Interview: Nev

Today we’re joined by Nev. Nev is a wonderful French visual artist who specializes in comics. She’s currently taking a break from her studies to travel. Nev makes excellent use of vivid colors in order to draw the viewer in and her attention to detail is extraordinary. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. 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 baby comic artist who is taking a pause during her studies to travel after three years of comics studies in Belgium. I have two webcomics (in French, sorry), too which I try update frequently. I make a lot of comics and illustrations zines beaucoup I love to have a real and concrete object in my hands.

I love telling stories and drawing them, and I love to draw things related to my aesthetics (like vaporwaves things) too.

What inspires you?

I think all can be an inspiration. I’m really inspired by everyday life, and the people I talk too. But also to the things who I find aesthetic and that make strong images for me.

Also, I have a lot of inspiration which come from comics, cartoons, mangas, and a lot from the zine and underground culture and the internet and webcomics culture. I love to see what artists does near to the industry.

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

I love drawing and telling stories, so… comics were for me. I love to think about how I can compose my comics pages, how to transfer a feeling, an atmosphere, a rhythm in a story. And drawing what you had in your head is so pleasing.

I always draw and… telling stories. When I was 3 years old, I was even making sort of child zines, about a hero porcupine who was saving animals. But I know that I wanted to be an artist when I was 11/12 years old I think.

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 really, and that’s a real shame! I always forgot to sign.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Training about your lack of skills to progress, but let you time to just doing your comfort zone too. Read and see a lot of different things to be inspired by a lot of things. Take the time, even I know how it’s can be difficult. And try to be nice with yourself and take pauses, it’s important.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a heteroromantic asexual between sex-favorable and sex indifferent.

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

Yes. Not a lot, because I’m out about this only with people who are understanding about that, but even with that, sometime, people don’t really know the subject and does some errors. I’m in relationship with someone who isn’t asexual, and I discovered my asexuality during the beginning of our relationship, so… it was kind of difficult at the beginning. No mean intentions, but the ignorance can create a lot of misconceptions.

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

Maybe that I’m sort of sick and that hormones can heal me. But, it’s not a question of hormones at all (and aces are not sick, thanks).

Also, that you can’t be ace and be in a relationship, and have maybe sexual interactions. Having sex doesn’t disqualify someone from being asexual, actions are not attraction (but this is not a reason to make additional pressure to aces who don’t have sex).

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

It’s okay to be lost and to have doubts, and that don’t make you any legitimate at all. When I was younger, I was really lost about my asexuality, and what I feel about it. I repressed it a lot of time, because, well, sex pressure and society, and after, because I didn’t feel legitimate because I didn’t find myself in a lot of testimonies. But you are who you are, and only you can know what you feel and if you’re attracted of not. And, really, you’re not broken.

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

They can find my work on Tumblr, here: https://la-nev.tumblr.com/, or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nev_photos/.

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

Interview: Juju

Today we’re joined by Juju. Juju is a wonderful writer who is mostly known for their fanfiction. Aside from fanfiction, they also write some original fiction and are currently working on a novel. Juju includes aspec characters in everything they write. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate writer who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. 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 write things! Most of my readers know me for fanfiction, but I also write short stories and I’m working on a novel! I also like to share stories through little video games made in RPG Maker, although I don’t often share them as much as I probably should.

What inspires you?

At the risk of sounding like an overenthusiastic alien, humanity itself is my greatest inspiration. Humans are utterly fascinating.

We have the power to wage war, and also help each other in times of need. We spend years learning each other’s languages just to communicate with people outside of our own circle. We all share the same range of emotions. We can communicate through looks without saying a word to each other; even a smile is something we can share, if we have nothing else in common.

Our experiences are diverse and universal at the same time. The relationships we have with each other—parents, lovers, siblings, friends, workmates, etc.—are varied, but when you put it all together you have the story of a life. It’s my privilege as an author to take a slice of a life, any character’s life, and portray it for the world.

