Interview: Doodlebuggy

Today we’re joined by Doodlebuggy. Doodlebuggy is a wonderful storyboard artist and character designer. In the past, she has worked at Hasbro and will soon have a series on Netflix, which sounds fascinating. It’s clear she has an admirable dedication to her art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

abigail
Abigail

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a storyboard artist and a character designer.

I will also be creating my own cartoon series about a disabled girl who lives in a junkyard and build battle armor.

I also like to write poems and songs.

What inspires you?

The concept that I could do something to help someone else live a better life.

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

When I was in health class in middle school we had to give a presentation on different STD’s. As a religious girl talking about genitals at all was embarrassing, so I made a cartoon by putting a bunch of frames into PowerPoint and scrolling down really fast. I got an A and a cookie.

Also in the Behind the Scenes of Monster’s Inc. I saw a grown man wearing a Viking helmet getting pushed down the stairs in a cardboard box like a rollercoaster. The day I was told adults could get away with it was the day I realized this was meant for me.

bat
Bat

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.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fail, fail often and fail spectacularly. Make a plan and screw it up. I used to want to punch anyone who ever said that you learn more with failure but now as a 28 year old I see why. You may know that something won’t work but you won’t know WHY until you try it. See why you can’t use watercolor and oils, see WHY you can’t use medium heat when making Hollandaise sauce. See WHY. Always find out why. (Unless it is something that could lead to death don’t try to see why you can’t drink bleach or something.) Sometimes you find out there is no reason why and rules have been holding you back. Sometimes you realize “OK THIS is why you can’t have candy for breakfast.”

And the most important thing. LEARN from your failure. It doesn’t work if you keep making the same mistakes.  Embrace your mistakes. Make it your armor.

Gods
Gods

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am Demi. But even then my interest in sex is EXTREMELY limited.

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

Not in my field but I have been told that I haven’t “met the right guy” by others. To which I reply. Why don’t you date llamas? Oh you not into llamas? How do you know if you never been with one? Maybe you haven’t found the RIGHT llama. But people in animation tend to be fine with it. As long as you are not an asshole and get your work done it’s fine. We got lesbians, gays, and I actually found my first ace friend at Hasbro. We both laughed/cried and finding out we are not alone. More and more of my friends have started opening up to me about their own sexuality. It is apparently more common than I thought. Thought I still feel I don’t have the right to be at a pride parade since I feel like everyone else is fighting to be with someone they love and I am fighting for…what? Wanting to not have sex? Many feel asexuals shouldn’t be in the LGBT community if someone tells me I don’t belong then maybe I don’t. To be honest, it makes me sad.

hog
Hog

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

The difference between libidos and attraction. Someone can be asexual but still have a libido. It is like being hungry but not in the mood for anything in the fridge. Sure you might eat one thing or another to satisfy your appetite but you don’t hunger for it.

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

You are not broken. You are not incomplete. I know it sometimes feel like you are living in world with a color you will never see or a flavor you can never taste but you are you who are. There is a reason you are made this way.

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

http://doodlebuggy.tumblr.com/.

QueenOfEgglandLineup
Queen of Eggland

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

Interview: Jones

Today we’re joined by Jones. Jones is a phenomenal musician and visual artist. He specializes in a variety of music genres and plays no less than six instruments. When he’s not creating music, Jones does a lot of visual art including graphic design and drawing. His work shows an interesting use of color and beautiful visuals. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

The artist
The Artist

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The only place I fit in this world is behind my guitar (or PC). I’m the weirdo loner that your parents probably warned you about. (And if they didn’t warn you about weirdo loners then you should get new parents). My name is Jones and I like creating music, filming, writing, editing, producing, photography, drawing, and graphic design. I love mimicking psychedelic art (cause the 60’s were awesome . . . duh lol) but my real passion is music. I taught myself six instruments (thanks YouTube!) and decided to get involved in producing my own work. I especially love beat making and sound designing. Anything that keeps me in my room. I’m an introvert. Outside to me is the hallway lol.

Asli Omar
Asli Omar

What inspires you?

