Interview: Tristan

Today we’re joined by Tristan. Tristan is a phenomenal origamist, a first for Asexual Artists. He makes phenomenal shapes by folding patterns. Tristan does both representational and non-representational origami. His work is extraordinary, showing a great complexity and beautiful detail. Aside from origami, Tristan also runs the Asexual Agenda (which is a wonderful site) under the pseudonym Siggy. It’s clear he’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what he does. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. IMG_0810 (cropped)
Floral Dodecahedral Space, semi-original design, modular origami

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make origami, specializing in non-representational origami.  I started out with modular origami, in which multiple sheets of paper are assembled into a larger model, typically in a symmetric shape, and typically without glue or string. Then I started making origami tessellations, which are folded patterns that could in principle repeat infinitely to tile the plane.

I dabble in representational origami too, especially after I started going to origami groups, but in my heart I’m all about the abstract and geometric forms.

Origami is best understood in analogy to music.  Just as music has composers and performers, origami has designers and folders.  I do both: I fold models designed by other people, and I fold my own original (and semi-original) designs.  Original design is a very complicated process that calls for a lot of experience, specialized techniques, and trial and error.

What inspires you?

My original designs are often based on some mathematical shape or idea.  Sometimes inspiration comes from math that is unrelated to origami, and sometimes it comes from the mathematics of folding itself.  Even when I’m folding someone else’s design and choosing what colors to use, I’m always thinking about the mathematical structure of the coloring.

Other inspiration comes from other people’s designs.  Much of origami design is about incrementally mutating existing designs.

2. IMG_1041 (cropped)
Compound of Five Octahedra, design by Meenakshi Mukerji, modular origami

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

I have a story that is typical for an origamist.  I did some origami as a kid, and then I revisited it as an adult, discovering that it was a deeper and more intricate art-form than I ever could have appreciated before. When I was a kid, I made traditional origami, but as an adult I had a better sense of my own aesthetics, and immediately gravitated towards modular origami.

I have not always wanted to be an artist.  I wanted to be a scientist.  I was a scientist, and now I’m switching to tech.  But here I am, also doing art.  If I had an opportunity to make a living from my art, I would strongly consider it.

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?

Sometimes I write my name on my models with invisible ink.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is common to value art that was technically challenging to create.  But in my own designs, I value the opposite; I prefer designs that are simple enough that other people can learn to fold them.  So my advice is to internalize the difference between technical prowess and aesthetic value.  There is value in art that is not difficult to create.

3. IMG_1051
Cube Tessellation, original design, tessellation

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m gray-A, and gay.  I’m also gray-romantic, but I don’t talk about that part much.

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

No.  At the moment, I mostly interact with other origamists offline, and it doesn’t come up.  However, at least a few people find me through my blog, where I write about being ace all the time.  I also sometimes incorporate ace or aro colors into designs, because why not?  And none of this has ever led to any problems.

4. IMG_1072
Stairway Leaf, original design, neither modular nor a tessellation

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

There aren’t many interactions in my life where people might directly express misconceptions.  But I would guess that a lot of people are confused by my relationship with an allo person, and are too polite to ask.

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

When I first identified as ace, I spent a lot of time trying to analyze my feelings and build detailed models out of that.  After almost a decade, most of those details seem to fade away in significance.  It’s fine to spend time analyzing one’s feelings, but if it’s causing you a lot of stress, remember that figuring out every little detail is ultimately optional.

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

Photos of my origami can be found on my flickr page.  There’s also some origami content on my blog, A Trivial Knot.  Finally, some readers might recognize me as Siggy, the admin of The Asexual Agenda.

5. IMG_1201
Three Axis Woven Design, design by David Huffman, tessellation

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

Interview: Lehenne

Today we’re joined by Lehenne. Lehenne is an amazingly versatile artist who dabbles in a bit of everything. They currently have a book out, which they’re trying to get some buzz for, so please check out their links (their work features prominent LGBT+ characters as well as angels, demons, and maybe even an apocalypse). Aside from writing, Lehenne dabbles in a number of visual arts and even enjoys singing. They’re clearly a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

2012-02-28 23.23.25

Tom Baker0001

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love every kind of art. I sculpt, I paint, I sing (I’m probably driving my colleagues crazy over this one), I do origamis and engraving, I knit and sew, I also dabble in the art of Bonsaïs…

Ano, dragged out of heaven

But most of all, I draw and I write. Like, an unhealthy amount. It’s my thing, when I do something, I don’t do anything else until I bore myself out of it. And I love the art of words (the puns, spoonerisms and malaphors, oh my colleagues, my poor colleagues!)

avatar

demon-

What inspires you?

