Interview: Aodhan

Today we’re joined by Aodhan. Aodhan is a phenomenal visual artist who is a first for asexual artists. His works involves a lot of rotational symmetry and either extremely light or heavy contrast between them. I was studying the work he sent with his interview and there’s something almost hypnotic about it. His work is incredibly interesting to look at and it draws the viewer in. It’s clear he’s a very passionate artist who enjoys what he does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do mostly visual art that deals with colors, gradients, and rotational symmetry. It’s all done digitally through mirroring and color changing software. The main stylistic choices that I use are very soft and very heavy contrast with minimal blur, or sometimes forgoing some levels of symmetry for a level of blending or shadows.

Most of my base pictures are pictures I take or random gradients. Sometimes I use random memes or just odd pictures just for the level of fun I get from realizing that I just turned some random image from my gallery into a piece of art.

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What inspires you?

My main inspirations were funnily enough my cat Cider, eyes, and many types of butterflies and moths. I was always fascinated my cat’s fur and the patterns in it despite how minimal they could be, and wanted to recreate them in digital art. When it came to eyes, I was always enthralled by how they looked, especially the iris. Then for butterflies, well they were pretty and symmetrical, what more was there to like?

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

Oddly enough, I started doing it for the sheer purpose of messing with people and using it to add more “pylons” to a picture. The meme of “You must construct additional pylons,” was one that I enjoyed, and someone bet that I couldn’t make a bunch of copies of the Starcraft pylon in an image look pretty. I took this challenge in stride, made five dollars, and found a passion in creating these odd pieces. As one could guess, I wasn’t always too keen on becoming an artist. However when I found a medium I enjoyed, it kind of just sparked.

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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?

Well they’re usually symmetrical as the term rotational symmetry implies, but other than that there is no real signature that can be found.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For life, I’d say to find and do what makes you happy. When it comes to art, I’d suggest to try weird styles and challenge yourself in weird ways. You may just find exactly what you love doing.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a homoromantic asexual.

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

Only once, and it was with a friend who did not know what the term meant. He acted rudely at first but thankfully he’s an accepting person and with an explanation of how it worked, he understood and became rather nice about it. In general, if it would happen again, I’d just explain the details and if it doesn’t help, I’d back off and recognize that it wasn’t working.

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

That we identify as asexual because we can’t find someone to have sex with.

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

You aren’t broken, you weren’t made incorrectly, and most importantly you are absolutely valid however you express yourself or identify.

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

You can find some of my work at my Tumblr at tripping-ace where I sometimes post art but usually drop some stupid humor.

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

Interview: Runesael Johansson

Today we’re joined by Runesael Johansson. Runesael is a wonderful digital artist who specializes in character design. He works mostly in roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. He has recently gotten into drawing World of Warcraft characters too. It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what he does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

aur gyu1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Most of my work these days centers around Dungeons and Dragons player characters and NPCs, alongside other TTRPGs and roleplaying games. I’ve also done a fair amount of people’s characters from World of Warcraft.

I work almost exclusively in Photoshop CS-6 or Procreate.

What inspires you?

Primarily, stories. One of my absolute favorite things about doing the work that I do has to be hearing other people’s stories about their characters and the adventures they’ve had with others. There’s such a broad variety of individuals and experiences across the TTRPG community, so every character I ever get to draw tends to be unique or unusual in some way. Even if you have two chaotic good fighters from a small village who’ve sworn an oath to protect their friends, say, those two fighters can and often will be radically different people.

The TTRPG and WoW communities are both enormously creative, and getting to see all of the various ideas that people come up with is something I’m really grateful for and honored to be able to help bring to life.

Additionally, music – I can’t paint without it!

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

I began drawing because I wanted people to be able to see the characters and places I described in my stories as a kid. However, it was never really anything more than a serious hobby until about 2016.

As obnoxious as this might sound, I’ve never not been an artist, so I’m not sure what it’s like to want to be one. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon.

My original career was in music performance. An injury exacerbated by overuse and stress pulled me out of a performance career, and I kind of spent my twenties wandering around with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with myself or my life. I was really lost. I’d gotten a full scholarship to a small school, and figured I’d make my way through a four year degree before going on to pursue a masters. That did not happen.

During my late teens and twenties, I was also a volunteer storm chaser with ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services), and working emergency telecommunications. I loved the work, but it stopped being fun after I realized the extent of the impact that natural and man-made disasters had on the human lives around me. Though the work was fulfilling, I knew I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life.

