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: RoAnna Sylver

Today we’re joined by RoAnna Sylver, RoAnna is a phenomenal author, who has authored such books as Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce. One is a hopeful dystopia involving superheroes and the other involves punk vampires, which sounds awesome. When they’re not writing, RoAnna enjoys visual art and does a lot of digital painting. They have painted most of their own cover art and hope to get into coloring work for comics, including webcomics. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate artist with a great drive, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Runtime COver
Runtime cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hi there! So, most people probably know me by my writing; I write the Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce series, hopeful-superhero-dystopian and queer-punk-vampire books, respectively. But I’m also an artist, I design and paint the majority of my own covers, and I’d really like to talk more about visual art for a change.

I love digital painting, and find (most of it) really relaxing and soothing, which is very helpful for when my brain goes into nonverbal mode or I’m just feeling burnt out on talking/writing. Which is pretty often.

I’m definitely going to continue painting my own book covers for as long as I can, and have done commissions for a few people too. I love them, and keep meaning to do more. I’d also love to get some work as a colorist for comics (including webcomics) because I find coloring especially relaxing (and I’m good at it darn it!).

One other cool thing, on the subject of ace stuff specifically, I recently had a journal-type article Thing published in The Asexual, about how important representation in mainstream stuff is (and how much I love Todd Chavez from Bojack Horseman). So check that out if you’d like!

What inspires you?

So much. Music, bits of conversation I overhear, people just living their lives. But most of all I think is reading or watching movies and seeing what I’d do differently. Usually, that means “less marginalized people die, and more get to be the heroes.” If that sounds like fix-fic, that’s because it is! I used to write so much fanfiction before I started my own stuff. I STILL DO, but I also used to. (Thanks, Mitch Hedberg!)

Honestly, I hate when people crap on fanworks so much, both art and writing, because not only are they a great starting point (I’ve written more than one thing as essentially fanfiction AUs. I doubt anyone will ever guess which~), but they’re entirely valid works on their own. And they inspire the hell out of me, both writing my own and reading others’.

Also, it’s not as popular to say, but… spite is a hell of a motivator. Wanting to prove people wrong who’ve said I can’t do something, or people like me (queer, disabled, etc.) don’t belong in publishing/the art industry/life. Knowing bigoted assholes hate what I’m doing is an incredible accelerant. Just warms the cockles of my heart, it does.

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Moonbright Tides cover

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

I joke that I just have a lot of emotions and I need different ways of letting them out—writing, drawing, singing—or I’ll explode. And I’m actually only about 30% joking about that, really. I am blessed/cursed with glorious and overwhelming feels, and if I don’t have an outlet for them, I tend to get paralyzed with…over-feeling. I need to express them like releasing internal pressure with a steam valve.

Unfortunately, I also tend to go nonverbal on a pretty regular basis from any number of reasons (illness flares, pain, various brain weird nonsense) so sometimes I’m physically incapable of writing. But I still have emotion I need to express, or else the pressure just builds up anyway. It doesn’t care that I don’t have words. That’s when the drawing or singing comes in—when writing brain shuts down, art or music brain takes over.

So yeah I guess I have always wanted, and needed, to be an artist.

I used to be a much more physical one, though. I have a degree in dramatic performance and used to do a ton of musical theatre. Nothing comes close to being on stage, and I was convinced that was it for me, that was why I was here and what I was supposed to do with my life. But then I got hit with several debilitating health conditions at once, and never really recovered. I haven’t been on stage in years, and probably will never again. But that’s okay. I still have writing and art, and on an extremely good day, music. Expression is still the most important thing in my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have one.

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But Not Up Here cover

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

For my writing, the Themes are definitely found family, queer and disabled people kicking ass, and trauma healing… the ‘secret symbols’ tend to be really nerdy references. Usually Star Trek and/or Greek myth. Go figure.

For art, I don’t really have a watermark or anything, though I’ll usually sign a major work. Trademark-wise though, I love the idea of making digital art look as traditional as possible, so if you look at something and think it’s an actual watercolor and not a digital one, I’ve done my job right~

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For commissions, figure out about how long it takes you to do a thing. Timing yourself/logging time is good. Then find out the minimum wage for your state and charge *at least* that per hour.

