Interview: Skyler

Today we’re joined by Skyler. Skyler is a wonderful fanartist who has written a massive amount of fics in the Doctor Who fandom. She writes fics about the 10th Doctor and Rose Tyler. Aside from fics, Skyler has also created moodboards and 8 tracks. She’s clearly a passionate artist who enjoys what she does, 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 have written about 145 fanfics for the Billie Piper and David Tennant fandom. Most of those are Doctor Who, for the Tenth Doctor x Rose Tyler ship (sort of. It’s sci-fi complicated.). I’ve also made some playlists on 8tracks with manips for cover art and moodboards and such for this ship.

What inspires you?

I think since I’m aro ace, I find relationships fascinating, and I love exploring the drama and what-ifs.

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

I started reading fanfic when I was a preteen on a message board and by the time Harry Potter peaked in popularity around my high school and college years, I was reading tons of fic. I deeply wished I could create a Fanfic.net account and start posting. But I was too scared and never did it. I came back to fic after college when I watched Doctor Who and needed to know what happened after the happily-ever-after. I started reading fic and had all these ideas about what I would do with that story. That’s another thing that motivates me: wanting more than we were given about how a plot point or relationship tied up.

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

Having the voices of the characters in my head, thinking about how the actors would say it, how the character would perceive each other’s actions… if I don’t have that, I can’t write. It wouldn’t be any good. But when I do, people say I have captured them well, so it’s worth the battle to push through.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There are not as many rules as you think there are. We all have insecurity. It is tempting to think of fandom as this cool kid table where you have to get permission to join, but you don’t. Just write. Create what YOU like. Read as much as you want, and yes there will be fanon that people consider sacred or whatever, but some of the best fic is from writers who are new to the scene because they don’t get trapped in the same tropes done the same way. When you’re in a fandom a long time, it’s tempting to write the same thing over and over 100 times that everyone else is writing. But new writers don’t have that sense of conformity. If you can preserve that curiosity and wonder while also gaining experience and growing as a writer, that’s when true art is born.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aegoromantic/aegosexual (aro ace for short)

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

There’s always aphobes on Tumblr, who aren’t worth my time, but my actual community has been hugely supportive. I would say all the prejudice and ignorance from people who matter has been internal. I limited myself because I didn’t think I could be ace if I like writing and reading smut (then I found the aegosexual label!). Then I made a post about it and it still shows up in my notifications years later. I was so afraid to publish my fic for Pride last year about Rose being bisexual and the Doctor being demisexual. It was really personal for me. But people are still leaving comments a about how much that story meant to them. So I think we limit ourselves a lot more than we should.

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

There are so many out there, but one personally is that people don’t understand the split attraction model. Usually it doesn’t both me because I’m both aro and ace, but I do have aesthetic attraction, and people don’t really get that. I like the visual of a “hot” person and can call people “sexy,” but that doesn’t mean I personally want to have sex with them. lol It’s just an expression to explain what type of aesthetic appeal they have. Which probably doesn’t make sense to people who do experience sexual attraction, but when you don’t, it is like a huge lightbulb.

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

First, it’s OK to change labels later if you decide you were wrong. Second, it’s a spectrum so you probably weren’t wrong, just somewhere else on the spectrum than you thought. And third, you can also be sure! Even if you’re a teen, you don’t have to “wait until you get older” to identify as ace. You can be ace at any age. It’s also not a Tumblr thing. People have been ace a lot longer than Tumblr has been around.

Also, just ignore the discourse. It is minimally helpful just to be familiar with the arguments people are using these days, but it’s not worth getting upset about and definitely isn’t worth engaging. Just gather real fellow aces and allies you can count on and support each other.

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

The best place to read my writing is AO3: Skyler10. My Tumblr is Skyler10fic. And here is my edit tag and 8tracks.

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

Interview: Matthew Maione

Today we’re joined by Matthew Maione. Matthew is a phenomenal visual artist who also writes and creates fanart. He enjoys drawing faces and also does quite a lot of fanart. When he’s not creating visual art, Matthew enjoys writing and writes both fanfiction and original work. He’s particularly fond of historical fiction and crime suspense. It’s clear he’s an incredibly dedicated artist who loves to create 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 am a virtual artist and creative writer. I enjoy drawing faces and fanart.  I like playing with colour and texture a lot. I write almost entirely fanfiction and fiction. Historical fiction and Crime Suspense novels are some of my favourite to write.

What inspires you?

Music is a huge inspiration in my life, it can get me in certain moods that are perfect for writing. My fiancé often inspires me with the little things she does, dances around the house that make me want to write romance. Nature gives me a breath of life, revitalizes me and makes me want to draw.