There were a few attempts at other careers. Honestly, all they ever taught me was about all of the things I didn’t want to do with my life. The last one being that I wanted to become a French translator and a linguist.

As a sort of last hurrah, I posted a thread on Reddit in 2015 offering to draw people’s World of Warcraft characters. There, I met a handful of really incredible people who brought me into the WoW art community, and from there I got into Critical Role and started becoming increasingly engaged with the TTRPG community. The rest, as they say, is history.

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?

Most of my work these days is done for other people, so you’re not going to find much of my own personal motifs in the majority of my portfolio.

The signature that I put on my artwork is the text symbol for “thunderstorm.” (It looks like this: ☈) It’s a play on my first name and it’s a nod to the work I’ve done in the past. Also a reminder to myself – if it’s not a tornado, it’s probably not worth getting super worked up about.

I use a lot of blue and gold – they’re my favorite colours, mostly because I’m from a coastal town in Florida and have always loved the water.

There’s so much music in my work, to the point where all of my Inktober pieces this year were just based on songs.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s enough tutorials and technical advice these days on the internet that I feel like anything I could say on those subjects has already been said. So, instead, here’s some lessons I learned the hard way.

First of all. Don’t be an asshole. It does not matter if you are the most skilled artist in your particular field, if you treat people like garbage, no one will want to work with you. This includes being vocally critical of other artists. This includes treating the artists around you as competition or as enemies, rather than potential friends or coworkers. This includes being a sarcastic, sardonic shit about everything. Cynicism doesn’t make you cool. It doesn’t make you some enlightened sage of the ages, it makes you a prick. Empathy, kindness, understanding and patience will get you far, far further than raw skill alone. Praise others in public, critique if asked in private. Don’t be an ass to younger artists, they’re doing their best.

Second. Art is extremely hard work. There is nothing cute or fluffy about being a creative of any sort. You don’t get to float around waiting for inspiration, or depending on some “muse” to bring your ideas. If you do you’ll never get anything done, and you’ll never get better.

When you first start making stuff, you will suck at it. You’ll suck at it for a while. It’s normal, don’t stress. Art isn’t something you master overnight or in a year or even in ten years. You will be fighting a continual, uphill fight for most victories and breakthroughs. When you “level up” as an artist, it will be because you worked your ass off. The answers to the problems you face will not be written out for you in books. You will need to find those answers for yourself. If that doesn’t sound like a good idea to you, don’t be an artist.

Third. Talent is a myth and an excuse. There is no bullshit force in the universe that ~magically~ gives you the ability to create anything. There is the only the work, the desire to do it, and the determination to keep doing it when it gets hard. That’s all. You get better by practicing and studying your craft.

Fourth. Art is for everyone. See number three. Art is not for special talented people who have ~the gift~. The arts in general, creative work – they are for everyone and anyone. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If someone says you’re talented, say, “Thank you, I work very hard.” They mean well, take the compliment.

Fifth. There are a bunch of people who will tell you in kind ways and not-so-kind ways that the arts are for fools who can’t manage a “real” career. What they do not and perhaps cannot understand is that not being an artist when you want to be simply leads to a chain of unfulfilling and meaningless careers that you never fully commit to or enjoy. Life is far too short to go through it longing.

Sixth: Don’t be alone. Involve yourself in a community. Isolation is death for artists. Surrounding yourself with artists of all different skill levels will teach you more than any class ever can. A good community will raise you up when you’re struggling, and will keep you grounded. There will always be someone better than you, don’t let that discourage you or inhibit your progress.

Seventh: Rest. If it hurts, stop. If you’re frustrated, take a break. If you need help, ask. Don’t let pain and exhaustion be a point of pride and don’t work yourself to death. Sitting in front of your tablet or easel for sixteen hours a day without eating or drinking is going to fuck you sideways when you get older. It doesn’t say that you’re devoted and hardworking, it says you don’t take care of yourself and don’t manage your time properly. Eat regularly, take your medication, make sure you drink water. Don’t survive on sleep deprivation and energy drinks. Your work suffers when you suffer.

On that note. Great art does not come from great suffering. If you create beautiful things from pain, imagine the things you could make when you’re safe and okay.

Tragedy, trauma, angst, anger and sadness don’t make you interesting. They inhibit your feelings, keep you from growing, they keep you from forming good and healthy relationships with the people around you. They keep you from becoming the person you want to be. Don’t wear your sorrow like a trophy, because it isn’t. The fact you survived it makes you strong. What will make you interesting – and your work interesting – is how you recovered and grew beyond those circumstances.

