Interview: Mika Babineau

Today we’re joined by Mika Babineau. Mika is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in painting, both traditional with acrylic paints and digital. She is currently finishing up a series of portraits about the ace experience (having completed 6 out of 8 large paintings). Mika has also painted landscapes and her digital paintings mostly consist of demon girls and fanart. Her work is inspired by impressionism with her own flair. She’s obviously a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. draculaura
Draculaura

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Yo yo my name is Mika and I’m a Sheridan college graduate living in Toronto, Canada. I do all sorts of things but my main focus is acrylic painting and digital art! I do portraits and landscapes with my paintings and fanart and demon girls with my digital art so you’ll get quite the mix of everything coming from me haha but that’s the way I like it. My paintings focus on colour energy and an impressionistic style while my digital art is more simple with pastel colours. The art I really want to talk to about today though is my “Ace and in your Face” series of self-portraits. Upon realizing that I was asexual during my college years I felt the need to educate and shed some light on the topic, a topic seldom, if ever, discussed. My “Ace and in Your Face” series does just that. By painting portraits of myself I explore various topic and themes pertaining to asexuality and answer commonly asked questions. Both my frustration at the lack of understanding as well as the pride I feel towards my asexuality are displayed in this series covering a wide range of emotions

2. sakura
Sakura

What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from music, media and the people around me. Music brings out great creative energy in me that keeps me motivated or sets the tone of how I want the piece of art to go. Consuming all sorts of media helps inform me of new ideas and ways to create art. I fully believe that one of the most important parts of creating is being exposed to other people’s creations. Finally I would not be able to do what I do without my amazing and inspiring friends who are always working so hard and creating wonderful things. They are truly an incredible group of people.

3. hiragana yo
Hiragana Yo

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

I did always want to be an artist but for a long time I thought animation was going to be the direction I went in. I really disliked painting in high school believe it or not. Then in college I was exposed to so many different kinds of art and teachers who saw potential in my paintings. I switched gears and now I’ve had art in all sorts of galleries and art fairs. It goes to show you never know where life will take you.

4. Aces can still love
Aces Can Still Love

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?

Hmmm not really a symbol per say but I would say my most defining feature is my colours. It is the first thing people notice and I take great care is making that jumble of colour turn into something recognizable haha.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A lot of people aren’t going to believe in you and a lot of people are going to look down on the path you’ve chosen for yourself as if art is some lessen purpose in life. You can’t let them discourage you. Art is filled with no’s and rejections and hard times but if you want to make it you need to be the one who keeps going. Believe in yourself, believe in your art and never give up. You’ll find your audience.

5. Don't assume I'm straight
Don’t Assume I’m Straight

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I prefer to just call myself asexual plain and simple.

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

Not so much in the art field really. Paintings are always about so many things so asexuality isn’t really a wild out there concept for them I think. A new concept for them yes but not one they would have the audacity to be prejudice about. I provide long explanations with each painting so people are willing to learn. The ignorance I see is more from people on the internet, I know, shocking. All you can do is remember that they are only a small minority of voices and keep doin’ your thing.

6. Hooray! Representation!
Hooray! Representation!

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

I have a boyfriend and people can’t seem to wrap their heads around how that works. It is like the most foreign concept to them. Love??? Without sexual attraction??? What?? It takes a while to explain to them how this is possible but even then I think some people still don’t fully understand.

7. Invisible
Invisible

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

It took me a long time to come to terms with who I am. Self-discovery is a process and you have to be willing to accept who you are. There are tons of people out there who will accept you for who you are and I know it feels like you are alone sometimes but you are never alone. Just know this: you are not broken, there is nothing wrong with you, you are you and that is beautiful. Just get out there, be proud and live your best life.

8. Not gay enoughnot straight enough
Not Gay Enough, Not Straight Enough

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

I have a website: http://www.mikababineauart.com/

As well as a variety of social media:

https://twitter.com/MikachuNinjamon
https://www.instagram.com/mikachu_ninjamon/
https://mikachu-ninjamon.tumblr.com/

9. haha so you're like a plant small
Haha So You’re like a Plant

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

Interview: Ally Mueller

Today we’re joined by Ally Mueller. Ally is a phenomenal painter who specializes in portraits. She paints humans, fairies, and occasionally animals. Her work is so beautiful, brimming with color and detail, creating exquisite images that draw the viewer in. It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do watercolor and acrylic of people, fairies, and the rare animal.

