Interview: Sara

Today we’re joined by Sara. Sara is a phenomenal visual artist who does a lot of illustrations. She also dabbles in a few crafts, but illustration and designing stationary is where her passion lies. She’s also going to be running a conference session in London about archaeology and the history of gaming (which was signal boosted on this site a few weeks ago). It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

FullSizeRender

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do illustration and comic strips and I design stationery. I sometimes wander into graphics or various sewing projects but I’m mostly an illustrator.

What inspires you?

My friends ^_^ usually my best work starts with me thinking of something I want to draw for someone and then getting so excited I can’t stop till I’ve got in down on paper. The thought of how happy it will make them sustains me. Aside from that, the artists who really inspire me are often comic artists and colourists. There’s something about how economical comic art has to be and how much it communicates that I really love. My favourites are probably Erica Henderson, Fiona Staples, David Aja, Ed Brubaker, Matt Hollingsworth, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Adrian Alphona.

FullSizeRender_1

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

I always drew as a kid. My mum drew too and she took me to the park to draw one day and did the whole ‘draw what you see, not what you know’ lesson and from there I was hooked. I mostly drew from life when I was younger because I wasn’t confident about having a style of my own but eventually started experimenting. I was always imagining the inventions or clothes or stationery or musicals I would design. I had big dreams! I really got into stationery when I was a teenager and discovered Artbox (the South Korean stationery brand). I loved the idea that you could have something so small and simple but the details and colours and the character in the designs could make it really beautiful. In stationery simple images with a lot of personality work the best. I’d say that alongside being an inventor, author and philosopher, being an artist is one of the first things I ever wanted to be.

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 guess I use a lot of block colours. The symbols I use on my personal work are a blue postbox with teeth and a flying apple with an eyepatch but they don’t really show up in stuff I post online…

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry about developing a style and sticking to it. It’s ok to be trying something totally different or using things you’ve seen other people do. Your style is a side effect of all the people’s work you’ve seen and imitated and absorbed bits of and rejected other bits of. It will just happen without you noticing it. The link is you. If you’re doing it, it’s your style. And don’t just be passionate about art, be passionate about other things, learn about them, get excited. That’s where the ideas come from.

IMG_2098

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual and aromantic!

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

Not in art because I mostly work with people who are my friends already. But I have in my day jobs. I’ve met people who took it as a challenge, someone followed me home from work once trying to convince me that having sex with him would change my mind (that was hella scary… if someone does that to you, call the police!). Other people were perfectly nice in most ways but just flat out failed to believe me. Most people are lovely about it though, if slightly confused! Usually my reaction is just to stay cheerful but firm. If people try to speak over me or deny my experiences I keep explaining and don’t let up.

FullSizeRender_2

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

That we’re not queer enough!

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

Sometimes it feels scary not having a map in life, even if it’s freeing at the same time. Other people seem to shape their lives around their sexual relationships so much and doing your own thing without all those rules to follow can make you feel pretty lost. I still find that scary so I can’t say for sure it gets better but I can say there are a lot of us and we’re all getting through day by day and making a future by living it even if sometimes we can’t look ahead and see our future clearly. Even when you’re lost, you’re not alone. Everything you are is real.

FullSizeRender_3

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

Tumblr: theamazingsaraman
Instagram: lilibetbob

FullSizeRender_4

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

Interview: Megan Hustmyer

Today we’re joined by Megan Hustmyer. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist and author who does a bit of everything. They paint, sculpt, and do illustrations. On the writing side, they write poetry and prose. Megan is currently working on a novel featuring an asexual succubus. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

20180627_184930

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist and a writer. I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I write prose and poetry. My work has undertones concerning self-love and acceptance, which is especially potent for me personally as a queer creator. I really love imagining queer creatures, aliens, monsters, realms and the like.

I’m working on my first magical realism novel, which focuses on an asexual, non-binary succubus living in contemporary America. So they’re pretty much screwed, but they make their best go at it.

What inspires you?

I’ve always loved fantasy, science-fiction, magic, mythology and folklore. More recently I’ve been attracted to queer theory, particularly the academic work of Ela Pryzbolo, an asexual scholar who writes theory on asexuality. I’m heavily inspired by her mission to expand and fuck with the limitations of asexuality/sexuality. I believe that a narrow definition of queerness isn’t queer at all. Which is why I want to write about an asexual succubus, it’s a great way for me personally to explore the identity of gray-sexuality and be able to look at sexuality through an asexual lens.

