Interview: Eliott

Today we’re joined by Eliott. Eliott is a phenomenally talented Japanese voice actor who mostly works in the Homestuck community. When he’s not voice acting, Eliott also does some singing, mostly Vocaloid. He’s got a great amount of enthusiasm for his art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do some voice acting and singing. I mostly voice act in the Homestuck community, but I’ve done other fandoms such as Steven Universe and My Little Pony, and I’m in a few original productions where I’m not imitating a voice. For my singing, I just cover songs that I feel like, whether it be popular songs by mainstream artists like Fallout Boy or Imagine Dragons or more niche songs like Vocaloid or anime openings. I also combine my VA work with my singing by singing as a character. Of course, this is mostly Homestuck because that’s how I got into voice acting, but that’s for later.

What inspires you?

For my VA work, it’s mostly anime voice actors in Japan, like Ikue Otani (Chopper from One Piece, Pikachu), Noriaki Sugiyama (Sasuke from Naruto, England from Hetalia), and Daisuke Namikawa (Italy from Hetalia, Eustass Kid from One Piece). I can’t really list off English voice actors because I just don’t watch dubs all that often, and in most cases, I prefer the original Japanese voices. For my singing, I’d say my number one inspiration is Case (hi I’m Case). Not a lot of people know of them, but they’re a musician in Wisconsin that some people might know if they were in the Homestuck fandom. Their music is super relatable to me, and I honestly aspire to be like them one day and actually write my music too, not just do covers. Other than Case, I enjoy works of Fallout Boy, Imagine Dragons and Taylor Swift. I also enjoy Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, Elphaba in Wicked) and wish I was as talent as her, haha.

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

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Homestuck got me into voice acting. I saw works of Zanney (Broadway Karkat) and wanted to be like them, and singing just came as part of the package since I tried to go straight into the voice acting/singing field.

I’d always wanted to be an artist, yes, and originally it was somewhere in music. Considering not many artists live off of doing only covers of songs, though, I was a bit discouraged. I mean, I couldn’t compose well just because of my lack of musical creativity, and I still can’t, and I’ve honestly come to terms with that. I know all the musical theory that goes into composing, but I just couldn’t compose. That combined with the fact that the entertainment industry is really a hit or miss, I thought that I’d keep this on the sidelines as my super dedicated 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?

I don’t really have that “trademark me” type stuff, just because I work for other people and their projects. I guess the most unique thing is having people ask how I do my “Nepeta voice” which is pretty high and cutesy (imagine the range of Honey senpai from Host Club or Chopper from One Piece) when my regular speaking tone is much lower, and I try to use that vocal versatility for a variety of projects. Then again, I’m starting HRT soon so I won’t be able to do it anymore, haha.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up. I know it’s been said countless times, but just don’t give up. Unless you’re a prodigy, you won’t get cast in the first production you auditioned for, and you won’t get a million notes on your first song that you post. Show it to friends and boost it, but you’ll only really get two or three notes. That’s not your fault, and it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at it. It just means that people don’t know you yet. Keep working, keep improving, and keep faith. With time, there will come a time when people will recognize you at conventions or just online through your voice.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an asexual. I say I’m homoromantic but I’m also leaning towards demiromantic, but I’m not sure about that part yet.

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

I guess I have, in a way. It’s not a “aces are actually cishet and don’t belong in LGBT spaces” type deal, but a lot of the people who are trying to be inclusive of all genders and sexualities just … forget about asexual people, y’know? Mostly in the original podcasts, which are trying to be inclusive with leads being trans and/or POC and whatnot, forget about us aces. If they do remember, the label of ace is slapped on that one kid that appears in episode 4 for two minutes. Don’t get me wrong, not all podcasts do this, but it’s still really frustrating to see other marginalized orientations be represented more than others. We’re like the one percent of the one percent. No one sees us. Those that I’ve brought this up to, though, have been pretty cool about it, saying that they’ll either write in an asexual character or straight up start another podcast with an ace as a lead, and I think that’s pretty awesome! More to come on that later, hopefully.