I saw a really good tweet a while ago saying you should charge at least 3x minimum wage for commissioned art, because 1) it’s your time and energy, 2) art is a specialized skill that you’re applying to this individual request, not a standard product, and 3) you’re your own boss here and paying for your own materials/food/life.

I don’t know if I could ever do that, but I’m sticking to At Least Minimum Wage for myself. I still feel a lot of guilt (as I do asking for money ever even if I’ve worked for it) but honestly, selling your stuff for super cheap really does devalue the whole market and cheats both you and other artists out of hard earned cash. I know it’s different when you’re just starting out and trying to get established, but really, once you are… your efforts are worth so much more than the bare minimum, but that’s a place to start.

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Evelyn merm

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Biromantic ace, and definitely on the aro spectrum too. It took me a long time to figure this out, in all its maybe-seemingly-contradictory glory. I’ve never really experienced sexual attraction to a (real) person. (“Real” because there are some fictional characters who could get ittttt) But I’m romantically attracted to women, agender, and nonbinary people… but like I said, definitely aro-spec too, so this happens much less than you’d think. Polyamorous too; I have queerplatonic partners as well as one romo partner~

In short, “potentially attracted to a lot of people on paper, but not in practice!”  It’s one of those “sounds very complicated, is actually very simple” things. Except for when it actually is very complicated. (What the hell is attraction? I don’t know it.)

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

…Never so much as during Pride Month. It’s really sad, but entirely true. Usually I manage to stay away from the Ace Discourse and keep it to a dull roar in the background of my life, but whenever the spotlight is on The Queer Community in general, that ugly particular head rears once again, and it’s very hard to avoid.

But there’s social media Discourse (harmful on its own) and then there’s creative field prejudice or ignorance, and that’s arguably even more annoying and damaging. Luckily, most of mine has been confined to the occasional shitty comment about my work. I generally don’t read reviews, but sometimes someone will point one out to me that’s particularly… not bad in a ‘didn’t like the book’ sense (I don’t care about those, for real), but a ‘wow, this is a dangerous and bigoted viewpoint actually.’

When people “can’t relate” to asexual (and aromantic, and neurodivergent, disabled, any other marginalization) characters, that tells me right there that I’m not going to be able to trust them. If someone slams a book or marginalized character for displaying characteristics of their marginalization (mentally ill people will act mentally ill; ace people will act ace), and dislike them specifically for what makes them them… that’s a Red Flag right there.

I don’t really “handle” that. I don’t comment (and you shouldn’t either, ever), but I take notice of who said the bigoted thing, and remember. Then I keep writing.

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Goliath Elisa

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

Oh lord, the aro/ace conflation thing. Where people think “asexual” means “aromantic,” and “aromantic” means “what is that, I don’t know what that is, how is that even a thing.” You can absolutely be asexual without being aro, or aro without ace, or a blend of the two that fluctuates over time and you have no interest in categorizing.

The most common individual misconceptions are definitely the “unfeeling, inhuman, dead/lifeless, passionless, robotic, forever alone” ones, because surely it’s romantic love and sex that makes us human, not anything else. Nope, that’s it, that’s the most important “universal” experience. Ever notice how it’s usually the same people who scream “don’t reduce our identities to one thing/define us by that!” Who then go on to do exactly that for others? There’s a lot of TERF overlap here too.

I have to say though, the special poison aimed at allo aromantic people is really something else; apparently just by being sexually but not romantically attracted to someone, you’re a horrible abuser/predator. (This is, of course, not true, and there are such things as attractions and bonds that are not romantic. The small-minded tunnel vision is exhausting.)

So yeah, there’s a lot, and I have absolutely no interest in getting involved in Discourse of any kind anymore. No spoons left for that at all.

6. Zenith Sheet
Zenith Sheet

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

There’s nothing wrong with you, first off. You might feel like there is, and people might decide to be gigantic asshats and say that there is, but there isn’t. There isn’t, regardless of how you end up identifying, even if that’s not ace at all. Try different identities out like clothes until you find one that fits. If none do, keep trying, or throw them out. It’s your “body,” and your identity and life. Use what serves you and makes you happy, not what someone else wants you to.

