Interview: Melissa

Today we’re joined by Melissa, who also goes by Wolfish Arts online. Melissa is a phenomenal artist who does cross stitch. She creates beautiful works using needlework. She’s currently working on a large project and updates can be seen on her Facebook page and Tumblr. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

A Home Without A Cat
A Home Without a Cat

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do cross stitching, which is a type of needlework. I started stitching in September 2017 or so.

What inspires you?

My friends to be honest. Most of my friends are very artistic and talented, and seeing all the hard work they put into their art makes me want to do better with mine as well.

Blue Butterfly
Blue Butterfly

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

Cross stitching is something I’ve always been fascinated by. When I was really little, I saw someone cross stitching and thought it looked interesting and wanted to try it myself. My family was super poor though, so it never happened. I finally picked it up last year after talking to my grandma about it.

I’ve always been surrounded by artists. My grandmother does pastels on sandpaper, and she always encouraged my desire for art. I’ve been a writer since I learned how to write – I wrote my first book in 1st grade and haven’t stopped since. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve always wanted to do something to bring my characters to life. Unfortunately my drawing skills are terrible. So I suppose the long answer is yes.

Dragon Series 1
Dragon Series 1

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 actually don’t. Cross stitching is such an interesting craft. I don’t know if it would be compatible with such a thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep trying and practicing. If you find you’re not good at one kind of art or craft, then don’t be afraid to try another kind. I was so set as a kid on writing and drawing as the only art forms available, I never bothered trying anything else. Cross stitching never even crossed my mind as a possibility until my grandmother mentioned the needlework that HER mother did when she was a girl. If you find something or see something that sounds even remotely interesting, don’t be afraid to try it. You never know what you’ll be good at or passionate about until you try.

Dragon Series 2
Dragon Series 2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual and Aromantic

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

I have, yes. Unfortunately some members of my family have shown some ignorance towards it. My father doesn’t understand it and thinks its just a phase or something, and my brother thinks I shouldn’t label myself and we should all just be ourselves. I don’t know how the rest of them see it since they never really give a reaction. I have friends as well who, while they accept it, they tend to ask a lot of very personal questions about it.

For my family, I try educating them on it when I can, or I just ignore it. My father doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to understand. He’s too dead set on convincing me to give him grandchildren. (Note: Its not happening Dad.) I love my family, but my family is more than a little disjointed and I’ve learned to pick my battles with them.

As for my friends, I know they come from a good place. They want to understand at least, and they accept me for who I am and don’t try to change it. The questions do get personal very quick. I’m sure anyone on the ace spectrum already knows what I’m talking about.

I don’t tell strangers about my orientation to avoid issues so for the most part the only ones who do know have been accepting or just don’t acknowledge it.

For the most part, if it’s someone I know showing prejudice or ignorance I either try to educate them or just ignore it.

Dragon Series 3
Dragon Series 3

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

Oooh boy. That’s a tricky question. The most common one I’ve encountered is usually related to actual sex itself. Can we climax, or do we even have sex ever? I usually try to answer for my own experiences then throw in a “not every ace is the same” sorta thing.

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

Find someone who supports you. My best friend is also on the spectrum and she’s the one who first brought it to my attention. Without her, it would have taken me a lot longer to discover the ace spectrum. Knowing that I can talk to her about my concerns and questions and whatnot relating to asexuality helps me feel better about myself because I know at least she’ll accept me no matter what. And she understands. Finding someone that understands you or at least supports you and is willing to listen when you need it is amazing.

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

I’m on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/wolfisharts/

And Tumblr: https://wolfish-arts.tumblr.com/

Feel free to follow me on either one or both of them. I’m always happy to answer questions or help out!

Dragon Series 4
Dragon Series 4

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

Interview: Embo

Today we’re joined by Embo. Embo is a phenomenal artist who specializes in cross stitch. She has recently cross stitched a number of Pride badges, which are absolutely beautiful. Embo also does some embroidery and she has recently started dabbling in drawing as well. It’s clear she’s a driven and passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Ace
Ace

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mostly cross stitch, sometimes embroider, and occasionally draw. Cross stitching is my main art though. I favour working on smaller pieces, and recently I’ve spent most of my time making small Pride pieces.