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

“Aces don’t have sex” probably. I’m 21. I’ve had sex. I don’t really like it, and probably somewhere between neutral and sex-repulsed. I mean, part of my asexuality might have come from past trauma and maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy it? I don’t know, and I honestly don’t care why I’m ace. I just know that I am. Date at Cheesecake Factory? Perfect. Taking me to Outback so you can get laid? Back off.

Another is that because I’m ace, I can’t find people attractive and/or make lewd jokes. Like, yeah, I’m ace, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the way people look and fall in love with them. For the jokes, especially, I’m pretty sure that I make these jokes because I’m ace. It’s just… I guess how I cope and a way for people to stay off my ass about being ace. “OMG are you a plant” is so old, and jokes are funnier and easier to deal with than that aphobic bullcrap.

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

Don’t listen to all the negative stuff that the media spews at you. They’re just uninformed and ignorant, and that’s their loss, not yours. You are 100% valid. Whether your asexuality comes from trauma or not, whether you love sex or not, none of that really matters in the end. If you’re asexual, embrace it. Find other aces who want to actually Netflix and Chill, binge ice cream, and talk about puppies. You are not broken, and you are valid.

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

All of my voice related work (reblogged or original posts) can be found on my voice blog at http://skylerva.tumblr.com. I made the blog before I changed my name to Eliott and that’s why it’s Skyler, but don’t worry, that’s still me.

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

Interview: Diana

Today we’re joined by Diana. Diana is a phenomenal artist who does a little bit of everything. She’s a theater performer who has acted in a few plays. She’s also dedicated to music, playing the viola in an orchestra. Diana also does quite a bit of writing. She’s writing for a videogame demo and she also writes a lot of fanfiction. Diana has a wonderful enthusiasm for her craft, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an artist in several arts, I suppose. I did theatre training for about 6 years in my local theatre, performed in my school plays and such. I also belong to a small community orchestra in which I play the viola (do not worry if you haven’t heard of it – I hadn’t, either). Finally, I write. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past 4 years, I’m a co-writer in an upcoming demo of an indie video game, and I also write and post fanfiction.

What inspires you?

In music, what often inspires me is the sense of community in orchestra, the joy of playing together, and the beauty of the music. One just longs to hear music. Performing in theatre is something that I just enjoy immensely, and simply having so much fun makes me want to keep doing it. When writing, though, what often inspires me is the books I read, and the people I want to see in stories.

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

I’ve loved stories since I was a kid, and especially telling them. My younger cousins were the unlucky recipients of my made-up bedtime stories, and I loved performing as a storyteller. Later on, that translated into theatre and writing. I’d always wanted to dedicate myself to it, yes. Dreamed of being a professional author for a long time, if you can believe it.  For music, my mom signed me up, lame as it might sound.

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?

Diverse characters in writing, I’d like to think. I also simply love fantastical elements, no matter the genre – I think it makes everything glow. As for theatre, I often make my characters very flamboyant.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop doing what you love. It may sound cheesy and cliché, but even if it leads nowhere, financially speaking, it can brighten your day. At the worst times for me, emotionally, art was a breath of fresh air. And don’t get discouraged, hard as it is – we all start somewhere.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual! This might be TMI, but I usually have no problem with sex with my partner as long as I’m not the one being touched. However, I dislike NSFW art, writing, and talking about sex regularly.

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

It’s hard in music and theatre, because you mostly play others’ works, and that’s usually very detached from my asexual identity. In writing…yes, definitely. Romance novels, especially, tend to have a very, very literal climax; an upwards progression to a definite sex scene the reader is looking for. There is very little asexual inclusion in literature, so often times there is a definite ignorance. Whenever I write romance, I feel almost pressured to include a sex scene, which I’m not very comfortable with. Especially in the fanfiction and fandom community, so sex-focused and ship-centered, being asexual or aromantic isn’t popular, and you’re accused of being “ill” or discriminatory.