What inspires you?

It’s a different thing every time I pick up a brush. Sometimes its just a need to create something with no idea what! I’ll just re-do something I’ve done already. Or I can see someone somewhere and want to paint. Or good afternoon sun. or just a great color somewhere can get me started. looking at other people’s art helps too.

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

I always wanted to be an artist! I drew all the time when I was little and started painting when I was 10 but got really into it when I was in middle school and had an amazing watercolor teacher.

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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 really

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Even if its crap, don’t stop!!! If you keep going you’ll get better at it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey-demi aegosexual (cause that’s not super confusing and weirdly specific)

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

I haven’t really told many people, the few people I have told literally already knew.

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

That I/we don’t like orgasms. I’m personally not a fan of sex, but (to get really TMI) solo orgasms are fun as hell. Also, tons of aces out there like sex!!! The other big one is that I/we don’t think people are cute! I may not wanna do the do with them, but I like looking at them!!

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

I, personally, struggled with my orientation for years! I was 27 before I had any inkling of that I wasn’t straight. It’s a really weird orientation because its defined by not experiencing something I don’t really experience. So I guess I would say that’s its OK to change the words you use to define yourself, its OK if how you feel changes, there’s no “right” way to be or feel ace, its OK. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with who you are.

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

I’m on Fine Arts America as Ally Mueller in Parker, CO and plan on doing some local art fairs this summer.

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

Interview: Ale

Today we’re joined by Ale, who also goes by Silveranchor online. Ale is a phenomenal illustrator who specializes in traditional mediums. She mostly does fanart and portraits. Ale’s work is bright and remarkably detailed, showing an artist with an amazing eye, as you’ll soon see. It’s clear she has an incredibly bright future ahead of her and is definitely an artist to watch. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. The Sun Summoner Alina Starkov from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
The Sun Summoner: Alina Starkov from “The Grisha Trilogy” by Leigh Bardugo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an aspiring illustrator. I do traditional art, mostly fanart and portraits. I draw characters from books and some TV series. I work with graphite, coloring pencils and I’ve recently started trying with watercolors.

I also dabble a bit in writing and singing, but they’re not my main focus.

What inspires you?

Apart from books, people. I find inspiration in faces, bodies, features, and clothing. I love looking at different people around me and think about how I would draw their noses or their hair.

4. alestyle
Ale Style

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

When I first started getting into fantasy books, I spent a lot of time looking for fanart and I always felt moved by it. That made me want to do fanart of my own and that’s how I discovered that I liked drawing. It took a while for me to start doing original art and even more for me to realize that I wanted to pursue a career in illustration. I’ve only recently started looking into art schools, but I’m excited about the future.

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 still trying out new things and finding my style, so the only things my pieces have in common are that they’re all of people and they have my actual signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To never give up or stop trying. Artistic talent is something you develop over time, so never feel discouraged if a piece doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Getting better requires practice, so never stop creating.

3. Isobel masquerade
Isobel in her masquerade gown from “An Enchantment of Ravens” by Margaret Rogerson

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. I’m pretty sure I’m on the aromantic spectrum, but I’m not 100% positive where do I fit, so I label myself as aro flux.

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

Not really. I’ve found that other artists are more open minded and accepting than most other people.

5. Karol Sevilla
Karol Sevilla

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

Probably that it isn’t an actual orientation. Most people think asexuals are just confused or repressed, or maybe even traumatized.

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

To love themselves and take it easy. Figuring yourself out is a process and it comes with time. I took a long while to figure out I was asexual and an even longer time being comfortable with labeling myself. It’s okay if you’re not there yet, a long as you feel good with yourself.

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

I post my pieces on my Tumblr and Instagram.
http://silveranchor.tumblr.com/tagged/my-art
https://www.instagram.com/silver_anchor4/

Also, some of my older work is in my DeviantArt
https://thatrockingfangirl.deviantart.com/.