I also love ‘We Were Witches’ by Ariel Gore, trees, and affirming that nature is gay.

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

I didn’t actually start to think of myself as an artist until I was in my sophomore year of college, majoring in fine arts. I knew there wasn’t a way I could just not have art in my life. Before that, I considered it a hobby. I also daydreamed a lot, and for a long time I thought that it was unhealthy, but now I’ve come to terms with my imaginative sight-seeing and I use it as a processor for my art, my stories, emotions, and anything else I need it for.
Art itself is a fantastic processor. I’ll always be thinking about a lot of things at once and it can be overwhelming, so the artistic process is very helpful for me. I’ve always felt there was a link for me in particular between art and healing. Especially when drawing or painting, I’m able to think in ways on paper that would be too confusing in my brain. There’s a link to be made between art therapy and tarot readings… hmmm.

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?

An underlying fondness for grossness.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fuck shit up.

They’re gonna tell you that it’s hopeless, that it’ll waste of time and you’ll just be a starving artist. Fuck that shit up. They’ll say that the art market won’t have you. Fuck it up. They’ll say there’s nothing to be done.
Fuck.
It.
Up.

01_MARSUPIALLOVEAFFAIR
Marsupial Love Affair

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-asexual or as I’ve grown fond of, ‘grace’.

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

For the most part, I encounter ignorance. Whenever you’re open about being something ‘abnormal’, you kind of also become a spokesman for that identity, which has its positives and negatives. With asexuality, I’m still learning about it myself, similar to my gender identity.

I met someone who considered even acts of flirting or ‘feeling sexy’ to be sexual in nature, which is an arguable stance, and yet also admitted that the act of sex itself wasn’t always inherently sexual. By his definition of sexuality, which also included dancing and finding people attractive, I was sexual. By mine though, which is influenced by my conception of sexuality in contemporary America, I was gray-asexual. He had also been born in an earlier time in another culture. In that situation I was with someone I trusted and I valued his opinion, so it was a little hurtful to hear that he just didn’t understand my identity, but I’m glad we were able to talk about it openly.

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

That asking whether or not someone masturbates is an appropriate response to learning that someone is asexual.

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

Sexuality is confusing. It could be argued that asexuality confuses it even more. Is asexuality a lack of something? Or is it a presence? If it’s not a presence, then what is that feeling that completed me when I first identified as ace? Even if you’re unsure (I still am most days), if you know that feeling, you don’t have anything to prove. You’re not naive. You’re not broken. You have the courage to claim a name that fits you, and you wear it because you feel good when you do. That’s all you need.

And once again, fuck it up. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means taking a rad bubble bath and reading manga. Maybe it means doing drag. Maybe it’s creating a loud sign and going to a protest. Maybe it’s singing as loud as you can. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite album. It’s whatever gives you strength. It’s doing what you need to do. It’s taking care of yourself.

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

The novel I’m working on is still under the radar for the most part, but I’ll be sure to post updates on it via social media and my main website.

My fine art, sculpture, social practice work, can be found here: meganhustmyer.carbonmade.com

My graphic design an illustration portfolio can be found here: meginetdesignsthings.myportfolio.com

My Instagram:  m.g.aoh or _meginet

my landscape
My Landscape

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

Interview: Abi Stevens

Today we’re joined by Abi Stevens. Abi is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital art and illustration. She makes colorful illustrations featuring monsters, myths, and folklore. Abi also does additional work about chronic illness and has recently run a successfully funded Kickstarter for enamel pins. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Black Shuck
Black Shuck

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a digital illustrator and I make colourful and detailed illustrations inspired by mythology, folklore, history and all things fantastical. My work is often influenced by elements of ‘visual history’, by which I mean historical art forms, architecture and objects. In particular I love stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts. You can see references to these sources in the stylized borders and iconography in my work. I also enjoy including hidden details in my work and incorporating symbolism such as the language of flowers.

More recently my subject matter has expanded into more personal areas; exploring my experience with chronic migraine, and I plan to expand into other chronic illnesses and mental health issues as well. Most recently I have been creating enamel pin and sticker designs incorporating the words ‘chronic warrior’ and ‘migraine warrior’.

What inspires you?

