Interview: Onion

Today we’re joined by Onion. Onion is a wonderful game developer and 3D modeller. They’re a small game developer who mainly uses the small game engine Bitsy and is currently experimenting with Unity. They’re background is in animation. Their games are a mode of storytelling, allowing Onion to explore experiences and share them with the world. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and talented 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.

Last year I helped make some assets for a collaboration on a game jam where I made a game with a friend and since the start of this year I began making my own games. I mostly got into making games by using Bitsy (ledoux.itch.io/bitsy) which is a small editor to make simple usually narrative games. We have a sizeable community on discord and plenty of awesome people who actually know code (unlike me) that make hacks and edited version of the bitsy editor for more complex games.

I mostly just experiment with trying new things in bitsy and just telling whatever stories I want. I think most of the time I just come up with a narrative I want to tell and then I figure out how I can actually do it. I like to challenge myself with the way I use hacks in bitsy. Considering bitsy itself is rather simple, it’s always fun to see how far I can go making the specific game I want to make. A lot of it is faking effects and “cutscenes” and figuring out all the things that can be done with variables when you use hacks.

I’m slowly learning other game engines too. I’ve made a unity 3D game by myself with the help of some friends since I really barely understand any code. I feel like that’s almost one of my goals- to learn to make games without specifically going out of my way to learn code. My goal is to make the narrative games. I like creating a narrative, characters and writing dialogue. Creating a sense of a relationship between the player character and the NPCs (non-player characters.) So I will use every hack and every resource I can find or buy. I don’t need to build my games from scratch, I’m not the most interested in the game mechanics.

It depends on the game but a lot of times I want to create games where people can just relax. I want people to feel cozy. Of course these aren’t the only kind of games I make since I don’t want to limit myself but it is very important to me. I’m still learning and checking my own biases but I want to make inclusive worlds. Even in a game that makes you feel unease or mystery, I never want it to come from bigotry.

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What inspires you?

My friends. I think they are my biggest inspiration. Of course a lot of my ideas come from media- what I like and what I want to change. Same with trying to include many non-binary characters and different sexualities. I really like romance so that always ends up in my games in some way (or at least I ship my own characters together.) But the inspiration to continue making games, to get excited and actually strive for my goals…that’s all my friends. Practically all of them are LGBT+ especially those making games. So I think we all try to empower each other through our games. There’s a special kind of feeling that playing a good game, reading a good book, watching an amazing movie can give you and it’s even more special when it was something created by a friend. It’s very inspiring. It makes you want to create.

It’s very almost magical to find a welcoming community full of friends who all support you and enjoy what you make. It’s like having a safety net so you aren’t as worried when you experiment and aren’t sure if whatever you’re making is any good.

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

I always wanted to be an artist but what’s always changed is what kind of artist. I think as a kid I mostly only knew fine art so that’s sort of what I guess I wanted to be. I don’t think I really thought about it properly at that young an age. Later I realized I wanted to make comics since I really love making up stories. I’ve tried starting a few webcomics but always sort of quit after making on average three pages. At the end of high school, I thought that I wanted to be an animator. Which is kind of funny when my favourite parts are messing around in photoshop and not like…animating. But well I tried getting into a 2D animation school but my art wasn’t up to their level. So I went to college for 3D animation. I learned that I do NOT like animating…. but I do like 3D modeling. I thought until this year that I’d be fine just doing 3D modeling. Turns out 3D modeling to just make something is very annoying but 3D modeling to make games? Now that’s fun. It’s mostly very satisfying seeing all the assets you make come together and look good. Most of my games are pixel art though because bitsy graphics are pixel art. Also pixel art is well faster to make especially the small tiles in bitsy.

It’s kinda hard to just decide on one thing I want to do though. It’s really fun to just switch it up. I think I get bored very easily if I only keep doing a single thing. I want to get better at 3D modeling but also at pixel art and graphic design. There’s always a pressure to just get good at one single specialization and I dislike that. It’s not easy to fight your brain that tells you if you don’t get good at something you won’t ever find a job but it’s good to be curious and want to learn more. I actually watched some lectures about user interfaces and redesigned my website for the third time. It’s good to learn if you’re actually interested.

