Interview: NW

Today we’re joined by NW. NW is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in fanart. She does mostly digital art, though she does occasionally dabbles in traditional media. NW does a lot of costume and character design. She enjoys doing mostly fanart, but will occasionally do original art. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, 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.

So, a lot of my work right now is done digitally — that is to say I don’t have an aversion to traditional media, it’s just more accessible to me at the moment — and usually it’s of people. Ranging from character or costume design, fan art, and a lot of my original artwork I don’t get to post. I love drawing portraits and faces, so right now, I guess the majority (that I post, anyway) is of that. I’m mostly self-taught; I’ve learned through practicing, studying classical paintings, and even watching Bob Ross as a little girl. I’ve had the traditional drawing courses (you know, still lives of apples or shapes) in addition to a lot of experimentation software like Paint Tool SAI, Adobe Photoshop, and Procreate.

I don’t particularly stick to one “style”; I don’t really like doing line art, I find it too time-consuming and I have issues with tremor, no thanks to my medication I take. So my style is very “paintery”, if you like. What I’ve learned in painting courses (and, again, Bob Ross) and I paint over my mistakes. When I do traditional media, I usually go back to the pencil or watercolors. I’m a visual person and I love coloring and colors. My favorite thing about creating art is eventually coloring it.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me.

Art has been a therapeutic thing for me and I’ve gone back and added my own feelings in them. I’m very guilty of day-dreaming and since I was a kid, those day dreams inspire art. I think of stories and they become my pieces. Things I see in real life, whether it be color combinations, fashion, or images I pass, I try to hold onto that visual memory and bring it back.  Nowadays, I carry my iPad and stop to at least get it out before it goes. Movies definitely do—I hadn’t realized how much movies affected my stories and images until I got older.

Other artists most definitely do, which is why I’m Tumblr a lot. Most of the blogs I follow are other artists. There are also a few blogs that post traditional and classical artwork that I love. And, really, the music I listen to also is a huge influence on me and I always listen to certain bands and artists to try and captivate a mood in my pieces. My usernames “ofborrowedlight” and “rainbowillness” actually come from one band that I listen to a lot when I do artwork, Wolves in the Throne Room. They’re titles to two songs, “Rainbow Illness” and “Queen of the Borrowed Light”. For my personal “project”, I listen to them quite a bit.

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

Well, I’ve been holding a pencil since I had an Etch-a-Sketch and I cannot recall the rest. And I keep bringing up Bob Ross for a reason—I watched him religiously as a little girl. I’d say that he was actually the first influence that wanted me to get into the field. By the age of five, my mind was made up: I wanted to be an artist. I struggled with dyslexia and bullying and art was my constant companion for me. Having that man on television taught me so much about color and composition at an early age and his attitude of “there are no accidents, only happy mistakes” is such a positive thing to have and he’s really still pushing me, to this day, with that attitude. If you ask me now, yeah, I still want to draw and create for a living. It hasn’t been easy working full-time and trying to earn money, though, but I have not given up. I still try to draw every day; unfortunately, I get really shy posting stuff online or I’m spending more time on it than I wanted to.

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 in particularly? At least I don’t think so; maybe my coloring?

Maybe the closest to it if anyone notices that I incorporate a wave or a flow around my figures, sometimes. That comes from how Gustav Kilmt, Alphonse Mucha, and some traditional Japanese paintings that seem to have a special way to draw smoke and water. I can’t really write it, but anyone can find it in my sketches. But flat out, there’s no real unique symbolism, usually. If there is, it’s with my original stuff with little hints, but no one is going to know context, it’s just me, because I haven’t really presented the world with that story yet. It’s an inside joke with me, I guess.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing, draw as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to expand your style. I was like a lot of artists out here on Tumblr; I’d print Sailor Moon illustrations and copied them. It’s good to do that to get up on your feet, but don’t allow that to be a dependency. Don’t be afraid to get books for the sake of illustrations—I still do. And don’t feel bad about your level of technique doesn’t match your friends or other artists out there. Art is all about your interpretation. While I can go on hours how stupid still lives and contour drawing is, they are essential to getting better. Take classic courses; if they’re not accessible to you, check out Udemy or Coursea.