Growing up I was obsessed with fantasy and science-fiction books and I devoured every story I could get my hands on. It was my own personal escape from reality and so this early love of the fantastical has carried heavily over into my own creative practice. I think we all enjoy stories of lives grander and more bizarre than our own. In some ways my artwork is still a means of escape, but one that I can share with everyone else.

My love of fantasy and science-fiction naturally expanded over time into a fascination with mythology. As an atheist I find the incredible range of deities and monsters we have conjured up across the world fascinating. There are mythical creatures so ingrained in our modern collective consciousness that everybody can recognise them. These imaginary beings are powerful historical heirlooms and vehicles for education and social narratives.

This sense of wonder carries over into my historical inspirations. I enjoy dramatic historical narratives and learning about different cultures through their past. However it is historical art forms that really spark in me a sense of wonder: details of architecture, stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts jump out at me and inspire me to create my own art.

Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

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

Growing up I enjoyed creating but I was curious about a lot of things and my ideas for the future were pretty vague.  I was interested in pretty much anything that didn’t involve maths and for a long time I couldn’t make my mind up about what I wanted to be: a writer? A fine artist? A psychologist? A historian? A teacher? It took all my teenage years, 4 A levels and a Foundation Degree before I really knew what an illustrator even was! By happy accident it turns out I chose to study the one subject that can encompass all of my varied interests at once. As an illustrator you get to explore all sorts of subjects and there are so many possibilities for what you can do with your work that I never get bored. It’s an ongoing process; learning, improving skills, observing and researching, and overcoming challenges and deadlines, and I don’t think I could ever be ‘done’. Once you’ve chosen to be an artist, I think it changes the way you observe that world, and it really becomes a way of life as much as a vocation.

Kickstarter

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?

It’s not so much a signature per say, but I like to hide narrative or historical details in my illustrations: things that people who look hard enough will appreciate but that might go un-noticed on a first pass. This can mean anything from references to the language of flowers, to stained glass window references and various symbolism. I love the idea of people discovering something new in my work each time they look at it. For example ‘Volant’ (my flying mythological creature illustration) includes interactions between the larger mythological characters and smaller real-life animals that you may not notice on a first look: such as the moths being drawn to the flame the Phoenix carries, the blue tits trying to protect their friend from the Griffin, and the Siren’s child trying to catch a bat.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

First of all, to always be true to yourself and try not to be swayed too much by the trends on social media. It’s helpful to be aware of current trends but the best way to improve your work and stand out from the crowd is to stay true to your own interests. Passion for your subject is what will pull your best work out of you.

And second, don’t compare yourself negatively to other artists. Everyone is at a different point in their journey and has different resources available, so the only point of reference that is truly relevant is the measure of your own personal progress.

mental health online
Mental Health Online

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I dither a bit to be honest as I’m still figuring myself out, but I usually go with Grey-Ace.

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

Not yet. To be honest my sexuality doesn’t come up much in conversation and while I’m pretty open about it online, it hasn’t been discussed in a professional context yet, or really in many personal ones. I’m hoping I’m lucky enough to avoid that kind of behaviour in the future as well. I know others haven’t been so lucky.

mental health
Mental Health

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

Probably the idea that all asexuals are sex-repulsed and A-romantic. There’s actually a wide spectrum of asexuality and this clumsy assumption left me feeling completely out of place for a while. I didn’t feel like I fit clearly under straight or LGBT+ labels and that was a lonely feeling.

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

I think to pay close attention to their instincts and how their body is feeling. I’ve got some uncomfortable memories from times where I squashed down my instinct that something didn’t feel right with the idea that I should want certain things, I must feel a certain way, or put another persons wants before my own comfort. Our cultural preconceptions of what ‘normal’ is can have such a huge negative impact on our ability to cultivate a healthy self-image, and if your on the ace spectrum it can require a lot of effort to re-program yourself to listen to how you really feel and not how you think you should. This is possibly the biggest hurdle to being comfortable with your orientation.

migraine
Migraine

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

I have a website at www.abistevens.com which displays my portfolio and also a blog with an introductory blog post explaining more about my work.

You can also find me on Twitter (AbiStevens_Art) and Instagram (abistevens_illustration).

