Interview: Amanda Akins

Today we’re joined by Amanda Akins. Amanda is a phenomenal and versatile artist who does a bit of everything. She does quite a bit of visual art and crafts, including drawing and scrapbooking. She’s also in a band with her sister called Phine Wine (you can buy their EP on Amazon and iTunes). It’s very apparent that art and creativity are a huge part of Amanda’s life, as you’ll soon see. 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 do a lot of different types of art and creative things. I have for as long as I can remember. I paint, draw, scrapbook, other crafts, sing, write, edit graphics and make YouTube videos

What inspires you?

Music is probably the biggest thing that inspires me. It puts me in a certain mood where I just get motivated. Also past experiences and other people’s experiences, especially when it comes to writing. I get a lot of inspiration from movies and other people’s art as well. I love seeing other artists thrive. I’m one of those people that will see an amazing work of art and then want to go out and do the same thing.

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Amy Winehouse Canvas Painting

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

It’s always just been a part of who I am, I think. I’m still figuring out what I want to do with my life but being creative and creating something for others to see and appreciate is definitely up there.

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 but I think it’s a really cool concept to have that. Especially if people recognize it throughout your work.

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Bow

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop. Never give up. It sounds really cheesy but it’s incredibly true. I had an art teacher in high school that told me to sketch every day and you will get better and I wish I took that advice. Your motivation needs to be pure. If you’re just looking to make art to get recognized then it’s not genuine. I think you really have to love it because it’s obvious when you don’t.

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Walking Dead painting

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I still am figuring it out but right now I identify as grey ace specifically. But I usually just tell people I’m asexual as a general term.

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

I haven’t thankfully. I don’t usually tell people that I’m ace unless it comes up because it just doesn’t seem important for people to know.

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

That we are all the same and we’re not. Asexuality and sexuality in general is a huge spectrum and trying to fit people in boxes is counterproductive. I also think when talking to people about asexuality you really have to explain and make sure that your perspectives aren’t the rule. That not everyone that identifies as asexual has the same experiences or beliefs I guess you could say. I would say a lot of people don’t actually understand the general definition of asexuality and that’s what I find myself explaining most of the time.

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Paradise Pier

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

That it’s okay not to know right now. That it’s okay to identify one way and then change that. We all change and we all grow so why wouldn’t our sexual orientations grow with us. You are valid and your feelings are valid and you matter. Do research and do what is comfortable for you. For me it was figuring out a word for exactly how I was feeling and even know I still am figuring that out with my sexual and romantic orientation and that’s okay. Maybe you don’t want to identify at all but it doesn’t make you less of a human being. Keep doing you and doing what you love.

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

I have a website where I sell a lot of my arts and crafts at: https://www.mandasscrapcrafts.com/

I also make music with my sister in a band called Phine Wine. We have Instagram, Twitter (linked below), Facebook, and YouTube. And you can buy our EP on iTunes and Amazon mp3.

Twitter: at phinewineband & at mandamargaret7

Instagram: at phinewineband & at mandasscrapcrafts.

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Lily iPad Drawing

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

Interview: Ella

Today we’re joined by Ella. Ella is a phenomenally talented artist who specializes in designing creatures and props. She works as a graphic designer and also writes, both original work and fanfiction, and bakes. Ella is most passionate about making creatures from movies. They’re exquisite, as you’ll soon see. Ella is a passionate and dedicated artist, which really shines through in her work. 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 do lots of things! I’m a graphic designer, I bake, I write stories … But I think my creatures are the things I’m proudest of, so I’m gonna talk about them.

Have you ever sat in a movie theatre and went: ‘that animal is the most adorable thing I have ever seen and I want to hug it!!’

Me, too. Sadly, most of the animals on films and series are either lethal, imaginary or trained. So you’ll have to live out the rest of your life, knowing you would never get to hug that little critter.

I refuse to live out my life that way. That’s why I make the animals myself.

I have made a Toothless costume from How To Train Your Dragon, a BB-8 from Star Wars, two creatures from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, and a plaidypus and the pig Waddles, from Gravity Falls.

My greatest joy comes from bringing the creatures to a convention, so other people can hug them, too.

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What inspires you?

The movies the creatures are in, mainly. But never underestimate the reaction other people have to your creations. People keep me going. People going “He’s so CUTE! Where did you buy him?” And then I can say: “Oh, no, I made him!”

Then again, everything can inspire me. A walk through the dollar store is very helpful, for instance.

The thing that inspires me the most is that sometimes, kids believe that my creatures are real. To me, that’s the best compliment I can get.