I usually deal with it by blocking and ignoring people whose arguments are watered down prejudice and insults, and trying to educate and speak with those who are more confused. And, in the end, the gratitude of aces who read my work is always more than worth it.

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

The plant dilemma (and, let me tell you, as a biochem student this is hilarious, since most plants are sexual). The misconception that celibacy and asexuality are the same thing, or that no ace people ever want to have sex/masturbate/have a libido.

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

Find aces, especially older ones. In my experience, having that support is always the best thing you can get. Get into ace forums, surround yourself with positivity, and don’t be too hard on yourself on whether you are or not asexual. Orientation takes time to figure out.

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

My Tumblr and Twitter are usually the place!
http://i-read-good-books.tumblr.com/
https://twitter.com/gomadelpelorota

You can also check out my fanfiction on Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/users/thankyouforexisting

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

Interview: Kaj

Today we’re joined by Kaj. Kaj is an awesome up-and-coming writer and a former actor. They’re writing blends a number of different genres, though they write quite a bit of fantasy. Kaj used to perform as an actor in the theater and hopes to return at some point in the future. They’re clearly and enthusiastic and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and used to be an actor.

Acting was fun, my favourite parts so far (I’m hoping to get back into it one day) were Horatio in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Mrs. Erlynne in Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. It was just my school’s drama club, but we had the reputation of doing a pretty decent job.

Writing is mostly an outlet for a lot of feelings, for things I think about, and sometimes just plain stress relief. I write basically everything. I started out with Harry Potter-ish fantasy, then crime stories, urban fantasy, and my most recent project is some kind of Fight Club inspired tragedy. -Ish. Actually, I just start writing whatever comes to my mind and see where it takes me from there. I never know what’s going to happen in a story until it happens. Party because of that (and because I keep getting distracted) I never finished one of my “big” projects. I do fine with short stories, but actual novels are usually abandoned somewhere along the way. But maybe my current idea will work out. Being almost ten chapters deep is quite a step forward for me.

What inspires you?

I started writing at a young age (I hardly remember a time where I haven’t been writing), so I have no idea anymore why I started writing in the first place.

And for the individual stories, it depends. My first big project was obviously inspired by Harry Potter. In general, it often happens that I read a book (or fic or watch a movie etc.) and get an idea about what might happen if you took /that/ element and spun it another way.

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

As I said, I don’t remember when and why I started writing. But I think it’s safe to say that my love for books might have something to do with it. As soon as I could read I was hardly ever seen without a book. I think we sometimes got assignments in school to do some creative writing and I kinda noticed how much fun that is.

As long as I’ve been writing stories I also wanted to be an author – as in, a published author. And I still hope that one day I might be able to finish one of my bigger project and actually get it published. But since I have a “real” job, writing is and will always be 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?

There are definitely a lot of queer characters in all my stories, but I don’t think that counts. Another constant, I think, is that my protagonists tend to be thrown into some kind of trouble so I can just watch them react. They hardly ever make the first step in the stories, it’s usually something that happens /to/ them. Reactions interest me, because there are so many ways to react to the same situation and every character behaves differently.

Also, many – if not most – of my stories /don’t end well/. Idk why, but tragedy always intrigued me. So, death and violence could probably be counted as “recurring themes”.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

1. Don’t stop. No matter what kind of art you produce, keep doing it. Write short-short-short stories in the notebook on your phone. Write some sentences on the back of your homework and see if it takes you anywhere. It will get messy, you will have loose ends /everywhere/ and the amount of abandoned stories will grow daily, but that’s okay as long as you keep writing. And if you have an idea for a novel, try and work on it whenever you can. You can write the first chapter on your computer. Maybe you get an idea for the next chapter at work – scribble it down on whatever piece of paper you can find. Try to outline the plot in your head when you’re in the supermarket.

2. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s not Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to become a novel. It’s okay if you can’t write on your wanna-be novel every day. It’s okay to let stories sit on the shelf for weeks. And it’s okay to abandon stories.

