Interview: Sierra Sonora

Today we’re joined by Sierra Sonora. Sierra is a wonderful visual artist and fanartist. She specializes in nature photography, taking pictures of local flora and fauna, showing the beauty of life in vivid color and detail. When she’s not taking picture, Sierra dabbles in fanfiction and fanart. She’s also currently endeavoring to write a novel. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with a bright future ahead of her, 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.

My art consists of a variety of mediums. One includes the photography of natural landscapes as well as nature, such as local Flora/Fauna. It also includes writing of both original work and Fanfiction. I also draw in what can be considered an Anime/Cartoon style of me, my friends, pets, and Fanart on mostly regular sketchbook paper with pencil/pen and colored pencils, or I will digitally upload my art and work on it with a paint program. I thoroughly enjoy singing, and write poetry, but have yet to compose any original songs-although I have written at least 3 parodies that revolve around different favorite pairings of characters from TV shows I watch.

What inspires you?

The need to create and channel my emotions inspire me to do all of the above. I often struggle with verbally expressing my emotions, but through art I can slow down and think things through-especially when I draw. The joy of others also inspires me, as I find happiness in making other people happy with my art. I find that when I share my art, whatever the medium, I feel a meaningful and spiritual connection with the ones I am sharing with and that connectivity is vital to me.

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

Ever since I was little, I enjoyed watching cartoons, reading books, and drawing. It’s hard for me to say that I’ve always wanted to be an artist, because what I do doesn’t really feel like “art” to me; I see it as a coping mechanism and a way to make others feel happy. Put simply, I view my art as a tool, and that prevents me from seeing it as what I feel “art” actually is.

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 do have one thing in my art that I include; it’s a simple necklace of mine that I’ve had for about 8 years now; a simple black nylon string with a silver eagle talon pendant holding within its three claws a white marble. This necklace is a special possession I hold, and I like to include it when I draw myself or a main character from one of my original works.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

As cliché as it sounds, I am going to say it anyway because it’s true: Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your art, whether it is photography, mixed medium, paintings, writings, drawings, fandom related, etc. Don’t give up. You, as a unique individual with your own perspective on life, your own unseen and secret views, have so much to offer to the art world. Whatever it is, it may not turn out quite the way you want it to the first time-this is only reasonable; you are new at things, and with novelty comes practice.

It may even take a long time to feel comfortable where you are on your journey in creation. I still have 10-year-old art lying around that makes me cringe every time I see them, but I keep them to remind myself of the journey it took to get where I am, and to propel me to work hard and push myself further. I highly recommend you do the same-keep your art, every scrap. You’ll be glad you did so later on down the road.

Another piece of advice that is repeated over and over again for good reason is this: Don’t compare yourself to other artists if it is only going to result in self-loathing or any form of negativity. It’s not worth it, and it won’t help you become better at your passion. Trust me, I know. I’ve done it, and it only made me want to quit art altogether and it would make me feel inferior/jealous. How terrible is that- to want to give up on something that brings you joy because you feel you are not adequate? To feel negative, nasty feelings towards others because I was not secure enough in who I was as an artist? It’s terrible, and unfair to yourself and the other person.

So I say this: don’t compare. Just create. If you must compare, try to do so with humility- recognize that you aren’t where you want to be yet and have patience with yourself.

My last piece of advice is this: Be kind to yourself and be kind to others; you’re not the only one struggling. Reach out to one another with love, offer emotional support when possible, and practice constructive criticism on yourself and others. You, as an honorary member of the art world, are here to uplift, inspire, create, and comfort through your works-whatever they may be. We need you, and you belong here. My sincerest hope is that this advice has been useful/helpful and uplifting to those who read it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Aromantic Asexual. Personally, I find that when I am in a relationship, I can adapt to the other person and provide physical intimacy such as hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, even if I don’t necessarily feel a desire to do so, and when/if I marry, I am willing to provide them with the sexual intimacy that I know my partner will deserve if they are not Asexual themselves.

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

I’ve encountered, blessedly, a little amount of ace prejudice/ignorance. Generally, it was from people asking me how I could not want sex, and I generally would deal with it as such; I’d tell them I just didn’t find sex interesting, or I’d tell them I found things to enjoy out of life that was more fitting for gaining pleasure than sex, such as books, or video games, or eating. I was never called a freak, or anything of that nature, which is a blessing and I hope my experience helps others. Mostly the people who I have talked to were rather open-minded and just curious, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. For those of you who have experienced ace prejudice, my heart goes out to you.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is the notion that Asexuals just don’t want sex. Which isn’t true as we know- our orientation is about sexual attraction, not the actual desire for sex. Like other orientations, it varies for everyone. Personally, I don’t want it, but that doesn’t make me any more Asexual than someone who does.

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

You’re not broken. That is the most heartfelt advice I can give. You are not broken, and you’re not alone. The love songs will say you’re incomplete without that “special person”. It’s a lie. If you can find someone who is whole and spend the rest of your life happily with them, then wonderful. But you are not broken and you are not incomplete. You are you, and you are not alone- we’re here with you, flying under the same purple, grey, white, and black flag and we’re proud to stand with you.

