Interview: Juju

Today we’re joined by Juju. Juju is a wonderful writer who is mostly known for their fanfiction. Aside from fanfiction, they also write some original fiction and are currently working on a novel. Juju includes aspec characters in everything they write. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate writer who loves what they do, 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 write things! Most of my readers know me for fanfiction, but I also write short stories and I’m working on a novel! I also like to share stories through little video games made in RPG Maker, although I don’t often share them as much as I probably should.

What inspires you?

At the risk of sounding like an overenthusiastic alien, humanity itself is my greatest inspiration. Humans are utterly fascinating.

We have the power to wage war, and also help each other in times of need. We spend years learning each other’s languages just to communicate with people outside of our own circle. We all share the same range of emotions. We can communicate through looks without saying a word to each other; even a smile is something we can share, if we have nothing else in common.

Our experiences are diverse and universal at the same time. The relationships we have with each other—parents, lovers, siblings, friends, workmates, etc.—are varied, but when you put it all together you have the story of a life. It’s my privilege as an author to take a slice of a life, any character’s life, and portray it for the world.

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

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned what letters were. I used to write little stories for my younger brother on notebook paper, lying on the floor in my bedroom. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read them; I read them to him! In elementary school when they taught us the writing assessment, I used to pray that I’d get a narrative prompt (sadly, I never did).

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?

Unique feature? That’s a hard one… I have a terrible time recognizing themes in my work; usually other people point them out to me and I just accept that they must be right, haha.

I guess I can say I do enjoy writing about belonging; I like to do character analyses in my work in the form of introspection. I also really enjoy writing sibling relationships, especially if it’s found family and siblings. I love ships as much as the next fan, but there’s something about “they’re like a brother/sister to me”. That’s a deep platonic love that never gets as much recognition as it deserves.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make the content you want to see in the world. Who cares if it’s entirely self-indulgent? If it makes you happy, do it! Do it, do it again, read it and enjoy it; the best part is that sometimes, other people will like it too!

Practice doesn’t have to be boring. How do I practice writing? I read books. I watch movies.. I look at screenplays. I go to the theatre, if I can. I play video games. I study the plot, the dialogue. Look at your favorite stories—why do you like them? What’s your favorite part? How do the character interact? Of course, grammar is important and the fundamentals are there for a reason, but no one said practice had to be all textbooks and essays.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! I find men and women both aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t experience sexual attraction to them.

When I first learned the terminology I thought I might be gray-ace or demi, but I realized that I was only tying into some of the myths surrounding asexuality. I was letting people who didn’t know me tell me who I was, based on generalizations. It wasn’t until I asked myself who thought I was that I was able to come to terms with my own sexuality.

I also identify as heteroromantic, or at least gray-romantic to some extent.

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

Oh, for sure!

I think what I’ve heard the most is that I’m “faking” being an asexual because I write nsfw content. That’s also the most laughable, since I never realized you could only write about your own experience and nothing else! I’m openly sex-positive; sex is a beautiful, intimate thing… it’s just not for me.

I’ve also gotten anon hate on social media from people who don’t like my headcanons, especially if they’re on the ace spectrum. If it’s a LGBT ship it’s homophobic to have them as ace, if it’s a straight ship it’s too pandering. Can’t win for losing, right? Beyond that, it’s usually the same old “asexuality isn’t LGBT, you aren’t oppressed, make your own community” garbáge that exists all over social media (mostly Tumblr).

It always hurts the worst when it comes from mutuals that I trusted; sometimes people I considered my friends share or say aphobic things and I want to shout “Don’t reblog those lies! Ask me, I’m right here, I’m always willing to talk about my own experience with you!” But, if I said those things, 9/10 times I’m accused of stirring up discourse or being too defensive.

I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut, write what I want, and freely use the Block feature. Life’s too short to worry about what some faceless person on the internet thinks about me, and besides: probably they’d be too cowardly to say those hurtful comments if we were in the same room together.

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

“Asexuals hate sex and look down on people who don’t.”

I know aces who are sex-repulsed. I know aces who are married with kids. I know aces who are fine with giving, not receiving. I know aces who only dislike intercourse. I know aces who have sex because, for them, it’s a way to be close to their partner.

