Interview: Fishtanks

Today we’re joined by Fishtanks. Fishtanks is a wonderful visual artist who also does some writing. They mostly do fanart, but also do original work. When they’re not drawing, Fishtanks is working on a webcomic and also does zines. They’re very enthusiastic, 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 am mostly a fan artist of a company called Rooster Teeth, but I also do Original pieces, Zines, animatics, and you heard it here first, I’m working on creating a webcomic right now!

What inspires you?

My inspiration for a majority of what I do is a mix of determination and stubbornness. If I want to do something someone tells me I can’t I work ten times as hard to do it! I have people watching me every day, and I want everyone who does watch me to know they can do whatever their heart desires.

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

I actually never thought that I would be an artist in any capacity as a child. I was interested in engineering and medicine! What got me interested was in my sophomore year of high school, I started talking to my now best friend. He was always by himself drawing, so to get closer to him, I started drawing! Once I started, and my best friend encouraged me, I was hooked!

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

I sign all my works of course, but nothing particularly special!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If someone says you can’t do something, do it anyway. Prove them wrong. Work harder to get there. Know you can do anything you want when you work harder and look at things from a new perspective.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Regular ol’ asexual

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

I have had a few times I have had to stop talking to people I enjoyed messaging because they either said aces aren’t real, or they don’t belong in the LGBT+ community, as well as left group chats.

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

Me complimenting a person or saying “She’s cute” and someone responding “But you’re ace.” Ace people can think someone is cute or attractive

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

It’s totally okay to be confused and questioning, and I even encourage it! Do not worry about saying you are something and then change it if you think it is wrong. Also, it is okay to not have a label for who you are, you are you, not a sum of labels!

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

I post most on my Tumblr: http://emptyfishtanks.tumblr.com/
And YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClB2m2taU60U_br8hQ7P4og
But I also have Twitter: https://twitter.com/emptyfishtanks
And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fishtanksart/

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

Interview: Orion

Today we’re joined by Orion. Orion is a wonderful visual artist who does both original and fanart. They’re currently doing a lot of work with ink and watercolors. Their work has a delightful sense of whimsy and playfulness to it. Their characters are so expressive, as you’ll soon see. 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 like to try many different types and styles of art, though at the moment I’m focusing on inked and watercolour fanart and original visual art.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by my desire to see more positive representation of LGBT+ people in art and media. And by the desire to continue to develop my artistic skills.

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

My grandfather is an artist. Throughout my childhood I loved to visit him, I’d look through his hobby room at the artworks on the walls, the huge painting station, the sketches and canvas spread throughout and I loved it. I’d draw with the art set (a plastic half oval case filled with pencils, crayons, etc.) he had for his grandkids and a drawing I had done as a child of a girl in a dress (me? I cannot remember) was always proudly displayed in Grandpa’s study.

I’ve been interested in art since childhood thanks to Pa’s influence, and messy drawings with crayons slowly turned into something better.

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

I don’t have any intentional things like that, though at the moment, binders have been featured in a lot of my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be a good consumer of art.

Learn to give reviews to other artist’s works, even a short sentence explaining what you like about it. It helps to encourage a culture of interacting with art and sharing it rather than just letting it go by unnoticed and it’s a nice thing to do for the artist.

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Additionally, if you learn to see what makes an artwork good (e.g. “Hey! This is a great work and I really love the detail put into the hair and freckles!”), you’ll know what to put into your own work to make it better (e.g. Detailed hair/freckles).

And keep practicing, create as often as you can, and, if you feel comfortable with it, show as much of your work as you can to the world.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an asexual nonbinary person. The romantic part is slightly more complex as I go by many terms, grey-biromantic, aromantic, and cupioromantic.

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

I’ve gotten hate mail and death threats on Tumblr for being openly ace but overall most people are okay with aces and if they’re not (or send hate mail) I block them immediately.

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

That asexuals just don’t like sex or haven’t found ‘the right person’.

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

Understand that if the issue is figuring out where on the asexual/aromantic spectrum you lie there’s no rush. There’s no real reason you need to have that figured out by a set date, just let yourself explore and eventually you’ll figure it out.

And if it’s becoming comfortable with your orientation that is the issue, firstly try to find other aces to talk to about it and then try to remind yourself that there’s absolutely, 100% nothing wrong with being asexual.