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

You can find out more about my work through my Tumblr account, my username is “Willchild”. I don’t post much art or works there, to be honest, but I think after this interview I will if it can help bring joy to other artists and help them feel more secure about posting their own art. Please feel free to tag me in your art, I would be ecstatic to see it; or message me/ask me, from one artistic Ace to another.

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

Interview: Janice Worthen

Today we’re joined by Janice Worthen. Janice is a phenomenal poet and writer from Idaho. They’ve been published by The Rectangle, on a shirt for Backwords Press, and had a poem included in bags of coffee for Nomadic Grounds. Janice also edits Night Music Journal and is always looking to publish work by asexual writers (if any of you out there are interested). When they’re not writing or editing, Janice also does photography. They’re clearly a very dedicated artist. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My work is a way to share my internal world, my thinking through the internal and external, in a format that is more comfortable to me than speech. It’s my way of communing, of sharing things that move me, shatter me, anger me, transform me. It’s me extending a hand—a vulnerable act, a gesture of trust. I spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds—thinking about systems, webs of connection, history and its repercussions, the future, the present, the joy and agony of the moment as it’s passing, and myself in relation to all these things—and my work is my way of grounding those thoughts. With each poem, each photo, each sketch, I think I’m really just asking, “Are you there?” I think my work is waiting for an echo. I guess I’m twanging a thread, waiting for the vibration of return.

What inspires you?

Hands down, the underdog. Anyone (or anything) who looks into the face of their own destruction and doesn’t give in. Anyone who, even in defeat, holds on to who or what they are, their joy, their right to be. It’s so easy to give in to fear, to sell out, to back down. But it’s so beautiful when someone stands their ground, turns the tide, shakes the foundation of the powerful. I hope that, in the face of all I fear, I rise.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer because writing made me feel real, feel valid. I was a shy, quiet, fat kid who spent most of their time in the library. A kid who clearly didn’t fit the gender binary. I think because of these things it was easy for others to dismiss me, and because difference is so often seen as threatening, to bully and try to break me. But when my voice was a whisper and easy to ignore or speak over, I found my writing was harder to dismiss. My self was harder to ignore and deny. My writing forced others to see me as human. Through my writing, I existed.

But writing was also a way for me to have a conversation, to become a part of all those books that gave me comfort, that fueled my imagination. It sounds weird, but writing felt like a way to give back, to say I hear you. I hear you.

Only recently have I focused more time on photography. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer. I don’t have any fancy equipment. My degrees are in writing, not photography. But capturing a moment and sharing that moment with those I care about is something that gives me great joy.

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’ve noticed that mirrors pop up often in my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Sometimes the work that you get the most pushback on will make the most difference. Seek out and listen to feedback but always ask yourself what the motivation behind that feedback is. Sometimes people will criticize/dismiss/mock your work when they really want to criticize/dismiss/mock you. And sometimes the work you feel like throwing away will be treasured by someone else who might live in the same moment, the same thought, and the same place as you, even if they come after you. You can be a friend, ally, or even hero to that person. Be open, but also be assertive and bold and confident in your work, your experience, your perspective. Even when it’s hard, keep making your art.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

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

Oh, yes. I’m an asexual in a very sexual field. I’m constantly aware of this. I’m constantly reminded of this. Many in my field consider sex or desire as essential to art, liberation, and even revolution. They simply can’t comprehend and are sometimes hostile towards someone who doesn’t feel or think the same way they do about something they’ve put at the center of their art.

As an asexual, I often feel like I exist outside my own field. Since I’m not willing to participate in the secret handshake, I’m not allowed in the club, a club that is often abuzz and fueled by gossip surrounding sex and desire. Because I’m an asexual, I feel like I’m not allowed to have an opinion on work or artists in my field, and any opinion I voice is invalid. Not only that, but anything I say that goes against the dominant narrative of sex and desire is seen as an attack, not only on the writers and work that value sex and desire, but an attack against liberal or progressive values or even the sexual liberation movement itself. I find this odd because I’ve been accused of being too progressive and consider myself more progressive than many of the liberal people I know. And I see the growing acceptance of asexuality as a victory of sexual liberation, not something at odds with it.

My orientation is virtually invisible in my field. I was once excited to come across a published poem about asexuality for only the second time in my life only to learn the writer is not asexual but felt at liberty to write with authority about my orientation. The 2016 VIDA Count found that The Times Literary Supplement was “one of the few publications to publish asexual people this year.”

Prejudice and ignorance are often expressed through microaggressions, which are common and remind me how invisible my orientation is. A poet I know once said that a way to express disapproval of certain voters is for “us” to stop sleeping with them, as if “we” as writers are sexual gatekeepers, a single unified sexual force that rewards or punishes behavior with our shared sexual prowess, the primary implication being that everyone is allosexual. With each casual comment like this I become unwelcome, not part of the community, invisible.