Sex positive, negative, neutral— we all share one important thing: we don’t experience sexual attraction. That is what makes us asexual… not our opinions.

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

It’s okay to be asexual.

If you think you’re 1% ace today and 99% ace tomorrow, you can say you’re ace. If you’re not sure yet, you can say you’re ace. If you think you might change your mind, or you’re using this label until you figure yourself out, you can say you’re ace.

Sexuality is fluid and confusing, and it’s even more confusing if you don’t experience it at all. We’ve been there. We are there. We know. The people with the loudest voices and biggest hatred are often the minority. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Remember to love, and allow yourself to be loved. Love isn’t binary, it’s not limited to intimacy or romance. Love your friends, your family, your pets, and (most importantly) yourself. Love is so many shades, a thousand thousand nuances that we can experience together as humans. Don’t lose hope by focusing on one color when you’re surrounded by a rainbow.

Having sex doesn’t make you less ace. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting to be closer to your partner doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting children doesn’t make you less ace. You are allowed to ask for physical affection without it having to lead to sex. You are allowed to want to kiss, to cuddle, even to make out or pet your partner without it having to lead to sex. You do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. You don’t owe the world, or anyone in it, anything that will bring you harm.

You are not broken. You are valid. You are loved.

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

You can find my work at https://archiveofourown.org/users/Jubalii! Just look for the sheep, haha! I’m also on Tumblr at https://heyheyitsjuju.tumblr.com/. On Tumblr I post fanfiction as well as more about my original stories, OCs, etc.

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

Interview: RK

Today we’re joined by RK. RK is a phenomenal writer who writes a variety of things. Xi writes mostly fanfiction, though xi also writes a fair amount on Tumblr as well. It’s clear xi loves what xi do and is incredibly passionate about writing. My thanks to xi for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have a variety of art, from knitting and jewelry-making to writing songs and stories, to the more “traditional” artforms of drawing and painting. I tend to consider myself a writer first and foremost, feeling that writing is my vocation if anything could be considered such, but I spend a lot of time knitting and creating colored pencil or watercolor anime-esque portraits.

What inspires you?

Everything. Random thoughts, TV shows and books and movies (for the fan creations), my kids, my cat, my partner, the sunlight pouring down through the tree canopy in the backyard…. Inspiration is everywhere.

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

Always. I’ve been writing since the first time I could hold a crayon, or so my mother tells me, and drawing for almost as long. I love telling stories, whether it’s written or illustrated or even just making up a story on the fly to tell my kids at night.

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

Nothing so consistently across the board, I’m afraid.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Everyone begins as an artist at their own place and advances at their own pace. It’s inevitable to find yourself measured against other artists, fairly or unfairly, and it’s important not to let those measurements discourage you from producing your art. Trends come and go, fads fade, but as long as YOU are happy with what you’re creating, that’s all that matters in the end.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I tend to identify as Asexual/Gray-Asexual Demiromantic.

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

In the regular world of art and writing, very little, which may change if/when my work gets a broader recognition. Online? Occasionally. I’m fortunate enough to have found a niche that allows me to surround myself with people who also tend to be on the Ace/Aro spectrums. I see the prejudiced/ignorant commentary on occasion, but very rarely has anyone directed it towards me. Mostly, people who question me about asexuality/aromanticism are honestly seeking knowledge, which I’m pleased to provide for them to better their understanding.

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

Probably that being asexual supposedly means not liking sex. Most of the people who question me about my being asexual express confusion over how my partner, a cis man who used to identify as het and now identifies as “RK-sexual”, can be in a happy and stable monogamous relationship with me, an asexual, or how we have two kids if I “don’t have sex”. This is usually cleared up by reminding people that asexuality doesn’t have to include sex-repulsion or celibacy.

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

There is no right or wrong way to be asexual, only what is right for you. You can ask other people for advice or assistance in navigating how you feel, but ultimately YOU are the only one who can decide what label or labels do or do not fit you.

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

You can find my fan works easily enough on AO3 (under the pen name LadyShadowphyre) or on Tumblr (“ladylilithprime” and “rkdoesartthings“), and I have a Patreon as “RK Hart” (with the profile picture of a white tiger).

