Interview: Kiowa

Today we’re joined by Kiowa. Kiowa is a phenomenal visual artist and jewelry maker. She also makes a few odds and ends with yarn, mostly ropes. For visual art, Kiowa uses traditional mediums, favoring chalk pastels and chalk pencils. Aside from jewelry, Kiowa has also made some cool things for her horses. It’s clear she’s a passionate and creative individual who loves making things, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Firefly
Firefly

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I dabble in a few different artistic pursuits – drawing, writing, and making jewelry, primarily. I also make all sorts of things with yarn, mostly by braiding it into ropes. I draw the old school way, on paper and board with usually chalk pastel or chalk pencil; I have no idea about all this new-fangled electronic stuff. I mostly work with beads for jewelry, though I’m branching out into working with horsehair a bit; I’ll try whatever I can get my hands on. My yarn crafts began out of boredom; I would braid long chains of yarn to keep my hands busy and keep awake during boring classes in college, and then I had all this yarn, so I used some of it to reinforce a rope halter and then realized I could make all sorts of cool shit for the horses. I’ve made fancy Arabian necklaces, a tie down, some little bits and bobs to adjust tack to fit my weird horses…

2. Rio
Rio

What inspires you?

Horses, mostly. Horses are definitely the focus of my drawing, and a lot of my miscellaneous crafts tend to be making things for the horses. My jewelry making tends to be more “on a whim,” just making whatever strikes me when I look at the beads. Sometimes my ideas are really vague and other times they’re super specific. You just never know!

As for my writing, I have always had some sort of story or another that’s playing out in my imagination. I tend towards fantasy, and just about anything might inspire me. I’ve dabbled in fanfiction more than a bit over the years but always like to come back to my characters and my stories to see what I might put to paper. I am also quite good at non-fiction and persuasive writing, particularly short form. I can write a mean email.

When I’m creating anything, I have to have some kind of auditory input. It’s usually music, though I will watch/listen to movies or TV when I’m making jewelry. And it has to be the right input – if I’m going to be drawing Kalarime, I have to play the songs of his people (Bastille). If I’m writing particular characters, I want to listen to their favorite music.

3. KIMG0782 (2)

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

When I was four, I was asked what I’d like to do when I grew up. I said “artist, writer, horse trainer, and one of the people at the airport that directs planes to the gates with glow sticks.” I have since aimed for slightly different employment but I’ve never lost my interest in creation. I have no earthly idea how I arrived at that but here I am, twenty-three years later, still doing my first three goals. I got to wave glow sticks somewhere else so I can check that off the bucket list.

4. 15b

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

Well, most of my drawings are horses. This is not surprising to anyone who has ever met me. For both drawing and jewelry, I naturally gravitate towards cool colors because I like them and I think yellow and orange are ugly colors and I can do whatever I want so there. My stories are often very dark and bloody and someone dies. But we’ll all die one day so there’s that. I really just do whatever I like.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Whatever it is you like to do, do it. No one will do it the way you can do it. You will get better over time – but first, you have to be bad at it. It’s okay to hate what you’ve made, because the act of making something bad is part of learning how to be good. You don’t have to share every single thing you make with the world – art can be just for you. Listen to your teachers, but they don’t know everything either. Work from left to right (if you’re right handed) with chalk pastels and charcoal, and don’t touch anything until you’ve washed your hands; you will have pastel all over you. Don’t drop your bead containers, because cleaning beads up off the floor sucks.

5. Fishtail1
Fishtail

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aroflux asexual and genderqueer to boot

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

I have not yet and I am grateful. I hope that if I ever do, it comes not to my face but in written form so I can dismantle that ignorance with my words. I am much more eloquent and composed in text than in speech.

6. 9a

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

I’ve been extremely fortunate not to encounter out-and-out acephobia. Most people that I’ve spoken to IRL about asexuality have assumed that asexuality and aromanticism go hand in hand (and they don’t usually have a word for aromanticism). Since I’m just a hair shy of being fully aromantic myself, that hasn’t caused me many issues but it’s also a lack of education that can be confusing to people.

I have had people (including my mom) wonder what made me this way. I’ve always been this way. There was no event or trauma. I’m just… me. I think it’s really disheartening for all queer folk, regardless of identity, to have a piece of our selves be questioned and assumed to be a result of some action or event. No one is ever asked what made them cis or het, yet we all have to explain that our identity is just… part of us. It’s also so hard to say how much of an identity is innate and how much comes to the environment we grew up in and the things we internalized – the gender stereotypes that one person internalizes and performs can cause another person to develop dysphoria and be a part of their trans identity. So who is to say why we have the identities we have or what made us a certain way? That’s not the point. The point is that this is who we are.

7. 30a

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

I’ve never struggled with it, even before I had a word, I just always assumed that since this is how I am, that’s okay. So, to anyone lost or confused or unhappy – you are how you are, and that’s okay. Even if it doesn’t feel okay now, it will be okay. Your sexuality is a part of you, as much as your eyes and your fingernails and every other bit of you. Don’t fight with yourself – learn about yourself. Seek acceptance and understanding both internally and externally. You cannot and should not force yourself to be anything you are not. Authenticity is the best trait, so be authentically asexual and authentically you.