3. Don’t let the muggles get you down. Don’t let anyone talk shit about what you write. Or about the fact /that/ you’re writing. You do you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. I didn’t realize until a couple of months ago, because I never gave much thought to it. I experience very strong sensual attraction, which is probably why I never thought about being ace. Only when Tumblr made me realise that sexual attraction actually means looking at someone thinking “I want sex with you” it dawned on me that I might not experience that.

I’m also pretty sure I’m aromantic. This one’s a bit tricky though, because I’m also hella romance-repulsed and I can’t quite tell if I’m not interested in romance with anyone or averse to the thought of a romantic relationship itself.

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

I haven’t encountered any prejudice. But that’s mostly because I’m not out in RL, and I usually don’t connect much with other writers on the internet. The only people who know about me being aroace /and/ me being a writer are close friends, most of them queer. So, I’m in a pretty good place when it comes to that.

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

Being asexual = not liking/having sex. I mean, it’s kinda true for me, since I’m also trans/nonbinary/agender and dysphoria makes it kinda impossible for me to undress in front of anyone, let alone have sex with them. But there are many aces out there who enjoy sex, and the orientation isn’t defined by the behavior.

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

It’s going to be okay. You’re not broken. You’re not alone. And no matter what exclusionists say, you DO belong in the LGBTQIA/Queer Community.

There are many people out there who feel like you do, and just because society tries to tell us we must always want sex with basically anyone, that doesn’t make them right and you wrong.

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

On my http://daughterofhecata.tumblr.com/ blog there’s a page where you can find http://daughterofhecata.tumblr.com/stories my stories. It’s just a tiny bit of my work, because most of it is in German (my first language). Maybe I’ll add some of the German short stories as well, I’m not sure yet. I also have accounts at ff.net and AO3, but I rather not link them with my Tumblr because I’m honestly not too proud of that stuff.

(In shameless self-promoting: Janus is my favourite story so far; it’s actually the longest story I ever finished. Also, once in a lifetime I did plan ahead and outlined the story before jumping into writing.)

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

Interview: Abby Ramsay

Today we’re joined by Abby Ramsay. Abby is a phenomenal model and actress in LA. She uses her art to raise awareness of issues close to her heart. Her Instagram has recently blown up a bit after she gave an interview about social media. Abby is a fellow ace feminist, which is always awesome to see. She’s incredibly passionate, 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.

Well, I am an actress and model out in LA. I show off my work mostly through Instagram. Just creating these images and stories, whether they be moving or still, really gives me this outlet to express my thoughts, feelings, and ideals that I can’t always put into words.

I like to use my art to bring attention to topics like asexuality, body positivity, feminism, and mental illness as those are all things that are close to me.

I also like combining them. Everything I do is done with the mindset of “just because I am asexual does not mean I am not sexy or desirable.” but also “Just because I am viewed as sexy or desirable does not mean I can’t be asexual.”

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What inspires you?

Just the idea that I can use what I love to help people. The industry that I am in has the potential to have your voice be heard by many people all over the world. If I have the opportunity to use my platform to change it for the better then I want to do it.

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

I have been acting since I was about 5 years old. Granted at the time the only reason I was in these musicals was because I was a really good singer at a young age, but they fed my love of storytelling. I would create plays at home and act them out for my parents, and it really blossomed into a passion by middle school. I fought long and hard with my parents (especially my mom) to let me try to get an agent, and they eventually gave in. I was a freshman in High School (2012 I believe) when I was signed with a small agency, and they sent me on my first few jobs. I was in love!

The agency also dealt with modeling, so the first photoshoot I ever did was with them. I was really shy in front of the camera at first. I had dealt with a lot of body positivity issues in the past, but the longer I was in front of the camera the more I enjoyed it. I actually felt really comfortable with myself.

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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?

Hmmmm. I guess I like to keep things natural. I have never been an over the top character actor (I mean it’s fun, but I have my preferences) so I usually try to take scenes to a more organic place. I do the same thing with my modeling. I always try to get a few pictures that represent me. There’s this idea that when you are modeling you can never smile and you always have to be sultry, but when I am working and talking to the photographer I like to smile and laugh and just be myself. Those end up being some of the best pictures.