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

I guess most of the characters in my games are non-binary. I leave it open to interpretations though the general rule is all my characters are LGBT+. Most of my games use “they/them” for basically all characters. It was something I started it as a way to maybe help me explore my own gender or just to get something to ground it in reality. There aren’t that many non-binary characters in media so I wanted to create worlds with a large variety of different non-binary characters.

Also I guess since I’ve taken the name onion, I’ve made plenty of content staring onions. But it’s not something I add into everything I make. It is sort of my mascot now. It’s probably a little confusing for some people that I have a character who’s name is “onion” but who isn’t actually me. Then again, I write a lot of myself into my characters so maybe in a way it still is me.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Not wanting to create every day is valid. It’s good to take breaks. Even long ones. I know a single activity doesn’t sustain me for long. I loom knit, doodle, even got into doll customization when I got very burned out from doing 3D modeling. Even currently I’m barely making any games since I stretched myself too thin and tried to do to much. You have to pace yourself and allow yourself to rest. Don’t try to do like 3 different game jams, a small zine and camp nanowrimo in a month and then continue to do like 2 game jams each month. It doesn’t matter if you make short games.. it still saps away all your energy. Learn from my mistakes.

Also you really don’t have to have everything figured out. I keep having to remind myself I’m only 22 years old. I can’t have everything figured out. There’s so much pressure from society and it makes no sense. I know I myself get trapped in such thinking but I try. I think the best thing I ever did for myself was somehow teach myself to be happy for people’s success. I still get jealous but it doesn’t make me quit. I just get inspired. Seeing someone enjoy what they do and be good at it is inspiring. So let it inspire you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a bi ace/aro (and also non binary 🙂

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

Not in the field but sure in personal life. Mostly I surround myself with people who if not understand, but accept it. The most pushback I’ve gotten has been from my mom who didn’t believe me the one time I tried telling her while I was still in high school. And so far I haven’t tried again. I guess I haven’t really had much pushback in my life so I’m pretty open about it. I don’t know if being open about it is why no one has ever pressured me to date them or not but I guess it works out alright.

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Cordelia

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

I think the biggest is that we don’t want to have sex. Or that many people lump ace and aro people together. I mean it’s funny for me to say that as I am actually both ace and aro and also sex repulsed. But that doesn’t mean everyone is. I mean as sex repulsed as I am in real, sex fascinates me a lot in media- and I’m someone who can’t even look at two people kissing each other. There’s a spectrum for everything.

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

As someone who always wants to have myself figured out, believe me it’s alright to just sort of leave it be. You can always change your mind or figure out something new. Your sexuality could be fluid/flexible or not. Just know that you can totally feel like you are ace & aro and still be bi or gay. I think for a long time I struggled with that. Even earlier this year. But I guess it’s just good to know that you can still say you are ace/aro while you’re on a spectrum for one or both of them. You don’t really owe anyone all the details or to prove yourself. I kinda wish I felt that before but I think the imposter feeling is always more internal.

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

My games can be found here: https://le-onionboi.itch.io/
My portfolio website is: tzvezdina.com
And my 3D models are over here: sketchfab.com/tzvezdina
You can talk to me on Twitter at le_onionboi too!

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Witch

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

Interview: Ollie Martin

Today we’re joined by Ollie Martin. Ollie is a young writer and visual artist. They have posted a 36 chapter trilogy entitled A Vampire’s Travels on their blog and they really want to be a screenwriter in the future. Aside from writing, Ollie is an avid visual artist and drew the art for A Vampire’s Travels. They favor a cartoon style when it comes to drawing. It’s clear they’re an incredibly enthusiastic and driven 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 do both art and writing. My art is mainly in cartoon style, simple but fun. I want to make TV shows and movies, and have to date written four TV shows and two movies. I stick to the horror, adventure, and superhero genres.