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

It was actually my older sister, she is a cosplay and traditional artist. She is 5 years older than me and I, being a younger sibling, was jealous and decided I needed to be better than her. Now I do it because I love it, of course.

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

I used to but since I lost most of my sight I’ve just been trying to re-explore what my art is. Playing with styles and shading to recreate it so I can still actually create, I used to sign my older works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up! Make your weaknesses your strengths! There is no reason why you can’t pursue art if it’s what you love. Always do what makes you happiest, not what others want you to do.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Grey-ace. I don’t really experience sexual attraction, but if I have a strong romantic connection with someone I am able to connect with them in that way as well. But it’s more of a, I do it because I love them and want to make them happy. Not to say that is the only way to do so, there are many ways to connect with your partners and sex is never a mandatory part of a relationship, but it can enhance your romantic connection. Simply put, while I don’t experience sexual attraction, for me, being intimate occasionally makes me feel emotionally closer.

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

I haven’t really in my field. It’s not something that just casually comes up in conversation but those I have told have all been very understanding. A few people I told were even comfortable enough with me after the fact that they were able to come out to me as well. In my daily life a few people have said that it’s because I hadn’t met the right person, or claimed they could fix me, very common things to run into. I mostly just ignore this and do my best to stay safe.

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

That I’ll never be able to have a permanent partner or that it’s a phase. I have a fiancé who has no problems with it, we have been together for two years. She is always very understanding if I’m having a repulsed day, because there are good and bad days. Some days I’m totally okay with the idea of sex and others I can’t stand to watch movies with implied scenes in them. But if you’re worried about finding someone who will love you, of course you will. There’s somebody for everyone.

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

Being asexual, while it is a way to identify, does not define you. If the thought of it is new or uncomfortable, it’s just another part of wat makes you, you. It’s not something to be ashamed of or hide, there are so many people out there who will accept you for exactly who you are.

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

My Tumblr is Naoki-arts, I have AO3, Ammarettu. I’m currently working on getting my first novel published so any news on that will be found there as well!

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

Interview: NW

Today we’re joined by NW. NW is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in fanart. She does mostly digital art, though she does occasionally dabbles in traditional media. NW does a lot of costume and character design. She enjoys doing mostly fanart, but will occasionally do original art. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

meeeeee

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

So, a lot of my work right now is done digitally — that is to say I don’t have an aversion to traditional media, it’s just more accessible to me at the moment — and usually it’s of people. Ranging from character or costume design, fan art, and a lot of my original artwork I don’t get to post. I love drawing portraits and faces, so right now, I guess the majority (that I post, anyway) is of that. I’m mostly self-taught; I’ve learned through practicing, studying classical paintings, and even watching Bob Ross as a little girl. I’ve had the traditional drawing courses (you know, still lives of apples or shapes) in addition to a lot of experimentation software like Paint Tool SAI, Adobe Photoshop, and Procreate.

I don’t particularly stick to one “style”; I don’t really like doing line art, I find it too time-consuming and I have issues with tremor, no thanks to my medication I take. So my style is very “paintery”, if you like. What I’ve learned in painting courses (and, again, Bob Ross) and I paint over my mistakes. When I do traditional media, I usually go back to the pencil or watercolors. I’m a visual person and I love coloring and colors. My favorite thing about creating art is eventually coloring it.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me.

Art has been a therapeutic thing for me and I’ve gone back and added my own feelings in them. I’m very guilty of day-dreaming and since I was a kid, those day dreams inspire art. I think of stories and they become my pieces. Things I see in real life, whether it be color combinations, fashion, or images I pass, I try to hold onto that visual memory and bring it back.  Nowadays, I carry my iPad and stop to at least get it out before it goes. Movies definitely do—I hadn’t realized how much movies affected my stories and images until I got older.

Other artists most definitely do, which is why I’m Tumblr a lot. Most of the blogs I follow are other artists. There are also a few blogs that post traditional and classical artwork that I love. And, really, the music I listen to also is a huge influence on me and I always listen to certain bands and artists to try and captivate a mood in my pieces. My usernames “ofborrowedlight” and “rainbowillness” actually come from one band that I listen to a lot when I do artwork, Wolves in the Throne Room. They’re titles to two songs, “Rainbow Illness” and “Queen of the Borrowed Light”. For my personal “project”, I listen to them quite a bit.

