Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

01 Bianca (own character) - pencil - 2017
Bianca (own character)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve always loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages, starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly, a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with her disappearance…

02 Cover for 'The Dragon of Ynys' by Kirby Crow
Cover for ‘The Dragon of Ynys’ by Kirby Crow

I also love drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders. There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little on my Instagram.

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

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt like that counted.

Fast-forward to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo, it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last school drawing years earlier.

From that point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some pretty things!

03 Fiery Mushroom - brush markers - 2017
Fiery Mushroom (brush markers)

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?

As I mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders. The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I think it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been “born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was talented. But I had to work to become better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from. Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big “mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing interviews on awesome websites. 😉

04 Space Ace 2 for Tanouska - watercolour - 2018
Space Ace 2 (watercolour)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec” rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that one out.

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

There’s certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

05 Violet - ink - 2018
Violet (ink)

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

That asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain, very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I might be broken or wrong.

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

You’re not alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces (in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs, or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and made me more comfortable with myself.

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

My website is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to follow me!

Paranatellonta, a flash fiction project inspired by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places to buy my stories:

– The Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

06 Cats Rule the World for Ether - watercolour - 2017
Cats Rule the World (watercolour)

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

Interview: Cheshire

Today we’re joined by Cheshire. Cheshire is a phenomenal visual artist and an aspiring animator. They do both digital and traditional art, favoring messy materials for traditional art. They absolutely love to draw and doodle, whether on paper or on their iPad. Their work shows a remarkable amount of detail as well as a wonderful use of color. It’s clear they have an incredibly bright future ahead of them, 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’m an aspiring animator and generally fun-loving digital and traditional artist. I mainly doodle on my iPad (Due to my lack of a laptop), as well as in my sketchbooks (Three of them, lol). I enjoy working with pencils and watercolour paints, and because I tend to do a lot of self-referential and colourful artworks I usually go with the messiest materials (Hence, watercolour).

What inspires you?

Pop culture, Personal experiences, music and the world around me. I’ve been heavily into popular culture since my constant-cartoon watching as a child (Nothing’s changed.), which is why my art style tends to be a mix of both styles close to anime and western cartoons. In terms of personal experience, that all tends to be related to my darker artworks, and the ones inspired by things that have made me anxious or generally feel like crap emotionally. Music is because of my all-over-the-place music tastes, as for instance I could be drawing something completely cute when listening to a sweet love song, or something violent or angry when listening to metal (Which is most of my playlists), or something inspired by a musical. The world around me could just be someone’s outfit, an animal I saw, or the landscapes I come across on my adventures to and from home.

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

I never really had any role models for getting into art until I got into my junior year of high school. I had always like drawing, and have been doing so since I was five, but I never really wanted to pursue a career in it until I started looking into watercolour art at the start of eleventh grade, and then animation at the end of that year. I wanted to be a music teacher (I am terrible at music), a juvenile justice worker, a youth counsellor, but eventually settled into animation, as I felt that it was the best way to improve my art and share the stories I make up with people.

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?

Nope! It’s not that I have a simple trick I’m not willing to share, but more that I just… don’t have one? I tend to do whatever I want with my art and what people see is what they get. There’s no secret to it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Your art is unique to you. Your style, your methods, your materials, they are yours. If you spend all your time comparing yourself to other artists you tend to be discouraged, and honestly, that’s the last thing you want. What you do what to do is look at other people’s art and their methods and be inspired, as in ‘Oh, I didn’t know I could do that’. Don’t compare yourself to someone who is probably also in the same boat as you. You’re doing your best, and even though that may not seem like much, it’s enough for you. And even if you don’t like that one piece you did, someone else will, and may even see it in a way that you didn’t.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m pan-romantic grey-ace. I don’t really know where I am on the spectrum. I mean, I’m not attracted to anyone in a sexual way, but I’m not totally against the idea of doing-the-do. I’m not sex-repulsed at all, but I’d only do it if I as completely sure I could trust the person I was with.

