Interview: Brie

Today we’re joined by Brie. Brie is a phenomenal young aspiring artist who specializes in visual art. She enjoys drawing people, including some original characters, and dabbles in fanart as well. Her work shows an incredible attention to detail and a sense of whimsy as well. Brie is a very enthusiastic and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Horned Beauty
Horned Beauty

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mainly people because, well that’s really what I know I can do. I like to draw specific people as well as making up and drawing my own characters!

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the pits of hell I called my brain as well anything I see around my school and in my everyday life

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

To be completely honest when I was little I really wanted to be a fashion designer but I have always loved drawing and up until last year I hadn’t really done any drawing but then I got really bored in my math class and I started up again! I have honestly never been more thankful for a really boring teacher!

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?

The only thing that really comes to mind is that I always put my signature somewhere in my drawing, but other than that I can’t really find anything else.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Some advice that I could give any young artists would be, and although it sounds very cliché, but honestly don’t give up on what your working on, if you feel as if you have no good ideas just draw or write about it anyway, even if it turns out bad, DO IT ANYWAY!

Ophelia
Ophelia

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a homoromantic asexual

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

Sadly, I live in a very Christian family and my grandmother is quite homophobic, so I haven’t really told anyone save some of my close friends. Whenever I bring up any form of conversation about asexual stuff, I get told “no you’ll find someone” and stuff like that and honestly I have never had so many quick change conversations about food in my life.

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

The biggest misconception I find about asexuality is that most people think that people who are ace have no emotions, and anytime anyone askes me so you don’t have emotions right I just have to stare at them so a minute, then morph into a purple dragon and fly away form the stupidity.

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

Some advice I could give would probably be just go with what feels right, go with the one that makes you genuinely happy and see where it goes from there!

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

My art handle is mainly my Instagram at weirdonamedbrie. I’m planning on also posting some work on my Tumblr at weirdonamedbrie-art!

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

Interview: Eliott

Today we’re joined by Eliott. Eliott is a phenomenally talented Japanese voice actor who mostly works in the Homestuck community. When he’s not voice acting, Eliott also does some singing, mostly Vocaloid. He’s got a great amount of enthusiasm for his art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do some voice acting and singing. I mostly voice act in the Homestuck community, but I’ve done other fandoms such as Steven Universe and My Little Pony, and I’m in a few original productions where I’m not imitating a voice. For my singing, I just cover songs that I feel like, whether it be popular songs by mainstream artists like Fallout Boy or Imagine Dragons or more niche songs like Vocaloid or anime openings. I also combine my VA work with my singing by singing as a character. Of course, this is mostly Homestuck because that’s how I got into voice acting, but that’s for later.

What inspires you?

For my VA work, it’s mostly anime voice actors in Japan, like Ikue Otani (Chopper from One Piece, Pikachu), Noriaki Sugiyama (Sasuke from Naruto, England from Hetalia), and Daisuke Namikawa (Italy from Hetalia, Eustass Kid from One Piece). I can’t really list off English voice actors because I just don’t watch dubs all that often, and in most cases, I prefer the original Japanese voices. For my singing, I’d say my number one inspiration is Case (hi I’m Case). Not a lot of people know of them, but they’re a musician in Wisconsin that some people might know if they were in the Homestuck fandom. Their music is super relatable to me, and I honestly aspire to be like them one day and actually write my music too, not just do covers. Other than Case, I enjoy works of Fallout Boy, Imagine Dragons and Taylor Swift. I also enjoy Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, Elphaba in Wicked) and wish I was as talent as her, haha.

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

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Homestuck got me into voice acting. I saw works of Zanney (Broadway Karkat) and wanted to be like them, and singing just came as part of the package since I tried to go straight into the voice acting/singing field.

I’d always wanted to be an artist, yes, and originally it was somewhere in music. Considering not many artists live off of doing only covers of songs, though, I was a bit discouraged. I mean, I couldn’t compose well just because of my lack of musical creativity, and I still can’t, and I’ve honestly come to terms with that. I know all the musical theory that goes into composing, but I just couldn’t compose. That combined with the fact that the entertainment industry is really a hit or miss, I thought that I’d keep this on the sidelines as my super dedicated hobby.

