Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

01 Bianca (own character) - pencil - 2017
Bianca (own character)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve always loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages, starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly, a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with her disappearance…

02 Cover for 'The Dragon of Ynys' by Kirby Crow
Cover for ‘The Dragon of Ynys’ by Kirby Crow

I also love drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders. There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little on my Instagram.

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

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt like that counted.

Fast-forward to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo, it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last school drawing years earlier.

From that point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some pretty things!

03 Fiery Mushroom - brush markers - 2017
Fiery Mushroom (brush markers)

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?

As I mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders. The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I think it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been “born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was talented. But I had to work to become better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from. Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big “mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing interviews on awesome websites. 😉

04 Space Ace 2 for Tanouska - watercolour - 2018
Space Ace 2 (watercolour)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec” rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that one out.

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

There’s certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

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Violet (ink)

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

That asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain, very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I might be broken or wrong.

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

You’re not alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces (in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs, or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and made me more comfortable with myself.

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

My website is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to follow me!

Paranatellonta, a flash fiction project inspired by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places to buy my stories:

– The Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

06 Cats Rule the World for Ether - watercolour - 2017
Cats Rule the World (watercolour)

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

Interview: Renn

Today we’re joined by Renn. Renn is an extraordinary visual artist who also dabbles in embroidery and sings in their state’s LGBTQ+ chorus. They have mainly worked in traditional mediums, though they have recently started branching out into digital art. Their work is fascinating in its use of color and light. It’s clear Renn is an incredibly talented and passionate artist who enjoys 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’m something of an ace-of-all trades (pardon the pun). Most of my work has been traditional pen and ink drawings- I’ve always been the most comfortable with felt pens as my medium since you can re-do the sketch as many times as it takes to get each line juuuuuuust right before finalizing it in ink. Every now and then I’ll do a watercolor- the colors can be quite vibrant and watercolors can blend together in a way markers and ink can’t. Watercolor is something of an exercise in discipline for me; I’m not the most patient of persons even without taking my ADHD into account- so waiting for the paint to dry before adding another piece of color can be trying sometimes. I’ve ruined plenty of paintings only because I just couldn’t wait! I recently started painting digitally with my beloved Huion tablet- a much better way for me to explore painting as a medium because there are no more wait times for colors to dry! And layers! Oh do I love my layers. Working digitally, I enjoy using a limited but vibrant pallet to challenge myself to really bring out the highlights and shadows of what I’m drawing, making the artwork overall more striking.

Sometimes when I have the time + materials + energy, I craft my own cosplays (and bowties!) In my spare time I also enjoy doing embroidery and singing with the Rainbow Chorale, my state’s local LGBTQ+ chorus!

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What inspires you?

A lot of my main drive to create comes from seeing the work of other artists. You know how your brain will see someone else’s work and go “Gee I wish I could draw like that!” I take that feeling and turn it into “Well why don’t I go and draw something I want to create that will look just as good that I and other people will enjoy!”

I also enjoy doing art as an out and visible queer asexual person, because it gives other people like me the chance to see themselves reflected in my art and see themselves being represented, even if they themselves cannot be out and visible like me.

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Butterflies

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

I’ve been drawing since I was really little, like 4 or so. Creating art through drawing was something I would do to relax after school…  or something I did to avoid taking notes or doing homework… ah ha. For young, awkward, socially anxious me, art was the best way for me to express myself and communicate. So, in a way, I’ve always been interested in creative fields because that ability to create from my own ideas has always been with me. With respect to “wanting to be an artist” (I’m interpreting this as become a professional) drawing as a job isn’t something I want to do. I’m happy to take the occasional commission, or make something as a gift, but drawing as my main profession isn’t for me. Art is an escape for me, for when life gets to be too overwhelming. If that escape was invaded by the stress and pressure to constantly create and keep churning out artwork, then creating would no longer be that escape for me.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I always sign my work (well, when I remember) with my screen-name (Renaissance Aeroplane) initials “RA” and a little airplane flying out from the “A”. Typically I’ll put it in the corner of digital paintings, and tuck it in somewhere in sight when I do pen and paper drawings.