You’ll know when it’s right. When I finally hit on exactly what my gender and attraction type was, it felt like releasing every clenched muscle all at once. My constant, constant anxiety was silent for once, the panic in my head finally shut up. It was the absence of strain and exhaustion and tension and fear that was shocking. I hope it feels like that for you. The cessation of pain is a hell of a drug, and we don’t get it nearly enough.

Also, you’re totally queer if you want to be. If someone says you aren’t because you’re ace or aro, that person is not your friend. You don’t HAVE to identify as queer, the way some nonbinary people don’t identify as transgender, but you absolutely can, and screw anyone who says otherwise. (Or don’t. Especially if you’re sex-repulsed. *weak rimshot*)

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

I have an Artstation portfolio over here (if you need a colorist and/or inker, talk to me!) – https://www.artstation.com/roannasylver

All of my books are on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/RoAnna-Sylver/e/B00OI321DO

And most are available through other places like B&N and Kobo, which you can find at their universal links at my Draft2Digital page – https://books2read.com/ap/RWk0PR/RoAnna-Sylver

But by far the best place to support me is my Patreon. For as little as $1 a month, you can get Tons of Chameleon Moon bonus content—advance stories, art, lots of stuff—and exclusive looks at what I’m doing next (Like my upcoming interactive fiction portal-fantasy romance, Dawnfall for Choice of Games)! And also make me a little more secure as a disabled creator. patreon.com/RoAnnaSylver

Stake Sauce/Death Masquerade also has one over here, for if you enjoy monthly fiction about queer vampires! patreon.com/ModulatingFrequencies

Also, if you want to say hi on Twitter, I’m at RoAnnaSylver!

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Nonbinary Fire Witch, Zadkiel

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

Interview: Nambroth

Today we’re joined by Nambroth. Nambroth is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in painting fantasy and wildlife, with the occasional overlap between the two. While she worked a lot with digital painting, Nambroth recently moved back into traditional mediums. She currently favors oil painting and creates the most extraordinary visuals. Her work shows both a vivid imagination and incredible eye, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

A Shard Of Sun Web
A Shard of Sun

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a fantasy and wildlife visual artist, with some crossover between the two genres. I started out with traditional materials when I was a kid/teen, and when Wacom tablets and painting programs became available to the public, I became primarily a digital painter. Recently, in the last ten years, I’ve started working more in traditional mediums again, and in 2017 I started oil painting in earnest for the first time and I’m really in love with that medium right now.

What inspires you?

The list of what inspires me has blossomed over the years; I think oil painting has re-wired me a bit and I find myself getting excited to paint over nearly anything. That said, I am especially fond of nature (which is pretty general, I know) and birds in particular. I am often inspired by music and other’s art, and love seeing other artist’s paintings in person.

heronphoenix web
Heron Phoenix

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

I have wanted to be an artist from the age when I realized that such things were possible. I used to sit for hours with “Wildlife Artist” magazines in the 80s and early 90s, daydreaming about the career. Dragonheart came out when I was a young teen and starting to decide what I might want to do with my life; I was very inspired by the thought of making dragons (etc). When I neared graduation from high school, I was advised art wasn’t a good career choice, and did consider my other passions (ornithology / avian medicine) very seriously, but in the end I was stubborn and chased art as a career. I worked several minimum wage jobs for years after graduating high school before I could take the scary plunge and go full time with my art.

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Hope Bald Eagle

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’ve had a few friends tell me that my paintings of clouds/skies stand out to them, but beyond that I don’t think I have anything specific! I tend to be drawn to warm, and sometimes dramatic light, so I do often paint that sort of look.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I am nervous about offering advice, because it makes it seem as if I am a purveyor of wisdom; in truth, I have been doing this for about 15 years now and I still have next to no idea what I’m doing. Many people really don’t know exactly what they’re doing, especially in this field. We’re all experimenting and making it up as we go, to some extent. I suppose that can be advice in of itself; don’t be afraid if you don’t know what you’re doing or how to get there, because we’re all sort of in the same boat, even if we have a few miles behind us! There is often no destination, even after a lifetime of art, I’m told.

ish web
Ish

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify strongly as asexual, and possibly panromantic.