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 have that “trademark me” type stuff, just because I work for other people and their projects. I guess the most unique thing is having people ask how I do my “Nepeta voice” which is pretty high and cutesy (imagine the range of Honey senpai from Host Club or Chopper from One Piece) when my regular speaking tone is much lower, and I try to use that vocal versatility for a variety of projects. Then again, I’m starting HRT soon so I won’t be able to do it anymore, haha.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up. I know it’s been said countless times, but just don’t give up. Unless you’re a prodigy, you won’t get cast in the first production you auditioned for, and you won’t get a million notes on your first song that you post. Show it to friends and boost it, but you’ll only really get two or three notes. That’s not your fault, and it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at it. It just means that people don’t know you yet. Keep working, keep improving, and keep faith. With time, there will come a time when people will recognize you at conventions or just online through your voice.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an asexual. I say I’m homoromantic but I’m also leaning towards demiromantic, but I’m not sure about that part yet.

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

I guess I have, in a way. It’s not a “aces are actually cishet and don’t belong in LGBT spaces” type deal, but a lot of the people who are trying to be inclusive of all genders and sexualities just … forget about asexual people, y’know? Mostly in the original podcasts, which are trying to be inclusive with leads being trans and/or POC and whatnot, forget about us aces. If they do remember, the label of ace is slapped on that one kid that appears in episode 4 for two minutes. Don’t get me wrong, not all podcasts do this, but it’s still really frustrating to see other marginalized orientations be represented more than others. We’re like the one percent of the one percent. No one sees us. Those that I’ve brought this up to, though, have been pretty cool about it, saying that they’ll either write in an asexual character or straight up start another podcast with an ace as a lead, and I think that’s pretty awesome! More to come on that later, hopefully.

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

“Aces don’t have sex” probably. I’m 21. I’ve had sex. I don’t really like it, and probably somewhere between neutral and sex-repulsed. I mean, part of my asexuality might have come from past trauma and maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy it? I don’t know, and I honestly don’t care why I’m ace. I just know that I am. Date at Cheesecake Factory? Perfect. Taking me to Outback so you can get laid? Back off.

Another is that because I’m ace, I can’t find people attractive and/or make lewd jokes. Like, yeah, I’m ace, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the way people look and fall in love with them. For the jokes, especially, I’m pretty sure that I make these jokes because I’m ace. It’s just… I guess how I cope and a way for people to stay off my ass about being ace. “OMG are you a plant” is so old, and jokes are funnier and easier to deal with than that aphobic bullcrap.

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

Don’t listen to all the negative stuff that the media spews at you. They’re just uninformed and ignorant, and that’s their loss, not yours. You are 100% valid. Whether your asexuality comes from trauma or not, whether you love sex or not, none of that really matters in the end. If you’re asexual, embrace it. Find other aces who want to actually Netflix and Chill, binge ice cream, and talk about puppies. You are not broken, and you are valid.

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

All of my voice related work (reblogged or original posts) can be found on my voice blog at http://skylerva.tumblr.com. I made the blog before I changed my name to Eliott and that’s why it’s Skyler, but don’t worry, that’s still me.

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

Interview: Jessica Suphan

Today we’re joined by Jessica Suphan. Jessica is a phenomenal author who has recently published her debut novel, a psychological thriller entitled Perfect World. Jessica hasn’t met a genre she doesn’t like and writes in a variety of them. She’s an incredibly passionate and dedicated writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Please, tell us about your art.

Gladly! I’m an author, I write psychologically based stories, romance, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, any genre that pops into my mind. I write novellas and novels and short stories; just like I write whatever genre is needed for the story, I write whatever length is needed for the story I’m telling. Though most of them tend to be really long. It was very recent that I became a published author instead of an unpublished writer; my psychological thriller Perfect World came out in June. In a sentence, it’s about a young government agent who shoulders the burden of his utopia’s secret origins and has to struggle against psychosis because of those secrets. Just like all my other work, it’s extremely diverse. Perfect World features LGBT+ and ethnic as well as racial diversity. But I give all forms of diversity to my stories; it’s something that’s very important to me, and something I’ll never stop.

What inspires you?