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I’ve had that screen-name for a while, except ‘renaissance’ was spelled with two Ns since spelling wasn’t a strong suit of mine. Thus that turned into the nickname “Renn” which I’ve gotten rather attached to and started using as an offline nickname as well.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take a deep breath, and relax. Sit back, stretch your arms, and release that tension you’ve been holding in. It’s okay- if you aren’t as popular as that one artist, if that one line just refuses to come out right, if you fudged up the inking, painting didn’t come out the way you wanted it to- It’s going to be all right! There’s always so much pressure as an artist, to keep making more art and be perfect and get likes/reblogs/retweets/site traffic. That pressure is overwhelming and the last thing that will help you improve is pushing yourself so hard that creating art becomes stressful and overwhelming. So take another deep breath, relax, and continue to do what makes you happy.

paletteportrait
Palette Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Definitely full-on asexual; the frying-pan of sexual attraction feelings won’t be hitting me in the face anytime soon. It’s not a sensation I’ve ever felt, likely will never feel, and I am cool with that being so. I’m probably?? somewhere on the gray-bi-romantic scale of things; every now and then I’ll become romantically inclined towards someone, but it doesn’t happen all that often. *shrug*

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

Fortunately I haven’t had much experience with prejudice aside from the occasional bigot being rude online. What I have encountered more of is well-meaning but ignorant folks coming into my inbox and expecting me to educate them. Which can sometimes be annoying, and other times be emotionally draining and exhausting. So, what I’ll do is send them a few links with good articles about asexuality (or trans/nonbinary issues because I get questions about that too. Yaaaaaay.) that I’ve read through beforehand to ensure all the info is correct. Then I’ll let them know I’m glad they want to learn more, but I don’t have the time/energy to educate them one on one on the basics, that the links I sent contain more info about the subject, and once they’ve read through what I’ve sent and understand it, I’ll be happy to talk with them later.

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

That eventually I’ll “grow out of it” or “there’s always the possibility you meet the right person!” *barf* I get that for some people, sexuality can change or you can discover something you didn’t know about yourself, but that is not me. I already did all my soul-searching and exploring and I am quite happy labeling myself as ace, thanks very much. That and there’s something so gross about the insistence that I will become sexually attracted to someone. Euggggh.

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

It’s helpful to ask for advice or experiences from other ace folks and to ask other LGBTQ+ folks about their experiences to help you figure out what you’re feeling- BUT what determines your sexuality, above all, is what YOU think and how YOU feel. So, if you think “Well I’ve never/rarely/only sometimes feel sexually/physically attracted to people” then congrats! You’re ace! And that is for you to decide whether or not you want to label yourself that way.

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

Y’all can find me on Tumblr at renn-aeroplane-art.tumblr.com where I post all of my recent works or if you want to trawl my old Deviantart for some of my older stuff I go by Senkokura there. If you like goofy cat pictures interspersed with the occasional drawing or selfie, then check out my Instagram at renaissance_aeroplane!

TheWitch
The Witch

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

Interview: Taylor

Today we’re joined by Taylor. Taylor is a fantastic visual artist who works mainly in graphite, ink, and colored pencils. She mostly does portraits, but has recently started branching out into creative space type drawings. Her work is absolutely beautiful, drawing the viewer in with her attention to detail and use of space. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hello! So, my art has always been all over the place, but I have stuck with drawing since childhood. I’ve only been a hobbyist, taking some drawing classes throughout school, but my goal is to work part time and run an art studio on the side.

My work is usually black and white, either graphite or ink, or colored pencil on black paper. I love working with high contrast and, specifically with portraits, minimalistic shading. I like working with realism, but I’ve recently branched out into some more creative, space-y pieces.

What inspires you?

Music has been a huge influence for me. Despite lacking any musical ability whatsoever, music has been a huge part of my life. Listening to storytelling in the lyrics, along with themes and feelings that can only be portrayed through instrumentals, is such a creativity boost for me and helps me branch out of my artistic comfort zone.

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

Art, as a kid, was the only thing I really engaged in. I was the type that naturally did well in school, so I never really had to try or care. However, with art, I could really experiment and improve my skills, so I devoted all of my time to drawings. As I got into high school, I began studying fields I saw as potential careers, yet I didn’t stop drawing.

My overbearing logical side always stopped me from seeing myself as a professional artist. However, I realized that, even if I don’t do it professionally, I can still be an artist and devote myself to my artwork.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop! You’ll see really, really good artists, and you’ll meet people who will look down on your art, but you shouldn’t let that get in the way of your creativity. I completely stopped art for a full year because I felt I was inadequate and that art would never get me anywhere in life. It was hard to get out of that funk, but getting back into art was the best decision of my life.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an aromantic asexual.