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

I have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/littlehorsedesigns, where I post all the stuff I’m making and offer jewelry for sale. I also take art commissions (particularly if you have horses). Little Horse Designs pretty much just goes straight into paying for my three horses, Kalarime, Geronimo, and Gabe. You can also find me at nolivingunderstarlight.tumblr.com and message me either place.

8. Edit 2

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

Interview: Kaylee Schuler

Today we’re joined by Kaylee Schuler. Kaylee is a phenomenal author and visual artist. She writes a number of different things, including short stories and poetry. She’s currently working on a novel with an aro-ace protagonist. When she’s not writing, Kaylee enjoys drawing. She frequently draws characters from her stories. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. E2-E

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an author and an artist. I usually write short stories, but I’ve dabbled in poetry, spoken word, and am currently working on a novel that happens to feature an aro-ace protagonist. I’ve self-published a children’s book and plan to self-publish its companion once my edits are done. One of my short stories just won 10th place in a Reader’s Digest competition, so I’m very excited about that!

What I value most in writing is emotion, so I try to write things that make people feel. I try to tell stories that I think are important, that I know no one else can tell. I strive to write pieces that are powerful, influential, and cathartic. Even though it’s a lofty goal, I want to write something that will change the world.

As for art, I started out with sketches and drawings, but I currently work with a variety of mediums, some of my favorites being watercolor and digital. Good old graphite never fails me, though.

I create art about pretty much anything — I draw a lot of people, often characters within the stories that I write. Drawing for me is somewhere between a hobby and a potential career. I’m currently studying it in college, but I still draw mainly for myself and create things that I want to create.

What inspires you?

I get inspiration for my work in everything I experience. The villain in my novel is based on a character who showed up in just one episode of a TV show from the ‘90s that I used to watch reruns of. Another character is named after a friend who was super supportive of my writing. I write the books I want to read, so I often take inspiration from a lack of content. I don’t see enough diversity in the media I consume, so I want to add that to my work. My visual artwork is often inspired by my writing or other people’s work that I enjoy. The main thing that inspires me is the hope that someone out there will encounter my work and be inspired to create something of their own. Art is such an incredible force for change, and my desire to be a part of that drives me to create.

2. art1

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

I’ve been writing for my entire life. It’s something that comes naturally to me, but even beyond that, I feel like a part of me is missing if I’m not writing something. It’s a huge part of who I am. I started writing my self-published book when I was 8 years old and haven’t stopped since.

I’ve also been creating visual art as far back as I can remember. Just like my writing, my artwork feels like an extension of my very being. Because art, be it written, visual, or otherwise, can be a catalyst for social change, and because I’ve always wanted to use my talents to better the world, I figure that the best way for me to make an impact is to combine those two things. My desire to improve this world and my desire to create go hand in hand.

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

I’m one of those artists who’s never been able to pin down a style. I suppose that’s a blessing because it gives me greater freedom and versatility in the content I create, but it’s also a curse because most of my pieces aren’t recognizable as belonging to the same artist. One thing I aim to do is include as much diversity in my work as I can. I think everyone deserves to see someone in media who they can relate to. I’m still learning how to improve my art and my representation, but I feel like making an effort to be inclusive and diverse is crucial to being a good artist and a good person.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Art is something so incredibly personal to each individual. My advice is, first, to not be afraid to pour your soul into your work, and only share it when it’s ready. Share it first with people you trust. This especially applies to writing, though also to visual art you’ve worked particularly hard on. Find people who will build you up, not tear you down. And a note on criticism—at the end of the day, this is your work. Create for you. When people tell you what to do with your craft, that’s what they want. I’m not saying to never listen to criticism. Feedback can be very useful and it will help you grow as an artist. But make sure you put what you want first and remember that, at the end of the day, what you do with your work is up to you. And try to remember that critiques are about the work itself, not the part of you that you put into it. On a different note, something I want to stress is that artists have to support each other! We all face challenges in art and in life and I believe that we can never spread too much compassion and positivity. And finally, never give up on your dreams. One of my creative writing professors once shared something with us that his friend told him—the reason successful artists become successful is that they’re the ones who don’t give up. If you want to create, create. Keep at it, you’ve got this!

3. Mental Illness 2017 12 18
Mental Illness

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual. I always knew there was something different about me, and finding labels for my feelings was an incredible relief. I’ve never felt romantic or sexual attraction, and I’m also sex-and romance-repulsed. This definitely affects my work, especially my written work, because you create what you know. It’s hard for me to imagine being anyone other than myself, holding any identity other than aroace. As a result, much of my work features characters who are asexual and/or aromantic.

