Interview: Erin Malo

Today we’re joined by Erin Malo. Erin is a phenomenal visual artist who was interviewed some time ago on this site. She has done quite a bit of work since then, including some design work on asexuality. She works in a number of mediums, both traditional and digital. Her work is fascinating and diverse, showing a great amount of talent. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. malo17 sustained tonal

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a 4th year visual communication design student, and I work primarily with logos and identity branding. I also love both digital and traditional illustration, and traditional art when I have the free time. Photography is a recent darling of mine as well. I guess I do a little bit of everything!

2. malo 27 five hour tonal

What inspires you?

When it comes to design, I get really inspired by other creators. I can scroll Instagram and Pinterest for hours, looking at all the amazing and unique ideas people have! In my illustration work, I’m endlessly inspired by the various D&D campaigns I’m in. I feel like I’m always doodling the characters and the monsters we come across. For my traditional art, I’m inspired by the body and the natural world.

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

I’ve always wanted to be an artist, as far as I remember. I loved art as a kid, so I did it a lot and got good at it. I didn’t want to formally pursue art after high school because it’s such a difficult field to break into, especially in a fairly small city like Edmonton, so I looked into animation, interior design, and visual communication design, and settled on the latter. It turned out to be much closer to my heart than I expected, and 4 years into my degree I’m still loving it!

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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?

No, I don’t think I do.

6. dee b day 2018 poster

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Nobody can create exactly what you can. Don’t get discouraged because there’s artists out there better than you. Just do your own unique thing, and do it lots, and share it with everyone you can. You’ll find the people who love what only you can do, even when you don’t always love everything you make.

5. EMcover page

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual when asked, but I’m probably more specifically demisexual. I’m biromantic as well.

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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’ve received very little negativity in person when it comes to my identity. I’m pretty open about being asexual, so if people have a problem with me, they’re staying quiet. I presented a zine I made on asexuality to my design classmates in my second year, and I got polite curiosity and even some praise for my openness.

8. malo9 perspective building

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

Definitely that (some) asexual people never have sex, or are incapable of sex. It’s very difficult to explain to people that attraction is highly separate from libido – especially when those people are people you don’t necessarily want to sit down and have a conversation about sex with. An unfortunate part of coming out as ace (I’ve found) is having to do the internal work to understand how your own attractions and feelings mesh together, and then articulate that to others if you want them to have an accurate picture of what asexuality is to you. Not that it’s anyone’s business. I just have less and less pride about it every passing year and I’m fine detailing the nitty-gritty to people who ask me questions. Aces with big ol’ sex drives exist, and I’ve had to become fine with explaining that to non-aces.

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

You’ll probably figure it out, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. It doesn’t matter how long you identify as ace, you will likely always doubt that you’re “actually” ace, and that’s okay. If it’s comforting to you and it describes your experience better than other labels in the moment, by all means, use it. Also, if you’re feeling like aces aren’t accepted in the queer community, get off Tumblr, and go make your presence known in a LGTBQA+ group in your school, community, whatever. You’re much more accepted and wanted than others would have you believe.

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

I’ve got an art blog on here at neon-biology, and an Instagram account full of art at erin_aceous. As well, if you’d like a free 12-page pdf. of my zine on asexuality, titled “Visible”, you can email me at emalo[at]ualberta[dot]ca.

10. personal branding mockup

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

Interview: Wolfberry Studio

Today we’re joined by Jay at Wolfberry Studio. Jay is a phenomenal visual artist who works in digital illustration. Their work is mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres and features people of color, who are underrepresented in such genres. Jay’s work shows extraordinary attention to detail and the images evoke such an amazing sense of imagination and beauty. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Kadal Kanni
Kadal Kanni

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a digital illustrator who works mostly in vector. My fantasy and sci-fi illustrations focus on people of color who are under-represented in these genres.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by legends and myths from around the world. I enjoy exploring the differences and similarities between stories from different cultures. Stylistic influences include Chinese classical painting and Japanese animation.

In addition to visiting museums and galleries regularly to gain exposure to a wide range of styles, I do live drawing outdoors. Nature can inspire, even if you are not a nature painter.

Cables
Cables

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

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I was one of those kids who got reprimanded for doodling in class in elementary school. I saw drawing as a way to tell stories. I drew comics about my classmates.