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

I have not been very open about being ace, especially professionally. I am married, and so carry a lot of privilege that way, as I’m seen as “typical” I think. To this end I have not faced much prejudice in regards to my asexuality, specifically.

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Liquid Silver Swan

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

Mostly that it’s not real, or that it’s a “cop-out” or avoidance tactic.

shortestdaysgoldfinch
Shortest Days Gold Finch

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

I think it can be useful to see the labels for sexuality as something to help empower yourself, and not to try to force yourself into it, especially if you are still questioning. It was a relief to find a term for how I felt for so long when I discovered the term “asexual” as an orientation in the early 2000s. That said, it’s okay if you don’t feel that way; a perfect description doesn’t exist for every person out there and I think that’s just fine! We are living creatures and one term might feel right for now, and can change over time, or it might remain static. It’s all good. Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.

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

Personal website
Twitter
Tumblr
Deviantart
Patreon
Instagram
Ko-Fi.

thunderous tides updated web
Thunderous Tides

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

Interview: Amy

Today we’re joined by Amy. Amy is a wonderful visual artist who does digital painting and is also a cartoonist. She mostly draws people and characters. Amy enjoys art that tells a story. Her work is absolutely beautiful, filled with vibrant colors and expressive faces. She’s clearly an incredibly talented artist with an amazing eye, 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’m a cartoonist and digital painter interested especially in figural works — characters and people. I like paintings which tell a story, or maybe just hint at one; the sort of thing that might become someone’s character inspiration. When I’m doing relaxing doodles in my sketchbook, it’s usually faces making a variety of expressions.

What inspires you?

Colour and light; humans. I love the visceral reaction to a painting which uses colour and light boldly. I am also a habitual people-watcher and am inspired by the people I see every day. As an artist, I have a habit of seeing beauty and interest in everyone. I’m not great yet at capturing that, but it’s an inspiration for sure!

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

I’ve always liked drawing, but when I was around 15 years old I decided to get serious and start really practicing and investigating. The internet especially helped me with my art — all of my early favourite artists were people sharing their work online, like Vera Brosgol and Emily Carroll.

I went to university for Fine Arts, and realized after I got my degree that I was happier doing art as a hobby than as my every day job. I’m an extrovert, and after a short stint working from home doing backgrounds for animation, I realized that almost all art jobs are solitary and would drive me totally batty if I did them as a career. It’s hard balancing art with working full time, but I’m working on learning how.

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

I don’t necessarily hide a lot of symbolism in my art, but if I look at all my paintings side by side I realize that I very much have a palette that I like to work in: pinks and teals. There’s just something about the contrast between pink/coral/peach and teal/blue/robin’s egg that appeals to me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Look at everything and practice everything! Remember that what you put into your head influences what comes back out, so seeking more diverse stuff to look at and enjoy will help your art grow and expand. Then draw, draw, draw. When I was learning to draw hands I filled pages and pages and pages with sketches of hands while sitting in front of the TV; now I’m confident in drawing hands and enjoy including them in my work. Not every piece has to be final: go ahead and just try stuff out and see what happens.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a bi-romantic or pan-romantic ace. I usually use bi since it’s easier for people to understand, but I’m romantically attracted to men, women, and non-binary or genderqueer people.

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

I’m not extremely vocal about being ace in my field IRL as I have dealt with a lot of general ignorance and prejudice already. I’m much more open about my sexuality online, though, because I know that seeing other ace people has helped me and I want to pass that on when I feel able to. Over time, I hope to become more vocal about it in real life so that I can help people that way too.

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

That it “doesn’t exist” or I “don’t know what I’m missing out on”. Both are really frustrating to encounter! Everyone seems to think they know better than me about my sexuality and attraction and want to tell me how I should feel or identify. I’m doing my best to tune them out.