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

Specifically related to my art, I haven’t come across much negativity. I think this is largely because most of my work concerning asexuality hasn’t made it very far out into the world yet. I worry that readers won’t understand the way my characters feel and interact with the world, and I worry that artwork about my asexuality will result in negativity directed at me. I think it’s likely that I will encounter prejudice or ignorance when my work spreads around a little more, and when faced with it, I think I’ll have to remember that all of us are ignorant to something and that the only way to educate is through understanding. I’ve been uninformed and misinformed about countless topics, and I was able to learn more about them when people treated me with respect and open-mindedness. I will strive to do the same. If that fails, though, if I run into someone who can’t see my point of view and won’t make an effort to do so (as I have frequently encountered outside the art world), I’ll need to remember a mantra my therapist once gave me: “They’re doing the best they can.” Sometimes, other people’s “best” isn’t enough for us. But we have to remember that we all have our limits and that, sometimes, our knowledge is beyond the limits of someone else. At that point, I’ll have to take a step back from my stubbornness and abandon the argument. It’s not always worth it.

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

I commonly see this both outside and within the LGBTQ community, and the latter can be particularly frustrating. Many people think that asexuality is synonymous or similar to abstinence, which isn’t true. They believe that asexuality is simply a lack of desire for sex, and that’s not quite true. Asexuality is a lack of attraction (and even beyond that, it comes on a spectrum). Not all asexuals are sex-repulsed or sex-averse, and some asexuals engage in sexual acts for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, many people seem to think that being asexual is the same as being aromantic. I often find it difficult to explain that there’s a difference between romantic and sexual attraction and that some asexuals do, in fact, feel romantic attraction.

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

The main thing that’s often said but can never be said enough is never be said enough is you are NOT broken. I spent years of my life thinking I was and became resigned to the idea that one day I would have to have a relationship, even though I didn’t want one. Here’s what I have to say about that: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have to try to force yourself to feel something you don’t. Wherever you lie on the spectrum, you are valid, you are seen, you are whole, and you are not alone. You may feel guilty sometimes for not reciprocating someone’s feelings. You may feel empty sometimes, or alone, or angry. And all of that is valid—your feelings are always valid—but you don’t have to feel any of that. Teach yourself that you don’t need to be ashamed of your orientation. It’s a part of you, you can’t get rid of it, so you might as well learn to love it. And you can. I have.

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

I don’t yet have a proper website, but you can find me on social media. My art Tumblr is https://www.deepspaceart.tumblr.com and my main Tumblr is https://www.deepspaceace.tumblr.com. I’m also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/deep.space.ace. You can find my art on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/deepspaceace. You can read some of my written work at https://www.wattpad.com/user/CelestialFalcon. You can buy my children’s book at https://app.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/midnight-a-wolfs-tale/ce878c14-8bd6-44ad-bb38-93b585c582e9?isbn=9780984719808 .

Have a great day! 🙂

4. enamorarse
Enamorarse

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

Interview: Gemma Irene

Today we’re joined by Gemma Irene. Gemma is a phenomenal writer who writes a variety of things. She’s written a few novels and hundreds of poems, as well as some fanfiction. When she’s not writing, she enjoys visual art. Gemma draws, paints, sews, and takes photographs. She even plays the violin. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate individual who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a writer, though I’ve been known to draw, paint, sew, take pictures, and play violin. Anything to keep my hands busy! As far as writing goes, I stick to fiction, with occasional detours for poetry, and a song on the very rare occasion. I haven’t published anything yet, but I’ve got about three original novels and around a hundred poems under my belt. I’ve also been pretty immersed in fan fiction the past few years, writing for The Phantom of the Opera, The Boondock Saints, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.

What inspires you?

I hate to say it, it sounds cliché, but inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I wrote my first novel after a daydream I had when I was bored at the mall and trying to entertain myself. I’ve drawn things I’ve seen in dreams. I’ve photographed things that happened to catch my eye. One of my favorite poems I ever wrote came about while I was sitting outside listening to the creek flow. I try to stay alert to anything that feeds the muse, which means either living very much in the moment, or hiding out in my own little world.

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

I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my grandpa’s lap with a book, with me reading to him as much as he read to me. I remember telling stories to my mother and her writing them down in a blank journal. I relate a lot to Anne Shirley, or Sara Crewe in A Little Princess like that; my stories always started as a game of pretend, and realizing I could share them with people was a game changer. With the Internet, I could share with even more people. And in the case of fan fiction, connecting with people who were as passionate about the same characters as I was helped me get even more joy out of it. So, long answer to a short question, I’ve always wanted to do this!

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?

In my writing, I notice a lot of alliteration, and a lot of fire imagery. I like getting down into the deep, personal aspects of storytelling, so I’m very concerned with the soulful and intimate. I don’t know if there’s any specific thing that watermarks my writing as mine…if any readers would like to point something out?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Experiment. Let yourself suck. That first novel I wrote? As is, nobody is reading that, if I have anything to say about it. There’s a lot of hang-ups about being trite or cringey, but that’s the only way you grow and evolve. And it’s cool if you want to pursue more interests than one, or if you’re only so-so at something else but do it for the joy of it. I’ve worked for years at my writing, but only ever turned to drawing when I needed the release it gave me. Consequently, it’s not one of my strongest skills. Same deal with the violin. I’ll never be the next Van Gogh, or play in an orchestra, but that’s fine. I draw and play for love of both, and that’s enough for me.

