Interview: Leah

Today we’re joined by Leah. Leah is a wonderful and talented artist who does a bit of everything. She does visual art and works with a variety of mediums. When she’s not doing visual art, she also plays a number of musical instruments. The main instrument she plays is the clarinet and she’s started learning the mandolin. As if that weren’t impressive enough, she also writes poetry. It’s clear Leah is a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a visual artist, as well as a musician and a poet. For my visual art I tend to work with whatever medium seems to fit my topic the best, and I enjoy creating things intuitively. Music wise, my main instrument is the clarinet, but I also know how to play the piano, flute, tenor saxophone, and ukulele, and I am learning the mandolin. My poetry is more random and for myself. I like writing whatever comes to mind and using poetry as a way to funnel my emotions.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is nature and other works of art. A lot of times I’ll see something in nature and my first thought is “I’d love to paint that” so I like doing a lot of nature based pieces. The work of other artists is also inspiring to me because it gives me the inspiration to work more on honing my own craft so I can someday reach the level of skill and expertise I see in the works of others. Musically I am inspired by my friends who are also musicians. Watching them and their love of music, and passion for their instruments inspires me to spend more time with my own instrument.

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

What got me interested in my field was probably my grandmother. She was an elementary school art teacher, so when I was little she always did lots of crafts and art projects with me. She would also take me to art museums and show me famous works of art which really helped me fall in love with art. When I was little I really wanted to be an artist, but then I got older and realized I was not good enough to be able to make a living off of my artwork, and I’m always too attached to my pieces to give them away to someone else. Now I want to be an art teacher, so hopefully that’s where my life will take me. My mom was the one who helped encourage my interest in music. She played the clarinet in middle school and high school, which is what inspired me to play the clarinet. And she has always supported me and my musical talents.

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 really have a specific thing included in all my works. Because I love exploring different mediums, I don’t really have something specific that’s included in all my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep practicing your art. The more you do it, the better at it you’ll become. It’s okay if art is just something you do for fun, you need things to enjoy in life so don’t worry about trying to make a career out of your art if you don’t want to. If you do want to make a career out of your art, I know you might hit some low points, but don’t give up and keep creating things, inspiration will come and you will be successful.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a panromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t really encountered much prejudice or ignorance in my field just because that’s not really anything that’s come up yet, but I’ve experienced plenty of it in general everyday life. Mostly I handle it by either ignoring it, or trying to explain my sexuality, it depends on the situation.

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

The most common misconception I’ve heard is that we’re emotionless, or that we just don’t feel anything.

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

Don’t worry about feeling out of place or broken. I thought for the longest time that I was perfectly normal and that there was no way the rest of the world just thought about sex all the time, and that’s still a really strange concept to me. If you’re struggling to figure out your sexuality, don’t discredit that you might be ace, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being ace and there are people who will have no problem accepting you for who you are.

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

I don’t really have a specific place where I post all my work, but I will sometimes sporadically post on my Instagram at hpandthegobletofsass or on my Tumblr at wxtchmxbxrn.tumblr.com or if you want to find any of my Harry Potter fanart whenever I feel like getting around to it you can find it at hpandthegobletofsass.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Schi-Lee A. Smith

Today we’re joined by Schi-Lee A. Smith. Schi-Lee is a phenomenal artist who is incredibly versatile. She does a lot of visual art and even teaches painting classes. When she’s not doing visual art, Schi-Lee enjoys writing and writes both original work and fanfiction. Schi-Lee also has a passion for singing and even has some karaoke fans. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an impressive amount of passion, 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.

Well, I paint quite often, I actually teach painting classes sometimes.  I sing, a lot; I have some fans at karaoke.  I draw with pen or pencil, too, and I write, both fanfiction and original works.  My writing is usually like what I read, sci-fi ish, and I pride myself on making realistic dialogue.  I like to paint and draw realistically, haven’t quite gotten abstract down.  My singing can be just about anything, I can sing Creep by Postmodern Jukebox and Highway to Hell just as easily.

What inspires you?