With digital art, it’s a lot of practice. You just need to play around with features in software and you’ll find some really cool effects to enhance your coloring. Transitioning from a sketchbook to a drawing tablet is weird and don’t feel bad about not getting it; it took me years to get it and I’m still trying to play around with it. You’ll find a favorite program that you love! And even then, I would encourage you to have more than one digital art program. I hop around Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop, and Procreate all the time.

And really, I can’t stress it enough: don’t give up. You’re in an age where more of these things are accessible to you and it wasn’t when I was a kid. Keep drawing, draw more, and draw whatever you want.

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Versus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteromantic asexual but more often gray-sexual. I think men are handsome, that’s about it. I’m not bothered by it and I really don’t care about relationships. Finding a man attractive is the furthest I’ll go; I don’t want much interaction after that.

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

The closest I’ve experienced any sort of misconception have been at concerts, anime, or comic conventions (surprise, I draw there too) and having to really push back men that have approached me for a date or my number. If they really can’t take the hint or accept “no” for an answer, I’ll get up and leave. A few times I’ve had men at just concerts or gatherings telling me they can “fix” me or change my mind. Then I’ll just tell them to fuck right the hell off, literally.

However, the most prejudice and ignorance I experience is outside of art and I experience it more with my family. It’s an odd mix of Irish and Mexican Catholicism where most of the women in my family married young (we’re talking 17-19) and they think there’s something wrong with me because I have no kids and I’m not married. No matter how many times I tell them “I don’t care, I don’t find anyone attractive” or “sex doesn’t interest me”, it doesn’t seem to sink in. Even when I told them there’s a community of other asexuals, one said “well, they must all be very depressed”. I make jokes about things like “this is why I don’t date” and use it to reiterate I don’t care about relationships.

So I’d say the run of the mill crap—“you haven’t found the right man”, “you’ll change your mind someday”, or “you must be very lonely”. I just shrug it off because I’ve had this conversation so many times with my family.

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

I’m not sure if this is common, but my father believed it was the same as bisexuality—I’m just glad he recognizes that even if I’m not!

One thing I’ve seen is people assume its celibacy and then I have to explain there is a huge difference between the two. It does get tiring having to explain it’s a lack of physical attraction and a desire for it and no, I am not going to change, I’m not worried about not being married, and I’m well over 20 years old and it’s not likely I’m having second thoughts. I am, myself, sex-repulsed, but other asexual people are not and that’s usually one assumption that people go with. Having other people chime in and say they aren’t hleps.

Unfortunately, I will say that because I struggle with PTSD from abuse, therapists assume that the asexuality may be a cause of it. I’m sure it’s a contribution, but more along the lines I just find general touch revolting, though I’m confident that it’s not the ultimate reason why I’m asexual. I feel like psychology needs to learn more about it because I am tired of that assumption is because its due to trauma. I don’t think it’s asking too much that therapists and psychiatrists learn about asexuality. We’re not all like this, not every asexual person is like that due to trauma. And this thinking let me believe that I was really, really destroyed for years when I was not.

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

If you also had a past of trauma like me, I’d say check out Aven and other communities geared towards asexuality so that you will know you’re not broken. I feel like this isn’t really talked about that much and it’s a shame. This isn’t part of PTSD or other forms of mental illness; you are not mentally ill if you’re asexual. When I first heard asexual at 18, I didn’t know about these things and I’m so happy other people have this access. Even now, at Pridefest here in Denver, there are asexuals and I haven’t seen them not even five years ago. My present employer, Ikea, even had “asexuality” listed on their diversity and inclusion talks—that’s really awesome.

There’s a lot of research and groups, there’s a whole world out there. But if you get the same spiel as I do, I think at this point, all we can do is just poke fun at it. Nothing makes me feel better than mocking these conceptions with other aces, it’s a nice reassurance. And if you’re in the same boat with me and family, yeah, post a link on Facebook or just print it off and be like “read this”. I don’t feel like we have the same level of resistance to people that are gay, lesbian, bi, and trans, so we need to also understand that. Watching a family member bullied out of the closet was horrific; I still couldn’t draw comparisons to their situation. Ours seems like a lot of people just can’t comprehend a life without physical attraction, I think. I just hope people remember that, especially.

