Interview: Abby Bender

Today we’re joined by Abby Bender. Abby is a wonderful young up and coming performance artist who is studying acting at my alma mater, Beloit. She is a very passionate and talented artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am Studying Theatre Performance in College

What inspires you?

The ability to become someone else and look at the world through a different set of eyes. This idea helps me grow and change as an actor.

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

I started acting in middle school and I thought it was a great way to express myself because before that I was very shy.

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. I am still learning about the field but it makes me happy to just learn about.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Put yourself out there. If you are scared you are doing something right. Challenge yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a lithromantic Asexual

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

Not directly, but I struggle with playing sexual characters. I have no experience to pull from. I am often type cast as the young innocent girl.

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

How it is portrayed. I know a lot of people who have heard of asexuality but when I ask them about it they have wild misconceptions and when I try to correct them they tell me I’m wrong.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong. Everyone experiences their orientation differently. You are perfect.

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

People can follow my Instagram: _abby_bender_ I sometimes post about the shows I’m in.

Or email me directly at benderac@beloit.edu. I’m open to discussing a lot of things.

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

Interview: Scarley

Today we’re joined by Scarley. Scarley is a fantastic crafter who does a couple different things. She enjoys cross-stitch, knitting, crocheting, and has recently gotten into Wrapper Art. When she’s not crafting, Scarley writes poetry on occasion. She’s incredibly enthusiastic, which makes for a delightful interview. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

As a crafter, I knit, crochet, cross-stitch and have put together Wrapper Art; small practical objects such as purses and glasses sleeves made out of sweet wrappers and other materials. I also write poetry every now and again when the muse takes me.

What inspires you?

Crafting-wise, the interplay of colours and pattern definitely invite me to play around with my pieces, I spend a lot of time re-ordering my colours so they’re the most pleasing graduation possible within the limited scope of my raw materials. I’ve done a whole lot of sunset related purses due to this. 🙂

Poetry-wise, I’m mostly inspired by what is going on around me at any one time. My poems are mostly borne out of my personal experiences or issues I want to talk through in my own head. All are meant to be spoken, the rhythms are definitely internally monologued as I write.

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

Growing up in a creative family, I guess the impetus was always there, I was always encouraged to pick up ‘junk’ and make it into art, whether it be scrapbooking, or nature art. Knitting and crochet I got into because I inherited my gran’s needles and wool, and then a year later my great-aunt’s as well. I couldn’t just throw that stuff away, I had to learn to utilise it. I started knitting Innocent Smoothie Hats and since then I’ve moved on to Slytherin Scarves, dragons, and anatomically correct skeleton blankets!

Cross-stitch was mostly because I realised producing patterns was easiest on squared paper. I’m a real geek, so most of my cross stitches are Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Pokemon and other fandom related things, however sometimes I mix my medias and I cross stitch beautiful quotes or whole poems, such as Edward Thomas’ poem Lights Out, or Edvard Munch’s Quote about eternity.

Wrapper Art started a while back before then; each year at Christmas time my grandfather buys a tin of Quality Street and I always used to agonize over what to do with the wrappers, they were just too pretty to put in landfill. It took me several years to work an agreeable solution, but I cracked it, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

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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?

Whilst I’ve seen loads of Wrapper Art made out of sweet wrappers, most people use a bigger ratio than I, and make whole bags or clutches out of foil sweet wrappers and the like. So far I think I’m the only person in the world who makes this type of art out of Quality Street wrappers. They just give such a jewel-like sheen!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’ve been making wrapper art for maybe up to ten years and common sense says I should have given up long before now. I’ve been to craft fairs and watched people tell me they love my stuff and then walk away, I’ve also watched parents actively talk their kids out of buying my wares right in front of me. I thought, this summer, that by the end of the year I was going to call it quits. Finish up all my supplies, put everything up for sale in my shop and Stop. I was ready. Then, suddenly all my items started flying off the shelves, I got a commission from the Brand manager of Quality Street, and it all went a little crazy.

This Christmas I put up a bucket at my workplace and asked everyone to contribute their own wrappers as well, and it was an overwhelming success. This year might not produce as many results, but there will be results, and as long as there are results, I will continue.

If you have a passion, even if it’s a labour of love and people initially don’t buy into it, as long as it makes you happy, keep going. Don’t worry about what other people think. Eventually, after they learn to see through the superficial, people will flock to your work because it is clearly passionate. Keep going. It will happen.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I fluctuate between calling myself grey-ace and ace, and lithromantic and aro. I’m so not sex-repulsed, and so romance-positive until the moment it gets applied to myself and then I’m all ‘penises and vaginas are the grossest, hugs are scary and intimidating, you LIKE, like me????? NOPE GTFO’

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

So far not in my field, although I fight people of all romantic and sexual orientations about whether A’s belong in the LGBT or not, all the time (we do, we really, really do, because where do we go if we don’t????)