As I grew older, I became increasingly aware of the role of visual art in disseminating social messages. I had observed the lack of diversity in certain genres. One day, I realized that instead of complaining about other artists not drawing what I want to see, maybe I should draw what I want to see. That was when I decided to pursue formal artistic training.

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 studio signature is consists of the Chinese characters for Wolfberry Studio.  Wolfberry is another name for goji berry.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is OK to feel disappointed with your work sometimes.  The fact that you are self-critical is a good thing. It shows that you are ready and willing to improve. In art school, I saw that the artists who improved their skills most quickly were the ones who were the most open to critique.

Regarding how to deal with the gap between where we are as creatives and where we want to be, Ira Glass of This American Life says it best in a 2009 interview:  (http://www.mcwade.com/DesignTalk/2011/04/nobody-tells-this-to-beginners/)

He was talking about video producers, but his comments can apply to just about any field.

We are all on a journey to getting better. It never ends.

Lattices
Lattices

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-A. Aromantic.

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

Not in professional relationships, since the subject has never come up with clients.

I do want to say that I am pleased by the presence of out asexual artists of all levels in online communities. Their visibility paves the way for the rest of us.

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

Some people think that asexuality is pathological, and that aces would be happier if they weren’t asexual.

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

There is no need to fit yourself into someone else’s concept of a happy, fulfilling life.  What’s right for others might not be right for you. You are the only one who knows what’s right for you.

People shouldn’t be giving you a hard time for being asexual any more than you should be giving than a hard time for being allosexual, or for being a football fan, or liking ice cream, or being into whatever else they’re into but you’re not into.

You’re the only one who has to live your life. You’re not living it for anyone else. Seek out people who respect you and accept you the way you are.

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

https://wolfberry-j.deviantart.com/
https://wolfberrystudio.blogspot.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wolfberrystudio/
https://www.redbubble.com/people/WolfberryStudio/portfolio.

Autumn Kitten
Autumn Kitten

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

Interview: Victoria Jeon

Today we’re joined by Victoria Jeon. Victoria is a phenomenally talented writer and visual artist who specializes in webcomics. Most of her work falls under dark fantasy, though she explores many themes and ideas through her art. Victoria currently has a webcomic entitled Perfection Engine, which has just the most fascinating premise. She’s clearly a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read and see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Lucifer
Lucifer

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a digital illustrator and a webcomic artist. I mostly draw original character art, although I’ve drawn and sold some fanart in the past and recently started to participate in fanzines. My art often involves dark fantasy, symbolism and wordplay, philosophical subjects, and I strive to make works that look like traditional, oil paintings.

My current webcomic project is “Perfection Engine,” a fantasy webcomic that involves an angelic race in a seemingly perfect society, devoted to bringing back their beloved Maker. It is meant to be a shorter webcomic before I start some of my longer stories, but it’s a dark satire that hopefully comes across with a lot of insight and symbolism.

I am actually also a first year law student, meaning I am effectively living a double life with the beginnings of my legal career and my art. My art, whether I am painting illustrations or making webcomic pages definitely is a source of joy and comfort when I’m burnt out from law school work. It’s a huge challenge keeping up with both, but when both are in balance, I get fulfillment from both sides of my life.

2. Perfection Engine Cast
Perfection Engine Cast

What inspires you?

As far as my art style goes, I primarily draw inspiration from Blaze Wu, Yoshitaka Amano, Ayami Kojima, and Minori. I also tend to draw inspiration from baroque paintings, rococo paintings, and impressionist paintings, although it’s really hard to pinpoint a favorite or several from there!

Fashion also is a huge inspiration for me as well. I’ve been involved with Japanese fashion styles (i.e. Lolita fashion, Shironuri, and Mori fashion) for quite some time, so some of my characters naturally have designs similar to those fashion styles. I’ve been looking a bit more towards Haute Couture and up and coming fashion designers for inspiration too. Lately, I’ve been looking towards Comme de Garçons, Alice Auaa, Alexander McQueen, Linda Friesen, and more.

Subject matter for my stories is a lot darker, haha. I take from fairy tales, world history, philosophy, real life events, my life, and general observations about human nature and society. For example, one of my future projects brings a question, “What would it be like to search for truths people have taken to the grave?” Another explores the question, “What’s the point of all that power in your hands if you cannot reach for help?” Perfection Engine, my current webcomic, explores, in part, the question, “What if a God does not want to be worshipped?” and is very loosely based on a toxic relationship I’ve had in my past. A lot of my stories thus tend to lean to a tragic atmosphere, although I do hope people get some food for thought in the process of exploring them! It’d be good if some people got good out of what spite or anger I may feel against real life.

