Interview: Fish-Heads

Today we’re joined by Fish-Heads. Fish-Heads is a wonderful visual artist who does a little bit of everything. He does drawing, painting, large scale installations, and has recently been dabbling in digital art. He enjoys drawing monsters in particular and his drawings are vivid and unique. It’s clear he loves what he does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Illustration104Color

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I try not to limit myself to one particular medium over another, so I consider myself a ‘jack of all trade’ kind of artist. Painting, sculpture, large-scale installation, drawing; whatever feels natural to that particular piece at the time is what I roll with. Recently, however, I have started dabbling in digital art for the first time, and have quickly fallen in love with it.

What inspires you?

I enjoy working within the realm of monsters. Inner demons, monsters living under your bed, tricksters and lonely souls; depicting monsters has become a quick and cathartic method for me to cope with my own struggles throughout life.

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

I have been interested in art since I was a little kid. As I got older though, art making became a way for me to escape reality and the tribulations of mental illness. Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have been a part of my existence for most of my life, so art making gave me those few moments of solace in the day to get away from it. Even after receiving my BFA and MFA, art continues to pull me away from life and steer my mind toward calmer places.

Illustration117Color

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?

Mouths and teeth have been a consistent staple throughout most of my work. I like to think there is a strange and disgusting beauty to mouths; they showcase so much of our internal and external emotions. A smile can depict happiness and willingness, but it can also express fear and uncertainty. Likewise, frowns can express sadness, illness, and pain. I use mouths as my primary focal point because they are so malleable and squishy, and have been an effective outlet for depicting my own emotions to the viewer.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try not to get caught up in finding your niche style or medium; always allow for experimenting and exploration in oneself. Do not fall prey to comparing your art with other artist. If you are not having fun making your art, then what is the point?

IllustrationFamily7

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a Demibisexual.

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

I would say the number one type of ignorance that I experience, not only within my field, but in general, is the assumption that aces, of any kind, do not exist. Since I do live within a fairly touchy ‘red’ area, confronting such ignorance is a relatively fruitless endeavor, so I tend to ignore it. However, despite being afloat in a red sea, I am comforted knowing that I am far from the only one out there; and have made a number of friendships with others just like me.

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

Sexual relationships = happiness, therefore aces are not happy. This misconception has plagued me for so long, and only continues to be more prevalent the older I get. The notion that one must be in a sexually-active relationship in order to achieve happiness has always rubbed me the wrong way. I have been walking through my life knowing many fantastic and brilliant people, people that have brought me significant amounts of joy, and never once did I ever want to sleep with them.

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

You are not alone, there are others out there just like you. Even when things get tough, remember to turn toward that which brings you happiness, and run with it.

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

Website – www.fish-heads-monsters.com
Twitter – at LoneFishMonger
Teespring – https://teespring.com/stores/fish-heads-inc

IllustrationFamily8

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

Interview: Brittany L.

Today we’re joined by Brittany L. Brittany is a wonderful visual artist I met at Indy PopCon. She does a lot of traditional visual art, specializing in acrylics and watercolors. Brittany also does a little digital art too. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

_Father Sky
Father Sky

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I think my favorite medium is paint. I’ve used acrylics and watercolors, but I’d like to learn how to use other types of paint like oils. In high school I started learning how to do digital art using the Adobe Cloud and it is a blast, so I want to get better at that too. Basically, I’m interested in a whole lot of things and would like to just keep trying new things and getting better at what I love to do.

What inspires you?

I seem to be inspired by random things. I’ll just be going about my day and then think of something. It can be a bit stressful because I can randomly forget things just as easily, so I have to make sure that I write things down as I think of them.

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

Art has always been incredibly important to me for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to make things and what others might’ve called junk I would find some sort of craft to give it a purpose. Over the years I have gotten involved in different kinds of art; as a kid it was visual art, but in middle school I got involved with theatre and writing then in high school I joined show choir and developed an interest in graphic design. That’s how I ended up where I am now.

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 usually sign my work as “Blu” because it takes the first letter of my first name and the first two letters of my last name. And blue is one of my favorite colors!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s cliché, but my advice is to keep practicing if art is something you really love. But practicing does not just mean doing. Of course, you will have to actually make some art. However, if you are becoming too frustrated with yourself and over criticizing your work then you can take a break from doing and absorb art. Watch videos of art tutorials. Read books about art. Find artists with styles you like to gain insight for what you want to do with your own. And just remember while you are growing that it is okay for your work to not turn out exactly as you expected. That’s completely normal.

