Today we’re joined by Kathryne Taylor. Miss Taylor is an incredibly talented visual artist who works in a number of mediums. She’s a fashion designer who makes a variety of costumes. She’s also an illustrator. When she’s not illustrating fandom jokes, she enjoys working on eerie pen and ink illustrations. Those are particularly interesting, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
It’s difficult to say at any given point what I primarily do. One week I’ll spend hours a day on a dress. the next week I’ll split my time between writing and drawing. I can safely say that what income I get from my art primarily comes from sewing, but the drawing gets the most attention. Especially fanart. I’m also working on a novel, but these days, who isn’t?
What inspires you?
History, especially for my work in fashion, Music. Whenever I listen to music I imagine a music video in my head, sometimes it’s just images and sometimes it has coherent story I want to write down. A lot of my fashion design is inspired by my friends saying they don’t feel pretty, and I just want to draw something that’s based off of styles they like adjusted slightly to flatter their bodies. Take lolita fashion for example. Not many lolita brands go into plus sizes, but a chubby girl in a well-fitted dress and a full petticoat just looks like a perfect angel. I want to help people realise that. Anyone can look beautiful, but the problem is that not everyone can be quite the kind of beautiful they were aiming at, which makes them think they’re ugly.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
My mother is a portrait artist, she did several naïf-style portraits while I was growing up. I was sewing simple dresses and starting embroidery in first or second grade, but to be honest I didn’t really get the patience for it until I left high school. Once, someone who didn’t know that we even knew each other noticed the similarity in my art style and my sister’s. Of course, there are clear differences and you can tell them apart, but I think that my mother’s, my sister’s, and my styles look related, even today. Rather like ourselves.
Art has always been a big part of my life, but I didn’t decide I wanted to do it professionally until I was almost out of high school. That was because of my mental health, my anxiety had gotten so bad it was clear that if I ever were to be employed out of the house, it would be after a significant amount of therapy.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I always try and put in a lot of detail, regardless of the medium. Sometimes I’ll go simpler with a dress design; but much of the time my designs aim for over-the-top. In my stories and illustrations, I put as
I draw a lot of comics, most of which take place in the same town, so when I draw one comic, I’ll put characters and locations from other comics in the background.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Just about everyone you meet will have some sort of advice to give you on any given subject. Listen to it, and decide whether or not you can use it, and if you can’t, then you can ignore it. Everyone warns you against the mistakes they made, but you’re going to make different ones. You’re a different person.
You don’t have to go along with anything you think is a bad idea, or even just not a good idea to humour someone.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m a sex-repulsed panromantic asexual. Or, as I prefer to explain it, I don’t care what’s in your pants because I’m never going to see it.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Nothing big, I mean, my godmother, a bisexual woman once tried training me to “live as an artist”, and part of that included telling me how wonderful lesbian sex was in more detail than I wanted. After I asked her to stop, she contacted my mother and tried to convince her to send me to therapy to cure my sex aversion, apparently very concerned that one day I’d wake up “normal” and regret… I’m not sure what she thought I’d regret. Wasting my youth not sleeping with anyone? Not having children? I like children, and when I feel safe being around them I might adopt or be inseminated, but I have no interest actually conceiving a child in the foreseeable future. Every time I mention that I might have children one day, everyone assumes that I mean I might have an actively sexual heterosexual relationship one day.
I’ve also been told that I’m too pretty to be asexual, and it sounded like they meant that as a compliment, which is a weird thought. And of course the “you’re asexual? I can fix that” coming from both males and females.
Some people get a lot of joy out of my sex aversion, claiming it’s funny to watch me get increasingly distressed right up until the point I have a panic attack. A noticeable one, with screaming and crying, not just hyperventilating and feeling terror. Someone even said that the look on my face made ordering an explicitly sexual commission even more fun. I say, you don’t have to be a sex repulsed asexual to have your jaw drop as someone spends ten minutes describing an anthropomorphic penis.
But really, nothing serious. Handling it usually consists of “I’m asexual. I don’t experience sexual attraction. Yes it’s a thing. No, I didn’t make it up. No, I don’t bud. No, you aren’t the first person to make that joke. It’s a homonym, and I didn’t choose the name.”
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
To be honest, I don’t like the flag. Don’t get me wrong, those are actually my favourite colours and they look beautiful together, but the message that a flag with black, white, two shades of grey and a desaturated purple is that we’re boring or washed out. I’ve never met a boring asexual, our lives are as rich an interesting as anyone else’s, we just don’t waste time pretending that we really are interested in sex if we’re not. Or at least, we shouldn’t have to. Honestly, which sounds more boring to you, a conversation about multiple subjects that the speakers are passionate about, or always going back to that one subject you don’t care about? And I think that the flag really reflects this view on asexuality. That we are somehow boring.
That and I’m almost thirty and I’m still hearing “you’ll change your mind when you’re older”. So what, even if I did that doesn’t mean I should make it part of my life now. In fact, when an allosexual says they don’t want sex yet, they get praised for understanding that they need to be in the appropriate mental and emotional state before they start that kind of relationship.
Other than that, mostly I just hear that it’s not real, or that it’s the result of a mental illness. I know that there are a lot of asexuals with depression and anxiety, but there’s also a lot of homosexuals with depression and anxiety, and those numbers are even worse in time periods or environments that are openly hostile towards homosexuality.
Depression doesn’t cause asexuality, but being told that something you can feel about yourself, something you know for a fact, isn’t real and really screw with your perception of reality and hurt you mentally. I don’t know if there’s been any studies on the link between depression and asexuality.
But I do know that almost all of the asexuals I know are depressed, and I think that growing up in a world that puts so much importance on making one aspect of life the focus of all lives is hurting the people who don’t want that one, ultimately unimportant aspect of life.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
A lot of people will probably want to weigh and give you’re their opinion on whatever you’re doing, or not doing. Sometimes, you just have to learn to tell someone that you don’t care. Being polite and nice is good and I highly encourage making a habit out of it, but being nice doesn’t mean you can’t tell people what you’re thinking. Never kiss or hug someone or let them kiss or hug you just because you pity them. Neither of you will be happy about it.
One doesn’t prevent you from doing the other. It will only get easier the more you try it.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I have a deviantArt, but that isn’t updated as often as my tumblr. And of course, you can order a dress of your own from my Esty store.
Thank you so much, Miss Taylor, for taking part in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.