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

I first realized that I was ace when I was around 20; I didn’t actually accept it and start identifying as ace until I was around 30. It’s hard to be a part of an orientation that people either completely don’t know about or think isn’t real. It’s also hard to fit into a world that thinks sex is the be-all end-all when it just isn’t a priority or interest. I guess my advice would be: it’s okay to struggle; that doesn’t make you any less valid as an asexual person. And it’s okay, too, to decide that you’re done struggling and you’re happy being you regardless of what society thinks! I think it’s a process getting from the first to the second, and we’re all working our way along it; give yourself time.

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

I have a blog where I post my art — I’m not the most active poster, but I’ve got a good long archive of simple sketches, pen and ink work, and full paintings. You can check me out at amy-draws.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Xanthe

Today we’re joined by Xanthe. Xanthe is an amazing young artist who specializes in visual art and her images are phenomenal. She’s currently in uni where she does a lot of printmaking, but she also does illustration work in traditional mediums and digital paintings. Aside from that, she also dabbles in book binding (which might be a first for Asexual Artists). The amount of detail in the pictures she sent to go with her interview is nothing short of incredible. Xanthe is a dedicated artist who obviously loves her craft. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Weird Dog

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

At the moment I’d say my art is split between my practice for uni where I’m specialising in printmaking, and at home where it’s a mix of digital painting and traditional illustration. I also dabble in bookbinding.

I have many varied interests, but my style is always fairly realistic no matter what medium I’m using. I’ve always loved drawing animals and supernatural creatures and these tend to make up most of what I create. I also make fan art sometimes.

I’m still trying to find a single direction for my work, it’s all over the place at the moment but I’m hoping to reconcile it this year.

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Prints

What inspires you?

I get inspired by many things but looking at the works of other artists has always been the greatest help. Seeing the kind of variety that’s out there these days validates my own work for myself, in a way, and helps me to push myself to create more and to try new and interesting things. Other than that I tend to look towards nature, music, science fiction and fantasy, especially concept art for movies and games for inspiration.

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

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Art has been one of the only things I’ve consistently been good at so it seemed natural to want to pursue it.

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Eye

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?

Other than my initials, not really!

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Ural Owl

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you have a passion for it, never ever give up. There will always be people who will try to discourage you from pursuing the arts because it’s not a ‘real career’, but they’re wrong. There’s so much reward in doing what you love. Don’t give in to self-doubt either, because most of the time the only thing holding you back is yourself. Always keep practising! No one becomes good at anything overnight. It does sometimes take years of dedication, but it is always worth it in the end.

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Cat

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a heteromantic, sex-neutral asexual.

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JSE

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

Not personally, no. I haven’t told many people as I consider it a non-issue, but those that do know are very close friends of mine and they have been incredibly accepting. There have been some occasions where I’ve had some intrusive questions asked about myself from people who didn’t understand what it meant to be asexual, but they’ve always only been politely curious instead of prejudiced or anything like that. I think it’s good to encourage people to do their own research, there’s so much information that’s readily available now.

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Chris

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

Mostly just the mindset that everyone must want sex because it’s ‘part of what makes us human’. People seem to be confused when I say I just don’t care for it.

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Snail

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

Always remember that you are valid; you are not broken or wrong, you are important, and you are loved. Don’t ever feel pressured to have to justify yourself to other people either; it’s OK to take time to figure things out and it’s OK if the way you feel changes over time. Labels are only there to help you figure out yourself, they certainly aren’t the be-all-end-all of anything.

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

The only place I put my art online is my Tumblr, http://many-times-over.tumblr.com/

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Books

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

Interview: Reilyn J. Hardy

Today we’re joined by Reilyn J. Hardy. Reilyn is phenomenal author whose first novel is coming out at the end of January. It’s a fantasy novel and it sounds fascinating (and it has an aro-ace protagonist!). Aside from writing, Reilyn also enjoys digital painting and creates some truly interesting portraits. 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 am an author and digital painter.  The book series I am currently working on is called The Chronomancer Chronicles, which is centered around an aro ace poc protagonist, who is the son of Father Time, as he’s forced to deal with the curse that follows his bloodline.  After his brother is taken, he adopts a new identity in attempt to leave all of that behind him.  Being who he is has brought him nothing but pain, and he just wants to be someone else.  Normal.  A nobody.  But that is far from what life has in store for him.  The first book in the series, is called The Last Chronomancer, and it is set to release on January 29th, 2016.  The Chronomancer Chronicles features a wide range of diversity, whether it’s gender, romantic and sexual orientations, as well as racial diversity.  I always thought it was important to have diversity in a fantasy setting that is always heavily filled with white people.  Personally, when I tried to write about all white people, I got confused because all of my characters looked the same.  People are beautiful, their differences are beautiful, and they need to be shown and appreciated.