I came out because I realized it was important to counter the all-too-common assumption that people like me don’t exist in my field. After I came out, it felt like I’d actually been erased (no pun intended) completely. Perhaps this is just perception, perhaps it’s a reflection of my work, but it seemed like people suddenly weren’t interested in reading anything by me, published or not, or having discussions with me about others’ work, etc. I had placed myself on the outside. I could observe but not participate. I often feel like I’m throwing my work at a wall now, but I don’t regret my decision to come out. Others will find me, and I will find others, and we’ll make new, more inclusive communities. That’s how I handle all this: reaching out, standing up, speaking out.

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

Phew, the most common. I guess in my field, among members of my community, the misconception I most encounter about asexuality is that all asexuals are hostile towards, afraid of, or somehow consider themselves above sex or allosexuals. I myself am sex positive. Sex is great for other people who want and get fulfillment from it, and I think sexual freedom is vital. Sex just doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and I wish others felt as positive toward my orientation as I do toward theirs. It’s funny because many of the people who are afraid I’m judging their orientations and lifestyles don’t realize they’re actually the ones judging and afraid of mine.

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

Find or plug in to your community. Even if you’re an introvert like me, it helps to see other asexuals being their asexy selves and to know you aren’t alone. Join asexual groups and follow asexual artists on social media. Read and watch anything by and about asexual people. Don’t be afraid to find a support system and to cut toxic people out of your life that break you down instead of build you up. Embrace the struggle. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. You don’t have to be certain of anything right now. Don’t be afraid of the present or the future. Just by existing, you are shaping that future. Don’t be afraid of you. This might be easier said than done, but repeat it like a mantra: I am not alone, I am part of a community, I am valid, my experience is valid, my voice is important, I matter, my art matters, I am paving the way for others like me.

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

I’m on Instagram (at impossibleblossom). I’m also on Tumblr (janiceworthen.tumblr.com), and you can find links to some of my poetry there. I’m also the editor of Night Music Journal (nightmusicjournal.com), and I’m always accepting submissions of poetry, essays, and hybrid work. I really encourage fellow asexuals to send me work and pass along the invite to your LGBTQIA friends!

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

Interview: Tatiana

Today we’re joined by Tatiana. Tatiana is a phenomenally talented photographer from Uruguay. She is currently working on her thesis to graduate from the Visual Arts University. Tatiana has taken part in exhibitions and experimented in various types of photography. Her work is remarkably beautiful, showing an amazing vividness and capturing the beauty and uniqueness of life. She’s a remarkably talented artist with an incredibly bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a photographer, simple as that. I love going out on a cloudy day to capture pictures but I also love experimenting, I’ve tried pinhole photography, black and while film photography, color film photography, lab processing in the traditional and in the experimental way, digital photography (of course) and now I’m developing an interest in conservation and in color management. Many times people ask me why don’t I try to do graphic design or filmmaking but I think photography is broad and interesting enough for me.

What inspires you?

I think mostly light and nature. Photography IS light, is amazing how you can start to understand the light and to not take it for granted, light is an extremely cheeky thing but when you got to work well with it you can create amazing things.

To explain how nature influences my work in a few words is difficult; I grew up surrounded by nature, rocky beaches and a beautiful botanical park around the corner.

I think modern society is so humanist and so stressed by the pressure of productivity that we forget that we ARE nature and that we should give time to ourselves to just enjoy the silence and realize that we are the same as a flower or a snail.

I also found so much inspiration in the concepts of “mono no aware”, “wabi sabi” and in the work of Claude Monet, Duane Michals, Banana Yoshimoto & Piet Mondrian but I don’t want to write a Bible so please look it up if you are interested.

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

Until I was 14 I wanted to be a marine biologist, I grew up watching Discovery documentaries and as I mentioned, I visited every year a beautiful beach where I would pick different types of algae to “investigate it” hahaha. One day I started to hear that I wouldn’t go too far studying biology and that I would end up enclosed in a lab 24/7. After that I wanted to study publicity as my sister but I started a free photography workshop and I got completely hooked, I left the class the first day and I though “I want to do this for the rest of my life”.

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?

Mmm, I tend to jump from one style to the other, having grainy black and white pictures one day to have something minimalistic and pastel the other but I think that something that’s always present is geometry, I love working with lines and seeing how the weight of the composition changes as I change the angle or distance to my object. Heavy diagonal lines and semi circles are frequently present in my compositions; I tend to follow the rule of thirds a lot.

Talking about things that are NOT frequent in my works it would be people, I can’t for the life of me photograph people, I mean I’ve done it and will do it again if I have to but I really dislike it, I’m a very awkward and introverted person so I really don’t feel comfortable having to guide someone and praying that they have patience while I do my work.

Also conceptually I like to show how many things that AREN’T portraits can be photographed, in my class 7/10 people were solely dedicated to portraits and half of them concentrating in sensuality and sexuality. One day this idea struck me “in the times of the vanguards, sex was taboo so the artists depicted sex, now introspection and empathy is taboo so I’ll depict introspection and empathy, the art world fights for who’s more original and daring and scandalous, I’ll protest in a silent way, I’ll show a garden without humans”.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take your time figuring out what you want to do, read and investigate a lot about art, even if you encounter artists and styles or techniques you don’t like, having perspective is crucial not only to be an artist but also to be a human being.