_Oceans of Neptune
Oceans of Neptune

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Finding how I wanted to identify myself was really difficult for a long time until a really close friend of mine just casually told me that if I wanted to, I could use asexual and heterosexual to identify myself simultaneously. I had thought of it before that conversation, but I felt like I couldn’t do that because I figured most aces would just call themselves heteroromantic asexual or a gray ace. For some reason those terms just didn’t work for me personally.

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

I started wondering whether I was asexual during my freshman year in high school. This was also when I developed my first crush. Both of us grew up in religious families, but his environment had different ideals than my own. When I brought up my questions to him he said he would have to break up with me if that was the case because it went against what he believed in. I was so head over heels for him at this point that I forced myself to say that I wasn’t asexual at all so that he would stay with me. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only change I made for him. It was all really damaging to me as a person. We ended up breaking up a couple months later anyway and I was devastated for a long time. But thankfully we have both grown so much from this experience. He apologized for the way things were and how things ended, and we are actually friends now. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience. Even though it was hard for a while, I’m grateful for what came out of it.

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

That aces just haven’t met the right person. I feel like that idea comes from a very basic idea of asexuality. Not all aces are the same; it’s different for everyone! Some like to have sex and others don’t. Some experience romantic attraction and others don’t. So, while some aces may meet someone that they’ll date, have sex with, marry, etc., others won’t because that just isn’t for them.

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

Be brave! Even though we make up a small percentage of the population, out of 7 billion people that’s a lot of individuals. None of us are actually alone. I went to my first pride festival recently and I meet other asexuals, which was something that had never happened to me before. Since then I have continued to find resources and spaces online for asexual individuals (such as this blog!) or to spread awareness about asexuality. I’m even in a subreddit called r/asexuality, and people post questions in there all the time to get help trying to become comfortable with their orientation. Find ways to talk to other people in your situation. If you are religious and are struggling with that aspect of it, try to find someone you trust who is safe to talk to about your journey. I talked to so many other friends who are also religious after my first boyfriend told me it was wrong, and they helped to reassure me that it is okay. You do not have to suffer in silence. I am open to having a conversation too if it will help a fellow ace in need; my Instagram is at brii.the.blu.bird. And please, please remember to be kind to yourself while you are on this journey.

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

The public Instagram account that I mentioned before (at brii.the.blu.bird) is a separate account I made in hopes of starting to share my work more. There isn’t much there right now, but hopefully I will be able to start uploading more work soon. I also have some writing on Wattpad under the username at brii_the_blu_bird.

_Rings of Saturn
Rings of Saturn

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

Interview: Megan Hustmyer

Today we’re joined by Megan Hustmyer. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist and author who does a bit of everything. They paint, sculpt, and do illustrations. On the writing side, they write poetry and prose. Megan is currently working on a novel featuring an asexual succubus. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and passionate 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 am an artist and a writer. I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I write prose and poetry. My work has undertones concerning self-love and acceptance, which is especially potent for me personally as a queer creator. I really love imagining queer creatures, aliens, monsters, realms and the like.

I’m working on my first magical realism novel, which focuses on an asexual, non-binary succubus living in contemporary America. So they’re pretty much screwed, but they make their best go at it.

What inspires you?

I’ve always loved fantasy, science-fiction, magic, mythology and folklore. More recently I’ve been attracted to queer theory, particularly the academic work of Ela Pryzbolo, an asexual scholar who writes theory on asexuality. I’m heavily inspired by her mission to expand and fuck with the limitations of asexuality/sexuality. I believe that a narrow definition of queerness isn’t queer at all. Which is why I want to write about an asexual succubus, it’s a great way for me personally to explore the identity of gray-sexuality and be able to look at sexuality through an asexual lens.

I also love ‘We Were Witches’ by Ariel Gore, trees, and affirming that nature is gay.

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

I didn’t actually start to think of myself as an artist until I was in my sophomore year of college, majoring in fine arts. I knew there wasn’t a way I could just not have art in my life. Before that, I considered it a hobby. I also daydreamed a lot, and for a long time I thought that it was unhealthy, but now I’ve come to terms with my imaginative sight-seeing and I use it as a processor for my art, my stories, emotions, and anything else I need it for.
Art itself is a fantastic processor. I’ll always be thinking about a lot of things at once and it can be overwhelming, so the artistic process is very helpful for me. I’ve always felt there was a link for me in particular between art and healing. Especially when drawing or painting, I’m able to think in ways on paper that would be too confusing in my brain. There’s a link to be made between art therapy and tarot readings… hmmm.

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?

An underlying fondness for grossness.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fuck shit up.

They’re gonna tell you that it’s hopeless, that it’ll waste of time and you’ll just be a starving artist. Fuck that shit up. They’ll say that the art market won’t have you. Fuck it up. They’ll say there’s nothing to be done.
Fuck.
It.
Up.