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

Well, I’ve been holding a pencil since I had an Etch-a-Sketch and I cannot recall the rest. And I keep bringing up Bob Ross for a reason—I watched him religiously as a little girl. I’d say that he was actually the first influence that wanted me to get into the field. By the age of five, my mind was made up: I wanted to be an artist. I struggled with dyslexia and bullying and art was my constant companion for me. Having that man on television taught me so much about color and composition at an early age and his attitude of “there are no accidents, only happy mistakes” is such a positive thing to have and he’s really still pushing me, to this day, with that attitude. If you ask me now, yeah, I still want to draw and create for a living. It hasn’t been easy working full-time and trying to earn money, though, but I have not given up. I still try to draw every day; unfortunately, I get really shy posting stuff online or I’m spending more time on it than I wanted to.

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

Not in particularly? At least I don’t think so; maybe my coloring?

Maybe the closest to it if anyone notices that I incorporate a wave or a flow around my figures, sometimes. That comes from how Gustav Kilmt, Alphonse Mucha, and some traditional Japanese paintings that seem to have a special way to draw smoke and water. I can’t really write it, but anyone can find it in my sketches. But flat out, there’s no real unique symbolism, usually. If there is, it’s with my original stuff with little hints, but no one is going to know context, it’s just me, because I haven’t really presented the world with that story yet. It’s an inside joke with me, I guess.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing, draw as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to expand your style. I was like a lot of artists out here on Tumblr; I’d print Sailor Moon illustrations and copied them. It’s good to do that to get up on your feet, but don’t allow that to be a dependency. Don’t be afraid to get books for the sake of illustrations—I still do. And don’t feel bad about your level of technique doesn’t match your friends or other artists out there. Art is all about your interpretation. While I can go on hours how stupid still lives and contour drawing is, they are essential to getting better. Take classic courses; if they’re not accessible to you, check out Udemy or Coursea.

With digital art, it’s a lot of practice. You just need to play around with features in software and you’ll find some really cool effects to enhance your coloring. Transitioning from a sketchbook to a drawing tablet is weird and don’t feel bad about not getting it; it took me years to get it and I’m still trying to play around with it. You’ll find a favorite program that you love! And even then, I would encourage you to have more than one digital art program. I hop around Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop, and Procreate all the time.

And really, I can’t stress it enough: don’t give up. You’re in an age where more of these things are accessible to you and it wasn’t when I was a kid. Keep drawing, draw more, and draw whatever you want.

versussmall
Versus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteromantic asexual but more often gray-sexual. I think men are handsome, that’s about it. I’m not bothered by it and I really don’t care about relationships. Finding a man attractive is the furthest I’ll go; I don’t want much interaction after that.

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

The closest I’ve experienced any sort of misconception have been at concerts, anime, or comic conventions (surprise, I draw there too) and having to really push back men that have approached me for a date or my number. If they really can’t take the hint or accept “no” for an answer, I’ll get up and leave. A few times I’ve had men at just concerts or gatherings telling me they can “fix” me or change my mind. Then I’ll just tell them to fuck right the hell off, literally.

However, the most prejudice and ignorance I experience is outside of art and I experience it more with my family. It’s an odd mix of Irish and Mexican Catholicism where most of the women in my family married young (we’re talking 17-19) and they think there’s something wrong with me because I have no kids and I’m not married. No matter how many times I tell them “I don’t care, I don’t find anyone attractive” or “sex doesn’t interest me”, it doesn’t seem to sink in. Even when I told them there’s a community of other asexuals, one said “well, they must all be very depressed”. I make jokes about things like “this is why I don’t date” and use it to reiterate I don’t care about relationships.

So I’d say the run of the mill crap—“you haven’t found the right man”, “you’ll change your mind someday”, or “you must be very lonely”. I just shrug it off because I’ve had this conversation so many times with my family.

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

I’m not sure if this is common, but my father believed it was the same as bisexuality—I’m just glad he recognizes that even if I’m not!

One thing I’ve seen is people assume its celibacy and then I have to explain there is a huge difference between the two. It does get tiring having to explain it’s a lack of physical attraction and a desire for it and no, I am not going to change, I’m not worried about not being married, and I’m well over 20 years old and it’s not likely I’m having second thoughts. I am, myself, sex-repulsed, but other asexual people are not and that’s usually one assumption that people go with. Having other people chime in and say they aren’t hleps.

Unfortunately, I will say that because I struggle with PTSD from abuse, therapists assume that the asexuality may be a cause of it. I’m sure it’s a contribution, but more along the lines I just find general touch revolting, though I’m confident that it’s not the ultimate reason why I’m asexual. I feel like psychology needs to learn more about it because I am tired of that assumption is because its due to trauma. I don’t think it’s asking too much that therapists and psychiatrists learn about asexuality. We’re not all like this, not every asexual person is like that due to trauma. And this thinking let me believe that I was really, really destroyed for years when I was not.