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

More just ignorance than anything. No one really knows how to understand it and I’m terrible at explaining it. Even then, I don’t upfront say ‘Oh I’m ace”, but more let it out later as I know the person. I honestly find it easier to just say ‘Oh I wouldn’t do a one-night-stand with anyone, and generally just… don’t feel a need to do it at all?’ It’s hard to explain to people when I don’t really understand it myself.

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

That I’m celibate. Like no, sweetie, I’d do it, but I just don’t feel like it. That’s all it is. I’m not resigning myself to a vow of celibacy because boy howdy smooching people is a nice feeling and I’m lonely and would love an s/o, but I just… don’t care about sex?

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

It’s okay if you’re confused. Your identity doesn’t have to be your defining point, so there’s no pressure to really understand it. It’s also okay to tell people. They may not explicitly understand what you’re dealing with, but telling someone can help you deal with what can be extremely stressful. And if people tell you that the A in the full LGBTQ+ acronym means ‘Ally’, tell them to fight you. The A can stand for Ally, Ace and Aro and no one can take your identity away from you.

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

My Instagram, Art Amino, DA and Tumblr!

I don’t use my Tumblr much lately due to school stress, but it’s serpentine-jellyfish. Between all the memes I post, I sometimes post my art there.

My Insta is where I post a majority of my art, from doodles to fully-completed works. I should get an art account, but honestly? I completely content with posting everything on the one account. My Instagram is serpentine._.jellyfish (temporarily changed for Halloween: https://www.instagram.com/serpentine._.spookfish/)

Art Amino I don’t use too much as it takes up space on my iPad, and is Serpentine Jellyfish. I post a lot of stuff there when I do have it.

My DA is the different one, and is Thoughtful-Melonlord. I don’t post there very often at all, as I’m generally just too lazy to log back in and out, and when I do post, it’s using the iPad app, which has terrible interfacing by the way.

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

Interview: Allyzah Allene

Today we’re joined by Allyzah Allene, who also goes by Ani or Ani Fangor. Allyzah is a phenomenal visual artist who works with in digital and traditional mediums. They haven’t met a material they didn’t like and work with just about everything. Their work is brimming with detail and a masterful use of lines and colors. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Self2017
Self 2017

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist that likes to dabble in just about everything I can afford. I have worked with traditional mediums like pencils (graphites, colored pencils), charcoals, markers, paints (acrylic, watercolor, oil) and digital mediums (limited photoediting, mostly digital art). My goal is to be able to learn as many mediums as I can because I want to teach art. I also occasionally write, and recently began posting my comic on Tapas.

While many other artists have a “deeper meaning” behind their artworks, or a consistent theme, I find art to be most enjoyable when it is “whatever I feel like.” I don’t like stressing over incorporating hidden meanings and “how it may be interpreted,” but rather getting the idea out of my head. My art blog and my art tag ends up being full of random half done pieces and concepts because it’s not always about finishing, but expressing my ideas. (Perhaps not the best rule to live by, but as a student, it’s enough for me.)

What inspires you?

Most of the time, the deadline. Otherwise it’s usually whatever I find aesthetically appealing enough to draw!

For my writing and my comic, though, that was inspired by the lack of diversity in the media I consumed. I got tired of the same old “boy meets girl” plot/subplot found in most things I read, and especially, the lack of characters who even vaguely looked like me. Growing up, the books I read often degraded characters that shared my race or ethnicity, and I struggled with my identity until I was 16 (a mere four years ago). I hated who I was because I wasn’t white, and I thought that I would only be successful if I were like the white characters in my books—even then, that could be a stretch, as there were very few books with girls as the lead. I didn’t find out that I wasn’t cishet until I was about 15, and by then I barely read outside of the class readings, so I wasn’t as bothered by the lack of LGBT+ positive books just yet. In my junior year, I had my “if no one else is going to do it, I will” moment and decided I would make a comic featuring a diverse cast in both ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual/romantic orientation. It took a while, but I finally decided I had put it off long enough and started publishing pages early July 2017 as my 20th birthday gift to myself.