01_MARSUPIALLOVEAFFAIR
Marsupial Love Affair

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-asexual or as I’ve grown fond of, ‘grace’.

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

For the most part, I encounter ignorance. Whenever you’re open about being something ‘abnormal’, you kind of also become a spokesman for that identity, which has its positives and negatives. With asexuality, I’m still learning about it myself, similar to my gender identity.

I met someone who considered even acts of flirting or ‘feeling sexy’ to be sexual in nature, which is an arguable stance, and yet also admitted that the act of sex itself wasn’t always inherently sexual. By his definition of sexuality, which also included dancing and finding people attractive, I was sexual. By mine though, which is influenced by my conception of sexuality in contemporary America, I was gray-asexual. He had also been born in an earlier time in another culture. In that situation I was with someone I trusted and I valued his opinion, so it was a little hurtful to hear that he just didn’t understand my identity, but I’m glad we were able to talk about it openly.

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

That asking whether or not someone masturbates is an appropriate response to learning that someone is asexual.

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

Sexuality is confusing. It could be argued that asexuality confuses it even more. Is asexuality a lack of something? Or is it a presence? If it’s not a presence, then what is that feeling that completed me when I first identified as ace? Even if you’re unsure (I still am most days), if you know that feeling, you don’t have anything to prove. You’re not naive. You’re not broken. You have the courage to claim a name that fits you, and you wear it because you feel good when you do. That’s all you need.

And once again, fuck it up. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means taking a rad bubble bath and reading manga. Maybe it means doing drag. Maybe it’s creating a loud sign and going to a protest. Maybe it’s singing as loud as you can. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite album. It’s whatever gives you strength. It’s doing what you need to do. It’s taking care of yourself.

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

The novel I’m working on is still under the radar for the most part, but I’ll be sure to post updates on it via social media and my main website.

My fine art, sculpture, social practice work, can be found here: meganhustmyer.carbonmade.com

My graphic design an illustration portfolio can be found here: meginetdesignsthings.myportfolio.com

My Instagram:  m.g.aoh or _meginet

my landscape
My Landscape

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

Interview: Eva I.

Today we’re joined by Eva I. Eva is a phenomenal South Asian visual artist and author. She draws portraits and character concepts, using a variety of mediums. As far as writing, Eva is currently working on two fantasy novels, both of which feature asexual protagonists. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Character Concept
Character Concept

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m one of those artists who likes to dabble in, well, everything. Over the years, I’ve tried out typography and hand lettering, crafts, music (I still play the ukulele occasionally), writing, and drawing. Out of all those things, I suppose the ones that have stuck with me would be the latter two.

Even with drawing, I can’t make up my mind. My style fluctuates with my mood, the weather, every time I sneeze… This is evident if you scroll through my Instagram feed; it’s like one of those repost accounts featuring different artists. However, I am consistent in the sense that I mainly draw portraits and character concepts, and my preferred medium is digital art – although I do work traditionally, using ink and sometimes watercolours, whenever the fancy strikes me. I’m hoping to branch out and try illustrating more environments in the future.

As for my writing… I’m currently working on two fantasy novels, both of them featuring ace protagonists, because I want to see more ace characters (particularly those of colour) in SFF. I’m a slow writer, especially as my mental and physical health are never that great, but I think I’ve made good progress with both novels. I’m almost done with a passable draft for one of them, which I hope to send out to trusted readers soon. I’m not sure if I want to publish these stories or not – at least, not at this point in my life.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration (haha) by consuming all kinds of art by all kinds of artists. In fact, I’ve found it pretty inspiring to go through some of the interviews on this blog! Whenever I need to recharge my creative battery, I just read a book, study the works of my favourite artists, watch a movie/show, read/watch interviews, and listen to some music. In addition to that, I also like sleeping? I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon (aka I have a chronic illness) so I tend to sleep a lot; I end up having a ton of cool dreams, which I sometimes weave into my writing.

fish
Fish

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

Creativity runs in the family, so I picked up art as a matter of course when I was very young. I have vague memories of throwing tantrums at the age of five when I couldn’t draw things the way I wanted; thankfully, I’ve since managed to improve my skills (and my temper). I opened my first art account on Facebook when I was fifteen-ish. I deleted that one a few years ago, and started my current accounts on Twitter and Instagram under a pseudonym so I can be more out about myself.

More recently, I started accepting freelance commissions via social media, which has helped expand my reach (and my wallet). I wouldn’t consider this as a career, yet, though. I don’t receive enough commissions to depend upon it as a main source of income, so I have a day job of sorts, and I’m trying to figure out how to get myself yeeted into college.