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

If you also had a past of trauma like me, I’d say check out Aven and other communities geared towards asexuality so that you will know you’re not broken. I feel like this isn’t really talked about that much and it’s a shame. This isn’t part of PTSD or other forms of mental illness; you are not mentally ill if you’re asexual. When I first heard asexual at 18, I didn’t know about these things and I’m so happy other people have this access. Even now, at Pridefest here in Denver, there are asexuals and I haven’t seen them not even five years ago. My present employer, Ikea, even had “asexuality” listed on their diversity and inclusion talks—that’s really awesome.

There’s a lot of research and groups, there’s a whole world out there. But if you get the same spiel as I do, I think at this point, all we can do is just poke fun at it. Nothing makes me feel better than mocking these conceptions with other aces, it’s a nice reassurance. And if you’re in the same boat with me and family, yeah, post a link on Facebook or just print it off and be like “read this”. I don’t feel like we have the same level of resistance to people that are gay, lesbian, bi, and trans, so we need to also understand that. Watching a family member bullied out of the closet was horrific; I still couldn’t draw comparisons to their situation. Ours seems like a lot of people just can’t comprehend a life without physical attraction, I think. I just hope people remember that, especially.

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

Most of my stuff is posted on Rainbowillness.com, which is hooked up to Tumblr. If you’re in the American McGee’s Alice fandom, you know me, I’m sure you’ve seen my stuff. I’m also on Instagram under “ofborrowedlight”; sometimes I will post WIPs (works in progress) on my personal Tumblr, “ofborrowedlight”, but I urge everyone just go on my site and follow me there.

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

Interview: Raven Jay

Today we’re joined by Raven Jay. Raven Jay is a phenomenal visual artist who is currently studying at uni. They mostly draw fanart and original characters. They currently have a fascinating webcomic entitled Anthrel, which is summarized as follows: “A comic series following the lives of the Anthreligions; immortal personifications of the world’s religions, sects, and other spiritualities.” (It updates on Fridays). It’s clear Raven is a very creative and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a visual artist and illustrator, and most of my work is cartoonish. I draw a lot of both fanart and my own original characters and ideas. I have a few webcomic ideas in the works, and my current one is named Anthrel!

What inspires you?

My current favourite shows to draw from are Voltron: Legendary Defender and Boueibu, but most of my inspiration comes from religion, magic, and art history!

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

I’ve wanted to be an artist since primary school! I remember spending most of my time ignoring chances to socialize so I could sit and draw. My drive to draw – especially comics and illustration – became a lot bigger in high school because of friends I made and my supportive art teacher.

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?

A lot of my original work centres around religion and mythology and the beauty I see in it, and my webcomic is about personified religions, so I guess that’s a recurring theme I have?

My physical artist signature comes from a messy stylisation of my deadname; I just kept it because I’ve been using it for so long and it doesn’t really look like a word anymore. That being said, I forget to sign half of my art anyway.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It might sound cliché but don’t give up on art because some people think it won’t amount to anything; instead, keep making art because they think that. My father used to tell me I’d never make a living out of art, and his girlfriend’s friend once laughed at me for wanting to be an artist as a job. But now I’m at uni studying a creative industries degree and building art into a career, so the joke’s on them!

Also, don’t forget how important art theory is. Not only does art history tell you where you came from, it can inspire you too.

roman standoff
Roman Standoff

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m just asexual. I’m also sex-repulsed but don’t mind talking about/drawing sexual themes within certain boundaries.

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

Though I’ve experienced ignorance from peers, I haven’t experienced much prejudice, as most of my network is my university cohort and close friends. Normally I deal with ignorance by just politely explaining what asexuality is! Most people understand after that.

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

The most common misconception that I’ve encountered, I think, is that all asexuals are by default sex-repulsed. Though I am, I know not every ace is, and we all have different comfort boundaries for any sort of physical affection.

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

Always remember you’re valid in your asexuality. Maybe you’re questioning where you sit on that spectrum, and that’s okay, and maybe you’ll wake up tomorrow and realise you don’t identify as ace at all! We learn more about ourselves and about sexuality all the time; what matters is knowing that identifying as ace or aspec right now is a valid thing to do, and you don’t need to prove yourself to everyone.

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

You can find my art at draweththeraven on both Tumblr and Instagram! I also have a website, draweththeraven.com, which I try to update regularly (aka, I never update it). My webcomic Anthrel is at https://tapas.io/series/Anthreligion.