Pot, Anime, and music… well that’s the vague answer… What really inspires me are events in my life whether it’s friendships, manic depression, music, or…. pot. I normally use my experiences in songs. I’m a huge lofi indie rock fan so I like to think of myself as the millennial version of Daniel Johnston (Shout out to the few people who know who Daniel Johnston is lol) but rap and metal are another form of inspiration.

I’m a huge fan of Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the creator, 2pac, Wu-tang, Future, Migos, Kung-fu Kenny and J Cole. My favorite metal bands that inspire my “Dark art” so to speak are: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Bathory, Acid Bath, BreakDown of sanity, Killswitch Engage, Alice in Chains, Mercyful Fate, Straight Line Stitch, Heaven Shall Burn and Uncle Acid.

But I’m a huge Indie rock nerd. I love Beat Happening, Beach fossils, Car Seat Headrest, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah (basically anything from the Elephant 6 label), A great big pile of leaves, Empire Empire I was a lonely estate, Marietta, The Ton Tons, Modern Baseball, and the War on Drugs.

Demon child
Demon Child

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

I wanted to be Goku when I was a kid… but that didn’t seem like a lucrative career choice so I opted out to drawing comics. From there I was hooked into art and drawing. I was always introverted as a kid. I stayed alone and watched cartoons all the time and tried making my own cartoons. I was always the weird kid at my school and I never fit in so I just avoided people and focused on my artwork. I found everyone to be distracting and I only hung out with people that shared my interests in art. It really freaked out my parents because I would stay home and watch cartoons all day then stay up at night acting out what my cartoons would say and do. I was living in my own world of art. It was pretty chill.

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?

Lo and Cho (Lo’s the dude and Cho’s the girl). They were doodles associated with my music because I was inspired by Beat Happening’s first album and the child like appeal of it. I wanted to mimic that for my lofi music. I also made comics with these two that I may or may not release. It’s mostly about tripping acid and contemplating life as a drawing inside of a huge notebook of drawings.

kinky sheets
Kinky Sheets

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re a musician, just starting out I’ll be straightforward in saying this: nobody is going to like you. Don’t ever get discouraged by this fact though. When the Doors had their first show, nobody came. Few years later, they had riots at their concerts because people lost their minds hearing Jim Morrison’s voice. Any skill takes time and it will take a while for some to build up a fan base whether you draw or sing. My best advice is to create something that changes YOUR world first. When I first started making music I’d put it on my iPod and pretend like I was a famous person before I started uploading songs online. I used these moments to critique and rewrite my work and improve my sound. Don’t worry about what anyone else says because your talent is something that they cannot take away. If you want your moment you’re gonna have to stay motivated because time and practice goes a long way. Some people blow up overnight while others never do, that’s just how it is. You just gotta stay focused and do it for you and you alone. This is YOUR world of art, use it to create something meaningful for yourself.

Frostburg Sunset
Frostburg Sunset

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m somewhere between Asexual and Demi/grey sexual. I’m still figuring it out but I find it hard to be attracted to people. Sometimes I can get curious (key word: sometimes) but when I notice someone it’s like “Oh He’s handsome” or “she’s pretty” but it doesn’t lead me to sexual feelings. I’ve had mild interests in sex but not to the point where I wanted to experiment because sex and body parts always looked weird to me. I was always interested in voyeurism and fetishes like BDSM, macrophilia, etc. because I got to notice body types without really touching them. My motto in life was always Snack, Fap, and Nap lol.

I never cared about flirting signals from others and I didn’t reciprocate any feelings whether it was from men or women. In late high school/early college I thought I was heterosexual but when I had sex for the first time it was kinda weird (Nothing wrong with my partner, she was wonderful, I just wasn’t really invested during the times we… you know). I tried experimenting with both men and women and neither really interested me. The only time I actually liked someone is through personality.