Writing has also been a huge interest for me since I was a toddler; my earliest memories are of my father telling me stories. I was quick to develop my reading skills, and you would rarely find me without a book to read. From there, it felt natural to me that I would eventually write my own stories. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so I read and write those for the most part. I used to post my writing on Wattpad, but I’m a little more private about my writing at the moment.

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 almost always sign my art, either with ‘EVA’ or ‘evadrawssometimes’. I don’t really hide anything special in my artwork, but there is one thing about them that I can confess to: I sometimes forget to draw eyelashes. I’m not very good at drawing them either. I’m working on it.

In contrast, I think my writing contains many elements that I feel are personal to me; I include puns (multilingual ones, too) and references to real-life events that I’ve experienced personally, or have taken place in my hometown. Those who know, will know.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Your art is a luxury, so if you’re offering commissions, price them as such! You deserve to be compensated for your time and efforts. (Still working on this one myself).

Breaks are good! Don’t burn yourself out just for the sake of updating your social media. Your most dedicated fans will still stick around even if you miss a post or ten. Maintaining a social media presence is not worth the risk of burnout, injury, or even losing passion for your art.

If you’re offering commissions, try to include your contact information on your profiles. Make it easier, not harder, for potential clients to reach you.

Don’t feel obligated to post all your art on social media.

Don’t forget to make art just for yourself sometimes! Even if capitalism says otherwise, you don’t have to monetise all your work/hobbies, particularly when it comes to art.

It is acceptable – and good, even – to use references. It’ll save time, and ultimately it will help you improve.

ilyas
Ilyas

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m ace, I guess. I’m still figuring it out, though I’ve gotten more comfortable with my identity over time. I experience little to no sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction to people of all genders, and romantic attraction mainly towards people who are not of the same gender as myself (I think??).

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

In my field? Not directly, I would say. I choose my audience very carefully, and so far people have been largely accepting. I have come across some misconceptions from others, but thankfully, most people have been receptive to being corrected. I block those who are not interested in changing their minds, and honestly? Best decision I ever made.

I’m not out in other circles except for a select few family members, friends, and my current partner. I only come out to and explain my identity to those who I think will be understanding. I don’t really mind explaining, but it can get exhausting, especially when you’re dealing with people who don’t listen in good faith.

Lake of Voices
Lake of Voices

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

One of the major ones I’ve come across is the conflation of asexuality with aromanticisim, and asexuality with lack of desire for sex; the Venn diagram of those experiences is often seen as a circle, when in reality there are an intersection of various experiences, some of which may or may not overlap depending on the individual.

In addition to that, there are people who believe that the ‘A’ in LGBTQIAP+ stands for ally and not asexual, aromantic, and agender. I’ve also had someone suggest that asexuality was a phase I would outgrow, or that I was simply nervous or afraid. There have been other extremely harmful hot takes I’ve come across on Twitter by trolls, but they’re too numerous and unpleasant to recount.

All of these misconceptions seem to multiply during Pride month, which is disappointing but not surprising.

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

I would say… be open to the possibilities, and don’t be too worried about taking your time figuring yourself out. It’s also okay to decide on another label in the future; it does not negate the label itself nor your experience while using it. Ultimately, it’s your identity and you are in control of deciding who you are. Even if you’re not comfortable with/able to come out to certain people, I hope you get to feel confident about your own sense of self.

I’ve also managed to connect with a lot of aces during my time on Twitter, which has been a big help in affirming and discovering more about my identity – and, incidentally, picking up on quality ace puns (and pins. Gotta love well-designed merch by ace/LGBTQIAP+ artists).

Finally, I highly recommend checking out The Asexual (http://theasexual.com), an online journal about asexuality run by Michael Paramo. The site includes content like essays, artwork, and personal pieces, contributed by ace people of various backgrounds. The Asexual has helped me pick apart many of my own misconceptions and find joy in being who I am. You can find The Asexual on Twitter as asexualjournal (https://twitter.com/asexualjournal).

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

You can find me on Twitter as isthispigeon (https://twitter.com/isthispigeon), where I sometimes post my art and accept art commissions, but mostly tweet about art-related shenanigans. If you want to get to know me, or commission me in a more informal setting, that’s the place to go!

I’m also on Instagram as evadrawssometimes (http://instagram.com/evadrawssometimes), if you want to see all my art in one place without getting distracted by random thoughts and terrible puns (though they sometimes work their way into the captions). I accept commissions there as well.

I have a few phone wallpapers available on my Buy Me A Coffee account (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/isthispigeon), if that’s something you might be interested in.

