Interview: Mark

Today we’re joined by Mark. Mark is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital art. They’re mostly into drawing, although they are working on some video game design and do craft work on occasion. They also draw the most gorgeous pride dragons. They’re work is remarkably beautiful, brimming with color and detail. It’s very clear Mark’s an incredibly talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Rexy Female White and Gold

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Umm, I draw things? XD Mostly I like to focus on digital drawing, but I also do some craft work and other things here and there for fun. Right now I’m working on a few different projects, the main ones being pride dragons (and eventually other pride animals), as well as working with a close friend on some game design.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything really. Other artists, movies, books, music, nature, friends… I can’t really pin inspiration down on any one thing.

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

I’ve been drawing pretty much as far back as I can remember, so it’s been an always thing that never went away. XD Honestly I can’t imagine NOT being an artist in some fashion.

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Early Dragon

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? Nothing that I’m aware of at least.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

(Sorry this part is going to be a tad long.)

1. If you wanna art, then art. Do it because you want to do it.

2. Some people are gonna be assholes. It’s pretty hard to avoid running into them. It sucks and it can be super disheartening, but *don’t give up*. I’ve had my art featured on “look how shitty this art is” sites and have gotten some nasty comments that made me feel super close to giving up entirely. But in the end, I’d refer you back to point 1. If you want to art, *then KEEP DOING IT* Do it because you enjoy it. Do it for you, do it for the people who DO enjoy it.

3. You’re not going to improve overnight, but that’s ok. You’ll have good days and bad days with art and sometimes you might feel like you’re not getting anywhere, but as long as you don’t give up, you WILL improve over time.

4. Going along with that, try not to compare your art to others’ art. You need to compare you to you. Look at some of your old art compared to new stuff. Can you see improvement? Doesn’t matter if it’s just a little or a lot, improvement is improvement! Everyone goes at their own pace so don’t be discouraged if you’re not getting to where you want to be right away.

5. I love stylization. It’s fantastic. All sorts of cartoony styles and what not. But I will say, regardless of how styled you want to make your art, it’s best to learn from life first. If say, you learn how to draw dogs, study real dogs and realistic dog art, because then stylizing them later on will be WAY easier and produce better results.

6. TOTALLY experiment with different things! Maybe you’ll find something you like, maybe you’ll decide you don’t like certain things. But at least after trying you’ll know. Step outside your comfort zone, don’t worry if you can do something “good” or not. Just have fun and play with it! Wanna draw cars but think you can’t manage mechanical things? Draw some cars anyway! You have to start somewhere.

7. While you shouldn’t compare yourself to other artists, it can be nice to look around at numerous other artists’ styles and methods for inspiration. Many artists will make tutorials about their processes and techniques or general art advice and these can be super valuable learning tools. (Just remember of course to be respectful and never steal someone else’s work.)

I could probably go on and on, but I think that covers the basics. XD

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am hella ace. XD Not demi or grey or anything. As for romantic orientation, I’m still figuring that out.

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

Sort of? In general I usually don’t get any of that stuff with just posting art and what not online, though I have had some not so cool things happen in person because of being ace. I don’t want to go too in detail. One of the people who did and said some nasty things is an artist as well, but reasons for their behavior were more on a personal level than because of anything art related. (Though they did rip off a bunch of art related things from me…) Handling it can be hard sometimes, but I’m lucky to have super supportive friends, and the ace community seems to be pretty awesome and supportive as well. Lots of nice positivity posts and comments going around.

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

That it’s not real and aces are just lying or are late bloomers. Also that ace people are doomed to be forever alone or they’re only able to be in relationships with other aces.

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

It can be tough, I sure as heck have some hard times accepting it sometimes. But anyone out there struggling, remember that you are NOT broken or alone! Asexuality is totally a natural thing, it’s NOT something new (we just are finally starting to learn more about it and bring that information to light), and it’s not something to be ashamed of. Whether you want a romantic relationship, or just good friends, or whatever else, there are definitely people out there who will accept you for who you are and who won’t try to change you. (And don’t put up with people who think they can change you or that you need to be fixed. That’s a load of BS.) All you aces are totally awesome as is!

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

I post most of my work on my Tumblr account: http://markaleb.tumblr.com/

And I’ve started putting up a few things on a RedBubble account: https://www.redbubble.com/people/markaleb?asc=u

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

Interview: Keelan

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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Dai Li Agents

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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Proud Ace

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ace Positivity Post

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