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

I just sort of… ended up in it. My job is graphic designer, but I only went to that school because it was close to home. I started working on Toothless when I was 18 or so. I always thought I wanted to be a comic artist, or just an illustrator. Or maybe an actress. Or maybe something with languages! Then it turned out that my drawings are not that good, I don’t have patience to practice and I didn’t like languages all that much.

But, man. I started work on Toothless, and it just flowed. And then I started to work on BB-8, and that flowed as well. Writers tell about it, too. As if a book wants to be written.

I guess my creatures just want to be made.

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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?

For some reason, I love the number eight. I usually try to put it somewhere in my writing, art or creatures. Or I incorporate something of myself. The lines on the hands of the big white ape-like Dougal are the same as the lines on mine. And I love special effects. The eyes of Dougal light up, the Niffler has a pouch in which bells are glued so he rings when he is shaken. BB-8 rolls and makes sounds. Toothless’s wings could go up and down.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t force yourself to do anything that you deep down feel you don’t want to. If drawing secretly isn’t your thing, try clay! Try writing!

If you wanna do something like the things I do, buy a glue gun. It’s the best tool ever.

Stay kind to the other artists. They started like you did. And above all, stay weird. Find that one small spot inside yourself that screams “this is me!” and hold on tightly.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you aren’t good enough. If they do, hot glue their fingers together. Trust me, it hurts.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Straight and Asexual Until Further Notice.

That basically means that I have no sexual interest in people, but I don’t know what happens when I actually do get a relationship at one point.

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

My colleagues don’t often understand it. They ask questions like “But if your partner wants to, and you don’t, what do you do?”

The answer is “We don’t do the do.”

I don’t have much prejudice or ignorance, really. I guess people already see me as a strange person and are like “well, we’ll just add that up to the total picture”

Most people just want explanations on How It Works. Here’s my tip on that:

Ask if they have pets. Most people do. Then ask them if they think that their pet is the most beautiful thing in the world. Most people say yes. Then ask them if they would like to have sex with their pet. The people go “NOOO EEEEW”

Then you go: ‘That’s how I feel about everyone’

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

That you can get rid of it.

“Oh, no matter. Once you meet the right person…”

You can’t get rid of it. It’s like your spine. Sure, you could try to get rid of your spine, but that would take immense force and possibly trauma.

Please don’t get rid of your spine. (unless you medically need to or something)

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

Relax. Sexualities change. At first I thought I was completely and utterly asexual, now I’m thinking I might just be demi. Your atoms and molecules replace completely every seven years or so. Who says you can’t?

If you don’t want sex, don’t have it. And if you are struggling with anything, do some research. Talk to people. Talk to your partner, for goodness sake.

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

My stories: SleepingReader on AO3
My cosplays: EllaFixIt on Facebook or FixitCosplay on Instagram.
My Tumblr – feel free to talk to me about anything- SleepingReader.

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

Interview: Leon

Today we’re joined by Leon. Leon is a wonderful writer and dabbles in crafts. They are an eclectic artist who has done a bit of everything. They have worked in theater (acting, tech, stage management, directing) and do quite a bit of writing. When they’re not writing, they also do a lot of knitting as well as coloring. It’s very clear they’re a passionate 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’d consider myself something of a ‘jack of many (creative) trades’. I have a short attention span, the constant need to be busy, a long-standing habit of having whimsical trains of thoughts I can hardly keep track of myself and I grew up with the internet where any number of basic skill sets are a quick Google search away. I collect funny little ideas and random hobbies and nifty bits of information that eventually I figure I will find use for (like book binding … haven’t gotten around to using that info quite yet but some day)

I’ve been a storyteller practically my whole life and a writer for most of that. My dad was a writer, so I picked that up from him. I got involved with theater during middle and high school. First acting, then various back stage and tech theater works. I lived in a small town a few years ago where I was the designated ’emergency backup’ person for the local theater company, always available for lighting, sound, props, painting, costumes, whatever they needed. I picked up knitting in my early teens, played around with that, taught myself how to knit plush animals and dolls and such. I’ve made several based on some of my favorite video game characters. I also like just experimenting and messing around with various creative projects.

I got really taken in by the adult coloring book trend, which has been exciting for me. I don’t really have much of a talent for drawing and that kind of visual art, and not enough patience to really develop it. But I love coloring. I love messing around with my colored pencils and my gel pens and figuring out how to make nifty little effects with glitter. I can work on multiple different pages from multiple different books as the mood suits me. Plus, I am so absolutely a crafter. So I get to think of fun ways to use the pretty colored in pages when I’m done. (I am in a ‘modge podge the heck out of everything’ phase right now) and then I get to figure out how to do those things and pick up a bunch of little crafting skills. It’s been tons of fun.