Finally, if social media is not for you or if you wish to contact/commission me in a more professional setting, you can reach me via email: eva (dot) isq4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Currently, my writing is not available anywhere.

Shampoo ad Alucard
Shampoo ad Alucard

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

Interview: Gemma Irene

Today we’re joined by Gemma Irene. Gemma is a phenomenal writer who writes a variety of things. She’s written a few novels and hundreds of poems, as well as some fanfiction. When she’s not writing, she enjoys visual art. Gemma draws, paints, sews, and takes photographs. She even plays the violin. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate individual who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a writer, though I’ve been known to draw, paint, sew, take pictures, and play violin. Anything to keep my hands busy! As far as writing goes, I stick to fiction, with occasional detours for poetry, and a song on the very rare occasion. I haven’t published anything yet, but I’ve got about three original novels and around a hundred poems under my belt. I’ve also been pretty immersed in fan fiction the past few years, writing for The Phantom of the Opera, The Boondock Saints, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.

What inspires you?

I hate to say it, it sounds cliché, but inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I wrote my first novel after a daydream I had when I was bored at the mall and trying to entertain myself. I’ve drawn things I’ve seen in dreams. I’ve photographed things that happened to catch my eye. One of my favorite poems I ever wrote came about while I was sitting outside listening to the creek flow. I try to stay alert to anything that feeds the muse, which means either living very much in the moment, or hiding out in my own little world.

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

I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my grandpa’s lap with a book, with me reading to him as much as he read to me. I remember telling stories to my mother and her writing them down in a blank journal. I relate a lot to Anne Shirley, or Sara Crewe in A Little Princess like that; my stories always started as a game of pretend, and realizing I could share them with people was a game changer. With the Internet, I could share with even more people. And in the case of fan fiction, connecting with people who were as passionate about the same characters as I was helped me get even more joy out of it. So, long answer to a short question, I’ve always wanted to do this!

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?

In my writing, I notice a lot of alliteration, and a lot of fire imagery. I like getting down into the deep, personal aspects of storytelling, so I’m very concerned with the soulful and intimate. I don’t know if there’s any specific thing that watermarks my writing as mine…if any readers would like to point something out?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Experiment. Let yourself suck. That first novel I wrote? As is, nobody is reading that, if I have anything to say about it. There’s a lot of hang-ups about being trite or cringey, but that’s the only way you grow and evolve. And it’s cool if you want to pursue more interests than one, or if you’re only so-so at something else but do it for the joy of it. I’ve worked for years at my writing, but only ever turned to drawing when I needed the release it gave me. Consequently, it’s not one of my strongest skills. Same deal with the violin. I’ll never be the next Van Gogh, or play in an orchestra, but that’s fine. I draw and play for love of both, and that’s enough for me.

The inverse is true, as well. If you’re passionate about your art, don’t be afraid to invest yourself in it. Any way you feel called to. I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second and say how glad I am that fan fic is slowly getting positive traction, because if I hadn’t started writing fic, I would never have found an audience, much less one willing to give feedback and help me grow as a writer. That’s the thing about finding someone genuinely interested in what you’re sharing, they want more, and they’ll often help you in the process. Whether it’s encouragement, advice, or simple enthusiasm, it’s out there. Hold it up to your ear and give it a listen, then decide if it will help you develop your art. Keep what does, discard what doesn’t. That’s what fan fiction did for me, is help me find my voice a lot sooner than I might have without it.

2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a panromantic demisexual, which is at once very broad and very specific. To me, they go hand-in-hand. I don’t develop sexual attraction without an emotional bond, and if I’ve gotten close enough to someone to form that bond, I’m unlikely to care about gender. It’s the person I’ve developed feelings for.

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

In my field? No. In my life? A bit. I was discussing sexuality and orientation with a group of ordinarily open-minded individuals and casually mentioned I identify as demi. I explained it was similar to being asexual, and they were on board with the ace part but casually dismissed the demi part. “Some people just want to be special.” It took a while to get past that, and I’ve presented myself since then a little differently. On social media, I proudly post all the ace, aro, demi, bi, pan, gay, trans, nb, everything, supporting positivity that I want to see in the world. In person, I’ll comment on my aesthetic attractions, regardless of gender, I’ll express support of representation, and shut down discourse when I hear it. I do what I can to be an ally and a safe space, and hopefully send a message that I won’t stand for any prejudice.

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

That we’re prudes, afraid of sex, damaged, or “waiting for the right person.” Yeah, some of us are, but so are some allosexuals. Sexuality is such a complex, complicated subject, and I don’t understand the aphobia and ace discourse I’ve seen. The thing is, we’ve always been here, it’s just that now we’re willing to claim our space, and hopefully we can spread more knowledge to put an end to the misconceptions.