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

Interview: Desdemona

Today we’re joined by Desdemona. Desdemona is a wonderful writer who specializes in fanfiction, mostly involving m/m erotica. When she’s not writing m/m erotica, Desdeomona collaborates with her father to write fantastic queer sci-fi stories and she also enjoys writing tales involving strong women saving the world. It’s clear she’s a passionate author with a wonderful creativity, 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 am most known for my m/m erotica of the fanfiction variety. I like to write a whole range of genres, from comedy to angst to smut to action/adventure. I like it best when I can mix more than one, which is most evidenced by my current story, in which a vampire king of an imaginary country tricks a feisty little prince from a neighboring country into marrying him.

When I’m not writing fanfiction, I collab with my dad to write what I like to call “queers in space” and then I also dabble in stories on my own that usually feature things like girls with swords saving the world and badass witches getting revenge on well-deserving men.

What inspires you?

You know when white cishet men cry about women invading their spaces? I really like that. Also, I’m a slut for a good cliché.

If I were to give an answer that wasn’t chalked full of feminist rage and flippant sarcasm, though, I would probably say music. I can really focus on unfolding plots when I have the right music.

But, really, anything’s inspiration if you’re spiteful enough.

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

When I was a kid, my dad taught me how to play chess. When he didn’t have time for a match and I couldn’t convince one of my siblings to play with me, I’d set up the board and then use the pieces to create very detailed stories that had absolutely nothing to do with chess. Or, y’know, I’d play against myself, but the point of this story is to showcase that sometimes, there isn’t a beginning. Some people are just born that way. (Heh.)

Basically: yes, I’ve always wanted to a writer. Words are a deep comfort to me and making stories has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I didn’t really have friends growing up, so books were the things that kept me occupied, and then eventually, I started writing down the stories I would tell myself.

The thing that drove me for a long time was a total lack of media featuring main characters like me. I was a teeny-bopper asexual girl who didn’t actually know she was asexual and I couldn’t understand why all these female characters were so worried about what the boys in their life thought. I wanted to read about girls with swords going on adventures, kicking ass and taking names. The ideas of “damsels in distress” and “love interests” were pretty much eye-roll worthy to my younger counterpart.

When I got older and started questioning my sexuality, it became about more than just Girls Do It Better. I got to explore sexuality in a very nuanced way that was still comfortable to me thanks to the popularity of erotica in fanfiction.

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?

Have I told you the good word about our Lady & Savior, “Girl With Sword” yet? No? Would you be interested in taking this informational pamphlet that outlines how very much she is my sexuality?

I also seem to have a serious kink for women who want revenge. It’s possible I’m continually working through some stuff that never truly gets resolved.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Create selfishly. Create that thing that feels like it’s pure self-indulgence. The best thing you can ever do as an artist–any kind of artist–is to create the things that you, as a consumer, want to see. It translates better than what you create when you’re writing for someone else. Always write for yourself and let anyone else’s enjoyment of your creation be a bonus, not the sole purpose.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

So, when people ask me about it, I generally say that I know I’m somewhere on the asexual spectrum, but I’m not sure where. I generally lean toward the idea that I’m demisexual, but my party line is that I don’t have enough evidence to fully support this hypothesis.

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

I’ve been lucky in the way that the only asexual prejudices I’ve seen or heard were random posts on the internet. Nobody’s ever come to my door, so to speak, to spout their ignorance directly to me. I still expect it to happen one day, but so far, it hasn’t.

And really, handling it would depend on the prejudice or ignorance itself and who it’s coming from. Some instances can be a good teaching moment, but other times, life is too short to argue with people who won’t see reason.

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

The thing that really fucked me up when I was questioning my sexuality was this widespread idea that asexuality is only a complete lack of sexual desire–that asexual people don’t have a sex drive at all.

That idea was pretty rampant for a while and it made me think, “oh, well, that’s not me.” I do have a sex drive, but I have a distinct lack of desire to share that sexual drive with…well, I would say most people. I can think of exactly one person I’ve met in my almost-29 years of existence on this planet that I wanted to fuck. That seems, to me, like a fluke more than anything.