As for drawing, I’ve taken up doodling fan art of Mass Effect with the intention of writing fan fic in the future.

What inspires you?

I follow many talented people on Tumblr, and seeing their work inspires me greatly! If I see someone has created a wonderful piece of art, I find it spurs me into action and I will immediately start trying to create something of my own. Drawing is more accessible for me, but I can’t resist taking on new cross stitch projects, to the detriment of older forgotten WIPs!

Bookmark
Bookmark

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

Admittedly my reasons for getting interested into cross stitch aren’t very inspiring. I kept seeing subversive cross stitch popping up online and thought it was really funny and wanted to get into that. As soon as I started though, I realised that cross stitch is an amazing craft, really fun, and especially good for stress relief! And to this day, I’ve only produced one piece of subversive cross stitch haha.

I started as a fan artist when I was younger, but found that no matter how hard I tried, I was never satisfied with my drawings. Cross stitch, however, has always been really satisfying.

Butterfly
Butterfly

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?

To be honest, not really. I still haven’t gotten into the habit of signing my cross stitch pieces, which is something I really ought to get into doing. I used to sign my drawings, but I dropped the habit some years ago when I stopped being happy with what I was making.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t get bogged down in getting lots of Likes on social media. Be proud of what you’re making, and don’t stress about what other people think.

Hoop
Hoop

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Somewhere between ace and demisexual. Possibly panromantic and demiromantic too, but I’m still figuring that part out.

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

The worst I’ve encountered was coming out to a family member and being told that I just hadn’t met the right person yet. This was frustrating, as talking about my asexuality has always been hard in the first place, and I felt like I was being shut down. In response, I just never brought it up with them again. Nowadays I rarely come out, unless it’s necessary for the situation. This… is not a great way to be. I shouldn’t have to feel the need to hide this aspect of myself, but the fear of prejudice tends to take me over a lot. I’ve also had to quit visiting some “LGBT-friendly” websites outright, because the audience was completely acephobic. I realised that I just wasn’t welcome there, which was a shame because I otherwise enjoyed the site. I… was angry and sad for days afterwards. It’s not an easy thing to process.

Pride Badges
Pride Badges

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

That we’re all a bunch of prudes. Or that we’re just trying to make ourselves out to be special for something that isn’t even a thing. I also worry that, because I’m in a relationship, people think I’m not ace anymore which… is not how that works at all.

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

Don’t be afraid to embrace yourself! Labels can be greatly helpful, but use them carefully- don’t cling to them completely. You’re 100% valid in who are, and don’t let anyone take that from you. And don’t worry if you find your labels change over time. Mine did, and I had nobody to talk to about it at the time, but don’t worry if that happens to you, it does not make you any less valid!

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

I post cross stitch and embroidery at http://stickyfigs.tumblr.com/ and doodlings at https://potatopotholeakastickyfigs.tumblr.com/.

Steven
Steven

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

Interview: Jennifer Lee Rossman

Today we’re joined by Jennifer Lee Rossman. Jennifer is a phenomenal author who also does cross stitch. For writing, Jennifer writes science fiction and fantasy. She has written stories for various anthologies and just recently released her debut novella entitled Anachronism, published through Kristell Ink. When she’s not writing, Jennifer enjoys cross stitching and comes up with her own patterns. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. AuthorPhoto18WhiteHatCropped

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a sci-fi and fantasy writer. I’ve had stories in several anthologies and my debut novella, Anachronism, was published this year by Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books.

I write weird little stories that make people happy (or at least cry while smiling) and hopefully make them see the world from another angle. Violence and swearing levels vary from story to story, but there’s never anything too gory and swearing is usually limited. Sex is a part of life for a lot of people, so while it might be mentioned as part of the story, I will never show anything more than a kiss on the page. (I don’t write anything I wouldn’t want my grandmother reading.)