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

Most of my stuff is posted on Rainbowillness.com, which is hooked up to Tumblr. If you’re in the American McGee’s Alice fandom, you know me, I’m sure you’ve seen my stuff. I’m also on Instagram under “ofborrowedlight”; sometimes I will post WIPs (works in progress) on my personal Tumblr, “ofborrowedlight”, but I urge everyone just go on my site and follow me there.

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

Interview: Kathryn Henzler

Today we’re joined by Kathryn Henzler. Kathryn is a phenomenal musician who plays a number of instruments. Aside from playing music, Kathryn also sings and composes for visual media. When she’s not creating music, Kathryn also dabbles in other arts such as acting and fashion design. She’s clearly 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 dabble in a lot of artistic things, including acting and fashion design, but I’m mainly a musician (vocals, koto, viola, piano, taiko and other percussion, harp) and composer for visual media. I tend to write music that is full of feelings and may be a bit cheesy, but that’s the style that I like to reach people with.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by nature, emotions, other artists of all types, history, fashion, and intriguing stories.

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

I always knew I wanted to be involved in music somehow, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do specifically. Eventually when I was in high school I got really into anime, and some of those shows have absolutely beautiful scores. Around the same time I was heavily involved in orchestra and choir, and something just clicked when I was playing a piece with my orchestra from the score to Spiderman by Danny Elfman. At that point I realized I wanted to write music in addition to playing it. I think in particular I was captivated by the idea of music’s ability to completely influence what a person feels in a particular moment or scene.

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 usually incorporate at least one of the instruments I play or my own vocals in each composition, because I like to be both the composer of the score and a performer in it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say that you should go for what you want to do, even if lots of people tell you “no” or say you aren’t good enough. I know from experience that it’s hard to ignore them, but you just have to keep doing your best to prove them wrong.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a heteroromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t encountered ace prejudice per say, but the music and film industry is constantly churning out media that is obsessed with sex, and I’ve had multiple occasions where material that I am supposed to be working on has made me so uncomfortable that I can’t continue. Most people when they hear about that issue tell me I need to grow thicker skin, but I think we just need to make more ace-friendly art and media. It’s hard when there is literally no ace representation in the films and shows you are trying to write music for. I guess I don’t really “handle,” it, I just kind of try to avoid having to write for media which I can’t feel comfortable putting my musical stamp on. I’m hoping in the future I’ll be able to help produce films that I write music for so that I can bring an ace perspective to them.

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

A lot of people think that asexual people are “prudes,” or that they just “haven’t met the right person yet.” It’s not about that, and it’s hard to explain it in a way that they’ll understand. I’ve also had some ace friends deal with some nasty blowback at Pride Parades from people who say they have no right to be there because asexuality isn’t “a sexual minority,” which is of course absolutely not true.

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

It might be hard for me to give advice since it’s only been a year since I fully realized my own asexual identity, but I would say that the best thing you can do is to embrace who you are and try to find a support network of fellow aces. It is always super-helpful to have people who you can ask questions of.

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

You can check out my music for visual media and some of my performance information at https://kvhenzler.wixsite.com/music. I also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KathrynHenzlerArtist/.

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

Interview: Audrey

Today we’re joined by Audrey. Audrey is a wonderful young filmmaker who is just starting out. She has just started posting her films on social media, including on YouTube. Audrey mostly makes films that fall into the comedy genre. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, 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 an aspiring film maker I guess you could say. I’ve been making short films for a while, but I just started posting some on YouTube and social media. I like making comedy short films the most because they get a message across in an enjoyable way. I’m hoping to learn more about professional film in college next year where I’m majoring in Film Studies!

What inspires you?

Life itself really inspires me. It sounds weird but many of my film ideas come from my experiences in life. I like to put a funny spin on things because if you can’t laugh at life what’s the point! Pinterest also inspires me. I love that app.

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

I actually started high school thinking I was going to be either an Engineer or a Teacher! Needless to say, that changed. I didn’t really realize that I wanted to become serious about Film until last year. I had grown up around it, my dad taught a high school Film class, but I never seriously thought of it for me. It’s when I started making short films that I realized how much I loved it and would actually like to take it to the next level.

