Interview: Jaime Hawkins

Today we’re joined by Jaime Hawkins. Jaime is a phenomenal visual artist who has a company called Queen Cheetah Designs, which sells enamel pins that she designs. Aside from making enamel pins, Jaime also does quite a lot of fine art. She’s heavily inspired by nature, which shows in her work. It’s clear she’s a driven and passionate artist, 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 graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Printmaking. I’ve always loved learning any type of art I could get my hands on – drawing, painting, digital art – you name it! When I have the time, I enjoy drawing on my tablet and taking on small freelance design jobs. My biggest endeavor, however, is my merchandise company Queen Cheetah Designs. Last year the trend of “Enamel Pins” came back around full force, and I decided to try my hand at designing some! I started out with moths, and have since branched out to beetles, spiders, and other nature inspired pins. It makes me really happy to see my designs come to life as physical merchandise that people like to wear, and it makes me feel like an accomplished artist! My designs did so well that I kept making them, and now I have a pretty successful side job running Queen Cheetah Designs. I hope to branch out in the future to apparel and other merch!

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Beetle Collage

What inspires you?

I think animals and nature have served to be my most important source of inspiration for my drawing and my merchandise design. It’s a subject I have always loved, and there is endless beauty and creativity that can be found in creatures, plants, and our other surroundings. From striking color palettes to unique patterns, as an artist I feel like I can learn so much from what already exists in nature, and apply it to my fine art and design work.

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

From a very young age, I was interested in art. I would doodle on my homework and draw mash ups of animals to play as during recess. I took art lessons with another girl at a local framing shop for a few years, where I learned most of the basics of fine art.

I can’t quite remember how, but “design” specifically caught my eye around middle school. Packaging design, logo design – I found it all really fascinating how much thought went into a design and the finished result. It’s been my driving passion ever since.

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Atlas Group Photo

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 wish I could say I had a signature style, but that is something I still struggle with as an artist. I do tend to enjoy drawing somewhere in between realistic with a fantasy flair thrown in. I’d like to refine this over the next few years, but developing anything in art takes time and practice!

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Swift

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Drawing – Most of what you create will not be for profit, or even for other people. There is a lot of pressure nowadays to instantly start creating and making money, but it’s important to take the time to draw for yourself. Learn what you like to draw and how you want to draw it. It should be fun, not something you feel pressured to do. And no matter what level you are now – just keep going. Practice as often as you can. (DRAW THOSE BACKGROUNDS). Think of how proud younger you would be of your talent now, and strive to make them proud.

Making Merchandise/ Pins – It takes more than an idea to be successful at selling merchandise. It is a tough and tiring job. You have to be your own manager, designer, PR person, and salesman. Kickstarters are a great way to fund a potential design, but be careful that you are prepared to handle the responsibility of ordering your merchandise and fulfilling orders. Don’t jump into it – take time to plan. But if you feel prepared, it can be a very rewarding endeavor!

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Moth collage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual, Panromantic.

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

Relating to the art/ design field specifically? I would say not really, but then again my art usually doesn’t relate to my sexuality. But there are plenty of individuals you interact with online who are outspoken with the fact that they think it’s “not real” or that “we’ve just had bad experiences”. I try to educate where I can, and when it seems like the people might be receptive. A lot of ideas about asexuality spring from ignorance. Some folks just don’t want to understand though, and sometimes you just have to brush it off and move on. Find solace with others who share your experiences.

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Divided

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

That all asexual people are sex repulsed, and hate all types of physical contact. I’m what you would call a sex apathetic asexual. I have no interest in it, and have no desire to seek it out, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a light switch that stays off.

It does become a problem when I desire other attention from partners that traditionally leads to sex. Like making out, or cuddling – it’s either all or nothing. This leads to a very frustrated ace that doesn’t feel cherished but feels hypocritical asking for more physical contact “as an ace person”.

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

Asexuality is a spectrum, and everyone experiences it in their own way. Being Ace is really hard at times, especially when it comes to finding a partner. It is important to find someone who respects your comfort levels and communicates with you to find out how to approach that part of your relationship. It’s tempting to push your own comfort levels aside to make them happy, because it may make you feel desired – but it will breed resentment in time if there is no respect for your likes and dislikes as well. For people like us it is especially important to make friends and not rely entirely on having a partner to feel fulfilled.

If you find someone, make sure they love you AS someone who is asexual, not DESPITE the fact you are asexual.