But just because I’m asexual/demi doesn’t mean sometimes I don’t get curious. I feel like that’s just a part of human nature to notice members of your own species and to identify with them. Sometimes I notice people and although for the most part it’s difficult to sexualize them sometimes I fantasize (again keyword: sometimes). For me it’s mostly from a voyeuristic standpoint where I’m not involved or I’m looking in from a third person viewpoint. My fantasies are not as common as regular people but sometimes it happens. For the most part, they’re just thoughts and I don’t really have any interest in acting on them but I don’t want to be seen as anti-sex because I’m an ace/demi. I’m indifferent when it comes to sex because it’s not that important to me and I can definitely live without it but if I ever fell in love with somebody’s personality I also wouldn’t mind exploring our buttons together.

giantess_ayisha__re_upload__by_xyu96-dbcg0lc
Giantess Ayisha

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

Oh yeah. My friends used to think I was only asexual because I couldn’t get laid. When you’re a black male you have to be this hyper-masculine oversexualize creature and here I am avoiding anything with parents LOL. I probably handled ace prejudice poorly when it happened to me.

But when I came out I didn’t fit in with my friends. All they did was have sex with each other and I felt suffocated by this because I was the odd man out who didn’t want to be touched.

I was also very misogynistic back when I first came out because I used to think hypersexual girls were disgusting. I’m not like that anymore and I now believe that women have the right to sexually express themselves any way they want to without anyone’s opinion but back when I first came out I had a different mindset. It started when the girls that wanted to sleep with me were more puzzled that I wasn’t as hypersexual as they were and they just simply marked me off as gay and spread rumors about me. This lead to the dissolution of a lot of female relationships because I felt weirded out that there was this unspoken pressure to form sexual bonds with them. I became the odd man out not only around my female friends but my male friends also and for that I became a slut shaming bitter misogynist and a loner. Many of my female friends were hypersexual and looked at me differently because I was this anti-sexual Queer that didn’t fit in with any group. Again I’m not misogynistic anymore but back then I had a different mindset and a lot of conflicting emotions that really came in the way of a lot of friendships with other people. For some time, I avoided girls because many of the females around me preached about their sex lives. This was also common with my male friends. I just started avoiding everyone. I especially avoided female friends because I was the “diary” to some and I didn’t want to be. (I also learned that a lot of my female friends could be very Queerphobic.)

What was worse was that some of my male friends would avoid me because I wasn’t interested in girls while others would accuse me of making up asexuality to get “closer to sleeping” with their girlfriends. It was insulting because it was like my sexuality didn’t matter to anyone. Even when I told them “I’m asexual, I never slept with any of your girlfriends” they would give me puzzled looks and brush me off. It was even harder explaining my asexuality to friends that I used to have crushes on. Every crush that I ever had I liked them for their personality. Some instances it got sexual but I was much more interested in their persona than the sex. When I came out some of these friends would hang it over my head like “didn’t you used to like me, what happened?” etc. I felt broken because I thought I was heterosexual then the more I experimented with people the more I realized how different my sex drive was compared to theirs. It was like I couldn’t shake my old hetero identity and my old identity wasn’t even the real me. It was an awkward time. I even used to joke about how college “ruined my sexuality” because I thought rejection was the cause of my lack of sex drive but it was the simple fact that I was always different and experimentation with both sexes showed me how different my sexuality was compared to my peers. Now I just avoid making friends and talk to people online. It’s easier to find people who like the same interests as me online instead of the real world.

frostburg watercolor
Frostburg Watercolor

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

That asexuality is the result of a mental illness. It’s insulting because there are plenty of Aces who ARE NOT mentally ill who live perfectly normal lives and there are Aces who do have mental illnesses that do not relate to their sexual orientation. It makes it difficult for Aces who actually suffer from mental illnesses to seek help because they fear that their entire sexual orientation will be put under the microscope. ASEXUALITY IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS IT’S AN ORIENTATION JUST LIKE OTHER SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS. DON’T FEEL ASHAMED IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE MENTALLY ILL AND ASEXUAL BECAUSE THE TWO ARE NOT RELATED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM.