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

Interview: Nikki

Today we’re joined by Nikki. Nikki is a wonderful fanartist who does digital art and is an avid cosplayer. She mostly sells digital art at conventions, where she also shows off her incredible cosplays. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who loves what she does. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a digital artist & cosplayer!  I sell fanart at cons, do commission work, and, well, build cosplays!

What inspires you?

For my cosplay, characters who I see part of myself in inspire me the most.  Strong women, mostly.  I’ve also just made cosplays because the character design/execution in the original media look cool.

For art, I find that real somber, sad scenes inspire me.  I’m not entirely sure the reasoning, but it resonates with me more than happy, cheerful stuff.

3. by Daily Bugle Photogrophy
by Daily Bugle Photogrophy

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

I’ve always been interested in art of any form, but I don’t think I actively wanted to be an artist until around 2 or 3 years ago.  I also didn’t know I wanted to seriously do cosplaying until maybe a year ago!  As for what got me interested in cosplaying, I think it’d have to be the utter confidence being in costume gives me.  I love putting in hours and days of work into a cosplay, putting it on, and showing the world what I made with my own two hands!

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 that I can really think of!  I do have a little trinket given to me by Guerrilla Games, the company who made Horizon Zero Dawn that I wear when I cosplay from the game!  I also have a bracelet my best friend gave me that matches the aesthetic of the game that I wear, too!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Very cliched, but keep practicing!  Nothing has to be perfect, in art, cosplay, really anything, so don’t stress the small details.  That, and, if you put your heart and soul into your work, it will show, no matter your skill level.

4. by Final Eva Productions
by Final Eva Productions

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am fully Asexual, and most likely greyromantic, but I’m not sure about that.

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

Not that I’ve seen, but you never know what people say when you’re not there.

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

I think the most common misconception that I see is that it’s about libido or interest in sex, which isn’t the case.  Just like there can be allosexuals can be uninterested in sex or have a low libido, an asexual can have interest in sex and/or a high libido.

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

First and foremost, whether you’re asexual or not, that doesn’t change who you are.  If you feel comfortable identifying as ace, that’s wonderful!  If you don’t, you don’t have to! Maybe it will just take some getting used to, or maybe the label just isn’t what you’re feeling, and that’s perfectly okay.  No one else can decide who you are, only you can. All I can hope for is that you love yourself.

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

Anyone who is interested can find me on Tumblr and Instagram at AceArtCosplay, and on Facebook at Ace Art & Cosplay.  I try to post updates as much as I can, but it doesn’t always happen.

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

Interview: Naomi Clements Gettman

Today we’re joined by Naomi Clements Gettman. Naomi is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. The visual art is digital and mostly for fun. She does fanart, collages, and sometimes collaborates with her sister. When she’s not creating visual art, Naomi also writes a lot of poetry. 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.

My art encompasses a few things. I dabble in Photoshop and making digital collaborations with my sister. Most of the time this means I will create a reference for her, she will draw line work, and then I will scan and color. Other times I make simple collages, fan-art for bands I love, or illustrate random jokes.

I also enjoy writing and have written lots of poetry, although none of it is published anywhere. I am currently in the process of collecting it all and will probably self-publish sometime soon, just to have a physical collection to share with whoever would like to read it. I am also in the process of writing a book, which is from an idea I developed in several of my screenwriting classes.

What inspires you?

I think for my graphic design things, there are certain things I create regularly, and other things I only create occasionally. For instance, I may decide I need a new Twitter or Facebook banner and I whip together a themed collage of things/characters I like. These are easy to do, and I don’t spend much time thinking about it. Other times a band may host a fan-art contest, or I may feel inspired by a line in a song, and I create a single piece I am proud of after a few weeks of mulling it over. Once I am finished with a bigger project like this, it takes a while to create something again.

For my poetry, I am inspired by the sound of things as much as the meaning. I enjoy rhyme and often write a whole poem around a single phrase that I think sounds good. Sometimes my poems are fictional stories, sometimes they are about self-doubt, sometimes they are about growing up. There really is no uniting theme, which is why I find it so hard to determine what is good and what is trash.

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

To say “field” is probably a bit of a misdirection. I am currently in the awkward techinically-last-semester-but-done-with-credits-and-looking-for-anyone-who-will-hire-me phase of life. My chosen field of study is in film/media, and I have a few different experiences under my belt; from film digitization to advertising. However, whether it is in the form of an essay, a video, a PowerPoint, or whatever else, I love being creative and even enjoy working on a team to research and complete a project. I have never wanted to be an artist in any traditional sense of the word (like being an illustrator or a musician), but I do believe that creativity and fun can be a part of almost everything you do.

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?