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

You can find all my enamel pins and current merchandise on my Etsy shop -> https://www.etsy.com/shop/QueenCheetahDesigns. You can also follow me on Twitter at Jaime_Hawkins or on Instagram under Jaime_Hawkins_Design to stay up to date on my art and any upcoming designs.

Thank you so much!

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Rainbow TVhead

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

Interview: Chloe Charlton

Today we’re joined by Chloe Charlton. Chloe is a phenomenal visual artist. She’s a student who is currently studying graphic design and illustration. She enjoys playing with various styles and themes. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves to create, 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:

My art is a mixture of different things really. There’s no theme or particular subject to it. Sometimes it even changes styles, but that’s one of the things I love about my work and art in general. How free it is.

My art is the passion I put into projects, the thoughts and feelings I can’t put into words, the having an idea and making it into something special. Something I can proudly call my own, that I can show others and hopefully inspire others.

What inspires you?

What doesn’t inspire me. It’s anything and everything. Art movements, comics, other artist, (old and new) portraits and landscapes. It could be a holiday, what someone said, something I’ve read, a song I’ve heard, a movie I’ve watched. It could even be about a dream/daydream I’ve had. It’s whatever makes me feel, which I find very important when creating. To take that feeling and the make it through art. As one of my favourite quotes goes, “The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” By Jerzy Kosiński.

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

Family is what got me into drawing when I was young. My Dad and my Nan are great at art. I loved watching them draw when I was younger, especially my Dad, who I would always want to draw with. Obviously, I was not as good as them at the time, but they were encouraging. All my family were, which I am still grateful for.

However, I was not always into art. For many years, I fell out of it. I didn’t have much interest in art, especially in school. I think this was because I couldn’t see me going anywhere with it at the time. I was about 14 years old when I got back into drawing. I had friends who liked to draw, and it was mostly them who got me back into it.

I’m glad they did. I’m now 20 and very happy that I am continuing to do art.

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 anything specific? Right now, my art has been described as a mix of realism and cartoonish? However, it could change. I’m still learning, still developing, still discovering.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Go crazy! You want to try drawing? Do it! Painting? Sculpture? Collage? Poetry? Performance? Do it! Want to try all of them at least once? DO IT! It’s a great way to develop yourself as an artist and as a person and finding out what you enjoy best.

Notebooks! Have an idea? Write it down! Want to doodle something first to see how it would look? Jot it down! Scribble, mind-map, capitalise, highlight and underline. Whatever you may do with your notebook, keep it close. Make it your own personalised journal. It can hold ideas that you don’t want to forget, come back to later or reflect on in years to come.

Don’t throw away/hide failures. Own them! Be proud of them! Accept and learn from them.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Pan-Asexual? I’m pretty sure that’s the name. I can confidently say as my sexual orientation I’m Asexual. As for my romantic orientation, I’m sure it’s Panromantic. I’ve always thought that I wouldn’t really mind who I am with, as long as they’re happy and I’m happy.

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

Nothing too bad. (Thankfully) I think the worst experienced is mostly people not knowing what asexuality is/never heard of it before, so they either have misunderstandings of the meaning or are unsure of whether it’s a real thing.

I’ve been rather lucky so far. Usually any problems I’ve had are quickly resolved through explanation. As for other things like posts that say Asexuality isn’t a real thing, blah blah blah, I ignore them and carry on. These people are not me. They do not know who I am and how I feel. They do not get to decide that either. I know who I am and that’s all that matters to me.

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

Mostly being mistaken for not feeling anything at all.

Most people who I have told about my asexuality thought it meant I wasn’t interest in anything to do with a relationship. Which isn’t true. Luckily though, this is usually resolved by an explanation of what asexuality is.

Though it’s not always easy to do. For example, I had to explain to my Mum twice what asexuality meant before she finally understood what it was. At first, my Mum mis-heard the word ‘asexual’ and heard it as ‘a sexual’, which she assumed it meant someone who’s really into sex (the forbidden word). However, after trying to explain to her what it meant, she calmed down. Though, she still didn’t quite get it, not until many years later where she asked me about it again. After my first explanation years ago, she thought it meant I didn’t feel any romantic feelings at all and would never want a relationship ever. Now I’ve explained it better that yes, I can be interested in a relationship, it’s just sex I’m not interested in, she finally understands it better now.