I also do this hand on head leaning back pose a LOT. My friends give me a hard time about it haha. But it’s like my signature pose now I guess.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is not going to be easy, but with hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck you can make your art your life.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I usually just say I am asexual, but for me that means that I don’t find people sexually attractive, and I am just not interested in sex. I’m not sex repulsed and I am aesthetically and romantically attracted to people, but I would much rather kiss and cuddle than have sex.

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

There have been a couple instances. When you have your work online, you usually get some not so pleasant remarks from people. You get people who want to “fix you” you which is the one that bothers me the most.

But even outside the internet, I have had some encounters that have been less than ideal. I had a teacher at my college basically say that I was too pretty to be asexual and that it would be a waste. I know she didn’t mean it the way it came out, but it’s one of the reasons we need more visibility.

I also had a fellow acting student come to the conclusion that she did not like me because she thought asexuality was stupid. I never quite understood the logic behind that.

And it’s also hard, especially in acting, because Hollywood is so sexed up that there is just this assumption that every character interaction is because they want to bone.

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

OK, the idea that “you just haven’t found the right person yet” or “you won’t know unless you try” pisses me off. I have gotten both and my general response to that is “you could give me a cheap piece of raw fish or a $200 piece of raw fish, it doesn’t chance that fact that I don’t like raw fish.” and “I have never been shot before, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy that either.”

There is also the idea that if you have a mental illness or if you have been in an abusive relationship or raped that your asexuality is just a byproduct. You know, whether it is or isn’t that shouldn’t make their identity any less legitimate.

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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 broken. I promise you. Your feelings are completely normal. You are a valid part of the LGBTQIA community, and though we may be a smaller group, we are full of love, no matter where we fall on the spectrum. Just be yourself.

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

My Instagram is abbysworldsastage.

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

Interview: Jenn Basel

Today we’re joined by Jenn Basel. Jenn is a phenomenal asexual writer and performer who writes both original work and fanfiction. They write mostly gunpowder fantasy, which is similar to steampunk. For fanfiction, they write a number of stories set in the Elder Scrolls universe. They also blog about writing and publishing. When they’re not writing, Jenn is a performance artist who works with a  theater trope that primarily does living chess shows at Renaissance Faires. Jenn’s a stunt fighter trained both with a sword and in unarmed combat. It’s very clear they’re incredibly passionate about what they do, 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 a writer. I do a bit of blogging and I’ve got a pet Skyrim fanfic I update every couple of weeks, but the bulk of my work is original fantasy. I tend to write for adult audiences, and some of my favorite projects to work on are political stories filled with court intrigue and subterfuge. I primarily write gunpowder fantasy, which is sometimes called steampunk’s younger cousin–basically, gunpowder fantasy is fantasy set in fictional worlds with a level of technology equivalent to the real-world 17th to 19th centuries.

It’s very important to me to write about the characters I needed when I was younger, so my work tends to be very focused on the stories of queer and disabled people.

I’m also a performer. I have some experience acting in more traditional stage shows, but my real passion lies in improv theatre and performing as a living chess piece at my city’s annual Renaissance faire. Our shows are based around choreographed fights with a variety of weapons. I’m currently trained in unarmed combat and swordfighting.

What inspires you?

At the end of the day, I think what really keeps me going is the knowledge that I can be the person I needed when I was younger. I can write and perform queer, disabled characters being awesome. It makes me feel good to know that there are people out there who have told me how happy my work has made them, and how good it felt to see something of themselves.

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

I started telling stories when I was pretty young. I was an only child for twelve years and we lived out in the country, so I spent a lot of time by myself. I liked playing dress-up and acting out stories based on books and movies I loved. It wasn’t much of a leap to inventing stories of my own, and it didn’t take me long after that to start writing them down.

I don’t think it occurred to me that I could write down my stories to share with other people until a little later, but once that idea got lodged in my head, I took to it with gusto. My first attempts at novels were in middle school. I still have a lot of fondness for those stories.