The inverse is true, as well. If you’re passionate about your art, don’t be afraid to invest yourself in it. Any way you feel called to. I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second and say how glad I am that fan fic is slowly getting positive traction, because if I hadn’t started writing fic, I would never have found an audience, much less one willing to give feedback and help me grow as a writer. That’s the thing about finding someone genuinely interested in what you’re sharing, they want more, and they’ll often help you in the process. Whether it’s encouragement, advice, or simple enthusiasm, it’s out there. Hold it up to your ear and give it a listen, then decide if it will help you develop your art. Keep what does, discard what doesn’t. That’s what fan fiction did for me, is help me find my voice a lot sooner than I might have without it.

2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a panromantic demisexual, which is at once very broad and very specific. To me, they go hand-in-hand. I don’t develop sexual attraction without an emotional bond, and if I’ve gotten close enough to someone to form that bond, I’m unlikely to care about gender. It’s the person I’ve developed feelings for.

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

In my field? No. In my life? A bit. I was discussing sexuality and orientation with a group of ordinarily open-minded individuals and casually mentioned I identify as demi. I explained it was similar to being asexual, and they were on board with the ace part but casually dismissed the demi part. “Some people just want to be special.” It took a while to get past that, and I’ve presented myself since then a little differently. On social media, I proudly post all the ace, aro, demi, bi, pan, gay, trans, nb, everything, supporting positivity that I want to see in the world. In person, I’ll comment on my aesthetic attractions, regardless of gender, I’ll express support of representation, and shut down discourse when I hear it. I do what I can to be an ally and a safe space, and hopefully send a message that I won’t stand for any prejudice.

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

That we’re prudes, afraid of sex, damaged, or “waiting for the right person.” Yeah, some of us are, but so are some allosexuals. Sexuality is such a complex, complicated subject, and I don’t understand the aphobia and ace discourse I’ve seen. The thing is, we’ve always been here, it’s just that now we’re willing to claim our space, and hopefully we can spread more knowledge to put an end to the misconceptions.

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

Hang in there. It’s a process. I remember that I was elated at first to realize I was demi, then I had to process what that meant to me, evaluate my relationships with people in light of my new understanding of my identity, decide whether this was something I wanted to keep to myself or make known to others. Then on down the line, after I felt reasonably secure in my identity, I realized I was panromantic and had to start all over again. I’ve found my writing is a very good way to explore my sexuality and my orientation, and I’m working on more aspec characters to reflect how I feel about my identity.

My biggest ongoing struggle is feeling ace enough to identify on the spectrum. I’m very sex positive, and I lean towards the, let’s say, colorful side of sexual expression, which is far removed from the misconception about asexuals and how we’re all prudes afraid of sex. That’s where the ignorance hurts us the most, in my opinion. We measure ourselves by the stereotypes and assumptions, which are often incorrect, and we cut ourselves down when we don’t fit. Thing is, I’m still aspec whether I like sex or hate it, whether I’m kinky or vanilla, because it’s about attraction, not action.

Aces, grays, and demis, you do you. Own your identity. Share it if you want, or keep it secret. It’s who you are, and it’s as much about discovery as the rest of you.

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

Tumblr is my primary hang out. My URL is at risingphoenix761, and my blog is a giant mess of fandom, writing, music, humor, and positivity. I’m also on Fanfiction.Net as AngelxPhoenix, and Archive of Our Own as RisingPhoenix761. For anyone interested in my visual art (I consider myself a passionate amateur), my Instagram is at risingphoenix_761. Come say hi to me!

3

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

Interview: Atraxura

Today we’re joined by Atraxura. Atraxura is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in drawing. She also paints, takes pictures, and makes jewelry, but she’s focused mostly on her drawing. Atraxura enjoys using limited color and it results in very striking imagery. It’s clear she loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participating in this interview.

Guardians of Irkalla Kur
Guardians of Irkalla Kur

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I experiment with many different styles and media. I draw, paint, take photographs, make jewelry and write personal essays. In the past year, I have been focusing on drawing, and I have begun to evolve a style in my recent work with limited use of color, usually a vibrant, highly saturated red. I prefer the warm end of the color spectrum, from yellow to red-violet, and color psychology is integral to my work. I pay attention to geometry, ratios and perspective. You don’t necessarily notice it in my work, but I am fascinated with how important numbers are in aesthetics.

While I strive for realism, none of my subjects are merely representational. Everything illustrates a concept: animals are symbolic, as they were in ancient cultures. Skulls are the exoskeleton of the mind. A red eye in a pale background represents the will rising above apathy.

What inspires you?

Horror inspires me on the aesthetic level. I am drawn to the intense feelings it can evoke. I love high-energy excitement and intensity, not calm or complacent “happiness”, which feel toxic and antithetical to me. I want everything I do to reflect powerful, high-octave intensity.

I am a type-A person of a purely choleric temperament; ENTJ on the MBTI. I have a very angry and hostile nature, and I like to explore and defend this in my art. I also like to attack concepts I despise, e.g., conformity, complacency and all agents of passivity and inertia. I don’t do this to “calm down” — I detest calm — or to get rid of anger. I do it to communicate in a more powerful, profound way which reaches more people.

Collaboration with my soulmate, who is a musician and of very similar views and vision, also inspires both of us. I hate working alone.