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

My Tumblrs: orioart.tumblr.com for original artworks and orionsfanart.tumblr.com for fanart.

Or my Deviantart: amazingacearmy.deviantart.com

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

Interview: Jordan S. Brock

Today we’re joined by Jordan S. Brock, who also goes by Kryptaria. Jordan is a wonderful author who specializes in queer romance. She writes both original work and fanfiction. Jordan is currently working on a book she describes as “a kinky m/m asexual romance.” She is obviously an incredibly passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve been writing all my life, though I spent forty-plus years trying and failing to muster the courage to submit to a publishing slush pile. For years, I read and wrote sci-fi/fantasy. Then I found fanfiction and fell in love with romance in fanfic — which is strange. I was never able to connect to mainstream romance, to the point where I could reasonably say I hated romance novels.

But romance in fanfic is a different creature altogether. As at earlgreytea68 says here [http://anauthorandherservicedog.tumblr.com/post/159134116719/on-fanfic-emotional-continuity]:

“[F]anfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters because then we can really get the impact of the storyteller’s message but I feel like it could also be not using other people’s characters, just a more character-driven story. Like, I feel like my original stuff–the novellas I have up on AO3, the draft I just finished–are probably really fanfiction, even though they’re original, because they’re hitting fanfic beats.”

This is the original fic I write. It’s marketed as romance, and the focus is on a happily-ever-after ending, but the romance is organic. It grows step-by-step, as true to the characters’ motivation as I can get, without heavy-handed external machinations to cram the characters together.

My first published romance novel, The Longest Night, is actually a nearly word-for-word copy of my Sherlock (BBC) fanfic, Northwest Passage [http://archiveofourown.org/works/531662/chapters/943040]. After I posted NWP, a senior editor at Sourcebooks contacted me on Twitter and asked if I’d be willing to scrub the fic and change it from m/m to m/f. After forty years of wanting to see my name in print, I agreed and signed a two-book contract.

Never let anyone say that fanfic isn’t real writing!

These days, though, I’m much happier to be writing queer romance. In October 2016, at Riptide Publishing released Change of Address [http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/change-of-address], an #ownvoices story about PTSD, a service dog, and a Jewish character — who, unlike me, is a fantastic cook. The sequel, tentatively titled Building Bridges, will be written as soon as my brain cooperates.

COA Book cover from Riptide

For now, I’m very excited to be working on a kinky asexual m/m romance. It’s an awesome challenge, writing an asexual character who’s sex-neutral (bordering on sex-repulsed) but also has a mile-wide dominant streak. He’s learned to navigate kinky spaces in various ways, both healthy and unhealthy, but he’s never found his happily ever after — until now, though it doesn’t come without a whole lot of stumbling blocks in the way. I hope to have the first draft done before May 2017 so the book can be released this year, but no guarantees. Real life keeps getting in the way!

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

I’ve always needed to write, for my own mental health. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between periods when I don’t write and times when I’m depressed or unhealthy.

As for inspiration, these days I look to the unusual romances: ones that sneak up on people from unexpected connections, ones that are realistic, ones that don’t fix the world or cure a character’s problems but that make life a little happier for everyone involved.

That’s what I love about queer romance. I’m not shoehorning or stereotyping my characters into “male” or “female” roles as they’ve become traditionally defined in the romance genre. I can let my characters develop as they will, without fear that an editor will redline a character because of breaking those gender-based molds.

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?

Animals! I tend to sneak in animals, especially dogs or cats, wherever I can, because they’re so important in my own life. I have a service dog for PTSD — two, actually, since my senior service dog, Darian, has retired due to bad hips and I’m now working with Bucky, my service dog in training. Isn’t he gorgeous?

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In Change of Address, I gave Michael, who also has PTSD (from combat), a service dog named Kaylee. She’s a German Shepherd Dog who’s a mix, in temperament, of Bucky and Darian. She’s not perfect, but she’s the steady rock that Michael needs to anchor himself as he finds his way in the civilian world — and the reason that he and Josh eventually end up together.

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In my next book, one of the characters has an adopted greyhound. She offers her human unconditional love in exchange for long naps on the sofa. Really, what more could a person want? And I have plans for a golden retriever puppy to take a starring role in Building Bridges.