To be honest though, that probably was the worst of it. I’ve had friends also think it meant I felt nothing at all, but it mostly took a quick explanation of what Asexuality meant and it would be resolved.

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

Don’t let people doubt yourself or bring you down. Don’t let them second guess who you are with their views. Don’t conform to what people want you to be instead. This is your life, not theirs. Your world doesn’t revolve around them and you do not exist to appease them. Be proud of who you are!

If you are still unsure whether you are an asexual, that’s alright. You can research, read and communicate. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, even later on in life. You can take your time discovering yourself. It’s your life! You grow, change and learn! Ultimately, you’re going to okay. You’ve got this!

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

You can find me on Instagram and Tumblr. Though, most of my art can be found on Instagram.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thecharlton99
Tumblr: www.thecharltonarts.tumblr.com

Thank you for reading!

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

Interview: AJ Drake

Today we’re joined by AJ Drake. AJ is a wonderful game design artist who is currently studying Game Art, Design, and Animation. He focuses mainly on particle effects and environment modeling. When he’s not working on that, AJ dabbles in concept design, graphic design, and photography. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am currently a student of Game Art, Design, and Animation (GADA). I focus mainly on particle effects (I make explosions look ‘splodey and rain look rainy) and have a bit of a side interest in environment modeling. I also dabble in other areas of art, like concept design, illustration, photography, and graphic design. Sometimes I try new things – I experimented with stained glass window stickies a while back, as well as hand-painted shirts!

What inspires you?

A lot of things really. Music is one. Books. The artwork in existing games (other people play video games for fun and follow the story and do missions. I’ll be in the middle of the mission and stop for half an hour to admire the materials used in a rock wall). Nature, sometimes. Sometimes friends say or do something that inspires me. History sometimes. Sometimes it’ll be something as simple as someone saying what their favourite animal is.

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

For art in general, when I was really young, I really didn’t like my sister, and I set out to do one thing, anything better than her. She used to be really good at drawing, so I settled on that. The rest is history, as they say.

As for GADA, there’s a game I play on occasion (called Furcadia), that is very maker-oriented. I started off doing my own art for it, then commissions for other players, and then I got noticed by the game’s owners and asked to do official artwork for the game. A couple of years into that, I realized I really liked working on game art, so now here I am, goin to school for it.

For the other things I dabble in, it’s a variety of “origin stories.” With photography, for example, I really liked doing it, and decided to get a DSLR, then decided to take some classes to learn how to do it better. For more crafty stuff, it’s because I have a drive to make custom things for myself to use.

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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 art for the game I mentioned before, I sometimes would include a small skull sitting on top of a bone in a corner of an image to mark it as created by me. For other areas in my career, I now use my ‘Evil Skunk’ logo, along with my handwritten signature. In the past I’ve used anything from just my name in a corner, to a more detailed skull and bone watermark.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t compare yourself to other artists, unless it’s to learn from them. Each person has their own style and learning speed.

And to the aspiring artists out there living at or below the poverty line – don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t afford to go to art school, or that it’s a waste of time or money. FAFSA is your friend here, and you can make invaluable friends and connections at school.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m both apothiromantic and apothisexual. That is, I am both romance- and sex-repulsed. However, I’m still good for dirty jokes. I just don’t need, or want, detailed descriptions or imagery.

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

Not in my field, no. I’m too quiet offline to have it really come up often. Online and at my part time job, yes. Mostly I deal with it by walking away and reading a book for a bit, or hanging out with other ace folks and venting. Sometimes I try to help when I see another ace person being attacked online.

FarrenWolfPort

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

Honestly, the most common one I’ve seen is that “we’re all cisgendered heterosexuals trying to push our way into the LGBT so we’re can feel oppressed.”

It was incredibly frustrating to see it keep popping up this past Pride Month.

SugarSkOwl

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

You are not broken, and whatever you’re feeling is valid.

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

My art Twitter, which has everything from school work, to doodles, to furry art: at Evil_Skunk

My main Twitter, which has everything from politics, to pirates, to furry stuff, to general stupidity: at farrendustfur

My website, currently under construction while I turn it into a GADA portfolio: www.evilskunk.com

And my DeviantArt, which has art from way back in the day (2007 or so), so you can see my progression as an artist: http://ajdrake.deviantart.com.