Ignition of the Artless
Ignition of the Artless

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

Art has always been instinctive for me. Inert matter, such as a blank paper, exists to be acted upon. I want to change it to reflect my ideas and vision. I want to communicate with others on the most profound level possible. Art is naturally an ideal means for this, and for generating dialogue with like minds. That said, I have never wanted to “be” any one thing, but I always had a clear and exact vision of the lifestyle I wanted. It has always been imperative that I live on my own terms in every aspect; autonomous, being my own boss, keeping my own council.

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 initial every drawing and painting. The “A”, along with being the initial of both my artist name and my legal name, represents my highest values: ambition, high standards, and to be forever striving upward. I strive to be the “alpha” in everything I do. If I were perfect, I would want to push the boundaries of perfection. I am changing the look of my initial now, to be more angular and volcanic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Erase words like “can’t” and “hard” from your vocabulary. I’ve destroyed innumerable paintings and drawings in rage when things don’t go exactly the way I want, but I start over with a better strategy. If something is difficult, it obsesses me. I persist until I get what I want. I refuse to be defeated by my own art.

Also, learn the basics of your craft, and dedicate regular time to work on improving your skills and becoming proficient with your tools/media. Develop an honest perspective on your abilities, so you can see your strengths and your areas which need improvement.

Finally, take yourself, your time, effort and ideas, very seriously. Others won’t until you do.

Love Between Cholerics
Love Between Cholerics

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a sex repulsed libidoist. Perhaps I am demi-hetero-sapio-romantic. I met my soulmate on DeviantArt at the age of 23 and very quickly formed a deep and intense obsession, but I had never had an interest in anyone else. It was important to me that we have similar values and could interact on a profound level. I emigrated to France from the United States at 25 so we could live together. I don’t know if I would describe my feelings as merely romantic. I feel like the word doesn’t convey enough intensity, and this intensity has only increased with time.

Power in its multiple forms, especially knowledge, ignites my libido, but even the thought of sexual activity disgusts me and extinguishes the feeling. I find it revolting on the physical level (even with someone hygienic and physically attractive) and deeply disturbing and traumatizing on the emotional level (even with someone I love). For me, it threatens bonds rather than building them. I also have an extremely low tolerance for boredom, and despite the hype it gets, sex is the most tedious, banal activity which ever existed – not to mention an enormous liability with no inherent benefits.

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

I have read a lot about other aces experiencing prejudice, but I have not experienced any myself – not in the arts, anyway. If I did experience prejudice or ignorance, depending on the situation, I would try to clarify my experience and perspective. It is important for us to speak out about our own experiences and to be obstinate about this, so as not to let “reality” be defined by others, especially if they are hostile to us. After all, truth and wisdom are not usually found in numbers, even if strength and volume are.

I am fortunate enough to have read an article about asexuality in the (now extinct) magazine ElleGirl when I was 12 or 13 years old, so I knew that asexuality existed and that it seemed to fit with how I felt. If I hadn’t known about asexuality then, I would have probably experienced a lot of distressing confusion about myself throughout my life.

Later, I read about “sublimating” the libido into art or other activities, in The Satanic Bible, by Anton LaVey. (Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich also speaks of sublimating the libido.) This in particular resonated with me deeply, as it described something which I had always been doing. “Sublimation” of the libido has always been natural for me, long before I knew what “sex” or “masturbation” meant – whereas having sex, or even thinking about it, still seems bizarre and unnatural to me. As I see it, sexual activity is only one outlet for the libido and definitely not the driving force behind it. I also realize that non-libidoist asexuals experience things differently from me, so this may be a prejudice which they encounter.

The Pallor Out of Time
The Pallor Out of Time

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

Almost every time I have told anyone I was asexual, they ask if I had been molested as a child. I have not experienced any kind of sexual trauma at any point in my life – though I know that some asexuals have – and I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t want to tell them if I had. This assumption can annoy me, as I feel like they are implying that the notion of someone not liking something “natural” is inconceivable unless the person had experienced something terrible which turned them against it. I realize they may not intend to imply anything.

I have had two different people try to use the fact that I didn’t date as “evidence” that I was insane, though I had not explicitly told these people I was asexual. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time and efforts dating people I had zero interest in.

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

Above all, don’t settle for a life or a lifestyle you don’t want, because someone –or society — pushes the idea that you “have to” live a certain way. There is no “have to” in life, beyond breathing. Seeking out positive and supportive people and choosing to spend your time with them can help to not feel alienated and marginalized; it can alleviate the pressure to behave a certain way to fit in.

I have always had a very exact vision of the life I wanted from as long as I could remember, with no compromises. I’ve always felt the need to live alone with a life partner or soulmate, with absolutely no children or family, but possibly a pet. Someone accepting of my asexuality. Someone I could be myself with and collaborate with. Someone who doesn’t smoke. Someone with a unique fashion sense, as shallow as that may seem. For so long, it seemed like no such person existed for me, yet “compromising” or settling for anyone else would have been intolerable. Now, I am so grateful to myself that I never did.