You are worth more than the things you produce. Don’t tie your self-worth and self-esteem to your craft.

Stay humble. Work hard, be sincere in your passions and in your relationships with others. Be as good to the people around you as you can be, and if you can’t say anything kind, shut the actual fuck up because no one needs your bullshit.  The most important thing in this world that we can be is kind. Life is difficult. Life as a creative is even harder. Do not be the reason someone else decides to quit doing what they love. Everyone has something amazing about them, be receptive to finding it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual.

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

Personally, no. I don’t talk about it much as I’m a pretty private person about my romantic relationships.

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

That asexual people are sex-repulsed. That we’re frigid or cold. That we don’t actually enjoy any form of physical contact whatsoever. That we’re broken or defective.

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

“Even if it gets hard

don’t lose that light.”

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

http://www.twitter.com/runesael

http://runesael.squarespace.com/

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

Interview: NW

Today we’re joined by NW. NW is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in fanart. She does mostly digital art, though she does occasionally dabbles in traditional media. NW does a lot of costume and character design. She enjoys doing mostly fanart, but will occasionally do original art. 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.

meeeeee

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

So, a lot of my work right now is done digitally — that is to say I don’t have an aversion to traditional media, it’s just more accessible to me at the moment — and usually it’s of people. Ranging from character or costume design, fan art, and a lot of my original artwork I don’t get to post. I love drawing portraits and faces, so right now, I guess the majority (that I post, anyway) is of that. I’m mostly self-taught; I’ve learned through practicing, studying classical paintings, and even watching Bob Ross as a little girl. I’ve had the traditional drawing courses (you know, still lives of apples or shapes) in addition to a lot of experimentation software like Paint Tool SAI, Adobe Photoshop, and Procreate.

I don’t particularly stick to one “style”; I don’t really like doing line art, I find it too time-consuming and I have issues with tremor, no thanks to my medication I take. So my style is very “paintery”, if you like. What I’ve learned in painting courses (and, again, Bob Ross) and I paint over my mistakes. When I do traditional media, I usually go back to the pencil or watercolors. I’m a visual person and I love coloring and colors. My favorite thing about creating art is eventually coloring it.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me.

Art has been a therapeutic thing for me and I’ve gone back and added my own feelings in them. I’m very guilty of day-dreaming and since I was a kid, those day dreams inspire art. I think of stories and they become my pieces. Things I see in real life, whether it be color combinations, fashion, or images I pass, I try to hold onto that visual memory and bring it back.  Nowadays, I carry my iPad and stop to at least get it out before it goes. Movies definitely do—I hadn’t realized how much movies affected my stories and images until I got older.

Other artists most definitely do, which is why I’m Tumblr a lot. Most of the blogs I follow are other artists. There are also a few blogs that post traditional and classical artwork that I love. And, really, the music I listen to also is a huge influence on me and I always listen to certain bands and artists to try and captivate a mood in my pieces. My usernames “ofborrowedlight” and “rainbowillness” actually come from one band that I listen to a lot when I do artwork, Wolves in the Throne Room. They’re titles to two songs, “Rainbow Illness” and “Queen of the Borrowed Light”. For my personal “project”, I listen to them quite a bit.

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

Well, I’ve been holding a pencil since I had an Etch-a-Sketch and I cannot recall the rest. And I keep bringing up Bob Ross for a reason—I watched him religiously as a little girl. I’d say that he was actually the first influence that wanted me to get into the field. By the age of five, my mind was made up: I wanted to be an artist. I struggled with dyslexia and bullying and art was my constant companion for me. Having that man on television taught me so much about color and composition at an early age and his attitude of “there are no accidents, only happy mistakes” is such a positive thing to have and he’s really still pushing me, to this day, with that attitude. If you ask me now, yeah, I still want to draw and create for a living. It hasn’t been easy working full-time and trying to earn money, though, but I have not given up. I still try to draw every day; unfortunately, I get really shy posting stuff online or I’m spending more time on it than I wanted to.

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 in particularly? At least I don’t think so; maybe my coloring?

