Interview: Tricia

Today we’re joined by Tricia. Tricia is a phenomenal digital illustrator who does a number of different things. She enjoys drawing fluff muffins, which are like fairy cats. Tricia is also interested in designing various patterns, which makes for some fascinating visuals. Her work is beautiful, brimming with color and detail. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly talented artist, as you’ll soon see. 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 love to illustrate whimsical, nostalgic looking things. One of my favorite things to draw are these little creatures I made up years ago called fluff muffins, which are essentially fairy cats. They’re called fluff muffins because at the largest, they’re around the size of one of those giant muffins.

Lately I’ve also been very interested in surface/pattern/textile design. It’s crazy because once you realize artists make everything, you start seeing their art everywhere. Walking through Target was so distracting because I just kept picking up things with illustrations on them and thinking ‘I could do this someday!’ It’s very exciting, though. I hope to see my work on anything from bedsheets to paper plates someday.

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What inspires you?

There’s so much that inspires me. As a little kid, I had a ridiculously strong imagination. I clearly remember this time I went outside to talk to my mom, but it was so windy that the wind picked me up and I was flying in the air for a while until my mom grabbed me, put me back on the ground, and sent me back inside. In reality, the wind just knocked me over a few times, but that’s not how I remember it. I’ve always looked at the world and wondered if there wasn’t something just underneath, something a little bit more fantastical. On a more practical level, I’m fascinated by light and color.

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

I haven’t always wanted to be an artist, and didn’t really draw regularly until I was thirteen. I decided to work towards becoming a professional at fifteen-sixteen.

I do remember being fascinated with tileable patterns as a little kid though. I would spend hours looking up patterns I could tile for my desktop background. I just recently started designing patterns, but it’s so cool to be on the other side of it!

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

Once I hid the Ninth Doctor into an illustration of my original characters. Can you find him?

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know everyone says this, but truly the biggest advice to give is to just keep going, keep practicing. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, refuse to give up. You may not be very good now, but you will be! Nobody was ever very good in the beginning, trust me.

Most importantly, keep your eyes open and study. Art is all about utilizing a visual library, and observing the world around you is the best way to build that. You’ll be amazed how much you learn just by paying attention.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as just aspec (aromantic and asexual spectrum), but if I had to figure out something more specific, I would be a romance and sex favorable aroace, with a potential preference for women. It’s a little up in the air, so I just stick to aspec for now.

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

Not in my specific field, but I’ve heard the typical comments here and there, things like “you’ll find the right person some day” and variants of that sentiment. One person told me I “just hadn’t smelled the right cologne yet.” I generally just try to educate and move on.

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

That asexuality is all about sex repulsion and not about attraction. It’s not that asexuality is a lack of sexuality at all, it’s just the lack of sexuality connected to other people.

That said, something I love about the ace community is its inclusive nature. Asexuality can cover those who are sex repulsed, even if they do experience attraction. It covers those who are traumatized, and it covers those who only experience attraction every once in a while. I’m so proud to be a part of a community that is open to all of the in betweens, I just wish more people knew that was the case.

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

You are not alone, and you don’t have to have it all figured out. Orientation is complicated and confusing, I know. But you’re not broken or weird, and labels are just there to help you understand yourself better. It’s okay if they change, and it’s okay if they don’t. Take care of yourself and don’t force anything you’re uncomfortable with.

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

You can find more of my work at notifyneelix here on Tumblr. Thank you for reading!

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

Interview: Amelie

Today we’re joined by Amelie. Amelie is an absolutely phenomenal illustrator. She graduated art school with a degree in illustration and currently works as a freelancer. Her work has such a beautiful sense of whimsy and the way she uses color infuses her work with so much vibrancy and life. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Death

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work in a few different areas with regards to illustration—pattern design, character design, and more recently comics. I work on freelance projects and am supported in my personal endeavors over at my Patreon.

I work digitally because I am very, VERY messy art-wise and digital gives me the room to muck around without wasting physical pieces of paper or supplies. It’s also better because I’m visually impaired to the point of being legally blind.

My favorite thing to do with my visual art is to celebrate the things that lift my spirits.

What inspires you?

I said I’m blind earlier. That inspires me to make art as much as I can before my sight deteriorates completely. If it does.

What really attracts me to an artwork is colors and the “physicality” the colors elicit. Something can be abstract and nonrepresentational in its visuals but still able to give off a sense of lushness. Gigi Digi, Olivia Huynh, and Sachin Teng are people I’ve been following for a while and who I’d say have achieved that kind of quality in their work. You can really feel like they things they portray are “solid!” I guess you could say as a result, my stuff is really texture-based, which naturally lends itself to pattern and textile design.

Feelings inspire me as well. I always put my own feelings into my work, whether I’m trying to squeeze out a certain feeling or if I’m just happy about what I’m working on, I try to show it.

Someone once said my art was like having a blanket wrapping around your eyeballs. She meant that in such a good way though. That makes me laugh, but it’s essentially what I’m trying to do!

Another thing that drives my character-based art is diversity. As a first generation Vietnamese-American, non-binary girl surrounded by American media and living in a predominantly white suburb, I never really saw anyone like me growing up on TV or otherwise. Even now, there will be a get-together and I’ll still be the only southeast Asian in the room, haha! I wanted, and still want to see more characters that go through experiences that I personally relate to. At least in more recent comix, I’m working on my struggles growing up and walking a line between assimilation and heritage.

Lastly, to not make this list too long, my partner. She’s the one who I’m not afraid to bounce ideas off of. I can ask her whether something is off, or could be better, and she’s not afraid to help me step a step back and look at it. She’s also an incredibly talented writer and I’ve done some illustration work for her. Bonus: she’s also ace.