What inspires you?

My surroundings mostly. A lot of characters are based off of people I have seen while walking around my town (Eugene, Oregon) and my writing is based off of my own experiences. In terms of people and shows, I am heavily inspired by Rebecca Sugar, The Good Place, and 60s film (Hitchcock, Star Trek , cold war sci fi, etc.).

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

I didn’t want to really be an artist until in 6th grade I got into drawing to impress a girl I had a crush on. I then discovered that I really liked drawing, and have been drawing ever since! As for writing, I have always written stories, but it never got serious until 9th grade. I wanted to make cartoon shows for a while, but then after watching Classic Star Trek , I wanted to make live action shows.

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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?

Not really, I used to sign with my initials, but a) they were OC, which confused people when I signed art of characters that weren’t mine and b) I am working on getting my name changed. I have yet to create a signature that I am happy with.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For cartoonists, there are going to be plenty of crappy art teachers that are going to tell you that your art style isn’t real art, and they are completely wrong. For writers, you’re never going to know if your writing is good unless you start writing and learning

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, I never want to have sex, as I find it gross. I still however want to a romantic relationship.

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

Where do I even begin? So many TV shows have a scene that goes from two characters arguing and cuts to them lying naked in bed together. I have never understood that. I find the show How I Met Your Mother especially acephobic because of how they had an episode saying that sex and romance are inseparable. Ace representation in TV shows is usually a person who is practically a robot/ is a robot and emotionless. My ace characters are vibrant and I can’t wait to put them on the screen.

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

That we’re aro as well. I was talking to a teacher about how I needed a partner like this one movie character to which she responded, “I thought you were asexual and didn’t want anyone.” I said that I just didn’t want to have sex but still wanted to have a romantic partner to which she said, “Well you’re a senior in high school, it’s okay for you to feel that way now .”

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

If someone tells you, “You’re too young to decide that you don’t want to have sex!” Or “You’ll change your mind later,” Ask them, “Would you tell me that if I was straight?” It catches them off guard every time. There are people who are not going to understand, but they don’t decide your sexuality, you do.

I remember that when I was younger and didn’t know what asexuality was, I thought I would have to force myself to have sex to please a partner. You never have to do that, ever. If you don’t feel sexual attraction but still want sex, you’re just as ace as the rest of us, welcome to the club of people who were made an outcast by their peers in 2014 for not finding Bendyman Crumpersnitch hot.

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

On my blog at film-focus-mind. I wrote a trilogy of novelettes called A Vampires Travels about an Italian vampire. The main characters are an aromantic man and a nonbinary person. I also have all of my art on there too, and if you go to the tags page you can find links

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

Interview: Frankie Onye

Today we’re joined by Frankie Onye. Frankie is a wonderful aspiring author who hopes to publish their work one day. They’re currently working on a number of novels, mostly queer fiction and fantasy. A fellow Poe fan, Frankie takes inspiration from a number of different places. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic author, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well I’m a writer, first and foremost. I write queer fiction and mostly slice-of-life fantasy. It’s my favorite genre and it’s a lot of work, what with coming up with magic systems that make some sense, filling in plot holes, trying to fix my horrible sleeping pattern, but it gives me a sense of comfort when I write and my dream to get published one day keeps me going.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Mostly works by artist, Pascal Campion, Studio Ghibli, Black Panther, Leigh Bardugo and a friend of mine that got me into fantasy again. She goes by Zuko on Wattpad usually and she has inspired me and supported me in so many ways. She’s ace as well and one of the best writers I know.

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

To be honest, it would be the story of King Arthur that got me interested in actually writing. Morgana had been my favorite and the world with magic like that had always interested me. Before that, I was a kid that wrote random declarations of war on the wall with my name signed underneath, reading works of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe and Tolkien before resuming to give my older brother hell. Frankly, I was a weird kid.

