Interview: Fish-Heads

Today we’re joined by Fish-Heads. Fish-Heads is a wonderful visual artist who does a little bit of everything. He does drawing, painting, large scale installations, and has recently been dabbling in digital art. He enjoys drawing monsters in particular and his drawings are vivid and unique. It’s clear he loves what he does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Illustration104Color

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I try not to limit myself to one particular medium over another, so I consider myself a ‘jack of all trade’ kind of artist. Painting, sculpture, large-scale installation, drawing; whatever feels natural to that particular piece at the time is what I roll with. Recently, however, I have started dabbling in digital art for the first time, and have quickly fallen in love with it.

What inspires you?

I enjoy working within the realm of monsters. Inner demons, monsters living under your bed, tricksters and lonely souls; depicting monsters has become a quick and cathartic method for me to cope with my own struggles throughout life.

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

I have been interested in art since I was a little kid. As I got older though, art making became a way for me to escape reality and the tribulations of mental illness. Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have been a part of my existence for most of my life, so art making gave me those few moments of solace in the day to get away from it. Even after receiving my BFA and MFA, art continues to pull me away from life and steer my mind toward calmer places.

Illustration117Color

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?

Mouths and teeth have been a consistent staple throughout most of my work. I like to think there is a strange and disgusting beauty to mouths; they showcase so much of our internal and external emotions. A smile can depict happiness and willingness, but it can also express fear and uncertainty. Likewise, frowns can express sadness, illness, and pain. I use mouths as my primary focal point because they are so malleable and squishy, and have been an effective outlet for depicting my own emotions to the viewer.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try not to get caught up in finding your niche style or medium; always allow for experimenting and exploration in oneself. Do not fall prey to comparing your art with other artist. If you are not having fun making your art, then what is the point?

IllustrationFamily7

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a Demibisexual.

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

I would say the number one type of ignorance that I experience, not only within my field, but in general, is the assumption that aces, of any kind, do not exist. Since I do live within a fairly touchy ‘red’ area, confronting such ignorance is a relatively fruitless endeavor, so I tend to ignore it. However, despite being afloat in a red sea, I am comforted knowing that I am far from the only one out there; and have made a number of friendships with others just like me.

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

Sexual relationships = happiness, therefore aces are not happy. This misconception has plagued me for so long, and only continues to be more prevalent the older I get. The notion that one must be in a sexually-active relationship in order to achieve happiness has always rubbed me the wrong way. I have been walking through my life knowing many fantastic and brilliant people, people that have brought me significant amounts of joy, and never once did I ever want to sleep with them.

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

You are not alone, there are others out there just like you. Even when things get tough, remember to turn toward that which brings you happiness, and run with it.

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

Website – www.fish-heads-monsters.com
Twitter – at LoneFishMonger
Teespring – https://teespring.com/stores/fish-heads-inc

IllustrationFamily8

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

Interview: Megan Hustmyer

Today we’re joined by Megan Hustmyer. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist and author who does a bit of everything. They paint, sculpt, and do illustrations. On the writing side, they write poetry and prose. Megan is currently working on a novel featuring an asexual succubus. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

20180627_184930

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist and a writer. I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I write prose and poetry. My work has undertones concerning self-love and acceptance, which is especially potent for me personally as a queer creator. I really love imagining queer creatures, aliens, monsters, realms and the like.

I’m working on my first magical realism novel, which focuses on an asexual, non-binary succubus living in contemporary America. So they’re pretty much screwed, but they make their best go at it.

What inspires you?

I’ve always loved fantasy, science-fiction, magic, mythology and folklore. More recently I’ve been attracted to queer theory, particularly the academic work of Ela Pryzbolo, an asexual scholar who writes theory on asexuality. I’m heavily inspired by her mission to expand and fuck with the limitations of asexuality/sexuality. I believe that a narrow definition of queerness isn’t queer at all. Which is why I want to write about an asexual succubus, it’s a great way for me personally to explore the identity of gray-sexuality and be able to look at sexuality through an asexual lens.

I also love ‘We Were Witches’ by Ariel Gore, trees, and affirming that nature is gay.

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

I didn’t actually start to think of myself as an artist until I was in my sophomore year of college, majoring in fine arts. I knew there wasn’t a way I could just not have art in my life. Before that, I considered it a hobby. I also daydreamed a lot, and for a long time I thought that it was unhealthy, but now I’ve come to terms with my imaginative sight-seeing and I use it as a processor for my art, my stories, emotions, and anything else I need it for.
Art itself is a fantastic processor. I’ll always be thinking about a lot of things at once and it can be overwhelming, so the artistic process is very helpful for me. I’ve always felt there was a link for me in particular between art and healing. Especially when drawing or painting, I’m able to think in ways on paper that would be too confusing in my brain. There’s a link to be made between art therapy and tarot readings… hmmm.