At the moment I am running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Chronic Warrior and Migraine Warrior enamel pin designs I mentioned earlier. The first pin has already been funded and we’re on our way to the second. You can find that here.

poster
Poster

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

Interview: Senta

Today we’re joined by Senta. Senta is a phenomenal illustrator who works mostly in digital mediums. He does enjoy using ballpoint pen on occasion. He has his own style, but can also adapt to a variety of other styles. It’s clear he’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. CU2

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I draw, mostly digitally but sometimes I like drawing with ballpoint pen. My personal style is kind of muted colors and darker settings, but I do lots of other stuff depending on the vibe I’m trying to show. I take a bit of pride on the fact that I can cater to people’s interests, that’s especially useful in my line of work, I’m an illustrator 😉

What inspires you?

People inspire me, mostly fictional characters to be honest, but I love to draw people, I love to create characters and create stories for them. I do a lot of fan art of whatever I’m interested in the moment, or whatever catches my eye. Sometimes it’s just a photo or something that gives me a vibe for a character and then I have to draw them.

2. 1

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

I honestly don’t know how I started drawing, but I’ve been doing in since I can remember. I used to draw with chalk on paper when I was a kid cause my kindergarten didn’t have pencils for all of us. I’ve always wanted to work in the field, yes, but I wasn’t sure what would I do exactly, I wanted to be a graphic designer for a long time until I realized what that was and that I couldn’t really draw much, then I went and studied to be an Illustrator 🙂

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 sign all my work as Senta, but someday I will come up with a tiny character or something to hide in all my work, I really want to do that, but I’m not sure what. I follow at least 3 artists that do that and I loooove it, I love to search for the little Easter egg in all their art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m not great with advice, but I would say PRACTICE! Practice a lot, and surround yourself with people and things that inspire you to create. Nice supporting friends that share your passion for art are truly special, whether is online or IRL. Also, really practice! Nobody is born knowing how to so stuff, all those awesome artists that you love? Those people busted their butts off to get there.

3. John
John

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as ace and quasiromantic bi (that label is pretty recent 😉 ) but I usually go with queer, it’s shorter.

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

Not necessarily on my field. I’ve encountered it online, where I post my art, or in fandoms I make art of, but it’s never about the art itself (thankfully). Either way I try to let it go and not let it affect me too much. People are ignorant, a lot of people are, and if I offer some education and they deny it by being close minded then there’s nothing I can do about it… That said, it does affect me sometimes, and then I just go and talk to supportive people, I vent a little and then I usually forget why I was upset in the first place.

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

I’ve had a lot of “being asexual is basically being straight”, some “you have to be attracted to someone”, and a few people invalidating queerplatonic relationships and saying they’re “basically just friendships”… As I said, ignorant people ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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

Look, I’m the kind of person who loves labels, I looove having a word to explain how I feel, to know that there’s someone out there who feels the same, so I hate it when people say “you don’t have to label yourself, just be you”. But as much as I hate it, they do have a point… cause even if you don’t find a label, it doesn’t mean you’re alone, there’s so many people in the world I’m 100% sure there’s at least 50 more people who feel the same.

Specially in the asexual community, we talk more openly about it being a spectrum, so it’s hard to find your place in it, and it might even move around, but it’s ok, take your time. I’d say don’t rush anything, don’t pressure yourself to know everything, it’s ok not to know. And don’t be afraid to change your mind, that doesn’t mean you’re fake, you’re just figuring things out, and to be honest, we all are… Be patient with yourself, be kind, and don’t let anyone define you, only you can decide your labels (if you decide they’re for you 😉 )

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

I’m on Tumblr: sentaart (and the-doctor-is-ace is my personal blog) and Instagram: senta_art

4. Miranda
Miranda

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

Interview: Tina Speece

Today we’re joined by Tina Speece, who also goes by tinadrawsstuff. Tina is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in pinups and portraits. She mostly does black and white and grayscale. Her work is beautiful and has an extraordinary amount of detail. It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Pink Pop Dress
Pink Pop Dress

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My name is Tina, and I’m multimedia artist-illustrator with a deep love of stories and storytelling. I love color, but I wind up working in black and white and grayscale a lot for reasons I still haven’t figured out. Pinups and portraits are my bread-and-butter and I take a lot of pride in making things “cute”.

What inspires you?