It’s a dumb answer, but I’d have to say everything. I adore worldbuilding so cool tidbits from various cultures get tucked away into my mind along with science facts (mostly space) and psychological phenomenons. I’m a counseling psychology student so I learn a lot in the latter most’s area. Tumblr’s a great place too. I’ve gotten ideas of things to add to stories, ideas for characters, phrases that leap out. Perfect World actually has a scene inspired by a Tumblr post that asked why we never learn about other cultures in dystopian stories, and a character inspired by another post about how we never see a man sleep his way to the top. My friends do too, along with nature. Have you ever walked outside when it’s raining? Not a downpour, just raining. If you look at flowers and leaves then, it feels like the world is a fuzzier and gentler place. That’s a feeling that really sticks with me. And injustice.

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

I’ve been a writer as far back as I can remember. My first finished story happened when I was in fourth grade. It’s the first story I recall writing, but my parents assure me that it went on beforehand, and I’m not surprised. Like many writers I was a voracious reader; how could I not want to add to the number of worlds in the universe, even as a young child?

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. I’m not sure if it falls under it, but I do love putting exact onomatopoeia in. Exact though. It’s such a delightful yet challenging thing to write if you want to get the true sound of what just happened. A metal fan’s blades don’t go rrrrrr, they go brrirrrr, a rock doesn’t grind sssssss against another rock, it grinds ssszzzzzt!, but you have to stop and listen and focus only on the sound in order to get it. I’ll spend easily an hour trying to figure out the spelling of something that isn’t even a word.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just write. A lot of advice will tell you to copy how great authors write, and you totally can if you want. But I’ve never seen the point of it. Write like you. That’s how you find your voice, something else writing advice frets about, because your voice is how you naturally tell a story. Not only that, but write what you know doesn’t mean you’re stuck writing high school stories until you graduate. Good heavens, can you imagine how awful that’d be? You can write anything you want because, for me at least, that phrase is about emotion. I will hopefully never experience what it’s like to have my child go missing. But I’ve experienced the emotions of panic and dread and frustration at my own helplessness. I haven’t gone to another planet (yet). Still, I know the thrill of exploring, that tight stomach and fizzy head that comes from embarking out into something I couldn’t possibly know. And don’t write for word counts. I’ve found that sitting down to write a scene gives you a lot more success than sitting down to write ______ words. In the latter you’re pausing to count words, focused on those instead of the story. When you sit down with the intent to write a scene you’re honed in on the story and moving it forward, and we all know scenes can be very long. So if you write one you can look back on pages instead of a paragraph that leaves you wanting more.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m homoromantic asexual! A girl who has romantic interest in other girls but no sexual attraction or urges whatsoever.

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

Everything I’ve experienced has been ignorance. Since I hang out with other writers who also know the importance of diversity that’s slightly less common than it otherwise might be, but it’s still very much present. I personally really enjoy teaching people things. So if something comes up, I take pleasure in patiently but (if needed) firm explanations. The vast majority of the time, people just need to be treated with respect and not attacked for their ignorance, and they’re happy to learn and respect. Of course you have to be more aggressive with some people though, it can’t be helped. I do experience compassion fatigue though with all the activism I do (where your brain is so overloaded and so tired from caring so much about everything you could read the most heinous article title and be unable to feel anything about it), so sometimes I let a comment pass. With those though, they have to be both ignorant and not harmful in a large way.

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

That asexuality = aromantic pops up, but the most common one is absolutely that asexuals don’t have sex ever. Some don’t. But some, myself included, have. Asexuals might like it on an intellectual level, because they crave physical contact that much, because they enjoy the emotional intimacy that comes from it, or any number of other reasons. It’s very common for me to get nothing but crickets when someone says that I just need to try sex and I tell them I’ve had it several times and am still asexual. That’s my truth, it’s the truth of many people, and there’s nothing wrong or “lying” about it.

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

You exist. You’re okay. I promise you are, you’re not broken and you’re not wrong. There hasn’t been a term for us until now because there wasn’t a safe space for us to be heard, talking about sex was taboo, and the expectation was that it was a necessity not a pleasure. That’s why it’s “new”, not because it’s made up. We’re real.

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

Right here on Tumblr! My blog is scripturient-manipulator, and you can find Perfect World as a print book, as an ebook, or for your kindle. Feel free to message me to talk as well!