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?

An underlying fondness for grossness.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fuck shit up.

They’re gonna tell you that it’s hopeless, that it’ll waste of time and you’ll just be a starving artist. Fuck that shit up. They’ll say that the art market won’t have you. Fuck it up. They’ll say there’s nothing to be done.
Fuck.
It.
Up.

01_MARSUPIALLOVEAFFAIR
Marsupial Love Affair

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-asexual or as I’ve grown fond of, ‘grace’.

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

For the most part, I encounter ignorance. Whenever you’re open about being something ‘abnormal’, you kind of also become a spokesman for that identity, which has its positives and negatives. With asexuality, I’m still learning about it myself, similar to my gender identity.

I met someone who considered even acts of flirting or ‘feeling sexy’ to be sexual in nature, which is an arguable stance, and yet also admitted that the act of sex itself wasn’t always inherently sexual. By his definition of sexuality, which also included dancing and finding people attractive, I was sexual. By mine though, which is influenced by my conception of sexuality in contemporary America, I was gray-asexual. He had also been born in an earlier time in another culture. In that situation I was with someone I trusted and I valued his opinion, so it was a little hurtful to hear that he just didn’t understand my identity, but I’m glad we were able to talk about it openly.

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

That asking whether or not someone masturbates is an appropriate response to learning that someone is asexual.

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

Sexuality is confusing. It could be argued that asexuality confuses it even more. Is asexuality a lack of something? Or is it a presence? If it’s not a presence, then what is that feeling that completed me when I first identified as ace? Even if you’re unsure (I still am most days), if you know that feeling, you don’t have anything to prove. You’re not naive. You’re not broken. You have the courage to claim a name that fits you, and you wear it because you feel good when you do. That’s all you need.

And once again, fuck it up. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means taking a rad bubble bath and reading manga. Maybe it means doing drag. Maybe it’s creating a loud sign and going to a protest. Maybe it’s singing as loud as you can. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite album. It’s whatever gives you strength. It’s doing what you need to do. It’s taking care of yourself.

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

The novel I’m working on is still under the radar for the most part, but I’ll be sure to post updates on it via social media and my main website.

My fine art, sculpture, social practice work, can be found here: meganhustmyer.carbonmade.com

My graphic design an illustration portfolio can be found here: meginetdesignsthings.myportfolio.com

My Instagram:  m.g.aoh or _meginet

my landscape
My Landscape

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

Interview: Eva I.

Today we’re joined by Eva I. Eva is a phenomenal South Asian visual artist and author. She draws portraits and character concepts, using a variety of mediums. As far as writing, Eva is currently working on two fantasy novels, both of which feature asexual protagonists. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Character Concept
Character Concept

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m one of those artists who likes to dabble in, well, everything. Over the years, I’ve tried out typography and hand lettering, crafts, music (I still play the ukulele occasionally), writing, and drawing. Out of all those things, I suppose the ones that have stuck with me would be the latter two.

Even with drawing, I can’t make up my mind. My style fluctuates with my mood, the weather, every time I sneeze… This is evident if you scroll through my Instagram feed; it’s like one of those repost accounts featuring different artists. However, I am consistent in the sense that I mainly draw portraits and character concepts, and my preferred medium is digital art – although I do work traditionally, using ink and sometimes watercolours, whenever the fancy strikes me. I’m hoping to branch out and try illustrating more environments in the future.

As for my writing… I’m currently working on two fantasy novels, both of them featuring ace protagonists, because I want to see more ace characters (particularly those of colour) in SFF. I’m a slow writer, especially as my mental and physical health are never that great, but I think I’ve made good progress with both novels. I’m almost done with a passable draft for one of them, which I hope to send out to trusted readers soon. I’m not sure if I want to publish these stories or not – at least, not at this point in my life.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration (haha) by consuming all kinds of art by all kinds of artists. In fact, I’ve found it pretty inspiring to go through some of the interviews on this blog! Whenever I need to recharge my creative battery, I just read a book, study the works of my favourite artists, watch a movie/show, read/watch interviews, and listen to some music. In addition to that, I also like sleeping? I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon (aka I have a chronic illness) so I tend to sleep a lot; I end up having a ton of cool dreams, which I sometimes weave into my writing.

fish
Fish

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

Creativity runs in the family, so I picked up art as a matter of course when I was very young. I have vague memories of throwing tantrums at the age of five when I couldn’t draw things the way I wanted; thankfully, I’ve since managed to improve my skills (and my temper). I opened my first art account on Facebook when I was fifteen-ish. I deleted that one a few years ago, and started my current accounts on Twitter and Instagram under a pseudonym so I can be more out about myself.