My fanfics, whether solo- or co-written, also tend to have pets of various types, whether it’s a pair of ferrets, a basket of kittens, or an over-dramatic saluki.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Remind yourself that art isn’t a zero-sum game. Other artists aren’t your competition — they’re your colleagues. Cheer their successes, because every successful artist brings new consumers into the fold, whether it’s a Big Name Fan writing a breakaway hit fanfic and bringing in new readers who eventually discover your fics or a New York Times bestselling author bringing new readers into the sub-genre in which you write. Yes, sometimes success is a matter of luck, of connections, of timing, but mostly success is a matter of talent and hard work.

Consume other art in your chosen field. If you’re a writer, read all the books you can in your genre — and a few in related genres. For example, I’ve learned a whole lot about writing humor in romance by reading historical m/f romances, even though I don’t think I’ll ever write a historical.

Study the market if you want to turn your art into a career. Learn the formulas and what made the big names successful. Study the fundamentals. Learn all the rules, whether grammar or color theory or whatever applies to your art. You can’t know which rules to break until you have a deep understanding of those rules.

Then feel free to break the rules. Be true to the art you create. You’ll find a market somewhere.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

These days, I come closest to identifying as autochorissexual.

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

I’m fortunate that I haven’t, though I suspect that’s because I’m working with publishing professionals who are from all over the queer spectrum, including an ace senior editor.

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

Any sentence that includes the words “all aces” is bound to be 1) “commonly” believed or taken to be true and 2) actually flat-out wrong.

When it comes to my next book, I’m actually bracing for backlash from outside the ace community from people telling me I can’t write a kinky asexual character because “all aces” don’t like sex and therefore can’t be kinky.

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

A few things:

  1. “All aces” don’t exist. Every asexual person is different. Sex-positive, sex-neutral, sex-repulsed. Kinky, vanilla, or none of the above. Masturbates or doesn’t. Experiences arousal under whatever circumstances or none at all.
  2. If someone tells you “you can’t be ace because…” or “you’re not a real ace because…” walk away and don’t look back. Nobody elected these gatekeepers, and nobody has a lock on knowing everything about asexuality — not even other aces. We all live in a continuous state of self-discovery, from the day we’re born until the day we die.
  3. And that means sometimes you change, whether from biology or circumstance or because you simply learned a new word that comes closer to resonating with who you really are inside. There was a time I identified as het, then bi, then pan, then gray-ace, then demi-ace, then back to gray-ace/aro. It took me something like 43 years to get where I am now, and that doesn’t mean it won’t change again. That’s okay!

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

These days, I tend to be most active on my Twitter, https://twitter.com/jordansbrock/ for original work or pictures of Bucky. I’m terrible at keeping up my website, jordansbrock.com, even though it’s a Tumblr. You’d think it’d be easy!

My Riptide Publishing author page will also have a link to all books I’ve released through them. http://riptidepublishing.com/authors/jordan-s-brock

For fanfic, my work is all available on AO3 at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Kryptaria/works and my Tumblr, at kryptaria, is full of inspirational pictures. These days, it’s mostly Marvel Cinematic Universe. I keep my James Bond stuff at kryptaria00Q and post random writing/service dog bits at anauthorandherservicedog.

Thank you, Jordan, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Interview: Shaylee

Today we’re joined by Shaylee. Shaylee is a wonderful visual artist who works mostly in digital mediums. Her work is beautiful, displaying a wonderful amount of emotion and an artist with a great eye. When she’s not drawing, Shaylee also enjoys writing and does some cross stitch. It’s very apparent that she’s a passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Self-Portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

When I was a kid, I loved crayons and glitter glue and little homemade story books made out of stapled together printer paper. As a preteen, it was all about colored pencils and pens and some really embarrassing fanfictions. Then it shifted to watercolors and poetry and some really depressing song lyrics. Now, I work with digital art and both original work and fanfictions. I like to use Paint Tool Sai and haven’t found any other programs I particularly like just yet.

What inspires you?