Try to talk to people and create contacts and networks, I’m not saying this in a manipulative way, is just something that I realized now as time went by, having friends in the field creates a network where information flow and you help each other, eventually creating chances of expanding the influence of your work. Most of my college years I spent them on my own but when I opened up to my classmates and teacher I got a big caudal of information and opportunities I could not have had otherwise.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteroromantic Ace.

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

Well to be honest I’m not publicly out. My country is open about LGTB+ in some areas but in other ones different sexualities are still questioned and asexuality is still invisible here.

I tried to come out to friends and some college classmates but I wasn’t specific enough and they just took it as I was being shy or embarrassed.

In college being ace in the closet was actually bothersome since so many of our classes talked about sex and showed oversexualised artists and pieces (at some point I got tired of seeing Nobuyoshi Araki pictures in the lessons). I’m all about expressing our sexualities freely and with no prejudices but day after day seeing sexual pieces and hearing teaches saying my work was not daring enough, was not bold enough really made me tired.

Good lord I remember we were assigned to attend a “performance party” where we had to go dressed as some artist we were randomly given, I didn’t go because I was afraid of what I could see. Said and done, one of my friends told me that someone appeared naked covered in dulce de leche with cookies attached to their whole body and another person went also naked with a lettuce covering their crotch….

Outside of college, high school went smoothly as I wasn’t pressured by my friends to have sex (bless them, my best friends are really sexual but never pressured or made fun of me) and I didn’t even realized I wasn’t your typical straight until my 20’s.

In my family I have low-key been telling them that yes, I want a boyfriend but I don’t have any urges to have sex anytime soon and I’m suspecting they think I’m lesbian but well is not like being lesbian is a bad thing so until they actually realize I’m ace and while they’re not being hostile I’m fine.

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

That ace people don’t know what sex is or that we’re kind of alien/robots who don’t understand human emotions, I make sexual jokes, I know what’s sex between any gender looks like I’m not afraid of sex or losing my virginity, it’s just like filmmaking for me, I know what’s the deal I’m just not interested.

Also that ace people have HSDD or that we must have experienced trauma… Hear me out, the only romantic experience I had was a success and the dude respected my decision to not have any kind of sex, I have never been in a sexually traumatic situation and honestly the aces that indeed have been in traumatic experiences have all the right to still feel ace, if on the contrary they wanted to regain their sexual desire and being ace was a problem, then of course they could seek help for that, but if you found an identity and you’re comfortable with it there’s nothing wrong in that!

Every behavior is all right until it hurts someone, while you’re not hurting yourself or others then you do you.

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

Take your time, no one’s rushing you. This is a personal decision and you don’t even have to make it, if you feel like you don’t need a label then don’t use any, if you find yourself more assured with one then slowly think about yourself, experiment, talk with close friends, search for a community and learn. Also if one day your feelings change don’t feel guilty with the community or yourself, sexuality is fluid and we should not feel pressured to maintain a label if we no longer feel comfortable with it.

Also don’t feel pressured to come out, as I said before I haven’t come out explicitly to many of my loved ones and I gathered a huge amount of courage to do this and expose myself as ace, coming out is your personal decision and you should do it, IF or WHEN you want to and feel safe to do so.

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

This is the social media where you can find my works, you may find thing on IG that aren’t on FB and vice versa. Sorry if my English was wonky, it’s not my first language and thank you for reading until the end!!

FB: facebook.com/HanaFotografia
IG: instagram.com/tatiana.g_ph.

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

Interview: Isa C.

Today we’re joined by Isa C. Isa is a phenomenal photographer from Costa Rica. She specializes in photographing people, exploring the stories that can be told through a person’s face. Her work is fascinating, showing a fantastic eye and an incredible amount of uniqueness. Isa is so passionate and dedicated, 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’m a photographer from Costa Rica. I’m still learning, but always put out my best work. Currently I’m really into portraits, mainly because I’m interested by people and how much their faces can tell. I love exploring with different styles and get weird with it. I have the most fun when the shoots end up being confusing even to me.

The other part of my art is the editing, this is the part in which I spend most of the time. It’s a long process, but color grading and making things look magical is what I’ve come to love the most.

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What inspires you?

I find it incredibly hard to narrow down the things that inspire me. The more I think about it, the more sources of inspiration pop up in my head. I guess I’ve always been a person that spends more time inside her own head than anything else so, in a way, I inspire myself. I know that might sound a bit arrogant, but I’m not too sure it actually is.

The thing is, most of my ideas come out of, like, odd feelings that a song, melody or phrase may give me. I cling on to that emotion and freeze it in an image because otherwise, it’d be gone. Sometimes I end up shooting self-portraits out of sheer impulse, and the inspiration comes out of my need to constantly create.

On the other hand, my friend’s inspire me when I shoot them. Sometimes I star sessions with close to no premeditated ideas because I want to capture the essence of the person I’m shooting that specific day. So if they walk in with an air of curiosity, I’ll try to make that the theme. Same goes with any other emotion.

I guess, I get my inspiration out of the world I’ve built around myself, and use its unpredictable fluidity to my advantage.