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Bat Box

What inspires you?

So many things. I have a real habit of latching on to little ideas or tropes and just trying to figure all the possible ways I could express them and in what medium and why. And then latching onto random ideas that come up when I think about this stuff.

Example: I got stuck on this nifty idea of inverting the ‘The Dead Have Names’ trope and giving a related speech to the villain. Because it’s such a ‘hero’ thing, giving it to the villain gets really chilling and strange. So then I think about the general idea of inverting tropes along those lines. Since I’ve been coloring a lot lately I start thinking about color inversions. And now I have two dragon pictures, one of which is a ‘water dragon’ which I’m going to coloring in various shades of red and orange and the other is a ‘fire dragon’ I’m going to be coloring in shades of blue.

With all the coloring I’ve been doing lately I tend to get inspired by the pages themselves. I know I want to color this or that page in with only metallic gel pens. And I’ve been working so much in color lately I’ll get color schemes stuck in my head even if I don’t know where I want to utilize them yet.

And in a more abstract sense… my dad taught me to look at creative ‘problems’ (in the loosest sense of the word) like riddles, to apply whatever creative skills/knowledge I did have to fill the rest in. So I tend to have a ‘make it up as I go’ approach to all my art/creative stuff. And that inspires me too, just trying to work out a ‘problem’, the constant thinking and wondering and ruminating.

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

I guess I always sort of wanted to be an artist, but I never really had a specific idea of what that meant. I liked writing so I figured I’d just … write stuff. Which I did. I liked theater so I did that too. I liked knitting and coloring and wood shop and cooking and so on.

I got the writing and storytelling thing from my dad. And everything else just sort of blossomed from that in a weird organic kind of way that I can’t really pin down, even looking back on it. A lot of the stuff I’ve learned to do was to facilitate a vague idea of storytelling. I got into tech theater, into lighting and sound design, so I could figure out how to make the best use of that to facilitate a stage show. I started knitting plush dolls of video game characters to be able to bring those characters and ideas into another aspect of my life, off the screen (also the reasoning for why I write fanfic). I love looking at the different ways people color the same coloring page because of how drastically different the end results of coloring the same image can be. I over analyze the crap out narrative heavy video games because I like seeing how different narrative tools can slot together and all of the ways video games making story telling weird or strange or unique.

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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?

When I do visual type art (in the broadest sense) I very often end up using various pride flag colors (which makes me chuckle to myself) just because I can

I also have a serious love of inverting various tropes, just turning basic common assumptions on their head. Not so much a signature as a ‘reoccurring theme’.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Not just for the experience or for the opportunity to get better either. But because it’s fun, it makes you happy, it’s something to stave off the boredom, it keeps you busy, it just something you want to do. It’s worth doing because it’s worth doing.

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Flower Lantern

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a bi/pan ace.

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

Yeah, typically of the general, non-malicious ignorance variety, which usually results in me just offering some basic 101-type information.

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

The ‘attraction = behavior’ thing. Like the assumption that celibacy and asexually are the same thing

And because the fact that I’m trans often comes up around the same time as the fact that I’m ace comes up, I also get the ‘hey do you think maybe you’re ace because you’re trans’ thing a lot personally, usually with the implication that if this is the case it means one of those IDs is therefore less valid. Which usually results in me just going flat ‘no’ because I often don’t have the time (or emotional energy) for a long nuanced discussion.

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Metallic Bookmarks

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

It’s okay to not totally have your orientation strictly defined. It’s okay to take time to figure it out. It’s okay if you never figure it out completely and if whatever labels you use are basically ‘as accurate as I can be right now’. It’s okay to be as specific or as nonspecific as you want, you have no obligation to define your orientation to any arbitrary degree of specification. It’s fine if your ace-ness is/was influenced by some external factor. It’s okay if you weren’t ace before but are now. It’s okay if you stop IDing as ace later. It’s okay if you only ID as ace with no other labels.

You don’t have to justify your orientation to anyone. You don’t even have to explain any more than you want. It’s fine if you can’t explain. It’s fine if you just don’t want to.

Just… you do you.