Hello (1)
Hello

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

Don’t take your sexuality so seriously. Feelings change and shift all the time and in the end Gay, Straight, Trans, and Asexuality are all labels. If you follow your heart and find what you love out of life the right people will come along eventually and you can establish any relationship you want with another person (just don’t be a creep about it). Don’t be worried if you’re struggling to find your sexual orientation. There’s nothing wrong with staying to yourself and there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. Just trust yourself to make the best decisions when the time comes and know that you don’t need all the answers all the time. Sometimes life just happens…

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

https://soundcloud.com/94sheets
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/ <- For Lofi/indie pop fans
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/album/projct-skybomb-cloudy-dreams-forever <- Chillwave beats

lianne la havas watercolor
Lianne la Havas Watercolor

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

Interview: Emily

Today we’re joined by Emily. Emily is a phenomenal visual artist who does a lot of 2D art and fashion design. She’s a fashion designer and illustrator who is currently studying both, Aside from fashion design, Emily draws and paints. The gowns she designs are gorgeous (the green one is one of the prettiest dresses I’ve ever seen). She obviously has an incredibly bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Drapingfinal
Draping

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I enjoy making both 2D art- mainly drawing and painting- and fashion design. When I do a 2D piece, the subject matter can range anywhere from facial portraits to abstract works. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to render something as realistically as possible, as well as the expressiveness of working freely with color and shape to portray certain ideas or emotions without specific subject matter. As far as fashion design goes, my taste is quite out there and fun, I think. I like to design clothes for someone who wants to look unique, as well as feel confident and elegant. Gowns are my main base of inspiration.

What inspires you?

Anything really- it can be as typical as elements of nature, or as random as the shape of some books on a shelf. Often I find myself inspired by something I had overlooked in the past, but suddenly catches my eye in a different way. I also take a lot of inspiration from elements of fantasy story telling- dragons and other mythical creatures, battle armor, historical garments worn by past royalty.

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

I’m not entirely sure, really. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon, and I remember drawing clothing based on my own ideas as early as five years old. I think I’ve always liked that you could take a blank page and put anything you want on it. I also really enjoyed looking at the different ways characters on TV and in movies were dressed- I liked that you could further emphasize who a character was through their clothing.

I do remember in fifth grade realizing that fashion design was a huge field that someone could go into as a career, and since then the idea has pretty much stuck.

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 should, that sounds awesome!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I became more and more enthusiastic about making art when I could see improvements from my past work. Keep a sketchbook, even if it takes you two years to fill it, you can look back to the older stuff and see how you’ve grown. Try not to be ashamed to make mistakes- anyone who points them out with bad intentions is likely insecure about their work as well. Anything that gives you joy is worth doing- try not to let it be something that gives you stress. The more positive it is to hone your craft, the more you will want to practice, and the more rewarding it will be.

Titania
Titania

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual, possibly demiromantic.

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

In the particular fields of art and fashion design, no. But in life, sure. I try to remember that asexuality isn’t commonly heard of. Unfortunately, it’s often human nature to fear and reject things we don’t yet understand- often, others’ problems are not with me personally, and I try to bear in mind that my sexuality is just one part of me as a whole. Just because someone is unwilling to rearrange their understanding of something doesn’t mean that thing doesn’t exist.

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

That asexuals are just scared or repressed. Particularly for me, that demisexuals simply don’t want to have a physical relationship until they’re connected, rather than literally not feeling attracted until then. I’ve also been told, by a non-ace, that asexual representation doesn’t matter. I cannot communicate enough how much less stressful and anxious I would have felt about life and relationships in the future had I known early on, or even found out in Sex Education, that asexuality was a thing.

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

Honestly, I’m not sure- I felt relieved when I heard about asexuality. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to accept it about myself extremely quickly and easily. I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t an outlier. Maybe that’s some advice right there; you are part of a community that, though it seems small, is much larger than you know. You are not now, nor will you ever be alone in this. There’s no shame in taking time to learn about yourself. Research often helps me feel less anxious about something- stories from other aces, reading about common experiences. Making friends who are asexual online is very comforting to lots of people as well.

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

My Instagram is a good place to start: at Emvilyse. Soon, I’ll have a portfolio website, which I will link in the bio of that account when it’s ready.