However I do see a whole lot of posts like the one on my poetry blog, where someone wrote “I feel like poetry hates the aromantic” and I’m like, ‘I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m here to disprove that theory.’ In fact I’m part of the aromanticpoetrynetwork on Tumblr which is producing a zine called Don’t Talk To Me Of Love this winter season.

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

That we’ve “not met the right person”. Yeah right. I’ve met plenty of people that I’ve been intensely drawn to, and I was never magically cured because this is not a disease that even needs the thought of healing.

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

You’re valid. Even if, three months down the line you decide that your current label does not fully describe you, that’s okay, you’re still valid. Heck, I’ve been identifying as Ace since I was 19 and I’m still not 100% solid on where I am on the sliding scale 6 years later! Don’t sweat it.

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

Alrighty, crafting-wise you can find my Tumblr www.cottonkhaleesi.tumblr.com and my Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Scarleystars and even my Ravelry! http://www.ravelry.com/people/Scarleystars
Poetry-wise www.vosesnequam.tumblr.com
My main Tumblr is www.insouciantchthonian.tumblr.com
Also for gits and shiggles, I have a vastly neglected Ao3 http://archiveofourown.org/users/Scarleystars/pseuds/Scarleystars

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

Interview: Emily

Today we’re joined by Emily. Emily is a wonderful writer who mostly writes poetry and fanfiction. She has been included in a few anthologies and is currently working on a couple different projects. She’s very dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer — I mostly do fanworks, though I do have few poems published in local anthologies. I also have a blog (though updates are not nearly as regular as they should be) and I’m currently working on a one-act play. I’ve competed in NaNoWriMo twice and Camp NaNo once, winning each time. My novels are as yet unfinished and still in very rough drafts.

What inspires you?

Music, usually. A lot of my stories follow the structures of songs, and I actually wrote a novelette based on an album I loved. I also have a hobby of collecting people’s stories, especially older people. I’ve got a stack of them at home that I flip through when I get stuck and several of them are woven through pieces I’ve written.

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

I started reading really young. They actually ran out of books at my elementary school for me to read before I finished fourth grade. I was encouraged by my grandma and several of my teachers to work hard in writing, but it was my sophomore year English teacher who really believed in me and made me think that I could do it. She wrote me countless recommendation letters to writing programs and still sends me notes of encouragement.

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 necessarily have a unique signature in my pieces, but I do tend to work references to my other stories into many of them. Even if they stretch across universes, timelines, or fandoms, there’ll be one line in there that calls back to a previous work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

When you get started, you’re going to suck. Once you accept that, keep going. That’s the only way anyone gets anywhere.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a lithromantic asexual.

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

There is a distinct lack of asexual characters in the traditional publishing world. I’m starting an editing internship soon at a firm that specializes in LGBTQ+ stories, and hope to work towards correcting that.

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

One that I’m told a lot is that I’m only ace because I’m a Christian and to be anything else would be a sin. Correlation does not equal causation, and religion and sexuality are not mutually exclusive.

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

You don’t have to do something if you’re not comfortable with it. And there’s nothing wrong with these feelings. Surround yourself with people who understand and accept that.

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

Check me out on AO3: archiveofourown.org/users/meandmybrokenfeels
My writing Tumblr: write-likeyourerunningoutoftime.tumblr.com
My personal Tumblr: meandmybrokenfeels.tumblr.com
Or my blog: istilldontgetitall.wordpress.com

writing-board

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

Interview: Jenn Ocana

Today we’re joined by Jenn Ocana. Jenn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in a couple different fields. She’s currently majoring in Communications, but has been doing quite a lot of writing. Jenn loves the written word and writes in quite a few different forms. She has recently had her first poem published in her school’s literary magazine. She has also recently gotten into cinematography and enjoys that as well. 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 don’t think I’m at any level to where I could possibly be able to call myself an artist. However, I am trying to work towards making my hobbies writing, and content creating available for others to read/watch/listen. For the most part I write things journal entries on Wattpad (as well as previously writing some fanfiction), as well as fiction stories, poems and even speeches. Also at my college I am considered an audio and video engineer. I help record and produce podcast, PSAs, radio shows, as well as, do camera work and editing for music and promotional videos.

What inspires you?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what inspires me. I would say I often find inspiration from other people and poets that I have much respect for and wish to emulate. I would also say a lot of my work inspired by my own life and past experiences whether that be family, health, or school related, or really anything I find that I could possibly share my own thoughts on.