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

When I was in the second grade, my school’s art teacher brought a guest artist to speak to everyone. I don’t remember the name of the artist, but I remember being so intrigued—it was one thing to learn about Van Gogh and Picasso in class, and a completely different thing to see someone live at work that wasn’t my teacher. The way he worked was by covering a canvas with black charcoal, and slowly erasing it away to create an image. My art teacher later caught me trying to do the same thing while waiting for my dad to pick me up, and asked me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but I remember being so happy that she thought I could, and I said yes. Since then, I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about art so that I can help as many people as possible when I become a teacher.

As for writing, we have a rocky relationship. During elementary school, I had a pattern: I would love writing one year, and hate it the next. I didn’t really take it seriously for a while, even when I started writing and posting fanfiction. I found out about NaNoWriMo in middle school, and became serious about writing original work, although the passion and motivation is not nearly as consistent as with art.

Death Lingers_Allyzah Cabugao
Death Lingers

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 know if I’ve been consistent enough with anything to have one of those! The closest thing is the stamp I use to sign my artwork (when I have it). I visited China two years ago as part of an exchange program, and the Chinese students gave me an approximate phonetic translation of my name so that I could have a “Chinese name.” I bought a stamp with that name on it to remember them and the trip, and I use it as half of my artist signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Besides the ever present “keep practicing,” I’d say “if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, put it on pause and work on something different; it’ll come to you sooner than if you keep focusing on it.” If it’s art, that one part will still be waiting for you to come back, and if it’s writing, you can always just type in something like “akdguhos” or “[COME BACK TO THIS]” and continue. (Just make sure that you go back to it before you publish it or turn it in!) You don’t have to finish everything in one go. Take a break, let your creative juices recharge.

Something specifically for visual art: we tend to hyperfixate on the small area that we’re currently working on. Every now and then, remember to step back (or, if digitally, zoom out) and look at the piece as a whole. Something might look okay while zoomed in… and then you look at the whole picture and realize that it’s completely misaligned or maybe the color palette doesn’t match the rest. I’ve worked on several semi-realistic pieces and realized that the “perfect nose” was too far right, or that it looked like the neck didn’t come from the same body as the head, because I didn’t look at the whole picture as much as I should have.

Lumos114
Lumos

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual sex-repulsed, and demi-panromantic. (As well as agender/non-binary.)

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

I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any prejudice in my major related classes yet, but that’s partially because I don’t know anyone well enough to actually care what they say, partly because I have headphones in during class almost all the time. I have had people try to get “creative” with their flirting though, automatically assuming that because I’m an artist, I draw nude people, and that I’d want to draw them … How I respond to them depends on how rude they’re being.

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

Ohh boy, there’s so many that I spent three years researching asexuality in order to academically debunk misconceptions and presented speeches about asexuality to just about any academic platform I could reach. (I’m no longer doing competitive speech as I switch to the coaching side of things, but I’m still ready to spread asexual awareness.)

The one that I hate the most is when people think asexuals are being childish if they state that they have no sexual attraction, especially if they say that they’re a sex-repulsed ace. I’ve had people say that I’ll eventually “grow up and want sex,” and when I literally had an anxiety attack due to a class assigned movie (marked UnRated and with no CW/TW in the film description, nor from the professor) that featured multiple explicit sex scenes and nudity, I was told to grow up and realize that “sex is an art form. You’re an artist, why can’t you appreciate that?” It’s frustrating that sex is seen as a major turning point in your life, the time you’ve “finally reached adulthood,” when there’s plenty of us who can live without it.

Southern Belle_Allyzah Cabugao
Southern Belle

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

Most importantly: you are not broken. Your orientation doesn’t make you any less valid than anyone else! Remember, for every person that takes you down, there’ll be many ready to help lift you back up again.