Aside from fairy tales, history, philosophy, and just reality in general, video games, movies and TV shows inspire me greatly as well. I take great amount of inspiration from Yoko Taro (Drakengard/Nier series), Final Fantasy 10, Dark Souls, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Pan’s Labyrinth, Project Itoh (Empire of Corpses, Harmony), and more.

Lastly, close friends are always an inspiration, even if we have very different philosophies and inspirations for our respective works. They help provide the drive and the food and drinks when all the visual and material inspirations cannot. Literally.

3. Golden - Self Portrait
Golden – Self Portrait

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

It’s a bit embarrassing to say, but I got into drawing a while after writing terrible fanfiction of video games when I was ten. At first, it was drawing fanart and self-inserts. Then it was a bunch of RP characters. I eventually got introduced to DeviantArt when I was 14, at which point I started to devote serious time and effort into drawing, writing stories, making characters, and improving my craft. I think I always enjoyed drawing, but it wasn’t up until this point that I seriously considered a path in art.

Due to a variety of personal reasons, circumstances and other interests in my life, I’ve ended up going to law school instead. I definitely was not going to give up art just because I was going into an entirely different field altogether though. I still have some stories I want to tell and endless things I want to illustrate.

4. Conjoined Souls
Conjoined Souls

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?

The penname “Alberloze” is a word in a fictional language that spans across almost all of my current stories. It means “White Rose,” but it colloquially means “True Love.” This is not restricted to romantic love either; it could be true love between friends, family, and so on. As for certain symbols and features, I tend to use a lot of flower, animal, and divine symbolisms. I also adore wordplay (namely palindromes, dual-meanings, and anagrams), and use them where I can.

It’s probably worth noting that a lot of my stories involve the soul in some form or another. I can’t exactly divulge how so as some of these stories are not published yet, but the human soul has always fascinated me. So many people define the soul in vastly different ways. Some do not believe in souls or anything spiritual, that it is a fictional concept. Some believe humanity and souls are the same thing. Some believe the soul is made of our thoughts and feelings. Some believe it is our will. Some believe souls straight-up cannot be comprehended.

My stories also tend to revolve around a theme. For my current project, Perfection Engine, for example, the theme is “Obsession.” Another story’s is “Truth.” Another story’s is “Vengeance.” And the last in that sequence of stories is “Karma.” I’m aiming to make stories with the theme of “Hope” or “Dreams” eventually too — something a lot happier and lighthearted. I’m contemplating on a magical girl series or a series of fairy tale retellings.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take some time to figure out who you are. Your artwork will seem a lot more genuine and interesting when you take time to figure out what you like, what stories you have to tell, and who you are as a person. Think of it like going to an isolated mountain and meditating to become stronger like in kung-fu movies.

Always be open to experimenting. I found that experimenting is a sure way to get out of your comfort zone and discover art styles and work styles that you wouldn’t have discovered for yourself otherwise.

And lastly, do not be discouraged by other people. This ranges from societal expectations, to disapproving family members, to perhaps artists that you think are above and beyond where you are currently. It could be hard, that drawing in and of itself in those circumstances could feel like rebellion, but if you fight the good fight, I promise you will be satisfied with yourself in the long run.

5. Deficient Heaven
Deficient Heaven

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a cisgender woman (she/her), although sometimes I do question whether I really am cisgender as opposed to say, being genderfluid or genderless; I am also totally fine with they/them pronouns and allow people to use she/they interchangeably.

I am also biromantic asexual. I’d say I sit somewhere between sex-neutral to sex-negative asexuality, meaning I’d likely only volunteer to sexual activity under very narrow circumstances (with a significant other and after much deliberation and communication probably).

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

I have not experienced ace prejudice in my field yet —in law school and in art—, although I’ve seen quite a lot of people become confused about it. I am a part of the executive board in my law school’s OUTlaw group (LGBTQ+ lawyers group), and I’ve simply been doing what I can to accept any and all orientations that come in. As far as in the art field, I try to add more ace/aro representation with my characters. Many of them fall into the ace/aro spectrum, whether they are ace, aro, both, gray, or demi.