TheBumbooHimself

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

Interview: Angelica Bentley

Today we’re joined by Angelica Bentley. Angelica is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in traditional media. She works with oils, watercolors, and graphite. When she’s not working on visual art, she does graphic and communication design. Angelica is also a stage technician for the theater where she does a lot of lighting design. And on top of all this, she also writes. It’s clear she’s a versatile and passionate artist, 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 a traditional media artist.  I work primarily with oils, watercolours, and graphite.  Right now, my work tends to follow themes of life and death as well as showcasing what I call ‘organic human spaces’ (unaltered rooms and living spaces that are telling of what the person living there is like).  I also work with graphic and communication design. I’m still working on learning the more ‘artsy’ side of that line of work, but for right now I do more design and layout oriented things.  At my school I work as a theatrical stage technician where I focus mostly on lighting design, i.e. I program and operate lights for shows and events.  Lastly, I’m a writer, though I don’t consider myself as successful with writing as I have been with my other forms of art.  I enjoy writing young adult fantasy novels…when I can get myself to actually write.

What inspires you?

This is hard to answer because it totally depends.  Other people’s art is probably my biggest inspiration.  Seeing or reading something really cool someone else has done gets the gears in my head turning.  It makes me wonder if I could create something like that, or do it even better.  But a lot of other things inspire me too.  Nature, cool architecture, songs, movies, dreams.  Just living is an inspiration to create art.

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

I think I have always wanted to be an artist.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or painting.  And ever since I could pick up a pencil I’ve been writing.  Of course, I went in and out of phases of inspiration throughout my life.  In middle school I was determined to be a writer.  In high school I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than art. Toward the end of high school I felt really down about being able to do either art or writing, and I hadn’t had any exposure to graphic design or lighting design at that point.  So I went into college majoring in–get this–accounting. I changed my major to a double major in art and graphic design within the first semester.  That’s what got me interested in graphic design.  A lot of the requirements for an art major overlapped with a graphic design major and taking design classes really appealed to me. Going into college I got a job as a theatrical stage technician (basically a techie) and I learned how to operate a light board and program lights, which I fell in love with.  Now I can’t see myself not doing all of these things!

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?

Nope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try it all!  And don’t be afraid to be bad at it.  I used to avoid painting like the plague because I was afraid of being bad at it, but after I forced myself to learn how to paint it’s become my favourite media.  The same with graphic design and lighting design.  I thought I’d be no good because I’d never opened adobe illustrator before or touched a light board.  But then I did.  And I learned how, and I practiced, and I found out I really enjoy it.  Of course, there will naturally be some things that you try and try and try and never become good at.  And that’s okay!  Now you know! There’s no shame in trying and failing as long as you tried first.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as asexual, though I’ve definitely been questioning whether or not I’m also aromantic lately.

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

Thankfully, I haven’t. Though I don’t consider myself ‘closeted’, most people who consume my work don’t know that I’m asexual.

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

That they can’t ask questions.  I think a lot of people don’t want to come off as uneducated or intolerant of asexuality, so when I come out they don’t ask any questions.  It’s so frustrating because I know they probably don’t have a complete understanding of what the a-spectrum is, and they definitely don’t know what it means for me to be asexual, but they pretend they do.  I went out with a guy one time (sort of by mistake, but that’s a different story) who, when I told him I was asexual, thought I meant that I was bisexual and refused to ask questions about it.  To avoid this I normally ask people if they have questions about it when/if I come out to them.  Even then people are often still too afraid to ask.

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

It’s totally okay to not know what the hell is going on.  Change is hard, especially when it’s a whole shift in your identity, but change is okay too.  If you need to identify as a-spec now only to realize a different identity later that’s totally cool.  And you can always try labeling yourself as questioning, or simply queer.  I still struggle with my romantic identity, but I find it helpful to identify as a questioning aromantic.  That way I don’t feel guilty about identifying a way I’m not sure I am yet.

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

I just got an Instagram account, so it’s kind of bare right now, and I also use it a bit as a personal account, but my art is still there!  My handle is at a.n.g.e.l.i.c.a_b.e.n.t.l.e.y.  You can also email me at 0angben0@gmail.com for questions, commissions, and interests in my art.

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

Interview: Ella

Today we’re joined by Ella. Ella is a phenomenally talented artist who specializes in designing creatures and props. She works as a graphic designer and also writes, both original work and fanfiction, and bakes. Ella is most passionate about making creatures from movies. They’re exquisite, as you’ll soon see. Ella is a passionate and dedicated artist, which really shines through in her work. 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 lots of things! I’m a graphic designer, I bake, I write stories … But I think my creatures are the things I’m proudest of, so I’m gonna talk about them.