The acting came pretty naturally out of my games as a kid, too. I wanted to be a stage actor for a long time after taking drama classes in middle school, but only recently did I finally get the opportunity. I’m very glad to have stumbled across my current acting troupe.

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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’m not sure if I’ve developed a signature in my writing yet, but in my acting and stage combat I’ve really gravitated toward sarcastic, sardonic characters and quick, witty performances. I like campy humor and characters with a sharp tongue. My fighting style is settling into a fast-paced whirlwind interspersed with one-liners, which I hope is just as fun to watch as it is to perform.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make goals and stick to them as best you can, but also know your limits. I’ve hurt myself in the past by pushing myself too hard when what I really needed was to take a step back, rest, and take some time for other interests. It’s easy to fall into the trap of, “oh, if I don’t create something every day, I’m not a Real Artist,” but that’s not true at all. Follow your passion and your goals, but take care of yourself while you do it! It’s not a race, and you’re not in competition with your fellow creators. You can take your time, pace yourself, and take breaks when you need them.

This goes double if your art is in any way physical, like performing!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identified as demisexual for a while before learning about grey-asexuality. There are times I feel what I think is sexual attraction, but I have to have a very strong emotional connection first, and even then it’s pretty unpredictable and fairly rare.

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

I’m fortunate to be in very supportive communities surrounding my fields, so fortunately I haven’t really encountered it there. But I have experienced prejudice and ignorance in other areas of my life, and it can be hard. In online spaces, where I’ve experienced the most backlash, I make liberal use of the block button, and I make it very clear when I’m done talking about a subject. When I find myself getting particularly overwhelmed, I get off the computer and go hang out with friends or play my go-to comfort game, the Sims.

Fortunately I haven’t experienced a lot of ignorance offline. The few times I’ve had to deal with ignorance, it’s been from people who were willing to listen to and carefully consider what I had to say.

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

The most common misconception is probably that sexuality is all-or-nothing, and asexuals can only ever be “nothing.” In addition to identifying as grey-ace, I’m also grey-romantic, bi, and polyamorous. Sometimes I feel sexual and romantic attraction, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I experience one but not the other.

There are times I have sex with my partners, but that doesn’t make me any less asexual. And even if I never felt sexual attraction at all, attraction and action are different things. Plenty of asexuals enjoy sexual activity. Plenty don’t. But you can’t tell that just from somebody’s orientation.

The other misconception I think I run into the most is that if you’re ace, you’re automatically also aro. I happen to be both, but not everyone is. Asexuality and aromanticism are their own distinct identities, and even if they sometimes overlap, it’s inappropriate to lump them together as one.

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

I felt deeply broken for a long time. There was a point I heavily considered going to the doctor, because I thought I was sick. It took me a good while to accept that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.

What I think helped me the most was finding a community. That is admittedly easier said than done, but I think it’s really important. I started following as many discourse-free positivity blogs as I could find, and I relied (and still rely) on the support of my partners when things are really rough. I found people who validated me and had similar lived experience, so I stopped feeling so alone. Again, it really is easier said than done, but it’s so much easier to push through the bad days if you can find people who have done it before and are doing it alongside you.

I highly recommend fuckyeahasexual on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. They share a lot of great content from a lot of great people, and they’ve done a lot to help me feel a little more connected. Another thing that’s helped is finding positive representation of asexuals in fiction

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

As for my writing, I can be found on Tumblr as at jennbasel. That Tumblr has links to my other social media, including Twitter. My main blog can be found at jennbasel.blogspot.com. I post fanfiction on AO3 as JennBasel, and my original fiction can be found on Medium at https://medium.com/@JennBasel. I also have a Patreon at patreon.com/jennbasel.

My theatre troupe, the Thieves Guilde, can be found at thievesguilde.org. We perform at events throughout Florida, most notably the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire.