2. A Butterfly on the Nose
A Butterfly on the Nose

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

Interview: Liv

Today we’re joined by Liv. Liv is a fantastic visual artist who specializes in illustration and character design. She draws in a variety of styles and illustrates various subjects. Her work is amazing in its attention to detail and color. She’s a remarkably talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

dragon scene
Dragon Scene

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My work is mainly illustrations. I do a lot of character designs, backgrounds … story boards ‘n such. I like working in pastel shades and bright colors, but I also like making more low-key stuff. Dark blues … greens … Color and design are usually the main focus in my work, even if I’m drawing portraits I try to pay very close attention to color. I don’t know though; my stuff is pretty varied. I make a lot of different types of art. I make semi-realistic work, characters, portraits, landscapes, buildings … I do whatever I can to improve myself as an artist.

What inspires you?

Music. For sure music. I need to right song before I start. The usual music consists of James Blake, Joji, Tyler the Creator … A lot of low key music. Oh! I also love Tame Impala. I’m also inspired by studio Ghibli movies and other artists. Other artists online really push my work to be better.

pointilism portrait
Pointilism Portrait

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

My mom gave me this fairytale book when I was six. It had her doodles in it when she was my age, and I was really taken by them. (They weren’t great, they were made by six-year-old mom) but at the time it was crazy to me that anyone could just … make stuff. I passively drew for a few more years, then got really serious about it when I was 12.

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?

Umm haha I have one thing. I don’t sign my work very often, (which I should do) but when I do, I make it look like a rose. I noticed my initials naturally made this curve that looked like a flower, so I added a little flare for the stem.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I have a few things actually. I’ll bullet them so they’re easier to read.

  • Don’t immediately shut down advice. It can feel like people are attacking your work, your baby, but they aren’t trying to. It helps to hear them out. (if they are trying to put it down though just remember it isn’t about you, it’s about that person trying to be entertaining or whatever) You will get critiques, some harsher than others, always remember that it isn’t meant to be personal.
  • Don’t immediately accept it either. Trust your gut. If someone suggests something, and your first instinct is “that’s a terrible idea” then maybe listen to
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know it’s difficult, but sometimes it’s best to try to ignore that small voice in your head that constantly puts you down. Analyze your work, learn from it. But do not put it down too much.
  • Let yourself make bad art. It’s still practice!! Even if you don’t like it, you’re using those low moments to improve! And that’s always good. Even if you hate making it the whole time because you hate the piece so much, just finish it and learn from it. It helps, I swear.
  • Take time to do things you enjoy. Sometimes you need a break from art. DO NOT feel guilty for needing a break. Drink some water, play a videogame. You’ve earned it.
  • Don’t let anyone say you can’t make a job out of it. Not even your family. I mean there’s a huge industry for the arts, if you care enough and are dedicated to it, you can make a job out of it. Even if your friends or family say you can’t.
portrait
Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I don’t feel any sexual attraction to any gender. So, I guess just asexual.

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

I’ve only come out to my friends, who are all “SJWs” haha. They’ve been super accepting. I did, however, come out to someone I was interested in. They replied with “then how do you know you like me? Like more than friends?” the question was annoying in my opinion, but I knew it was just his insecurities speaking and not really him. Well… I would mean that if he hadn’t led me on then dated one of my best friends behind my back. I haven’t experienced anything other than that. Almost everyone in my school is pretty cool with that stuff. I just haven’t come out yet because I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. If people wanna know I’ll tell ‘em, but I don’t think advertising it is very… me.

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

Biggest one I’ve encountered is media portraying asexuals as cold, psychopaths. People seem to go along with that portrayal.  That’s why it’s nice seeing characters like Todd from Bojack Horseman. It’s great to see a funny, generous, insightful person in a TV show be asexual.

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

Lay low. It’s OK. I swear you’ll get through it. Take some time to figure your crap out… Just slow down a little. Remember you aren’t alone, and take some time to yourself to relax and think over things. Thinking does wonders sometimes.