Maybe the closest to it if anyone notices that I incorporate a wave or a flow around my figures, sometimes. That comes from how Gustav Kilmt, Alphonse Mucha, and some traditional Japanese paintings that seem to have a special way to draw smoke and water. I can’t really write it, but anyone can find it in my sketches. But flat out, there’s no real unique symbolism, usually. If there is, it’s with my original stuff with little hints, but no one is going to know context, it’s just me, because I haven’t really presented the world with that story yet. It’s an inside joke with me, I guess.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing, draw as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to expand your style. I was like a lot of artists out here on Tumblr; I’d print Sailor Moon illustrations and copied them. It’s good to do that to get up on your feet, but don’t allow that to be a dependency. Don’t be afraid to get books for the sake of illustrations—I still do. And don’t feel bad about your level of technique doesn’t match your friends or other artists out there. Art is all about your interpretation. While I can go on hours how stupid still lives and contour drawing is, they are essential to getting better. Take classic courses; if they’re not accessible to you, check out Udemy or Coursea.

With digital art, it’s a lot of practice. You just need to play around with features in software and you’ll find some really cool effects to enhance your coloring. Transitioning from a sketchbook to a drawing tablet is weird and don’t feel bad about not getting it; it took me years to get it and I’m still trying to play around with it. You’ll find a favorite program that you love! And even then, I would encourage you to have more than one digital art program. I hop around Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop, and Procreate all the time.

And really, I can’t stress it enough: don’t give up. You’re in an age where more of these things are accessible to you and it wasn’t when I was a kid. Keep drawing, draw more, and draw whatever you want.

versussmall
Versus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteromantic asexual but more often gray-sexual. I think men are handsome, that’s about it. I’m not bothered by it and I really don’t care about relationships. Finding a man attractive is the furthest I’ll go; I don’t want much interaction after that.

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

The closest I’ve experienced any sort of misconception have been at concerts, anime, or comic conventions (surprise, I draw there too) and having to really push back men that have approached me for a date or my number. If they really can’t take the hint or accept “no” for an answer, I’ll get up and leave. A few times I’ve had men at just concerts or gatherings telling me they can “fix” me or change my mind. Then I’ll just tell them to fuck right the hell off, literally.

However, the most prejudice and ignorance I experience is outside of art and I experience it more with my family. It’s an odd mix of Irish and Mexican Catholicism where most of the women in my family married young (we’re talking 17-19) and they think there’s something wrong with me because I have no kids and I’m not married. No matter how many times I tell them “I don’t care, I don’t find anyone attractive” or “sex doesn’t interest me”, it doesn’t seem to sink in. Even when I told them there’s a community of other asexuals, one said “well, they must all be very depressed”. I make jokes about things like “this is why I don’t date” and use it to reiterate I don’t care about relationships.

So I’d say the run of the mill crap—“you haven’t found the right man”, “you’ll change your mind someday”, or “you must be very lonely”. I just shrug it off because I’ve had this conversation so many times with my family.

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

I’m not sure if this is common, but my father believed it was the same as bisexuality—I’m just glad he recognizes that even if I’m not!

One thing I’ve seen is people assume its celibacy and then I have to explain there is a huge difference between the two. It does get tiring having to explain it’s a lack of physical attraction and a desire for it and no, I am not going to change, I’m not worried about not being married, and I’m well over 20 years old and it’s not likely I’m having second thoughts. I am, myself, sex-repulsed, but other asexual people are not and that’s usually one assumption that people go with. Having other people chime in and say they aren’t hleps.

Unfortunately, I will say that because I struggle with PTSD from abuse, therapists assume that the asexuality may be a cause of it. I’m sure it’s a contribution, but more along the lines I just find general touch revolting, though I’m confident that it’s not the ultimate reason why I’m asexual. I feel like psychology needs to learn more about it because I am tired of that assumption is because its due to trauma. I don’t think it’s asking too much that therapists and psychiatrists learn about asexuality. We’re not all like this, not every asexual person is like that due to trauma. And this thinking let me believe that I was really, really destroyed for years when I was not.

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

If you also had a past of trauma like me, I’d say check out Aven and other communities geared towards asexuality so that you will know you’re not broken. I feel like this isn’t really talked about that much and it’s a shame. This isn’t part of PTSD or other forms of mental illness; you are not mentally ill if you’re asexual. When I first heard asexual at 18, I didn’t know about these things and I’m so happy other people have this access. Even now, at Pridefest here in Denver, there are asexuals and I haven’t seen them not even five years ago. My present employer, Ikea, even had “asexuality” listed on their diversity and inclusion talks—that’s really awesome.