Stories!  Especially the way themes cycle and recycle and how we relate to those themes.  Cautionary tales disguised as kids’ bedtime stories, campfire scare stories that you know by heart but still a net a scream in the right atmosphere, stories “you think you know BUT” with some aspect changed [anything sympathetic to the monstrous is my favorite in this category]–there are patterns and beats that are older than time, but they still draw us in and we still keep going to those themes no matter what the world is like, and that’s so amazing to me!

2. Flapper Carmilla
Flapper Carmilla

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

Funny story: my 4th grade art teacher told me I had no talent for art and needed to pick a new elective, which as a highly impressionable child pretty much destroyed any confidence I could’ve had at any point as a kid.  I switched to vocal music and theater and didn’t really make any art for a long time after that.  I was still fascinated by visual arts but since I “had no talent” for it, I settled for watching tons of movies and cartoons and writing fanfiction, and telling myself “This is good, this is fine”.

Then I got to college, and was planning to go on as an English major.  My first semester (like most everybody’s first semester) was a hodgepodge of “required” Gen. Ed classes that didn’t have anything to do with what I wanted to be doing but I had to do it.  I had some really good friends in my Japanese class, and to practice both the writing and our vocab, we started making silly little comics with the characters in our book (the illustrations in GENKI! were really easy to copy). Because we were all doing little comics and we were all friends, there wasn’t pressure to be “great” at it? They were just silly little things that we made, that I enjoyed making–that I drew during other lectures because I have always needed to do something while listening to something else so I could focus.

So I was sitting in Philosophy one day, doodling the ongoing love-triangle between Mary, Susan, and Takashi and listening to the lecture when it hit me [we’re talking a metaphorical punch to the face]: I like language, I don’t like it enough to sit and analyse it to this kind of depth for the next four years.  I called my mom, told her I didn’t want to study English, I wanted to study art, no I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it’s more right than anything I’ve thought about studying.

Fortunately for me, my mom was (and still is) super supportive.

I graduated with a BFA in 2013 and after a year of not being sure what to do (because freelancing is hard and art-focused opportunities in my area wanted more degree than I had), I applied and got into the Masters program at Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio, finished THAT in 2017 and am still freelancing but now with a much better idea of what I’m doing. I honestly can’t imagine having gone in any other direction at this point in my life, and I only regret not drawing for so long between 4th grade and college.

4. Deep Sea [3x3, acrylic pour]
Deep Sea (acrylic pour)
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 try to remember to sign everything, but I like a small unobtrusive signature, so I tuck a TS somewhere in just about everything.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

1. You are going to make some really, really, really ugly things.  Sometimes you’ll be proud of those ugly things for a while, but they’re still gonna be ugly.  And that’s a good thing: you have to make ugly to understand what it is and whether you want to use it actively.

2. Do your best to purge the pop-culture expectation of an artist from your brain.  That way lies the path of disappointment and being really freaking annoying, not to mention it takes a lot of energy to namedrop and fake ennui.

3. Don’t fear the “art block”.  It’s your friend in the long run, because it lets you know something’s not working–either your mental health needs some attention and that’s why you’re not making, or you’ve stopped actively trying to hone your skills and have gotten lazy and your brain is bored and that means you need to get out of your comfort zone for a while, or that you need to take a break from the thing you’re currently doing and go do something else; even if that “something else” has nothing to do with art–everyone needs a break regularly.

3. Glow Up 2007-2019
Glow Up 2007-2019

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a demisexual bi!

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

Oh yeah–I get it two-fold for being both demi and multi-attracted.  I usually get asked if the figures and character I’m drawing are ideal sexual partners or if my conflict and discomfort with another person in my field is because deep down I just want “bang them”.

The subject question is easy to displace, I just start ranting about the lack of variation in character design and that kills almost all follow-up.  The second question I usually just shut down with a face-melting stare because sometimes it’s not a judicious moment to ask someone if they’re a friggin idiot.

5. Penguin [3x3, acrylic pour]
Penguin (acrylic pour)
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it’s something that can be “fixed” by an encounter with “the right person” and you’ll know in an instant

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

1. How you feel does have a name, and there are other people who feel the way you do.

2. You’re not alone, and that’s important.

3. You’re not broken, you’re not stupid, and you can’t just “pretend to be normal” because there’s nothing abnormal about you.

4. Most of the people you try to explain this to probably won’t get it, and they’ll say things that hurt because they mean well.  You have every right to correct them, you have every right to defend yourself; don’t feel bad when you do, because you deserve that respect, even from people who generally mean well.

