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.

1

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.

2

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!

3

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.

1

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.

2

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!

3

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.

eleanor

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.

promise

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!

received_243701573168280

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

Interview: Amy Valentine

Today we’re joined by Amy Valentine. Amy is a phenomenal visual artist who does a lot of art journaling. She uses mostly colored pencils, watercolors, and various markers. She’s also an art student, so she works in a variety of mediums. When she’s not creating visual art, Amy also writes quite a bit of fanfiction. It’s clear she is a dedicated and passionate artist with a very bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. green lady
Green Lady

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

On my free time, I do a lot of art journaling, which is basically having a sketchbook expect I put more effort in decorating the pages to fit with my current mood. I also enjoy writing, mostly fanfictions, but I’m very eager to write something of my own someday.

I’m also an art student, so at school I also do paintings, photography and whatever else, and hopefully after school I could practice painting at home, too.

For art journaling, I like to use watercolors, color pencils and different kind of markers. Sometimes I just glue things in.

What inspires you?

Music is a big inspiration for me, because I’m almost always wearing headphones. I also get a lot of ideas from movies – When there is a scene that is just so pretty to look at, I always want to draw my own version of it.

I also take a lot of inspiration from my own feelings, since art journaling is kind of something that you do to express your emotions.

I also draw a lot of women’s nude bodies as a way to start learning to love my own body, so I guess they also give me inspiration. Don’t know what to draw? I’ll draw a torso. The headless statue of a woman is always there to save me from art block.

2. kissing watercolor
Kissing Watercolor

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

Yes, definitely. As a kid, I loved drawing comics and other cute things. I was really into manga back then. I would always be sketching at the edge of the test paper, even if the teacher told me not to.

At school, we also wrote a lot of our own stories, and I was always told that the stories I wrote were good and unique, so I got more inspired to write every day. I guess I can safely say I have always wanted to be an artist/writer. At this moment, I think I’d want to be a writer more than an artist.

3

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?

At the moment, I don’t think I yet have my own style or my own unique thing. In art, I’m still figuring out what I want to create and what kind of a style fits me the most. In writing, I’m trying to experiment a little to see what kind of stuff I want to write and how. So, for now, no unique signatures or anything.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice and practice. And do not compare yourself to others. I did that and only felt worse about my skills. The first 6 months at art school were rough because I kept thinking everyone else was better than me. But when I learned to just focus on my own work and did my best, my drawings ended up looking a lot better. So just don’t give up. We’re all at different skill levels here, so just focus working on your own thing.

5. big painting
Big Painting

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’d say I’m somewhere between being a demisexual and asexual.

I did just find the term ‘aegosexual’ that fits me quite well, but, I’m still trying to figure myself out. And that’s okay.

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

When I told my parents, both of them were confused but supportive, thankfully. Before I tried to get into art school, I told my school nurse that I felt like I was close to an asexual, and they said to me ‘I WILL find the right one’, and if I wouldn’t, I should seek medical help. I also told my friends that I was in the ace spectrum, and they said that wasn’t possible.

I’ve also been in two relationships before and in both of them I felt like being asexual was wrong. I felt like saying ‘no’ to sex was wrong, and that was used against me. I’m still healing from that.

I think the best way to handle any kind of prejudice is to know that you aren’t broken, and that there is nothing wrong with you. Also, calmly explaining to them what asexuality is can help them understand it better. And honestly, never, EVER, do something that feels uncomfortable to you just so you could please someone else. Listen to your own feelings.

4

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

Probably the one where they think that if I’m in the ace spectrum, I can’t feel any kind of sexual pleasure, or that I can’t have sex, or that I can’t include sex scenes in my writing, and so on. Asexuals aren’t 100% sexless – some can be, but some asexuals are okay with having sex for their partner, and some asexuals masturbate. Some people don’t seem to get that.

The other misconception is people thinking asexuals can’t experience romantic feelings. And the third one that my school nurse one suggested – that being asexual meant you were afraid of sex.

6

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

It’s OK to not be sure where in the ace spectrum you are, and it’s OK to change labels later on, and it’s OK if you’re still searching for yourself. Just know that there is no rush. You are what you are, and even if you aren’t 100% sure what your label is, then that’s alright. You don’t have to put yourself into a box if you’re not ready yet. Just take your time with your inner self, love yourself.

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

Tumblr: https://paper-star-fight.tumblr.com/
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/ValentineRunaway

7. lake
Lake

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

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.