The fact that that misconception was so common caused me some undue angst for a number of years before I found out it wasn’t actually the case. I found my way eventually, but I’d like to save other people said angst if I can.

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

Listen. Your truth is not going to be someone else’s truth. Someone else’s truth is not going to be your truth.

Figuring out your sexuality–especially when it’s messy and complicated the way sexualities often are–is a bit like one of those treasure hunts where people leave little clues/notes in random places and you have to decipher the riddle to figure out where to go next. You have to sift through someone else’s dirty laundry in hopes that you’re going to find something useful. You might find a scrap of paper in a pair of jeans, but it’s up to you to figure out whether or not it’s the clue you needed to unlock the next step or if it’s just a faded receipt from Walmart because someone doesn’t know how to clean out their pockets before they wash laundry.

Take the stories of other experiences with a grain of salt. Your experience doesn’t have to fit perfectly, it only has to fit enough that you can find some comfort in the fact that you’re not broken like you thought you were. (I’m projecting with that last bit, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

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

I am both greenbergsays and greenbergwrites on Tumblr and greenbergsays on AO3.

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

Interview: Gemma Irene

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Celine Chin

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

1. Creative Notebook
Creative Notebook

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not at the moment. I’m working on my name as an artist, and would love to create my own signature symbol but I’m a little stumped on that for now as I’m still figuring out what defining feature I would like to highlight about myself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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

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

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

2. Inara and Talus
Inara and Talus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Sunset
Sunset

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

Interview: Rachel

Today we’re joined by Rachel. Rachel is a phenomenal artist who does a bit of everything. She writes both fanfiction and original work. She does a fair amount of visual art, mostly drawing using a variety of mediums. As if that’s not impressive enough, Rachel has also done quite a lot of work in theater, both on stage and behind the scenes. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented and passionate individual, 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 do a ton of art! I write original stories and fanfiction for a variety of genres. I draw, mostly in the traditional sense, and I have a background in theater where I performed, directed, stage managed, was a set designer and constructor for anywhere around 12 productions.

What inspires you?

I am inspires by many things. My drawings are often spur of the moment. They could be inspired by fandom and I’ll create fan art, or be very whimsical and I’ll create some sort of abstract painting.

My writing is often angsty or very light and touching (there’s not much in between most of the time, haha). Fanfiction is inspired by the movie Rise of the Guardians, Spider-Man and Deadpool and occasionally Supernatural! I hope to have more content for these fandoms in the future, and maybe other fandoms, but I have been focusing a little bit more on my original content. I write short stories that are fiction or real-life event inspired. I also have some poem(ish) writing and I’m working on developing my voice. I never want to stick to just one genre because I find so much expression in several forms of writing.

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

I’ve been drawing since I’ve learned to hold a crayon. Writing I’ve always loved and have wanted to create more of. I love reading and when I discovered fanfic, it was an instant attraction. In recent years, I’ve decided I’d like to make publishing a novel one of my life goals.

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?

Honestly no, because my style is always changing and taking on new forms. From paint to markers to pencils to charcoal to fiction to poems I’m always shaking it up.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do it! Do it over and over again and take pictures of the work you draw because one day you can look at an old picture and compare it to your growth and see where you’ve come from and where you are now!

And write of course! Write anything. Your thoughts, your dreams, your observations, your ideas, write it all! Drown in your words. And remember you don’t have to write in order. Sometimes, writing the beginning is so hard, so write that middle part! Write down that action scene and big plot twist and get it out of your head to clear the clutter. Fill in the holes later after you get that burning inspiration to write that one scene because the rest might become easier after doing that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a cis gendered female with she/her pronouns and panromantic asexual.

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

Absolutely, I had a long term relationship end because I began to ID as ace. My parents don’t fully understand my sexuality and I come across it in social media a lot. I just remind myself that I am valid, I’m not alone, I have support from friends, and that I can get through peoples ignorance because I know who I am.

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

I have been called a plant (as in I will only reproduce with myself, which never made sense) and that I’m prude. I’ve also been told that I just “haven’t met the right person” which is to say I’ll feel sexual desire and attraction when the right person comes into my life.

I’m not a late bloomer. I’m ace, and that’s okay.

