Interview: Lex

Today we’re joined by Lex, who also goes by Ceinos. Lex is a wonderfully versatile artist. They’re an aspiring writer who specializes in short stories and flash fiction, both of which they’re quite passionate about. Aside from writing, Lex also dabbles in crafts and does some jewelry making. They’re also starting to do some cosplaying and costuming. Lex is incredibly enthusiastic about art, as you’ll soon read, and is obviously incredibly dedicated. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Chrys earrings
Chrys Earrings

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am mainly a writer, especially of short stories and some flash fiction.  I haven’t been published yet (aside from self publishing online!) but I’m working on getting together a collection of ‘expanded’ fairy tales that I can try to get published.  I’d love to write novels someday but right now I don’t have the endurance to do that.

I also do some crafting on the side, mostly jewelry making and a little bit of costuming/cosplaying (I’m working on getting more into it!).

What inspires you?

Almost anything can inspire me to write a story, from a dream to a piece of visual art to a story prompt. Most of my stories start out as an image in my head based on my inspiration, and putting that image into words is what kicks off the writing process.

Jewelry that I make is usually based on a specific person that I intend to give it to.

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

I’ve been telling myself stories since I was very young, and my love of reading was probably a big help in wanting to write.  As I get older, looking back on the way reading and books have influenced my life, I want more and more to have a positive influence like that on other people.

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?

None that I can think of, although maybe incredibly detailed descriptions of scenery count? Since I’m usually writing from an image in my head, I want to try and give my readers that same picture, if I can.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice, practice! I know you’ll hear it a lot, but it’s the only way you’ll get better. If you feel really stuck, put it down and look at it again the next morning.   Don’t throw out your work, even if you don’t like it—you can look back on it and see things you did well and things you want to change. And most of all, don’t let anyone (even your internal critic!) stop you from doing something you love to do.

tj bracelet
TJ Bracelet

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’d call myself very asexual.  I’m also sex-repulsed.

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

Definitely a lot of ignorance.  There seem to be so many people who think that Relationship = Must Have Sex, or that it’s something that everyone wants, and it’s very tiring to be reading and enjoying something and then suddenly the love interests are sleeping together, or sex is being described as the be all end all of love and relationships, or the existence of ace people is being ignored.

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

Mostly that it’s the same as aromanticism. I get a lot of surprised, “You’ve dated people? But I thought you were ace!”.

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

You’re not broken, there’s nothing wrong with you.  If you need someone to talk to, there are lots of us here who can help.  Don’t let yourself get pressured into anything you’re not 100% comfortable doing.  And don’t worry about if your labels or identity change: the possibility that they might doesn’t invalidate the fact of how you feel about yourself now.

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

I maintain two Tumblr blogs: draconiclore.tumblr.com and pallis-cat.tumblr.com.  I also go by Ceinos on Archive Of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/users/Ceinos/pseuds/Ceinos

Feel free to come talk to me!

martin necklace
Martin Necklace

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

Interview: Harper

Today we’re joined by Harper. Harper is a young up and coming writer who has had a piece of flash fiction published. Her enthusiasm for the art of writing is positively infectious and it’s very obvious this writer has a very bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer, so my art is mostly word- related. My most recent projects are all about LGBT+ issues, including asexuality. I use my writing to try to bring to light things that not everyone knows about and also look at things in a different light.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by music. Something about the composition of notes that make sound that can make humans feel emotions just inspires me to do the same with my writing. I also draw inspiration from people and the world around me, including other art and writing. People’s personal stories are also really inspiring – whether they’re happy or sad, hopeful or tragic – someone else has lived that much and seen that much. So I guess my answer would have to be everything inspires me.

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

I wrote my first song when I was about 2. I just kept writing – songs, poems, stories. It eventually turned into both something I loved and something that I was good at. My mom was an English teacher, so I was always around literature, and my grandma insisted on reading to me as a kid. I’d have to say that just being around stories and books made me want to make those myself.

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

A lot of my writing involves Volkswagen Beetles or Bugs. When I was a kid, my aunt had this bright blue Volkswagen and it was my favorite thing in the universe. She recently scrapped it, so I try to keep the Bug alive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep going! I’m a young aspiring artist myself and I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what other people say – if you love it, do it. Keep practicing, enter competitions, show off your artwork and writing! People will see that you’re amazing and they’ll support you more. Just keep going. It’s totally valid to want to be in the arts and there are a lot of great schools out there for the arts. You’re amazing, and practice can only make you better!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic asexual.

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

Actually, other than lack of ace characters in literature, I don’t feel there’s a prejudice towards me personally. But with the lack of characters is a great feeling of ignorance – any “asexual” that’s on TV must be fixed, because if you don’t want sex, you’re broken, right? Or they’re suppressing it, which is more bad representation. I’ve taken it upon myself to get at least a little awareness out there so that this isn’t as big of a deal.

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

Where do I begin? Probably that asexuals cannot love. That was the first thing I heard from the first person I came out to. It perpetuated and it’s frustrating.

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

Just let it happen. Think about it, but if you don’t necessarily find a label that fits this moment, it’s okay to not use one. If you feel asexual, then you can say you’re asexual. Sexuality is fluid and everything will be fine.

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

My writing blog – http://wordsaswarriors.tumblr.com/. You can also find a flash fic of mine, “Colors,” at artandwriting.org.