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

I’m going to be honest and tell you the entire reason I got into the visual arts was because I had a less than stellar childhood. I loved video games, I loved TV, there were a lot of hobbies I wanted to be into when I was a child. I think that my parents didn’t understand what nurturing those things means for a kid growing up in the US. Every hobby cost money and they didn’t want to spend money where they thought things were useless so there wasn’t anything left but drawing on pieces of printer paper.

I started out drawing as any kid did. Who knows what I drew? My parents never kept anything. I bet I drew a lot of self-portraits as stick hands and feet. Then, in elementary school, I started to draw Pokemon fanart as well as inside jokes shared between friends. I never learned how to take notes. No one ever taught me. I spent much of my third grade years drawing a comic titled “The Stupid Bird”. I laugh out loud every time I think of me, a small child, being SO ableist without knowing what she was saying. Also, The bird spoke entirely in swears, but the swears were censored with symbols such as “#”, “@”, etc… I don’t know why I thought that was funny. From middle school onward, drawing was pretty much my escape, but I didn’t get seriously into art until I attended art school. That’s when I really wanted to hone my skills, knowing I never had quite a foundation like many others were fortunate to have.

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 include my logo in my works sometimes. Sometimes I forget. But its purpose is to making stealing and ripping harder. It’s just a circle with a lowercase a in it. I prefer lowercase a’s. They’re round and non-threatening.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fall down, art is learned, not blessed to. And don’t be afraid to start something-anything-because you think it’s too late. I’m a late bloomer myself. Try not to be self-deprecating unless you know exactly why you don’t like how something you made come out. I’m not saying that because I think it’s whiny to be self-deprecating. It’s healthier in the long run. The more you’re able to keep your own morale up, the more you will be able to bloom as a person and it’ll be easier to get through the tough times.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I waiver between grey-ace and ace. I’m alloromantic.

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

The worst thing I can say I’ve experienced while attending college is being in a conversation where somebody remarks someone is hot or sexy or something. I would just hang back and not say anything if it was a bigger group but in a one-on-one conversation, I would lie and nod, say “yeah, definitely,” that kind of stuff. Erasure is so not cool!

And of course, we’re entirely swamped by hetereonormativity in media today. As if drawing a sensual naked woman is edgy (sarcasm).

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

That it doesn’t exist. Or that it exists and it’s rare. I’m talking about the aces are unicorns or dragons rhetoric.

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

Introspection is always a difficult game to play. It requires time, your patience, and self-care. If you’re spending most of your weeks confused, find a quiet block of time and dedicate just to you. Whether it’s consuming your favorite show, eating a special treat, or just sitting there thinking about yourself. Do that for as many days as you can.  Quiet 5 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever.

Also, anything you feel is valid. Having a fluid sexual orientation is valid.

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

I’m mostly on Twitter! almondette but I also have an art blog.

Other places:

Store – store with new stuff being added soon

Patreon – support my work and get previews of my current projects

Portfolio site – see my favorite things and a list of my current personal works

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The Hermit

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

Interview: Robyn

Today we’re joined by Robyn. Robyn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in visual arts but is most passionate about crafts. She’s an engineering student as well. Robyn is incredibly enthusiastic about sewing and designing sewing patterns, which are quite amazing to look at. She’s an artist with a wonderful amount of love for her art and that’s always great to 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 love many types of craftyness! I’ve done a lot of knitting, crocheting, drawing and painting but I think my favorite is sewing and make sewing patterns. I’m currently an engineering student and I think it’s really cool how much my pattern design process matches up with the engineering design process I’m learning about in class. I always research similar projects other people have made, plan out which features I want to include, figure out what size everything needs to be, choose suitable materials, put it together all with a good deal of troubleshooting and problem solving along the way.

What inspires you?

In sewing it is usually my need for a certain finished product that inspires me to design it. When I paint I usually paint landscapes of places I’ve been. I really love hiking, nature and the outdoors and I find those images to be very calming.

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

I think I’ve always really liked making things. I first started sewing and knitting when I was probably nine or ten and progressed from there, mostly self-taught. My mom knows how to sew and knit so I would sometimes ask her if for help when needed. When I was younger I took a few art classes in painting and drawing. I took an art class in high school that got into acrylic painting. I had previously done some watercolor but found acrylic to be a way better fit for me because I can have more accuracy mixing colors as well as go back and fix things/add fine details without it getting messy.

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

I don’t have any snazzy symbol though that would be cool! I sometimes embroider a few words into a sewing project but that’s not a consistent symbol.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work in whatever medium you’re interested in at the time. I go through phases where I’m really into one type of art and I pretty much only work on that for a few months then don’t do it again for a while and that’s OK. I think the most important thing is that you enjoy it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. I’m not too sure about my romantic orientation right now but I somewhat identify with bi, quioro and aroflux.

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

The combination of art and asexuality has never really come up in my life before so no.

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

I think there’s just a general unfamiliarity with asexuality. I have tried explaining it to a few friends with mixed success. For some friends I think it was the first time they had heard of asexuality and they also didn’t really ask any questions so I’m not sure what misconceptions they have. But I’ve also found out some of my friends are ace too so that’s pretty great!

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

To me, figuring out your orientation is finding words that fit your emotions so you can express/explain yourself to others. But feelings are messy so it’s usually not as easy as you’d like it to be. It may feel like nobody knows about asexuality since it’s rarely talked about it but it’s still valid and you’re not alone!! Also, you don’t have to hesitate to identify as ace because you’re “not old enough”. It may at some point change and it may not, but either way it’s okay!

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

I have a blog with a lot of my projects on it: https://craftybirdy.wordpress.com/ I’m planning to start an etsy with ace pride hats and headbands soon but I haven’t started it quite yet.

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