As for my digital painting, I like fancasting celebrities as Disney/Pixar characters.  I love painting portraits too, and am still working on scenery.  I’m still very new with digital painting, I only discovered it last year, but I’ve been sketching for a long while and I used to want to be an animator when I was younger.

What inspires you?

People and perception.  I am guilty of being a people watcher.  I like observing the way people interact with one another and I like to think about how exactly they are understanding the situation as individuals, from one side, the other side and me, as an outsider.  There’s this quote, ‘There are three sides to every story.  Yours, theirs and the truth.’  This has been very inspiring to me for as long as I can remember, because it was such an odd realization for me that though you could be seeing the same thing, someone else could be perceiving and comprehending it entirely differently than the way that you are.

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

I believe the desire was always there, definitely.  I have been drawing since I could grip a pencil.  My paternal grandfather taught me what he could about certain techniques, primarily shadowing and distance.  I was only about 9 or 10, but I like to think I absorbed it.  Writing, I didn’t really get into until I was about 11/12.  I actually hated to read and write when I was younger and I spent most of my time drawing.  Harry Potter was actually what first grabbed me.  My sister was really interested in the series so when the movie came out, we all went to watch it and I was hooked.  I had to find out what happened next and I was one of those children who expected a Hogwarts letter when I was 11.  When I realized the magic was in the books, it inspired me to want to be able to do the same for another reader one day.

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

I don’t, or at least nothing I do purposely.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep going.  I know everyone says that, literally everyone.  That you can’t get anywhere unless you keep going but they say that because it’s true.  You have to keep going and not give up.  It’s not easy, regardless of what anyone says.  It’s hard and its terrifying.  When you put your work out there, it’s like standing naked on display.  There are days where I don’t get off of the couch or out of bed because I’m so depressed, wondering why couldn’t I just be like most people, happy with a traditional job?  But then there comes a point when you realize, time doesn’t stop just because you do.  It’ll keep going, and it’s going to pass anyway, whether you make use of that time or not.  So don’t waste it.  As artists, we see the world differently.  Perception.  We have worlds inside us, societies and people, all living inside of us, waiting to come out.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am aromantic asexual.  It was kind of weird for me to come to terms with it, but at the same time, it made sense.  I realized all of the ‘crushes’ I had, I never wanted to do anything with them or be with them romantically.  I just wanted to be their best friend.  I just wanted to talk to them and know them.

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

Most of my work is done in solitary, so I can’t really say that I have.  I’m not the most social person, but even then, it’s not something I really feel the need to talk about.  Your life is your life, and not everyone needs to know your business.  I’m a very private person so unless someone tells me they like me or someone talks about it first, I usually keep my gender and romantic and sexual orientations to myself.  Among my writer friends and my editor though, all of them have been very understanding, and if there was something someone didn’t quite understand, they would ask.  They’re very cautious and they’re very careful with how they ask and wouldn’t try to hurt me in any way, so I’ve been very fortunate with that.

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

That it doesn’t exist, and people will try to pressure you into ‘changing your mind’, as though it’s something you’ve decided for yourself.  Being aro ace, I’ve been made to feel bad for not returning the feelings of those who have liked me.  Even if I wasn’t aro ace, it’s very damaging of someone to do that.  It’s important to know that when someone likes you or expresses interest in you, you don’t owe them anything.

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

Don’t be in a rush to figure it out.  I didn’t really discover asexuality until last year when I was 24.  I had heard about it, but I never really looked into it until last year because I didn’t think it applied to me.  It was so ingrained in my mind that we have to feel some kind of attraction toward others that I was actually somewhat against the possibility.  I think I went through everything on the ace spectrum trying to find out what exactly applied to me.  Labels aren’t important, but they help you understand who you are, and understanding who you are can do so much for your self-esteem.  No matter what, just know that you aren’t broken.  You don’t have to be fixed, and don’t let anyone make you feel invalid for your identity.