It’s a bit of an eclectic mish-mash to tell the truth. I love the look of more historical styles like Art Nouveau, but also the cartoony styles. There was also the love of anime as a preteen that fueled some of the first drawings. Often, I find that my style will not match an inspiration that I pick, because it always changes itself. Often times, it’s just techniques that muck together, such as a particular type of gradience or color choices. I’ve been experimenting with line thickness and colors more recently.

For my writing, I find that I love to put twists on more common tales and tropes. I love fairytales, and there’s nothing like giving new information and twists to it. It may be the same old trope, but if you change some aspects, it will become something entirely new and different. Everyone’s heard the original, so the challenge is to keep them interested!

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Curls

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

I’ve been drawing and writing as long as I remember. I was reading out loud to my cousins when I was three, and later on I would illustrate and write my own stories that were carefully stapled together and put on the bookshelf. Shockingly, most of them ended with a marriage, four children and a happy ending. Later on, it was fueled by manga reading and a want to tell stories with what I made. I have yet to actually make a comic, but there are several storylines that I have built up over time to tell.

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?

One thing that I do is to particularly outline the lips and to usually only color the top half. This started because of a love for the artists Mothsbymoonlight and Dyemelikeasunset. They both have several beautiful styles and techniques, and I always loved the ways that they drew mouths.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My best advice would be to work with what you know and then expand. When you get good at color, then start up with the next thing. If you just jump into something entirely new, there’s a good chance that you might feel flustered because you don’t have a frame of reference. You don’t always have to jump in the deep end, it’s okay to wade in a little.

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Girls

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an asexual with a vague hand wiggle for romantic inclination. A lot of things are more circumstantial and fluid for me for romance.

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

I’ve thankfully have only faced the confused questions towards myself, but I have seen some stark examples of acephobia, especially when the ace community is trying to step up and out to be noticed. My tactic is mostly education. Sometimes hate can stem from miscommunication or from not understanding. Of course, it doesn’t always work, so don’t be afraid to just turn away either. There is no harm in placing your own health and mind in priority.

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

There’s the very common ‘you mean like reproducing by yourself?’ kind of science questions. It’s annoying, but usually it’s not mean but misguided. Not everyone knows about asexuality outside of high school biology. One of the other big things is about asexuals not having sex. You can have sex without a sex drive, and some do it as they wish. I prefer no sex, but I have engaged in it for reasons of my own before and it really surprised people when I told them. Everyone is their own mishmash of tastes and preferences, just like anything else.

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

To be honest, it might be difficult, because there’s not always clearcut signs. It’s like looking for the absence of something you haven’t seen. It can be hard, but I say to embrace the label as long as you see fit. There’s no harm in finding out that a different label fits you better later on. I saw myself as several different identities before asexual, and each of them were completely valid at the time.

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

I usually post art to http://luckysee12.deviantart.com/ and fanfiction to http://archiveofourown.org/users/Luckysee12 and I have my Tumblr http://luckysee12.tumblr.com/ but I will warn you that it is mainly memes.

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Galaxy

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

Interview: Rae

Today we’re joined by Rae. Rae is a wonderful visual artist who does both traditional and digital art. She does a lot of fanart but also enjoys doing original work as well. She’s incredibly passionate about her art, 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 do a lot of fanart as well as my own original creations. I do both traditional and digital art. My favorite thing to do is character design, and I’m always coming up with random stories in my head and developing characters to go in them.

What inspires you?

I find a lot of inspiration from my fandoms and the internet. Just browsing around random sites, I suddenly get interesting ideas. I also have weird dreams that make me think, “hey, that could be a cool story,” and I just kind of roll with it.

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

I always drew as a kid, but I was never really into it. I started identifying as an artist in 8th grade when I took my first art class, and I’ve just been in love with it ever since.

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

No, nothing in particular.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Remember, there will always be someone better than you. But just because someone might have “better” art doesn’t mean yours isn’t still amazing. Follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not “good enough” to be an artist.

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Shadows of Doubt

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a demiromantic asexual. I also think I might be sex-repulsed, but I’m not 100% sure.

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

Fortunately, not much. Mostly, people just don’t know what I mean when I say i’m asexual and I have to explain it to them.

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

That asexuality is a biological term and can’t be applied to humans.

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

It’s okay to not know. I was questioning for a long time, and when I heard about asexuality, I was still confused. Keep searching until you find what works for you.

