Today we’re joined by Kaitlyn Shepley. Kaitlyn is a phenomenally talented animator and musician from Canada. They’re an incredibly versatile artist who has dabbled in quite a few mediums. Their work is unbelievably gorgeous and totally adorable, as you’ll soon see. I was totally in awe of the animations they sent along. Kaitlyn is just a delightful artist who has a lot of enthusiasm for their work, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a full time animator working in children’s television, mostly shows for Disney or Nickelodeon. I like doing personal stuff after work at home. My dream is to be able to get to a point where I can work on my own stuff full time. I do illustration, short films, gifs, comics, music composition, fashion design, cosplay and sewing! I think my friends would describe my style as either cute, funny or, when I’m being serious, whimsical.
What inspires you?
My friends in animation are all very talented artists and I think we spur each other on. I also get really inspired by indie developers, musicians and animators. Seeing them taking on big projects by themselves and getting it done makes me want to get my own ideas out there.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been drawing and making comics for as long as I remember. I loved Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors when I was younger and my interest in animation just grew with me. Things like Akira, Mind Game and Perfect Blue make me excited about being an animator.
I wrote my first song when I was 14 and made albums for my friends to listen to. I had been puttering away on my piano since I was very young. I would watch my dad play and he’d tell me how great his dad was at playing by ear. I found it became the best emotional outlet for me in high school. Now that I’ve switched to electronic music it’s just a fun creative outlet.
I didn’t get into fashion until I was 17. There was a fashion show every year at my school and I’d been watching other people do it for 3 years until I told myself: I’m going to go for it. I made 3 designs from scratch that year and have continued to sew to this day. My biggest reason for sewing is to have more control over my fashion. Stores don’t usually sell what I want, so I make it myself!
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 think my friends would say that my unique signature is the noodle people I do for my comics as well as my silly sharks. I really like drawing things that make people laugh.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
If there’s something you want to do, just do it. Don’t wait until you’re good enough. Don’t wait until you go to school for it. Start now. The sooner you start, the better you will get. Webcomics, as an example, are a great way to up your art skill. It demands you to approach lots of different angles and expressions and challenges you to make sure your characters stay on model. It’ll keep you drawing on a schedule and challenge you to work through artist’s block. It’ll also let you physically see your improvement over time. Don’t redraw old chapters. Just keep going!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m panromantic asexual! I also identify as agender.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’m largely invisible in my field. To others I appear heterosexual, especially because I work with my cishet partner. Co-workers have made a lot of uncomfortable assumptions about me. I try to come out and break the assumptions whenever I feel like the situation is appropriate. Co-workers so far seem curious and open minded. They might say offensive things, but not intentionally. Once I talk them through it, they seem to be still perplexed but understanding.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I think due to low visibility it’s really common for people to think that you just haven’t had good sex yet. They might think you were abused, or that you’re a late bloomer. Once people understand that it’s a thing, it’s common for people to ask me personal questions to learn more about asexuals. Aside from being invasive, these questions don’t help them to learn about how versatile asexuality is. By bringing the conversation away from me and telling them all of the different ways an asexual could feel about something, I think they end up learning more while I get to keep my privacy.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It’s so easy to second guess your orientation. People will give you a million reasons why you can’t know for sure yet. Especially if someone’s pressuring you to have sex, nobody tells heterosexuals that they have to have sex with someone of the same sex before they can know for sure that they don’t want it. Don’t make yourself do anything you don’t want to do. Don’t be afraid of your label changing too. All you know is what you know now. You don’t have to know everything that will change in the future.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My favourite spot is Tumblr: http://www.kaitlyn-shepley.tumblr.com, where I post art, animation and comics.
I also put art and art updates on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kitkatkatu/, Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kitkatkatu, DeviantArt: http://www.kit-kat-katu.deviantart.com/, and Blogspot: http://kaitlyn-shepley.blogspot.ca/.
I’ve got my cats and outfits on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/kitkatkatu/.
Don’t be shy about messaging me about commissions or to talk!
Thank you, Kaitlyn, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.