Nope! I suppose I should start signing things, but I haven’t yet.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be to just have fun with whatever you are doing. Lots of ‘serious’ jobs require creativity, and lots of ‘creative’ jobs require business skills like budgeting or scheduling. Your best bet is to approach whatever it is with a good attitude, and even if you don’t love the whole job or the assignment or whatever, you can at least find an aspect of it to enjoy.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I have happily identified as aro/ace for about 5 years now (since I was 17). The aro part of my identity came a little later, but so far everything fits. I am fulfilled with the close friendships I’ve managed to maintain, although I think I would like a QPR.

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

I have never encountered any type of prejudice in my workplace, but mostly I think that has to do with the fact that I have no idea how to be out at work. I never actively hide my aro/ace identity, but also it never actually comes up. Do people think I’m straight?? Maybe. Although it’s more likely they think I’m gay since I talk about going to pride and what not. However, whenever I do mention it, there is never any push-back from the person. Sure, there’s the usual “what is that?” if they don’t already know, but there is a never a follow-up “don’t worry, you’ll meet the right person.”

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

I have been very lucky to have an accepting family and friend group. My whole “coming out” experience is not typical, I think.  I never tried to be anything I wasn’t or even realized there was something different about me.  Even within the first years of knowing my sexuality I was on an NPR segment talking about my experience. (Check it out if you’d like, but be warned it is a few years old now https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2016/08/11/51199/asexuality-and-the-internet-s-key-role-in-the-ace/)

However, one thing that breaks my heart (even though it isn’t a misconception per se) is when I tell someone I am aro/ace, and they say they have never met anyone else like me. It happens quite a lot, and it feels horribly isolating.

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

I wish I had novel advice that could be applicable to any type of person. Sometimes the “love yourself” mantra is easier said than done, especially when you battle with anxieties and insecurities that others do not. But I’m afraid I am not that person, and the only advice I can offer is to find the connections that allow you to love yourself. Put all your energy into cultivating a small network of love, and support will be there when you need it.

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

If you would like to see my work or check out my socials, please go to https://sncgportfolio.weebly.com/

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

Interview: Caw

Today we’re joined by Caw. Caw is a wonderful young fanartist who writes fanfiction for a number of different fandoms. She enjoys writing for people with similar interests to enjoy and enjoys writing as a hobby. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who really enjoys writing, as  you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write fanfiction for communities such as Sander Sides, The Phandom (Dan & Phil), and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi but I have been planning a very own original story of my own for the last year, I’m happy to say I’ll be publishing the first chapter on October 1st!

What inspires you?

I’d have to say my best friends and quotes from my idols! Dan or danerkuu as many know her is such an inspiration to me, she’s always been there when I needed her and I cherish every waking moment we share together. When it comes to a single quote that still gets me is by Daniel Howell, “You are an independent mind in this universe that can do anything and everything you have ever dreamed of.”

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

Well, at first I was intrigued after reading fanfictions about Inuyasha couples so I decided to give it a try and subconsciously it was really to cope with some past trauma of mine through characters I cherished and stories I put them in.

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?

Crutches. It comes from a catchphrase of mine, “When the entire world breaks your legs, I’ll be your crutches always.”

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fail. Fail over and over and over and over again because then you learn, you become wise and you adapt to the constructive criticism you get. Don’t give up, keep practicing, keeping making your art whatever it may be because if you keep trying that means you’re making progress. It took me three years to get here and I’m still learning. There’s no perfection but progress is so much better than perfection because guess what? That means there’s always something new to learn, some mistake to make, and something to improve which makes you an even better artist.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Apothisexual, I identify as asexual and I’m sex-repulsed by the idea of sex. I really just prefer cuddles and kisses honestly! I prefer to just say asexual but if you want the detail answer, that’s the closest hit home!

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

Not necessarily in my field since I’ve only discovered it recently and I haven’t been attacked either but I am scared for that prejudice. I know Tumblr is split on what to think about asexuality and one of my family members isn’t keen on believing my sexual identity. He’s said I couldn’t possibly know what I am because apparently my hormones haven’t hit yet although I know that’s not true.

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

To be honest, I didn’t hear about it much before 2018 Pride Month but looking through forum discussions and the like, people think we just can’t find the one suddenly spark that sexual attraction.

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

You don’t have to know what you are exactly, I was very hesitant to say I’m apothisexual because that might be wrong but I’m pretty comfortable with it and I think that’s the best thing to go with. If you feel comfortable with your label, then that’s your label! I’m happy just being labeled as asexual and I prefer it actually. Don’t feel a rush to place label on yourself either, you don’t have to place yourself in a box because no one is a perfect size for any box society tries to force upon us!

