Interview: Hanna

Today we’re joined by Hanna. Hanna is a wonderful artist who mostly crochets. She also writes and does photography as a hobby. Hanna loves to crochet and has crocheted a bit of everything, including fandom-inspired plushies. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as  you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do a little of a lot of things. I love to write and am an English major at UC Davis. I love taking photographs, though that’s mostly a hobby right now, and I love tinkering in the kitchen and making spoonie friendly or food restriction friendly recipes. My main focus tends to be crochet though. I started teaching myself to crochet something like 7 years ago give or take a year. I started with the standard terrible scarf and moved on to plushies and blankets mainly. I work with free designs from various internet sources or create my own. I’ve made a lot of fandom inspired plushies, a few headbands, some wall hangings and even a bag.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me. I started tinkering with baking and cooking because I have a lot of food allergies and a lot of my family members are diabetic. I started to love photography because it lets me capture a moment or show my point of view on things. I started writing because I’ve always wanted to tell stories. My mom says that when I was a toddler she’d try and put me down for a nap, but I’d insist on telling my own stories and she would be the one to fall asleep instead. I started crocheting as a way to cope with a lot of new pain (I have several chronic illnesses that only started showing up around that time in my life.) It also helped me cope with anxiety and depression, I could put all my feelings into the crochet and disappear into it for hours at a time. A lot of my fandom-based projects were created in bed or on the couch while I binge watched shows or listened to podcasts and audiobooks because I couldn’t really do anything else.

2

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

I have to give credit to Diane Duane, specifically her Young Wizards books. They are all about fighting entropy and doing your best to improve the universe. That’s what I try to do with all my art. I write to make people happy, sometimes it’s just me, other times it’s a friend who’s had a bad day, etc. I create safe foods so that I and those I love can experience a little extra pleasure and it always makes me happy to feed people I care about. And I crochet because a- it lets me create new things in the world rather than destroying anything (as a teenager I was a little too destructive in my worst moments.) and b- I can give things to people, tangible things, that make them happy. I’ve always wanted to be a writer or a creator of some sort, I’ve always wanted to make the world a better place and that has always been closely linked to being creative for me.

3

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 can’t say that I do have anything quite so specific. A lot of my photographs end up featuring my pets though. I often use one of them as a model or background when I’m photographing new crochet designs too. I guess you could call that my unique signature!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep trying. It is always, always, always hard to start. It does get easier. But here’s the thing, I’ve been writing for 20 years now, I’ve been cooking since I was 3, I’ve taken photographs probably for nearly the same amount of time, and I have been crocheting for almost a decade. I still struggle with all of those things. Mistakes happen, failures happen. My best advice is go ahead, take a moment to mourn the failures, then learn from them and move forward. I take breaks from various things when I have to for health reasons, but I never give up on them.

4

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual. I can find people aesthetically pleasing sure, but I do not experience sexual attraction to anyone, never have. Maybe one day I will, and at that point I may change how I identify, and that’s fine, sexuality is fluid, but right now, I am ace.

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

Yes. As an English Major I have taken a lot of English classes, both literature and creative writing. So many of these classes have had a lot of sexual content and a very heteronormative focus. It gets tiring and it gets uncomfortable, and there have been classes where I just had to leave the room because the discussion was too much for me. I try and take a read of the professor, I always try to approach all of these professors and explain asexuality at least once, but some of them refuse to listen and I have to back down in order to continue to feel safe in the class. My favorite professors are always the ones who start things off with offering pronouns at the start of the term and have an open-door policy to discuss any issues with the way they teach the class. Unfortunately, those professors are not as common as I’d like, but I have a feeling that might change as the next few generations step up to the playing field.

5

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

I think it is ‘so that means you can’t ever have a real relationship’ which is incredibly inaccurate and hurtful. I am in a relationship with another ace person, we have been together for 4 and a half years now and we are very happy together.

6

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

I know it can be strange and painful to not fit in with so many of your peers. It can feel like you are broken or sick or like something else is wrong and if only that one thing would change about you, you would be Normal. You are not broken, you are not wrong. I highly recommend reaching out to other ace people and talking. You are not alone.

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

Well, I have a Tumblr (Devieklutz and Deviecrochet), though I do not use it very often these days. I am frequently on the Slack for the Young Wizards fandom (youngwizards.slack.com) and we have an incredible ace community there. This fandom is the most supportive group of people I’ve ever encountered, and we have an unusually high percentage of ace members (I think it was nearly 50% as of the last survey!) I also help run a convention for the fandom: CrossingsCon (crossingscon.org) our next convention is in Montreal in June of 2019, we have plenty of badges available if anyone wants to come and hang out and meet a lot of very cool, very supportive people.