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

Interview: Cassandra Wolfe

Today we’re joined by Cassandra Wolfe. Cassandra is a phenomenal artist jack of all trades. She’s predominantly a fantasy writer who is working on a novel that sounds absolutely fascinating. When she’s not writing, Cassandra enjoys photography, particularly wildlife. She’s incredibly passionate, 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 bit of a jack of all trades really but my main focus at the moment is my writing (funny considering I’m trained as an art teacher). I work mainly in the fields of urban fantasy. I am currently working on the final drafts of what I hope to be my first novel featuring a bunch of werewolves living in modern day Australia along with a few short stories that I’m working on getting published in some online anthologies.

Outside of writing I’m trained in painting but I find that these days most of my work tends to utilize photography as a medium, with wildlife being one of my favourite subjects. I’ve also dabbled in both ceramics and sketching.

What inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from the natural world and folklore. I grew up in a family that loved nature so I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the African wilderness which made me fall in love with the wonder that is wildlife. There’s a certain thrill that comes with getting up close to wild animals and it hasn’t faded now that I’m dealing with kangaroos instead of springbok. I’m rather proud of the fact that I can and have gotten within meters of hartebeest, bat-eared foxes, snakes and lizards. Reptiles are my absolute favourite subjects to shoot simply because they’re so chill that it makes approaching them a piece of cake.

The folklore that inspires me comes through mainly in my writing where it combines with my love of the natural world in the form of critters that are closer to that world than most people are. I tend to include a lot of shape shifter lore in my work and the fae are never far behind! I also enjoy including aspects of my religion into what I write in terms of how I shape the magic and witchcraft that is 99% guaranteed to be a part of my fictional work.

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

I was the kid who always wanted to sit down and write stories when asked what I wanted to do; it used to drive my sister up the wall. I actually entered a writing competition when I was pretty young and got to meet a whole bunch of authors at the close of it which helped drive my passion even if my story for it wasn’t what you’d call great. I still own the signed copies of one of Fiona McIntosh’s series and every time I feel disheartened by my writing I find reading that ‘keep writing’ on the front page keeps me going. Reading that little handwritten quote inspired me to be published one day when I was all of ten years old and that dream has yet to die on me.

My passion for Visual Arts came later in life even if, like most kids, I liked to draw when I was young. I actually originally planned on going into the equestrian industry with hopes of training race horses one day and even got a job as a groom at a show yard but unfortunately I had a bit of a tough time of it there. I ended up being rather over worked and on top of a couple of injuries I received I was slowly wearing my body out. I found that at that time the one thing that got me through it all was my art. I was doing some writing at the time but what really distracted me from my sore legs, ankle and back was painting. I bought a couple of canvas boards and some acrylic paint and Bob’s your uncle, I was falling in love with art all over again.

When I finally accepted that working in the equestrian industry wasn’t going to be possible going into art was the obvious choice. And since I had no desire to try and live purely off of my art I felt that being an art teacher was a perfect fit 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?

Not so much in my drawings and photographs per say but I do have a few in my writing. One of the big things is ‘circles’, I love having little tidbits here and there that circle back and link to another part of the story. Half the time they’re completely irrelevant to the plot and very subtle in their implementation but I just love including them. Eyes would another one, I fully believe that eyes are the window to the soul and as such the eyes of my various critters tend to tell a tale in themselves. It’s one of the reasons why all of my shifter characters retain their human eye colour when in animal form.

On a larger scale you can expect to see a bunch of diversity in what I write, half of my characters end up being some version of queer (often less well known sexualities) and I try to limit the amount of cis, straight, white males in my writing since they’re over-represented in fiction.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to experiment; try different mediums and genres, play around, try something that might not work for the hell of it. It’s the only way to grow no matter what your field is. And above all, persevere. It doesn’t matter if what you made didn’t come out the way you wanted it to, you still made it and the next time it will be even better. Even your worst mistake is better than not having tried in the first place.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual and homoromantic.

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

Most people haven’t heard of it to be honest, I’ve only heard it mentioned once. That time there was a bit of confusion about it but I didn’t exactly feel comfortable explaining more since I was just a prac student at the time. As a whole the Australian education system is generally anti-LGBTQIA+ with a recent program designed to teach high school students about the various genders and sexualities and why it’s wrong to discriminate being muzzled and defunded by the government over fears that it was sexualizing children. I find that being an art teacher makes it easy enough to get around that prejudice however as half of the artists I teach experienced some form of discrimination.