Also, it doesn’t matter if you fit some of the stereotypes or misconceptions of asexuality or not, you can still identify as ace. Things like “you can’t know if you’re ace if you’re a virgin,” “it’s just a hormonal imbalance,” “it’s because of PTSD/similar,” it doesn’t matter if these are true or not for you. If you feel like asexuality is the best label for your orientation, then you’re ace.

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

I post my work on Tumblr with the tag “#ani amount of art” on both aniamountofart.tumblr.com and aniamountofsketches.tumblr.com; on Instagram/Twitter tagged #aniamountofart on artisticAllyzah; and my comic can be found at tapas.io/series/OMNI!

Marco the Mallard
Marco the Mallard

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

Interview: Keelan

Today we’re joined by Keelan. Keelan is a wonderful visual artist who hasn’t met a medium he doesn’t like. Right now, he’s focusing mostly on ace pride/positivity and autistic pride/positivity, both of which are greatly needed in today’s world. His work is so beautiful, brimming with color and life, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly fanart, sketches and positivity/pride drawings. I have also done a bit of costume design and costume making for some local theatre. I’ve experimented with a variety of mediums such as oil paint, acrylics, chalk/charcoal, photography and ink + bleach but I mostly stick to pencil and digital drawings because it is what I am most comfortable working with, and what I have the most access to. In the past year or so my art has been focused mostly on asexual/a-spec and autistic positivity because they are both important parts of my identity and I want to express that and my love for the two communities. I’ve been drawing with pencils for a long time, but digital art is still very new to me because I only started exploring it last year.

What inspires you?

Other artists and their work are a huge inspiration to me. Seeing the beautiful work other artists create inspires me so much and motivates me to keep on practicing and improving. Sometimes they inspire me to try new things as well. I probably wouldn’t have begun to explore digital art if I had not seen and been inspired by the progress of other artists on social media. I am also inspired a lot by the communities I am a part of, such as the online asexual and autistic community. They have given me the confidence and inspiration to express myself more through my art and take pride in my identity through it.

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

I’ve wanted to be an artist ever since I was little, and I began to put effort into learning and improving my art when I was around eight and wanted to be able to draw my original character properly. That goal from when I was a kid has been motivating me for years to keep on trying. Unfortunately, because my main focus was being able to draw a character that meant that for years I didn’t explore anything outside of drawing people in pencil and pen. I only began to pick up exploring other things such as colour and different mediums when I chose to do Art in GCSE when I was fifteen. Even though my career goals are a little different from when I was younger, I still want to continue being an artist as a hobby.

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?

Not really. I used to have a habit a few years ago, of signing all my art with my initials. I don’t do it as often anymore; however, I try to keep it up (inconsistently) with any art I post online. In all my autistic art I make an effort to include the neurodiversity symbol; a rainbow infinity symbol.

dai-li-agents
Dai Li Agents

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep on trying. It can be difficult and very frustrating but the thing about art is that you are always learning. Even those artists who seem to have mastered it all are still learning and making mistakes and improving. Art takes practice and time so its fine if you struggle with and take a long time to learn something (such as how to draw hands or animals). Looking back on your old art might make you cringe but that’s only proof of your progress. Its proof that you have grown a lot and will probably only continue to grow and become more skilled.

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Proud Ace

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am panromantic asexual, though I also identify with demi-romantic.

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

I have encountered a little. In my life offline I experience it less because not as many people know I am asexual. I have received some ignorant and slightly insulting comments from people who do know, or from people who don’t know I am asexual but have heard of it. It always hurts and frustrates me a bit to hear it. I tend to either speak up about it or let it slide depending on the situation and how well I know the person. I don’t handle confrontation well so I admit I tend to avoid it even when it might be best to speak up.

I have definitely experienced more prejudice and ignorance online. I am fairly open about my sexuality online and I post most of my asexual positivity art on my blogs and it has caused me to receive some unpleasant comments as a result. I find it is best to delete the messages, block the sender and not let it bother me. In fact it usually motivates me to draw even more ace positive art.