When I was a child, it was my Dad.  I still have his drawings and poems around my house, and when I was very young, he would record us singing on a giant cassette tape recorder thing and let me do skits in between songs.  He was very artistic, and just about all my artistic tendencies stem from him.  Now, it’s still that in a way, but also I just want to see the beauty in the world, and add to it if I can.  Lots of people love hearing me sing, and love my writing, and love my artwork.  If I can make someone else happy, then I’ve succeeded.

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

Technically my field is Biology, that’s what I’m majoring in in University, but I’ll always consider myself a musician, artist, and writer.  My Dad never put me down for any art I did, so I was never afraid to get into something I wanted to do, and it’s always been with me since childhood so even if I never get any recognition for any of it, I’ll always be an artist. Therefore it’s not as much something I want to do, as something I’m doing, even if I stay obscure.

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

I do, actually.  My Dad’s signature was a heart with ‘LAB’, his initials, in the center, all interconnected, it’s really neat.  I made one for myself when my initials were still SAB, but it looked really weird, so when I got married, I changed it to a kind of horns, or something, to match SAS.  It’s hard to draw with a mouse, but it’s basically this.

Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry about what others say is art, art is what you want it to be.  I have friend who play metal that people say isn’t music, but it is to them, and it makes them happy.  Draw/sing/write/do whatever to make you happy, or to get it out of your head, don’t do it for others.

And don’t be put down if it sucks at first, most everyone’s first drawing of a person is a stick figure, just practice, and practice a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic asexual.  I suppose if one goes for this part, I’m sex-positive.

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

I have encountered some people that didn’t really know what it was, but my friends were very supportive and defended me before I could.  I have awesome friends.  Thankfully I have yet to encounter any prejudice or ignorance that scared me like I know plenty have, so I thank God every day for where I am in life.

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

That we hate sex, or we never have sex.

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

You aren’t alone, that feeling that you don’t understand what all the fuss is about?  Other people feel it.  It’s not weird to think that a ‘hot’ person isn’t hot, according to your body. You don’t have to pretend.

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

Well, I have a YouTube channel, youtube.com/schihigh, where I’m attempting to post my singing and music videos I make on.  I also have a Tumblr and a specific tag with my art on it.  You can just search ‘schi’s art’ on schi-walker-locked.tumblr.com.  If someone were to want commissions, they could message me on Tumblr, or email me at schihigh@yahoo.com.  Just put commission in the subject.

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

Interview: Laura Welch

Today we’re joined by Laura Welch. Laura is a phenomenal musician who makes a living as a pianist. She mostly performs for musical theater and she also plays at the local dance studio for the ballet classes. Laura plays a wide variety of musical styles and has even performed as part of a symphony orchestra on occasion. It’s a clear she’s an incredibly passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a musician – a pianist, specifically. I am classically trained, though nowadays I am highly experienced in playing a multitude of genres, from your typical “classical” fare to jazz to modern-day pop. I make a living primarily through playing piano – something I try not to take for granted as not everyone can say they live off doing something they love and don’t really consider “work.” I play for a church service (sometimes two) every Sunday morning, and I currently accompany ballet classes at a dance studio. In the past I have accompanied voice classes held at various schools in the area, and at one point I was part of a thirteen-piece jazz orchestra as well as a ragtime band. Occasionally I am given the opportunity to play in the local symphony orchestra, but it does not happen too often.

Currently one of the biggest presences in my life where my talent is concerned is the theatre community where I live. I played my first musical back in 2007 – I was freshly nineteen, I recall – and after that I was quickly absorbed into the world of musical theatre. Since then I’ve played for a plethora of shows (I stopped counting about three years ago), and I’ve even gotten to music direct a small handful of them! I can’t see myself stopping any time soon, so long as I am available and can be put to use.

What inspires you?

I find much of my inspiration comes from the people I get to work with in whatever environment I happen to be playing in. In theatre, it’s the actors, crew, and musicians I get to perform alongside. In the dance studio, it’s the teachers and students whose movements are supported by my playing. In both of those cases there’s a feeling of collaboration for me; we are creating something together by combining our respective talents, whether it’s for an audience or for ourselves in that moment. The challenges that come with playing alongside other people – be it other musicians, dancers, vocalists, or whoever – push me to do better, to be worthy of working with these other performers who have dedicated themselves to their own crafts and are working just as hard to do well by them.