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

Some older tags on my blog have some of my knitting stuff.
http://i-sauntered-vaguely-downwards.tumblr.com/tagged/leon-the-ace-knitter
http://i-sauntered-vaguely-downwards.tumblr.com/tagged/leon-knits-things

I have an Etsy shop up that has the results of my ‘what can I do with these pretty colored in coloring book pages’ adventures.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/ColorToTheMoon

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Metallic Cat Purple

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

Interview: Alyssa

Today we’re joined by Alyssa. Alyssa is a wonderful writer who writes both fanfiction and original poetry. She’s currently working on a fic based on the US version of The Office. When she’s not writing, Alyssa enjoys knitting and knits plenty of things for friends and family. Alyssa is an enthusiastic and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a fan fiction writer, poet, and knitter. I am currently writing fan fiction for The Office (US). My poetry has been published in a few books by the American Library of Poetry. Knitting is more of a Hobby, I make almost anything mostly for friends and family.

What inspires you?

I honestly don’t know what inspired me to start writing fan fiction, maybe out of boredom, but I am really enjoying it. In poetry it is nature and my life experience.

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

These 3 things are not my ultimate goal, which is to be a costume designer, which I have wanted since I was 12, and I consider that a type of artist so in short, yes.

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?

No.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t think that working in some other field will not help you reach your ultimate goal, other experience may come in handy.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual Panromantic

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

I haven’t really, and I hope not to in the future.

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

That Asexuals can’t have a dirty mind/make sexual jokes. (This may not be the most common one I hear, but I don’t see it mentioned a lot.)

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

Find someone to help you talk through it, find an ace chat etc.

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

You can read my fan fiction on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/Pan_Cake_Cats/works

My poetry is here: https://poetryonpancakes.blogspot.com/

My knitting isn’t really anywhere, but if you would like to order a custom handknit hat or handwarmers visit my Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitknacksByAlyssa?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

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

Interview: Angela

Today we’re joined by Angela. Angela is a phenomenal artist who hasn’t met a medium she didn’t like. She does a fair amount of visual art, specializing in graphite and colored pencils. When she’s not drawing, Angela enjoys doing a variety of crafts: knitting, papercraft, making candles, etc. If all that weren’t enough, she also plays some musical instruments and works in theater tech. It’s very clear that Angela is 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’m not sure where to begin. I create all sorts of art from drawing, to knitting, to music and more. In terms of drawing, my favorite mediums are graphite and colored pencil; those are about the only things I work in. I also love crafting; I knit, I bind books, I make candles, I do papercraft… you name it and I’ve probably given it a shot, or at least would like to.

When it comes to music, I mainly focus on clarinet and saxophone. I’m in my college’s pep band but in high school I played a lot of jazz and more traditional wind ensemble music. I’m not sure if theater tech counts as art, but if it does, I love building, painting, and running set pieces. I also love doing sound and lights for theater and other events, which isn’t typically seen as art, but I think there’s a certain degree of artistry to it.

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What inspires you?

I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who really has a lot of inspiration, but I guess my pure love of the arts inspires me. I love creating things for myself and others to enjoy.

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

I’m not sure what got me interested in each of my respective fields. Art is just a hobby of mine; I’m actually studying chemical engineering right now. I guess I’ve just always loved music, and everyone always told me I was good at drawing so I kept up with that too. I started building sets my freshman year of high school because I’ve always wanted to build things and the school play was my first opportunity to do so. When I turned seven, my grandma taught me how to knit so that got me started on fiber arts.

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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 don’t actually have any sort of signature or symbol that I include in my work, but I absolutely love when people do.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I guess the advice that I would give young aspiring artists would be to never give up. If you find an art form that makes you happy, keep doing it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or that it’s a waste of time. The more you work at it, the better you’ll get. And even if your work never reaches professional quality, the important part is that you enjoy it and it makes you feel good.

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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 haven’t really encountered any kind of ace prejudice in general. I tend to surround myself with good people, and I’ve been very lucky in that respect. The most I’ll get is people not knowing what asexuality is, but when people ask I just explain it and it’s all good.

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

I think the most common misconception about asexuality is that it’s the same as sex repulsion. I think a large part of the community is sex repulsed or sex averse, but that doesn’t mean that they’re inherently linked. Plenty of aces enjoy sex without experiencing the attraction.

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

It sounds pretty clichéd, but I would say to know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to question, and it’s okay to be unsure. There’s a great asexual community ready to welcome you home and help you through anything you need.

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

I’ve posted a bunch of my arts and crafts at angelas-arts-and-crafts.tumblr.com if anyone wants to check that out. If you want to speak to me about all the stuff that I do, feel free to message me there or I suppose you can e-mail me at emailjunkedyjunkjunk@gmail.com (yes that is my junk e-mail, I’m not kidding, Gmail didn’t accept the first five or six options I put in so I decided on something ridiculous) if you’re really that interested. I’d be happy to talk to you!