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

I have an art Instagram account called “living.in.yellow” I post a lot of my work there, though the posting gets pretty infrequent every now and then.

priness mononoke
Princess Mononoke

Thank you, Liv, 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: Teloka Berry

Today we’re joined by Teloka Berry. Teloka is a phenomenally talented visual artist from Australia. She’s a digital artist and specializes in comics. She also does portraits, original characters, and fanart. Aside from that, Teloka also does crafts. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly dedicated artist, 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 digital artist, and primarily a character illustrator and story-teller. I do stuff like portraits, comics, original characters and fan-art, and sell crafts and merch like stickers.

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My very favourite things to do are comics, both short ones and long form ones! I like stories with a strong focus on acearo, queer and neuroatypical characters who are just having adventures in various genres, and my personal schtick leans heavily towards acearo girls who want to form lasting commitments and have relationships with other girls.

I have two long-haul projects. Let’s Celebrate!, my queer magical girl themed webcomic has been live for almost three years now, and features an acearo lead and a bunch of silly festive super powers. It’s very lighthearted but still explores various celebrations from around the world, mental illness and communication, and features a bunch of monsters that the girls/guys/nb-pals fight with improbable weapons like giant candy canes. You can see it here: http://letscelebrate-comic.tumblr.com/

My second long haul project is collaborative with my girlfriend which we’re hoping to release early next year, and it will be an online graphic novel in installments. It’s a supernatural, Lovecraftian kind of adventure-thriller, structured around the Great Australian Road-Trip in rural Queensland. It follows an established acearo f/f couple, who accidentally enter an outback region they can’t leave filled with frightening “Locals” and those long roads that go on “forever”.

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What inspires you?

I’m going to sound super cheesy when I say this but… my girlfriend? Haha, I’m pretty inspired by personal experiences and personal interests, I suppose. I spend a lot of time drawing and illustrating stuff based on things we’ve done together or concepts we talked about and came up with together.

Maybe also like … spite, to be honest. I’m kind of tired of heteronormative stories and the same straight white male leads who fight the Big Bad and get the girl with very little actual effort. I love to write and see stories about girls, especially queer and neurodivergent girls, doing cool stuff and saving the day and being in genres they’re generally sidelined in, like action stuff or zombies.

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That aside I find music and bright cheerful colour palettes quite inspiring, and use both of them a lot in my work. And the work of other artists who I look up to, of course! I’m pretty visual so if I see something that is just aesthetically pleasing to me (like some architecture, a posing angle, fairy lights in a shop window) I’ll probably think about how to incorporate it into an art piece sooner or later.

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

I’ve always been really crafty and drawn or scribbled stuff, so I guess so? I got serious about artwork at about 13, when I entered high school and fell in with fellow artsy-sorts who enabled the habit. I started out like most teens on DeviantArt back then with an anthro fursona, and made more friends online that encouraged me, and so I just… persisted with it. I don’t think I ever had particular plans to be an artist, or to be anything for that matter, but it’s probably my stand out skill now. I draw every day and love my stories and characters a lot!

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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?

Probably like I mentioned in that first long ramble I did, I have a really strong narrative interest in queer stories, and especially a focus on acearo mentally ill girls and healthy relationships. Artistically/Stylistically though… no, haha, I have absolutely zero consistency in my work, I’m so bad at that!

Usually when I pitch it to other people they’ll say stuff like “sparkles!” or “colours!” or “same face syndrome!”, so maybe that’s the answer here? I like colours a lot and playing around with harsh lighting. I also draw a lot of birds, because… birb.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

1. Give it a go! If you want to do it, just do it. It’s worthwhile, even if all it ever does is bring you happiness or relaxation to create; that’s super important and you deserve it.

2. Quite difficult, but don’t compare your creation to other peoples work negatively. Be critical of your own work, sure, and always, always strive to improve. But your work is not anyone else’s but your own, so try not to be disheartened if it doesn’t look like something else you wanted it to look like. It looks like it’s yours, and that’s the best thing it could be.