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

Hang in there. It’s a process. I remember that I was elated at first to realize I was demi, then I had to process what that meant to me, evaluate my relationships with people in light of my new understanding of my identity, decide whether this was something I wanted to keep to myself or make known to others. Then on down the line, after I felt reasonably secure in my identity, I realized I was panromantic and had to start all over again. I’ve found my writing is a very good way to explore my sexuality and my orientation, and I’m working on more aspec characters to reflect how I feel about my identity.

My biggest ongoing struggle is feeling ace enough to identify on the spectrum. I’m very sex positive, and I lean towards the, let’s say, colorful side of sexual expression, which is far removed from the misconception about asexuals and how we’re all prudes afraid of sex. That’s where the ignorance hurts us the most, in my opinion. We measure ourselves by the stereotypes and assumptions, which are often incorrect, and we cut ourselves down when we don’t fit. Thing is, I’m still aspec whether I like sex or hate it, whether I’m kinky or vanilla, because it’s about attraction, not action.

Aces, grays, and demis, you do you. Own your identity. Share it if you want, or keep it secret. It’s who you are, and it’s as much about discovery as the rest of you.

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

Tumblr is my primary hang out. My URL is at risingphoenix761, and my blog is a giant mess of fandom, writing, music, humor, and positivity. I’m also on Fanfiction.Net as AngelxPhoenix, and Archive of Our Own as RisingPhoenix761. For anyone interested in my visual art (I consider myself a passionate amateur), my Instagram is at risingphoenix_761. Come say hi to me!

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

Interview: Atraxura

Today we’re joined by Atraxura. Atraxura is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in drawing. She also paints, takes pictures, and makes jewelry, but she’s focused mostly on her drawing. Atraxura enjoys using limited color and it results in very striking imagery. It’s clear she loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participating in this interview.

Guardians of Irkalla Kur
Guardians of Irkalla Kur

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I experiment with many different styles and media. I draw, paint, take photographs, make jewelry and write personal essays. In the past year, I have been focusing on drawing, and I have begun to evolve a style in my recent work with limited use of color, usually a vibrant, highly saturated red. I prefer the warm end of the color spectrum, from yellow to red-violet, and color psychology is integral to my work. I pay attention to geometry, ratios and perspective. You don’t necessarily notice it in my work, but I am fascinated with how important numbers are in aesthetics.

While I strive for realism, none of my subjects are merely representational. Everything illustrates a concept: animals are symbolic, as they were in ancient cultures. Skulls are the exoskeleton of the mind. A red eye in a pale background represents the will rising above apathy.

What inspires you?

Horror inspires me on the aesthetic level. I am drawn to the intense feelings it can evoke. I love high-energy excitement and intensity, not calm or complacent “happiness”, which feel toxic and antithetical to me. I want everything I do to reflect powerful, high-octave intensity.

I am a type-A person of a purely choleric temperament; ENTJ on the MBTI. I have a very angry and hostile nature, and I like to explore and defend this in my art. I also like to attack concepts I despise, e.g., conformity, complacency and all agents of passivity and inertia. I don’t do this to “calm down” — I detest calm — or to get rid of anger. I do it to communicate in a more powerful, profound way which reaches more people.

Collaboration with my soulmate, who is a musician and of very similar views and vision, also inspires both of us. I hate working alone.

Ignition of the Artless
Ignition of the Artless

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

Art has always been instinctive for me. Inert matter, such as a blank paper, exists to be acted upon. I want to change it to reflect my ideas and vision. I want to communicate with others on the most profound level possible. Art is naturally an ideal means for this, and for generating dialogue with like minds. That said, I have never wanted to “be” any one thing, but I always had a clear and exact vision of the lifestyle I wanted. It has always been imperative that I live on my own terms in every aspect; autonomous, being my own boss, keeping my own council.

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 initial every drawing and painting. The “A”, along with being the initial of both my artist name and my legal name, represents my highest values: ambition, high standards, and to be forever striving upward. I strive to be the “alpha” in everything I do. If I were perfect, I would want to push the boundaries of perfection. I am changing the look of my initial now, to be more angular and volcanic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Erase words like “can’t” and “hard” from your vocabulary. I’ve destroyed innumerable paintings and drawings in rage when things don’t go exactly the way I want, but I start over with a better strategy. If something is difficult, it obsesses me. I persist until I get what I want. I refuse to be defeated by my own art.

Also, learn the basics of your craft, and dedicate regular time to work on improving your skills and becoming proficient with your tools/media. Develop an honest perspective on your abilities, so you can see your strengths and your areas which need improvement.