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

You can follow me on Tumblr at http://lemurart.tumblr.com/ or DeviantArt at http://linkachu72.deviantart.com/

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Bubbles

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

Interview: Laura

Today we’re joined by Laura. Laura is a wonderful artist from France who does a lot of traditional drawing and also writing. She publishes both original work and fanfiction online, both in French and English. Laura recently started getting into drawing and her work shows an artist with an incredible eye. She’s obviously an incredibly passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I struggle with considering myself an artist, I think I just dabble, but I’ve been writing for… ten years now? Both Fanfictions and original works, short stories. And I draw, although I really started this year to get seriously into it (I did a “one drawing a day” challenge and held up to it pretty good). I draw traditional drawing, mostly black and white, but I’d like to get more into painting when I have the time.

What inspires you?

For fanfictions, my ships haha, and what I want to read in fanfic and can’t find. For short stories I mostly write for contest, so I follow the theme! I write fantastic and sci-fi and I’d like to write for a living some day. I think I put a lot of myself into it too.

For drawing, it can be anything, what happened during the day, an event, the places I visited or the people I met. I do fanart too, portraits, landscapes, typography… anything really. Life inspires me, music too, the world in general.

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

When I was maybe ten I started writing the stories I imagined about my favourite characters and show, and when I discovered fandom later I fond out it was called fanfiction. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time, even if I admit it only just now. Writing makes me happy.

I’ve been drawing for even longer I think, back when I was a little girl, but I gave up on it on the way. Then I went to architecture school and it made me want to go back to it. I never wanted to be an architect though, it kind of… happened. I didn’t plan on doing anything with my drawing either but now I don’t know, maybe?

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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?

Hm, I don’t think so. But my pseudo have been Inrainbowz for almost as long as I’ve been on the internet and I’d like to keep that as a symbol, be it in a signature or a penname. I’m thinking about it!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Not too look too much around, at least not for comparison. Of course it’s great to be inspired by others, but you’ll always find someone better than you. It doesn’t matter. It’s actually an advice I try to apply to myself, because I always look at those who do better than me, have more comments, more feedback… The internet can be tricky with this, can make you feel like you don’t get recognition because you’re not good enough, but the truth is it’s mostly luck. And if there is just one person who likes what you do, just one who felt something, who was moved by your art, for whom it changed something, then it’s worth it. It’s enough. Even if this person is you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and I identify as panromantic, but I’m thinking more and more that I might be aromantic too, it’s a work in progress.

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

Yeah, of course. I’ve had people, acquaintances and friends, thinking I (or ace people in general) just “hadn’t met the right person” and that “when you fall in love you’ll want sex then”. I don’t think I’m very good at handling it, usually I just shrug, because what do they know? Truth is I used to have those opinions too, so I know where they’re coming from and why they say that. I rarely feel like educating people and I don’t come out that often.

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

That it will pass, it’s not real. And also that it dooms me to a life of celibacy. It’s actually a little sad how people think a relationship absolutely can’t work out if you don’t have sex regularly. Once again I used to think so when I was younger, but even out of the ace spectrum, relationships are way more complicated than that. And there are people understanding and cool about it still, they exist.

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

Don’t deny yourself. I know it’s scary and you might think that it’s something bad, that you don’t want it, but you have to be at peace with yourself, and you can’t do that if you force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, and if you lie to yourself. It will only hurt you. And it’s a bit cliché, but you’re not alone. Find others like you. I can’t say how much Tumblr helped me on that matter, what a relief it was to find blogs and people who shared similar experiences. When you read enough you can finally be convinced that there’s nothing wrong with you, just like there’s nothing wrong with all those people you get to interact with. There’s more to life than sex and romance, there’s plenty left to discover and experience.

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

I write fanfic in English on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/Inrainbowz, and in French on fanfiction.net: https://www.fanfiction.net/~inrainbowz. Both my short stories (http://l-ecriture-des-choses.blogspot.fr/) and poems (http://l-ecriture-des-choses.tumblr.com/) are in French only. And my drawings are here: http://inraindrawz.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Jacen

Today we’re joined by Jacen. Jacen is an incredibly versatile artist who works in a few different mediums. She’s a very passionate visual artist who does both original work and fanart (her Eevee is truly delightful). She hasn’t met a medium she doesn’t like and uses both traditional and digital mediums. Aside from visual art, she’s an incredibly dedicated oboist who was an admirable love of music. It’s very clear that she loves creating art and that’s always awesome to see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Ahsoka

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a digital artist, primarily, but I love to experiment in all different mediums. I’ve worked with pencils and pens, Copic markers, watercolors, oil paints, India ink and more, and I like to combine different mediums as well. Be it fanart or original works, I enjoy taking an interpretive approach to my pieces.