My goal is for my words to be a safe space no matter your gender, orientation, ability, race, or body type.

I also cross stitch. I make all of my own patterns, mostly dinosaurs and nerd stuff.

2. Anachronism Front CoverSmall
“Anachronism” front cover

What inspires you?

Weird science facts and song lyrics, mostly.

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

I’ve been writing since I could hold a crayon, but only got serious about it when I realized my disability was going to make having a traditional job impossible.

Cross stitch was a natural path for me to take: I love crocheting, but my muscular dystrophy makes that much movement difficult, so I needed something smaller and more fiddly. I grew up making Pokémon sprites on the computer, and it turns out cross stitch is really just analog pixel art!

3. LochVan2
Loch Van

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 crafts, bright colors and animals that are cute while still being scientifically accurate.

In my stories…I guess queer people and Jurassic Park references show up a lot.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You know that weird idea you have? The really silly thing you want to make, but it’ll probably suck and no one but you will like it? Do it. Give it permission to suck, let it be just for you. Chances are it’ll be amazing, and your fellow weirdos will find you and you can be weird together.

4. CrossStitchShellsFramed
Shells

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Not entirely asexual, but pretty close. I experience romantic attraction, but sexual attraction is kind of an abstract concept to me. It’s there sometimes, not very often and not very strong, and sex sounds interesting in theory, but most of the times it’s just not something I even think about.

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

Ignorance more than prejudice. When you’re writing about aliens and robots, it’s easy to fall into the “this character is just as human as the humans because they feel attraction” trap. I usually try to point out the errors in my reviews.

5. Dinosaur_Rainbow
Dinosaur Rainbow

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

That all disabled people are asexual. My disability has nothing to do with my asexuality, and there are plenty of disabled people who experience sexual attraction.

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

You’re not broken just because you’re different. Find some ace people on the Internet — we’re super friendly and our pride flag is beautiful!

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

I have a blog https://jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com/ and I’m on the Twitter https://twitter.com/JenLRossman Links to all of my books (including my debut novella Anachronism) and stories can be found here: http://jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com/p/my-work.html

I don’t sell my cross stitch because each piece is usually custom made for myself or someone I know, but I’m always happy to take on a new project.

6. Phil2
Phil

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

Interview: Jordan

Today we’re joined by Jordan. Jordan is a fantastic author who currently has a short story out in the world, in the collection entitled Athena’s Daughters. When she’s not writing, Jordan does various crafts and even enjoys singing in a local LGBTQIA+ affirming chorus. Jordan is obviously an incredibly dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

athenasdaughters2cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer who dabbles in art and various and sundry forms of crafting. I mainly write curriculum material these days (I’m a high school English teacher), but I’m a Published Author (all-caps, so official, yes yes) with a short story out in the world. I enjoy making costumes, knitting, doing cross-stitch, writing fan-fiction, and baking. Oh! I sing, too. I’m a member of an LGBT-affirming chorus in my hometown.

What inspires you?

My family and friends, and often, my students. And books! Good lord, books. I read voraciously, and nothing is more inspiring than encountering a book that you can get yourself completely lost in for a few hours. I read a lot of historical fiction, and I’ve been diving into LGBT+ YA quite a bit since I started teaching. Glorious stuff, all.

cupcakespic

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

I’ve always been interested in the arts. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been writing stories. I remember a “series” I wrote when I was in first or second grade all about my favorite teddy bear. It was called “Cinnamon: Bear of the World,” and it chronicled the adventures of my teddy as he saved lives and spread love across the globe. I fell in love with anime in middle school and started drawing then — I’ve never stopped, really, although my anime obsession has fallen to the wayside (probably for the best). I was introduced to Broadway pretty early by my parents who recognized a drama student when they saw one, and after seeing “Beauty & the Beast” when I was 7, I’ve never looked back.