I haven’t really encountered anything in terms of my writing but if I get published it’ll only be a matter of time considering Wolf Moon and its sequel currently feature at least two lesbians, an ace-aro, and two non-binary folk.

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

That it’s the same as being straight. That’s the big one online at the moment and it drives me demented considering that most of the people spouting it refuse to be swayed from their position by the experiences of actual ace and aro people. It’s especially frustrating because of the impact it has on the ace (and aro) communities as both are made to feel unwelcome in both straight and LGBTQIA+ spaces.

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

Ignore the current online discourse; it’s not reflective of real life LGBTQIA+ spaces at all. Most of the people in those spaces have no issues with aces or aros and those who do aren’t worth giving a damn about if you ask me. Whatever your orientation you are valid, it doesn’t matter if things change down the line or if you don’t have the exact word to describe your orientation, you and your experiences remain valid. Just hold your head up high and be proud of who you are.

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

Those interested in my writing can find it at http://cassandrawolfe.tumblr.com/ I tend to post drabbles, and writing advice there as well as keeping people updated on the progress of my bigger works there. My art can be found at http://thepaintedwolfe.tumblr.com/ with the vast majority of it being wildlife photography.

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

Interview: Cherry

Today we’re joined by Cherry. Cherry is a fantastic writer who loves to write original stories and aims to publish a series some day. On the rare occasions she’s not writing, Cherry also loves to cosplay. 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 writer and I’m constantly writing, sometimes multiple stories at a time! Currently I’m settled on one story that I hope to publish and make into a series with several main characters who are on the ace spectrum! I also cosplay on the side!

What inspires you?

Honestly? Spite.

I’ve read plenty of stories where there are only few gay characters and even then they’re written by people who are so obviously straight and they write them wrong or push them to the side. I get angry because they put steeotyoes on their characters and often they don’t even talk about asexual people.  I write to make characters like me and reassure myself that what I feel is valid and okay to feel and, honestly, it’s really helped. I used to feel so ashamed about who I was but writing was the greatest outlet I had and now I’m so proud of who I am.

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

I got into writing when I was eleven, I wanted to express myself and I loved reading so I thought I would give it a try! I started with fan fiction and I ended up loving it so I started moving on to my own stories and I’ve been at it since then! I can’t think of a day I haven’t written!

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 writing style is very lax. I’ve always found books to be so formal and stiff so I make my writing have my sense of humor so the readers can laugh and enjoy my story :)!

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s always going to seem there’s someone in your field that is better than you.

And that’s okay.

Just focus on yourself and work hard to improve on what you love to do. Writing or drawing isn’t a born trait, you need to work at it everyday. Also you don’t need to fit a mold of how it should be done. It’s wonderful when it’s done your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Homoromantic and possibly demisexual or gray ace. I haven’t really been able to figure out yet, but I have all the time in the world!

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

Yes I have. From my own parents, friends, and coworkers. I’ll tell people who I am and they think something’s wrong with me. I tend to explain it but if they don’t get it then it’s whatever, they’re not worth my time. They’re not in a relationship with me so their opinion of me not wanting sex doesn’t matter to me.

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

“You just haven’t met The One™”

“Once you have it, you’ll like it.”

“You’re not part of the LGBT community if you’re ace.”

“If you haven’t tried it, how do you know you don’t like it?”

“Not being able to get turned on? That’s a disease!!” (Actually heard that one today while talking to a coworker who was referring to another ace)

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

You are so valid and there is nothing wrong with not feeling sexual attraction and not wanting to have sex. Sex does not equal love and you should not force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t need to have sex to know you don’t want it. If your partner was really The One™ then they wouldn’t make you have sex if you don’t want it or guilt trip you into doing so. They would love you how you are and wouldn’t change anything about you.

You are not broken. You don’t have a disease. You are so perfect the way you are don’t let anyone tell you other wise. You have a long life ahead of you, you don’t need to label yourself right away as Demi, gray ace, sex repulsed ace, sex indifferent ace, whatever. Just figure yourself out, safely, and just live life. You are a valid ace, with a sex life, or not.