The one notable “prejudice” I’ve had was outside my field, in my personal life. After I’ve decided to come out as ace, I’ve had a conversation as to how my allosexual significant other (at the time) and I were going to “work something out” in light of me coming out as ace. Was it an attempt to “fix” my orientation, or was it trying to open up communication? I could not quite tell from the tone and facial expression. In the worst-case scenario, it was certainly prejudice of sorts. Other than that, I’ve been fortunate since my family and friends have been general accepting after I’ve explained how asexuality works.

6. Starkest Contrast
Starkest Contrast

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

There’s two in my case. The first is that asexual individuals are cold or antisocial. The second is that because we are ace, we are suddenly for some reason not allowed to enjoy certain aesthetics.

On the first count, asexual individuals are not abstaining because they haven’t found the right person or otherwise have committed to celibacy! They just simply don’t experience sexual attraction. Just because they don’t experience sexual attraction doesn’t mean that they don’t also want to avoid human interaction.

On the second count, aesthetic attraction/appreciation are very different from being sexual attraction. I’ve had a couple times in which I was looking at some risqué fashion (i.e. corsetry and lingerie) for designing and inspiration, and someone else asking me,

“Wait, aren’t you ace?”

“Yes but do you see the quality of that design?!”

7. Full Bloom
Full Bloom

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

Just remember that your identity is valid and you are not alone. It’s also worth remembering that a part of why a lot of asexuals are insecure of their own identity is because society really loves emphasizing sex and advertising it where they can. That is society’s inclination, and you can stand on your own against it to live out your own life. Better yet, you can find other asexual individuals, which can give you a sense of solidarity too!

8. Perfection Engine 2-3
Perfection Engine 2-3

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

You can find my current webcomic, Perfection Engine, on Tapas (https://tapas.io/series/Perfection-Engine). You can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, Artstation, Redbubble, and Instagram under “Alberloze.” Tumblr and Artstation are the best places to find my best works, although I post doodles and completed works first on Twitter.

9. Blood Oath - 5
Blood Oath – 5

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

Interview: Tricia

Today we’re joined by Tricia. Tricia is a phenomenal digital illustrator who does a number of different things. She enjoys drawing fluff muffins, which are like fairy cats. Tricia is also interested in designing various patterns, which makes for some fascinating visuals. Her work is beautiful, brimming with color and detail. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love to illustrate whimsical, nostalgic looking things. One of my favorite things to draw are these little creatures I made up years ago called fluff muffins, which are essentially fairy cats. They’re called fluff muffins because at the largest, they’re around the size of one of those giant muffins.

Lately I’ve also been very interested in surface/pattern/textile design. It’s crazy because once you realize artists make everything, you start seeing their art everywhere. Walking through Target was so distracting because I just kept picking up things with illustrations on them and thinking ‘I could do this someday!’ It’s very exciting, though. I hope to see my work on anything from bedsheets to paper plates someday.

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What inspires you?

There’s so much that inspires me. As a little kid, I had a ridiculously strong imagination. I clearly remember this time I went outside to talk to my mom, but it was so windy that the wind picked me up and I was flying in the air for a while until my mom grabbed me, put me back on the ground, and sent me back inside. In reality, the wind just knocked me over a few times, but that’s not how I remember it. I’ve always looked at the world and wondered if there wasn’t something just underneath, something a little bit more fantastical. On a more practical level, I’m fascinated by light and color.

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

I haven’t always wanted to be an artist, and didn’t really draw regularly until I was thirteen. I decided to work towards becoming a professional at fifteen-sixteen.

I do remember being fascinated with tileable patterns as a little kid though. I would spend hours looking up patterns I could tile for my desktop background. I just recently started designing patterns, but it’s so cool to be on the other side of it!

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?

Once I hid the Ninth Doctor into an illustration of my original characters. Can you find him?

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know everyone says this, but truly the biggest advice to give is to just keep going, keep practicing. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, refuse to give up. You may not be very good now, but you will be! Nobody was ever very good in the beginning, trust me.

Most importantly, keep your eyes open and study. Art is all about utilizing a visual library, and observing the world around you is the best way to build that. You’ll be amazed how much you learn just by paying attention.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as just aspec (aromantic and asexual spectrum), but if I had to figure out something more specific, I would be a romance and sex favorable aroace, with a potential preference for women. It’s a little up in the air, so I just stick to aspec for now.