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 necessarily include them in my “official” work, but I like to sneak opossums in whenever I can. I always draw opossums when I sign yearbooks, and I’ve gotten very good at drawing one on the spot in less than 10 seconds.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do your craft. If you’re an aspiring writer, WRITE! Love art but not sure if you’re good enough to make it in the real world? Who cares! Draw! Paint! Sew! Bake! Even if you think your stuff is awful, you’ll never get better unless you keep getting your work out there and practicing like it’s your job (and maybe it will be). I look back at things I wrote even five years ago and I shudder. We’re always developing and growing, learning, as artists, and that’s OK!

IMG_0145

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aro-ace.

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

Not necessarily in my field (although there is plenty of ace-phobia out there on the Internet, and Tumblr is no exception), but in my personal life, I struggle to get myself recognized. I’m not “out” to most of my family, but when I express my desire to remain single and my apathy towards romance, the most common response is confusion or even exasperation. My parents are afraid that I’ll end up alone, and it’s difficult to convince them that having a partner and/or getting married are not the end-all-be-all. I try to explain asexuality, usually without using the actual word, as simple and logically as I can. It’s a work in progress.

IMG_0146

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

That you’ll “find the right person,” or that you should get into counseling. I take medicine for my OCD, and my parents have suggested that I talk to my doctor to get my prescription changed, as if that would alter my views on romance and sex.

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

You are valid, you are not a freak, you are are not unlovable or unloved. Just like gender is a spectrum, so too is sexuality. Some people like girls; some people like guys; some people like both; some people like everybody; and yes, some people don’t “like” anyone, and that doesn’t mean you’re broken. Your life can be as full and rewarding as you want it to be: your worth is NOT measured by your libido. Be strong, loves, and surround yourself with people who love and accept you for who you are.

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

My short story “As Far as Death This Way” is in the Athena’s Daughter’s 2 Anthology published by Silence in the Library and can be purchased in hard-copy or eBook form on Amazon at http://a.co/3fx7mPK

I’m on Tumblr at dozmuffinxc, Instagram at extermiteach, and I have a fledgling travel blog at http://www.anopossumabroad.wordpress.com.

IMG_0147

Thank you, Jordan, 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.

DChuntress
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.

Interview: Lee

Today we’re joined by Lee. Lee is a wonderful artist who does a bit of everything. They love cooking the most, but they also do some writing and crafts. They also enjoy music and play a number of instruments as well as sing. It’s very obvious they love creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I like to cook, knit, cross-stitch, write and play music. I love cooking the most, as it provides a lovely meal for you to eat when you are done! My specialties include mushroom risotto, spaghetti carbonara and chicken chow mein. My knitting and cross-stitching is really good for relaxing in my spare time with some music and a cat on my lap.

Writing is also one of my favourite things to do, but unfortunately writer’s block stands in my way like a stubborn boulder more often than not. I like to write romance (because asexuals can still have lovely romantic relationships!) and horror. Sadly for my characters, they are sometimes combined.

As for music, I can play bass, keyboard and ukulele, and I love to sing. My friend gives me the nickname Tyler Joseph because I can rap as well. I mostly do covers, but recently I composed an original song.

What inspires you?

My inspiration for cooking and writing almost always starts with a ‘what if?’.

I love to take tropes and recipes that people are used to and flip them on their heads. Adding a certain new ingredient can make meals really tasty, especially if you switch out a vegetable you don’t like for one you do. What if instead of beansprouts and lettuce, you had mushrooms and sweetcorn in your stir-fry? What if you added cinnamon to your muffins? (I add cinnamon to everything and anything I bake. Someone needs to stop me.)

In writing I love challenging tropes, and mostly I use it as an opportunity to make my characters diverse and three-dimensional. For example, what if the superhero is ace & aro and never gets a love interest, but the villain is so busy trying to find out who they’re dating that they don’t realise the hero has found their lair? If I’m writing fanfiction, my question may become “what if this scene went differently?” Or “What if these characters had a happy ending?”