There’s a lot of research and groups, there’s a whole world out there. But if you get the same spiel as I do, I think at this point, all we can do is just poke fun at it. Nothing makes me feel better than mocking these conceptions with other aces, it’s a nice reassurance. And if you’re in the same boat with me and family, yeah, post a link on Facebook or just print it off and be like “read this”. I don’t feel like we have the same level of resistance to people that are gay, lesbian, bi, and trans, so we need to also understand that. Watching a family member bullied out of the closet was horrific; I still couldn’t draw comparisons to their situation. Ours seems like a lot of people just can’t comprehend a life without physical attraction, I think. I just hope people remember that, especially.

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

Most of my stuff is posted on Rainbowillness.com, which is hooked up to Tumblr. If you’re in the American McGee’s Alice fandom, you know me, I’m sure you’ve seen my stuff. I’m also on Instagram under “ofborrowedlight”; sometimes I will post WIPs (works in progress) on my personal Tumblr, “ofborrowedlight”, but I urge everyone just go on my site and follow me there.

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

Interview: Jess Renae Curtis

Today we’re joined by Jess Renae Curtis, who also goes by Jess or Pup. Jess is the phenomenal artist behind PuppyLuver Studios. She does mostly fan work at the moment but has also recently branched out into original work. She is currently dabbling with creating an original universe. Jess is mostly a digital artist and creates both fanart and original characters through drawing. Her work is bright and colorful, capturing the viewer and drawing them in. It shows an amazing attention to detail. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. owl barber
Owl Barber

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m both a writer and a digital artist. My illustrations are generally focused on characters, both original designs and those from fandoms I’m involved in, and tend to use a lot of varied color. My writing is involved in both fanfiction (notable ones I’m working on at the moment include Chronicles of Tajiria, a Pokémon series but with the Pokémon as people with superpowers/magic, and Sonata in Triplicate, a Legend of Zelda AU series) and my original series Theia Historica, of which I have the first entry (titled A Kingdom of Children) published.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a definite answer for that, it could be just about anything depending on what sort of thing or things it ends up inspiring. I’ve had small one-page comics based on something funny that happened to me while playing a video game, I’ve designed a character because a YouTuber I follow posted a video of himself shaving his beard with a razor that I initially thought looked like an owl, I’ve drawn pieces based on something funny a friend said to me, lots of things. In fact, the general art direction of Theia Historica has its roots in one very specific part in the PS2 role-playing game Okage: Shadow King, but it’s a long explanation so that’s a story for another time.

2. mermaids working out
Mermaids Working Out

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

I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and while I always liked drawing it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life for the longest time. Funnily enough, my first career choices were astronaut and veterinarian, before I realized that the things in space kinda scared me and I was squeamish about blood and other bodily fluids, so around middle school I decided to try a career path that I already had some skill and comfort in. I started storytelling shortly after becoming literate, though unlike visual art that was always something I could see myself doing professionally, though more as an “after I’m done being an astrovet” thing than as part of my main career.

3. brunswick manor front
Brunswick Manor front

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?

Can’t think of anything in particular except for the star that I use as my watermark (a five-point star with each point being a different color of the rainbow except for orange). Also in major writing projects I tend to find some way or another to put myself in there. Just…self-insert in the background, there I am.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re feeling discouraged about your skill level, remember to keep trying and that you can only get better. You’ve got wonderful visions that’ve been concocted solely by the processes of your imagination, and only you can bring them to life for the world to see. Also, don’t pay attention to what cringe culture says. Make that multicolor Sonic OC if you want. Write a short story about you getting transported to your favorite fictional world and becoming best buds with the main characters if doing so cheers you up when you’re feeling down. Don’t let anyone stop you from enjoying something that makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others.

4. journey-traveler's hub
Journey-Traveler’s Hub

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual. I’m not entirely sure yet of where I fall in regards to romantic attraction, but if I were to try dating I think I’d want my first attempts at romantic experiences to be with women.

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

Not specifically in my field, no, and I don’t really know how I would handle it if I were to encounter prejudice that was physical or coming from a position of authority. Most people I’ve told about my asexuality are a bit confused as to what it means at first, but once I explain they’re generally supportive. I have had encounters with people who flat-out refused to believe that I was an adult who didn’t enjoy sex and couldn’t ever imagine doing so, but that one was on me for commenting on a video explicitly titled “Why Does Sex Feel Good?” and saying that I couldn’t understand why sex-havers craved it so strongly (I mean, I technically can, cuz if sex weren’t at least somewhat pleasurable to those willingly engaging in it then the species would die out because then no one would be boinking and possibly making babies) and I thought the whole societal obsession with it was a bit ridiculous. I kinda walked into that one, and I ended up just muting that conversation and moving on.