My dreams! I dream all the time always. To the point where I eagerly wait for any alone time to do so without distractions. And when I’m not dreaming, I’m doing art… Or looking at it. And my dreams are inspired by everything that surrounds me; To the films I watch at the cinema and the TV series I follow, the museums I visit and the images I come across on Internet, the ancient mythologies and the comic books, nature’s work of art and pareidolia I catch on my tile floor, to the medieval choruses and chiptune I listen to.

IMG_20130101_063630

IMG_20151010_194304

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

I’ve always been drawing, since I can remember; my oldest memory is of me drawing in kindergarten. And I’ve started to read and write in sixth grade after my French professor (I’m French so the equivalent would be your English professor) gave us this short stories book, and I flashed on it; I mean, a light went on in my head, and I thought to myself “that’s it, I want to write. Create my own stories and share with everyone.” Watching movies and reading books, that’s good and all, but I thought to myself, my dreams deserve to be written down, if only for my own consumption. I have so many plot bunnies in my short stories’ file.

IMG_20160410_184341

As to wanting to be an artist, I don’t think I ever had a choice, it’s my life, and I don’t think I could bear going through it without doing art. It’s not what pays the bills right now, but I hope the current book I’m working on will launch me into the fabulous world of paid authors. For now, I share it for free on the site “Booksie”.

IMG_20160605_234601

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 enjoy writing about supernatural characters, going inside their head and change the way I think to show an original point of view. I love drawing winged characters, probably because it’s my dream to fly (Yeah, I know, how original). I’ve also been told my original portraits’ style is somewhat always androgynous. My current book (see link below), regroups all that, I realised just now!

IMG_20160613_115530

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

DON’T study art. Study whatever else you’re interested in. But always keep art on the sidelines, never give it up. And when you’re set in your life, with what society calls a “real job”, you’ll have every occasion to art and live from it. With your hard-earned money, you’ll buy as much art supply as you wish, and you’ll art whenever wherever.

IMG_20160920_142001

IMG_20160714_125839

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m relatively new to this part, I’ve found all those amazing descriptions and denominations earlier this year. But I can affirm that I’m asexual and aromantic. I’m also pretty sure I’m agender, but I can’t be certain (I don’t really know what a gender is supposed to feel like, but I suspect, from my fascination with agender characters and my agender dream alter ego I’ve thought up when I was six and still imagine stories for, that that’s what I am).

IMG_20161026_214051

IMG_20161010_195744

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

I’ve never come out, so that’s going to be difficult to answer. I don’t feel like saying, “I don’t do that” to somebody, that would just be… odd? Also, I don’t hang out with many people, but! One conversation I’ve had with a lively colleague did stir in that direction. When I bluntly said that I was aromantic and told her what it was, she simply said, “That’s not possible, ‘cos you aren’t a snail!” I’m still unsure what that means, but it did discourage me to ever talk about it again (I’m the epitome of shyness and introversion, so…) It still hasn’t come up again.

IMG_20161014_170321

IMG_20161014_170149

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

Mmh. When I was little, I would ask how I was supposed to know and feel like when I’d fall in love. I’ve always been told, “You’ll know”. But I never did. And I went through my teenage years thinking I would know when I’d want to have sex with someone. But I never did. I don’t think I answered that question correctly, but I don’t really know what to say, we don’t talk about sexuality much, here in France; People just kind of just openly lust over random people, and we don’t go beyond that. So if like me, you don’t lust over people, you just don’t say anything. I do have been called a prude for not enjoying sexualizing strangers, though.

Photo844

IMG_20161026_180200

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

Don’t struggle? I have never given it any thought, really, it just seemed like a natural thing to me. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if I should be (sexually/romantically) attracted to people I found attractive, but the answer has always been “nope”. I’ve just found out it was aesthetic attraction (because I love art so much!) So really, I don’t know what to say to people that don’t feel comfortable with who they are.

Just know that you aren’t alone, there are plenty of good people around to support and love you. With some introspection, you might even come to terms with and enjoy who you are!

