Interview: August

Today we’re joined by August. August is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in drawing people. They focus on body diversity, drawing bodies in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also enjoy drawing transgender and nonbinary characters as well. They have a very refreshing approach to art and believe people can be beautiful without being oversexualized or fetishized. Their work is gorgeous, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking part in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hello! My name is August and I use the pronouns They/Them. I’m currently a university student working on my BA for Multimedia. My art is more often digital and focuses on women of color. I also really enjoy drawing transgender and nonbinary characters as well. It wasn’t always my focus, but the reason I shifted to drawing this particular genre is because I myself am a person of color and it’s hard to find artwork that doesn’t just fetishize our bodies, but empowers us. With that said, my main focus is heavier set bodies that fit “media standards”. Bodies are beautiful and I want to be able to portray a love for every shape and size with honor and dignity. I’ve heard people describe my mission as “political” but I don’t think it’s political to want a female body to appear beautiful without oversexualization.

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What inspires you?

What inspires me on a regular basis is music. Music is such a big part of my life and with all of my anxiety, it does a wonderful job of keeping me grounded. It doesn’t happen with every song I listen to, but every now and again I’ll listen to something and it will paint such a vivid image in my mind that I have to grab a sketchbook and start a new piece. It isn’t always immediately obvious how music inspires each piece, but I think that’s something I can hold for myself and not feel like I have to explain to anyone. It’s a personal experience, after all.

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

I wouldn’t say I always wanted to be a visual artist. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create something. In middle school I was part of the after school newspaper, and wrote stories for each issue. Sometimes I wrote poetry and most other times I would sit alone and draw in a notebook. What eventually stuck with me the most was my visual artistry and ever since then I’ve been dedicated to improving my craft.

I suppose one of the main reasons I became interested in the arts is the fact that I was born with a physical disability that prevented me from being incredibly active. Art was one of the few things I could do that didn’t involve running around and it really means a lot to me in terms of expressing myself. Everyone deserves an outlet, whatever that may mean to them and for me, that is art.

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

Nothing that I’ve intentionally kept secret! I do have one quirk though and that is I only draw four fingers per hand. I don’t have a particular reason why and sometimes people will point it out, thinking I made a mistake. I suppose it dates back to when I started really focusing on drawing people. There were some artists I followed that drew in a cartoonish style and their characters all had four fingers per hand. I adopted that style and since then it’s just always been a thing of mine. I think it’s cute!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to never compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own path and it’s not fair to judge your progress by theirs. You’re not trying to be exactly like them, so why does their own talent matter to you?

If anything, I would say compare yourself to yourself. On days where I feel frustrated with my art for whatever reason, I look back on past pieces I’ve done. It always helps me, because I can see what I’ve improved on and where I used to be before. Something else I’d also like to offer is that if you draw every day, or even every now and again, you have a talent. You have an artistic bone inside you and the only way it can grow is practice and repetition. Anyone can be an artist if they put time and energy into their craft.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life and it’s only been recently that I felt the term “asexual” described my feelings. So far, it’s been working just fine!

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

Sometimes when I create characters, people like to know their romantic backstories. I always get a confused look when I tell them a certain character isn’t really interested in the sexual aspect of a relationship. Normally I just shrug off any off hand opinion. It’s my art, my character and my choice.

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

The most common, which I think anyone under the umbrella can relate to, is that people assume I’m just confused about sex and that I shouldn’t judge it if I haven’t tried it. Another one is that I’ve been told it isn’t real love if you don’t have sex. Which I think is a ridiculous assumption to make and only exists to pressure someone into sexual activity against their personal comfort. If anyone tries to pressure you into a sexual situation and you’re not comfortable, leave. You’re not a bad person for taking control of your body.