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

I have gotten some weird backlash for creating LGBTQ pride art, because I’m not “really a part of the community.” Honestly, I just ignored it and kept doing what I was doing. Asexuality is a part of the LGBTQ community, regardless of what anyone else tells you.

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

Since I have divorced parents, no one believes I am really asexual, especially aro/ace. They all tell me that it’s because I didn’t grow up seeing a loving relationship. However, my backstory isn’t traumatic and my situation doesn’t define my sexuality.

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

Don’t worry about labels in the beginning. I was so freaked out about whether or I was straight or gay or bi or anything. If you’re struggling, just be yourself. You may find a label that perfectly fits, and that can give you a wonderful sense of community and not being alone, or you might not. Even if you don’t have a perfect label, you are still valid.

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

I use my Instagram page the most: at sketchingpencils. I also have a DeviantArt page that I recently started: sketchingpencils.

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

Interview: Keam

Today we’re joined by Keam. Keam is a wonderful fanartist who is currently most active in the Doctor Who fandom. They write fanfictions, mostly one-shots, and also some long-running projects. When they’re not writing, Keam does a lot of visual art, including recolouring and photo edits. 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.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I write fanfiction and occasionally draw fanart, as well as making a wide variety of picture edits, icons and recolouring black and white photos. I’m mainly in the Doctor Who fandom at the moment, but have been around in several other book and TV series fandoms before. Most of my fanfics are one shots, but I also got a couple of long running projects. My drawings are always hand drawn and coloured in with ink/crayons/coloured markers or regular pencil.

What inspires you?

My never ending mind. Due to having ADHD, I got a mind that never slows down. When I get into it, I can be thinking about a show or book 24/7. It also means that there’s always new ideas appearing, encouraging me to draw something new or write a new story. It never ends, and I don’t want it to.

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

I suppose I partly have it from my family. My mum is a self-published author who’s currently written 5 books, and both my grandmothers are talented at painting and drawing. I’ve never really intended to be an artist in any professional manner, but as I’ve matured as a fanfic author the idea of writing an original book seem more and more appealing.

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 think I particularly have any special thing that represents my writing like that. I am told I have a bit of a unique pattern in my writing, which I think comes from not being native to the language and there for using a vocabulary and word combinations you wouldn’t see used by a native writer.

Otherwise, I always try to include a tall, blond haired person in my fanfics. That’s me by the way. The author standing there and enjoying her own work. Just a little symbol of my emotional investment in my own writing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up. It sounds so cheesy, but is there something I’ve learned it is that it’s absolutely true. I’m not native to English, you see, and when I wrote my first fanfic I still did not know how to string two words together. I was 13 and had five years of theoretically learning behind me.

I had a dream in my head and with some help from my mother I managed to put it on paper. It’s still published out there on the internet on fanfic site somewhere. A horrific, self-indulgent drabble about pastel ponies.  But even if it was bad it taught me the joys of writing.  Because after that, I kept writing, one year after another, and now I’m five years down the line from when I started. Today, I even spend more time writing than sleeping (it’s 10.30 PM as I write this!). And for all that work, I really think I’ve gotten better, too. Today I feel proud of myself. I read my fanfics and enjoy them and I get good reviews.

Just recently a work I’d done in collaboration with another friend actually got a comment from the actress behind one of the characters we were writing about. She loved it. Another of my fanfics  got published in a fan letter/ezine for an American Fanclub in my fandom back in February. I got a free PDF copy of the ezine as a thank you, and on the first page was a content section with the title of my name proudly displayed.

All this is a far cry from the pastel Pony drabble I wrote at age 13. And the reasons I’m here, the reason I’m 18 and growing more and more professional, getting more and more attention from people that you want attention from, is because I kept going. Because I kept going, and I didn’t give up. Giving up is the worst disadvantage you can give yourself, so please don’t!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a Bi/Quoiromantic Asexual who is partially sex repulsed.

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

Well, as a part of the Doctor Who fandom, Asexuality is always a hot topic. The show has 36 seasons, and during the majority of the 26 first seasons the main character appears as though they are asexual. A lot of people try to bypass this by referring to the character not acting in such a way in the ten newest seasons after they rebooted the show. There are a lot of fights over the fact that newer fans gladly write smut and ship the character as of old with characters from the newer episodes, completely ignoring the implied asexuality of the character back then, which is hurtful. Mostly, I just ignore this and instead look up content creators that treat the character fairly and knows to be aware of the characters implied asexuality.