5. skull kid and deku tree
Skull Kid and Deku Tree

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

If they don’t outright dismiss the possibility of asexuality/aromanticism existing, they tend to assume all asexual people share my feelings in that sex is something they wish to avoid. While I am not one of them, there are obviously plenty of asexuals who either are indifferent or even enjoy sex as an activity. I’m put off by all the mess that I’ve heard results from a typical sexual encounter to even consider trying it, but I will never knock on any sex-positive or sex-neutral aces.

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

Not having a sexual or romantic attraction is just as normal as having a sexual or romantic attraction to people of a different gender, the same gender, or multiple genders. You’re not broken just because all your peers are ogling “sexy” celebrities and you find yourself feeling indifferent to the whole thing. And don’t listen to all the highly vocal exclusionists plaguing the internet that say a-spec people don’t belong. They are the minority given megaphones, and the majority of LGBT groups and spaces are inclusive of a-specs.

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

You can find my stuff on DeviantART under the username PuppyLuver, and on Tumblr, Twitter, FanFiction.net, and AO3 under the username PuppyLuver256. I also have a Redbubble store and a Patreon.

6. shiny mahina
Shiny Mahina

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

Interview: Meg

Today we’re joined by Meg. Meg is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in photo manipulation and book cover design. Her work is gorgeous, showing a keen eye for detail and a vivid imagination. It’s clear she’s an artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mostly do digital art with the program Photoshop CC. The majority of things that I make fall under the categories of photomanipulation and book cover design. I’ve been practicing doing digital art for five years now and I hope to continue in the future.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Sometimes I’ll be out walking on the street with my family and I’ll stop to take a picture of a design that I particularly like. They will confirm this.

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

When I was younger, I wanted to be the type of artist who did paintings and the like. Does that count? Of course, I realized I couldn’t draw for shit, so, you know, digital art. But yeah, I’ve always kind of wanted to do some kind of 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?

I wish. I will say that the majority of my work includes the color blue as it has been a long time favorite of mine.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

As Dory says, ‘Just keep swimming.’ Don’t give up just because you see someone that you think is way better than you, or because you think that you aren’t good enough. It may sound cliché, but nobody starts off any art as Michelangelo. On that note, try not to be too harsh on your own work, something I’m frequently guilty of myself. Whoops.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

So, so, so asexual.

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

Actually, I have not experienced a lot of prejudice in my field, and I’m very thankful for that.

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

That asexuals don’t have dirty minds. Oh my god, so not true. Speaking from personal experience.

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

It’s not ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ to be asexual. It is what it is.

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

I actually have a website! (Finally): pantographics.wixsite.com/pantographicdesigns

And an Instagram: at pantographics.

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

Interview: Renn

Today we’re joined by Renn. Renn is an extraordinary visual artist who also dabbles in embroidery and sings in their state’s LGBTQ+ chorus. They have mainly worked in traditional mediums, though they have recently started branching out into digital art. Their work is fascinating in its use of color and light. It’s clear Renn is an incredibly talented and passionate artist who enjoys what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m something of an ace-of-all trades (pardon the pun). Most of my work has been traditional pen and ink drawings- I’ve always been the most comfortable with felt pens as my medium since you can re-do the sketch as many times as it takes to get each line juuuuuuust right before finalizing it in ink. Every now and then I’ll do a watercolor- the colors can be quite vibrant and watercolors can blend together in a way markers and ink can’t. Watercolor is something of an exercise in discipline for me; I’m not the most patient of persons even without taking my ADHD into account- so waiting for the paint to dry before adding another piece of color can be trying sometimes. I’ve ruined plenty of paintings only because I just couldn’t wait! I recently started painting digitally with my beloved Huion tablet- a much better way for me to explore painting as a medium because there are no more wait times for colors to dry! And layers! Oh do I love my layers. Working digitally, I enjoy using a limited but vibrant pallet to challenge myself to really bring out the highlights and shadows of what I’m drawing, making the artwork overall more striking.

Sometimes when I have the time + materials + energy, I craft my own cosplays (and bowties!) In my spare time I also enjoy doing embroidery and singing with the Rainbow Chorale, my state’s local LGBTQ+ chorus!

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What inspires you?