Violin
Violin

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

Interview: Mia

Today we’re joined by Mia. Mia is a fantastic up and coming writer who also dabbles in music. She writes fanfiction but also has a number of original stories she’s working on. When she’s not writing stories, Mia composes pieces for the piano. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly 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’m a mostly unpublished writer who also happens to dabble in composing pieces on the piano. I write anything from short stories to poetry, I have too many novels in the works to count, and most of my composing is inspired by my writing. The vast majority of my writing is YA fantasy, but I’ve recently gotten back into writing fan fiction again, too. My two biggest current projects are a fairy tale rewrite (featuring gay kings!) and a novel for National Novel Writing Month that features (among others) a female, Ace protagonist.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in a lot of different things. The people around me tend to inspire me most. I’m constantly borrowing little things like names, traits, quirks, etc. from people I encounter in real life.

If we’re talking people, I drew a lot of inspiration from my favorite authors as a kid, especially Brian Jacques, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Christopher Paolini.
My writing inspires my music, to an extent.

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

I started writing and taking piano lessons both around the age of six. My mom even has a poem I wrote around that age still saved somewhere. It’s just always been a part of me!

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

Not officially, but, and this is something I don’t tell a lot of people: Any time you see a goddess called Thelbriza in any of my stories, that’s actually me, keeping an eye on my characters from their own world, instead of from my own.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice makes perfect, but never feel bad for not Doing The Thing. Art takes time, and art takes effort, and nobody got to where they are without constant work, practice, and, yes, really awful art. But it’s okay to take a break from practicing. Art isn’t about being the best, it’s about putting something that no one else could make into the world, whether or not someone else sees it. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Demisexual (and have since I found the term about four years ago).

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

I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced it in my field specifically. I’m not sure if it could be considered “prejudice or ignorance” but the almost total lack of any sort of representation in written media is really jarring sometimes.

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

That we’re all prudes who don’t like sex. I’m a sex-positive ace who has a long-term partner and an active sex life, and honestly, seeing how many people think that aces don’t like or don’t have sex, I occasionally feel Not Ace Enough.

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

It’s okay to question, and it’s absolutely okay to change your labels or how you identify. I’ve personally gone from Straight, to Bi, to Demisexual, to Demisexual/bi-romantic, to Demisexual/pan-romantic, to Demisexual/pan-alterous to Demisexual, Demi/pan-alterous! Questioning just means that you’re still learning about yourself and growing, and personal growth is never a bad thing.

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

I (used to) post a lot of my work on my personal Tumblr: http://once-upon-a-lyfetime.tumblr.com/
This is also where you’ll find one of the pieces I’m most proud of (any fans of mermaids? It’s under the short story tag!)

I’ve started posting somewhat frequently on AO3 under the name Mistress Dandelion, too! This is where you’ll find my fairy tale rewrite.

Anyone who wants to watch my progress in November as I write my Ace Representation NaNo novel can find my profile on the NaNoWriMo website here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/lady_eemia

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

Interview: Elizabeth King

Today we’re joined by Elizabeth King, who goes by LizzyKingBooks on Tumblr. Elizabeth is an amazing writer and illustrator who specializes in erotica kinky novels. She has created a lot of content she feels is lacking in mainstream media, creating erotic content that revolves around situation and intimacy instead of attraction and lust. Her experience as a kinky asexual informs her work, some of which is darker. Elizabeth has self-published an e-novel about a vampire who captures a girl (which is also in the kinky erotica genre). She is an incredibly passionate individual, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Chapter 07a

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write and illustrate erotic kink novels! I began with fanfiction and have branched off from there into my own original content and characters. My work revolves around dark fantasies and kink sexuality. I currently have one novel and several short stories available. The novel is an erotic horror novel about a young girl taken captive by a Vampire Lord, and is more or less the vampire novel I have always wished existed. It is intended to be frightening as much as it is erotic, and in fanfiction terms would be labelled as a darkfic. Each chapter is illustrated with several drawings depicting the characters and scenes. It goes of course without saying that my work and content is intended exclusively for an adult audience and I will not sell to minors.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by relational dynamics, and stories about how one person might relate to another. I am also inspired by kink sexuality and rather dark themes like the relationship between life and death. The Hannibal TV series, for instance, captures such a beautiful picture of dark themes, presenting a compelling world that teeters between the morbid and the vibrant. That is the kind of feeling I would like to evoke with my work.

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

I’ve always been artistic, since I was very young. However, my particular field was not on my radar until a few years ago, when I discovered fanfiction.