I also get inspired by particularly moving pieces of music, especially ones that are adept at conveying an emotional story. I am a huge instrumental score/soundtrack junkie, whether it’s from films or video games or what have you, and it’s not uncommon for me to shut myself away in my bedroom with my phone and a pair of earbuds and just sit and listen for an hour or three. Doing so when I have the time is relaxing for me, but it also reminds me why I do what I do and why I love it so much. Having a story told to me through music alone reminds me that I’m capable of doing the same, and what a pleasure and privilege it is to be able to reach someone else’s mind and heart through something that I can create.

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

I’ve always held a fascination with music, even when I was a very young age. At this point I really don’t remember always wanting to be a musician, but when I was seven my parents asked me if I wanted to take piano lessons and I recall taking to them immediately. My parents got me this tiny little keyboard to practice on, and once it was apparent that I was getting better and better – and fast, at that – my teacher urged them to buy me an actual piano. (Spoiler alert: they chose to make the investment, and I bet they’re glad it paid off!) As time went on I got more and more invested in being able to play the piano, so much so that I left other hobbies and commitments behind (including playing softball and learning to play the trumpet). It got to the point where it followed me to school, so to speak: I got my first real shot at accompanying in sixth grade, when I learned to play a song we were singing in choir and was then allowed to accompany the group at a concert. More opportunities arose in middle school when I joined the orchestra and jazz band, and by high school I was both singing and playing piano in the choirs I had joined. By the time I was nearly a legal adult I had clearly decided that yes, this was definitely the path I wanted to continue taking.

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’m not sure if calling it a unique feature is correct or not, but I’ve developed this one tendency that pops up when I’m involved in musical theatre that people have come to associate with me: I have to see to it that the production’s band/orchestra gets a name. I just do. Every musical has a band, and every band needs a name. It’s silly, but I’ve found it can be a bit of a bonding experience among the musicians (and even the cast and crew) when it comes to deciding upon one.

Often times the names will be inspired by something from the musical in question; sometimes it’s a line of dialogue, sometimes a lyric, and sometimes even a tempo marking in our music. Two years ago when I music directed a production of The Rocky Horror Show, we named our band The Satanic Mechanics (inspired by a lyric taken from “Sweet Transvestite”). Last year in a production of Little Shop of Horrors, inspired by the brief gore featured at the end of the first act, we called ourselves Gut Buckets (but you can’t just say it; you have to sing it to the tune of the Hot Pockets jingle). And recently for a production of Chicago, we had two drummers splitting the five-week run between them, which essentially meant we had two different bands, so we needed names for both of them! We ended up alternating between The Spread Eagles and The Dirty Bums (both names having been pulled from one of the show’s most famous numbers, “The Cell Block Tango”).

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s easier said than done, but try not to let your mistakes and insecurities discourage you from practicing your craft. Growing up, I was very much a perfectionist concerning just about everything I did, and I practically crippled myself with doubt whenever I hit too many walls when it came to practicing piano. I could be very impatient with myself, and it took me years to allow myself the courtesy of making mistakes without beating myself up afterwards. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still occasionally have bad days where I get frustrated with myself. If it does happen, though, I do allow myself some distance from whatever hurdle it is I’m trying to overcome before I attempt it again. Practicing in anger does me no good at all, and brief time away can help refresh my mood.

One other thing I try and make sure I do when practicing is give my weaknesses twice the time that I give my strengths. Sure, it’s fun playing the passages I’m good at over and over again, but that intimidating section I’m still struggling with will continue to be difficult if I never actually practice it. Yes, it will be tedious and slow-going and I may not enjoy it at first, but before I know it a week will have gone by and suddenly it’s that much less intimidating! Why was I ever afraid of that section in the first place? It’s so easy now! Because I gave it time. Slowly and in small increments, yes, but time nonetheless.