I know that there are people now, even among sexuals, who are in the same place I was, fearing that they will be alone forever, and being asexual can statistically narrow your options. I am skeptical about everything, so I was very aware that the odds were against me. All I can say now is that my dreams came true in this regard, so there’s hope for everyone. I feel a little awkward saying it, as it seems cliché, but it happened for me.

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

I have a website, and I am on most social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter, and DeviantArt. I also have a blog on WordPress – and I usually follow back (with sincere interest). Most of my work is available as prints and merchandise on RedBubble.

Vermillion Snow
Vermillion Snow

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

Interview: Senta

Today we’re joined by Senta. Senta is a phenomenal illustrator who works mostly in digital mediums. He does enjoy using ballpoint pen on occasion. He has his own style, but can also adapt to a variety of other styles. It’s clear he’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. CU2

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I draw, mostly digitally but sometimes I like drawing with ballpoint pen. My personal style is kind of muted colors and darker settings, but I do lots of other stuff depending on the vibe I’m trying to show. I take a bit of pride on the fact that I can cater to people’s interests, that’s especially useful in my line of work, I’m an illustrator 😉

What inspires you?

People inspire me, mostly fictional characters to be honest, but I love to draw people, I love to create characters and create stories for them. I do a lot of fan art of whatever I’m interested in the moment, or whatever catches my eye. Sometimes it’s just a photo or something that gives me a vibe for a character and then I have to draw them.

2. 1

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

I honestly don’t know how I started drawing, but I’ve been doing in since I can remember. I used to draw with chalk on paper when I was a kid cause my kindergarten didn’t have pencils for all of us. I’ve always wanted to work in the field, yes, but I wasn’t sure what would I do exactly, I wanted to be a graphic designer for a long time until I realized what that was and that I couldn’t really draw much, then I went and studied to be an Illustrator 🙂

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 sign all my work as Senta, but someday I will come up with a tiny character or something to hide in all my work, I really want to do that, but I’m not sure what. I follow at least 3 artists that do that and I loooove it, I love to search for the little Easter egg in all their art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m not great with advice, but I would say PRACTICE! Practice a lot, and surround yourself with people and things that inspire you to create. Nice supporting friends that share your passion for art are truly special, whether is online or IRL. Also, really practice! Nobody is born knowing how to so stuff, all those awesome artists that you love? Those people busted their butts off to get there.

3. John
John

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as ace and quasiromantic bi (that label is pretty recent 😉 ) but I usually go with queer, it’s shorter.

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

Not necessarily on my field. I’ve encountered it online, where I post my art, or in fandoms I make art of, but it’s never about the art itself (thankfully). Either way I try to let it go and not let it affect me too much. People are ignorant, a lot of people are, and if I offer some education and they deny it by being close minded then there’s nothing I can do about it… That said, it does affect me sometimes, and then I just go and talk to supportive people, I vent a little and then I usually forget why I was upset in the first place.

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

I’ve had a lot of “being asexual is basically being straight”, some “you have to be attracted to someone”, and a few people invalidating queerplatonic relationships and saying they’re “basically just friendships”… As I said, ignorant people ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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

Look, I’m the kind of person who loves labels, I looove having a word to explain how I feel, to know that there’s someone out there who feels the same, so I hate it when people say “you don’t have to label yourself, just be you”. But as much as I hate it, they do have a point… cause even if you don’t find a label, it doesn’t mean you’re alone, there’s so many people in the world I’m 100% sure there’s at least 50 more people who feel the same.

Specially in the asexual community, we talk more openly about it being a spectrum, so it’s hard to find your place in it, and it might even move around, but it’s ok, take your time. I’d say don’t rush anything, don’t pressure yourself to know everything, it’s ok not to know. And don’t be afraid to change your mind, that doesn’t mean you’re fake, you’re just figuring things out, and to be honest, we all are… Be patient with yourself, be kind, and don’t let anyone define you, only you can decide your labels (if you decide they’re for you 😉 )

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

I’m on Tumblr: sentaart (and the-doctor-is-ace is my personal blog) and Instagram: senta_art

4. Miranda
Miranda

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

Interview: Celine Chin

Today we’re joined by Celine Chin, who also goes by Rururinchan. Celine is a phenomenal fanartist from Singapore. She loves to draw her favorite characters and write fics as well. Celine also creates YouTube videos. She also does a bit of original work on the side. Her work is beautiful, brimming with emotion and detail. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Creative Notebook
Creative Notebook

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art primarily focuses on things that spark emotion in both myself and others. I am a fan-artist most of the time, and I love just drawing my favourite characters, putting them into stories in fanfiction, and making videos to express how much I love the shows/books/movies etc. I also use art/writing especially to express myself, often during the more stressful times as it helps me get through those times a little easier.

What inspires you?

Inspiration and I have a weird relationship. I tend to get random bursts of inspiration at any given time, sometimes for ideas that are simple enough, and sometimes the ideas are just so ridiculous and wild it’s hard to figure out what to do with them. I write most of it down as soon as I can though, and these little lists I keep are what I would go to first if I need an idea for content. If not, I like to go on YouTube, and pick videos and music to watch/listen to based on my artistic mood of the day. Music tends to give me more inspirational vibes though.

