorite thing to draw is people & characters.

Besides visual art, I also participate in community theatre, I act and also have an interest in costume design. I also love music and I sing, and play the ukulele. I’ve also started to write songs. I don’t do it very often, but I write poetry and sometimes, rarely, short stories. I’m currently trying to put together a script for a webcomic based around my original characters.

I have a lot of hobbies, but visual art is the one thing that has been a constant throughout my entire life.

What inspires you?

A lot of stuff inspires me. I follow a lot of artists on Tumblr and Instagram who influence me a lot. Some webcomics such as Ava’s Demon and Lackadaisy Cats, as well as mainstream Marvel & DC comics offer me a lot of inspiration as well. The movies and TV shows I like to watch offer a lot of inspiration, especially Star Wars. Music inspires me in all art forms. I have an eclectic music taste, but I would say the most inspirational music for drawing and writing is classical, movie soundtracks or instrumental, and for acting it would have to be musical soundtracks.

I have a lot of friends who also draw, write or act and they offer me a lot of inspiration. For example, my best friend who I met in an acting class actually, her older sister who has a webcomic of her own, and another friend who has lately been furiously writing a novel. They inspire me to keep working at my craft and to pursue new interests.

Telling stories is probably the reason I would say I do most things. Stories are really important to me and I love to read and see and listen to them. Visual art, writing, music and theatre are all different ways to tell a story and portray emotion.

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

Well, when I was around 8 years old I was really into neopets. I feel a little silly admitting that but I used that site for years. I was fascinated by the art people would create for their virtual pets. They took the time to create characters and character designs that were completely different from the source material. And their styles were almost always influenced by anime/manga which I didn’t really get into until much later. But I picked up lots of books on how to draw in that style, and sifted through lots of tutorials artists put up on DeviantArt. About visual art, it’s something I’ve definitely always loved to do and I don’t think I’d want to ever stop.

I didn’t develop a particularly deep interest in music until I was older, but I grew up singing in church and school choirs. Once I got older, and I guess, a little sadder, I began to really relate to and rely on and love music more than when I was younger. Acting wasn’t even something I considered until my junior year of high school, I’d always thought it was frightening. I took an acting class, the one where I met my best friend, and it turns out that it was something I really enjoyed. I’ve always said I wanted to publish a novel ever since I was younger, my love of visual art comes from a love of stories and characters and so I was also interested in writing. I always felt my visual art and writing went hand in hand.

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

My signature on my art has changed a lot since I was younger. It used to be more definitive but now it’s simply my name and a year. I really like to use interstellar objects as symbolism or features in my art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Love what you do. So many people will tell young visual artists that they have to draw every single day to get better. Acting in general is stressful and requires a lot of hard work, and certain people you interact with can be less-than-pleasant with personalities that don’t quite jive with your own. Writing can be extremely stressful for me personally and so I don’t do it often, but once in a while I’ll find the inspiration to pursue it again. I’ll find the joy I found in it once more.

What I’m saying is, if you want to explore an art, make sure you like it. Don’t force yourself into it. Take a break if it’s causing you stress. It should be fun and you should enjoy what you do, everyone deserves that from life.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as biromantic demisexual

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

I haven’t seen anything specifically in any art specific communities or settings but I’m also not particularly public about my sexuality outside of my personal Tumblr.

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

I’ve seen a lot of crazy things on this website recently. A lot of bad stuff going around. Besides that, I’ve always seen people claim demisexuality is made up, so that’s never fun to encounter.

I think a lot of people just don’t realize how diverse asexuality is as a spectrum, and how people experience it in so many different ways.

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

You’ll figure out what labels best fit you over time, don’t be afraid to change them as you come to know yourself better. Your identity is your own, and no one else can tell you how to identify. Discovering your sexuality and using a label should be for yourself and no one else.

You’re valid. You can count yourself as a member of the LGBT+ community if you want that, and no one should tell you that you can’t. If a romantic or sexual relationship is something that you want, your identity will not prevent you from finding that. The right person (or people) will be able to respect your boundaries. And if it’s not something you want, you aren’t weird or broken because of it. As well, the right friends and people in your life will respect your identity, and if they don’t, you’re not obligated to keep them in your life.

Do what’s best for yourself, you’re amazing. Go live life to the fullest.

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

I have about a million places where people can find me, I’m kind of ridiculous.

Art Website: http://joniha.weebly.com/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/junebugjo
Art Blog: http://junebugjo.tumblr.com/
DeviantArt: http://joniha.deviantart.com/
Personal Blog: http://aahsoka.tumblr.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forgivenessiscompassion/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jordieha

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