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Photo by the Humboldt Light Opera Company (https://www.hloc.org/)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am gray-romantic asexual.

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

I’ve never encountered prejudice in my field. I was never really worried about judgment from within the theatre community, considering the vast diversity of orientations and identities I’ve seen among the people in it. Though I publically came out as asexual about four years ago, I’m sure there are still plenty of people I work with at places like the dance studio and the church I play for who have no idea I’m ace. The topic of my orientation is not one I feel comfortable just diving into without good reason, though if it happened to come up I think I’d be fine with divulging the information. The majority of people I work with outside the theatre community are pretty broad-minded, so I’d like to think I wouldn’t encounter any prejudice from them either.

I’ve only personally experienced a couple of moments of ignorance, and outside my field at that, but it was never anything hurtful. One instance was a person not knowing of the existence of the asexual spectrum (who listened intently when I offered to explain it to them), and the other was a person making a (mostly) harmless generalizing assumption about asexuality in an offhanded comment while in conversation with me.

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

The idea that because a person is asexual, it means that they don’t desire – or even understand – relationships at all is one that I’ve encountered enough that it’s starting to give me a headache. I’ve seen it perpetuated in various forms of media, from fanfiction to comics and then some. It feels like too many people zero in on the misconception that asexuality = NO SEX, and then too many of those people continue on and assume that without sex there can be no relationship, which is utter bullshit.

People can be asexual and enjoy and desire sex, just as they can be asexual and not enjoy or desire sex. People can be asexual and feel and desire romantic love, just as they can be asexual and not feel or desire romantic love.

The lack of sexual attraction towards others does NOT automatically disqualify the possible desire for romance and/or intimacy.

The sooner the general populace starts to understand this, the less headachy future me will be.

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

You do not have to figure yourself out right now. You have time. Some days it will feel like you needed to figure shit out weeks ago but the answer is nowhere in sight. Some days it won’t bother you at all. Just know that solving the puzzle that is you often takes more than a day. Sometimes it takes months, or even years. It’s possible you may never figure it out completely. But know that in the end, regardless of everything, your feelings are still valid. It sounds cheesy, but listen to your heart and your body. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you think it feels right and you feel safe, maybe give that something a shot.

And if in the end using a label makes you feel that much more comfortable, use it. If the idea of using labels is uncomfortable, then don’t. You are no less valid regardless of what you do or don’t do. You are you. And you matter.

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

I don’t really have an online space dedicated to my craft. (I keep telling myself to make an artist page on Facebook or post recordings on Soundcloud, but so far no dice.) I do, however, occasionally post things on Instagram (at flamingo.hate.marshmallows) related to my adventures in musical theatre. I’ve got two shows in the works as we speak, so there should be some fresh musical-related content added soon!

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

Interview: thetruthhurts1

Today we’re joined by thetruthhurts1. thetruthhurts1 is a wonderful young poet and songwriter. She has written mostly poetry but has recently started work on a novel. When she’s not writing poetry or prose, thetruthhurts1 is writing ballads for the piano. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves to create, 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.

It started out with me writing short lines in the margins of my notebooks. Sometimes it was just funny phrases. Other times it was witty stanzas. Eventually, I bought a composition book and started writing out all the things I couldn’t seem to say out loud eloquently. Then one Christmas my mom bought me this cheap piano…and I felt all my thoughts and emotions slide down my brain to my fingertips and I can’t imagine going back to a time before piano.

What inspires you?

Well I would say that there are two stages currently in my inspiration department. The first stage was me trying to figure out who I was through words and songs (gave a try at drawing, painting, etc. and let’s just say if finger painting becomes vintage ever I may switch careers). After that I met someone who made me think about deeper things within me. I went from writing about philosophical things like “Why am I here?” to “Why do I get excited to just hold your hand?” My songs went from angst to love ballads.