Inspiration also comes from things I read; books, I like to believe, are not just paper. They reproduce, as plots and characters and settings from all different books inspire more plots and characters and settings in other writers. It’s like a whole new species.

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

I’d have to say the thing that got me interested in writing was reading. I was the epitome of a bookworm when I was little, and all those books made me want to write some of my own. I thought, if these characters can have these adventures, what adventures can my characters have?

I’ve also always loved music and singing, but I was never very good at anything but keyboard until my music teacher introduced me to the bass guitar. It’s my favorite instrument as it’s simple yet really effective, and can serve as both melody and percussion. Plus, I can play the bassline to Dance Dance, which is one of my favourite basslines ever.

My interest in knitting and cross-stitching came from, as with many others, my grandmother teaching me how. Since she got arthritis and can’t do it anymore, I feel like I should carry on her legacy, so to speak. Plus, it comes back again to challenging stereotypes. Whoever hears of a teenager knitting?

And cooking, of course, comes from loving food.

I always loved writing and wanted to be an author, but I never thought the other three would become so important in my life.

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 think everyone who has read my writing knows that I use ‘though’ in every other sentence.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make some art. And then make some more. And if you have art block in one area, try another. Things like drawing, painting and writing can take up a lot of mental energy because your creativity is being pushed to its limits. If you’re struggling with a particular piece, find something new to create that has a set of instructions to follow, like my personal favourite, knitting. Once you get into the hang of whatever you’re making, your mind wanders and maybe you can have an idea that can help you! Remember that all art is good art and you don’t have to be amazing at everything straight away. Be patient with yourselves.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am currently questioning my position on the spectrum, but I believe I am most likely to be completely asexual. I’m not rushing to get to an answer, though. I’m also questioning my position on the romantic spectrum, though as I am currently in a lovely relationship I think it’s safe to say I’m not aromantic.

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

Luckily I am quite sheltered from a lot of prejudice and ignorance as most of my friends are very well educated and/or on the asexual spectrum themselves. I haven’t experienced any as of yet.

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

Again, most of my friends are well educated on asexuality, but I do find that people tend to go straight down the path of ‘not finding the right person yet’. It’s a bit like telling someone with a nut allergy that they haven’t found the right nut yet.

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

If I’m honest I’d say I’m one of those people who are struggling with their orientation, but I think that being patient with yourself is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to identity. There’s nothing wrong with identifying as anything as long as you’re not harming anyone.

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

I have posted one of my covers on my YouTube channel anomalee, and more will probably be up there soon.

My AO3 account is heyitslee, though I would advise you stay away from the old stuff.

I have a blog that occasionally posts tips for brit-picking, called its-not-block-its-street, that you can check out.

I also recently started a writing blog called thescientificterm. I am yet to post on it, but I will be posting some pieces I have already done on there soon, and any new pieces will be going up there. I am currently working on a horror piece for my creative writing coursework, so keep your eyes out for that! I might make it into a crafty blog and post some other stuff up there too.

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

Interview: Scarley

Today we’re joined by Scarley. Scarley is a fantastic crafter who does a couple different things. She enjoys cross-stitch, knitting, crocheting, and has recently gotten into Wrapper Art. When she’s not crafting, Scarley writes poetry on occasion. She’s incredibly enthusiastic, which makes for a delightful 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.

As a crafter, I knit, crochet, cross-stitch and have put together Wrapper Art; small practical objects such as purses and glasses sleeves made out of sweet wrappers and other materials. I also write poetry every now and again when the muse takes me.

What inspires you?

Crafting-wise, the interplay of colours and pattern definitely invite me to play around with my pieces, I spend a lot of time re-ordering my colours so they’re the most pleasing graduation possible within the limited scope of my raw materials. I’ve done a whole lot of sunset related purses due to this. 🙂

Poetry-wise, I’m mostly inspired by what is going on around me at any one time. My poems are mostly borne out of my personal experiences or issues I want to talk through in my own head. All are meant to be spoken, the rhythms are definitely internally monologued as I write.