7. christmas tree crochet

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

Interview: Louisa

Today we’re joined by Louisa. Louisa is an amazing visual artist who also does a lot of sewing. She creates the most adorable plushies ever (seriously need to check out her work, it’s so awesome). As a digital artist, Louisa draws mostly her own original characters. She really enjoys making toys and dolls. Louisa has such an incredible amount of talent, which is very apparent in her work. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

ClothDollFace
Cloth Doll Face

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is a real mix. For a really long time I classed myself as a digital artist, and in a way didn’t count anything else I did as ‘upload’ worthy. But now I’m slowly getting used to the idea that other stuff I do can be ‘upload worthy’ too. (I need to get better at taking photos of the stuff I make) I love sewing (both by machine and hand) and spend far too much of my time making plushies.

I have been sewing a lot recently as I find it really helps my depression. I am currently working on making my own toy patterns, as someday I would love to sell what I make. It is a lot of trial and error, but very fun and satisfying.

ClothDollSwing
Cloth Doll Swing

What inspires you?

Music and song lyrics tend to get ideas going in my head.

I also like to see what other people do. I also sometimes see ‘professional’ artwork on adverts or menus and stuff and think, “I could do better than that!”

FeltDoll
Felt Doll

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

I just like to make stuff, it is how I fill my time. I know it is a horrible cliché; but I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil (according to my mum anyway!) I guess a lot of the reason I want to express myself in an artistic way is that having dyslexia sometimes makes it hard to do so with words.

Despite this I am attempting to write a novel (an other form of art). All the non doll, non pony pictures are characters from it. Don’t hold your breath for it though, it going to be years before I am done. (if at all)

When it comes to sewing, it is in my blood, my great grandmother was a seamstress, and some of that talent must of come down the bloodline. Although I don’t make clothes, I make toys.

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Hoover

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 think so? If I do, I am not actively trying.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Oh, oh I have lots of these!

– Learn the rules before you break them (get a basic knowledge of anatomy down, then work on a style, and for the love of all that is good do not pass off a bad anatomy error as ‘style’)

– Have your own style (being able to draw show accurate fan art is great, but doesn’t look so good in a portfolio) but do practice drawing in other people’s styles, just make sure you have your own.

– Bases are evil and are a terrible way to learn how to draw. Don’t use bases…ever

– Tracing is a great way to learn, just don’t pass it off as your own- someone will find out.

– There is nothing wrong with using a reference though.

– Remember that you never stop improving. I’ve seen so many good artist just plateau as they thought they were the best they could be. I’ve even seen people regress and get worse as they think they have no room for improvement, it is sad to watch.

– Try not to compare yourself to others, you are your own person

– This one is really important (and something I need to learn myself)
There is more to art that favs, likes, reblogs, page views etc. Do not measure your worth or talent on how many people click on, or look at your art. On this page? Looking at my art? Think my art is good?  Well… I get little to no attention. Most of the time when I upload to DeviantArt I get no comments, no page views, a few favorites if I am lucky.

It hurts to spend weeks, if not months on something, and just have it overlooked. I still struggle to upload even now, as I gained something of a “What is the point, no-one cares anyway.” Attitude

It is hard to work on when you basically feel like the whole world is ignoring you, but keep going, please. You are so much more talented than you know, I promise.

LemonDrizzleCloudFINAL
Lemon Drizzle Cloud

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panromantic (I think…) Grey Asexual. Grey as I sometimes I feel attraction, sometimes I don’t. (Mostly don’t) I don’t know what controls this; it seems almost random at times.

I did think I was Aro Ace for a good few years, until I met my boyfriend, felt sexual attraction for the first time and got very, very confused.

Pie_HandDrawnRESIZE
Pie Hand

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

I am not sure where I got this thinking from (possibility my own paranoid mind) but I felt that I may not be welcome or seen as being a ‘proper’ asexual because I am grey and in a relationship.

Also had someone tell me how wonderful and pure I was because I was an asexual… which was…um creepy to say the least.

Also the whole “we are not broken!” thing…

Thanks guys for pushing me (someone whose asexuality I am pretty sure was cause by, or made more prominent by abuse) under the bus to prove a point.

Also I think it is very easy for most aces to be ‘straight passing’ or at least ‘sexual passing’

It is something that if you don’t ask, you would never really know, and seeing allosexual and straight is the ‘default’ (sadly) people will just assume you are that.

PieBustRESIZE
Pie Bust

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

That asexual= Aromantic and sex repulsed and that only

Also the whole “We are not broken’ thing I mentioned above

PlumPillowRESIZE
Plum Pillow

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

No mater where you are on the spectrum, you still count, you are still an ace.

Even if it caused by trauma, don’t let those stupid Tumblr posts get to you, you still count.

SockDoll
Sock Doll

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

http://high-low.deviantart.com
It is about the only place I am active anymore.
Feel free to follow me, and note me, I’d love to make new friends.

WishDoll
Wish Doll

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