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

Interview: Ben

Today we’re joined by Ben. Ben is a phenomenal theater actor who is also a playwright. He has mostly written tragic plays, but is currently working on an absurdist play. Aside from acting and writing, Ben is also a writer of a homebrew D&D campaign. He’s also currently taking voice lessons in order to get into musical theater. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Headshot(Fall 2016)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Primarily I am a stage actor and a playwright. I am also the writer of a homebrew (made from scratch) D&D campaign and world. As far as acting goes I am more versed in acting in straight plays than in musicals, I am not quite that skilled in singing. But I am in the process of taking voice lessons to solve that issue. With playwriting I have at this point written mainly tragic plays and am currently working on an absurdist play. I also dabble in graphic design for a YouTube channel I am involved in.

What inspires you?

I am primarily inspired by passionate people. Seeing somebody overflowing with joy and enthusiasm about something they are doing or are interested in just gets me hyped up and raring to do something myself. I am also inspired often by the people around me and current events, both of which are commonly reflected in my works. With my writing style I am also greatly inspired by the works of Tennessee Williams and other 20th century playwrights.

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

I have always wanted to do something in the arts. I started with orchestra in middle school playing the violin and when my second high school didn’t offer it I started looking for other things to get involved with. In freshman year I saw my (first) high school’s performance of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It was my first time seeing a live show of anything and I was utterly enamored by how much more real it felt than seeing films. It wasn’t until junior year of high school when I took my first drama class, and then a second year drama class my senior year. In my senior year I took the full dive into acting and got involved in every theatre related thing that went on at the school. I’ve been hooked ever since and am currently studying for a Theatre degree in college.

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 have a tendency to include a lot of subtle duality in my works between character personalities and motivations. Other than that I can’t really think of much else.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice for aspiring artists is to first find others as passionate as you about the kind of art you are interested in, and second to not let anyone dissuade you with how much more difficult life is going to be. Yes work might be harder to find and you’ll absolutely receive less pay, but the ability to be doing what you love is more than worth it.

Horrible People Productions

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. As for romantic orientation it took seemingly forever to narrow it down but sapioromantic seems the most accurate for me.

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

Luckily I haven’t encountered any prejudice or ignorance. Theatre is a generally progressive field in the first place, so you don’t really find much prejudice aside from the occasional diva.

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

The most common misconception I’ve come across is people assuming I just haven’t met the “one” yet. Or that I had one bad experience and need to try things with other people. It gets rather tedious hearing diagnoses from people about what happened/what I should do when there is really nothing in need of diagnosing.

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

My advice for those struggling is to take your time figuring out the specifics of your orientation. There’s no need to rush because at the end of the day the main person who needs to know is you. No matter what the specifics may be, your identity is valid and you as a person are appreciated. And I know it’s easier said than done but don’t let the people who will give you crap about being you get into your head, if they need to stoop low enough to attack your identity, you already have the moral high ground in telling them to bug off.

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

If you are in the Midwest area you can see the shows at the college I go to, Missouri Western State University. I don’t always act but I usually am involved in some way.

And if you go to Horrible People Productions at YouTube.com, you can learn about my D&D world. It is a group channel that I have with some friends at my college. There is currently only one episode of the current campaign posted but the rest will be coming out closer to fall.

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

Interview: Bridgett Cains

Today we’re joined by Bridgett Cains and she’s the 500th artist interviewed by Asexual Artist (YAY!). Bridgett is a phenomenal dancer from Australia who dances in a variety of styles. She has been all over the world, dancing with various troupes and in a variety of venues. She also teaches dance and choreographs too. Bridgett loves to share her passion for dance and I could not be happier to feature her on this blog. 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 a freelance dancer, choreographer and teacher working in a range of styles, but generally fusing contemporary dance, belly dance, and contortion. I’ve been performing and teaching for the past fifteen years without any real plan other than to take chances and make opportunities wherever I can, which has taken me on some unexpected adventures. I’ve worked in Australia, the US, and Europe in a range of contexts including performing in dance projects, arts festivals, outdoor events, music videos, belly dance troupes, circus cabarets, experimental theatre shows, burlesque shows, body art competitions, fashion shows, and corporate events.