In addition, I am a passionate musician. I’m one of the few oboists in the city and even though I haven’t been playing for all that long, I have an extensive background in music and theory.

What inspires you?

With my art, a big part of my inspiration is geometrical shapes. I like arranging irregular shapes and making them work together to form an image. As someone who heads out to the Rocky Mountains on a regular basis, I also enjoy taking inspiration from nature, both living and inanimate. And, of course, my favorite TV shows and movies. I just really love seeing my pieces come together and make sense.

My music is a lot of the same idea. I absolutely love just the sound of my oboe, and I actively enjoy practicing on my own, but my real passion is for sitting down with the entire band and hearing all the parts together. My favorite pieces are always the ones that send chills down my spine to hear and to play. I’d say that’s really why I play, to hear mine and everyone else’s parts combine to make something incredible.

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

Ever since I was very young I’ve drawn and played instruments. Growing up as a longtime student in the Gifted program, creativity was always massively encouraged. I would definitely say that being in such a program was what got me continuing to draw and make art into middle and high school. I wouldn’t say I’ve always wanted to be an artist, it’s more something that slowly and unconsciously evolved into a hobby; I’ve never really been interested in a career in art, but it’s still a big part of me.

As for music, I actually hated piano lessons when I was young, and I stopped playing anything for a long time. In eighth grade my best friend convinced me to join band and I started out on the clarinet, which I can still play, and the next year I took up oboe. That, I can see myself continuing for a long time, for sure.

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Flareon

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 mentioned earlier incorporating geometric shapes into my work, that’s really my thing. I like the challenge of taking an image and turning it into shapes, and making it still make sense. That’s something I do with a lot of my work, even sometimes when I do semi-realism.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You really have to stop worrying about getting it right. Especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, you have to stop trying to get it right every time. You gotta experiment with styles and techniques and mediums and don’t feel that you have to know anything about that medium to just try it. If you like it, that’s when you do your research, take some classes, whatever you want. Just practice your art without worrying about how it might turn out.

For any oboists who may or may not be reading this: FIND A GOOD TEACHER. Band is great but oboes are so weird and specialized that you need an expert to help you. Oboe reeds need a lot of tweaking and I’m gonna guess you don’t know how to make reeds yet. Not to mention that damn Db key. Trust me, a teacher you get along with and who knows their stuff will be invaluable to you.

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Wolf Inverted print

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic asexual.

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

Ignorance, definitely, more than prejudice. But I’ve found that artists and creative-types in general are quite accepting and open-minded. When the odd person arises who has a real issue with it (mostly only existing on social media) I try to not let it get to me. It’s not the minority’s job to educate anyone on their community, but when someone genuinely doesn’t know what they’re talking about, I try to clear it up for them.

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

That we just don’t like sex, or we’re scared of it, or that we’ve had some kind of sexual trauma. Of course there are aces who are scared of sex or have been traumatized, but it’s inaccurate and rude to place that assumption on all of us, because it often leads to us being dismissed or harassed for it.

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

When I was figuring out I was asexual, I was scared to identify as such in case I really was just a late bloomer. There’s so much emphasis put on the fact that aces are definitely never going to change or start feeling sexual attraction that it’s easy to forget that it’s alright if it is a phase. It doesn’t make it any less valid. If you identify as ace now and you don’t later in your life, who cares? Sexuality can be fluid, so if it feels right at the moment then just go for it.

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

I have my Tumblr (http://the-cat-in-the-fez.tumblr.com/) that you can always message me on.

I post art to my Instagram (stcrmpilxt)

I have a couple works-in-progress on my AO3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/satancat)

And I sell my art on Society6 (https://society6.com/suncat) and I’m working on uploading stuff to Redbubble (http://www.redbubble.com/people/satancat)

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Eevee

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