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

Well, you can always ask on my Tumblr about it and you can read my stories on a few sites; Tumblr, Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, and Amino under the same name I am now – cawerkuu. I talk about when I’m writing on my Instagram, the same username, as well if they’d like to follow that, I’m much more active on it!

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

Interview: Jess Renae Curtis

Today we’re joined by Jess Renae Curtis, who also goes by Jess or Pup. Jess is the phenomenal artist behind PuppyLuver Studios. She does mostly fan work at the moment but has also recently branched out into original work. She is currently dabbling with creating an original universe. Jess is mostly a digital artist and creates both fanart and original characters through drawing. Her work is bright and colorful, capturing the viewer and drawing them in. It shows an amazing attention to detail. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Owl Barber

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m both a writer and a digital artist. My illustrations are generally focused on characters, both original designs and those from fandoms I’m involved in, and tend to use a lot of varied color. My writing is involved in both fanfiction (notable ones I’m working on at the moment include Chronicles of Tajiria, a Pokémon series but with the Pokémon as people with superpowers/magic, and Sonata in Triplicate, a Legend of Zelda AU series) and my original series Theia Historica, of which I have the first entry (titled A Kingdom of Children) published.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a definite answer for that, it could be just about anything depending on what sort of thing or things it ends up inspiring. I’ve had small one-page comics based on something funny that happened to me while playing a video game, I’ve designed a character because a YouTuber I follow posted a video of himself shaving his beard with a razor that I initially thought looked like an owl, I’ve drawn pieces based on something funny a friend said to me, lots of things. In fact, the general art direction of Theia Historica has its roots in one very specific part in the PS2 role-playing game Okage: Shadow King, but it’s a long explanation so that’s a story for another time.

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Mermaids Working Out

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

I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and while I always liked drawing it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life for the longest time. Funnily enough, my first career choices were astronaut and veterinarian, before I realized that the things in space kinda scared me and I was squeamish about blood and other bodily fluids, so around middle school I decided to try a career path that I already had some skill and comfort in. I started storytelling shortly after becoming literate, though unlike visual art that was always something I could see myself doing professionally, though more as an “after I’m done being an astrovet” thing than as part of my main career.

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Brunswick Manor front

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?

Can’t think of anything in particular except for the star that I use as my watermark (a five-point star with each point being a different color of the rainbow except for orange). Also in major writing projects I tend to find some way or another to put myself in there. Just…self-insert in the background, there I am.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re feeling discouraged about your skill level, remember to keep trying and that you can only get better. You’ve got wonderful visions that’ve been concocted solely by the processes of your imagination, and only you can bring them to life for the world to see. Also, don’t pay attention to what cringe culture says. Make that multicolor Sonic OC if you want. Write a short story about you getting transported to your favorite fictional world and becoming best buds with the main characters if doing so cheers you up when you’re feeling down. Don’t let anyone stop you from enjoying something that makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others.

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Journey-Traveler’s Hub

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual. I’m not entirely sure yet of where I fall in regards to romantic attraction, but if I were to try dating I think I’d want my first attempts at romantic experiences to be with women.

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

Not specifically in my field, no, and I don’t really know how I would handle it if I were to encounter prejudice that was physical or coming from a position of authority. Most people I’ve told about my asexuality are a bit confused as to what it means at first, but once I explain they’re generally supportive. I have had encounters with people who flat-out refused to believe that I was an adult who didn’t enjoy sex and couldn’t ever imagine doing so, but that one was on me for commenting on a video explicitly titled “Why Does Sex Feel Good?” and saying that I couldn’t understand why sex-havers craved it so strongly (I mean, I technically can, cuz if sex weren’t at least somewhat pleasurable to those willingly engaging in it then the species would die out because then no one would be boinking and possibly making babies) and I thought the whole societal obsession with it was a bit ridiculous. I kinda walked into that one, and I ended up just muting that conversation and moving on.

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Skull Kid and Deku Tree

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

If they don’t outright dismiss the possibility of asexuality/aromanticism existing, they tend to assume all asexual people share my feelings in that sex is something they wish to avoid. While I am not one of them, there are obviously plenty of asexuals who either are indifferent or even enjoy sex as an activity. I’m put off by all the mess that I’ve heard results from a typical sexual encounter to even consider trying it, but I will never knock on any sex-positive or sex-neutral aces.

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

Not having a sexual or romantic attraction is just as normal as having a sexual or romantic attraction to people of a different gender, the same gender, or multiple genders. You’re not broken just because all your peers are ogling “sexy” celebrities and you find yourself feeling indifferent to the whole thing. And don’t listen to all the highly vocal exclusionists plaguing the internet that say a-spec people don’t belong. They are the minority given megaphones, and the majority of LGBT groups and spaces are inclusive of a-specs.