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

My dad has always been a lover of the arts, not an artist at all though. I grew up in a house so completely covered in painting, drawings photos, and sculptures that it was weird to me when I went to other’s houses and they had close to non. As a consequence of his love of it, but lack of ability for it, I was enrolled in plastic arts classes at a very young age. As thing usually do, it evolved into different interests. I hovered all over the arts, but kinda just landed on photography when my dad bought me a point and shoot camera for me to use on a trip and I fell in love with it.

I don’t think so, probably still completely don’t. I like what my art communicates, and I hope to never stop creating, but I’ll always be a part time artist. My photos are part of me, but there’s other sides to me too.

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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?

Not necessarily, but one thing I know is that every photo I put out is most definitely a product of my passion and something I am proud of. There must be tons of edited pictures in my hard drive that will never see the light of day.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Hustle, but with passion. There’s no way you’ll get anywhere if you don’t put in hours and hours of hard work, but if you stop loving what you do it’s not really worth it to me. I’m honestly still a young aspiring artist, so my best advice is to get yourself out there and kick some serious butt.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

That THE QUESTION. I’m not big on labels, that’s just my personal way of thinking. Why limit myself? It took me a long time to land on asexual, and even a longer time to acknowledge it as part of my identity.

I do like boys, girls and whatever falls in the middle. If I like you, I just do. Regardless of your gender.

When it comes to sex, I’m not repulsed by it, but instead have a certain aversion to it. I find pleasure in it, which is undeniable, but I never want to really do it with anyone. I acknowledge it feels good, I know I enjoy the feeling, I just don’t want to do it. It’s quite complicated to explain, but I do hope I’m making myself clear enough.

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

Not really, artists have a tendency to be open-minded. I’m really thankful for that. That being said, I’m somewhat of a private person. If it doesn’t come up, I will not mention it.

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

That it means I hate sex, or won’t have sex. The fact that I am not sexually attracted to people doesn’t mean that I won’t do it, or won’t enjoy it, if the situation arises.

Another matter is that it’s some kind of defect. As if my aversion to is a reaction to trauma. No one touched me when I was little, no one forced me to do things I didn’t want to do… I just never felt that attraction.

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

Take your time, there is no rush. No one gets to tell you who you are, but yourself. There’s no need to stress about it because regardless of who you mingle with, or don’t, is your own personal business. Labels give people comfort, but can also bring distress. If saying you are asexual makes you feel comfortable, then that’s all you really need.

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

My Tumblr is: itsleatherweather (but its personal so there’s a lot of random stuff aside from my photos)

My Instagram is: _isacastillo_ (purely my photography)

My Snapchat: isacastillo90 (I post behind the scenes of shoots and before and afters a lot. Plus, my life if you are interested. FYI I don’t add back people I don’t know.)

My Webpage: https://isacastillophoto.wixsite.com/photography (Includes my portfolio and contact info)

If you came from here and want to talk to me feel free to do so through any medium you find most comfortable! I love talking to fellow artists, and art lovers so don’t be shy!

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

Interview: Margaret Rose

Today we’re joined by Margaret Rose. Margaret is a wonderful young writer who specializes in poetry. She already has a poetry collection entitled I Don’t Have One, which can be found on Amazon. Margaret’s poetry is very personal and she is incredibly passionate about writing, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love to write. I have been writing since a young age, I wrote a novel on a dare once (which now sits on my book shelf). But mostly I write poetry and keep track of anxious thoughts and questions in journals and on my phone. I usually don’t share anything out of fear. I submit to poetry contests under anonymous, and it’s nice when your work wins but then it’s a little sad when nothing comes of it because I don’t attach a name.

I also paint and love photography, but not nearly as much as writing, and writing is where I would hope to succeed.

What inspires you?

I find watching people over-come their personal obstacles really inspiring and people who really embrace their personality no matter how weird people may think they are. Sometimes liking yourself and accepting yourself can be a really powerful thing. Sometimes people really suffer trying to fit in, trying to please others and it really takes away from their own person. And it can really be a struggle, but hearing those stories about people getting to where they are happy or are on the way to discovering who they are, are really inspiring.

Tyler, the creator and Camila Cabello, if celebrity inspirations are of curiosity. I think they sort of had to make the decision to stay true to themselves and its paying off. Which I like to see. I like to know it’s possible to follow your own path and people will embrace it because they relate. Too many artists, I think, change to fit what is expected of them.

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

I used to journal a lot when I was younger and write stories and then later read them back and see how I reacted to certain things. As I got older I could see where I grew and where I was stuck. And I started to think about things that happened in books or songs see if they applied to me. Then I thought maybe my struggles and my triumphs could help other people, but it took me a long time to share any of my words. I haven’t always wanted to be an artist, but I always wanted to help people. Eventually I realized I loved writing even if no one saw it and maybe in time I could turn that into something.