I’ve always wanted to write or draw, but i had the kind of parents that told me it was a waste of time and should get a well-paying job that could keep me afloat for myself and my “hobbies”.

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?

Nothing I can think of. Sorry, mates.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice and learn. Don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism. Even if it’s something you don’t agree with, say thanks and move on. As art is subjective, there are going to always be people that think your work is crap, and sometimes, you might be one of those people. Don’t let that get you down, okay? Nobody can get better if they don’t listen and take correction but you also can’t get better if you give up just because of some nasty comments and thoughts. You gots this.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m as ace as it gets, mates!

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

I’ve been told that being ace doesn’t mean I’m LGBT or queer, that me being non-binary is the reason I’m LGBT. To be perfectly queer, I’m still not sure about this debate. I know I’m ace and that’s pretty much it for me.

Another thing is being told that I am just too young and I have no idea what I’m talking about and that it’ll change when I “fall in love”. Which I mean, is point blank ridiculous. It’s not an on and off switch, Karen! I’m 18, sure, that’s young, but I’m pretty sure at this stage I know when my motor ain’t running that way. How do I deal with this? I ignore the ignorance like it’s the buzzing fly that it is. Life’s too short to scream at cement walls.

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

That it’ll all change when I found “the one”.

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

Own it, live it, and love yourself as you are. I’ve been struggling with this since I was a short little thing in Nigeria (though some might argue I’m still a small fry). Felt like a freak honestly and even worse when the issue about my gender was added on top. You are who you are and that’s all anyone can be.

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

I’m a bit everywhere, or I try to be.

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/ivebeenbamboozled
Tapas: https://m.tapas.io/onyefrankie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/frankieonye/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frankieonye
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/frankieonye.

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

Interview: Pesky

Today we’re joined by Pesky. Pesky is a wonderful fanartist and crafter. They write a lot of fanfiction, specializing in queer relationships. When they’re not writing fanfiction, Pesky enjoys doing crafts and specializes in knitting and crochet. They sell their work on Etsy. It’s very clear that Pesky is a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write fanfiction in whatever fandom I’m in at the moment, usually involving very little romance and when there is romance, it never involves straight characters. Even my m/f relationships tend to involve at least one non-straight or non-cis character.

I knit and crochet a lot, and I usually have at least five different projects at any given time. Since I don’t usually make things my friends and family would enjoy, I’ve recently opened an Etsy shop to give those projects I have no use for a home. The completed project I’m currently most proud of is a triangle shawl I made out of wool scraps from an old elementary school finger knitting project.

Sewing is a recent addiction to my repertoire, mainly for the purpose of practicality and cheap small useful things.

What inspires you?

In fandom, my friends and my conversations with them are often my inspiration for my writing. Besides that, I try to fill absences and correct flaws in the source material. (We exist, after all, and yet, very few of us ever make it into mainstream media.)

In my crafting efforts I’m much more focused on aesthetics. I make things that I enjoy looking at, that I enjoy touching and wearing. Also, novelty. I have a terrible attention span, so I’m always on the lookout for new patterns, new techniques, new interesting projects, new challenges. (This is also why I have so many projects going at once.)

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

Actually, it’s all my mother’s fault.

She’s the one who introduced me to fanfic, because she found Twilight fic on deviantArt and was like, hey, I think my kid would like this! Eventually I started writing my own fic and poetry, and besides extended writer’s blocks caused by depression and anxiety, I haven’t stopped since I was fourteen. Now I’m almost twenty-four.

Mom was also the one who taught me to knit. I used to go to her to get help with casting on because I couldn’t figure it out how to do it for the longest time. These days I have things to teach her.

Crocheting on the other hand, I taught myself via YouTube, because my sister’s been crocheting for years and I wanted to learn this skill too. The differences and similarities with knitting have made it a valuable learning experience and the fact that many crocheted projects can be completed very quickly makes it much easier for me when my attention span is especially short.

Sewing is pretty much the only lasting gift my grandmother gave me. Everything else I learned from her has turned out to be toxic, bigoted cow manure.