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

That we’re incapable of having loving relationships, and that if you’re asexual it means aromantic as well. Naturally, aro aces exist – I’m an aspec ace myself – but it feels very ignorant and prejudiced to assume such things.

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

Relax. Take it easy. It is fine to be uncertain. The Ace community is very open and inclusive, and we’re ready to welcome everyone – even if you’re still questioning or not quite comfortable yet. We’ll give you some friendly cuddles and advice and it’ll be alright.

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

I have several social media accounts!

My Tumblr is at Gemvictorfromtheponyverse
My AO3 & Ff.net is Pearlislove
My Instagram is at aesteticfandomdreams.

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

Interview: Sweety Aurore Mutant

Today we’re joined by Sweety ‘Aurore’ Mutant. Aurore is a visual artist who does a bit of everything. They draw and paint, both digital and traditional. When they’re not drawing or painting, Aurore is writing and while they haven’t had anything published yet, they’re working on a number of stories. Aside from that, Aurore is also into crafting and writing fanfiction. 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.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is quite diverse. I would say that my “main” medium, as in the one I spend the most time on, is writing. I am working on two novels and a short stories series right now (none are ready to be published yet because I am a perfectionist) and in the meantime I work on a lot of fanfictions (I have been writing a fanfiction about a 60s movie since July 2016, it’s about 75k words long now and not yet finished. Not yet published either, because it needs to be perfect, by that I mean good enough). I am also writing on a few Larp and video game projects right now. Yes, I multi-task. When I write, I am mostly obsessed with the concepts of subjectivity and points of view. How reality can change depending on who you are. (This must be why I love Larping so much)

I also draw/paint, both digitally and traditionally. Fanart and original art alike -plants, people, original characters, commissions…-  I like pencil drawings and watercolour the most, even though I try my best to draw with ink, because it looks so gorgeous! Also Photoshop is my best friend, I spend several hours in a row often to paint on photoshop the details of something.

I also like to take pictures -mainly of plants and people, but sadly my old camera is dead and I haven’t yet found the money to buy a good one again. I have a few filming ideas too (mainly co-ops) but again, lack of material.

I also knit, crochet and sew, mainly costumes but also a few clothing items for myself or friends. I did cosplay long ago, but decided to leave the community,

Lastly, I also do happenings, of which there are rarely any picture. My next one with involve old domestic objects and plants, I will try to record its process.

What inspires you?

So many things! The people I see in the street, the world around me, my friends and their awesome ideas (I remember painting Henry David Thoreau as a hispter because of a university friend…), the Larps I play, the video games I play, the books I read, the shows and movies I watch… I have no shame about doing fanart and fanfiction, it is as worthy and honourable for me than any other form of “original” art. (Yes, I am a proud believer in the monomyth and the fact that there is no real “original” idea, and that the re-telling and the ways of representing is the only thing that matters, hence the important place of fan-work in my conception of art). Another source of inspiration for me is also the social and environmental context (I am working right now on an environmentalist happening).

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

What got me interested? Oh what a difficult question! I began drawing and painting as soon as I could hold a pen, and writing once I knew how to. I was a very curious child/teen, so I learnt to knit, crochet, sew, embroider, and I soon made my own costumes and cosplays. Taking pictures and filming came later, when I was in High School because I studied cinema and arts then, and had access to good quality material. Writing for larps came also later, when I was more inside the community but I remember writing roleplaying games in middle school already.

I have always wanted to be an artist, yes. I tried to convince myself that I wanted to do other things as jobs to earn money, but yes, even studying for a Linguistics Masters like I do now, I know that in the end, I am meant for art.

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K Family

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 a signature I have been using since I was 13 or so, and writing this I realise how long ago that was, oh my! It’s a “R” in the right corner of the drawing/painting/picture, and at first I decided to use it for three reasons: it is the only consonant of my first name, it is a homophone of “air” which is my element, and it is the first letter of the pseudo I was using back then. As time went on, I also realised it was the initial of the first name of my idol and the rébus of the fictional character I relate to the most (Grantaire in Les Misérables)… two things I had not thought about at all when I chose that signature, and because of that I like it even more!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work, work, work. Fail, hate your work. Work again, be proud for a day or two, hate it a week after. It’s normal to be proud of something and then to hate it, it’s normal to be envious of other people’s work, it’s normal to be discouraged, and it does not mean that you are not good. There will always be people who are better than you, and people who will be worse and jealous of you. Just keep working, and work for yourself. Do it for the fun, for the art. No one will be mad at you if you can’t finish something, if you abandon a drawing or a draft. If they are, they did not deserve you in the first place. Your art should be made for your own enjoyment first. Be selfish.