More recently, I started accepting freelance commissions via social media, which has helped expand my reach (and my wallet). I wouldn’t consider this as a career, yet, though. I don’t receive enough commissions to depend upon it as a main source of income, so I have a day job of sorts, and I’m trying to figure out how to get myself yeeted into college.

Writing has also been a huge interest for me since I was a toddler; my earliest memories are of my father telling me stories. I was quick to develop my reading skills, and you would rarely find me without a book to read. From there, it felt natural to me that I would eventually write my own stories. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so I read and write those for the most part. I used to post my writing on Wattpad, but I’m a little more private about my writing at the moment.

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 almost always sign my art, either with ‘EVA’ or ‘evadrawssometimes’. I don’t really hide anything special in my artwork, but there is one thing about them that I can confess to: I sometimes forget to draw eyelashes. I’m not very good at drawing them either. I’m working on it.

In contrast, I think my writing contains many elements that I feel are personal to me; I include puns (multilingual ones, too) and references to real-life events that I’ve experienced personally, or have taken place in my hometown. Those who know, will know.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Your art is a luxury, so if you’re offering commissions, price them as such! You deserve to be compensated for your time and efforts. (Still working on this one myself).

Breaks are good! Don’t burn yourself out just for the sake of updating your social media. Your most dedicated fans will still stick around even if you miss a post or ten. Maintaining a social media presence is not worth the risk of burnout, injury, or even losing passion for your art.

If you’re offering commissions, try to include your contact information on your profiles. Make it easier, not harder, for potential clients to reach you.

Don’t feel obligated to post all your art on social media.

Don’t forget to make art just for yourself sometimes! Even if capitalism says otherwise, you don’t have to monetise all your work/hobbies, particularly when it comes to art.

It is acceptable – and good, even – to use references. It’ll save time, and ultimately it will help you improve.

ilyas
Ilyas

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m ace, I guess. I’m still figuring it out, though I’ve gotten more comfortable with my identity over time. I experience little to no sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction to people of all genders, and romantic attraction mainly towards people who are not of the same gender as myself (I think??).

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

In my field? Not directly, I would say. I choose my audience very carefully, and so far people have been largely accepting. I have come across some misconceptions from others, but thankfully, most people have been receptive to being corrected. I block those who are not interested in changing their minds, and honestly? Best decision I ever made.

I’m not out in other circles except for a select few family members, friends, and my current partner. I only come out to and explain my identity to those who I think will be understanding. I don’t really mind explaining, but it can get exhausting, especially when you’re dealing with people who don’t listen in good faith.

Lake of Voices
Lake of Voices

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

One of the major ones I’ve come across is the conflation of asexuality with aromanticisim, and asexuality with lack of desire for sex; the Venn diagram of those experiences is often seen as a circle, when in reality there are an intersection of various experiences, some of which may or may not overlap depending on the individual.

In addition to that, there are people who believe that the ‘A’ in LGBTQIAP+ stands for ally and not asexual, aromantic, and agender. I’ve also had someone suggest that asexuality was a phase I would outgrow, or that I was simply nervous or afraid. There have been other extremely harmful hot takes I’ve come across on Twitter by trolls, but they’re too numerous and unpleasant to recount.

All of these misconceptions seem to multiply during Pride month, which is disappointing but not surprising.

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

I would say… be open to the possibilities, and don’t be too worried about taking your time figuring yourself out. It’s also okay to decide on another label in the future; it does not negate the label itself nor your experience while using it. Ultimately, it’s your identity and you are in control of deciding who you are. Even if you’re not comfortable with/able to come out to certain people, I hope you get to feel confident about your own sense of self.

I’ve also managed to connect with a lot of aces during my time on Twitter, which has been a big help in affirming and discovering more about my identity – and, incidentally, picking up on quality ace puns (and pins. Gotta love well-designed merch by ace/LGBTQIAP+ artists).

Finally, I highly recommend checking out The Asexual (http://theasexual.com), an online journal about asexuality run by Michael Paramo. The site includes content like essays, artwork, and personal pieces, contributed by ace people of various backgrounds. The Asexual has helped me pick apart many of my own misconceptions and find joy in being who I am. You can find The Asexual on Twitter as asexualjournal (https://twitter.com/asexualjournal).

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

You can find me on Twitter as isthispigeon (https://twitter.com/isthispigeon), where I sometimes post my art and accept art commissions, but mostly tweet about art-related shenanigans. If you want to get to know me, or commission me in a more informal setting, that’s the place to go!