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

I have always wanted to help people. My favorite super person is Spidey, I hope to one day become a therapist, and I’m not one to shy away from volunteer work. I sadly can’t say I’ve always liked writing. In fact, I was more of a reader growing up. I think, that it was my love of reading that led me to become so enamored with words. I fell in love with fictional characters and felt what they felt and went where they went and one day I wanted to do that too. I wanted people to feel what I felt and go where I’ve been to. I grew up a minority and then slowly realized I was Ace so writing and music is where I found a lot of comfort

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

My friends that do get to see my work notice how I never target one specific group in my work. I use neutral pronouns, I speak to all socioeconomic groups, and when I’m disappointed in humanity it’s as a whole. The only other fun feature is that I try to slip the title into the work somewhere. It doesn’t always happen though because I’m not as crafty as I’d like to be lol.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t do what I did for the first 4 years of this. Don’t keep all of your writing in a torn Spidey folder you grabbed from Wal-Mart back in the day. Get your work out there. Your words might be what makes the difference in someone’s life.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am Ace or Asexual in the sense that I find the idea of having sex about as fun as sliding down a razor blade slide into a tub of alcohol.

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

I’ve only had a few occurrences of more…abrasive?….harsh people. It was mostly of the sort where they told me that you can’t say being repulsed to sex is a sexuality and invalidating the identity. I am lucky enough to have found people in my life to love me so the hurt souls of the internet don’t phase me as much as they could in the past. I usually just report them and go on about my day.

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

For some odd reason, people think Aces can’t enjoy sex jokes. I was an avid user of the phrase “that’s what she said” and as I matured I was able to gain a better arsenal to male my friends choke on their drinks. Aces can make sex jokes folks. We just don’t all partake in the action.

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

I went over half my life just calling myself an Alien (I’m 22yo to give some reference). Not everyone knows right out the gate how to identify. Everything is constantly flowing and moving like the ocean so when your water craft lands to shore there’s no guarantee you won’t get back out there and land somewhere else. Life’s supposed to be about something more. Don’t get anchored down trying to rush the process. Live and Love friends.

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

I post a lot of my poems on an App called Poet’s Corner under the name healthepain. I post poems, quotes, and just mind farts on Tumblr under thetruthhurts1. I haven’t posted my songs anywhere (mainly because I’m the noob that writes the lyrics and music separately and they never coordinate and it’s just a hot mess).

Thank you, thetruthhurts1, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Nya Holmes

Today we’re joined by Nya Holmes. Nya is a phenomenal musician who plays the bass. She plays in jazz bands and orchestras. When she’s not playing the bass, she plays the guitar just for fun. It’s clear that she’s a passionate and talented artist who loves music, 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 am a classical and Jazz bass player, but above all that I am a musician. I can play all kinds of music, pretty much anything you put in front of me I’ll be able to figure out eventually, so long as it’s on my instrument. Music is my entire life. I dedicate all days of my week to go to a performing arts academy at my high school where I am in the top jazz and orchestral ensembles. I’m in outside ensembles as well, dedicating my Sundays to music from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. I love it, and hope to do it for the rest of my life.

What inspires you?

Honestly, the thing that inspires me the most is my friends. They are all incredibly talented musicians, and we all motivate each other to be the best version of ourselves. Besides that, it’s listening to recordings of accomplished musicians and orchestras that truly inspiring. Listening to the Berlin Philharmonic, or people like Bozo Padzick inspires me to be the amazing bass player I know I can be. My ultimate goal would be to play in pit orchestras of Broadway musicals, so going to musicals really inspires me and gives me an extra boost of inspiration to continue my craft.

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

I became interested in my field through school. I began guitar in second grade, then started bass when I was in sixth grade. Before this however, music has been around me my entire life. I looked around and I wondered why I didn’t play and instrument and wanted to so badly. I felt like I didn’t have a talent, and I’m so grateful to have found one. I guess I always wanted something, and I hoped it would be creative because I am greatly influenced by my father, who is an artist and an animator. He went to art school, so that concept has never been foreign to me and with my mother signing me up for music classes at a young age I have definitely always wanted to be creative.

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?

Being a musician, it’s hard to include your unique touch to work that was written up to hundreds of years ago, but I guess whenever I perform I make these really dumb faces that make people think I’m upset or in pain, but I’m really just concentrating.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cheesy but just keep going. If your art is making you unhappy, take a break. Take a walk. Then come back to it. Always come back to it, remember why you love your art, then keep going.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a bi-romantic asexual.