A lot of my main drive to create comes from seeing the work of other artists. You know how your brain will see someone else’s work and go “Gee I wish I could draw like that!” I take that feeling and turn it into “Well why don’t I go and draw something I want to create that will look just as good that I and other people will enjoy!”

I also enjoy doing art as an out and visible queer asexual person, because it gives other people like me the chance to see themselves reflected in my art and see themselves being represented, even if they themselves cannot be out and visible like me.

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Butterflies

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

I’ve been drawing since I was really little, like 4 or so. Creating art through drawing was something I would do to relax after school…  or something I did to avoid taking notes or doing homework… ah ha. For young, awkward, socially anxious me, art was the best way for me to express myself and communicate. So, in a way, I’ve always been interested in creative fields because that ability to create from my own ideas has always been with me. With respect to “wanting to be an artist” (I’m interpreting this as become a professional) drawing as a job isn’t something I want to do. I’m happy to take the occasional commission, or make something as a gift, but drawing as my main profession isn’t for me. Art is an escape for me, for when life gets to be too overwhelming. If that escape was invaded by the stress and pressure to constantly create and keep churning out artwork, then creating would no longer be that escape for 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?

I always sign my work (well, when I remember) with my screen-name (Renaissance Aeroplane) initials “RA” and a little airplane flying out from the “A”. Typically I’ll put it in the corner of digital paintings, and tuck it in somewhere in sight when I do pen and paper drawings.

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I’ve had that screen-name for a while, except ‘renaissance’ was spelled with two Ns since spelling wasn’t a strong suit of mine. Thus that turned into the nickname “Renn” which I’ve gotten rather attached to and started using as an offline nickname as well.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take a deep breath, and relax. Sit back, stretch your arms, and release that tension you’ve been holding in. It’s okay- if you aren’t as popular as that one artist, if that one line just refuses to come out right, if you fudged up the inking, painting didn’t come out the way you wanted it to- It’s going to be all right! There’s always so much pressure as an artist, to keep making more art and be perfect and get likes/reblogs/retweets/site traffic. That pressure is overwhelming and the last thing that will help you improve is pushing yourself so hard that creating art becomes stressful and overwhelming. So take another deep breath, relax, and continue to do what makes you happy.

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Palette Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Definitely full-on asexual; the frying-pan of sexual attraction feelings won’t be hitting me in the face anytime soon. It’s not a sensation I’ve ever felt, likely will never feel, and I am cool with that being so. I’m probably?? somewhere on the gray-bi-romantic scale of things; every now and then I’ll become romantically inclined towards someone, but it doesn’t happen all that often. *shrug*

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

Fortunately I haven’t had much experience with prejudice aside from the occasional bigot being rude online. What I have encountered more of is well-meaning but ignorant folks coming into my inbox and expecting me to educate them. Which can sometimes be annoying, and other times be emotionally draining and exhausting. So, what I’ll do is send them a few links with good articles about asexuality (or trans/nonbinary issues because I get questions about that too. Yaaaaaay.) that I’ve read through beforehand to ensure all the info is correct. Then I’ll let them know I’m glad they want to learn more, but I don’t have the time/energy to educate them one on one on the basics, that the links I sent contain more info about the subject, and once they’ve read through what I’ve sent and understand it, I’ll be happy to talk with them later.

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

That eventually I’ll “grow out of it” or “there’s always the possibility you meet the right person!” *barf* I get that for some people, sexuality can change or you can discover something you didn’t know about yourself, but that is not me. I already did all my soul-searching and exploring and I am quite happy labeling myself as ace, thanks very much. That and there’s something so gross about the insistence that I will become sexually attracted to someone. Euggggh.

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

It’s helpful to ask for advice or experiences from other ace folks and to ask other LGBTQ+ folks about their experiences to help you figure out what you’re feeling- BUT what determines your sexuality, above all, is what YOU think and how YOU feel. So, if you think “Well I’ve never/rarely/only sometimes feel sexually/physically attracted to people” then congrats! You’re ace! And that is for you to decide whether or not you want to label yourself that way.

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

Y’all can find me on Tumblr at renn-aeroplane-art.tumblr.com where I post all of my recent works or if you want to trawl my old Deviantart for some of my older stuff I go by Senkokura there. If you like goofy cat pictures interspersed with the occasional drawing or selfie, then check out my Instagram at renaissance_aeroplane!