I think the most important thing is that you be yourself and not who anyone wants you to be.  As Dr. Seuss says, ‘today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’

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

People can find out more about my work on Tumblr at reilynjhardy and on my website www.reilynjhardy.com both of which are relatively new so there isn’t much on there yet.  I am also on Instagram at reilynjhardy

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

Interview: Lindsey Alvord

Today we’re joined by Lindsey Alvord, who also goes by Mudora. Lindsey is an absolutely spectacular visual artist who creates some absolutely beautiful imagery. She specializes in fantasy and her elves and dragons are absolutely gorgeous. There’s so much character in her work and going through her portfolio, the viewer sees an amazing imagination as well as an incredibly skilled and enthusiastic artist who loves what she does. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fantasy nut. Dragons, elves, magic, fantastical landscapes, you name it: I blame my wonderful mother for such things. Dungeons and Dragons and video games also add to the craziness.

I mostly do traditional sketching and digital painting, but I have backgrounds in watercolor and acrylic as well. I like fast mediums, as I work quickly. That likely adds a sense of impatience to my process… but there you are.

Forest Thicket
Forest Thicket

What inspires you?

My family for sure. They inspire in the encouraging and loving kind of way. I’m also SUPER inspired from videogames, other professional artists, the old masters, J.C. Leyendecker, nature, and a whole myriad of things. I would also say the Legend of Zelda inspired me back into art, so big kudos there.

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

I’ve been drawing since I could hold something remotely like a pencil in my hand. Since the age of 8, I knew I wanted to work in art. Later on down the road, I understood that I absolutely loved videogames, and that I wanted to design for them. And, I’m helping out game designers do that now!

Lijering copy
Lijering

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?

As far as I know, the only thing I add is a signature, but only to commissioned work. I used to sign everything, but I trailed off of that. Not sure why. Maybe I just don’t like my signature.

Midna
Midna

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to be an artist, you can’t stop being one. What I mean by that is if you stop drawing because you feel like you’re not good enough, you’ll never reach the level you want. Don’t think that the masters ever stopped learning their craft. The only reason they were masters at all, was because they didn’t fall in the face of adversity.

Be patient with yourself. You will grow in time.

Tarot-Collection-1
Tarot Collection

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Totally and completely asexual: I am asexual and am sex repulsed. Totally love other people getting together though. Just keep it away from me!

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The Warden’s Return

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

Not yet, as I haven’t really talked to anyone about it unless they were already aware of what I meant. I have told my mother, who was very confused. But after a couple of times she understood what I was talking about.

So, as of now, I have dodged that particular ugliness.

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

The one I’ve encountered is the common, “Oh that’ll change when you find… THE ONE.”

I’ma tell you this, folks. I thought I was going to marry a guy, because I did love him. But, I was not sexually attracted in any way to him. It does not change when you find THE ONE. So, dodged a bullet there in that case.

Winter-Walk
Winter Walk

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

It’s okay to be sad about finding this out. Life puts a lot of expectations on you, and sometimes some of the things you thought were going to happen to you won’t as a result of finding out your orientation. I, for one, was accepting of it, but still have bitterness toward it. I’m not ‘normal’. It’s no longer easy for me to participate in conversations about relationships. Heck, I have to hide a major aspect about me to a majority of people still. There’s a lot of things that come with realizing who you are, and how you are. The hard part is learning to cope with the realization.

But in the end, I am happier to know what my body wants… or in this case, what it doesn’t want. And the fact that there is a name for it, that I’m not as alone as I thought I was, makes it better to embrace something new.

Wound
Wound

 

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

You can find me on here at mudora.tumblr.com. I also have a portfolio website: lindseya.portfoliobox.me. Tumblr is probably the best place to get to know me on a semi-personal level, though. If you don’t mind crazy folk, that is. Whatever you find there, I hope you enjoy! I aim to please.

The Forest Queen
The Forest Queen

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