All of my creative work comes from skills I discovered as a teenager and adult. I don’t think I would’ve gotten here any other way. And I look forward to continuing to learn new things.

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 Etsy projects all get a tag sewed on with my shop name and username on it, but other than that, I don’t think I’ve got anything besides my Tumblr profile pic, which I drew myself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before but the best thing you can do is practice. Find exercises for practicing common techniques in your chosen medium and repeat them over and over again.

Write all the terrible awful things you can. Trust me, you’ll learn from your mistakes.

Knit a hundred ugly uneven scarves or hats or legwarmers or whatever. You’ll learn a lot.

Draw all the unrealistic little sketches, paint all the paintings in badly chosen colors, sew all the weird little unusable bags.

Do research and then try out all the things you learn. Keep doing it until it starts looking like something you’re happy with. And in the meantime, forgive yourself for making mistakes. You’ll never stop making mistakes, you’ll just learn to fix them or make them look like they’re deliberate.

And keep in mind that practice and hard work always wins out over talent. Talent is a head start, not the goal.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and aromantic.

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

I’m lucky to have never directly encountered ace prejudice beyond the general “aces are basically cishets and they’re stealing lgbt+ resources”. But I’ve never encountered that kind of thing directed at me so I’m honestly not sure what I’d do if I did.

In fact, almost all of the close friendships I’ve made in fandom are with other aces. A funny coincidence, since I searched out fellow fans, not fellow aces.

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

“It’s just celibacy.” I’ve actually been told that to my face at a pride parade when I explained to someone that the colors of my clothes are the same as on the ace flag. I was still pretty new to the whole ace thing and ended up totally speechless.

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

Kinda depends on what exactly they’re struggling with.

In general, I’d say, find people who are struggling with similar things or who have struggled with similar things. Talk to them, try following their advice and give yourself time. Stop talking to people who make you feel guilty, ashamed or insecure about your identity.

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

I’m on Tumblr, Archive of Our Own and on Etsy. My username is peskylilcritter on pretty much every platform. My Etsy shop is, creatively, peskylilshop and my Tumblr writing sideblog is peskywritesstuff.

On my main Tumblr, I usually tag my writing with #pesky writes stuff and every other creative endeavor with #pesky makes stuff.

Feel free to come visit! And if you’ve got any more questions, my ask box is always open 😉

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

Interview: Maddie

Today we’re joined by Maddie. Maddie is a wonderful fanartist in different K-pop fandoms and anime. They co-run a K-pop fanblog with a friend of theirs. They draw a lot of portraits. Aside from drawing and writing, Maddie also cosplays for anime conventions. It’s clear they’re an incredibly 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 mostly work as a fanartist in the K-pop fandom. I follow a lot of groups and I love to either draw portraits or write short fanfics that are compiled on a blog I run with a friend. I am planning on doing more portraits in the future and will continue to write! Along the fanart lines I also cosplay as a hobby and go to cons whenever I can. I also am going to make a blog dedicated to short comics about my daily life as a nonbinary aroace person, so look out for that!

What inspires you?

I’ve always wanted to write, I’m writing a novel currently but it’s a long process so fanfics are my main ones. My mom actually pushed me to follow my passion for drawing and writing. She has her own poems published so she just inspires me to work hard. Also the groups I listen to inspire me (obviously), but song lyrics and seeing how members act/interact help inspire my stories. Cosplay wise the look of the character is what inspires me to try and portray them, I want to try and capture their personality.

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Suga from BTS

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

I’ve been drawing and writing since I was little. I had an active imagination as a kid so I was constantly coming up with these amazing worlds to write about or drawing them if I could. I’ve always considered myself a “chill artist”, it’s not my main career goal, but it’s a hobby I adore and would love to continue doing- even if it just stays a hobby.