Have you ever sat in a movie theatre and went: ‘that animal is the most adorable thing I have ever seen and I want to hug it!!’

Me, too. Sadly, most of the animals on films and series are either lethal, imaginary or trained. So you’ll have to live out the rest of your life, knowing you would never get to hug that little critter.

I refuse to live out my life that way. That’s why I make the animals myself.

I have made a Toothless costume from How To Train Your Dragon, a BB-8 from Star Wars, two creatures from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, and a plaidypus and the pig Waddles, from Gravity Falls.

My greatest joy comes from bringing the creatures to a convention, so other people can hug them, too.

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What inspires you?

The movies the creatures are in, mainly. But never underestimate the reaction other people have to your creations. People keep me going. People going “He’s so CUTE! Where did you buy him?” And then I can say: “Oh, no, I made him!”

Then again, everything can inspire me. A walk through the dollar store is very helpful, for instance.

The thing that inspires me the most is that sometimes, kids believe that my creatures are real. To me, that’s the best compliment I can get.

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

I just sort of… ended up in it. My job is graphic designer, but I only went to that school because it was close to home. I started working on Toothless when I was 18 or so. I always thought I wanted to be a comic artist, or just an illustrator. Or maybe an actress. Or maybe something with languages! Then it turned out that my drawings are not that good, I don’t have patience to practice and I didn’t like languages all that much.

But, man. I started work on Toothless, and it just flowed. And then I started to work on BB-8, and that flowed as well. Writers tell about it, too. As if a book wants to be written.

I guess my creatures just want to be made.

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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?

For some reason, I love the number eight. I usually try to put it somewhere in my writing, art or creatures. Or I incorporate something of myself. The lines on the hands of the big white ape-like Dougal are the same as the lines on mine. And I love special effects. The eyes of Dougal light up, the Niffler has a pouch in which bells are glued so he rings when he is shaken. BB-8 rolls and makes sounds. Toothless’s wings could go up and down.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t force yourself to do anything that you deep down feel you don’t want to. If drawing secretly isn’t your thing, try clay! Try writing!

If you wanna do something like the things I do, buy a glue gun. It’s the best tool ever.

Stay kind to the other artists. They started like you did. And above all, stay weird. Find that one small spot inside yourself that screams “this is me!” and hold on tightly.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you aren’t good enough. If they do, hot glue their fingers together. Trust me, it hurts.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Straight and Asexual Until Further Notice.

That basically means that I have no sexual interest in people, but I don’t know what happens when I actually do get a relationship at one point.

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

My colleagues don’t often understand it. They ask questions like “But if your partner wants to, and you don’t, what do you do?”

The answer is “We don’t do the do.”

I don’t have much prejudice or ignorance, really. I guess people already see me as a strange person and are like “well, we’ll just add that up to the total picture”

Most people just want explanations on How It Works. Here’s my tip on that:

Ask if they have pets. Most people do. Then ask them if they think that their pet is the most beautiful thing in the world. Most people say yes. Then ask them if they would like to have sex with their pet. The people go “NOOO EEEEW”

Then you go: ‘That’s how I feel about everyone’

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

That you can get rid of it.

“Oh, no matter. Once you meet the right person…”

You can’t get rid of it. It’s like your spine. Sure, you could try to get rid of your spine, but that would take immense force and possibly trauma.

Please don’t get rid of your spine. (unless you medically need to or something)

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

Relax. Sexualities change. At first I thought I was completely and utterly asexual, now I’m thinking I might just be demi. Your atoms and molecules replace completely every seven years or so. Who says you can’t?

If you don’t want sex, don’t have it. And if you are struggling with anything, do some research. Talk to people. Talk to your partner, for goodness sake.

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

My stories: SleepingReader on AO3
My cosplays: EllaFixIt on Facebook or FixitCosplay on Instagram.
My Tumblr – feel free to talk to me about anything- SleepingReader.

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

Interview: Diane Ramic

Today we’re joined by Diane Ramic. Diane is a phenomenal freelance illustrator who specializes in prehistory, science, fantasy, and science fiction. She does a ton of paleoart and dinosaurs are frequently in her work. Diane has also written a couple children’s books, including a coloring book of scientifically accurate dinosaurs. She has a passion for science and it shows, 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 a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, and my work tends to focus on prehistory, fantasy, and sci-fi. So, you’ll find plenty of dinosaurs, dragons and aliens in my art. I also illustrate children’s books, and have written a few of my own as well! I love combining art and science into a work, as those two fields have both captured my imagination since I was very young. Educational media is something I try to work on whenever I can.