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

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned what letters were. I used to write little stories for my younger brother on notebook paper, lying on the floor in my bedroom. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read them; I read them to him! In elementary school when they taught us the writing assessment, I used to pray that I’d get a narrative prompt (sadly, I never did).

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?

Unique feature? That’s a hard one… I have a terrible time recognizing themes in my work; usually other people point them out to me and I just accept that they must be right, haha.

I guess I can say I do enjoy writing about belonging; I like to do character analyses in my work in the form of introspection. I also really enjoy writing sibling relationships, especially if it’s found family and siblings. I love ships as much as the next fan, but there’s something about “they’re like a brother/sister to me”. That’s a deep platonic love that never gets as much recognition as it deserves.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make the content you want to see in the world. Who cares if it’s entirely self-indulgent? If it makes you happy, do it! Do it, do it again, read it and enjoy it; the best part is that sometimes, other people will like it too!

Practice doesn’t have to be boring. How do I practice writing? I read books. I watch movies.. I look at screenplays. I go to the theatre, if I can. I play video games. I study the plot, the dialogue. Look at your favorite stories—why do you like them? What’s your favorite part? How do the character interact? Of course, grammar is important and the fundamentals are there for a reason, but no one said practice had to be all textbooks and essays.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! I find men and women both aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t experience sexual attraction to them.

When I first learned the terminology I thought I might be gray-ace or demi, but I realized that I was only tying into some of the myths surrounding asexuality. I was letting people who didn’t know me tell me who I was, based on generalizations. It wasn’t until I asked myself who thought I was that I was able to come to terms with my own sexuality.

I also identify as heteroromantic, or at least gray-romantic to some extent.

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

Oh, for sure!

I think what I’ve heard the most is that I’m “faking” being an asexual because I write nsfw content. That’s also the most laughable, since I never realized you could only write about your own experience and nothing else! I’m openly sex-positive; sex is a beautiful, intimate thing… it’s just not for me.

I’ve also gotten anon hate on social media from people who don’t like my headcanons, especially if they’re on the ace spectrum. If it’s a LGBT ship it’s homophobic to have them as ace, if it’s a straight ship it’s too pandering. Can’t win for losing, right? Beyond that, it’s usually the same old “asexuality isn’t LGBT, you aren’t oppressed, make your own community” garbáge that exists all over social media (mostly Tumblr).

It always hurts the worst when it comes from mutuals that I trusted; sometimes people I considered my friends share or say aphobic things and I want to shout “Don’t reblog those lies! Ask me, I’m right here, I’m always willing to talk about my own experience with you!” But, if I said those things, 9/10 times I’m accused of stirring up discourse or being too defensive.

I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut, write what I want, and freely use the Block feature. Life’s too short to worry about what some faceless person on the internet thinks about me, and besides: probably they’d be too cowardly to say those hurtful comments if we were in the same room together.

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

“Asexuals hate sex and look down on people who don’t.”

I know aces who are sex-repulsed. I know aces who are married with kids. I know aces who are fine with giving, not receiving. I know aces who only dislike intercourse. I know aces who have sex because, for them, it’s a way to be close to their partner.

Sex positive, negative, neutral— we all share one important thing: we don’t experience sexual attraction. That is what makes us asexual… not our opinions.

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

It’s okay to be asexual.

If you think you’re 1% ace today and 99% ace tomorrow, you can say you’re ace. If you’re not sure yet, you can say you’re ace. If you think you might change your mind, or you’re using this label until you figure yourself out, you can say you’re ace.

Sexuality is fluid and confusing, and it’s even more confusing if you don’t experience it at all. We’ve been there. We are there. We know. The people with the loudest voices and biggest hatred are often the minority. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Remember to love, and allow yourself to be loved. Love isn’t binary, it’s not limited to intimacy or romance. Love your friends, your family, your pets, and (most importantly) yourself. Love is so many shades, a thousand thousand nuances that we can experience together as humans. Don’t lose hope by focusing on one color when you’re surrounded by a rainbow.