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Marika

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic grey-asexual, or as I like to say it, I love everybody too bad I don’t like them. I really need to be in a very “special” relationship with the person to consider having sex with them, and I noticed that is had a lot to do with how much I find them interesting on the intellectual side of things.

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

I have, mainly ignorance, incomprehension and the same old clichés than everywhere else. When I face an ignorant person in my field that is open-minded, I handle it by helping hem understand what asexuality is. If the person is, forgive my vocabulary, an imbecile that just want to cling to clichés and not learn, I handle it with a raised middle finger,

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Silver

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

The old “you haven’t found the right person yet/it’s a phase” bullshit. What hurts the most for me is that I see such misconceptions about aces in communities like feminists or LGBT+ that, I hoped, should have been more open-minded than your usual human. I most of the time get this feeling that people just don’t try to understand aces.

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Teach

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

I would say… labels don’t matter, as long as you feel good. You don’t have to fit into a category, what you feel and how you live it -alone or with how many partners you wish- is the only thing that matters in the end. Sexuality is fluid, don’t be afraid to change, as long as you feel right about yourself. Also, you’re the only one who know yourself, don’t let toxic people influence you towards anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

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

Mainly my Tumblr for my drawings/paintings: The Artful DodgeR’s Tea Rooms (http://sweetymutant.tumblr.com/) because my DeviantArt has been dead for too long. I will probably create a YouTube and Twitch channel soon, but have not yet found the time to! To read me, there is my AO3, Sweety_Mutant: (https://archiveofourown.org/users/Sweety_Mutant/pseuds/Sweety_Mutant)

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

Interview: Presley Smith

Today we’re joined by Presley Smith. Presley is a phenomenal visual artist who is incredibly dedicated to her drawing. She loves to draw and has even had a couple things tattooed on herself. For Presley, drawing is an escape and her work is brimming with color and life. And she has drawing The Beatles! (Confession: I’m a huge fan of The Beatles). It’s very apparent that she’s incredibly talented, as you’ll soon see. 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’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and art has always helped me cope with my depression and anxiety. I feel like it’s an escape. I’m always drawn to pen and ink and acrylic but honestly, put any medium in my hand and I’ll do something with it!

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What inspires you?

I’ve always been a leftover hippie, or so my mother tells me. Everything I do is inspired by one of two things: Summer of love or the macabre. Very different, yes, but I find that these things bring me so much inspiration and always intrigue me.

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

I’ve always wanted to be an artist in some capacity. I’m an English and sociology major in college and I like to think that English is spoken art. I currently work at an art supply store as well. Incorporating art into my life comes naturally and I couldn’t imagine a time without it.

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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 try to add a flower wherever possible, or a skull or triangle.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up. Be inspired by the world around you and you can create some amazing things. Just because you think someone may be better at drawing something than you are doesn’t mean that your art isn’t as important and unique in its own way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual

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

I’m a writer and an artist and I find more prejudice in the field of writing. I find that people will wonder why I even write a novel if there’s no romance involved. I don’t have an answer other than that it just doesn’t occur to me. I just brush it off and try not to focus on it too much.

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

I find that a lot of people don’t think that I can find people attractive. It’s not like I’m blind, I’m just not sexually attracted to someone. If I see a person with a face that I find attractive, I’ll he like “wow what a beautiful human” along the lines of “I want to be your friend so hard” and not “I’ll sex you up”.

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

YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. You are valid in your feelings and it’s not that you haven’t “found the right person yet”. You are wonderful and loved.

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

My Instagram! It’s at pretzeleeee. I’m nice, come interact with me there!

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

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Interview: Taylor Jay

Today we’re joined by Taylor Jay. Taylor is a wonderful visual artist who is currently majoring in art. She shows an incredible amount of talent and her work is brimming with color and amazing details, as well as a fascinating use of lines and perspective. She’s obviously got a very bright future ahead of her. 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 still pretty new to the art world, and still have TONS of learning to do! At the moment, I’ve been experimenting with anything and everything, but I really enjoy nature and landscape photography. I also enjoy ink, though I hope to learn how to create digital art soon as that’s what I’m majoring in. I just need to get a better-functioning laptop!