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The Witch

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

Interview: Megan

Today we’re joined by Megan. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist who is starting out in writing as well. They are an illustrator and comic artist from the Kansas City area, who focuses mainly on storytelling and narratives. They do a lot of narrative illustrations and comics. For writing, they’re interested in writing fantasy and prose. They’re clearly an incredibly dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Emmaline Twist

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an illustrator and writer, working full time as a production artist to pay the bills, and then working on comics and illustrations with narrative components on the side. I primarily work digitally, employing both a comic-y inking style, as well as a realistic sort of oil-painting style, all either on my computer and display tablet, or on programs on my iPad. As a writer I love to write fantasy and other prose fiction, and have started efforts to build a portfolio and work towards getting published, both short stories and future novels.

What inspires you?

The first place I usually look for some sort of inspiration is anything Neil Gaiman has said. He has given many speeches and written many essays on the importance of story and art in the world, and those- as well as his words on imposter syndrome- give me strength.

But I’m also fascinated by people. Humans are capable of amazing things like constructing massive skyscrapers and engineering microscopic movies; surviving under dangerous conditions, and getting together to hold festivals full of color and light. Traveling to different countries and being exposed to new cultures has been eye-opening for me and is a never-ending resource for inspiration and creativity.

As of late, Dungeons and Dragons has also been stimulating for me, from the components like dice and figurines to the stories people tell through the witty and clever characters they (and I) create. Who doesn’t love goblins and magic?

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

I always enjoyed drawing and painting, although I was never really good at it. I loved getting new paint kits and sitting down to paint a little teapot or planter, but what really got me into art was my obsession with a particular video game. I was a high school sophomore, just starting part-time in college with the intent of pursuing a medical degree, and bored. My dad worked at my school, so I would sit in his office after class and wait til he could take me home. I vividly remember one day sitting in his office, and instead of doing homework, I started writing a fanfiction, pen on paper, that I had started rolling around in my head. Art had also sprung out of this video game obsession, where I discovered the concept of fanart on DeviantART (I was a sheltered homeschooled child). It made me honestly, truly happy to write and draw and see the progress I was making, and to see other people enjoying what I had made. When I took a college drawing course a year later, I only became more passionate and ditched the medical school plans for art, and 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?

One thing I like to do is that whenever I have to draw a crowd scene, I like to sneak in some of my characters from other places- Dungeons and Dragons, or old fanfiction characters- just subtly enough that not many would see anything different, but if you know the character, you could find them. I hope someday it becomes a bit of a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Have fun, and take care of yourself.

These two tasks seem so arbitrary but they really mean the difference for physical and mental wellbeing. Drawing can seem like a chore sometimes, especially when you’re only drawing or writing something to pay bills, but when you have free time to draw whatever you want, you should draw what you want to draw. Write what you want to write. If you go in with the idea that whatever you make has to be ‘good enough’ to be printed or published, you’re going to hit a lot of brick walls in the process that only give you headaches. But if you have fun with it, you’re more likely to finish your project, and just finishing is half the battle.

But taking care of yourself is vital as well, and I wish it was emphasized more in educational settings. You NEED rest, you NEED food and water, and though I realize the idea of the ‘depressed artist working 16 hour days’ is fairly romanticized, it’s actually incredibly debilitating to work like that, if you can work at all. You can’t make your best work while you’re exhausted, and pushing yourself too hard will end up destroying your mind and body. Seriously. Take a break. Right now, go stretch and drink a glass of water.

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Oasis

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual as a broad term, and I’ve definitely hovered over different labels and questioned myself several times, but I’m most comfortable for the time being with the umbrella term of ‘Ace’. I believe I may be demiromantic, but I’ve never had a relationship and don’t intend to explore that area just yet. Someday though.

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

I’m not really out about my identity, so I’ve avoided it. There aren’t many aces that I’m aware of in my field, so I haven’t seen anything. I’m sure there’s prejudice out there though, people are unfortunately afraid of things that are different.

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

That asexuals don’t like sex! I think that it could be more difficult for some to get into the mood, but Asexuality is defined as having a lack of sexual attraction to people, not the lack of desire for sex. An ace person could still be romanced for sure, or maybe they just really enjoy some self-love!

(Also, the A stands for Asexual, not Ally!!)

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

Nothing is set in stone, your identity is going to change as you explore and experiment. And that’s fine, most people try several different labels and have various experiences before they settle into something that ‘fits’. And sometimes, maybe you don’t find something that fits, and that’s okay, too. You’ll always be You.

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

You can find my artwork here, and my little baby blog is here!

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