Having sex doesn’t make you less ace. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting to be closer to your partner doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting children doesn’t make you less ace. You are allowed to ask for physical affection without it having to lead to sex. You are allowed to want to kiss, to cuddle, even to make out or pet your partner without it having to lead to sex. You do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. You don’t owe the world, or anyone in it, anything that will bring you harm.

You are not broken. You are valid. You are loved.

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

You can find my work at https://archiveofourown.org/users/Jubalii! Just look for the sheep, haha! I’m also on Tumblr at https://heyheyitsjuju.tumblr.com/. On Tumblr I post fanfiction as well as more about my original stories, OCs, etc.

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

Interview: Lisa Dawn

Today we’re joined by Lisa Dawn. Lisa is a phenomenal author and blogger who writes about a number of things. She loves fairy tales and focuses on it. Lisa also enjoys analyzing princess movies, books, and TV shows on her amazing blog. It’s clear she’s a passionate and creative individual, 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 self-published author, blogger, and screenwriter. I love stories, especially fairy tales. The Disney Princess movies were everything to me when I was growing up. I’ve written several fairy tale adaptations and original fairy tale novellas at www.amazon.com/author/lisadawn and regularly review and analyze princess movies, books, TV shows, and more on my blog at www.theprincessblog.org. I studied screenwriting in college and am about to complete the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting Online. My latest screenplay is an original princess story that draws inspiration from one of the hardest times in my life.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by beauty, but not just the visual kind. I love musicals with songs that tug at the heartstrings, stories that are cathartic and empowering, and of course beautiful artwork of mermaids, faeries, and magical princesses in lacey flowing gowns. My love of animation has been a driving force for my creativity even though I can’t even draw a circle. I was devastated when traditional animation got replaced by CGI, but I attended a visual effects school in Florida to learn how to animate on a computer, which landed me a job in Los Angeles.

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

Yes, I have always wanted to write. I can’t remember ever not wanting to write, even when I was a very tiny Little Mermaid-obsessed preschooler. I love stories and the effect that they have on people’s psyche. A good story will simultaneously bring someone to tears and allow them to accept something in their life that they were struggling with. When I graduated college and had to deal with the hardships of being an adult for the first time, I wanted to tell my own stories even more because there’s a comfort in viewing life through the lens of a magical fairy tale instead of facing the harsh reality head-on.

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?

You’ve probably noticed the princess theme by now. Not all of my stories are about princesses, but I focus on them because princesses are the most magical and empowering female characters in any given fantasy story. I love how princesses have evolved over time from damsels in distress to strong warriors. I analyze the dichotomy between these archetypes in The Princess Blog and try to find a healthy balance between them in my own writing. For me, Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid is the perfect combination of vulnerability and inner strength.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It has never been easier than it is today to promote yourself through technology. Everyone is connected through social media, so if you’re willing to share your art, people will find you. You can also easily reach out to the people you admire via Twitter, which is something that used to be much harder. Unfortunately, that also means there’s a lot more competition out there. In that respect, I would say to work even harder than you think is necessary. Write, draw, sing, and create every single day, even on the days when you don’t feel like it. I thought I would never make it as a screenwriter, but now I feel like I’m closer than ever because I’ve learned how to make connections and get valuable feedback from my peers. Yes, I do occasionally take breaks, sometimes even year-long ones, but I know now that the more time I take off, the longer it will take me to accomplish my goals. Promote yourself and keep it up!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a heteroromantic repulsed asexual. I’m also married, which still surprises me sometimes, so for those of you lonely romantic aces out there, there is hope!

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

I write independently, but I’ve experienced ignorance in the workplace a few times. I once had a job converting movies to 3D, and some of my co-workers there were a little immature. There was one man in particular who would not stop harassing me after I blurted out that I was asexual. He kept naming all sorts of different scenarios and asking me if I would have sex under those circumstances (not with him). I probably should have reported him to HR, but he was part of a large company layoff shortly after that, so I never saw him again. A few years later, I did an interview about asexuality for a famous magazine right after my wedding that promoted my husband and myself in a humiliating way on several Facebook pages with millions of subscribers. A co-worker I had at that time tagged several fellow employees, including a supervisor, on one posts and didn’t tell me. I only found out about it after going through all the comments. I did report that to HR and got an apology out of her. If this happens to you, do not tolerate it sitting down! That’s what Human Resources are for.