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 currently, but if I start to make my YouTube channel more official, which I’d like to, then I’ll probably start to develop an intro/outro that puts my name on my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Art doesn’t have to just be a hobby. If you take what you do seriously, then you should focus on it. The world needs more art and what you do is important. If you’re nervous about your friends and family seeing your work, don’t be. They are almost always going to be the most supportive people in your life. Also, social media is an amazing platform for art. Use it to get your work out there. Even if you don’t think it’s good, someone else will. And who knows, maybe you’ll inspire an upcoming artist to focus on their own art!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as heteroromantic asexual. I say currently, because I’ve never felt a strong connection for a boyfriend so I haven’t ruled out Demisexual in my future. But for now, asexuality is the sexuality that I feel fits me.

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

Not really because I embrace my sexuality so much. In fact, I’m even looking to do some skits about asexuality because it’s so underrepresented in our media today.

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

That it’s just a phase. I’ve been fortunate enough that no one has said it to my face, but it’s definitely been implied when I tell people. When I told my mom she was very supportive. She loves learning about sexuality and gender identity but I know she doesn’t fully understand it so I don’t blame her. Even she implied that my sexuality might change as I get older. Which could be true, but for the moment identifying as asexual has made me understand more about myself and has given me an identity and a group of people who I can relate to.

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

If you think you might be asexual or somewhere on the ace scale, go with it. If you feel differently in the future there’s no problem with that. But for me, finding an identity has made me much happier and I feel like I belong. Many people don’t know what asexuality is and because of that, student can feel out of place and like there’s something wrong with them because they don’t feel sexual attraction. That’s why I really feel we need more representation in the media. The way I figured out I might be asexual was through a Cosmopolitan article interviewing a couple asexual women. Little things like that can do wonders for confused individuals like me who had never heard of asexuality. But if the media won’t represent us then it’s our job to spread the word.

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

You can check out my YouTube channel here!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzHaJ97rA4U_tlVnXIEiC4A

(The channel name is audreylee but there are several people by that name on YouTube)

Also check out my Tumblr: audgelee. I’ll be posting a bunch of ace jokes and anecdotes that hopefully some of you guys can relate to!

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

Interview: Tamare Rosemov

Today we’re joined by Tamare Rosemov. Tamare is a wonderful poet who hopes to publish his poetry one day. He writes mostly short free verse poetry and has sometimes posted it publicly. He is clearly a dedicated and passionate writer as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write short free verse poetry which I sometimes post publicly. I usually only share my poetry with a couple close friends, although I do hope to get published someday.

What inspires you?

My emotions are the basis for my work as well as my greatest inspiration. I love the way that poetry can aid in the struggle against the impermanence of life – a small burst of joy or sorrow can retain its original vigor when expressed in a few meaningful phrases. This urge to commemorate my favorite moments and feelings inspires me as strongly as emotion itself.

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

My interest in poetry increased significantly when I was hit with depression. I discovered that poetry could be a wonderful coping mechanism for making sense of the emotions and problems that haunted me. As for being an artist, it was never on my mind until I realized that I need art in my life, and perhaps it might become part of my professional career in the future.

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?

My favorite poems include sea imagery. I grew up in a small European seaside town, and the sea remains to me the ultimate object of nostalgia as well as a metaphor for many parts of my life.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up on art even if you’re afraid of criticism or a lack of creativity. I think we all have that desire in us; the desire to express ourselves, and we all encounter stimuli that inspire us to create. So even if your art does not fit somebody’s standard, if it makes you feel more whole, keep on creating.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a heteroromantic asexual, and until recently I thought I was just an extremely innocent heterosexual. It still shocks me that I’m that different from the person I always considered myself to be.

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

I have not encountered much prejudice, and I acknowledge that I am privileged in that aspect. The worst I’ve encountered is ignorance because I haven’t come out to many people for fear of damaging my relationships.

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

Probably the idea that asexuals don’t exist. It’s annoying when someone seems to accept my asexuality but then proclaims smugly, “You’re just very pure”, “Everyone wants sex”, or “You’re just too shy to express your dirty thoughts”. I know how I feel, and even though I’m still getting used to it, I am an asexual and asexuality is a valid identity.

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

Don’t be ashamed of who you truly are. Sexuality is as deep as the human mind, and the human mind is an enigma. We might never know why our minds work the way they do, but what we do know is that our minds can create, think, analyze, love. So, no matter what your sexuality is, love yourself.

