Interview: Inbar

Today we’re joined by Inbar. Inbar is a phenomenal visual artist and writer who has been running a webcomic for almost a year and a half. It’s entitled Just a Sidekick and it’s a superhero story that sounds fascinating. Aside from the webcomic, she’s also currently studying animation and is working on her final movie. When she’s not working on the webcomic or animation projects, Inbar also writes fanfiction. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

5. My So-Called Face
My So-Called Face

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The main project I am currently working on right now is a webcomic called “Just a Sidekick”, it’s a superhero ensemble story with a large focus on character interactions and character development. I’m also studying to be an animator, I’m in my last (fourth) year – and although I currently haven’t done any animation work that isn’t technically school work, I’m fairly proud in my animations. Currently, I just started work on my final movie, an urban fantasy called “Shoshi Ben-Abraham: Good Witch (Usually)” about a soft pastel witch and outgrowing the influence of toxic parents. In additions, I do some writing. The stories that I have online (and in English) are mostly fanfiction on AO3 (I’m currently writing for the Ace Attorney fandom), but I’ve also written original fiction before. Mostly short stories, but I’ve dabbled in poetry too.

What inspires you?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like I’ve got stories overflowing in my brain all the time and I just need to grab the not-sucky ones and share those in the best medium possible. But I guess my biggest source of inspiration is… other works of art and storytelling media. Not in the sense that I consider myself a rip-off artist or that I steal ideas, but I just… I look at a work of fiction and find something about it I like; a particular character, a trope, a relationship, a plot point, a design aesthetic or even just a feel that the work inspires, and I go “That’s neat, I wonder what I could do with that. I wonder if I can give this idea a take of my own. A spin that takes the stuff that I like but makes it unique enough so it’s mine.” I used to go roaming on the TV Tropes website all the time, find a trope I think has cool potential and think what I could do with it. I’m a fan and analyst as much as I am a creator, and I think it reflects in my artistic process. Also, “Just a Sidekick” started out a middle-school piece of crossover fanfiction that mutated so much that I was better off just making it original fiction, so that’s something.

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

I’ve been drawing and making up stories since I can remember myself. As a kid, I used to draw in any given opportunity, on anything I could find. On the final first grade, I had to stay after everyone had left to clean up the desk in my classroom as punishment for all the desks I doodled on. After that, my parents started buying me blank “drawing notebooks” to draw on instead. I filled them up, sometimes an entire notebook in one school day, with illustrations (and sometimes stories) I made up. I also always really liked animation, cartoon shows were my favorite form of entertainment as a child (I was always inherently biased against any kid’s show with live-action actors, they were always less interesting to me.) However, up until middle-school I didn’t consider animation, comics or art in general as a future career option. I thought of them as a hobby, my first dream (well, after I outgrew wanting to be a puppeteer-air hostess-cook-kindergarten teacher-robot scientist-farmer) was to be a zoologist. I love animals and I love reading facts about them, I thought I would enjoy becoming a scientist who studies them. But around middle school I started realizing it wasn’t a very realistic dream, I didn’t have a head for the sciencey subjects and I only really enjoyed knowing about animals from a distance and without all the icky stuff. Around that time, as I was reconsidering what I want to do with my life, I was watching some special feature about the history of Pixar in one of their DVDs (maybe the Incredibles?). Someone there said that they got into animation because they grew up watching Disney animated movies and so they wanted to do so themselves. That seemed like the right angle to go at, a lot of people answer ‘why did you decide to become an X’ with “well, I grew up inspired by X and I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation”. And what was my favorite form of media as a kid? The one I would like to advance forward to the kids of tomorrow? Cartoon shows! That’s when I decided that one I day I’ll be the creator of a cartoon show, or if that can’t happen – I’ll at leas be an animator. Also around the same time I was suddenly starting to have some problems with art class in school because it was starting to lean more ‘realistic’ and toward live-drawing – while I, I realized, care more about the art of telling stories via my drawing. The move to comics and animation is only logical from there.

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?

My signature is the Hebrew Letter Ayin (the first letter of my name) stylized and with a dot in the middle to make it look like an eye (another meaning for the word “Ayin”). Although I don’t use it on a lot of online content. In terms of recurring storytelling motifs, I guess most of my stories have a mostly-female cast, and I really like the trope where a character has to face against a pre-character development representation of themselves.