The picture below are some of my favorite pieces thus far! The upper left is Gazing, which is a cat sitting on a fence staring at the moon (watercolor pencil). The one next to it is a rough sketch of a future tattoo design done in Sharpie. Upper right corner is a simple gardenia flower done in colored pencil. Below it is a moon drawing done in ink and colored pencil. Bottom right is photography of mine and my boyfriend’s hands, edited in multiple photo apps. Finally the biggest square is my favorite at the moment. It’s named Uncle Death, done in charcoal.

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What inspires you?

My other art friends really inspire me. Especially my roommate / best friend. She’s super artistic, and I hope I can be as good as her someday. I am also very moved by David G. Ferrero, who is an illustrator residing in Gijón, Spain. He specializes in the art deco / art nouveau style, and I absolutely adore that style. He does a lot of Disney, too, that is amazing. I also aspire to be as good as him, of course with my own personal style thrown in!

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

I actually didn’t decide to be an artist until my senior year of high school. Before then I always admired art, but I thought I was a crappy drawer. I honestly sucked at crafts and still do, and have never been the best at drawing. However, around my sophomore year of high school, I fell in love with the drama department. I was never on stage, but behind the scenes making the show come to life. I loved the behind the scenes aspect, because the audience has no idea how much us crew kids actually do (for the most part). It got me thinking about how I would love to create this “magic” off the stage and on actual movie screens. Thus me becoming a visual effects artist and / or animator popped into my mind. Around my senior year, I decided that that’s what I really wanted to do.

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 think so? Not yet, at least. I mean, I do scribble my little signature at the bottom right of my pieces. I’ll sometimes also purposely make the piece look scratchy. I really like the rough-looking sketch of things, so I guess that counts!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s okay to not be as good as others. Whether they have more or less experience than you. Everyone has a personal and unique style, and everyone progresses at their own pace. Have confidence in yourself, and whatever you do, do NOT compare your work to others! That will be the death of you, and I myself am still learning not to do that.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

As far as I know, I’m simply asexual. Not sex-repulsed, just a low to zero libido. I’m not sure if there’s a proper term for it, actually!

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

I have experienced it quite a bit with both friends and potential partners. With my friends, they would always make comments about these “hot” guys, or what they would do to the hot guy they saw at the mall. I would always tell them that I thought he was attractive, but not hot. I would also tell them that I have no desire to do anything with him, or I couldn’t picture myself getting intimate with a crush. They would always tell me that I “needed to get a boyfriend, then I would get those sexual urges”. Well, I got a boyfriend in high school, and those “urges” still did not come.

With potential partners — I’m into guys — I would tell them that I was asexual. I would tell them I’m not a sexual person and such. They would either say they understood but still pressured me, or they would tell me it was my excuse so we wouldn’t get sexual. I even had one guy say he would “change me” after we went on a date… didn’t happen.

I’ve always just kind of brushed it off, though. Let people think what they want to think. I know what I am and that’s all that matters. But I finally did find someone. When I told him I was asexual, instead of making a comment or saying he could change me, we stopped what we were doing and he asked questions. He asked legitimate questions so he could get a better understanding and not pass my boundaries. Now we’ve been together for nearly a year, and I’m so happy.

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

Almost every time I have told someone I was asexual, they immediately asked “So you’re never gonna have sex? What about children of your own?” or “That means you don’t have sex at all, right?” Then I explain to them how not every asexual person is sex-repulsed, and that there’s a spectrum, etc. etc.

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

It’s okay to be asexual, and to be “different” from your friends. It’s okay if even the thought of sex makes you feel gross. It’s okay to have a low sex drive, and it’s okay to fall anywhere on the asexual spectrum. It is okay to be asexual. It doesn’t mean you’re broken, even if you have a history of being sexually abused. It’s okay even if you believe you’re asexual, then discover that you’re not. No matter what, you’ll be perfectly okay.

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

I actually don’t post too much of my work, or discuss it. I’m still a little hesitant to post it. Though I do post a few things on my Tumblr from time to time (you-look-beautiful-as-always). I also have a photography Instagram: at bts.photography, but other than that, I don’t post anything.

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