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.

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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.

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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.

Interview: Faith

Today we’re joined by Faith. Faith is a wonderful artist who does a bit of everything. She paints, writes, sings, plays instruments, and draws. She’s most passionate about dancing. Faith loves to dance. It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented 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 do a large variety of different art forms such as dance, singing, acting, instruments, drawing, painting, and more. I think the one that I’ve focused on the most would be dance. Dance has been one of those things that I started super young, 5 years old, and I have continued to do for so many years. It is like a safe haven for me. It is a way for me to let go of the world around me and just let my emotions out. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it.

What inspires you?

Nature and emotions inspire me mostly. I guess some combination of the two. I always feel so at peace outside in nature, as cheesy as it sounds, watching a cloud roll by or the rays of the sun through the trees. A lot of my movement comes from watching a river flow or a leaf caught in the wind. Surprisingly or not so surprisingly rain and puddles are where I find some of my most interesting ideas. Nature is never stagnate, and there is a lot to be found in the ever changing world.

As for emotions, there are such hidden depths to every single person out there. The raw emotions people don’t normally see are such an interesting thing to experience or choreograph with. Music choice works extremely well with this too, as music is supposed to evoke feelings. A slow dramatic piece could work with feelings of longing or sorrow while an uplifting song could focus on joy or peace.

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

Kind of embarrassing but the Barbie movie the Nutcracker is what got me started dancing. I realize now that the dancing on there is very bad but hey, I was 5. At the time I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen and I have been hooked on art ever since. This obviously snowballed into so many different types of arts like music, visual, performing, to the point of I can’t imagine my life without art. It is so integral to who I am that I have never imagined being anything other than an artist.

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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 one specific thing that occurs in all of my dances. I guess one of the most common things that occurs would be using music from movie, TV, or video game soundtracks but I wouldn’t really call that a unique signature. I’m just a huge geek!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t let anyone bring you down. You don’t become a prima ballerina overnight and you will fall down. Nobody is perfect and we have to accept that. One of the biggest things I see when people start dancing is being constantly being discouraged by corrections or criticism. The best thing you can do is take the corrections and learn from them. You will grow as a dancer, an artist, and a person. You have to remember that everyone started where you are now, and they used hard work and dedication to achieve their dreams. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I believe I am asexual and heteroromantic. I’m not entirely sure about the romantic side of me, I may be demiromantic, but I am definitely positive that I am asexual. I haven’t been in many situations where I can explore my sexuality further but that may just be because I generally avoid situations where people can give me romantic interest.

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

I haven’t really found that much prejudice is my field mainly because it is rarely talked about. That and most people I talk to don’t really know that much about asexuality. The main issue I have found is just the heteronormality and hypersexualized nature in the world. There are many dances that I have been in where the dance is fun until the choreographer decides to add in a sexualized section in order to draw the crowd in. It makes me uncomfortable to watch or perform and it is normally unnecessary.

I will say that where I perform, homosexual relationships are represented and choreographed which is quite refreshing. But there is no asexual representation.

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

That either we don’t exist or that people automatically assume that asexual people are all sex repulsed. I know that many of us don’t want sex, don’t like sex, or are even repulsed by it but there is a large amount of us who don’t mind sex. I don’t know where I fall on the whole sex spectrum but I do have an asexual friend who rants to me about the topic. She says that she enjoys the act of sex even if she isn’t sexually attracted to someone.

I guess another misconception that I have seen is that people would think that asexuality is just a low sex drive. An imbalance in chemicals. That it can be “fixed.” Asexuality is an orientation just like any other sexuality. There is nothing wrong with it nor is there anything wrong with an asexual person.

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

Have a good support system. One of the things that has helped me the most with my sexuality would be having people who understand and respect me. It has helped cure my insecurities and accept who I am.

Just remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us out there in the world who have been exactly where you are now. You are not broken. You are not weird or wrong or even a freak. There are people out there that can support you and that do accept you. There is more love for asexuals than hate. Focus on that.

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

I don’t post a lot of my work online but I do have some on my Instagram account. It is a private account so if you want to see anything just DM me and tell me you saw this post and I’ll let you follow me! At kitten0981.

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

Interview: Amy Valentine

Today we’re joined by Amy Valentine. Amy is a phenomenal visual artist who does a lot of art journaling. She uses mostly colored pencils, watercolors, and various markers. She’s also an art student, so she works in a variety of mediums. When she’s not creating visual art, Amy also writes quite a bit of fanfiction. It’s clear she is a dedicated and passionate artist with a very bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. green lady
Green Lady

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

On my free time, I do a lot of art journaling, which is basically having a sketchbook expect I put more effort in decorating the pages to fit with my current mood. I also enjoy writing, mostly fanfictions, but I’m very eager to write something of my own someday.

I’m also an art student, so at school I also do paintings, photography and whatever else, and hopefully after school I could practice painting at home, too.

For art journaling, I like to use watercolors, color pencils and different kind of markers. Sometimes I just glue things in.

What inspires you?

Music is a big inspiration for me, because I’m almost always wearing headphones. I also get a lot of ideas from movies – When there is a scene that is just so pretty to look at, I always want to draw my own version of it.