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

I post my bad and good poetry at https://allpoetry.com/BlueCandlelight;

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

Interview: PJ

Today we’re joined by PJ. PJ is a phenomenal actress and a singer/songwriter. She’s also a YouTuber and a former state title-holder for talent. PJ has recently finished filming her first film role, which is super exciting. When she’s not working on her art, PJ is also an asexual and autism self-advocate. She’s clearly a passionate and talented 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 do a variety of things. My strength is definitely music (singing and songwriting), but I also have a passion for acting, YouTube, and modeling. I just recently finished filming my first movie (sorry, no details can be shared yet)!

In music, my strength is opera (even though ironically, I don’t like singing it that often). I’ve also written a song about asexuality/aromanticism, but since I’m not with a record label yet, I can’t really share my music with the world. I have this huge vision that can’t be done without a little help. I hope to be signed one day!

What inspires you?

Coldplay. As an autistic person, they’re my obsessive interest. If it weren’t for me being exposed to Coldplay at such a young age, I wouldn’t be involved in music at all. At 5 years old, I was already mimicking Chris Martin’s recognizable vocals. It’s honestly how I learned to sing. Coldplay inspires me on a daily basis. They’re all I really listen to. Then again, I also really love Owl City. My music is kind of like a mix between the two.

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

I’ve wanted to be a singer-songwriter and actress for as long as I can remember. My interest in YouTube started a couple years after YouTube launched. My dad was also a professional drummer, so I suppose I got some of my musicality from him. I just always knew in my heart that I was meant to enter the entertainment field; even though it’s still a bit of a struggle for me.

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 did!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Here are my 10 rules for success:

1. Go for it and don’t hold anything back. Give it your all. Be confident in your work.
2. Listen to your heart/audience. I’m only here in this position because people kept telling me, “Hey, you’re really good. Have you ever thought about putting yourself out there?” If people believe in me, I’m not going to let them down. It was people encouraging me to be my best that got me this far.
3. As for the haters, just ignore them (which I know, can be difficult). Haters come and go. Followers stick around as long as you do.
4. Be your awesome self! If people don’t like that, too bad. They’re probably missing out on how wonderful you really are.
5. Reach out. Some connections are pretty important.
6. Keep perfecting your craft. Your work can ALWAYS use improvement; even if you think it doesn’t. I’ve surprised myself a lot. I always thought I was done, but then switched a few things up and-BAM! It was even better than before!
7. Keep persisting and working. If you’re having a writer’s/roadblock, don’t let that stop you from working on something else… and then coming back to that block when you’re ready!
8. Stay positive. I know this part is difficult as well, but trust me. It’s important.
9. Learn from your mistakes. Let’s be honest, you’re going to screw up at one point or another. The good news, however, is that the next time you come back, you’re going to be even stronger than you were before.
10. Strive to be YOUR best. I don’t aim for the #1 spot; I aim for the best I know I can be. The only thing I’m good at is being me. Don’t pay attention to what someone else is doing.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am heteroromantic asexual, and extremely sex-repulsed (apothisexual, if you want to get technical). Yet, I LOVE kissing, cuddling, etc. Just everything except sex (which makes me physically sick for some reason).

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

Luckily, no. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Some people praise me for figuring myself out at such a young age. I actually receive more prejudice and ignorance for my autism than my sexuality (and I’ve been openly asexual for years). I’ve been dealing with the autism stigma and stereotypes my whole life, so at this point, I’m pretty much immune to any hate. It doesn’t bother me at all. I actually think it’s quite hilarious.

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

“It’s just a phase.”

I first suspected I was asexual when I was 14, found the term at 17, and still identify this way at almost 21 years old. I don’t think it’s a phase if it lasts for several years.

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

Ask yourself, “Has this always been me?” I’ve had many things happen to me that further confirm that I’m asexual. Most of the time, I’ve just felt out of place. What was this “sexual attraction” that people kept talking about? Why do I only feel the need to hug, kiss, and cuddle someone? Instead of being “turned on”, why do I experience nausea? There were just too many things that lead to me finding asexuality.