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

Art has been a hobby to me for literally all my life. My parents tell me that I learned to draw in colourful crayons before I could speak. I remember being a child and drawing whatever made me happy or sad, and I was always so proud of them even though my art was not of average kid-quality back then. I was proud of the fact that I created something myself, and it never went away, only growing more and more over the years.

Drawing was my primary art form as a kid, then when I got to my teens, I started trying out more creative art forms, like sewing, baking, singing and dancing, etc. The one that stuck was writing, as book had become a major part of my life around then too. Again, that pride of being able to create something with my own hands was no less than a wonderful feeling. Also, it was the first time I was creating full stories. It was amazing.

I took media and animation studies in polytechnic after secondary school, and there my love for video work and photography took off. Now, I could put my art and my stories to good use in video format. It’s ridiculously tedious half the time, but the satisfaction at literally watching all your hard work pay off at the end? It’s the best.

So yes, I’ve always wanted to be in artist, but really, I’ve been one all along haven’t I? Career or not, art is what brings the most joy to my life, aside from those close to me of course!

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 at the moment. I’m working on my name as an artist, and would love to create my own signature symbol but I’m a little stumped on that for now as I’m still figuring out what defining feature I would like to highlight about myself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The best advice I can give is: Please never try to hold yourself back by making your own expectations too high. I’ve seen many, many people give up on creativity despite loving it simply because they felt like their content was never “good enough”, and it’s only harder when they compare themselves to people around them.

On that note, I’d also like to say that you should never assume art is something that strictly requires “talent”. Would having a natural affinity for being creative and good with your hands be useful as an artist? No doubt it would, I can’t deny that. However, once you firmly decide that “talent” is a strict requirement and that you may not have that “talent”, it’s over for you, because once you get into this mindset, everything you do will never feel “good enough” to you, as you’ll keep feeling that you simply don’t have the “talent”. It harms your creative self more than you may think, I knew someone who hated their own art and gave up because they taught they were the only one in their family without the “natural born artistic talent”, and despite being fairly decent at their craft, they ultimately gave up because they resigned themself to believing that they would never do as well as they didn’t have the “talent”. Also, by believing “talent” is necessary, you undermine all the hard work artists put into their work. Many spend years and years and years working on their craft, and trust me when I say that most of them still think their work isn’t as good as they would’ve liked. But they post it anyway, because it’s at least “good enough”.

Don’t weigh yourself down with invisible chains. Let yourself be “okay” instead of “perfect”. You’re only human, let your art reflect that. Study the art form you want to learn, look up references and helpful tips, practice and practice.

All artists will hate their art sometimes. Even I stopped for a while during some darker times in my life, but if you feel that art is truly something you love, never give up on it, even if nothing BIG ever comes out of it. If you love it, if it makes you happy in any way, it’s already doing it’s job for you right.

2. Inara and Talus
Inara and Talus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! Still working on the romantic side, but it’s somewhere on the aro-spectrum. I do find girls at least aesthetically attractive a lot, so I overall identify as a a sapphic aro-ace person.

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

Unfortunately yes. I live in Singapore, where anyone that isn’t gay/lesbian/trans is considered a “weird normal person” (“normal” as in cishet, it sucks). I’ve tried to include asexuality in my works in school, and have often received comments about how it was childish, misinformation, or simply something that didn’t exist. Explanations don’t work when people don’t want to listen. I’m not free from the prejudice online either. Sometime ago on Tumblr, I made asexual headcanons for characters that were popularly seen as gay and pan respectively within the fandom (but were not confirmed in canon) and got quite a bit of anon hate for it, the comments ranging from how I was homophobic or how I shouldn’t be “forcing a ace headcanon on young teens since they aren’t sexual anyway”.

It’s hard to handle, that’s for sure, but in the end it’s not my job to educate the ignorant. I will support those who do and help to bring up fellow aces in my community when I can, but the bigoted don’t deserve my attention as far as I’m concerned. I block them when I can, and move right on to making more asexual headcanon posts out of spite. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just here to live my life and exist as a person, not be an informant for people who refuse to take in any information they’re given anyway.

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

Definitely the misconception that we hate sex. I myself am a sex-repulsed ace with a very low sex drive, but it irks me when people assume we’re all exactly like that. Let asexuals who are open to sex be sexual without calling them fake aces. Like damn.

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

You might hate it sometimes at first, especially if you’re younger and/or on the aro-spectrum. With how our society focuses so much on romance and sex as a requirement of love and happiness, it’s sometimes easy to fall into a trap that no one will ever love you and that you won’t ever be happy. Even after you get more comfortable with your sexuality, you still might feel like that every now and again, even if you’re an allo-romantic ace who’s fine with sexual intimacy. Just remember that who you’re attracted to, or lack thereof, doesn’t define who you are. There’s nothing “broken” or “unnatural” about you for being ace, and I want you to know you’re valid and you and your sexuality deserve to be respected. There are so many types of love out there, not just romantic and sexual. Keep those you see as your family close and treasure them, and don’t let go of your passions and things that bring you joy. Don’t forget that self-love is important too. If you’re like me, who took a long time figuring out how to love myself, don’t try to force things, but also give yourself chances to be proud of the things you’ve done. If you’re an artist like I am, take pride in your artwork (within reason), and let yourself be confident in your skills in yourself. You’ll get there. 🙂