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 exactly. Sometimes I will place a very specific reference from a time with someone and work it in to a piece just as a little surprise for when they read it. So it’s not something broad that everyone would notice but I think it’s nice for people to read something and be like ‘hey, there’s a person in here, that really did happen, I remember this’. I think friends reading my stuff is terrifying because my writing voice is very different from my everyday voice. Sometimes people are like ‘is that really you writing that?’ So I think of the references as reminders like yes, it is me, hello.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. there are so many ways to share your work today that you might as well give it a try. And if you’re stuck or trying to find your style don’t get discouraged. Keep making, keep creating. Create bad shit you want to throw away get it out of the way, that’s when you will come onto something you will be happy with. I write stuff all the time that I just trash, that sometimes leads me to a really nice place. Same with painting and photography.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-17,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, aromantic would be the easiest way for me to put it. Although, I think a lot about demisexual but I think that’s a hope. In the past I have fallen in love with the idea of a relationship with a person, but then the real life aspect I’m just like.. nope. Which is hard sometimes.

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

In writing all the time. I’ve had a publisher ask “how can you be relatable if you do not relate to most of the population?” I have also been asked, or it was kindly suggested, that I do not mention how I identify because then people will not know how to interpret your work. Which is discouraging because I struggle myself with concepts of love and relationships. So to hear that no one else will get you or want to get you, is tough. It’s also frustrating that all my other writing gets over looked because publishers are concerned about who or what the love aspect applies to. I write a lot about depression, anxiety and other struggles/subjects that deserve attention.

I have always just taken these comments in stride, I am happy with myself and I expect eventually the people in charge will see that people want more representation and when that happens I will be here, willing to share. I’ve also always told people that I just write the words, and truthfully, you may do whatever you like with them.

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

That I just haven’t met the right person. Or that asexuality is a choice. I have had and still have moments where I think and wish for a regular relationship. Conversations with people would be easier, no one would make backhanded comments when your sexuality gets brought up, that sort of thing. But then I also know I would not be happy with that life.

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

I would say that it’s okay to struggle, I have days where I am at a loss when I think about the future. How easy would it be to fit into societal expectations for love? Easy. But you have to make a decision to be yourself. And that the people who love you will love you no matter what. You’re not a freak, a plant or have just never had good sex. You are a person who has valid experiences. Don’t rely too much on what society has to say about love and relationship expectations. And if you feel alone reach out, there are SO many people out there in groups and on the internet, where you can remain anonymous, who will just talk to you and not make you feel weird and strange.

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

My writing has been taken from my blog posts and journals and I have selected some of it for my poetry collection, “I don’t have one” which can be found here on Amazon: amazon/idonthaveonemargaretrose

Full link in case above is broken http://a.co/6TFGtjZ

I don’t sell paintings or really post them anywhere I just sort of give them away as people ask.

Instagram: mrg.rose

I have a Tumblr you can check out here: http://aparttimepoet.tumblr.com/.

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

Interview: Jones

Today we’re joined by Jones. Jones is a phenomenal musician and visual artist. He specializes in a variety of music genres and plays no less than six instruments. When he’s not creating music, Jones does a lot of visual art including graphic design and drawing. His work shows an interesting use of color and beautiful visuals. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

The artist
The Artist

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The only place I fit in this world is behind my guitar (or PC). I’m the weirdo loner that your parents probably warned you about. (And if they didn’t warn you about weirdo loners then you should get new parents). My name is Jones and I like creating music, filming, writing, editing, producing, photography, drawing, and graphic design. I love mimicking psychedelic art (cause the 60’s were awesome . . . duh lol) but my real passion is music. I taught myself six instruments (thanks YouTube!) and decided to get involved in producing my own work. I especially love beat making and sound designing. Anything that keeps me in my room. I’m an introvert. Outside to me is the hallway lol.

Asli Omar
Asli Omar

What inspires you?

Pot, Anime, and music… well that’s the vague answer… What really inspires me are events in my life whether it’s friendships, manic depression, music, or…. pot. I normally use my experiences in songs. I’m a huge lofi indie rock fan so I like to think of myself as the millennial version of Daniel Johnston (Shout out to the few people who know who Daniel Johnston is lol) but rap and metal are another form of inspiration.

I’m a huge fan of Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the creator, 2pac, Wu-tang, Future, Migos, Kung-fu Kenny and J Cole. My favorite metal bands that inspire my “Dark art” so to speak are: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Bathory, Acid Bath, BreakDown of sanity, Killswitch Engage, Alice in Chains, Mercyful Fate, Straight Line Stitch, Heaven Shall Burn and Uncle Acid.

But I’m a huge Indie rock nerd. I love Beat Happening, Beach fossils, Car Seat Headrest, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah (basically anything from the Elephant 6 label), A great big pile of leaves, Empire Empire I was a lonely estate, Marietta, The Ton Tons, Modern Baseball, and the War on Drugs.

Demon child
Demon Child

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

I wanted to be Goku when I was a kid… but that didn’t seem like a lucrative career choice so I opted out to drawing comics. From there I was hooked into art and drawing. I was always introverted as a kid. I stayed alone and watched cartoons all the time and tried making my own cartoons. I was always the weird kid at my school and I never fit in so I just avoided people and focused on my artwork. I found everyone to be distracting and I only hung out with people that shared my interests in art. It really freaked out my parents because I would stay home and watch cartoons all day then stay up at night acting out what my cartoons would say and do. I was living in my own world of art. It was pretty chill.