What inspires you?

Nature for sure. Thinking about life that existed in the past, and life that may exist in the future, it just makes me want to design or re-create them through art. Astronomy is a huge inspiration for when I need to do alien designs, and just thinking of the cosmos gets me in the creating mode of thought.

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

Well, when I was seven, I wanted to be a Velociraptor. I even started walking on my toes, all hunched over and with my arms mimicking their folded up arms. When I found out being a Velociraptor was physically impossible (for now), my next goal was to be a paleontologist, and that turned into wanting to be a science-minded illustrator. Fossils are a fantastic base for knowing as much as we can about these extinct animals, but the only way we can really know what they looked like in life is through artists reconstructing them in their work. For most of the public, their first impressions on prehistoric animals comes from the media, be it in movie, toy, or book form. That’s why it’s important, when you’re working with paleoart, to incorporate the updated science in your work. It brings me great satisfaction to help contribute my work to the paleoart community, and help educate the public about the lives these wonderful animals lived.

DianeRamicColoringPages17

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?

Beyond designing aliens and their environments, I really, really enjoy doing the math for figuring out the planet’s mass and composition, atmospheric pressure, its place in the solar system, the mass and age of its star(s), how many other planets it shares the star(s) with, etc. Even if no one ever sees these things, it’s just very satisfying to have it all work out in your head and on paper.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m a visual artist, so this will be in that category of art. Study from life as often as you can. Once you’ve got a good grasp on the basics of how objects interact with one another and understand color theory, you can experiment with distorting and exaggerating figures, and play with color choice. A lot of online resources are free, and try to share what you’ve learned with others. There’s a lot of gatekeeping in the artist community, even though that doesn’t help anyone. You will most likely have to go through plenty of rejections, and that’s OK, too. Just pick yourself back up and keep going as best as you can. And whatever you do, don’t make fun of younger or less experienced artists’ work.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am definitely both ace and aro, and have felt this way as long as I can remember. I’m actually pretty relieved to not have developed any romantic or sexual feelings; I feel they would get in the way of me doing my work.

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

I think the most common thing is being told again and again that what I am doing is unnatural, and going against nature, the person’s gods, or “how it should be.” The “late bloomer” stuff can get kind of annoying, too. I’m about to be 23 as of this writing, I’m pretty sure if I was going to develop any other orientations, it would have been a thing by now. And if nothing else, I’m pretty sure there are plenty enough humans on this planet, the global population isn’t in danger of going extinct anytime soon, haha.

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

Probably that we are seen as cold, unfeeling robots. I understand a lot of ace people out there definitely have the same range of emotion as anyone else, and being compared to a robot is very dehumanizing. But as someone that also has a lack of emotion/empathy/etc. in general, I actually kind of like the description.

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

You are a valid and real person, and you know yourself better than anyone else can. You might be confused at first, thinking “Is something wrong with me?” or “Am I really like this?” and that’s ok. Sometimes feelings can shift over time and you may find yourself having a different experience than you do now, and this is normal. Part of what makes living things special is their ability to grow and change over time. You’re not alone. Do what makes you comfortable.

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

I have a website at http://dramic.wixsite.com/home, but more frequently post on my Tumblr at  http://dianeramic.tumblr.com. I’m always working on new projects, so I hope you stop by to see what’s new! I’ve also got an Amazon author page; feel free to check out what new books I have available!

DiantimonySpino

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

Interview: Jones

Today we’re joined by Jones. Jones is a phenomenal musician and visual artist. He specializes in a variety of music genres and plays no less than six instruments. When he’s not creating music, Jones does a lot of visual art including graphic design and drawing. His work shows an interesting use of color and beautiful visuals. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

The artist
The Artist

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The only place I fit in this world is behind my guitar (or PC). I’m the weirdo loner that your parents probably warned you about. (And if they didn’t warn you about weirdo loners then you should get new parents). My name is Jones and I like creating music, filming, writing, editing, producing, photography, drawing, and graphic design. I love mimicking psychedelic art (cause the 60’s were awesome . . . duh lol) but my real passion is music. I taught myself six instruments (thanks YouTube!) and decided to get involved in producing my own work. I especially love beat making and sound designing. Anything that keeps me in my room. I’m an introvert. Outside to me is the hallway lol.