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

Growing up in a creative family, I guess the impetus was always there, I was always encouraged to pick up ‘junk’ and make it into art, whether it be scrapbooking, or nature art. Knitting and crochet I got into because I inherited my gran’s needles and wool, and then a year later my great-aunt’s as well. I couldn’t just throw that stuff away, I had to learn to utilise it. I started knitting Innocent Smoothie Hats and since then I’ve moved on to Slytherin Scarves, dragons, and anatomically correct skeleton blankets!

Cross-stitch was mostly because I realised producing patterns was easiest on squared paper. I’m a real geek, so most of my cross stitches are Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Pokemon and other fandom related things, however sometimes I mix my medias and I cross stitch beautiful quotes or whole poems, such as Edward Thomas’ poem Lights Out, or Edvard Munch’s Quote about eternity.

Wrapper Art started a while back before then; each year at Christmas time my grandfather buys a tin of Quality Street and I always used to agonize over what to do with the wrappers, they were just too pretty to put in landfill. It took me several years to work an agreeable solution, but I cracked it, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

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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?

Whilst I’ve seen loads of Wrapper Art made out of sweet wrappers, most people use a bigger ratio than I, and make whole bags or clutches out of foil sweet wrappers and the like. So far I think I’m the only person in the world who makes this type of art out of Quality Street wrappers. They just give such a jewel-like sheen!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’ve been making wrapper art for maybe up to ten years and common sense says I should have given up long before now. I’ve been to craft fairs and watched people tell me they love my stuff and then walk away, I’ve also watched parents actively talk their kids out of buying my wares right in front of me. I thought, this summer, that by the end of the year I was going to call it quits. Finish up all my supplies, put everything up for sale in my shop and Stop. I was ready. Then, suddenly all my items started flying off the shelves, I got a commission from the Brand manager of Quality Street, and it all went a little crazy.

This Christmas I put up a bucket at my workplace and asked everyone to contribute their own wrappers as well, and it was an overwhelming success. This year might not produce as many results, but there will be results, and as long as there are results, I will continue.

If you have a passion, even if it’s a labour of love and people initially don’t buy into it, as long as it makes you happy, keep going. Don’t worry about what other people think. Eventually, after they learn to see through the superficial, people will flock to your work because it is clearly passionate. Keep going. It will happen.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I fluctuate between calling myself grey-ace and ace, and lithromantic and aro. I’m so not sex-repulsed, and so romance-positive until the moment it gets applied to myself and then I’m all ‘penises and vaginas are the grossest, hugs are scary and intimidating, you LIKE, like me????? NOPE GTFO’

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

So far not in my field, although I fight people of all romantic and sexual orientations about whether A’s belong in the LGBT or not, all the time (we do, we really, really do, because where do we go if we don’t????)

However I do see a whole lot of posts like the one on my poetry blog, where someone wrote “I feel like poetry hates the aromantic” and I’m like, ‘I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m here to disprove that theory.’ In fact I’m part of the aromanticpoetrynetwork on Tumblr which is producing a zine called Don’t Talk To Me Of Love this winter season.

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

That we’ve “not met the right person”. Yeah right. I’ve met plenty of people that I’ve been intensely drawn to, and I was never magically cured because this is not a disease that even needs the thought of healing.

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

You’re valid. Even if, three months down the line you decide that your current label does not fully describe you, that’s okay, you’re still valid. Heck, I’ve been identifying as Ace since I was 19 and I’m still not 100% solid on where I am on the sliding scale 6 years later! Don’t sweat it.

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

Alrighty, crafting-wise you can find my Tumblr www.cottonkhaleesi.tumblr.com and my Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Scarleystars and even my Ravelry! http://www.ravelry.com/people/Scarleystars
Poetry-wise www.vosesnequam.tumblr.com
My main Tumblr is www.insouciantchthonian.tumblr.com
Also for gits and shiggles, I have a vastly neglected Ao3 http://archiveofourown.org/users/Scarleystars/pseuds/Scarleystars

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