Interview: Allyzah Allene

Today we’re joined by Allyzah Allene, who also goes by Ani or Ani Fangor. Allyzah is a phenomenal visual artist who works with in digital and traditional mediums. They haven’t met a material they didn’t like and work with just about everything. Their work is brimming with detail and a masterful use of lines and colors. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Self 2017

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist that likes to dabble in just about everything I can afford. I have worked with traditional mediums like pencils (graphites, colored pencils), charcoals, markers, paints (acrylic, watercolor, oil) and digital mediums (limited photoediting, mostly digital art). My goal is to be able to learn as many mediums as I can because I want to teach art. I also occasionally write, and recently began posting my comic on Tapas.

While many other artists have a “deeper meaning” behind their artworks, or a consistent theme, I find art to be most enjoyable when it is “whatever I feel like.” I don’t like stressing over incorporating hidden meanings and “how it may be interpreted,” but rather getting the idea out of my head. My art blog and my art tag ends up being full of random half done pieces and concepts because it’s not always about finishing, but expressing my ideas. (Perhaps not the best rule to live by, but as a student, it’s enough for me.)

What inspires you?

Most of the time, the deadline. Otherwise it’s usually whatever I find aesthetically appealing enough to draw!

For my writing and my comic, though, that was inspired by the lack of diversity in the media I consumed. I got tired of the same old “boy meets girl” plot/subplot found in most things I read, and especially, the lack of characters who even vaguely looked like me. Growing up, the books I read often degraded characters that shared my race or ethnicity, and I struggled with my identity until I was 16 (a mere four years ago). I hated who I was because I wasn’t white, and I thought that I would only be successful if I were like the white characters in my books—even then, that could be a stretch, as there were very few books with girls as the lead. I didn’t find out that I wasn’t cishet until I was about 15, and by then I barely read outside of the class readings, so I wasn’t as bothered by the lack of LGBT+ positive books just yet. In my junior year, I had my “if no one else is going to do it, I will” moment and decided I would make a comic featuring a diverse cast in both ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual/romantic orientation. It took a while, but I finally decided I had put it off long enough and started publishing pages early July 2017 as my 20th birthday gift to myself.

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

When I was in the second grade, my school’s art teacher brought a guest artist to speak to everyone. I don’t remember the name of the artist, but I remember being so intrigued—it was one thing to learn about Van Gogh and Picasso in class, and a completely different thing to see someone live at work that wasn’t my teacher. The way he worked was by covering a canvas with black charcoal, and slowly erasing it away to create an image. My art teacher later caught me trying to do the same thing while waiting for my dad to pick me up, and asked me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but I remember being so happy that she thought I could, and I said yes. Since then, I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about art so that I can help as many people as possible when I become a teacher.

As for writing, we have a rocky relationship. During elementary school, I had a pattern: I would love writing one year, and hate it the next. I didn’t really take it seriously for a while, even when I started writing and posting fanfiction. I found out about NaNoWriMo in middle school, and became serious about writing original work, although the passion and motivation is not nearly as consistent as with art.

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Death Lingers

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 don’t know if I’ve been consistent enough with anything to have one of those! The closest thing is the stamp I use to sign my artwork (when I have it). I visited China two years ago as part of an exchange program, and the Chinese students gave me an approximate phonetic translation of my name so that I could have a “Chinese name.” I bought a stamp with that name on it to remember them and the trip, and I use it as half of my artist signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Besides the ever present “keep practicing,” I’d say “if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, put it on pause and work on something different; it’ll come to you sooner than if you keep focusing on it.” If it’s art, that one part will still be waiting for you to come back, and if it’s writing, you can always just type in something like “akdguhos” or “[COME BACK TO THIS]” and continue. (Just make sure that you go back to it before you publish it or turn it in!) You don’t have to finish everything in one go. Take a break, let your creative juices recharge.