If you’re struggling about coming out, I feel you. I was once there. If someone doesn’t like you because of your orientation, again, that’s too bad. Your orientation does not define you; you define it.

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

I highly encourage anyone who may have questions about asexuality to message me on my ace blog: at theapothisexualace. Other than that, my Instagram is at peytonjustine, my personal Tumblr is at peyton-justine, my YouTube channel is Clodplaye; named after my original Coldplay-themed Tumblr: at clodplaye and my Coldplay-themed Instagram: at clodplaye. Lastly, my Twitter is at Clodplaye as well. I have other social media accounts, but I don’t really post to them that often.

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

Interview: Hannah

Today we’re joined by Hannah. Hannah is a phenomenal fanartist who writes fanfiction. She has dabbled in a number of fandoms including Miraculous Ladybug and Voltron. When she’s not writing fanfiction, Hannah also has a few original novellas that she’s working on. She’s clearly a dedicated and passionate writer, 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 fanfiction writer, but I’ve kind of put that on hold for a while as I work on my university senior thesis, and my other original ideas. My earliest fandom was the anime One Piece, but I’ve written for Detective Conan, Miraculous Ladybug and Voltron: Legendary Defender, too. My original story is still in its early stages, only about five chapters in, but it’s coming along.

What inspires you?

Reading other people’s fanfictions, actually. Whenever I’m in a slump I go and reread my favorite OTP fics and tell myself that if they can publish a 50k fanfic, for free, then I can eek out a few more pages of a chapter. Also going back and reading comments on my older stories; I occasionally get a comment on my old stuff on fanfiction.net and every time I’m stunned that someone dug around and found this unfinished Detective Conan fic in the depths of an ancient website, but it still makes me happy whenever I look at those comments.

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

I guess read a lot when I was a kid, and wrote short (and honestly very bad) stories on notebook paper. I went abroad with this program called People to People, and I met a girl there with whom I would roleplay this kind of Avatar: Last Airbender-esque game. The story was so good I wrote it down. It never went anywhere, but the 15 or so chapters I still have it on a flash drive somewhere haha. Around that time I was really into cartoons and anime, and discovered fanfiction.net. I read other people’s stories and AUs, and started to create my own. I didn’t start writing original stuff until high school, and though I have a lot of dropped projects, I think the one I’m working on now will be a keeper.

I don’t really want to be a writer in the future though; I’m planning on going into linguistics and East Asia Studies, so anything I do publish will likely be academic. But just because I’m publishing non-fiction doesn’t mean I can’t write fiction for fun!

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?

Hehe, none that I can think of!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

READ. I don’t care if it’s novellas, classical literature, or more fanfiction, just read. It will constantly give you new ideas and ways of thinking and describing, and you might find yourself adopting and adapting ideas, which is totally okay (as long as it’s not blatant plagiarizing lol).

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a heteromantic asexual, though I’m kind of somewhere between demi and ace. I have little to no sex drive but might be willing to do some things with someone I’ve been with for a while without actually doing it, y’know?

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

Luckily my parents were accepting of my sexuality, though my Mom frets sometimes that she feels like I’m “missing out,” and I tell her in return that “I can’t miss what I never had.” My university is also very accepting, so no problems there.

It’s when I try to get into the dating world where I find a lot of trouble. Whenever I tell a guy I’m interested in that I’m ace, the most common question I get is “So are you a virgin,” which is honestly one of the worst things to ask a person. I actually have an Asexuality FAQ note on my phone that I send/show to people to avoid going through the same “What is asexuality?” conversation again, lol. I have yet to find an asexual guy in my area though (Ay, near Milwaukee, WI!)

Some of the guys think they can handle the whole “no sex” thing, but end up leaving after about two weeks. It’s routine, but also quite hard on me emotionally. Handling and re-convincing myself that I am valid is the hard part: Am I that unattractive that this person doesn’t want to even try? No, you’re beautiful. Do I wish that I wasn’t asexual? Sometimes. But I think that being asexual has its perks, like communities like this online.

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

Speaking of my Asexuality FAQ, one question on there is pretty common (besides the virginity one): does everything work? And it just makes me laugh at this point. I can have sex, I just don’t want to. (A funny question I got once was: “So do you reproduce by cloning like plants?” and I responded “That makes about as much sense as saying your nose is running when it has no feet.”)