4. My Signature
Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Find something that you’re both pretty good at and have fun doing and focus on that. Also, originality is overrated. Having a unique idea nobody ever thought before is not nearly as important as presenting and delivering those ideas well.

2. Page 63
Page 63

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

The identity I feel most strongly about is “Asexual, period, full stop.” For the sake of communication, I can say that my identity is “Asexual Aromantic”, and it’s not that I’m ashamed at my lack of romantic attraction or that I don’t feel solidarity with other Aro people… but I’ve spent so much time questioning and second-guessing my own orientation and worrying that I might be ‘faking it’. But “Asexual” is the one label I’ve always come back to, the one that feels the most ‘right’, the most like home.

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

I’ve encountered ace prejudice, but not in my ‘field’, so to speak. I’m not very vocal about my asexuality outside of the internet, and online (where I am very vocal) I’m just not that well-known as a creator. One time I made a piece of art as schoolwork about my AroAceness, and the teacher started out with “Oh that’s very sad that you felt like you have to fake attraction to a boy” but ended up constantly talking about her husbands and soulmates and how wonderful relationships were as if me talking about how I was hurt by heteronormativity is insulting her relationship somehow. That kinda hurt me, especially since it was such a personal piece. I am very afraid of the possibility I might be the target of ace prejudice, though. It’s an anxiety that’s constantly on my mind.

3. Shoshi model sheet
Shoshi model sheet

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

That it’s not ‘real’. When I first mentioned Asexuality to my dad, before I came out, he dismissed it as “what crazy thing they’ll make up next” and it really hurt me. I’ve seen all sorts of crazy antagonism and misunderstanding about Ace People online, but the outright dismissal of our identities is still what hurts me the most.

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

Surround yourself with good friends who respect your identity. Even if the world can be really crappy sometimes, a good community to take refuge in can make you feel a lot better. Also, try and not get stressed about your identity the way that I did, okay? You’re probably not faking it or lying to yourself, and if asexuality feels like the most ‘right’ label for you and makes you happy – that’s all you need.

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

My webcomic, Just a Sidekick, is found at http://justasidekickcomics.tumblr.com/ and http://justasidekick.thecomicseries.com/.

My fanfiction is on Archive of Our Own under “Invader Ham” https://archiveofourown.org/users/InvaderHam

I might upload some animated projects to my YouTube channel soon, which is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTL3B4o0qQzpyd_cvzHw-jg

1. Dana
Dana

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

Interview: Anila

Today we’re joined by Anila. Anila is a wonderful fanartist and jewelry maker. They write in a variety of fandoms and enjoys writing fanfiction. They aspire to publish some original work some day. When they’re not writing, they enjoy making jewelry. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

face

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a creative writer – mostly fanfiction but I’m working hard to finish my original works. It’s a dream to be published someday.

Other than that I make wire jewelry.

What inspires you?

To be honest, it can be anything from a long-forgotten scribble in the margins of old lecture notes to something a passer-by might be wearing. On one hand that means I’m lucky because I can draw from most things but on the other hand all these WIPs can get me down.

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

I’ve always been good at writing – and when I started showing it to other people they were interested and, more importantly, they were affected. That made me want to write more.

As for jewelry, my mum bought a jewelry making book when I was a teenager and it seemed to stick.

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?

My writing tends to have an overabundance of commas, an abuse of semicolons, and a tendency for things to come in threes. Just like that previous sentence ;D

It’s hard to have a signature when it comes to wire jewelry, since it’s so freeform.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try not to put yourself down too much, though I understand it’s easy to do so.

Having friends act as cheerleaders is a blessing and can be one of the few things to keep you out of a slump.

Also, specifically for writers, if you understand the importance of receiving feedback in your work please be the change you wish to see the world – when you read online works, leave comments you yourself want to receive.

jewellery

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a biromantic grey-ace. Basically I can have feelings for just about anyone regardless of gender, but wanting to be intimate is not necessarily included in that.

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

While writing there is a big lack of ace representation. And of course there are the people who insist that so-and-so character simply cannot be ace because there’s no evidence that that is so – to which the reply is that this is fanfic, everything is possible, and ace-spectrum people do exist. There was also one person who tried to tell me that I couldn’t be grey-ace because of my smutty works, which… still makes me sigh.