Something specifically for visual art: we tend to hyperfixate on the small area that we’re currently working on. Every now and then, remember to step back (or, if digitally, zoom out) and look at the piece as a whole. Something might look okay while zoomed in… and then you look at the whole picture and realize that it’s completely misaligned or maybe the color palette doesn’t match the rest. I’ve worked on several semi-realistic pieces and realized that the “perfect nose” was too far right, or that it looked like the neck didn’t come from the same body as the head, because I didn’t look at the whole picture as much as I should have.

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Lumos

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual sex-repulsed, and demi-panromantic. (As well as agender/non-binary.)

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

I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any prejudice in my major related classes yet, but that’s partially because I don’t know anyone well enough to actually care what they say, partly because I have headphones in during class almost all the time. I have had people try to get “creative” with their flirting though, automatically assuming that because I’m an artist, I draw nude people, and that I’d want to draw them … How I respond to them depends on how rude they’re being.

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

Ohh boy, there’s so many that I spent three years researching asexuality in order to academically debunk misconceptions and presented speeches about asexuality to just about any academic platform I could reach. (I’m no longer doing competitive speech as I switch to the coaching side of things, but I’m still ready to spread asexual awareness.)

The one that I hate the most is when people think asexuals are being childish if they state that they have no sexual attraction, especially if they say that they’re a sex-repulsed ace. I’ve had people say that I’ll eventually “grow up and want sex,” and when I literally had an anxiety attack due to a class assigned movie (marked UnRated and with no CW/TW in the film description, nor from the professor) that featured multiple explicit sex scenes and nudity, I was told to grow up and realize that “sex is an art form. You’re an artist, why can’t you appreciate that?” It’s frustrating that sex is seen as a major turning point in your life, the time you’ve “finally reached adulthood,” when there’s plenty of us who can live without it.

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Southern Belle

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

Most importantly: you are not broken. Your orientation doesn’t make you any less valid than anyone else! Remember, for every person that takes you down, there’ll be many ready to help lift you back up again.

Also, it doesn’t matter if you fit some of the stereotypes or misconceptions of asexuality or not, you can still identify as ace. Things like “you can’t know if you’re ace if you’re a virgin,” “it’s just a hormonal imbalance,” “it’s because of PTSD/similar,” it doesn’t matter if these are true or not for you. If you feel like asexuality is the best label for your orientation, then you’re ace.

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

I post my work on Tumblr with the tag “#ani amount of art” on both aniamountofart.tumblr.com and aniamountofsketches.tumblr.com; on Instagram/Twitter tagged #aniamountofart on artisticAllyzah; and my comic can be found at tapas.io/series/OMNI!

Marco the Mallard
Marco the Mallard

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

Interview: Angela

Today we’re joined by Angela. Angela is a phenomenal artist who hasn’t met a medium she didn’t like. She does a fair amount of visual art, specializing in graphite and colored pencils. When she’s not drawing, Angela enjoys doing a variety of crafts: knitting, papercraft, making candles, etc. If all that weren’t enough, she also plays some musical instruments and works in theater tech. It’s very clear that Angela is a dedicated 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 not sure where to begin. I create all sorts of art from drawing, to knitting, to music and more. In terms of drawing, my favorite mediums are graphite and colored pencil; those are about the only things I work in. I also love crafting; I knit, I bind books, I make candles, I do papercraft… you name it and I’ve probably given it a shot, or at least would like to.

When it comes to music, I mainly focus on clarinet and saxophone. I’m in my college’s pep band but in high school I played a lot of jazz and more traditional wind ensemble music. I’m not sure if theater tech counts as art, but if it does, I love building, painting, and running set pieces. I also love doing sound and lights for theater and other events, which isn’t typically seen as art, but I think there’s a certain degree of artistry to it.

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What inspires you?

I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who really has a lot of inspiration, but I guess my pure love of the arts inspires me. I love creating things for myself and others to enjoy.

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

I’m not sure what got me interested in each of my respective fields. Art is just a hobby of mine; I’m actually studying chemical engineering right now. I guess I’ve just always loved music, and everyone always told me I was good at drawing so I kept up with that too. I started building sets my freshman year of high school because I’ve always wanted to build things and the school play was my first opportunity to do so. When I turned seven, my grandma taught me how to knit so that got me started on fiber arts.