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

My portfolio
My studio Instagram
The Facebook page
Ownable, hard copies of work here, here, or here!

6. Valentine [Silicone] 9x12
Valentine (silicone)
Thank you, Tina, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Noel Arthur Heimpel

Today we’re joined by Noel Arthur Heimpel. Noel is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in illustration and comics. They have a couple webcomics out, one of which is completed and the other is currently being posted. Both sound like fascinating stories and have multiple ace and ace-spec characters. When they’re not working on webcomics, Noel also works on Tarot and Oracle decks. The guidebook for their Tarot Deck (the Numinous Tarot) has ace inclusive interpretations. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

artist-portrait
Artist Portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a cartoonist and illustrator—in particular, I do webcomics and illustrate Tarot and Oracle decks, although I also do book covers and such once in a while. All of my work is done traditionally in watercolor and ink; the process is just so absorbing and fun. I absolutely love vibrant colors and so my art ends up being very rainbow-y no matter what I’m making.

I currently have one finished webcomic, Ignition Zero, and a new one that just launched recently called The Thread That Binds. Both are stories about trying to understand yourself, your emotions, your relationships to others, and how to heal the hurts we all carry. And magic, of course! Ignition Zero has faeries and The Thread That Binds has magical bookbinding and a giant magic library. Both stories have ace- and aro-spec main characters who are comfortable with themselves and get to be happy and have happy relationships.

My Tarot deck, the Numinous Tarot, came out earlier this year. It’s a very personal take on the Tarot made to be a tool for healing & for marginalized people to see themselves in—I tried my best to include as many gender expressions, orientations, races, body types, ability levels, etc. as I could. The card titles and guidebook all use gender neutral language to make it as accessible as possible, and the interpretations are ace-inclusive as well, of course!

IgnitionZero_pg98
“Ignition Zero” page 98

What inspires you?

My own life experiences and those of my friends inspire me the most. I want to tell stories that I haven’t seen before, or don’t see enough of, so that people like me and my friends can find ourselves in them. Stories are such an important way we figure ourselves out, whether we’re the creator or the reader. I’m also very inspired by nature, especially flowers, and all the magical things I do and experience as a witch. I like to think a lot about the nature of the universe/reality and put that curiosity into my work.

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

Pretty much! I come from an artistic family, so I’ve been making art since I was very little, and my interest only grew from there. I wanted ways to put all the stories in my head onto paper. At first that meant writing and drawing separately, but eventually I combined them into making comics. I started reading Tarot when I was 13, and being an artist, of course I knew I wanted to draw my own deck one day. The deep and complex symbolism of Tarot is very much like storytelling to me, so it also falls under that desire to share my stories and imagination with people. Stories have always been important to me, especially growing up in a difficult home I needed escape from (and hope for the future), and I want to give that back to others.

IgnitionZero_pg309
“Ignition Zero” page 309

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?

There are certain themes that almost always appear in my work, the biggest one being healing from trauma and loss. I’ve been through a lot of that myself and my art is one way I’ve worked through it—by sharing it, I hope it can help others as well. I also use flowers symbolically in my work on a regular basis, deciding which ones to draw based on the Victorian flower language or common magical associations that go with the story/piece.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep going! Follow your passion and make what you want to make. A lot of times we second-guess ourselves and say “I’m not good enough to make this great idea yet, so I’ll wait,” but a) the best way to get better is through experience, and b) you’ll have more amazing ideas later, I promise, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Also, as much as we all want to improve our skills, try to focus on having fun and enjoying it! There will always be times when we’re frustrated or doubting ourselves, but if you don’t like making art most of the time, why are you doing it? The enjoyment of the process is a reward all on its own.

NuminousTarot01
Numinous Tarot 01

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual, although it has taken me a long time to figure that out and find the label I feel suits me best! I’m also grey-aromantic and agender.

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

Not any more than I’ve encountered everywhere else. I feel lucky that when I marketed Ignition Zero specifically on having ace characters and an ace romance that the response was overwhelmingly positive. Otherwise it’s usually just that people don’t know anything about asexuality and need it explained to them, which I typically do as patiently as possible. I know I’m not obligated to be an educator, but currently I feel comfortable doing that in most cases. Or just ignoring it if it’s not worth my time!