On the outernet, where I’m closeted anyhow, there is very casual prejudice – the expectation that of course everyone has sex and you’re some sort of deviant otherwise. I do my best to educate when I can, though admittedly I tend to get defensive and annoyed very quickly.

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

That people need to have sex to live. Nope, bzzt, wrong, try again.

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

Take your time. There’s no rush to find out who you are. Do your research because knowledge is power. And, if you ever decide down the line that your orientation on the spectrum isn’t exactly what you thought it was, then that’s okay too.

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

My writing’s on AO3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/diemarysues), and I do yell about writing on my personal blog (http://diemarysues.tumblr.com).

Jewelry stuff is on my side blog (http://rustypliers.tumblr.com) though I am currently taking a break while I take better photos and edit them.

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

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.

Jess bday edit

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.

1. bg3

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.

2. korok

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.

3. yeet2

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!

4. symcolour

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: Linz Vandermeer

Today we’re joined by Linz Vandermeer. Linz is a phenomenal writer who has recently gotten into cosplay. They mostly write fanfiction, but they started out writing poetry and stories. For the cosplay, they’ve only recently started dabbling in it and enjoys it. It’s clear they’re a passionate 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 have been writing for as long as I can remember, it’s almost a compulsion with me. I started with poetry, some bad, some even worse, and then branched out into stories. Eventually, through my love of comics and movies, I ended up in the realm of fanfiction, and that’s where I’ve focused most of my attention for the last 3 or 4 years. The other thing I have really started to get into is cosplay, and though my sewing skills are not the greatest, I have a great group of friends to turn to where my abilities are lacking.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of my inspiration from daily life. I take a situation that I’ve encountered, and wondered ‘what would such-and-such a character do in my place’, and ‘how could this have gone worse’? It’s like a little mental exercise, and then before I know it I have 1200 words on a page. When I am cosplaying, I try to find a character that really calls out to me, someone that I can see a bit of myself in.

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

Even from a very young age I wanted to be a writer. I used to write stories with my friends about the adventures we would go on if we didn’t have to be in school, or if our parents were actually super spies, and things like that. As I got older I realized that I didn’t want writing to be my job, it was my mental escape from life and to put pressure or deadlines killed my creativity. Cosplay naturally evolved from my love of roleplaying games like D&D. I took part in a LARP (live action role play) for almost a decade before health issues made it too difficult, and that’s where I really started to learn to build costumes.

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 like to use British cuss words, they’ve always entertained me and I grew up watching shows like Monty Python and Red Dwarf, so that coloured my view of humour. More than that I like to take one scene and add more description than necessary, really make it the centerpiece of my work. I also rarely have sexual content in my fanfiction, which makes it a bit of an oddity.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

When you are writing, write for you. That way any person who likes what you have done, that’s just a bonus. Art should come from inside of us, and serve us, the rest of the world is a distant second. Do it to make yourself happy, that’s where the best art comes form.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual and agender individual.

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

There’s a lot of pressure towards sexualization and romanticism in writing, and fanfiction in particular. I occasionally get pressure to add sex scenes, and I will the odd time concede and add them, but it always feels wrong to me. I have no interest in sexual actions, so I’m not certain that I can really build them appropriately or accurately.

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

I find that for the most part I encounter a lot of confusion over the fact that my partner and I have been together for almost six years. We’re both asexual, and though we live together we have separate bedrooms because I am an extremely restless sleeper. When people hear that we have never even kissed (I’m touch-averse), they assume we are more like friends that live together, but it’s not that at all. I love and adore my partner, and being with her is very different than being with even my best friend.

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

Struggle is natural. I grew up in a world where asexuality didn’t exist, and where even more standard queer identities like gay and lesbian were barely discussed. I tried on a lot of hats when I was trying to figure out who I was, but it wasn’t until I found asexuality that I felt comfortable and that it was ‘just right’. Don’t be afraid to change your identifiers when they don’t suit you anymore. Sexuality is not only a spectrum, but it flows and changes as your identity and personality develop.

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

I have some of my old poetry up on Deviantart at https://www.deviantart.com/cavannarose and my fanfiction is up on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/users/CavannaRose

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Thank you, Linz, 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.