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

Not that I can think of actually, I don’t know if do anything really “unique” in my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep practicing! I know it’s hard and your first pieces might not be good, but you can improve immensely with some practice. I try and doodle something once a day, even if it’s just a doodle beside my lecture notes or something. Try small writing prompts too, just doing short one paragraph writings can improve your writing ability!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a cupioromantic asexual! I’m also nonbinary.

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

A bit, the K-pop fandom in general is very hypersexual and sexualizes members of groups a lot. So being ace making content for the fandom can be a bit tough. Some people think I’m prude for not writing smut or something, but I’ve learned to shrug it off and respond with a simple “I can’t write it.”

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

Probably that it’s just a choice like celibacy, or that I can’t want a relationship. I’ve heard both of these so many times it makes me want to scream. Or there’s always the joke of “are you a plant?” I think it’s hard for people to grasp that there are people who simply don’t see people in a sexual way, crazy right? It doesn’t help that I’m sex-averse and people, especially my mom, will say it’ll happen when I “meet the one.”

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

You are not broken. First and foremost, you are totally normal. I know it’s tough, trust me I felt broken until I found out asexuality was a thing and I wish I would’ve found out about it sooner. Don’t let others put you down for your sexuality, they just don’t understand it- you are valid.

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

I usually post art to my personal blog, which is at timelord-from-ohio, but I don’t post my art often. The fanfic blog I co-run is at 98aroha97bangtan94, I’m Mod Phoenix. Lastly, the blog I’m planning on putting the comics on is at lifeofacupioromanticace!

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Eunwoo from Astro

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

Interview: Jade

Today we’re joined by Jade. Jade is a phenomenal writer who has one of the most adorable dogs ever. She writes mostly poetry and fantasy. When she’s not working on original work, Jade writes fanfiction as well. It’s very apparent that she’s incredibly dedicated to the art of writing, 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 who works mostly with poetry and fantasy works. I’m only just starting out publishing my work to my blog but it makes me really happy to share something that means so much to me with others. The last few years I have been big into writing fanfiction for Supernatural but recently I’ve wanted to start working on original works more so I’ve started doing daily couplets and taking poetry requests from my followers. I also did a little challenge for a few days where I would have one of my friends pick out a dialog prompt and I would write a few paragraphs of a story based on it. Writing is one of my favorite things and it has always been a very empowering and relaxing process for me so I’m happy to be expanding on things and doing more of it.

What inspires you?

My dog Duke is a huge inspiration to me since he survived going to the pound twice and having to be there so long but has come out a super loving and amazing dog despite it. Besides that, I’m mostly inspired by the progress I see every time I post something new and can see how much I’m improving and getting better and the knowledge that if I keep going then that trend will continue. My religion also is a big inspiration for me as I’m encouraged to create new works to honor my deities all the time and knowing they appreciate my art helps me want to make more.

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

When I was little I actually wanted to be a scientist and get to study rocks. However I soon realized that doing things that required set steps that were always the same bored me. However since the moment I could read books have always been my escape and eventually I realized that I could write stories too and my heart was set. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of prose but the freedom offered by poetry has brought me back there time and time again.

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?

Well all of my works are their own thing so there’s not really anything I purposely add into them to connect them, however many things that I personally like do get carried over to some of my characters (Like a love of cheesecake or the color blue). I also work a lot with mythology and exploring diversity. Another thing that’s often featured in my works is mental illness and having the characters learn to accept and work with their limits to reach their goal since it’s something that’s important to me since I have had major depression and anxiety since I was really young.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and love what you do. No matter what you do there will be people who put you down or don’t like your work but when you create you should do it for yourself because its something YOU love, not for them. That and try to hold onto old works. Looking back and seeing how much you’ve grown can be such a rewarding and empowering feeling.