Finally, take yourself, your time, effort and ideas, very seriously. Others won’t until you do.

Love Between Cholerics
Love Between Cholerics

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a sex repulsed libidoist. Perhaps I am demi-hetero-sapio-romantic. I met my soulmate on DeviantArt at the age of 23 and very quickly formed a deep and intense obsession, but I had never had an interest in anyone else. It was important to me that we have similar values and could interact on a profound level. I emigrated to France from the United States at 25 so we could live together. I don’t know if I would describe my feelings as merely romantic. I feel like the word doesn’t convey enough intensity, and this intensity has only increased with time.

Power in its multiple forms, especially knowledge, ignites my libido, but even the thought of sexual activity disgusts me and extinguishes the feeling. I find it revolting on the physical level (even with someone hygienic and physically attractive) and deeply disturbing and traumatizing on the emotional level (even with someone I love). For me, it threatens bonds rather than building them. I also have an extremely low tolerance for boredom, and despite the hype it gets, sex is the most tedious, banal activity which ever existed – not to mention an enormous liability with no inherent benefits.

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

I have read a lot about other aces experiencing prejudice, but I have not experienced any myself – not in the arts, anyway. If I did experience prejudice or ignorance, depending on the situation, I would try to clarify my experience and perspective. It is important for us to speak out about our own experiences and to be obstinate about this, so as not to let “reality” be defined by others, especially if they are hostile to us. After all, truth and wisdom are not usually found in numbers, even if strength and volume are.

I am fortunate enough to have read an article about asexuality in the (now extinct) magazine ElleGirl when I was 12 or 13 years old, so I knew that asexuality existed and that it seemed to fit with how I felt. If I hadn’t known about asexuality then, I would have probably experienced a lot of distressing confusion about myself throughout my life.

Later, I read about “sublimating” the libido into art or other activities, in The Satanic Bible, by Anton LaVey. (Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich also speaks of sublimating the libido.) This in particular resonated with me deeply, as it described something which I had always been doing. “Sublimation” of the libido has always been natural for me, long before I knew what “sex” or “masturbation” meant – whereas having sex, or even thinking about it, still seems bizarre and unnatural to me. As I see it, sexual activity is only one outlet for the libido and definitely not the driving force behind it. I also realize that non-libidoist asexuals experience things differently from me, so this may be a prejudice which they encounter.

The Pallor Out of Time
The Pallor Out of Time

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

Almost every time I have told anyone I was asexual, they ask if I had been molested as a child. I have not experienced any kind of sexual trauma at any point in my life – though I know that some asexuals have – and I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t want to tell them if I had. This assumption can annoy me, as I feel like they are implying that the notion of someone not liking something “natural” is inconceivable unless the person had experienced something terrible which turned them against it. I realize they may not intend to imply anything.

I have had two different people try to use the fact that I didn’t date as “evidence” that I was insane, though I had not explicitly told these people I was asexual. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time and efforts dating people I had zero interest in.

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

Above all, don’t settle for a life or a lifestyle you don’t want, because someone –or society — pushes the idea that you “have to” live a certain way. There is no “have to” in life, beyond breathing. Seeking out positive and supportive people and choosing to spend your time with them can help to not feel alienated and marginalized; it can alleviate the pressure to behave a certain way to fit in.

I have always had a very exact vision of the life I wanted from as long as I could remember, with no compromises. I’ve always felt the need to live alone with a life partner or soulmate, with absolutely no children or family, but possibly a pet. Someone accepting of my asexuality. Someone I could be myself with and collaborate with. Someone who doesn’t smoke. Someone with a unique fashion sense, as shallow as that may seem. For so long, it seemed like no such person existed for me, yet “compromising” or settling for anyone else would have been intolerable. Now, I am so grateful to myself that I never did.

I know that there are people now, even among sexuals, who are in the same place I was, fearing that they will be alone forever, and being asexual can statistically narrow your options. I am skeptical about everything, so I was very aware that the odds were against me. All I can say now is that my dreams came true in this regard, so there’s hope for everyone. I feel a little awkward saying it, as it seems cliché, but it happened for me.

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

I have a website, and I am on most social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter, and DeviantArt. I also have a blog on WordPress – and I usually follow back (with sincere interest). Most of my work is available as prints and merchandise on RedBubble.