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

I have been fortunate enough to not encounter any ace prejudice in my field but that’s most likely due to the fact that I live in Los Angeles, a very liberal place.

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

That I asexually reproduce. They don’t actually think that, but it’s the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when I come out to them as asexual. Other than that they usually don’t know what I’m talking about, and when I add into this that I also identify as bi, they become even more confused. It seems like they cannot distinguish between romantic and sexual attraction.

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

Find people who understand and support asexuality. It’s impossible to go through something alone, so find people who understand to talk to. If that’s not feasible, then read about asexual people who have gone through what you are going through.

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

I don’t post too much about music but the best way to contact me would be on my Instagram, which is at nyaholmie, I plan to post more about music in the very near future.

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

Interview: Michelle Shelf

Today we’re joined by Michelle Shelf. Michelle is a wonderful musician and an aspiring writer. For music, she plays in a variety of genres and mashes them up quite a bit. She obviously has quite a talent for it as well. For writing, Michelle has a number of ideas that she intends to put to the page eventually, including an LGBTQ+ fantasy and a book about four ace friends. 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.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an “acespiring” musician and author that clearly loves puns (badum tss). Primarily, I am a singer/songwriter and I love to dabble in novel-writing. Music wise, I try to write indie-pop-acoustic rock type music, and I love to tell my stories through my music. Writing wise, I’m a giant procrastinator who comes up with novel ideas but can never finish them (think of me like Professor Finbarr Calamitous from Jimmy Neutron). My main novel idea that I hope to finish and have published someday, is a fantasy-type LGBT novel. My other idea is another LGBT novel focused on four a-spec friends.

What inspires you?

A few other artists inspire me, but I honestly think most of my inspiration comes from my friends who are incredibly talented, and from wanting to better myself. I’ve always envisioned myself on a stage performing music, and pretending to give my Grammy Award winning speech in front of the mirror may just be what inspires me that day.

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

As mentioned above, I have always seen myself performing. I’ve never wanted to do anything else, I’ve never dreamed of anything else. Music has just always been a passion of mine, ever since my mom signed me up for a music camp and my dad got me my first guitar.

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’m not sure if this is a unique feature, but I try to tell my stories through my music so when you listen to it, it sounds like an audio novel.

With my novels, I am that annoying writer your high school English teacher warned you about. Everything I write has a reason. I want to make sure that there is something new you realize every time you reread it. Foreshadowing is wonderful. I also make sure everything I write is LGBT, since there is so little of it out there.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep at it. It will get tough at times, that’s a given, but if it’s truly what you love and what makes you happy, don’t let any hate or discouragement get you down. Whether you make it to the big stage (like the Grammys or whatever it is in your artistic field) or not, if it makes you happy, and you enjoy creating, then you’ve made it. You’ve won.

Also, don’t tell yourself “I’ll remember this idea in the morning”. You won’t. Keep a pencil and pad next to your bed. Or notes in your phone. Don’t be lazy like me. Don’t convince yourself at 3 am that you’ll remember that incredible idea when you wake up in the morning. Because you won’t.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Ha. That’s a fun question. I am all over the place. For the sake of a quick answer, I just say I’m asexual. An umbrella term. But I may be grey or demi. I haven’t quite figured that out for myself. As for my sexuality and my romantic orientation, I’m a big question mark, with the only certainty being that I am “a-spec”.

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

I, personally, haven’t encountered prejudice or ignorance, but in the music field, having so many hit songs be about love and sex, I won’t be surprised if I ever do. Same with novels, so many books are based on romance, and what’s romance without sex, right? (I wish I could eye roll in text).  Books especially have this high desire to always have a romance, and always have a het-cis romance, and if they’re for older Y/A audiences and up, they always have some type of sexual desire or scene or something. It gets annoying that everything has to be centered around sex and romance. It doesn’t.  One of my novel ideas actually focuses on four a-spec friends, but again, I have yet to write it, because I am Professor Finbarr Calamitous and can never finish anything.