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

You can find my stuff on DeviantART under the username PuppyLuver, and on Tumblr, Twitter, FanFiction.net, and AO3 under the username PuppyLuver256. I also have a Redbubble store and a Patreon.

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Shiny Mahina

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

Interview: Chip

Today we’re joined by Chip. Chip is a phenomenal visual artist and fanartist who uses both traditional and digital media. While she mostly does fanart, she’s hoping to do more original work. Though art is a hobby, her drawings show an extraordinary attention to detail and a vividness that is truly amazing. The use of bright colors draws in the viewer. It’s clear she’s an artist who loves what she does, 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 always loved arts and crafts of all sorts but I usually share drawings on my blog (both traditional and digital). I tend to make more fan art than original but I wish to change that in the future

What inspires you?

Other artists mostly. I take my inspiration from Tumblr, Tapas and Webtoon. I love the way they show their personality in their work.

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

My earliest memories are of my mum painting with watercolors. She used art as a way of self-healing and reflection and I always watched. I think I’m trying to do the same now.

Also one of my favorite memories is when my primary school invited Nicoletta Costa to talk with us about how she wrote and illustrated her kids books (which I adored)

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 think I’m too young of an artist as of right now 😉 stay tuned to find out

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’d tell myself to try out and practice the new stuff as I learn it

To not buy beautiful sketchbooks I’m too afraid to ruin (get really ugly ones for practice)

To take a picture/scan/make a copy before you color in the lineart so you don’t have to worry about ruining it

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I fit in the spectrum and I don’t wish for a more specific label. I used to think I HAD to find my super specific custom “term” to be valid but I realized it’s just not the case. For some people it’s important but I’m happy with just knowing the direction I’m going instead of the coordinates y’know?

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

I keep myself away from the discourse online and I’m only out to 2 friends irl so I haven’t faced any hardship. I do feel somewhat invisible and unwelcome in both worlds at times but I’d say my insecurities are the only “prejudice” I faced so far.

When I’m lonely I come back to this blog

When I feel unlovable I remind myself it’s a lie and when I feel like too much of a snowflake I tell myself that everybody is one

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

That we’re prudes (not true), that nobody will date us without sex (also not true) and that we’re just trying to hop on the “queer train” one way or the other (…no)

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

No experience is like the other. Do your research, listen to as many stories as you can and then just step back for a minute. You don’t have to figure it all now. Go for what feels right and allow yourself to change

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

You can find me on both Tumblr and DeviantArt at c0uchpotatochip! Feel free to tag along

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

Interview: Morgan

Today we’re joined by Morgan. Morgan is a phenomenal artist who is currently studying to become a fashion designer. When they’re not studying, Morgan cosplays as a hobby and they also draw as well. It’s clear they’re an incredibly talented and dedicated artist with a very bright future ahead of them, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am studying to be a fashion designer and also cosplay and draw casually. I have various designs as well as cosplays and art pieces.

What inspires you?

As a cosplayer and artist, I am influenced by shows and characters I love and feel passionate about. For original art and designs I am inspired by issues I care about as well as interpretations of my environment and my own feelings. My gender identity and sexuality also inspire my art.

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

I was always interested in drawing, especially nature and humans. My passion and creativity extended to my self-expression through clothing and led me to create my own clothing.

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 necessarily. When I start to have more clothing designs that I have made and created I plan to name my brand after my grandmother’s last name, because she has always supported my art and all aspects of my identity.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Explore different ways of expressing your creativity and don’t limit yourself to one media. Even if you aren’t as experienced or skilled in other areas, trying different methods opens new ways to interpret your feelings and your art.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and sex-repulsed.

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

Not yet. Though I feel as though some of my family/friends doesn’t understand why some of my art/designs are more revealing or “sexual” in nature when I myself am not sexual.

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

That being asexual (and/or sex repulsed) means you think sex and people who have sex are dirty/wrong. I believe sex is a very natural thing and if all parties concerned are happy and consenting, then that’s great. Do what makes you happy. Just because there are people who aren’t into it doesn’t mean they are against it.

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

Even if you are worried that you might change your mind in the future or that you should be sexually attracted to others, remember that your feelings and identity NOW are valid, no matter what you have felt in the past or could potentially feel in the future.

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

I have an art Tumblr under the URL mmmdraws and a cosplay Tumblr with the URL maeroncosplays. I also post a lot of my cosplay/cosplay progress on my Instagram irish.i.was.dead. My clothing design Instagram is morrisroe_designs though I haven’t posted a whole lot on there yet.

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Maeron

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