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

Not in my specific field, but I’ve heard the typical comments here and there, things like “you’ll find the right person some day” and variants of that sentiment. One person told me I “just hadn’t smelled the right cologne yet.” I generally just try to educate and move on.

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

That asexuality is all about sex repulsion and not about attraction. It’s not that asexuality is a lack of sexuality at all, it’s just the lack of sexuality connected to other people.

That said, something I love about the ace community is its inclusive nature. Asexuality can cover those who are sex repulsed, even if they do experience attraction. It covers those who are traumatized, and it covers those who only experience attraction every once in a while. I’m so proud to be a part of a community that is open to all of the in betweens, I just wish more people knew that was the case.

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

You are not alone, and you don’t have to have it all figured out. Orientation is complicated and confusing, I know. But you’re not broken or weird, and labels are just there to help you understand yourself better. It’s okay if they change, and it’s okay if they don’t. Take care of yourself and don’t force anything you’re uncomfortable with.

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

You can find more of my work at notifyneelix here on Tumblr. Thank you for reading!

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

Interview: Shay

Today we’re joined by Shay. Shay is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in a cartoon style. She is a self-taught artist and is currently working to get a degree in animation. Her work has a masterful use of color and a sense of whimsy, which just makes you want to smile. She’s clearly a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

me windbreaker teal
Me Windbreaker Teal

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a self-taught digital illustrator and I’m pursuing a degree in 2D animation! I prefer to use a very Western cartoon-like style. Picking out bright or pastel color schemes is my favorite!

What inspires you?

I often draw my favorite YouTubers, my friends, and my two adorable dogs! I also do a lot of self-portraits. Lately I’ve been trying to create my own original characters, but those are all still a work in progress. When I’m not sure what to draw, I sometimes will come up with a color palette that I love and go from there!

amy sick
Amy Sick

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

I’ve always been interested in drawing, but I didn’t set my mind on really trying to improve until about 6 years ago. Growing up I would only consider more “practical” careers like graphic design or marketing. That is, until a year ago when it suddenly occurred to me that real people with real lives actually get to illustrate and animate for a living. And it made me think “Why couldn’t that be me?”

chica colored
Chica

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 typically, but when drawing myself I often include daisies somewhere in the illustration just because I really love them, and four-leaf clovers because I have a knack for finding them and they just seem to appear everywhere in my life. And it couldn’t hurt to have a little luck on my side!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to try out elements of a style from artists you look up to. As long as you’re not tracing or essentially/literally claiming their work as your own, it will certainly help you discover your own unique style. Everyone’s signature style is just a conglomerate of things they saw and just thought to themselves “Wow! I really like that! I wonder if I could replicate that!” Trying out styles like that really helps you come into your own with time.

ethan peace
Ethan Peace

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and heteromantic!

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

Not really, mostly just those that have never had the concept of asexuality explained to them. People tend to associate sex with something artistic, and therefore assume that all artists want that in their lives, which is not the case at all!

jack and mark dudebros fixed
Jack and Mark Dudebros

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

That it’s just being picky or that an ace person just “hasn’t found the right person yet.” If you’re asexual you don’t have any interest at all. I have never once in my life looked at someone and fantasized about having sex with them, and I’m in college. That has nothing to do with not finding the right person.

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

Please don’t stress about it too much! You may face some prejudice and ignorance about asexuality in your life, but at the end of the day you know how you feel, and nobody else can change that about you no matter how much they want to. You are not broken!

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

I’m most active on my Tumblr blog, but you can find me on these social medias:
DeviantART: https://sorrelheart.deviantart.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sorrelheart_jpg
Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/shaytastic

baylee happy
Baylee Happy

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

Interview: Jai M. King

Today we’re joined by Jai M. King, who was interviewed quite a while ago. Their company has since evolved into something almost completely new. Jai is a fascinating and unique artist that has a style that’s entirely their own. They’re behind Madjaw Dolls, a brand gearing toward multimedia arts. They do a lot of illustrations but also quite a lot of writing as well. Jai is currently working on a science fiction series, which is part of the Madjaw Dolls universe. Based on their interview, Jai is a fascinating and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

(WARNING: Some images contain nudity and are risque)

king_wtercolor
King watercolor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Madjaw Dolls is brand gearing towards the multimedia arts. There is one main universe in which all products and creations stem from. The stories under MJD combine influences of retro-fantasy, raypunk and Grimm’s fairytales to create a distinct branch of dark tales that are both innovative in terms of character and world design but also blunt in terms of political and social commentary.