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

That you need sex in a relationship. All of my past relationships, as soon as I kept saying no, we magically started drifting apart. You don’t need sex to have love. I love fried ravioli, but I would never have sex with it.

Also, the annoying “You don’t know if you’ve never had it” comment. (insert that text eye roll again).

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

I’m there with you, but know that it is your decision. You  know what you like and what you don’t. You know what you want to do and what you don’t. And it may change overtime, and that’s okay, it does not invalidate what you were or who you are. You may even just umbrella term like I do, or not use a label at all. That is okay, you don’t need one. You are lovely and you are real and you are valid. Always believe that.

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

Music wise, I am on YouTube and Soundcloud. Please ignore my 13 year old self thinking that was a cool YouTube handle. I’ve tried every which way to change it.

Writing wise, follow me on Twitter at eyeliveonmusic and come watch me stress about my novel ideas and never write them. (Hopefully NaNoWriMo changes that this year).

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

Interview: Abby Grace

Today we’re joined by Abby Grace. Abby is a wonderful writer and musician. They have been playing the cello for over ten years and are even studying for a degree in it. They’re also going for a degree in English Literature and have written both fanfiction and original poetry. As if that’s not impressive enough, Abby has also recently taken up crochet. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic 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.

I’m a writer and musician – specifically, I write various fanfictions, and some original poetry, and have been playing music from the age of four. My main instrument is the cello, which I’ve played for almost 12 years now. I’m lucky enough to have been able to pursue both of these passions, and am currently at university studying English Literature and picking up a minor in cello. I also recently picked up crocheting.

I’ve had two original poems published in the past, in Skipping Stones (an international children’s magazine). Personally, though, I feel most accomplished about my work whenever I receive a heartfelt review on my fanfics. I’ve actually cried over a couple of emotional reviews on a specific story, “Firsts,” which is about a trans character trying on his first binder. I also recently started sharing some of the funnier stories from my life and my family, and am considering collecting them into a book of short stories.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere – from silly things overheard in public to major life events to watching a storm roll in. Inspiration for art, no matter what medium, is everywhere.

There are a few specific people who inspire me every day, though. My grandmother, who was known locally for her amazing quilts, didn’t learn how to sew until her late twenties. I crochet to feel closer to her. Janelle Monáe, who is so unapologetically herself at every turn. Yo-Yo Ma, the best-known cellist in the world, who is still so kind and friendly as to grin widely and give a fist bump to a shy fourteen year old who plays the cello, too.

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

I’ve always loved reading and writing, it’s been an important part of me for as long as I can remember. More than half of my family is musically-inclined in some way or another, too, so it was really less of an ‘if’ I would be a musician, and more of a ‘when.’ There’s definitely a few pictures in a family album somewhere of me sitting on my grandfather’s lap at the piano, looking absolutely delighted as he shows me that pressing the keys makes sound.

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

Hm, I don’t believe I have anything that I work into every piece I do. A lot of my poetry involves stars in some way, but that’s just because I really like space.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be discouraged by only getting a couple of notes or kudos, or even nothing at all. You still have something valuable to share with the world – the world just takes a little while sometimes to notice it. I have one fanfic that has the most kudos of that specific ship on AO3… and I have 10 fanfics with less than 30. I have even more with less than 3 comments. Don’t worry about the numbers. Focus on doing your best.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual

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

Luckily, I have yet to see anything specific in the general writing and music communities. Within fandom itself, however, I have most certainly seen people attack others for being ace and/or aro and trying to identify with a character by suggesting that they are also ace and/or aro.

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

That we are frigid, unfeeling, or that asexuality isn’t ‘a thing’ and is just ‘attention-seeking.’ I hear this most often in regards to demisexuality.

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

Be confident in yourself. And if you’re not, ask questions! Talk to the community – most people are happy to chat and help where they can. It’s something that I wish I had done more when I was younger. It could have helped me avoid a seriously bad time.

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

I’m on AO3 (DarthAbby), and Tumblr (main – butim-justharry) (side – official-cello). Please feel free to send an ask or private message to either blog if you want to talk!

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