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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?

I don’t actually have any sort of signature or symbol that I include in my work, but I absolutely love when people do.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I guess the advice that I would give young aspiring artists would be to never give up. If you find an art form that makes you happy, keep doing it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or that it’s a waste of time. The more you work at it, the better you’ll get. And even if your work never reaches professional quality, the important part is that you enjoy it and it makes you feel good.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

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

I haven’t really encountered any kind of ace prejudice in general. I tend to surround myself with good people, and I’ve been very lucky in that respect. The most I’ll get is people not knowing what asexuality is, but when people ask I just explain it and it’s all good.

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

I think the most common misconception about asexuality is that it’s the same as sex repulsion. I think a large part of the community is sex repulsed or sex averse, but that doesn’t mean that they’re inherently linked. Plenty of aces enjoy sex without experiencing the attraction.

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

It sounds pretty clichéd, but I would say to know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to question, and it’s okay to be unsure. There’s a great asexual community ready to welcome you home and help you through anything you need.

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

I’ve posted a bunch of my arts and crafts at angelas-arts-and-crafts.tumblr.com if anyone wants to check that out. If you want to speak to me about all the stuff that I do, feel free to message me there or I suppose you can e-mail me at emailjunkedyjunkjunk@gmail.com (yes that is my junk e-mail, I’m not kidding, Gmail didn’t accept the first five or six options I put in so I decided on something ridiculous) if you’re really that interested. I’d be happy to talk to you!

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

Interview: Scout

Today we’re joined by Scout. Scout is a phenomenal visual artist who mainly uses graphite and colored pencils. They mainly draw animals and food, though they also do some portrait work. There’s an extraordinary amount of detail in their work and the colors make the images pop right off the screen. Scout definitely has an amazing amount of talent and it shows. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I usually work with graphite or colored pencils and I have a realistic style. A lot of my subjects are animals or food. I also do portrait work.

What inspires you?

I love things with bright colors or interesting textures. I think it’s more challenging but also a lot more fun to see the end result.

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

I’ve been doing art since I was young, and once I got to high school my art teacher really push me to improve. Once I saw what I could do if I put in the effort, I considered a career in art. I’m planning on becoming a tattooist.

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 don’t really do anything special in my work. I think I have a particular style compared to other realism artists, but it might be difficult for others to pick up on

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Challenge yourself. If you always do what’s easy, you won’t improve much. And the results are very satisfying because you worked harder.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex-repulsed asexual, demiromantic

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

I have not encountered any prejudice. I think people care more about how my art looks tbh

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

Asexual people never have sex. It’s a whole spectrum, and not everyone is sex repulsed. Some asexual people do have sex and some don’t.

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

Find ace communities that validate how you feel. On Tumblr especially, there are many blogs centered around asexuality that can make you feel accepted

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

I have an art tag (the-real-hash-slinging-slasher.tumblr.com/tagged/art). And if anyone is interested I take commissions.  My ask box is always open 🙂

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

Interview: Alison Kilvington

Today we’re joined by Alison Kilvington. Alison is a wonderful visual artist who specializes mostly in digital art. However, she does also use traditional media. She is mainly an equine artist, but enjoys drawing many other subjects whenever she gets a chance. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I’m namely an equine artist. I do like to draw other creatures every opportunity I get, but I always seem to default to horses. In terms of medium, I mainly use digital art because it’s convenient and I can take my laptop and tablet with me virtually anywhere. But this also certainly does not mean that I can’t do traditional! I particularly love to use watercolors, first time I used them, something just naturally clicked. I also use colored pencils as well as graphite.

What inspires you?

Generally music, like for most people. But in other cases its movies, watching another artist draw, or just strong feelings. No one thing truly inspires me, but as long as something pops in my head, it’s going to come out sooner or later.

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

I never really “got interested”, art has always been a fundamental part of my family. My mom used to paint, my aunt likes to sew, my grandma made funny poems, and my great-grandfather built buildings, and during the Great Depression, he sometimes exchanged his work for some old records in return.