I’m also on Instagram as evadrawssometimes (http://instagram.com/evadrawssometimes), if you want to see all my art in one place without getting distracted by random thoughts and terrible puns (though they sometimes work their way into the captions). I accept commissions there as well.

I have a few phone wallpapers available on my Buy Me A Coffee account (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/isthispigeon), if that’s something you might be interested in.

Finally, if social media is not for you or if you wish to contact/commission me in a more professional setting, you can reach me via email: eva (dot) isq4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Currently, my writing is not available anywhere.

Shampoo ad Alucard
Shampoo ad Alucard

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

Interview: Ria

Today we’re joined by Ria, who also goes by rainbowbarfeverywhere. Ria is a phenomenal character animator and digital illustrator. She has worked on a TV show and does animation for a living. On her free time, Ria loves to draw. She does a lot of fanart and enjoys focusing on friendships between characters. It’s clear she loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Ace Week 2018
Ace Week 2018

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I part time as a character animator in an outsourcing studio, Toon City Animation. I’ve only been working there for a year and I’ve worked on the television series Big Hero 6. Though I’ve been animating for a while now, I haven’t really made any personal animations though I hope to do some someday.

I mostly draw fanart in my free time. I’m a digital artist and I mostly use Clip Studio Paint and Adobe Photoshop. I love drawing for anime and other animated series or films. I’m not as active as the average fanartist but I love drawing for fan events like fandom weeks or big bangs. Although I used to be a big shipper and drew my pairings all the time, now I like to focus on individual characters and friendships.

What inspires you?

When I fall in love with a work, a character, or a relationship, I want to convey my love for it through art. When I appreciate something, I want others to appreciate it too and I can do that either by exchanging ideas or thoughts, or by making fanart of that something. It’s my little way of giving more love to the series.

I also get inspired by other fanartists. Their skills become a goal I want to work towards. When I see an artwork that stops me at my feet, I become driven to also touch someone like that.

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

I’ve been drawing forever. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. Even as far back as preschool, I already remember when I drew my favorite cartoons. Art is a part of me and I can’t imagine myself without it. When I thought about what I wanted to do in life, it seemed like a no-brainer to be an artist of some kind.

Becoming an animator came later in my life. I, at one point in my childhood, wanted to be an animator since that was the only field I thought I could work in as an artist. But I let go of that dream pretty early on. I had to be practical and while I liked my drawings, I didn’t think they were exceptional.

The opportunity to learn animation and become an animator only came late into my university life. I had taken a leave of absence and my cousin told me about an animation workshop that happened near me. I fell in love with animation instantly.

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 used to have a special cat symbol that I always included in my drawings when I was young. I used it as a sort of artist signature. I did realize later on that it would be hard to identify whose signature it was unless you were already familiar with me. In the end, I just use my artist handle when I want to sign my work. It makes things easier for my audience.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Love both yourself and your work. It will be hard to get far and stay far in life if you don’t.

You will never be satisfied if you don’t love your work and people can feel the emotion you put into your work. Without love, it will be hard to touch other people’s hearts. You also need to take care of yourself. So many artists have fallen sick or died because they didn’t care for themselves. There can be no art if there are no artists. Be kind to yourself.

2. Yamakage (march 13, 2016)
Yamakage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic asexual.

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

I don’t share my sexuality to a lot of people. Only a handful of people in real life know that I’m ace and none of them are people I know from work.

On the other hand, I’m open about my sexuality online. I have it in my description and I occasionally talk about it in my posts or tweets. Still, I only interact with an intimate amount of people online. While I don’t hide my asexuality, only the people I interact with would know. And I make sure that the people in my internet circle are accepting.

I’ve never been outright attacked or singled out, but I’ve seen hate for my sexuality in different parts of the internet. I simply choose not to engage in them because I feel they won’t listen to me either way.

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

The two most common misconceptions about asexuality is that it’s only temporary (that it’s a phase or asexual people just haven’t found the right person yet) and that there’s something wrong with us for us to feel this way. People think that we’re just misguided and need to be taken to the right path.

But asexuality is just a part of us. Just because we’re not attracted to other people that way doesn’t mean that we’re broken. It just means that we care more about our friendships and families. There’s nothing missing in our lives just because we don’t have a significant other.

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

No matter what anyone says, you and what you’re feeling are valid. There’s nothing wrong with you and you’re not broken just because you don’t feel that kind of attraction for other people. There’s more to life than romantic love or sex. It can be just as fulfilling with the people you have in your life.

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

My primary account is at Twitter and you can find me here: https://twitter.com/rainbowbarf_/

I’m also at Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rainbowbarfeverywhere/

You can support me through Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/rainbowbarfeverywhere

3. Galaxy (april 16, 2016)
Galaxy

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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! 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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!

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