Although I’ve pushed myself to become confident in improvisation, I’m a choreography geek at heart, and as a teacher I love nothing more than to give my students the skills to create their own original choreography.

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What inspires you?

I find inspiration in people who haven’t followed straight paths, or who put their own spin on their genre. People like Garry Stewart, Marion Motin, Cera Byer, April Rose, Henry Rollins, Mike Patton, Amanda Palmer, Tim Minchin, Rachel Brice, Noel Fielding, Martin Martini, Diana Vishneva, Tom Waits, Tanja Liedtke, Philippe Petit, Aya & Bambi, Heston Blumenthal… (I keep a running list here). When I’m looking for inspiration for a specific project, I try to look outside of dance so as not to accidentally steal anything, and instead turn to circus, sideshow, music, theatre, books, stand up comedy, film, visual art, and whatever else I’m surrounded by at the time.

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

I took my first ballet lesson when I was three and continued in regular classes well into my twenties, but never dreamt of being a professional ballerina, instead alternating between wanting to be a librarian, a scientist, a teacher, and an author. When I was fifteen I saw a contemporary dance performance that permanently shifted my focus to dance, and I started taking my training much more seriously. A few years later while I was recovering from a hamstring injury during full-time training, I took up belly dance and contortion which have taken my work in directions I’d never dreamt of, and introduced me to some of the most incredible 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?

With over twenty years of ballet and ten years of belly dance in this body alongside all the other styles I’ve dabbled in, I’ve accidentally developed a signature style that’s mangled them all to the point where I definitely don’t look like a ballerina or a belly dancer. Whenever my work is reviewed or audience members comment on my performances, they always mention my hands, my flexibility, and my lines, so I guess they’ve unwittingly become a signature in my choreography.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try to explore things that challenge you to question your understanding of your artform. For me, setting foot in a belly dance studio for the first time after only ever having trained in ballet, jazz, and contemporary taught me entirely new ways to approach my work. It was terrifying at first, but now I’m hooked on taking classes in styles I’m not familiar with, and going through the humbling experience of being a beginner over and over again.

Being open to new things has taken me on so many adventures, including volunteering at a circus school in the Hawaiian jungle, running the dance program at a summer school in the UK, teaching at a performing arts camp in New York, working with burlesque performers in London and San Francisco, learning flamenco in Seville, taking belly dance lessons in Albuquerque, and taking Butoh and Irish dance lessons in Dublin. None of these things would have happened if I’d followed the plan of my fifteen-year-old self; to get a degree in dance and perform with a local company for the rest of my life, and I’ve since developed an aversion to long-term plans.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual. I flirt subconsciously and regularly develop crushes, but I have no interest in sexual or romantic relationships.

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

I usually work alone, but it’s never come up when I’ve worked on collaborative projects.

The only issue I’ve faced is in marketing my work, because I’m uncomfortable with the idea of anyone finding me attractive, but simultaneously love the way I look and need to promote the idea of people watching what I do with my body. It’s definitely a struggle to present myself well and with confidence without people projecting sexual undertones.

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

I’ve had a few people insist I’m just going through a phase, or I’ve just not found the right person yet, and that they’re willing to wait for me to change my mind or grow out of it. I also find a lot of people assume that asexuality stems from some kind of fear or a traumatic experience, and that I must be an easily offended prude.

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

Build yourself a network of supportive people you can trust. Talk to people, keep a journal, and even make art about what you’re feeling if you need to. It’s difficult to understand and process it all when you’re in the middle of it, but if you can get it out of your head it’s a lot easier to step back, start making connections, and understand what it is you’re experiencing. I’ve only recently (in my thirties) realised that asexuality and aromanticism explain so much of who I am and what I’ve experienced, and I came out to close friends and family who generally seemed to have figured it out before I did, even if they didn’t know that these things had names. Most importantly, know that you’re not alone, you’re definitely not broken or dysfunctional, and that working on being comfortable in yourself is a very important thing.

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

BridgettCains.com
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest (at) BridgettCains
bridgettelizabeth.tumblr.com

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