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?

Lo and Cho (Lo’s the dude and Cho’s the girl). They were doodles associated with my music because I was inspired by Beat Happening’s first album and the child like appeal of it. I wanted to mimic that for my lofi music. I also made comics with these two that I may or may not release. It’s mostly about tripping acid and contemplating life as a drawing inside of a huge notebook of drawings.

kinky sheets
Kinky Sheets

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re a musician, just starting out I’ll be straightforward in saying this: nobody is going to like you. Don’t ever get discouraged by this fact though. When the Doors had their first show, nobody came. Few years later, they had riots at their concerts because people lost their minds hearing Jim Morrison’s voice. Any skill takes time and it will take a while for some to build up a fan base whether you draw or sing. My best advice is to create something that changes YOUR world first. When I first started making music I’d put it on my iPod and pretend like I was a famous person before I started uploading songs online. I used these moments to critique and rewrite my work and improve my sound. Don’t worry about what anyone else says because your talent is something that they cannot take away. If you want your moment you’re gonna have to stay motivated because time and practice goes a long way. Some people blow up overnight while others never do, that’s just how it is. You just gotta stay focused and do it for you and you alone. This is YOUR world of art, use it to create something meaningful for yourself.

Frostburg Sunset
Frostburg Sunset

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m somewhere between Asexual and Demi/grey sexual. I’m still figuring it out but I find it hard to be attracted to people. Sometimes I can get curious (key word: sometimes) but when I notice someone it’s like “Oh He’s handsome” or “she’s pretty” but it doesn’t lead me to sexual feelings. I’ve had mild interests in sex but not to the point where I wanted to experiment because sex and body parts always looked weird to me. I was always interested in voyeurism and fetishes like BDSM, macrophilia, etc. because I got to notice body types without really touching them. My motto in life was always Snack, Fap, and Nap lol.

I never cared about flirting signals from others and I didn’t reciprocate any feelings whether it was from men or women. In late high school/early college I thought I was heterosexual but when I had sex for the first time it was kinda weird (Nothing wrong with my partner, she was wonderful, I just wasn’t really invested during the times we… you know). I tried experimenting with both men and women and neither really interested me. The only time I actually liked someone is through personality.

But just because I’m asexual/demi doesn’t mean sometimes I don’t get curious. I feel like that’s just a part of human nature to notice members of your own species and to identify with them. Sometimes I notice people and although for the most part it’s difficult to sexualize them sometimes I fantasize (again keyword: sometimes). For me it’s mostly from a voyeuristic standpoint where I’m not involved or I’m looking in from a third person viewpoint. My fantasies are not as common as regular people but sometimes it happens. For the most part, they’re just thoughts and I don’t really have any interest in acting on them but I don’t want to be seen as anti-sex because I’m an ace/demi. I’m indifferent when it comes to sex because it’s not that important to me and I can definitely live without it but if I ever fell in love with somebody’s personality I also wouldn’t mind exploring our buttons together.

giantess_ayisha__re_upload__by_xyu96-dbcg0lc
Giantess Ayisha

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

Oh yeah. My friends used to think I was only asexual because I couldn’t get laid. When you’re a black male you have to be this hyper-masculine oversexualize creature and here I am avoiding anything with parents LOL. I probably handled ace prejudice poorly when it happened to me.

But when I came out I didn’t fit in with my friends. All they did was have sex with each other and I felt suffocated by this because I was the odd man out who didn’t want to be touched.

I was also very misogynistic back when I first came out because I used to think hypersexual girls were disgusting. I’m not like that anymore and I now believe that women have the right to sexually express themselves any way they want to without anyone’s opinion but back when I first came out I had a different mindset. It started when the girls that wanted to sleep with me were more puzzled that I wasn’t as hypersexual as they were and they just simply marked me off as gay and spread rumors about me. This lead to the dissolution of a lot of female relationships because I felt weirded out that there was this unspoken pressure to form sexual bonds with them. I became the odd man out not only around my female friends but my male friends also and for that I became a slut shaming bitter misogynist and a loner. Many of my female friends were hypersexual and looked at me differently because I was this anti-sexual Queer that didn’t fit in with any group. Again I’m not misogynistic anymore but back then I had a different mindset and a lot of conflicting emotions that really came in the way of a lot of friendships with other people. For some time, I avoided girls because many of the females around me preached about their sex lives. This was also common with my male friends. I just started avoiding everyone. I especially avoided female friends because I was the “diary” to some and I didn’t want to be. (I also learned that a lot of my female friends could be very Queerphobic.)