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

I never really had the best life, some may say I was just given an awful hand of cards at birth. When I was younger, I became blind in one eye and since then, it always seemed like it was just one bad thing after another. When I started going to a small public school at around the age of 7, I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to fit in being the only child with skin darker than the color of notebook paper in my whole town. That was one of my first experiences with being excluded. Over the years, I’ve also had to deal with physical, mental, and emotional abuse whether that be at home or at school and because of it I’ve always felt alone and lost. That is when I’ve found myself beginning to be more drawn to writing, drawing and music. I don’t know if always wanted to be an artist, but I remember as a kid, one of the only teachers that I felt believed in me strongly encouraged me to continue with art, I disagreed because I’ve never thought I was good at it, or with anything for that matter. However, as I grew older, I noticed that I could never find interest in any other subject that we were required to take high school and somehow, I’ve always ended up coming back to writing.

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 have anything that is unique to my own work, for the most part, most of my work is done on a computer, but when it does come to my own signature I have a very specific way of signing things. Some people say it just looks like two likes and some squiggles but, I like it. As far as specific features, I guess that it would be that you can tell that I almost never write about things that tend to be happy. This does not mean that I don’t write about happy things, because I do. The reason to this is because I feel like not everyone knows what it’s like to be happy about something, or to express appreciation, or even have the feeling of being in love with someone. This could make it harder for a reader or listener to connect with my work on a personal and emotional level. However, everybody has been sad at some point in their life about something. So, by default, everyone knows that gut-wrenching feeling that I’m trying to express in my work and therefore can be able to relate and or sympathize with my characters as they can connect their own emotions with my work.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. Scared about what others may think? Go by a pen name. You are the only person that create make your thoughts into a reality, whether that be a story, a poem, a video game, a melody, anything you can possible want to create. You are the only one that can create it, so don’t let anything get in your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I wouldn’t know how to identify myself exactly but if I had to choose a term to go by, I would consider myself to be lithromantic (or akioromantic) asexual. I can have literally the absolute biggest crush on someone but if I find that they like e back the feelings immediately go away… its quite frustrating sometimes. However, I would say that I’m quite sex repulsed. If you touched me anywhere else besides to rub my back and maybe, just maybe, hold hand, the odds of me slapping the medulla out of your head be highly likely. Ha-ha, I’m just kdding but yeah, you get the idea lol.

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

Directed towards me? No. The people who I work with whether that be in my major in college, or when I work with the people in my school’s radio station/club are very open to others and diversity. This is probably due to the reputation my major and club has at our college, we welcome all with open arms.  However, the environment in the dorms is quite different. Some people think it’s just crazy thinking that it’s impossible to think that way. However, others some just seem to not be able to comprehend the idea. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, I was once involved in a conversation when my friends were discussing how someone’s girlfriend was asexual. They just didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and didn’t really know that it was a thing. They never really understood I, but they were overall respectful for that person.

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

I really haven’t encountered much since I’m only open about my sexuality with two people. However, I have tried to tell my mother who is convinced it is only a phase and I’ll think differently when I’m older. Also, one thing that seems to be a misconception is that when I first told one of my friends, he thought I was lying because I had crushes on guys and always told him about them. He thought that because I was asexual, I was incapable of liking someone. Nevertheless, after explaining that it is possible he’s become more understanding, which is good. J

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

This is a hard one because I’m still not fully accepting of my own sexuality however, I’m becoming more self-aware of it every day. My biggest advice would be to not force yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable will doing. It could just make you feel more uncomfortable and even worse than you felt before. Writing is what works the best for me, I often would write about my experiences with trying to figure out why I don’t have that “butterfly feeling” when I kiss a guy and try writing may ways to find a solution to what I’m feeling. If you’re stressing yourself out about it step back and take a breath. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, do anything you feel that can take you mind away from the stressor. A big part for me in to trying to come to term with my orientation is trying to say it out loud. I know it could be hard and scary for some people. The first time I told someone I was asexual, I said it in a text message. Honestly, by doing that I felt like I was still trying to hide it from myself. If I were to be complete honest it wasn’t until just a week ago, that I said that I was asexual for the first time out-loud and it was in front of my school counselor. I may or may not have cried in the process. Even though doing this was probably the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, the act of finally saying this out-loud has almost, in a way been a catalyst with my process of accepting myself. So, if you think you are ready you can do what I did and go to a school counselor, look at yourself in a mirror, or even just lay down on your bed and tell that to yourself, it can really be the push you need to accepting your orientation.

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

I’m going to start posting a lot of my poetry on my Tumblr but if you want, you can find any of my work on almost all my social media accounts (Wattpad, Instagram, Twitter). The username is CupcakeJiley and it is spelled the same way on every site. I you are interested in checking out any of the podcast/interviews and music videos I help produce and create you can go to my colleges radio Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/wkcv-lp-908850132) and YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2mJoWoVZnNJ6Q3I3bCBdg). I’ve also considered making my own YouTube Page in which I talk about my work, interest, as well as sexuality. I haven’t decided quite yet but I’ll keep you posted.

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