Fanfiction opened up a world of erotica to me, which inspired me because it was expressive of sexualities and fantasies that are not typically seen in the mainstream world. Here were women and LGBT people writing and expressing and drawing the sorts of things that they found sexy and appealing and what they were creating spoke to me on much deeper levels than any explicit content from the mainstream world. I wanted to try to express myself as well, and as I began to write fanfiction I began to also discover things about my own sexuality that I hadn’t before.

Marginalized pornography is so important to me, because it brings light to erotic desires that are not generally acknowledged as being valid. What non-ace women want is not even typically represented, but what ace women want or find appealing is even rarer depicted. And what kinds of things kinky women think about? Again, even rarer still. Kink is a genre dominated by men and male fantasy, and I found it so inspiring to see authors writing kink from the perspectives of women.

I decided that I wanted to craft stories that spoke to my deepest and darkest desires and fantasies, because nothing else was. One of the things that I find so inspiring about fanfiction’s approach to erotic content rather than the mainstream world of published erotica, is how fanfiction focuses on characters first, and the sexual content second. The tropes and focal points of fanfiction are so very unique, and I wanted to bring that form of writing over into my original erotic fiction.

Chapter 19b

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 work is all BDSM and kink related. Every story I write has a Dominant character and a submissive character, and I focus heavily on the power dynamics between the two of them. Although my stories feature a lot of explicit sexual content, the core of my stories is the power exchange within that sexual content, and how those experiences shape and mold the characters. A few of my own personal kinks tend to pop up again and again, of course!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep going! Whatever you do, no matter how down you feel, keep making things. Life is about doing things, and experiencing things. Even if something you do objectively flops, doing that thing is better than not doing it. The act of creating will enrich your life. Express. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t worry about success or failure. Just do things.

ZaraPics02

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demi-sexual, although I have recently been considering that perhaps grey-sexual may be better fitting. I do not experience sexual attraction based on physical features or looks (although I do experience aesthetic attraction) but rather based on personality traits and situations. I identify as a submissive, and within the context of the ace spectrum, that means that I am only sexually attracted to dominance, whether that be in a person’s mannerisms, or a power imbalance situation. So, while I can experience attraction, it is rather rare and does not happen in the same way as for most people. I am also pan-romantic!

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

I am happy to say that I have not (yet) experienced any ace prejudice, either in my field or out of it! Ignorance, perhaps, but not of a willfully cruel nature. Many people have questions about my sexuality which I am happy to answer. In general as long as someone is respectful I have no problem answering questions. I hope that I will be gracious as well if I ever do encounter hate.

What I do, however, encounter is people assuming that I cannot be ace, or even that I must be more sexually promiscuous, because I write erotica. Many men assume that I will be open to sexting with them because of the content I write. These assumptions frustrate me, but I try to correct them gently whenever I can.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality I’ve encountered personally is the misunderstanding that all asexual people hate sex. A lot of people cannot understand how you could enjoy sex if you do not experience sexual attraction. In reality, many ace spectrum people are still interested in having sex with their partners! Many ace spectrum people may be sex repulsed, but that is not a requirement for being ace!

elleviola

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

Don’t be afraid to try labels on for size and see what feels right. Your identity is not invalid if you decide to change your label later. Your journey is unique, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone!

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

You can find my work at LizzyKingBooks.tumblr.com! Please come and follow me and even shoot me an ask. But please remember, my work and my blog are 18+ only!

ElleZara02

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

Interview: Elliott Dunstan

Today we’re joined by Elliott Dunstan. Elliott is an awesome grey-ace trans writer who works in a couple different styles. He’s currently working on an online webnovel (found at Ghosts in Quicksilver), which features an ace main character. When he’s not working on his webnovel, Elliott also writes quite a lot of poetry and he has also published two zines. It’s very obvious that he’s incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Deep in the Bone
Deep in the Bone

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer of poetry, mythic fiction and queer literature, and I’m happiest when I find those three things intermingling with each other. My primary project right now is Ghosts in Quicksilver, a web-novel about a 17-year-old wannabe private investigator who can speak to the dead. The book features characters from all over the queer spectrum, and the main character is an ace butch lesbian.