3. This one is for minority groups in storytelling especially (I figure relevant here on an ace positive blog), and something I’ve struggled with a lot but: Tell that story about your own experiences/preferences if you want to tell it. Create your own representation if you can and want to.

It’s not self-centered, it’s not “too much”, it’s not unpalatable, it’s not boring, and it’s not cheesy. Don’t feel like you can only put one character from a minority group in your story, and don’t feel like you can’t have characters who you relate to or have traits like you in your story. You do not have to write in something for “someone else” to relate to or have straight white men in your story for it to be “acceptable”, regardless of what popular media seems to be trying to say.

For example, when we started on the roadtrip story I mentioned earlier, we thought “is two whole acearo girls in a story… too many? should one of them at least… be bi?” and while scripting I’ve often wondered ”is this chronically anxious character having too many anxiety attacks…? should I just have them handle this thing better so that their mental illness is showing less?”. And the answer to those things is obviously no. Show that mental illness. Have only acearo leads. Have a whole cast of POC. There’s no such thing as “too much” representation of your minority characters and stories, and if they’re based on your personal experiences or desires- great. Because nobody else can tell that for you; it’s yours.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a cis girl (she/hers) and I identify as asexual and aromantic, though I might more accurately be quoiromantic as I don’t really understand the difference between platonic and romantic relationships, though I absolutely don’t experience attraction regardless. I previously considered myself panromantic because I “want to be emotionally intimate” with friends quite intensely and have close relationships, but I later realized that I don’t experience romantic attraction so… aromantic-spec it is.

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

I’ve actually experienced very little ace prejudice. I’ve found straight people to be confused and commit some naïve-microaggressions at best, and mostly they just want me to explain what it meant and expressed general confusion about how I could not feel sexual attraction. (except for those dudes, you know, the: “well you just haven’t been with ­me yet” narcissists.)

I also had an abuser who ID’d on the ace spectrum, who would constantly guilt me about my orientation and say I would be a disappointment to my partner/s, that I was “broken”, or that I was just “trying to be holier than thou” and all kinds of toxic shit. So it really can come from anywhere.

The absolute worst ongoing prejudice I’ve seen has been from gatekeepers in the gay and lesbian communities. No surprises there. So many “sapphic safe place” blogs will reblog artwork of my girlfriend and I, which is clearly f/f and I get the lovely gift of seeing their acephobic descriptions on how ace people don’t belong in the queer community and queer is a slur, while they profit from artwork literally featuring two acearo girls.

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

Lately there’s plenty of stuff going around tumblr especially about how asexuality doesn’t equal celibacy, and that it’s not a choice. True, absolutely! But I still very often see asexuality conflated with sex repulsion, or a lack of libido (and aromance with a lack of interest in close intimate relationships at all).

Sure, it can be that way, but it’s not universal for all aces or aros. Just like any orientation, asexual people can sit anywhere on the libido and/or repulsed spectrums. They are not the same at all, and it’s super toxic that it has become popularly interchangeable, because I’m often seeing ace characters who “hate to be touched” and it just…

Ace people can be sex positive and interested in intimacy.

Allosexual people can be sex repulsed or simply disinterested.

And sex repulsed people of any orientation can also still be highly sensual and have a libido and still really want to have sex (that’s me!).

All these things are separate experiences. Neither drive nor repulsion are intrinsically tied to each other or to asexuality, which is the lack of sexual attraction, and not the lack of desire for touch.

I think that’s a super important distinction that’s often lost. My stories focus on this a lot, and almost all of my comics and stories feature acearo characters who still actively seek close emotional intimacy- because aro people are not unfeeling robots- and who also like to experiment or be close to their partners physically- because ace doesn’t necessarily mean no libido or interest.

And it’s super alienating to sensual or libido aces to see the narrative that “to be ace means you can’t ever want to have sex with someone else” perpetuated. It feels like something that, in years to come, is going to segue into Ace-Gatekeeping-v2.0, and I’d like to see communication and compassion stop that before it happens.