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

That asexuality is just a lack of interest in having sex or a form of celibacy. It’s a misconception that frustrates me a lot because I have seen it be used against asexual people to invalidate them or make incorrect claims based on that misinformation. It is also, I suspect, where the comments from my family that I “just need to meet the right person” or that I am a “late bloomer” come from.

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

You aren’t broken and you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with being asexual and there is a wonderful community out there for asexual and aromantic people. It’s okay if it takes you a long time to come to terms with being asexual and it’s okay if you aren’t sure of your orientation.

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

I post a lot of my art on my Tumblr main: keelan-666.tumblr.com under the tag #keelan-art and on my side blog: autistic-space-dragon.tumblr.com under the tag #space-dragon-doodles. However neither blogs are purely art blogs so a lot of other stuff is posted there too. I also have an Instagram: keelantheace.

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Ace Positivity Post

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

Interview: Amber

Today we’re joined by Amber. Amber is a fantastic visual artist and a writer. She mostly does fanart and fanfiction though she also does original work. Amber loves what she does and it shows in her work. She has a phenomenal attention to detail and color. It’s very clear she has a very creative spirit. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Amber 5

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve only been drawing for a couple of years, so I haven’t really developed a certain style yet. A lot of what I draw is fanart, from books or TV shows, but, especially recently, I’ve been drawing more and more OCs and original things. I do most of my sketching on paper with pencil (and a massive, heavy duty eraser) but I do most my Nice Good Pieces digitally!

I write as well, I’ve been writing for a longer time, and I mostly do queer romance or zombie/horror stories, and fanfiction.

What inspires you?

Other artists, mainly. I love looking at other people’s styles and techniques and try to expand my skills that way. A lot of inspiration also comes from art books, like ‘The Art of the Legend of Korra’, movie concept art, things like that. I have an active imagination (blame my ADHD) and am constantly coming up with scenes and images in my head and I try to draw them a lot.

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

I’ve always loved to draw, but when I was younger there was never the ‘I want to get really good at art and make a career out of it!!’ mindset. It was just fun and games, a way to pass the time when I was bored. It wasn’t until my older sibling went to university and I started paying attention to the details, like the behind-the-scenes of movies and shows and games, that I decided that’s what I wanted to aim for. I’ve been seriously drawing for two years 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?

Uhh, not really. Most of the time I’ll sign with my Tumblr URL just so people know it’s mine, but I don’t have a special mark. Yet. I’m working on it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I am a young aspiring artist, so I’ll say what I keep telling myself – don’t compare your art to others’ work. Compare yourself to your old art, sure, but never to artists with more experience than you. It won’t help. And, tutorials. Tutorials are life, tutorials are great. Always look out for tutorials, especially in the form of speedpaints! It really helps to actually see how things are done.

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Dreadlocks

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Just plain ol’ ace! Not quite sex repulsed, but almost.

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

Uh, yeah. My family knew nothing about it before I started to talk about, and I live in a small country town where everyone is very old fashioned, so yeah, I’ve encountered a lot of that. I used to try and correct people and explain why they were wrong about whatever, sometimes I still try if I’m in the right mood, but then people started to say that I was too defensive and that I should stop taking everything so seriously and stop trying to upset people. So now I mostly just grumble under my breath and rant to internet friends, and wait for the day when I’ll finally be an Adult and can have my say without getting into trouble.

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

My dad used to always assume that because I was ace, I wasn’t interested in dating and people at all. When I came out as pan shortly after I came out as ace he kept asking how it was possible if I didn’t like people like that, and what would be the point of dating anyone. It took a while to actually get him to understand that ‘asexual’ does only mean ‘no sexual attraction’ and that yes, I am still able to date, and yes, it’s possible to date without having sex. Even at school and everywhere else I go – where I’m not out – everyone automatically thinks that and given up trying to correct them without giving myself away.

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

I’m not the best person for this type of advice, since I’m still struggling with it, but what helps me a lot is just finding and making friends that understand how I feel and friends that know a lot about asexuality and other queer identities. I follow a lot of blogs that have a lot of handy information and a lot of positive posts: (at) rainbow-hotline is a good one, as is (at) ace-big-sis!