NuminousTarot02
Numinous Tarot 02

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

Probably the one where asexuality gets conflated with aromanticism. I myself knew the word asexual since I was 17, but I didn’t use it for myself until I was 20 because I didn’t know about the split attraction model and assumed the romantic attraction I experienced meant I wasn’t ace. I see this misconception around a lot still, years later, although it’s getting better. I also often struggle to get people to understand demisexuality—the response is often “that doesn’t exist because that’s just how everyone feels and it doesn’t need a label.” It can be difficult to explain to people how my experience of attraction is different in a way they understand…or maybe there are way more demi people out there who just don’t realize that the label could fit them!

ThreadThatBinds_pg038-039
“Thread that Binds” pages 38 – 39

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

Find like-minded people who you can talk to. Meeting other ace people was how I began to question and understand myself. When they shared their experiences, I found stories, feelings, and words I could relate to that I didn’t even know I was missing. Being part of a community made me feel less alone and more empowered and certain in my identity. Also, sometimes this exploration can take a long time. I started identifying as ace when I was 20 and over the last eight years I’ve readjusted which label on the spectrum I use several times. And that’s ok! Sometimes it doesn’t feel great to be constantly wondering and changing, but every time I’m glad I went through the process.

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

You can see all of my work on my website, noelheimpel.com! I’m also very active on Twitter and Instagram, where I post my art and the occasional ramble. I have a Patreon with tons of fun content, and the Numinous Tarot is currently on Kickstarter to fund a second print run. Lots going on!

Website: http://noelheimpel.com
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/noelarthurian
Instagram:
http://instagram.com/noelarthurian
Patreon:
http://patreon.com/noelarthurian
Ignition Zero:
http://ignitionzero.com
Numinous Tarot:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/noelarthurian/the-numinous-tarot-2nd-printing

ThreadThatBinds_promo-banner
“Thread that Binds” promo banner

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

Interview: Lexi

Today we’re joined by Lexi. Lexi is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in illustration. They enjoy drawing mostly lighthearted images and characters. Their work shows a beautiful use of line and color and the characters they draw are adorable. It’s clear they’re a dedicated artist who loves what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Inktober Monster Kids 2019
Inktober Monster Kids 2019

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art style changes a lot depending on what sort of mood I’m in, but usually consists of silly drawings that I do for myself or friends and evolve into bigger projects. I love making patterns and stickers a lot as well.

What inspires you?

I base a lot of my silly drawings on funny jokes or ideas that me and my friends come up with but I also have lots of other artists that inspire me such as kanahei and ssebong. I watch a lot of cartoons in my free time and those inspire me as well for things like character design.

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

I grew up drawing, honestly. I’ve been doing it so much I can’t even imagine doing anything else. If anything, I can only list here what things have gotten me more interested in my field. I took 3 years of graphics in high school and that sparked my interest in pursuing a graphics related career, however I’m still deciding haha

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 have my signature I guess, but other than that maybe my style?? I don’t include Easter eggs in pieces, as they look out of place to me oops haha

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You’re going to start out bad, it doesn’t matter how quickly you learn, you can only get better. It’s alright to admire artists but don’t compare yourself to them. And always keep practicing, you can never do it enough. One of my favourite examples of practicing to get better is from Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. (from his book, “Outliers”)

Neo Pets Character Designs
Neo Pets Character Designs

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual!

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

Yah, with people I talk to and even my family. My mom doesn’t really think it exists or it’s just an “fake persona” due to my environment and a few of my friends just aren’t educated on it. If they do say/assume something incorrect I try to correct them but with a few of them, the point just doesn’t get across.. I meet a lot of people who say they thought they were ace but just realized they were around ugly people or something.. :/ Or they consider it an excuse for not being desirable. I try to educate people as best I can, but sometimes I just get tired of re-explaining.

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

That it’s just about waiting till the right time and/or person comes along & that as an asexual I’m not interested in love, physical affection, etc. I enjoy hugs and holding hand just as much as a sexual. However past that I am a bit neutral haha

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

No one should or can tell you how you identify. You also don’t have to come out to everyone you meet, or anyone at all. Do what makes you feel comfiest & safest. It does help to find a place to talk about stuff though, I have friends I talk to when I’m upset about things relating to being ace, and while they’re not all ace they still support me and that’s what good friends will do for you.

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

I’m on Instagram! At candy.shrimp and RedBubble if you just look up “yaytso

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