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

Interview: Amanda

Today we’re joined by Amanda, who also goes by doctortreklock. Amanda is a delightful and incredibly talented artist who specializes in crochet. She crochets a bit of everything from pot holders to little models. When she’s not crocheting, Amanda dabbles in fanfiction, mostly Supernatural. It’s obvious she loves what she does, which makes for a great interview. 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 crocheter.  I make (a lot of) pot holders, these days. But I’ve also made butterfly ornaments, bookmarks, and bags.  I’m a bit of a spinner also, and have been known to write a bit of fanfiction, mostly Supernatural.

What inspires you?

I love the flexibility that crochet gives me (I wasn’t really getting that with knitting).  I love being able to just start with a circle and make something.  I like trying to find ways to make utilitarian pieces efficiently or to make existing patterns more efficient.

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

I had been knitting before, but I really started crocheting in college.  My mom had taught me the basics when I was in high school, but I hadn’t really used it until it was my junior year of undergrad and I had a paper to write.  I had some yarn already from my stalled knitting projects and I borrowed a hook from a friend and ta-da!  I’ve always loved trying to find new, creative ways to think about things, whether it be math problems or crochet problems.

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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?

*chuckles*  Um, no?  Not that I know of, at least.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just do something. Start small.  Go with it.  Don’t be afraid to mess up, you can always try again differently next time.  Make this one unique.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an aromantic(-ish?) asexual.

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

Not really.  I have been fortunate enough to not have to deal with a lot of prejudice.  If there are people I know who would say things about it, they haven’t said them to me.

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

I really only have one. I was seeing a counselor on campus and we were talking about my orientations and how I wasn’t absolutely sure I was aro, but was sticking with it for the time being.  He asked me if I thought identifying as aromantic might be hurting my chances at a future romantic relationship.  Insert eyeroll here.

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

It’s okay to not have it figured out.  I’ve gone through several labels myself.  There is only one queer person I know who hasn’t questioned their romantic/sexual identity at some point and he’s gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. It’s fine.  You’ll figure it out at some point.  😀

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

My Tumblr is doctortreklock, and I’m on AO3 under the same.  My Etsy is HarmoniaThreadwork.

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

Interview: Matthew J-B

Today we’re joined by Matthew J-B. Matthew is a wonderful artist who specializes in crafts. He does quite a bit of crafting, a little bit of everything in fact. He does crochet, sewing, yarn spinning as well as things like paper craft and duct tape craft. He even does some cooking. Matthew is an incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic 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 craft.  I make everything that I know how to make.  I crochet, spin yarn, sew, sculpt, paper craft, duct tape craft, rainbow loom, paint, make bath products and cook.

What inspires you?

Mostly what makes me happy inspires me.  I create thing for friends, family (including my critters) and sometimes just for myself. My best friend is also a very good and positive muse.  They inspire me to create things to make people happy.  I am also inspired by my spirituality and my devotion to my path. I have a close connection to Hephaestus, god of artisans.

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

I grew up surrounded by all sorts of crafting materials.  My mother has always had crochet projects and my grandmother before her is a leader in her retirement communities crafting circles.

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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 do work with a lot of bird and animal imagery in my paper crafts since my parrots are such a huge part of my life.  But as far as universal signatures in my work, not so much.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep making.  You will find a medium you click with and maybe that is the one you love but sometimes you will love the look of painting but be predisposed to being better at crochet.  Nowhere is it written you can’t do both!  You can diversify and work on both what you are good at and what you love.  You have enough creativity to do it all!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a panromantic and probably asexual at this stage in my life but I am still exploring labels right now.  (I am also a somewhat fluid trans man which makes things just a little more complicated)

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 since most of my crochet, spinning and scrapbooking is taught and expected of cis, straight women.  The expectation is to be creating for kids or a partner… whereas I have neither and don’t really want either.  But as far as outright prejudice, I have been lucky and most I come into contact with are understanding.

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

That it is one or the other. Most people I have mentioned it to expect someone who is asexual to be entirely non-sexual, this simply isn’t the case.  I do have a sex drive… I just don’t want to do anything about it with anyone.

I have also encountered the concept that because I am not interested in a sexual partner I must have been sexually assaulted.  I am lucky that I have not been, and even if I had, that knowledge is not for public consumption.

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

Explore on your own terms. You don’t have to pick terms right away, you don’t have to ever pick labels if you don’t want to.  It is your life and your identity.  It is entirely up to you how much if anything you explain to others.

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

I post quite a bit to my Tumblr:  ravenbara.tumblr.com

I also have an Etsy shop where I share a lot of my crafts at www.etsy.com/shop/RavenBara

Thank you so much for listening to me ramble!  I hope you find your way.

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