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

I haven’t exactly posted my work online since it’s still very much so in the works but you can contact me on Tumblr (at) Chulacereza I’d love to talk about my story!

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

Interview: Hayley Thorpe

Today we’re joined by Hayley Thorpe. Hayley is a phenomenal young up and coming writer who has dabbled in many forms of writing. She is incredibly passionate about poetry and has recently embarked on writing a novel. Aside from that, she has written quite a few other things. It’s very apparent that Hayley has the soul of a writer and has a very bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer! For the longest time, I favored poetry, although I did dabble in fiction, creative nonfiction, and script writing in high school. However, this summer, I embarked on the great journey of writing a novel, which has been interesting to say the least. I took a four-year magnet program in high school in Literary Arts. I have won three Honorable Mentions and one Silver Key from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and have self-published a collection of poetry entitled Heart Sounds.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by my favorite writers (such as Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Billy Collins). I am also inspired by writers with whom I attended school, many of whom are now self-published. I am hugely inspired by music, and the playlist for my current novel includes bands such as The Strokes, Wilco, and The Maine.

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

I like to say that it’s in my blood. I always loved to read, as did my mother and my maternal grandmother before me, and my paternal great-grandmother loved to memorize and recite poetry. But for me, I met a lot of authors through school events growing up, and I wanted to be the one signing books at a table one day. I wanted to see my books in stores. I did a lot of creative writing in elementary school, but didn’t start enjoying what I produced until middle school. But once I realized how rewarding it was, I never looked back.

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 always try to include artists and writers in my works of fiction. Lately, there’s also been a restaurant that is a figment of my own imagination that often pops up in various projects.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Specifically for writers, I would say read everything. Read fiction and poetry and plays, even if those aren’t what you typically write. Read “good” writing and “bad” writing and figure out what makes it “good” and “bad.” Try to do something writing-related every day, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Realize that publication isn’t everything.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual with romantic feelings towards women.

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

Not as of yet, since I very recently came out as asexual, but I’m hoping for the best!

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

As I said, since I only recently came out, I haven’t encountered many things directed at me, but I think it’s bizarre when people think we can’t feel romantic feelings or that we can never feel sexual attraction. Asexuality, like many orientations, is a spectrum, and each asexual has their own unique feelings and experiences.

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

Talk to someone. I was really lucky that I had friends who were willing to let me talk through it, and I also had a friend who was experiencing the same confusion I was and asking the same questions. But also realize that at the end of the day, you know yourself the best. Don’t let people put a label on you that you’re not comfortable with, and try to remember that they won’t necessarily have all the answers.

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

The purchase link for my book is here: https://amzn.com/0615964389 and you can also preview it there. I’m trying to get a website up, so stay tuned!

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

Interview: Dylan Edwards

Today we’re joined by Dylan Edwards. Dylan and I were both panelists on a panel about diverse creators at WisCon this past May, which was one of my favorite panel experiences to date. I’m very rarely placed on a panel with another ace I don’t personally know, so I was beyond ecstatic when Dylan approached me to ask about Asexual Artists. Dylan is a phenomenal artist who specializes in queer and trans comics. He has been part of some truly fantastic anthologies and has written just a ton of comics. He’s currently working on a scifi webcomic that features a number of ace characters. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a comic artist whose work focuses primarily on queer and trans comics. I’m the author of Transposes, a non-fiction comic about queer-identified trans guys; and Politically InQueerect, which I like to describe as “a comic for people who wish Edmund Blackadder were gay.” I’ve also been in several notable anthologies: No Straight Lines (2013 Lambda Literary Award), QU33R (2014 Ignatz Award), and the Beyond Anthology (2016 Lambda Literary Award).

Right now my main project is a sci-fi webcomic called Valley of the Silk Sky, which features several asexual characters. While I do a lot of non-fic and autobio work, science fiction and fantasy are my first loves. Valley of the Silk Sky gives me a chance to have queer, ace, and trans characters in a story that’s much more focused on adventure than on identity issues.

I also do all-ages monster art and sculpture, called Feeping Creatures. The Feeps are asexual and agender.

What inspires you?