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

Auuhhh… uhmmm I’m really not an ideal person to put in like… advice giving roles. I’m still learning stuff myself; the Living Experience is pretty enormous! But perhaps the best thing I found (for me) was to have close friends who I could talk to about being ace and aro. If you have other friends who are already knowledgeable or confident in their own sexuality and ID on the acearo spec then that is probably the safest way, and they can explain things to you and answer questions.

There are also a variety of previously linked ace-help blogs and websites, and probably honestly… a lot of the artists featured on this blog would probably be happy to answer anon-questions and stuff about their experiences if you get in touch? I’d be happy to, for sure. That might be good for anyone who feels isolated or confused and doesn’t want to have a name attached to their questions!

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

You can find my artblog, where I post most of my art and links and updates on the above mentioned projects here: http://berryartistic.tumblr.com. I should warn that there are some suggestive works on there and it’s pretty heavy on the f/f content. There’s nothing graphic and no actual nudity, mostly just implications of intimacy and some power dynamics, but it might be a bit much for some minors or anyone intimacy-repulsed, so take it with a grain of salt.

Let’s Celebrate! is completely PG and can be found here: http://letscelebrate-comic.tumblr.com/ which has links offsite to places like Tapastic.

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

Interview: Maddie

Today we’re joined by Maddie. Maddie is a wonderful fanartist in different K-pop fandoms and anime. They co-run a K-pop fanblog with a friend of theirs. They draw a lot of portraits. Aside from drawing and writing, Maddie also cosplays for anime conventions. It’s clear they’re an incredibly enthusiastic 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 mostly work as a fanartist in the K-pop fandom. I follow a lot of groups and I love to either draw portraits or write short fanfics that are compiled on a blog I run with a friend. I am planning on doing more portraits in the future and will continue to write! Along the fanart lines I also cosplay as a hobby and go to cons whenever I can. I also am going to make a blog dedicated to short comics about my daily life as a nonbinary aroace person, so look out for that!

What inspires you?

I’ve always wanted to write, I’m writing a novel currently but it’s a long process so fanfics are my main ones. My mom actually pushed me to follow my passion for drawing and writing. She has her own poems published so she just inspires me to work hard. Also the groups I listen to inspire me (obviously), but song lyrics and seeing how members act/interact help inspire my stories. Cosplay wise the look of the character is what inspires me to try and portray them, I want to try and capture their personality.

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Suga from BTS

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

I’ve been drawing and writing since I was little. I had an active imagination as a kid so I was constantly coming up with these amazing worlds to write about or drawing them if I could. I’ve always considered myself a “chill artist”, it’s not my main career goal, but it’s a hobby I adore and would love to continue doing- even if it just stays a hobby.

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

Not that I can think of actually, I don’t know if do anything really “unique” in my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep practicing! I know it’s hard and your first pieces might not be good, but you can improve immensely with some practice. I try and doodle something once a day, even if it’s just a doodle beside my lecture notes or something. Try small writing prompts too, just doing short one paragraph writings can improve your writing ability!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a cupioromantic asexual! I’m also nonbinary.

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

A bit, the K-pop fandom in general is very hypersexual and sexualizes members of groups a lot. So being ace making content for the fandom can be a bit tough. Some people think I’m prude for not writing smut or something, but I’ve learned to shrug it off and respond with a simple “I can’t write it.”

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

Probably that it’s just a choice like celibacy, or that I can’t want a relationship. I’ve heard both of these so many times it makes me want to scream. Or there’s always the joke of “are you a plant?” I think it’s hard for people to grasp that there are people who simply don’t see people in a sexual way, crazy right? It doesn’t help that I’m sex-averse and people, especially my mom, will say it’ll happen when I “meet the one.”

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

You are not broken. First and foremost, you are totally normal. I know it’s tough, trust me I felt broken until I found out asexuality was a thing and I wish I would’ve found out about it sooner. Don’t let others put you down for your sexuality, they just don’t understand it- you are valid.

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

I usually post art to my personal blog, which is at timelord-from-ohio, but I don’t post my art often. The fanfic blog I co-run is at 98aroha97bangtan94, I’m Mod Phoenix. Lastly, the blog I’m planning on putting the comics on is at lifeofacupioromanticace!

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Eunwoo from Astro

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