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

Everything is okay. You’re okay. I’m someone who likes to be labeled, because I’ve lived so long without knowing who I was and why I was feeling the way I was that I felt lost and confused. Sometimes I convinced myself it was a phase and I’d grow out of it eventually. But labels help me understand who I am and what I’m about. Other people hate labels. They don’t want to fit into another box and decide that whatever they feel is good enough without a name. And that’s okay too. If you want a label, keep doing research and talking to various members of the queer community. If you don’t want a label, then simply learn to be comfortable with just existing and focus on what makes you happy. There’s no time limit and if it take another week or 5 years to figure yourself out, that’s okay too. And don’t forget, labels change. You aren’t a liar if you chose one label today and another tomorrow. It’s part of the learning process.

I believe in you my friend.

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

I’m hoping to establish an online presence again soon, but for now, a few of my pieces can be found on my personal Tumblr: blackjackink.tumblr.com

It’s a bit of a mess, but like I said, I’m going to try and create a personal space for my art. Stay tuned!

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

Interview: Darius

Today we’re joined by Darius. Darius is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in making beautiful digital art. He specializes in photo editing and makes wonderful pieces with inspiring quotes on them. Darius loves creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make art digitally. I would love to make things physically but I’m afraid that I have a low aptitude for that. I like photo editing which is a bit hard to describe because it can be so varying. I think the only necessary component to photo editing is that a photo be incorporated. Typically a subject is masked out and we use various softwares and applications to bend that photo to our will and make it into whatever we imagine it to me. I know that’s not the best explanation but it’s the best that I can offer (sorry), at least for now.

For about a year now I’ve started using shapes to make art. Basically what I do is I take shapes such as a square and triangle or maybe even an inorganic shape and combine them in whatever way I want to make whatever I want. For example, I may put an equilateral triangle on top of a square to make house looking figure from the too. The example is very simplified explanation of my process as for a given piece, I may use 100 different shapes and have a few thousand shapes in all in one photo. I can change the opacity, stroke, shadow, height, width, color of these shapes to give a piece even more depth or uniqueness.

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I mainly make relatively simple pieces and put inspirational quotes on them. I’ve always really liked those pictures quotes that we all have seen somewhere on the internet. About 5 years back I thought that they were so great because one could positively touch another with word in an art form. It inspired me to start making digital art.

I’ve put my shape art and quote into one, combining the things I love and sharing them with others in the hopes of inspiring them or touching them in some way and of for my own enjoyment as well.

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What inspires you?

I am mostly inspired by plants.

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

I’m not arting as a career or anything. It’s more of a very time consuming hobby.

Though I have been paid to create local campaign posters and store signs.

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

Hmm, no I don’t believe so

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would like to young artist that perhaps aren’t as confident or capable in the art to not give up. I encourage them to try new mediums or to even make up their own.

I encourage them to try different art styles because there are so many and just because one doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean they all won’t. Most of all, have fun and love what you’re doing.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual Aromantic

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

I’ve only realized my asexuality for hmm about a month now and I’ve only told two friends who received me positively, so I haven’t had much opportunity for that. Though I’m certain people in my life would tell me that I’m a closeted homosexual or that I’m making it up. Something out there like that. I’ve decided that I won’t really tell people, partly to avoid predicaments like that but also because I feel people aren’t obligated to tell everyone.

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

I’ve realized that most people don’t even realize that asexuality exists.

They think that it’s something made up and laugh, but not before bringing up asexual reproduction … sigh

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I honestly haven’t encountered misconceptions because everyone in my life either doesn’t know what asexuality is or has a great understanding of it.

I’m sure I’ll encounter those with misconceptions in time. I just hope that I’m equipped enough to better educate them

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

Take your time and breathe.

If you’re not sure if you’re ace or not, you’re more than welcome to use it as a title.

If you don’t know where you fall, that’s okay also.

Don’t feel like it’s necessary to give who you are a title or a name. You don’t have to have one.

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You don’t have to use the split attraction model if you don’t want to.

You can be ace yet still enjoy sexual interaction with another.

Please understand that the only person who decides if you are ace or not is you, no someone else.

You aren’t broken. You aren’t going to die alone. You’re still capable of love. And you are very much loved by many.

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

I mostly keep my art to myself and friends but I do post them on my Tumblr if I remember to.

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