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

Tumblr: http://rururincreative.tumblr.com/ (Art Blog)
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/Rururinchan
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE_pHKt0IeMJVwbjdWtvA0A
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rururinchan/

3. Sunset
Sunset

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

Interview: Jaime Hawkins

Today we’re joined by Jaime Hawkins. Jaime is a phenomenal visual artist who has a company called Queen Cheetah Designs, which sells enamel pins that she designs. Aside from making enamel pins, Jaime also does quite a lot of fine art. She’s heavily inspired by nature, which shows in her work. It’s clear she’s a driven and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Printmaking. I’ve always loved learning any type of art I could get my hands on – drawing, painting, digital art – you name it! When I have the time, I enjoy drawing on my tablet and taking on small freelance design jobs. My biggest endeavor, however, is my merchandise company Queen Cheetah Designs. Last year the trend of “Enamel Pins” came back around full force, and I decided to try my hand at designing some! I started out with moths, and have since branched out to beetles, spiders, and other nature inspired pins. It makes me really happy to see my designs come to life as physical merchandise that people like to wear, and it makes me feel like an accomplished artist! My designs did so well that I kept making them, and now I have a pretty successful side job running Queen Cheetah Designs. I hope to branch out in the future to apparel and other merch!

2. beetle_collage
Beetle Collage

What inspires you?

I think animals and nature have served to be my most important source of inspiration for my drawing and my merchandise design. It’s a subject I have always loved, and there is endless beauty and creativity that can be found in creatures, plants, and our other surroundings. From striking color palettes to unique patterns, as an artist I feel like I can learn so much from what already exists in nature, and apply it to my fine art and design work.

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

From a very young age, I was interested in art. I would doodle on my homework and draw mash ups of animals to play as during recess. I took art lessons with another girl at a local framing shop for a few years, where I learned most of the basics of fine art.

I can’t quite remember how, but “design” specifically caught my eye around middle school. Packaging design, logo design – I found it all really fascinating how much thought went into a design and the finished result. It’s been my driving passion ever since.

4. atlas group photo
Atlas Group Photo

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

I wish I could say I had a signature style, but that is something I still struggle with as an artist. I do tend to enjoy drawing somewhere in between realistic with a fantasy flair thrown in. I’d like to refine this over the next few years, but developing anything in art takes time and practice!

6. Swift edited
Swift

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Drawing – Most of what you create will not be for profit, or even for other people. There is a lot of pressure nowadays to instantly start creating and making money, but it’s important to take the time to draw for yourself. Learn what you like to draw and how you want to draw it. It should be fun, not something you feel pressured to do. And no matter what level you are now – just keep going. Practice as often as you can. (DRAW THOSE BACKGROUNDS). Think of how proud younger you would be of your talent now, and strive to make them proud.

Making Merchandise/ Pins – It takes more than an idea to be successful at selling merchandise. It is a tough and tiring job. You have to be your own manager, designer, PR person, and salesman. Kickstarters are a great way to fund a potential design, but be careful that you are prepared to handle the responsibility of ordering your merchandise and fulfilling orders. Don’t jump into it – take time to plan. But if you feel prepared, it can be a very rewarding endeavor!

3. Moth_collage
Moth collage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual, Panromantic.

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

Relating to the art/ design field specifically? I would say not really, but then again my art usually doesn’t relate to my sexuality. But there are plenty of individuals you interact with online who are outspoken with the fact that they think it’s “not real” or that “we’ve just had bad experiences”. I try to educate where I can, and when it seems like the people might be receptive. A lot of ideas about asexuality spring from ignorance. Some folks just don’t want to understand though, and sometimes you just have to brush it off and move on. Find solace with others who share your experiences.

7. Divided edited
Divided

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

That all asexual people are sex repulsed, and hate all types of physical contact. I’m what you would call a sex apathetic asexual. I have no interest in it, and have no desire to seek it out, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a light switch that stays off.

It does become a problem when I desire other attention from partners that traditionally leads to sex. Like making out, or cuddling – it’s either all or nothing. This leads to a very frustrated ace that doesn’t feel cherished but feels hypocritical asking for more physical contact “as an ace person”.

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

Asexuality is a spectrum, and everyone experiences it in their own way. Being Ace is really hard at times, especially when it comes to finding a partner. It is important to find someone who respects your comfort levels and communicates with you to find out how to approach that part of your relationship. It’s tempting to push your own comfort levels aside to make them happy, because it may make you feel desired – but it will breed resentment in time if there is no respect for your likes and dislikes as well. For people like us it is especially important to make friends and not rely entirely on having a partner to feel fulfilled.

If you find someone, make sure they love you AS someone who is asexual, not DESPITE the fact you are asexual.

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

You can find all my enamel pins and current merchandise on my Etsy shop -> https://www.etsy.com/shop/QueenCheetahDesigns. You can also follow me on Twitter at Jaime_Hawkins or on Instagram under Jaime_Hawkins_Design to stay up to date on my art and any upcoming designs.

Thank you so much!

8. Rainbow TVhead
Rainbow TVhead

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