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

“You’re not capable of love?” is always a classic.

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

The world is a very different place today than it was when I came out as asexual in 2005. Hollywood is pushing for more diversity in the media. Uncommon sexual orientations are becoming more commonplace. Social media is all about expressing yourself. You are living in one of the best eras to be different. Embrace it. Know that there are more people willing to accept you today than there would have been fifty, thirty, or even ten years ago.

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

I have a subscribe link on www.theprincessblog.org, but most people find out about new posts through my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theprincessblogger. I’m also on Instagram at www.instagram.com/theprincessblogger and Twitter at www.twitter.com/PrincessOfBlogs. I have a YouTube channel where an animated version of myself reads my blog posts at http://yt.vu/+theprincessvlog, and of course you can find my books on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/lisadawn.

Lisa Dawn also has an author site: http://lisadawnbooks.wixsite.com/lisadawn

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

Interview: Faith

Today we’re joined by Faith. Faith is a wonderful artist who does a bit of everything. She paints, writes, sings, plays instruments, and draws. She’s most passionate about dancing. Faith loves to dance. It’s clear she’s 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 large variety of different art forms such as dance, singing, acting, instruments, drawing, painting, and more. I think the one that I’ve focused on the most would be dance. Dance has been one of those things that I started super young, 5 years old, and I have continued to do for so many years. It is like a safe haven for me. It is a way for me to let go of the world around me and just let my emotions out. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it.

What inspires you?

Nature and emotions inspire me mostly. I guess some combination of the two. I always feel so at peace outside in nature, as cheesy as it sounds, watching a cloud roll by or the rays of the sun through the trees. A lot of my movement comes from watching a river flow or a leaf caught in the wind. Surprisingly or not so surprisingly rain and puddles are where I find some of my most interesting ideas. Nature is never stagnate, and there is a lot to be found in the ever changing world.

As for emotions, there are such hidden depths to every single person out there. The raw emotions people don’t normally see are such an interesting thing to experience or choreograph with. Music choice works extremely well with this too, as music is supposed to evoke feelings. A slow dramatic piece could work with feelings of longing or sorrow while an uplifting song could focus on joy or peace.

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

Kind of embarrassing but the Barbie movie the Nutcracker is what got me started dancing. I realize now that the dancing on there is very bad but hey, I was 5. At the time I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen and I have been hooked on art ever since. This obviously snowballed into so many different types of arts like music, visual, performing, to the point of I can’t imagine my life without art. It is so integral to who I am that I have never imagined being anything other than an artist.

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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 have one specific thing that occurs in all of my dances. I guess one of the most common things that occurs would be using music from movie, TV, or video game soundtracks but I wouldn’t really call that a unique signature. I’m just a huge geek!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t let anyone bring you down. You don’t become a prima ballerina overnight and you will fall down. Nobody is perfect and we have to accept that. One of the biggest things I see when people start dancing is being constantly being discouraged by corrections or criticism. The best thing you can do is take the corrections and learn from them. You will grow as a dancer, an artist, and a person. You have to remember that everyone started where you are now, and they used hard work and dedication to achieve their dreams. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I believe I am asexual and heteroromantic. I’m not entirely sure about the romantic side of me, I may be demiromantic, but I am definitely positive that I am asexual. I haven’t been in many situations where I can explore my sexuality further but that may just be because I generally avoid situations where people can give me romantic interest.

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

I haven’t really found that much prejudice is my field mainly because it is rarely talked about. That and most people I talk to don’t really know that much about asexuality. The main issue I have found is just the heteronormality and hypersexualized nature in the world. There are many dances that I have been in where the dance is fun until the choreographer decides to add in a sexualized section in order to draw the crowd in. It makes me uncomfortable to watch or perform and it is normally unnecessary.