What was worse was that some of my male friends would avoid me because I wasn’t interested in girls while others would accuse me of making up asexuality to get “closer to sleeping” with their girlfriends. It was insulting because it was like my sexuality didn’t matter to anyone. Even when I told them “I’m asexual, I never slept with any of your girlfriends” they would give me puzzled looks and brush me off. It was even harder explaining my asexuality to friends that I used to have crushes on. Every crush that I ever had I liked them for their personality. Some instances it got sexual but I was much more interested in their persona than the sex. When I came out some of these friends would hang it over my head like “didn’t you used to like me, what happened?” etc. I felt broken because I thought I was heterosexual then the more I experimented with people the more I realized how different my sex drive was compared to theirs. It was like I couldn’t shake my old hetero identity and my old identity wasn’t even the real me. It was an awkward time. I even used to joke about how college “ruined my sexuality” because I thought rejection was the cause of my lack of sex drive but it was the simple fact that I was always different and experimentation with both sexes showed me how different my sexuality was compared to my peers. Now I just avoid making friends and talk to people online. It’s easier to find people who like the same interests as me online instead of the real world.

frostburg watercolor
Frostburg Watercolor

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

That asexuality is the result of a mental illness. It’s insulting because there are plenty of Aces who ARE NOT mentally ill who live perfectly normal lives and there are Aces who do have mental illnesses that do not relate to their sexual orientation. It makes it difficult for Aces who actually suffer from mental illnesses to seek help because they fear that their entire sexual orientation will be put under the microscope. ASEXUALITY IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS IT’S AN ORIENTATION JUST LIKE OTHER SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS. DON’T FEEL ASHAMED IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE MENTALLY ILL AND ASEXUAL BECAUSE THE TWO ARE NOT RELATED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM.

Hello (1)
Hello

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

Don’t take your sexuality so seriously. Feelings change and shift all the time and in the end Gay, Straight, Trans, and Asexuality are all labels. If you follow your heart and find what you love out of life the right people will come along eventually and you can establish any relationship you want with another person (just don’t be a creep about it). Don’t be worried if you’re struggling to find your sexual orientation. There’s nothing wrong with staying to yourself and there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. Just trust yourself to make the best decisions when the time comes and know that you don’t need all the answers all the time. Sometimes life just happens…

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

https://soundcloud.com/94sheets
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/ <- For Lofi/indie pop fans
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/album/projct-skybomb-cloudy-dreams-forever <- Chillwave beats

lianne la havas watercolor
Lianne la Havas Watercolor

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

Interview: Mia

Today we’re joined by Mia, who also goes by Aljoscha online. Mia is a phenomenal photographer. They specialize in nature and architecture photography. Their work is brimming with life and an astonishing amount of detail. Mia truly captures snapshots of life and places with their gorgeous pictures. They are an incredibly talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

DSCF1136

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Basically, I’m interested in any kind of art, because my family has an artistic disposition. I tried several things like drawing or making music but photography is the one field where I see my qualities. I do this as a hobby but I try to specify my work to nature and architecture photography.

I love to travel and I want to show other people what I have seen on my journeys. And of course photos are the best way to do this. 😀

What inspires you?

First of all, nature is a huge inspiration for me. It just offers the best subjects. Also cityscapes are incredible amazing. You just need to visit other towns and you see such a difference. It’s the diversity I want to capture and that gives me the inspiration to do my hobby.

Other huge inspirations are several photographers, e.g. Olaf Heine and Farin Urlaub. They both are in really different fields of photography but their works are impressing as heck. Their works give me a self-confidence boost à la “I can do this too!”

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

As I said I saw the works of Olaf Heine and Farin Urlaub and I wanted to do the same. First I thought I couldn’t do this because these people have a good qualification and worked in their field for years. I was nearly giving up when I saw that my brother autodidactically learned how to photograph and it turned out really well! This was the moment I got the self-confidence to also start photographing.

When I was a child, I was actually really annoyed that everyone in my family was so talented. I think it was because I am by far the youngest one and I wanted to be able to do all the art stuff my family did at the first go. I took me some time to realise that it takes time and patience and that you have to practice a lot. Now I’m happy with what I’ve already achieved and that I make people happy with my art.

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 currently working on a signature. 😀

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take your time! And don’t be sad if it doesn’t turn out well immediately. It’s hard work but in the end it was worth it, I promise. Also share your art everywhere you’re comfortable with. And always stay positive! When you see other peoples’ works don’t get sad – tell yourself you can do this too! Because you really can 🙂

DSC_0285

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as polyromantic (sex- / touch-repulsed) asexual.

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

Luckily not. When I’m taking photos / traveling I’m alone or with people who don’t know I’m ace — and that’s fine.

font_de_la_cascada__1_by_fdjpunx
Font de la Cascada

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

The most common misconception I heard about is that asexuals are broken and need to be “convinced” to have sex. People don’t seem to understand that you can be totally fine without having sex and that this is not bad.

And of course that asexuals wouldn’t belong to the LGBT+ community.

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

Keep calm. There’s nothing wrong with you and your identity.

Also make sure you have someone you can talk to – on the internet or in real life, doesn’t matter. If you’re sex-repulsed immediately tell your partner and talk about it. It’s important that they accept your boundaries and that you don’t push yourself into something you don’t want and / or you’re uncomfortable with. And don’t be afraid that you won’t find someone when you’re asexual! You’ll and so did I. It may be hard sometimes but life would be boring otherwise. 🙂

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

All my works are on DeviantArt: https://fdjpunx.deviantart.com/

Also I have a blog about photography where I post my works too: https://wuestenkind.tumblr.com/

strasse_bei_nacht_by_fdjpunx
Strasse Bei Nacht

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