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

It’s normal. Maybe no one label works for you. I’m almost 22 years old now, and only just last year understood that I was floating in between demisexual and plain ole asexual, so really there’s no shame in calling yourself one thing and deciding later that something else makes more sense, no matter how long it takes you. Take your time. It’s hard to be on the aspec in a world that is obsessed with sex, but you come out the other side stronger for it. Don’t feel pressured to have sex because it’s what society expects of you. I almost fell victim to that kind of mentality, and really screwed with my mental health the first few years of university. Raise your ace flag high!

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

My Archive of our Own name is 1004_Angel, and if you want to read my really old stuff from fanfiction.net, that’s 1004-Angel (with a dash instead of an underscore; fair warning, I don’t remember what is on there at all, so browse at your own risk!). I also have some one-shots on my Tumblr at the-noble-idiot (tag: Hannah Writes) and other ace positivity things (tag: acengers assemble). My original stuff isn’t online, but if you like I can send you the first chapter, just message me on Tumblr! ;D

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

Interview: Brandon Chase Howe

Today we’re joined by Brandon Chase Howe. Brandon is a phenomenal up and coming composer who is currently studying music composition at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He’s mostly a contemporary composer and he’s interested in composing music for films. He’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of him, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Senior photo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a composer currently studying at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. My music is best described as the product of contemporary compositional techniques tempered with more-traditional approaches to aesthetic values. I am also extremely interested in writing for film, and I had the fantastic opportunity to compose an original score for UWM alum Nicholas Early’s short film, queue: Memory, in the Spring of 2017.

What inspires you?

I am deeply inspired by the work of Claude Debussy, my absolute favorite composer. His control over timbral color (timbre being the distinctive quality of a given sound) is unparalleled, and the complexity of his music’s structure is utterly jaw-dropping. Pieces such as Mouvement from his Images series, Canope from his Préludes for piano, and the beloved orchestral work Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune are three of his finest achievements, in my opinion. I am also inspired by the Finnish-French composer Kaija Saariaho, a true master of irregular meter and spectralism (a genre involving computer analysis of timbres and emphasis on the harmonic series). She is able to seamlessly integrate contemporary methods with the beauty of Classical- and Romantic-period music. A few of my favorite pieces from her repertoire include Pétales for cello with live electronic processing, Six jardins japonais for percussion and electronics, and Nymphéa Reflection for string orchestra.

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

What got me interested in composition was actually the film music of Clint Mansell, who wrote the score for The Fountain. That particular score made me appreciate film music for the first time, but it wasn’t until years later, when I heard Hans Zimmer’s score for Interstellar, that I realized I wanted to become a composer myself. I’m happy to say that once I began studying music, I was able to enjoy it on a much deeper level than before, and that newfound appreciation convinced me I had picked the right path.

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 the most recognizable aspects of my music at this point are the lack of rigid tonal and rhythmic structures, as well as the heavy emphasis on timbre. The piece I’ve featured here is a decent example of these aspects within my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Natural talent doesn’t stand a chance against dedicated effort. I’ve never actually met someone who was “gifted,” and it turns out those who are apparently “naturals” actually just worked hard (and intelligently!) until they became masters of their fields. Don’t let anyone convince you that you aren’t naturally talented enough to follow your dreams – study and practice are all it takes!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a heteroromantic asexual!

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

Fortunately, I’ve never been the victim of prejudice, but I did meet one person who was convinced that I needed to try sex in order to dislike it. I simply chose to ignore it and avoid the person because, after all, why surround yourself with people who try to invalidate your identity?

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

The one misconception I have encountered is the idea that it’s anything close to HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder). Nothing could be further from the truth! Asexuality is not a disorder of any kind because it causes no distress, unlike conditions such as HSDD.

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

I implore you to avoid the toxic people who invalidate your identity and show no compassion, no matter how close you may be to them. You deserve to be surrounded by those who lift your spirit and celebrate who you are! Once you are given the love you need, you will come to understand that you are not broken.

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

You can find me on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/brandonchasehowe. (There will be more content in the future!) I have also opted to share a piece of music for solo cello with you all! You can find it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rdfhFq8KlAQwpzQTY4qU8mSsHGLUwVsN/view?usp=sharing.

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