I’m also the author of two self-published zines, Deep in the Bone and Home Is Where The Ghosts Are, available in both print and digital formats on my Etsy store. They’re collections of poetry and a short story each, the first centered around mythology and the second telling the story of my semi-haunted apartment.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Music is a big one – certain songs inspire visuals which in turn become stories. I’m also inspired by the reflection of mythology onto modern day issues and vice versa; the story of Icarus projected onto somebody’s manic phase, the tale of the Golem in a world where AI is becoming a certainty, or the story of the forbidden love of Eros and Psyche recontextualized as a queer love story.

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

Always, always, always. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer; I learned to read when I was two and how to write a few years later, and even from very early on I was scrawling poetry in margins. Not very good poetry, but poetry nonetheless.

As far as my genres and medium of choice, I prefer to have a certain amount of control over my work, and the business practices of Cory Doctorow is probably what inspired me the most directly to do a webnovel. It’s also a testament to old Dickens novels and Stephen King’s slightly more recent The Green Mile; serial novels have always been around in one form or another. My poetry zines are a little bit more directly inspired by ‘zine culture’ in indie writer/musician circles.  

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’m not really sure! I suppose there is symbolism I return to, but in general I think my ‘trademark’ would be the clash between darkness and humour. I have a very morbid sense of humour, so I manage to find something funny in almost everything I write. A girl seeing the ghost of her dead sister is scary. A girl arguing with her dead sister and hoping nobody else catches on is hilarious. Dionysus going to the Underworld is a myth. Dionysus catching a cab and striking up a casual conversation with the cabbie while terrorizing them into driving to the Styx is bizarrely entertaining.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A couple things, I suppose. One, that the whole ‘keep writing no matter what’ phrase is true. It really is. But having a few bad days isn’t going to ruin everything. Two, your writing is never going to be perfect. But you have the right to talk it up like it is, to have pride in your own work, and to have the courage to open up to criticism and filter out the good from the bad. There’s a lot of culture around how you’re ‘supposed’ to talk about something you’re proud of, and I hate it. Be proud of what you’ve made, even if you know you’ll do better next time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Oof. Uh, all over the place? Somewhere between gray-ace and demisexual, or both at once. Or maybe completely asexual – I haven’t been able to divide up how I feel about things accurately enough to really know. But I know I’m definitely somewhere in there. The actual label I think is less important than being in the right general area.

I’m also somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, although that one’s even harder to pin down. I just know I have a very different way and intensity of feeling those emotions, so

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

I actually haven’t dealt with any direct ace prejudice in my artistic field, but I do see it a lot on the platforms where I try to market with social media. I generally deal with it by blocking and moving on – sometimes it means I’m cutting myself out of a potential audience but I consider it worth it.

Offline, it’s mostly the pressure to put romance in my books and stories even when it doesn’t fit, or sexual commentary on my characters when it really, really isn’t appropriate. I have no interest in explaining to people whether my asexual character is a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’. I count that as ignorance because it’s the running assumption that I’m writing a YA book, it must have something to do with sex. Otherwise teenagers won’t pay attention. Whereas what I’ve discovered is that teenagers and young adults are actually thirsting for a book that doesn’t treat these topics as the be-all, end-all of human existence.

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

You can’t be asexual and attractive. You can’t be asexual and still have sex. You can’t be asexual and gay. You can’t be ace from trauma. You can only be ace from trauma. If you’re aromantic, you don’t have a heart. You can’t be aro and ace, that’s just boring.

Basically, there’s too many to count. Asexuality is critically, functionally misunderstood in both mainstream straight communities and queer/LGBT+ circles. I think if I had to pick one, though, it’s the idea that asexuality is just ‘straight lite’ or ‘gay lite’. Being on the ace spectrum doesn’t make my attraction to men or women any less potent – it’s just a different way of feeling and expressing that attraction. And the ‘gay lite’ in particular upsets me because, if two guys are walking down the street holding hands, no homophobe is going to stop and ask if they’re having sex.