Asli Omar
Asli Omar

What inspires you?

Pot, Anime, and music… well that’s the vague answer… What really inspires me are events in my life whether it’s friendships, manic depression, music, or…. pot. I normally use my experiences in songs. I’m a huge lofi indie rock fan so I like to think of myself as the millennial version of Daniel Johnston (Shout out to the few people who know who Daniel Johnston is lol) but rap and metal are another form of inspiration.

I’m a huge fan of Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the creator, 2pac, Wu-tang, Future, Migos, Kung-fu Kenny and J Cole. My favorite metal bands that inspire my “Dark art” so to speak are: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Bathory, Acid Bath, BreakDown of sanity, Killswitch Engage, Alice in Chains, Mercyful Fate, Straight Line Stitch, Heaven Shall Burn and Uncle Acid.

But I’m a huge Indie rock nerd. I love Beat Happening, Beach fossils, Car Seat Headrest, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah (basically anything from the Elephant 6 label), A great big pile of leaves, Empire Empire I was a lonely estate, Marietta, The Ton Tons, Modern Baseball, and the War on Drugs.

Demon child
Demon Child

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

I wanted to be Goku when I was a kid… but that didn’t seem like a lucrative career choice so I opted out to drawing comics. From there I was hooked into art and drawing. I was always introverted as a kid. I stayed alone and watched cartoons all the time and tried making my own cartoons. I was always the weird kid at my school and I never fit in so I just avoided people and focused on my artwork. I found everyone to be distracting and I only hung out with people that shared my interests in art. It really freaked out my parents because I would stay home and watch cartoons all day then stay up at night acting out what my cartoons would say and do. I was living in my own world of art. It was pretty chill.

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?

Lo and Cho (Lo’s the dude and Cho’s the girl). They were doodles associated with my music because I was inspired by Beat Happening’s first album and the child like appeal of it. I wanted to mimic that for my lofi music. I also made comics with these two that I may or may not release. It’s mostly about tripping acid and contemplating life as a drawing inside of a huge notebook of drawings.

kinky sheets
Kinky Sheets

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re a musician, just starting out I’ll be straightforward in saying this: nobody is going to like you. Don’t ever get discouraged by this fact though. When the Doors had their first show, nobody came. Few years later, they had riots at their concerts because people lost their minds hearing Jim Morrison’s voice. Any skill takes time and it will take a while for some to build up a fan base whether you draw or sing. My best advice is to create something that changes YOUR world first. When I first started making music I’d put it on my iPod and pretend like I was a famous person before I started uploading songs online. I used these moments to critique and rewrite my work and improve my sound. Don’t worry about what anyone else says because your talent is something that they cannot take away. If you want your moment you’re gonna have to stay motivated because time and practice goes a long way. Some people blow up overnight while others never do, that’s just how it is. You just gotta stay focused and do it for you and you alone. This is YOUR world of art, use it to create something meaningful for yourself.

Frostburg Sunset
Frostburg Sunset

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m somewhere between Asexual and Demi/grey sexual. I’m still figuring it out but I find it hard to be attracted to people. Sometimes I can get curious (key word: sometimes) but when I notice someone it’s like “Oh He’s handsome” or “she’s pretty” but it doesn’t lead me to sexual feelings. I’ve had mild interests in sex but not to the point where I wanted to experiment because sex and body parts always looked weird to me. I was always interested in voyeurism and fetishes like BDSM, macrophilia, etc. because I got to notice body types without really touching them. My motto in life was always Snack, Fap, and Nap lol.

I never cared about flirting signals from others and I didn’t reciprocate any feelings whether it was from men or women. In late high school/early college I thought I was heterosexual but when I had sex for the first time it was kinda weird (Nothing wrong with my partner, she was wonderful, I just wasn’t really invested during the times we… you know). I tried experimenting with both men and women and neither really interested me. The only time I actually liked someone is through personality.

But just because I’m asexual/demi doesn’t mean sometimes I don’t get curious. I feel like that’s just a part of human nature to notice members of your own species and to identify with them. Sometimes I notice people and although for the most part it’s difficult to sexualize them sometimes I fantasize (again keyword: sometimes). For me it’s mostly from a voyeuristic standpoint where I’m not involved or I’m looking in from a third person viewpoint. My fantasies are not as common as regular people but sometimes it happens. For the most part, they’re just thoughts and I don’t really have any interest in acting on them but I don’t want to be seen as anti-sex because I’m an ace/demi. I’m indifferent when it comes to sex because it’s not that important to me and I can definitely live without it but if I ever fell in love with somebody’s personality I also wouldn’t mind exploring our buttons together.