I also take a lot of inspiration from my own feelings, since art journaling is kind of something that you do to express your emotions.

I also draw a lot of women’s nude bodies as a way to start learning to love my own body, so I guess they also give me inspiration. Don’t know what to draw? I’ll draw a torso. The headless statue of a woman is always there to save me from art block.

2. kissing watercolor
Kissing Watercolor

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

Yes, definitely. As a kid, I loved drawing comics and other cute things. I was really into manga back then. I would always be sketching at the edge of the test paper, even if the teacher told me not to.

At school, we also wrote a lot of our own stories, and I was always told that the stories I wrote were good and unique, so I got more inspired to write every day. I guess I can safely say I have always wanted to be an artist/writer. At this moment, I think I’d want to be a writer more than an artist.

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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?

At the moment, I don’t think I yet have my own style or my own unique thing. In art, I’m still figuring out what I want to create and what kind of a style fits me the most. In writing, I’m trying to experiment a little to see what kind of stuff I want to write and how. So, for now, no unique signatures or anything.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice and practice. And do not compare yourself to others. I did that and only felt worse about my skills. The first 6 months at art school were rough because I kept thinking everyone else was better than me. But when I learned to just focus on my own work and did my best, my drawings ended up looking a lot better. So just don’t give up. We’re all at different skill levels here, so just focus working on your own thing.

5. big painting
Big Painting

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’d say I’m somewhere between being a demisexual and asexual.

I did just find the term ‘aegosexual’ that fits me quite well, but, I’m still trying to figure myself out. And that’s okay.

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

When I told my parents, both of them were confused but supportive, thankfully. Before I tried to get into art school, I told my school nurse that I felt like I was close to an asexual, and they said to me ‘I WILL find the right one’, and if I wouldn’t, I should seek medical help. I also told my friends that I was in the ace spectrum, and they said that wasn’t possible.

I’ve also been in two relationships before and in both of them I felt like being asexual was wrong. I felt like saying ‘no’ to sex was wrong, and that was used against me. I’m still healing from that.

I think the best way to handle any kind of prejudice is to know that you aren’t broken, and that there is nothing wrong with you. Also, calmly explaining to them what asexuality is can help them understand it better. And honestly, never, EVER, do something that feels uncomfortable to you just so you could please someone else. Listen to your own feelings.

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

Probably the one where they think that if I’m in the ace spectrum, I can’t feel any kind of sexual pleasure, or that I can’t have sex, or that I can’t include sex scenes in my writing, and so on. Asexuals aren’t 100% sexless – some can be, but some asexuals are okay with having sex for their partner, and some asexuals masturbate. Some people don’t seem to get that.

The other misconception is people thinking asexuals can’t experience romantic feelings. And the third one that my school nurse one suggested – that being asexual meant you were afraid of sex.

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

It’s OK to not be sure where in the ace spectrum you are, and it’s OK to change labels later on, and it’s OK if you’re still searching for yourself. Just know that there is no rush. You are what you are, and even if you aren’t 100% sure what your label is, then that’s alright. You don’t have to put yourself into a box if you’re not ready yet. Just take your time with your inner self, love yourself.

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

Tumblr: https://paper-star-fight.tumblr.com/
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/ValentineRunaway

7. lake
Lake

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

Interview: Ray Wyse

Today we’re joined by Ray Wyse. Ray is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. They mostly write fanfiction but hope to publish some original work in the future. Aside from writing, they are also a dedicated visual artist who enjoys drawing and painting. They do a lot of portraiture work and their art is extraordinarily detailed. It’s clear they’re a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My work varies, but I enjoy writing, drawing and painting. My writing is most often fictional pieces with characters I’ve created, and while I try and branch out with my artwork my strongest pieces have always been portraiture. In all my work I try and integrate what I know, in terms of my experiences and imagination. I’ll mainly referencing my artwork in this interview as it’s what most of my time and my education is dedicated to!

What inspires you?

Other people inspire me. I’m driven by seeing creators do what they love and doing it well, it really pushes me to try and be better.

But for choosing what I want to draw or paint I’m inspired by perception. I find drawing exactly what I can see boring, and I want to explore more emotive ways of portraying people and places. Usually this means playing with the features of the subject matter, taking them away or changing them through distortion or obstruction.

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

I’ve always wanted to create art. I’ve taken it at every level available to me through primary and secondary school, but it’s only recently at college I became determined to find some sort of career in it. I think most of our everyday life is the way it is because of artistic people, from film to advertising to product design, and yet it goes by unnoticed. Almost every field has a need for us, and when I realized that it only helped push my interest in the subject.

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 really? There are maybe certain things I always do that I’m not aware of, but as someone who’s still trying to find their own style and techniques I don’t think I have any repetitive patterns, but I suppose I always draw specific attention to the eyes or the obstruction of them. I feel like that makes or breaks a good portrait.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say that I know, I understand it’s frustrating sometimes. There will always be others that are around your age, who you think has work that surpasses your own. There will be times where you can’t get a picture JUST right. But you have to realize that your art is always changing and improving. It’s hard to notice day to day but try and redo a piece from just a few years or even months ago to see how you’ve changed! Practice, there isn’t a shortcut to progress! Support and learn from each other!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual, but I don’t know where on the spectrum. I’m in a serious relationship, but I haven’t been for long enough to know whether or not I could be demi. Currently I identify as a panromantic ace, meaning I can have romantic attraction to any gender but sexual attraction to none.