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

I have an art blog on Tumblr, over at cheldraws! I also have a Devinatart (ChelberNo1) and an Instagram (at cheldraws)!

I also write, both fanfiction and my own original works, you should be able to google ‘ChelberNo1’ and find where I post things.

you_know_that_you_re_beautiful_when_you_work__by_chelberno1-dam5zel
You Know that You’re Beautiful when You Work

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

Interview: Becky

Today we’re joined by Becky. Becky is a wonderful artist who enjoys doodling with pens and pencils. She does paint occasionally, but it’s clear she prefers pens/pencils and paper. Her work shows her vivid imagination and it’s very obvious that she pours her heart into her drawings. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly pen/pencil and paper, I rarely start with a plan when I begin my projects. I just sorta let my hand do what it wants! I seldom work in realism, I prefer my scribbles and rough movements, but there’s always room for improvement! I’ve really been trying to improve my anatomy. I like my style, but I know each time I draw, I’m getting a little better. Even though they all seem nonsensical and meaningless, I pour my heart and soul into each little doodle.

What inspires you?

Art is food for my soul. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize that I can’t starve myself. I need to create! I always feel so much better after hashing out a vent art, or putting time and effort into a more detailed piece. I’m heavily inspired by the things outside of the visual realm. Reality is great, but I love giving life to the weird little things that live in my mind.

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Cabin

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

I’ve been drawing ever since I could remember. At first, I was really driven by cartoons and wanting so hard to be part of that reality. Growing up wasn’t easy, so I’d escape into my imagination as often as I could. It was my safe haven, nothing could hurt me there. And so, I’d draw what I “saw” at first. Then it turned into moving beyond that and really diving into my mind and trusting my hand to show me what it was trying to portray. As far as wanting to be an artist, I can say I always was. I still am, even though it isn’t my career.

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?

Oh gosh, I don’t even know. I just use my initials most times if I can remember. I guess my drawings aren’t really ever “smooth..” I pick up me pen/pencil a lot and use short strokes. I know you aren’t “supposed to” but anarchy.

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Derek

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s okay if it doesn’t look like what you had planned! The important thing is that your creation is yours, your imagination is yours, and NO ONE can take that away from you! Feed your soul, even through those days when picking up a pencil is the last thing you want to do, you’ll really surprise yourself!

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Pretty

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m more on the Gray-A side.

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

Since art isn’t really my career, I can’t say I’ve dealt with it so much in that regard. My dating attempts in college though, boy that’s another story.

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

Well, I’m married (happily, I might add.) And my husband and I have agreed to remain childfree for the foreseeable future. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard with a smug chuckle, “You say that now…” or, “Just wait, you’ll change your mind.” Someone even bothered to tell me that it was my purpose and responsibility as a vagina owner to repopulate. Are you kidding me??? So I always just say snide like, “oh well you’re free to have a baby for me, in the meantime I’m going to enjoy not destroying my body.”
And I don’t need to mention reproducing by budding… But in college, my romantic interests just assumed “Oh, you’ve just had bad sex.” Or “Try it with me, you’ll change your mind.” UGH…

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Purple

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

YOU. ARE. NOT. BROKEN. Read that again and again because I know how hard it is living in a world where “sex means love” and “love means sex.” IT DOES NOT. You are asexual enough, and you are loved and valid by me and this community, okay? If you’re sex positive, or sex repulsed; you’re still valid and cherished. If you like sex but don’t have a sex drive, you’re still valid. If you hate sex and the very idea of touching, you’re still valid. Don’t let anyone ever police your identity because for some of us, it’s important.

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

On my blog: http://beckycause.tumblr.com/ under the tag “beckydoods” 🙂

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Fox

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

Interview: Jacen

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

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Ahsoka

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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Flareon

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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

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Wolf Inverted print

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic asexual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I post art to my Instagram (stcrmpilxt)

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

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

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Eevee

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