The strange and immense variety of earth biology. The truth is, you just can’t out-weird nature (I mean, there are photosynthetic slugs, okay?). My sci-fi stuff takes a number of things that actually exist and remixes them or cranks them up to 11. For example, spider silk is one of the strongest substances we know of, so I’ve got cow-sized spiders that put out silk which can be used as a primary building material. I stole a bunch of the biology for one of the non-human species from bees, so asexual, non-reproducing members are important to their social structure.

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

I had always been interested in comics to some degree, and as a kid cranked out several strips that were mostly ripoffs of Peanuts. I hadn’t necessarily always intended to go into comics specifically, but art was always a focus. I like telling stories, and comics merged my interests in drawing and writing.

As far as the Feeps are concerned, my grandmother was a ceramicist, so I grew up playing with clay. The Feep sculptures are made from polymer clay rather than ceramic clay, but a lot of the skills translate.

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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 do sometimes include Tarot symbolism in my work. I don’t subscribe any mystical beliefs in Tarot, but I’ve used it as a means of giving myself new ways to think about life events. It’s a fascinating source of rich symbolic language, and one that’s available to me as an atheist in a way that religious symbolism isn’t.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be nice to everyone as much as possible. Simply being pleasant and easy to work with can do a lot for you.

Be nice to yourself, too. Comics can be really hard on the body. Sitting in contorted positions for hours will catch up to you, and physical therapy is expensive (trust me). Get up, stretch, take breaks, recharge.

There is a tendency to promise too much for too little money when you’re a younger artist, but this really does feed into the cycle of underpayment and overwork. Don’t work for free. Exposure is not payment (and places that don’t pay rarely get you very many eyeballs).

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Homoromantic. Sometimes demisexual feels right, sometimes monastic levels of celibacy is more accurate. I definitely have to be romantically interested in someone for sex to seem even slightly appealing, and it’s very rare for me to be romantically interested in someone (though it does happen).

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

Sure. Queer male culture is hypersexualized, I think to the point where people who aren’t even THAT horny all the time feel like they have to fake it to fit in. So working in queer comics I encounter a lot of false assumptions about my sexuality just because I identify as and present as male (I’m a trans guy). I get people offering weird speculations about what I must get up to sexually when I’ve never actually broached the subject with them at all.

I’ve seen some LGBT people say asexuality doesn’t get to count as a queer identity because queerness is solely defined by sexual activity. Which is a very limited viewpoint that leaves out a LOT of people, not just asexuals. For sure I think if you’re asexual you don’t HAVE to identify as queer if that doesn’t work for you (like, if you’re heteroromantic demisexual and don’t feel any particular connection to a queer identity). But coalition-building is how marginalized people get anywhere, and asexuals are a group who are marginalized based on their sexuality. Hence, queer.

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

Mostly people just seem not to believe it exists. Asexuality was never mentioned as a possible identity in high school health classes; doctors have given me really weird looks when I tell them; close friends have told me I must just be repressing myself and need to try harder to be a normal sexual person.

Also, there’s a conflation of aromanticism and asexuality, which is a trap I unfortunately fell into myself in my younger days. I remember meeting an aro ace guy in college, but since I didn’t identify with the aromantic part of his orientation I thought asexuality must not be the right descriptor for me.

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

Asexuality has a lot of different manifestations. Just as Kinsey 6s don’t represent all (or even the majority) of queer people, just as binary-gendered individuals don’t represent all trans people, an asexual person who never thinks about or engages in sex is only one possible iteration of asexuality.

So yes, you can have (and even enjoy!) sex sometimes and still be ace. It’s more to do with the level of importance you attach to sex. I’ve always been really confused by people who describe sex as one of the most important things in life. I wouldn’t put it in the top 20. But I also wouldn’t say it’s something I will absolutely never engage in.

Since this came up at the Asexual Lives panel at WisCon last month, you can look at porn and still be ace. Viewing sex on a screen or contemplating sex in your mind are both entirely different from getting naked with another human.

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

The complete list of my books for sale, and where to buy, is here:
http://www.studiondr.com/buy-stuff/

Valley of the Silk Sky is available to read online here:
http://valleyofthesilksky.tumblr.com/

Feeing Creatures are for sale here:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/feepingcreatures

If you want to keep up with my goings on, Twitter is probably your best bet:
https://twitter.com/DylanNDREdwards

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