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

I generally encounter confusion when talking to someone about my sexuality. It’s difficult, because as someone who didn’t find a label that worked for them until their late teens, I spent a lot of my childhood thinking I was ‘broken’ or otherwise ‘wrong’. And hearing it insinuated from someone else saying ‘how do you know? Maybe you just haven’t found the right person, etc. etc.’ can hurt a lot. Especially if coming from other people in the LGBT+ community.

But I have to remember I’m valid, and that’s what I tell them. I calmly explain that I just don’t feel sexual attraction, I never have, and it really isn’t a big concern. And if they don’t accept that, I stop conversing with them.

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

The most common misconception is that asexuality is comparable to practicing abstinence, as if sexuality is some sort of choice. Another common one is that all ace people ‘become’ asexual after some sort of traumatic experience

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

I would say it’s not your job to educate others, and it’s okay to not have everything figured out! You’ll hear about how it’s a ‘phase’ at some point in your life, and this will suck. But remember that no matter what, whether how you identify changes over the years or if a label you found at 13 still works for you at 33, you’re valid.

I’m not going to tell you it isn’t a phase and you won’t experience doubts. I’m going to tell you that if it is, that’s okay too.

Take time figuring yourself out, research the spectrum of different sexualities, and don’t feel bad if things change. How you identify at this moment is still 100% valid and don’t settle for anyone that doesn’t respect that.

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

You can find more of my work on Instagram! I also do commissions; my username is at Rachel.Wyse

I’m hoping to branch into other social media sites soon, but for now the majority of my work is on Instagram.

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

Interview: Wolfie

Today we’re joined by Wolfie. Wolfie is a phenomenal makeup artist who uses makeup to create extraordinary looks. She has done a number of different things with makeup, from standard beauty to more fantasy and horror related looks. She has also done special FX makeup. Aside from makeup, Wolfie also dabbles in a couple other mediums as well. She’s a passionate and dedicated artist, 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.

One of the things I do is makeup and special FX. Be it beauty, fantasy or horror. I mostly do whatever has caught my fancy that day or week. I have done photoshoots, short films and even a wedding or two with my makeup.

Which plays into my other mediums, such as drawing and painting. I have a ton of sketch books filled with art, some I give away and the same with my paintings.

Along with costuming which has been trial and error. As for my leather working I am still a beginner, which I was learning from my aunt and now my dad. Also have been dabbling into jewelry making.

What inspires you?

When I was a kid, fantasy (books, art etc.) and music played in a big part in my creativity.

Along with a rich family heritage that led to being a Pagan Witch, lets me see the beauty in magic and life that goes into my art.

My Aunt also who is deceased now, was also a big inspiration to me.

Being a writer and creative person herself, part of the LGBTQ+ community and Pagan, she always encouraged me to not give up and to pursue what I love.

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

Ever since I was little girl, I was always drawing and then moving onto other things as I got older. Heck, I even wanted to be a manga artist at some point!

As for my makeup and special FX, I give that one to my family. We have always been big on Halloween and doing creative costumes, which led to me eventually finding conventions in my late teens. It would also be my early 20’s to mid-20’s that I would go to makeup school for it.

Which I am always learning new and creative ways to improve.

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?

Mostly just my name and other account names I would hid in it, or just smack dab where you can see it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. Self-doubt will happen where you think you art, or you’re not good enough.

But it will be, maybe not in your eyes.

But others will love your art even if you think they don’t.

Never compare yourself to another, each of us is unique and different. We go at our own pace and our artistic journey happen sometimes now or a little bit later.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a proud Asexual Pan romantic 29 year old.

In my early 20’s I thought I was just Pansexual, but that didn’t seem right to me.

It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that talking with a friend, that they said “Uh Wolf, I think you may be Ace.”

So I looked it up and it started making more sense to me. While giving me a feeling of relief that I wasn’t “broken”.

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

Oh boy, in my makeup field I have, since it slipped out one time during class.

And mostly I just educated them, while being calm about it and maybe a ‘wee’ bit of Sass when they asked a personal/ignorant question. But mostly, I just refuse to apologize anymore for being who I am.

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

“Well, how can you be in a relationship if you don’t have sex?” Is probably the most common thing I get.

Again I just calmly answers/educate, or (at times) Sass back with a witty clap back that makes them go “Oh! I see! Sorry about that.”

But it is also just standing my ground and not letting other tell me “oh but you just haven’t met-”

“Or have you seen a doctor?” etc.

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

It may seem you’re alone and others tell you that you are broken, but you are not.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, this is your journey of discovery and your identity is real.

For your community sees you and you are loved, valid in your right to not be silenced or harmed as you keep learning who you are.

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

My Instagram which I welcome anyone to join me! wolfie_shieldmaidenswitch

Deviantart: Moonlightwolfos

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