IMG_20170805_195527_064

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a non-binary poly panromantic sex repulsed asexual. Try saying that ten times fast XD

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

Most of the prejudice I’ve encountered has actually been from family and people outside of my online fanbase. My father and brother both believed my identity was just because of my time on Tumblr and I was just being a “Special snowflake” However after wasting my breath in many arguments I realized they’d never change their minds and I instead just moved on with my life. I know my body and my life better than them and I wasn’t going to waste more time or energy fighting with them just to be seen as something I already knew was a real part of me. In the few works I’ve written that has Ace characters I’ve mostly gotten support from others who were happy for the representation. I have no tolerance for people who want to insult or mock others so they get deleted, banned, and ignored. I don’t give them the time of day.

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

That it’s just a phase or it’s for attention. It’s not natural. People can’t be sure about it unless they’ve had sex and even then they probably just had bad sex and it’d change if they were with someone who “knew the ropes”. No one seems to take asexuality seriously and it can be really frustrating at times because defending yourself is like talking to a wall but if we don’t stand up for ourselves then we’ll never be able to earn the respect we deserve.

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

You are valid. You don’t have to feel like any label you choose is cemented in stone. You don’t have to have sex to know what you are and your sexuality is as natural as any of the others. It’s okay to not know for certain at the moment and it’s okay to take as long as you need deciding even if you change later. Asexuals exist and are just as important as anyone else.

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

My work is being posted on InkStainedWings.tumblr.com currently. I take poem requests there and post story shards as well as reblogging writing tips and tricks. I hope to see you there 😀

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

Interview: Allyzah Allene

Today we’re joined by Allyzah Allene, who also goes by Ani or Ani Fangor. Allyzah is a phenomenal visual artist who works with in digital and traditional mediums. They haven’t met a material they didn’t like and work with just about everything. Their work is brimming with detail and a masterful use of lines and colors. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Self2017
Self 2017

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist that likes to dabble in just about everything I can afford. I have worked with traditional mediums like pencils (graphites, colored pencils), charcoals, markers, paints (acrylic, watercolor, oil) and digital mediums (limited photoediting, mostly digital art). My goal is to be able to learn as many mediums as I can because I want to teach art. I also occasionally write, and recently began posting my comic on Tapas.

While many other artists have a “deeper meaning” behind their artworks, or a consistent theme, I find art to be most enjoyable when it is “whatever I feel like.” I don’t like stressing over incorporating hidden meanings and “how it may be interpreted,” but rather getting the idea out of my head. My art blog and my art tag ends up being full of random half done pieces and concepts because it’s not always about finishing, but expressing my ideas. (Perhaps not the best rule to live by, but as a student, it’s enough for me.)

What inspires you?

Most of the time, the deadline. Otherwise it’s usually whatever I find aesthetically appealing enough to draw!

For my writing and my comic, though, that was inspired by the lack of diversity in the media I consumed. I got tired of the same old “boy meets girl” plot/subplot found in most things I read, and especially, the lack of characters who even vaguely looked like me. Growing up, the books I read often degraded characters that shared my race or ethnicity, and I struggled with my identity until I was 16 (a mere four years ago). I hated who I was because I wasn’t white, and I thought that I would only be successful if I were like the white characters in my books—even then, that could be a stretch, as there were very few books with girls as the lead. I didn’t find out that I wasn’t cishet until I was about 15, and by then I barely read outside of the class readings, so I wasn’t as bothered by the lack of LGBT+ positive books just yet. In my junior year, I had my “if no one else is going to do it, I will” moment and decided I would make a comic featuring a diverse cast in both ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual/romantic orientation. It took a while, but I finally decided I had put it off long enough and started publishing pages early July 2017 as my 20th birthday gift to myself.

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

When I was in the second grade, my school’s art teacher brought a guest artist to speak to everyone. I don’t remember the name of the artist, but I remember being so intrigued—it was one thing to learn about Van Gogh and Picasso in class, and a completely different thing to see someone live at work that wasn’t my teacher. The way he worked was by covering a canvas with black charcoal, and slowly erasing it away to create an image. My art teacher later caught me trying to do the same thing while waiting for my dad to pick me up, and asked me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but I remember being so happy that she thought I could, and I said yes. Since then, I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about art so that I can help as many people as possible when I become a teacher.