I have known for pretty much ever since I first scribbled on a wall that I wanted to be an artist. It was something that was always so vital to who I was as a person, that even when I was considering other careers, I knew I would still be an artist regardless. Unfortunately, I don’t consider myself “creative” enough to be a freelance artist, so I’m currently going to college with hopes that I’ll make myself into an animator someday.

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?

Hm, not that I can think of! However looking at my art, I notice that they all have similar trends, in that I prefer to use darker colors, and have been drawing a lot of trees and mountains in my backgrounds lately. And even though I only rarely draw them, red roses have a lot of symbolic meaning to me. I don’t really want to say exactly what, but they mean a lot to me and I am obsessed with them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just to never quit. You’re always going to look at the thing you just made and say “Well, this is utter crap.” No matter the skill level that you are at. It’s something every artist faces. You’re also not going to like your own art. My friend once told me that my art was better than hers, which I still think is total crap, she’s better than me. This is something that’s always going to happen, and I’ve learned to just deal with it. I’m not as bad at art as I was a year ago, that’s something that always makes me feel better. It also helps to envision how much better you’ll be in 5 years from now. I know that if me from 6 years ago looked at my art now, I’d feel totally in awe.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Ummmmmm… A sex-repulsed asexual, I think. I know for sure that I am ace, no doubt about that, not sure if I’m exactly “sex-repulsed” though. As for the romantic spectrum, I’m a hetero-demiromantic, though this is iffy because I’m attracted towards hatred as opposed to close friendship or something of the likes. I say demi though, because it’s only described as a “strong emotional bond”.

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

Thankfully, no! Not only are people in the horse art community super inclusive, but the people I know in real life also haven’t treated me any differently. Given, I’m not open about it because it’s nobody’s business, but the people I have told were supportive. There was this one guy who kept claiming that he hated me and wanted me dead, but when it came to my sexuality, he was very supportive of it. And it also turns out that my sister is pansexual.

However, I do know of people who are homophobic, such as my brother and step-brother. When my brother tells my step-brother that his demeaning language towards females isn’t cool, he gets teased about being gay. But on the flip side, when I was watching Ellen one day, my brother came in and said “She’s a lesbian.” For no real reason, and explained it by saying that he was only stating a fact.

I’ve been very fortunate.

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

That we can create clones of ourselves or something. However, my college has a very active LGBTQ+ program (my roommate’s mom is actually the head of the LGBTQ+ services here), and inclusiveness is in abundance! It also really helps that the building most people go through is where the services are located, so whenever people walk through, there’s ALWAYS going to be something regarding the LGBTQ+ community somewhere.

And to emphasize how inclusive my college is, this week just so happens to be the college’s pride week. I go to NKU, if anyone’s wondering. I’m very lucky that I go to a place that’s so accepting of everyone, I know it’s not the case for some places.

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

There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s nothing wrong with any of us. It’s everyone else who can’t understand. Because we do not fall victim to the earthly notion of wanting to bang someone we see, we are obviously gods.

But in all seriousness, there really is nothing wrong with you, and you can even use your orientation to embrace yourself. You are a perfect and beautiful human being, and even though words can hurt, you are stronger than them. Words can be like chains that have been wrapped around your ankles, but chains will not cause you to lose yourself. Sometimes you feel like you died inside because you can’t escape the chains, but just remember that in due time, they will become old and brittle and will break apart when you make an attempt to leave again.

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

I just wanna say real quick that I think it’s interesting that there are so many asexual artists out there. In one of my high school art classes, it turns out that there was a guy who was also asexual, which is really intriguing! I wonder why that is?

Anyway, I flip flop between websites I post my art on, however for the past six years I haven’t failed to post on DeviantArt. I do have Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and FurAffinity accounts for my art, however I almost never use them.

DeviantArt: http://wittch.deviantart.com/

Tumblr: http://deadliestart.tumblr.com/

FurAffinity: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/nighttmares/

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