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

That it’s okay to identify as ace and/or aro. Whether it ends up being temporary, whether it’s a reaction to trauma, whether it’s something you’ve known for years, whether it poked up its head yesterday – it’s okay to identify this way. A lot of people are going to try tell you that it’s not, or that it’s a phase (and what’s so wrong with phases?) and honestly? Ignore them. Your identity is yours to negotiate, nobody else’s.

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

You can find me at moonlitwaterwriting.tumblr.com or at elliottmoonlit on Twitter. My Etsy is AnachronistPanic and linked on my Tumblr page, and if you want to read Ghosts in Quicksilver, it’s up to read for free at ghosts-in-quicksilver.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Kodiak Rain

Today we’re joined by Kodiak Rain, who also goes by Kodi. Kodi is a phenomenal visual artist who does a bit of everything. Ze enjoys colored pencils and watercolors mostly, although ze has worked with clay, acrylics, and oil paints as well. Kodi also illustrated a graphic novel written by zer son entitled Trayvalle Tales (it can be found on Amazon, here). Ze are incredibly passionate about art and zer work shows a remarkable amount of depth and complexity as well as a phenomenal use of color, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to zer for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work with a variety of mediums from oil paint to acrylic to watercolors, sculpting with clay, drawing in pencil, ink or colored pencil or a combination of those, pastels, charcoal, using a Wacom drawing pad to create digital art, woodcuts and printmaking. Of all those things, I think my current favorites are colored pencils and watercolor paints. I like how those methods are easy to use so that I am able to work quickly without a lot of set up or clean up.

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What inspires you?

Nature is my biggest inspiration. I wish to capture its beauty while also offering a perspective on it that reminds others that we are part of nature and that nature is alive all around us. Even more alive than we tend to give it credit for on a daily basis. Emotions also inspire me. I want my images to evoke feelings although I don’t always want to determine ahead of time what those feelings will be. And finally symbolism inspires me. When working with images, there are so many ways to express different ideas, emotions and messages through symbols both ancient and more modern. It is fun to think about what symbols are universal and what may be very individualistic.

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

My mother was a professional artist all my life so I was exposed to art from the beginning. It wasn’t what I dreamed of being, it was just something I loved to do and found myself doing most, in fact with every opportunity I was creating something. I was fortunate that I had access to so many materials and was encouraged by my mom. I eventually discovered that I simply cannot live without making art. It has been many things for me. It has been my saving grace, my therapy, a way to tell my own story and the stories of others, a way to communicate my character and a way to express things I find hard to say in words.

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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 often include spirals because the spiral is found in the double helix of DNA and also in the vastness of a galaxy. It has mathematical qualities and just seems to be the most magical of symbols to me. I also like to draw eyes in my trees (not always but sometimes) to symbolizes that nature is watching us and judging our actions. I guess I am a bit of an agnostic pagan.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Draw every day! Try every medium! Find what you love and don’t stop. Develop tough skin so that if you are criticized or critiqued, you will hear what is beneficial to you and toss out what hurts. Do it for YOU.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I guess I am somewhere between asexual and demisexual and often sex repulsed.

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

I find more prejudice about being agender than asexual because I think people haven’t wrapped their heads around the idea that someone can be genderless. I think though that my sexuality doesn’t come up often enough for me to experience prejudice, although I know that some people think that it means something is wrong with me. I even had someone take it personally as if it were a judgment about their sexual ability when in fact it has nothing to do with other people and is simply all about me.

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

I guess that being asexual means that there is something wrong with me physically or that I just haven’t been with a good lover or found the right person. Also that I am a prude. I am not a prude and can talk about anything regarding sex with an open mind AND my asexuality is not about other people. It is all about me, what I feel and how I identify.

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

Just be true to yourself and know that you are healthy. What matters most is what makes you happy, what makes you feel good about yourself and your life. Nothing else matters as much as that. Remember that most of the time, people are projecting their own experiences and ideas onto each other so know yourself and don’t worry about what other people think.

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

I used to use Tumblr under a different name but I have forgotten the account info for that so now I have my own blog here on WordPress: kodiakrainblog.wordpress.com. It is fairly new but I plan to share my artwork and my life story there. I hope you check it out and subscribe if you like what you see!

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