I will say that where I perform, homosexual relationships are represented and choreographed which is quite refreshing. But there is no asexual representation.

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

That either we don’t exist or that people automatically assume that asexual people are all sex repulsed. I know that many of us don’t want sex, don’t like sex, or are even repulsed by it but there is a large amount of us who don’t mind sex. I don’t know where I fall on the whole sex spectrum but I do have an asexual friend who rants to me about the topic. She says that she enjoys the act of sex even if she isn’t sexually attracted to someone.

I guess another misconception that I have seen is that people would think that asexuality is just a low sex drive. An imbalance in chemicals. That it can be “fixed.” Asexuality is an orientation just like any other sexuality. There is nothing wrong with it nor is there anything wrong with an asexual person.

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

Have a good support system. One of the things that has helped me the most with my sexuality would be having people who understand and respect me. It has helped cure my insecurities and accept who I am.

Just remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us out there in the world who have been exactly where you are now. You are not broken. You are not weird or wrong or even a freak. There are people out there that can support you and that do accept you. There is more love for asexuals than hate. Focus on that.

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

I don’t post a lot of my work online but I do have some on my Instagram account. It is a private account so if you want to see anything just DM me and tell me you saw this post and I’ll let you follow me! At kitten0981.

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

Interview: Jenny Prater

Today we’re joined by Jenny Prater. Jenny is a phenomenal author who writes a bit of everything. She writes novels, short stories, poetry, and even fairy tale analysis blogs. She has recently released a poetry book about being ace this past Valentine’s Day. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer. 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 author; I write novels, short stories, poems, picture books, and fairy tale analysis blogs, though mostly only the poetry and blogs have been made available to read. I’m currently working on starting my own small press, so I want to wait to release most of my work until I have that going. I have two larger poetry books published through Amazon, and two chapbooks that I hand-bind and sell on Etsy. My last one just came out on Valentine’s Day; it’s called “Dear Somebody,” and it’s a collection of 12 poems about being asexual.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired mostly by folklore—not just the traditional stories, but their history. I love the idea of all of these very similar patterns being followed in so many places and time periods. Folk tales are a great example of collective storytelling. You can never attribute them to any author, because everyone who’s heard a story like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, over thousands of years, has heard it and told it slightly differently. When I write a poem about Sleeping Beauty or a short story based on The Little Mermaid, I’m participating in an ancient conversation. Story as a reflection of community is something I just think is really beautiful and inspiring.

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

Always. My parents have videos of me, age 3, wandering around the house telling stories out loud about princesses and dinosaurs. I’ve never not had a story running in the back of my head; at some point it just seemed natural to start writing them down.

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 really don’t! I do so many different kinds of writing, there’s not really one key feature that would carry through well in all of them. Though I guess I’ve never really gotten through an entire book without making some reference to folk or fairy tales, now that I’m thinking about it. I just don’t really do it on purpose.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Focus on making things before you focus on making good things. It’s so easy to get caught up in making something perfect and never actually finish. Finish first. Fix later.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and, like, a tiny bit heteromantic, sometimes, depending on the day. Sometimes dating sounds fun, but mostly boys just seem gross.

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. But it’s only been a couple weeks since I released my first project that deals really directly with asexuality, so time will tell, I guess.

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

That I’m a late bloomer or haven’t met the right guy yet. You know, at 25, I’m pretty sure I’m done blooming.

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

You’re not broken. I remember being just so confused about what was wrong with me, in middle school when all the other girls were starting to feel things that I wasn’t. It took a long time to figure things out, and that time was…not pleasant. But everything is fine! You’re not falling behind and nothing is wrong with you!

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

I’m kind of all over the place. You can find me on most social media sites under the username “konglindorm,” which is the name of my favorite fairy tale, but I think the best places to find out about my work are my fairy tale blog, http://konglindorm.blogspot.com/, and this page here that has links to all my published books: http://konglindorm.tumblr.com/books.

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

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.

versussmall
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.

Music Headshot

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.