My work ranges from traditional illustration to digital most recently with working on the IPad Pro. I am also going into producing for multimedia to expand MJD so I am also a creative director in collaborative projects.

Currently I’ve been in the process of producing a science fiction series called “Sector M.I.” which takes you through a multi-world war. The world design is very distinct to the universe in which a multitude of my stories derive from. Most of what will be seen at Madjaw Dolls exists within that universe.

What inspires you?

My inspirations range from the array of media I grew up on to naturally being attracted to retro-media such as anime/manga from the 1970s-1990s to western influences such as Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World” to much of the bizarre fantasy works from the 1970s and also the strange futuristic narrative of 1970s funk music. I also grew up loving the Grimm Brothers which has influenced my work and story process quite a bit. I love creating words that feel at least a little uncomfortable. A lot of my work has a warped quality that I’ve developed purposefully for the stories. I’m not so much about supplying reality as I’m about creating something entirely new.

Since my last interview with Asexual Artists I do think I’ve returned to my roots a little more with my influences. Every project I take on entails a good amount of research which I personally love as I often find that people tend to overlook just how much time and research it takes to develop a well-crafted creative process. I think my influences change the more I grow and learn.

kingfin
Kingfin

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

I’ve been illustrating since I was little though around 17 was when I landed my first job illustrating a children’s book, though I didn’t know very much about illustrating at the time and taking on the process of illustrating a book was hard, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when illustrating books. I went back and forth for a while as I was potentially good at so many things, ultimately illustration is where my roots have always been, I’ve been looking into multimedia producing for the very reason that I can expand in the future through different platforms and ways to tell the stories, starting with graphic novels; which the graphic novels under MJD will be a combination of written and illustrative narrative, a format I’ve been working on to be a little more unique to MJD.

I learned quite a bit in the last year after interning for another comic artist and developing sound connections with illustrators and comic artists who’ve helped me a lot with both communications and not to let the mainstream dictate my vision.

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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?

At the moment, I’m working on the first installation under “Sector M.I.” Which is currently titled “The Hanged Man’s Plan” though changes are always possible in editing. I’ve been quiet about much of the story, in previous experiences I’ve had, I’ve learned to do so, haha. What I will say is that HMP occurs 200 years prior to the main events of “Sector M.I.” It was a story I started last year, nixed, and then decided that it had more potential as it establishes the birth of a lineage with one of the main characters of SMI, King. At least right now, all of the stories will be told in relatively short books, similar to a children’s book, but with a more mature story. HMP is relatively benign compared to what I have lined up for the future editions in the series. All of the stories cover particularly controversial subjects, one of the mains in HMP suffers through a smear campaign within his own workplace, and there’s a huge focus on the destruction and outcome of jealousy as well as laying the groundwork for the world seen in “Sector M.I”

The story has undergone rights and registration along with the entirety of the Sector M.I. series so it’s a matter of completely the first story. I’ve been experiencing the ever-so-lovely world of publishing but I’ll be happy when it’s done.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take pride in the effort you put into your work, but always be open to learn more. It’s a process first and foremost, there is no golden finish line where you’ve made it as an artist. The moment you close yourself off to growth, you’ve basically cheated yourself from the next level of your journey. It takes time, and at times it really sucks. Also, if you have an idea you believe in, don’t bend to please other people. I’ve learned that the hard way throughout my journey so far, there are literally thousands of ways to be an artist, if one idea doesn’t work, keep pushing and don’t take no for an answer when you know what you have to offer. Also process the rights to your work, haha I also learned that the hard way after experiencing content theft!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m still asexual and aromantic, I don’t really know if that will ever change.