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

Don’t let other peoples judgement and opinions weigh you down. Seek allies. We’re out here and you are a valid, wonderful and a real person. You are not broken.

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

Oh! Look me up! On…

Tumblr: FrostedDragonHeart (Eternal Believer) and wrayghtings (Endless Words)
Fanfiction.net: FrostedDragonHeart
Fictionpress.com: FrostedDragonHeart
Instagram: rachelart_s

I accept DM/PMs on all of these so please feel free to chat with me!

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

Interview: Chloe

Today we’re joined by Chloe. Chloe is a wonderful young artist who is just starting out. She’s a writer and visual artist. She does both digital and traditional art. For writing, she writes fanfiction, poetry, and occasionally original fiction. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with a bright future ahead of her. 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 both a writer and an artist. I do digital and traditional works as well as writing fanfiction, poems, and the occasional original fiction piece. I’ve always been pretty creative, finding enjoyment in expressing myself through the hobbies I love. My artwork and writing certainly aren’t of any professional quality, but I believe they’re good enough to qualify me as an artist of sorts, even if no art has any real qualifications.

What inspires you?

Often times, I find inspiration in other works. It might be an idea, a color, a theme: if it catches my eye, I try to incorporate it in a creative way. On top of that, I also find inspiration in lyrics and sometimes even in everyday experiences!

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

When I was younger, I drew occasionally, but I never really felt like it was something for me. By the time I was 10 years old, though, I was writing stories often and trying to teach myself to draw! There wasn’t anything that really brought it on – I just thought that art was cool and I loved reading stories made by other people. On top of that, I was (and still am) an anime fan, so the art style inspired me. I just thought it was pretty, and I went off of that to develop my own artistic style. Well, its not complete in any means, but it’s something.

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

Well, I have a literal signature, which you’ll see on nearly all of my drawings. Other than that, though, I don’t believe there’s anything unique in my art or writing that tells it apart from another’s. I wish I could say it’s unique to me. I excessively use adverbs (a habit I’m trying to break) and I draw in an anime-influenced style, but my work is hardly the only type of it’s kind, unfortunately.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do not give up. If it’s your dream, go for it. Power through. Learn. Create. Your art is your art, whatever that may be. The world is cruel – people are cruel! – don’t let that change you. Your life is your life: pursue it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual. Sort of in the middle, I guess.

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

Yeah. I’m a part of a lot of communities, but prejudice is especially present on Tumblr. Asexuals are definitely discriminated against, but it almost seems worse for demisexuals. I’ve seen many people – artists – say that demisexuality is not real, that it’s just a preference. It really gets me upset sometimes because it makes me feel unwelcome and ‘wrong.’ People are so unaccepting of what they don’t understand. I’m afraid that if I express myself completely that I’ll only end up hurt. Often, I’m afraid to even mention that I am demisexual. Most of the time, I just say I’m heterosexual for fear of backlash.

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

I’ve heard people assume that asexual people do not have a sex drive and such, but that isn’t always the case. Though, as for demisexuality, many people assume that we only have intercourse with people we get to know, or as they describe: “are not a hoe.” They assume that our sexuality is the norm for everyone, so it must not really exist. However, that’s a misunderstanding. Demisexuality is the lack of sexual attraction unless a close emotional bond is formed. In other words, I won’t find an attractive celebrity ‘hot’ because I don’t know them well or even at all. People aren’t aware of this.

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

You’re not broken. You’re not wrong. You are who you are and some people may mock you. Some won’t accept you. It’ll be hard sometimes, but we’re here. Your identity is valid. Your feelings are valid. People are cruel, but I promise you that what you’re feeling is so, so okay. What you feel is your business and it is perfectly okay. You’re doing just fine – amazing, even. Nothing you feel is wrong. Don’t let people convince you otherwise. They don’t know how you feel; people can’t understand what they don’t feel. It’s okay. I promise.

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

You can check my Tumblr or DeviantArt page! I’m more active on Tumblr, but I still post all complete artwork on DeviantArt. My DeviantArt username is cofstars, as well as my Tumblr url. They’re my most active platforms. Though, my Tumblr page had a lot more info than the latter!

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