IMG_20161113_194817

IMG_20161106_155603

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

Here’s the link for my current book (It’s a work in progress): https://www.booksie.com/502306-dragged-out-of-heaven

If there’s any French speakers around, I also have another book here (still free): https://www.404-factory.fr/story/feroces-heros

As for my drawing, I haven’t spent much time on my Tumblr blog yet (I’m still new and haven’t yet completely understood how it worked), but I will make some efforts to post stuff on it in the near future: https://lehenne.tumblr.com/)

IMG_20160829_161501

IMG_20160827_224554

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

Interview: Jenna Madsen

Today we’re joined by Jenna Madsen (also known as 565mae10).  Jenna is an amazingly talented visual artist whose images left me awestruck.  There’s a picture of a Great Pyrenees (a dog I have soft spot for)!  Jenna plans to study art in college.  If her work is anything to go by, this artist has a bright future ahead of her.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

11355636_916526095079097_706801902_n

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do a variety of art but I plan to study illustration or character animation in college. My dream is to be a storyboard artist and get to create something magical for people to enjoy. I draw anime, cartoons, realism, abstract art, and comics! I’ve also recently taken up painting which has been really fun, animation as well. A couple of other odd artistic things I do include playing piano, making origami, and ceramics! I plan to start up a webcomic in the near future, so be sure to be on the look out for that!

What inspires you?

I was greatly inspired as a kid from shows that made me emotional, like Pokemon; I remember vividly when I was around four years old I was watching an episode while doodling and I just thought someone had to animate this, if they could, why can’t I? And well, the rest is history. I’ve also been inspired over the years by creators everywhere from small artists on the internet to studios like Ghibli. Seeing the magic that cartoons can convey to a group of people is what inspires me to continue getting better; I want to make people smile.

11126181_925753794156327_154831579_n

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

As I mentioned above I got into art from watching cartoons at a very young age. I’ve wanted to be an artist basically ever since I could hold a pencil, and I was very determined to get better. I used to carry around a bag full of crayons and pencils when I was a little kid and draw everything I saw, I actually copied all 151 of the original Pokemon in a notebook. It’s kinda of silly to think about now, but the passion I felt then is the same as I do now.

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

Not so much a signature but something silly, I have a little fennec-fox like character that I used to draw everywhere when I was younger that I still use sometimes. His name is Zip and he was kind of my signature character for years, maybe I’ll have to bring the little guy back.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would probably be to practice and never give up no matter how hard it seems. You’ll have those points in your art life where you won’t have any inspiration or you realize that you’re not that good and those moments are when people tend to quit. You have to work through them and realize that with every bad drawing you’re working towards a good one and getting better. I was awful at drawing for so many years but I didn’t let it stop me and now I’m making it into a career. You’ll be okay, don’t let others bring you down and most of all, don’t let yourself bring you down. Just draw because you love it and try to remember why you started in the first place. The artist you’ll be five years from now won’t improve without your effort now and likewise the artist you were five years ago would be stunned at how much you have improved now due to your efforts.

Asexual Me

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a panromantic asexual. I’m still coming to terms with the panromantic part because I was in denial for a long time and I don’t want to be shunned by my family or people I care about, but it’s just who I am and I need to learn to embrace it.

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

Not so much so in my field, but I have definitely encountered ace prejudice. I try to be a voice in the asexual community and help educate through my art on social media, those have received backlash before. Mostly just by people dismissing the idea of asexuality altogether. I handle it by remembering how many people I have helped understand themselves and changed their lives for the better; just realizing that I have affected people that much makes me smile.

Colors

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

The most common misconception has to be that we “just haven’t found the right person yet” but that’s not the only one. Here are a couple ones that have been personally said to me:

• You’re broken.
• It’s a hormonal deficiency.
• Asexuality is a mental illness.
• You don’t know until you’ve tried it.
• What are you? A plant?
• Asexuality, isn’t that made up?

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

It’ll be alright, I promise. It can be a magical feeling finding a community that relates to you but also an isolating one realizing that among a majority of the population you’re considered the odd one. Just be yourself and it will be okay, the people you love will eventually understand and if you’re open about it you may help a friend discover they are also asexual. It’ll be hard but I promise you can get through it and once you accept yourself… Everything will feel a little bit better than it did before when you were being forced into society’s mold.

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

Right now my artwork can be found on my tumblr account: 565mae10.tumblr.com

I’m going to try to get a website for a webcomic soon and maybe an online gallery for my artwork but for now you’ll just have to bear with my silly art blog.

meerkat

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