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

Yes and no. It’s not so much in my field as it has been coming out of art school. Oddly enough, most would think art school is particularly accepting of every type of person but I’ve learned the opposite. My art tends to trickle over into my daily outfits, I still work as a creative director for photo shoots from time to time, so I love to express through creating extravagant outfits, but I’ve found that with creating flamboyant outfits people tend to assume you’re an equally flamboyant person. Flamboyance has its own set of stereotypes as people assume I’m someone who goes out and dates a lot or dressing up to impress others. I’m a bit of a contradiction in that sense, how I dress is mostly because I love to create myself every day, it’s an extension of my art to me. I’ve faced the expectation to “stop being ace” because of what someone else expects or wants and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s disturbing that much of society doesn’t accept no as a valid answer when it comes to relationships (this is when “no” should be taken as an answer!).

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

I would say for me that it’s a phase. Or that I’m waiting for some knight in shining armor to save me from asexuality as for me, it was never a choice. I can’t speak for every asexual but I have always been this way, though there were times in high school before I knew who I was, where I tried to date and be “normal” due to social pressures. In many communities, even in black/mixed communities, asexuality isn’t fully accepted due to the heavy stigmas black people still face. Black women tend to automatically be sexualized and stereotyped (and it’s even worse for non-binary folks, as I am as well) that it’s even harder to say I’m asexual without being laughed at or denied.

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

Definitely to speak up when you feel uncomfortable. If you feel like someone is pressuring you, speak up and leave the situation. You shouldn’t have to explain who you are to those who don’t get it.

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

“The Hanged Man’s Plan” is still in production, so whenever all the cards are in place is when it will come out, there’s no telling how long it may take but I’ve recently be finishing the process for the rights and registration for “Sector M.I.” and Madjaw Dolls so it’s all in that awkward phase of planning to put out actual products and not just prints of works.

http://madjawdolls.com/
https://www.instagram.com/madjawdolls/
https://www.facebook.com/Madjawdollsmjd/
https://twitter.com/MadjawDolls

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

Interview: Berrien Lucius

Today we’re joined by Berrien Lucius. Berrien is a phenomenal digital artist who specializes in digital illustration. Their art is beautiful, brimming with emotion and color, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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A Great Mom

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do digital illustrations. Sometimes I just sketch, and sometimes I paint.

What inspires you?

Stories inspire me greatly. Usually, it’s passion in the story, of any kind. Either great love for friends, a romantic interest, or utter loathing for an enemy. Sometimes it’s the journey itself, or, more subtle things, like just the mood presented in a scene. In any case, stories have always been my number one inspiration.

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

I was diagnosed with a severe speech impediment when I was only two, and growing up, unable to speak in a way anyone could understand me, I would draw to communicate. I got praised on it so much, I decided I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.

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

No, but I’ve recently decided to try to get in the habit of signing my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Being born with a natural duck-to-water ability to create art, whatever your art is, does not mean you will be automatically successful. Sometimes, people with no natural born skill at art can succeed far above you, just through sheer hard work. Talent can only get you so far. You have to put in the hard work if you want to be any bit successful. You’ve got to learn how to keep at it. So even if you feel like you can’t draw, or whatever the type of art you want to get into is, then don’t despair. You’re super likely to get good if you just work at it. I believe in you.

Also, for those who are sketchers and painters and the like, your eyes are always more skilled than your hands. This means, when you look at your art, it will usually always look bad in some ways. This isn’t because you’re a bad artist, this is just because you’re getting better, and your eyes are getting better, and they’re seeing the flaws. The flaws that your hand can’t make up for but your eyes see. If you’re seeing flaws in your art, that’s a good thing. That means you’re improving.

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Dazed

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual.

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

I’ve handled a good bit of it! For any kind of scary encounter, I don’t really know how to handle it, and instead try to laugh it off and avoid it entirely. When it comes to just the mean kind or something, I do my best to be an informant. I feel like it’s my duty to inform people of how that was wrong or hurtful, and hope they don’t continue to be jerks. If they do, then I just ignore them from then on as best as I can.

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

Oh easily that it’s “not real”.

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

It’s chill, my dude. You don’t have to figure everything out at once. It can be hard, with all the new vocab you’ll be learning, being in a religious family, being religious yourself, the way the larger LGBT+ community treats you, how you may get treated at work or school for it, but chin up. You are definitely not alone, and there are so many people who are willing to help you figure out your asexuality, or help you deal with bullies and other harrassers. You’re not wrong for being the way you are. You’re amazing and wonderful the way you are. If one day you think that maybe you’re not asexual anymore, then that’s cool too. You’re okay. No pressure. Take your time and you can get through these hurdles patiently.

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

In advance, thank you for checking out my art!

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