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Giantess Ayisha

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

Oh yeah. My friends used to think I was only asexual because I couldn’t get laid. When you’re a black male you have to be this hyper-masculine oversexualize creature and here I am avoiding anything with parents LOL. I probably handled ace prejudice poorly when it happened to me.

But when I came out I didn’t fit in with my friends. All they did was have sex with each other and I felt suffocated by this because I was the odd man out who didn’t want to be touched.

I was also very misogynistic back when I first came out because I used to think hypersexual girls were disgusting. I’m not like that anymore and I now believe that women have the right to sexually express themselves any way they want to without anyone’s opinion but back when I first came out I had a different mindset. It started when the girls that wanted to sleep with me were more puzzled that I wasn’t as hypersexual as they were and they just simply marked me off as gay and spread rumors about me. This lead to the dissolution of a lot of female relationships because I felt weirded out that there was this unspoken pressure to form sexual bonds with them. I became the odd man out not only around my female friends but my male friends also and for that I became a slut shaming bitter misogynist and a loner. Many of my female friends were hypersexual and looked at me differently because I was this anti-sexual Queer that didn’t fit in with any group. Again I’m not misogynistic anymore but back then I had a different mindset and a lot of conflicting emotions that really came in the way of a lot of friendships with other people. For some time, I avoided girls because many of the females around me preached about their sex lives. This was also common with my male friends. I just started avoiding everyone. I especially avoided female friends because I was the “diary” to some and I didn’t want to be. (I also learned that a lot of my female friends could be very Queerphobic.)

What was worse was that some of my male friends would avoid me because I wasn’t interested in girls while others would accuse me of making up asexuality to get “closer to sleeping” with their girlfriends. It was insulting because it was like my sexuality didn’t matter to anyone. Even when I told them “I’m asexual, I never slept with any of your girlfriends” they would give me puzzled looks and brush me off. It was even harder explaining my asexuality to friends that I used to have crushes on. Every crush that I ever had I liked them for their personality. Some instances it got sexual but I was much more interested in their persona than the sex. When I came out some of these friends would hang it over my head like “didn’t you used to like me, what happened?” etc. I felt broken because I thought I was heterosexual then the more I experimented with people the more I realized how different my sex drive was compared to theirs. It was like I couldn’t shake my old hetero identity and my old identity wasn’t even the real me. It was an awkward time. I even used to joke about how college “ruined my sexuality” because I thought rejection was the cause of my lack of sex drive but it was the simple fact that I was always different and experimentation with both sexes showed me how different my sexuality was compared to my peers. Now I just avoid making friends and talk to people online. It’s easier to find people who like the same interests as me online instead of the real world.

frostburg watercolor
Frostburg Watercolor

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

That asexuality is the result of a mental illness. It’s insulting because there are plenty of Aces who ARE NOT mentally ill who live perfectly normal lives and there are Aces who do have mental illnesses that do not relate to their sexual orientation. It makes it difficult for Aces who actually suffer from mental illnesses to seek help because they fear that their entire sexual orientation will be put under the microscope. ASEXUALITY IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS IT’S AN ORIENTATION JUST LIKE OTHER SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS. DON’T FEEL ASHAMED IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE MENTALLY ILL AND ASEXUAL BECAUSE THE TWO ARE NOT RELATED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM.

Hello (1)
Hello

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

Don’t take your sexuality so seriously. Feelings change and shift all the time and in the end Gay, Straight, Trans, and Asexuality are all labels. If you follow your heart and find what you love out of life the right people will come along eventually and you can establish any relationship you want with another person (just don’t be a creep about it). Don’t be worried if you’re struggling to find your sexual orientation. There’s nothing wrong with staying to yourself and there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. Just trust yourself to make the best decisions when the time comes and know that you don’t need all the answers all the time. Sometimes life just happens…

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

https://soundcloud.com/94sheets
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/ <- For Lofi/indie pop fans
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/album/projct-skybomb-cloudy-dreams-forever <- Chillwave beats

lianne la havas watercolor
Lianne la Havas Watercolor

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