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

Interview: Elyssa Tappero

Today we’re joined by Elyssa Tappero.  Elyssa was one of the first followers of the Asexual Artists WordPress site and she’s a very talented and prolific writer.  She writes a bit of everything:  poetry, flash fiction, haiku, and many other writing styles.  My thanks to her for taking time out of her schedule to participate in this interview.

Et with cat

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

By day I have a 9-5 desk job that really isn’t worth describing. By night (and sometimes during the 9-5 desk job . . .) I write. And write. And write. Flash fiction, haiku, free form poetry, spiritual offerings to Bast, the odd non-fiction or persuasive piece . . . whatever sparks my inspiration. I’m not interested in being published, which is good news for the folks who like my writing – everything I write I post on my WordPress blog, which I update every other day. I can’t say it’s all good writing, but there’s always something new!

Since this is an ace-themed interview, I’ll also note that all of my characters (okay I only have like three of them) are somewhere on the ace spectrum. I’m also working on a story about a succubus who falls in love with an asexual girl, but that’s still in the preliminary “how cool would this be” stage.

What inspires you?

I hate to say “everything” so I’ll hit the big themes; relationships, sexuality, myth and fantasy, nature, religion, and more recently mental illness. The main focus in my writing is my two characters, Tanim and Daren, through whom I explore varied relationship types and structures, the power of our past to shape and haunt us, and the sometimes blurry line between love and obsession. Which sounds dramatic, I know – I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m inspired by characters who are human, as flawed and diverse and complicated as that means.

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

Honestly, I’ve always been a writer. When I was about six I wrote my first “book” – it was about how to train your cat, and when my girlfriend read it out-loud some twenty years later I laughed so hard I cried uncontrollably. I literally ended the book with a picture of myself and the line “Thank you for reading. I’m done now. Bye.” Suffice it to say my writing has improved a bit over the years, but I owe it all to that poorly colored book . . .

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

My characters die. Often. And repeatedly. That’s not really a signature or feature or anything, but it’s probably worth warning new readers. No one’s safe. Sorry in advance.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t get rid of anything you create. I know a lot of people feel ashamed of their old work, especially when it’s old fanart or otherwise linked to the stuff you may have been obsessed with as a kid. But I promise you, you’ll want to look back on that work to see how far you’ve come – and to see how long you’ve been devoted to your craft. Never be ashamed of your old work; we all had to start somewhere, and it’s the fact that you started at all, and continued from there, that counts. So go back, look at old drawings or read old writing, and don’t wince. Let yourself smile and remember how proud you were when you created that piece.

(And laugh until you cry, if you need. That’s okay too.)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a queer asexual. To me, the word “queer” serves as an umbrella term for those aspects of gender and sexual/romantic orientation that don’t have a specific term already, or simply can’t be labeled. So when I call myself a queer asexual, I call myself that because while my sexual orientation is definitely asexual, my other orientations and relationships aren’t so easy to define. Queer seems the best way to show other people that the aspects of me that may seem defined or clear-cut are much more complicated below the surface.

And, to be honest, there are so many people who are adamantly opposed to allowing asexuals into queer spaces that it makes me want to cling to this label that feels “right” to me even more. I hate identity policing, and I try to speak out against it whenever I can. I don’t think people realize just how hurtful and damaging their words can be when they try to silence or shove out queer asexuals.

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

When it comes to writing, I usually get questions about how I can write realistic relationships when I’m asexual and only have very limited experience with romantic relationships and sex. Depending on the person (and how crazy I do or do not want to sound) I’ll either say that a good writer should be able to write about any experience (true), or I’ll say that I let the characters tell me what to say (truer). It doesn’t matter if I haven’t experienced something myself; if my character has, they can let me experience that memory through them.

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

Honestly? That we don’t face discrimination or oppression. I get that from straight and queer people alike, and it’s very disheartening. Aces face much of the same oppression as others in gender, sexual, and romantic orientation minorities, yet it can be a battle to convince people that our experiences are valid.

I also hear a lot about how romantic relationships between allosexuals and asexuals can’t work. Well, my girlfriend and I just celebrated 20 months together and we’re doing wonderfully. So if anyone out there has questions about mixed orientation relationships, or wants advice for their own, or just wants someone to talk to, I’m here. I know how hard they can be, and how beautiful and rewarding, and I want to help anyone who’s in the same boat as me.

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

Two things. First, you don’t need to pick a label right away – and when/if you do pick one, you don’t have to identify with it forever. Take your time, test different ones out, and see if any fit. If one does, great! If not, also great! It’s okay to not have a label. It’s okay to switch labels. It’s okay to be uncertain or questioning. Just because others might try to fit you into certain boxes doesn’t mean YOU have to put yourself in those boxes. You are the only person who gets to decide how you identify. No one else can determine what you can or can’t identify as.

Second, asexuality isn’t an exile sentence. If you’re someone who is asexual and still interested in a romantic relationship, please don’t feel like you’ll never find someone who will love you for who you are. Despite our sexually-focused society, there are a lot of people out there who will be willing to forgo sex for you, if that’s what you want. And just because you’re asexual doesn’t mean you can’t have sex if you’re comfortable doing so with your partner. Nothing you do will make your asexuality less valid.

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

All of my writing is posted to my WordPress, which can be found at http://onlyfragments.com/

You can also follow me on Tumblr at http://only-fragments.tumblr.com/, where I usually reblog pictures that remind me of my characters, asexuality-related posts, and other such things. I love new friends!

Thank you so much, Elyssa, for participating in this interview and this project.  It is very much appreciated.