As for writing, we have a rocky relationship. During elementary school, I had a pattern: I would love writing one year, and hate it the next. I didn’t really take it seriously for a while, even when I started writing and posting fanfiction. I found out about NaNoWriMo in middle school, and became serious about writing original work, although the passion and motivation is not nearly as consistent as with art.

Death Lingers_Allyzah Cabugao
Death Lingers

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 know if I’ve been consistent enough with anything to have one of those! The closest thing is the stamp I use to sign my artwork (when I have it). I visited China two years ago as part of an exchange program, and the Chinese students gave me an approximate phonetic translation of my name so that I could have a “Chinese name.” I bought a stamp with that name on it to remember them and the trip, and I use it as half of my artist signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Besides the ever present “keep practicing,” I’d say “if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, put it on pause and work on something different; it’ll come to you sooner than if you keep focusing on it.” If it’s art, that one part will still be waiting for you to come back, and if it’s writing, you can always just type in something like “akdguhos” or “[COME BACK TO THIS]” and continue. (Just make sure that you go back to it before you publish it or turn it in!) You don’t have to finish everything in one go. Take a break, let your creative juices recharge.

Something specifically for visual art: we tend to hyperfixate on the small area that we’re currently working on. Every now and then, remember to step back (or, if digitally, zoom out) and look at the piece as a whole. Something might look okay while zoomed in… and then you look at the whole picture and realize that it’s completely misaligned or maybe the color palette doesn’t match the rest. I’ve worked on several semi-realistic pieces and realized that the “perfect nose” was too far right, or that it looked like the neck didn’t come from the same body as the head, because I didn’t look at the whole picture as much as I should have.

Lumos114
Lumos

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual sex-repulsed, and demi-panromantic. (As well as agender/non-binary.)

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

I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any prejudice in my major related classes yet, but that’s partially because I don’t know anyone well enough to actually care what they say, partly because I have headphones in during class almost all the time. I have had people try to get “creative” with their flirting though, automatically assuming that because I’m an artist, I draw nude people, and that I’d want to draw them … How I respond to them depends on how rude they’re being.

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

Ohh boy, there’s so many that I spent three years researching asexuality in order to academically debunk misconceptions and presented speeches about asexuality to just about any academic platform I could reach. (I’m no longer doing competitive speech as I switch to the coaching side of things, but I’m still ready to spread asexual awareness.)

The one that I hate the most is when people think asexuals are being childish if they state that they have no sexual attraction, especially if they say that they’re a sex-repulsed ace. I’ve had people say that I’ll eventually “grow up and want sex,” and when I literally had an anxiety attack due to a class assigned movie (marked UnRated and with no CW/TW in the film description, nor from the professor) that featured multiple explicit sex scenes and nudity, I was told to grow up and realize that “sex is an art form. You’re an artist, why can’t you appreciate that?” It’s frustrating that sex is seen as a major turning point in your life, the time you’ve “finally reached adulthood,” when there’s plenty of us who can live without it.

Southern Belle_Allyzah Cabugao
Southern Belle

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

Most importantly: you are not broken. Your orientation doesn’t make you any less valid than anyone else! Remember, for every person that takes you down, there’ll be many ready to help lift you back up again.

Also, it doesn’t matter if you fit some of the stereotypes or misconceptions of asexuality or not, you can still identify as ace. Things like “you can’t know if you’re ace if you’re a virgin,” “it’s just a hormonal imbalance,” “it’s because of PTSD/similar,” it doesn’t matter if these are true or not for you. If you feel like asexuality is the best label for your orientation, then you’re ace.

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

I post my work on Tumblr with the tag “#ani amount of art” on both aniamountofart.tumblr.com and aniamountofsketches.tumblr.com; on Instagram/Twitter tagged #aniamountofart on artisticAllyzah; and my comic can be found at tapas.io/series/OMNI!

Marco the Mallard
Marco the Mallard

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