Vermillion Snow
Vermillion Snow

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

Interview: Jaime Hawkins

Today we’re joined by Jaime Hawkins. Jaime is a phenomenal visual artist who has a company called Queen Cheetah Designs, which sells enamel pins that she designs. Aside from making enamel pins, Jaime also does quite a lot of fine art. She’s heavily inspired by nature, which shows in her work. It’s clear she’s a driven and 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 graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Printmaking. I’ve always loved learning any type of art I could get my hands on – drawing, painting, digital art – you name it! When I have the time, I enjoy drawing on my tablet and taking on small freelance design jobs. My biggest endeavor, however, is my merchandise company Queen Cheetah Designs. Last year the trend of “Enamel Pins” came back around full force, and I decided to try my hand at designing some! I started out with moths, and have since branched out to beetles, spiders, and other nature inspired pins. It makes me really happy to see my designs come to life as physical merchandise that people like to wear, and it makes me feel like an accomplished artist! My designs did so well that I kept making them, and now I have a pretty successful side job running Queen Cheetah Designs. I hope to branch out in the future to apparel and other merch!

2. beetle_collage
Beetle Collage

What inspires you?

I think animals and nature have served to be my most important source of inspiration for my drawing and my merchandise design. It’s a subject I have always loved, and there is endless beauty and creativity that can be found in creatures, plants, and our other surroundings. From striking color palettes to unique patterns, as an artist I feel like I can learn so much from what already exists in nature, and apply it to my fine art and design work.

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

From a very young age, I was interested in art. I would doodle on my homework and draw mash ups of animals to play as during recess. I took art lessons with another girl at a local framing shop for a few years, where I learned most of the basics of fine art.

I can’t quite remember how, but “design” specifically caught my eye around middle school. Packaging design, logo design – I found it all really fascinating how much thought went into a design and the finished result. It’s been my driving passion ever since.

4. atlas group photo
Atlas Group Photo

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 wish I could say I had a signature style, but that is something I still struggle with as an artist. I do tend to enjoy drawing somewhere in between realistic with a fantasy flair thrown in. I’d like to refine this over the next few years, but developing anything in art takes time and practice!

6. Swift edited
Swift

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Drawing – Most of what you create will not be for profit, or even for other people. There is a lot of pressure nowadays to instantly start creating and making money, but it’s important to take the time to draw for yourself. Learn what you like to draw and how you want to draw it. It should be fun, not something you feel pressured to do. And no matter what level you are now – just keep going. Practice as often as you can. (DRAW THOSE BACKGROUNDS). Think of how proud younger you would be of your talent now, and strive to make them proud.

Making Merchandise/ Pins – It takes more than an idea to be successful at selling merchandise. It is a tough and tiring job. You have to be your own manager, designer, PR person, and salesman. Kickstarters are a great way to fund a potential design, but be careful that you are prepared to handle the responsibility of ordering your merchandise and fulfilling orders. Don’t jump into it – take time to plan. But if you feel prepared, it can be a very rewarding endeavor!

3. Moth_collage
Moth collage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual, Panromantic.

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

Relating to the art/ design field specifically? I would say not really, but then again my art usually doesn’t relate to my sexuality. But there are plenty of individuals you interact with online who are outspoken with the fact that they think it’s “not real” or that “we’ve just had bad experiences”. I try to educate where I can, and when it seems like the people might be receptive. A lot of ideas about asexuality spring from ignorance. Some folks just don’t want to understand though, and sometimes you just have to brush it off and move on. Find solace with others who share your experiences.

7. Divided edited
Divided

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

That all asexual people are sex repulsed, and hate all types of physical contact. I’m what you would call a sex apathetic asexual. I have no interest in it, and have no desire to seek it out, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a light switch that stays off.

It does become a problem when I desire other attention from partners that traditionally leads to sex. Like making out, or cuddling – it’s either all or nothing. This leads to a very frustrated ace that doesn’t feel cherished but feels hypocritical asking for more physical contact “as an ace person”.

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

Asexuality is a spectrum, and everyone experiences it in their own way. Being Ace is really hard at times, especially when it comes to finding a partner. It is important to find someone who respects your comfort levels and communicates with you to find out how to approach that part of your relationship. It’s tempting to push your own comfort levels aside to make them happy, because it may make you feel desired – but it will breed resentment in time if there is no respect for your likes and dislikes as well. For people like us it is especially important to make friends and not rely entirely on having a partner to feel fulfilled.

If you find someone, make sure they love you AS someone who is asexual, not DESPITE the fact you are asexual.

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

You can find all my enamel pins and current merchandise on my Etsy shop -> https://www.etsy.com/shop/QueenCheetahDesigns. You can also follow me on Twitter at Jaime_Hawkins or on Instagram under Jaime_Hawkins_Design to stay up to date on my art and any upcoming designs.

Thank you so much!

8. Rainbow TVhead
Rainbow TVhead

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