Interview: Holly

Today we’re joined by Holly. Holly is a wonderful writer who is currently working towards a biochem degree. In her free time, she runs a D&D campaign that involves a lot of writing and worldbuilding. They’re also working on a story podcast project, which she hopes to bring to fruition in the future. Holly is clearly a dedicated and talented hobbyist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It’s something I use to distract a little bit from the real world, nothing too professional. I’m mostly interested in writing short stories, and I’m currently working on a fictional podcast series with one of my favourite people, and while we do have some scripts written up, it is going to take a while to put into production. While I’m making my way through university for a biochemistry B.Sc, most of my creative energy goes towards a lore-rich D&D campaign in a homebrew setting that I run for my very best friends. It’s difficult and long-form but it’s increased my social confidence, I’ve created some wonderful characters that I feel able to apply to different forms of writing, and it’s definitely given me more experience with storybuilding.

What inspires you?

Generally, looking at fictional stories and seeing what hasn’t been included, rather than what has. It’s satisfying to fill a gap and tell the stories of people who aren’t often looked at in popular media, i.e. neurodivergent characters, people with underrepresented gender identities and sexualities, people with disabilities, people of varying ethnic backgrounds. I’m aware that I can’t personally relate to some of the characters I write, so I do try and stay respectful and do a ton of research, ask people who know better than me, etc. Sometimes I do make characters that correspond to my own experiences with depression and severe social anxiety, and even the speech impediment I still have to manage – and the personal catharsis I get from that can be reward enough, even if I don’t do anything with the characters or works I create.

For the most part though, I tend to like interspersing mundane reality with absurd high fantasy or scifi concepts. Like a time traveler who uses their ability to cut in line before it forms, or a particularly finicky pit fiend who wants you to remove your shoes before entering its lair.

On another level, I’d say my friends inspire me on a day to day basis. Especially the person I’m working on this project with, whom I’ll call T. T has a fascinating mind and boundless creativity, and with her and K’s support, I can have days where I feel indestructible. My mum also tends to listen to whatever crazy plotlines I’ve come up with that day too, so I’d say she also plays a big part in my support network.

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

I always wanted to be an actress when I was growing up, but did a big ol’ switcharoo around college (not university, the British meaning of college), where I found an interest in biochemistry. I’d begun to feel directing and writing was more my thing by that point anyway, but didn’t have enough belief in myself to do it. I think what drew me back to creative writing alongside my STEM studies was the freedom I felt when I began this D&D campaign. Building the world, building the story, adapting to the unexpected antics of my players, it felt like when I was a kid throwing blankets and pretending they were fireballs, or picking up a stick and pretending it was a greatsword, having intricate sociopolitical plotlines with my Barbies, and all that grand stuff. I’d been doubting for a while the value of that kind of imagination, but gradually it became necessary to keep me sane during university. Now I appreciate silliness and the Rule of Cool way more than I do grimdark, gritty, realistic scenarios.

I write more often than not to just have fun. Sometimes it’s a scenario that I can’t stop thinking about and I have to write it down or it’ll keep bouncing around in my head, and other times it’s building a character that can help me feel less alone when I’m winding myself into a spiral about the simplest social situation. I write so that any potential readers can have fun too – and, if I’m lucky, find a character that they can carry about with them like I do.

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 usually include at least one of my NPCs from my campaign in almost everything I write – with a different name and/or species. This isn’t obvious unless you’re part of that group, though.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I have struggled with finding my voice because I thought I needed someone to address – like an audience or someone who wouldn’t reject me. But to hell with it. This isn’t a marketing strategy meeting, go ahead and shout into the void with your art until someone shouts back, if that’s what you’re after. Make the art for yourself. What’s actually stopping you?

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am ace demi-aro. I think. The ace part I’m certain about, but I’m still figuring out my romantic orientation. Demi fits for now.

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

Not in my field particularly, but I’ve been given the ‘you’re young’ and ‘you’ll find someone’ or ‘how can you not be attracted to anyone, is there something wrong with you?’ talk quite a few times by well-meaning friends or relatives. Usually this is met with an eyeroll, but it hasn’t held me back anywhere. I’ve experienced some anxiety about going to LGBTQIA events because of the whole ace inclusion debate I saw floating around at the time, but I’m fairly confident aces are more universally accepted than not, these days.

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

The idea that it means having no sex drive. Even people who are familiar with asexuality seem to fall into this trap a lot. Many non-ace people seem to have trouble separating the idea of having a libido or enjoying sex with sexual attraction. I guess I can understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t know how many times I’ve said the sentence: “Asexuality is literally just a lack of sexual attraction. It means I don’t look at a person and want to have sex with them. That’s it.”

Some people seem to get it after that explanation. Others don’t. Whaddya gonna do except raise awareness?

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

Finding out that you’re ace can be a confusing and deceptive road, simply because it’s harder to characterize a lack of something than it is to characterize a different something. I thought I was bi or pan for a long time in high school because I felt the same way about all genders (turns out? Not an uncommon experience for ace/aros), and many people still don’t even believe being ace is a thing. Protip: don’t listen to those people.

What I would say? If you don’t feel you fit neatly into the ace label, firstly remember that there is a wide spectrum of asexuality, and includes identities such as gray-ace or demi-ace, but secondly remember that you don’t have to assume it. Same goes for knowing your romantic orientation. This is not required of you. Honestly, this applies to any LGBTQIA identities – you are not required to know what label you are. Just listen to yourself and trust what yourself is saying, because you know better than everyone who you are.

You are still a ‘proper ace’ if you’re not sure what labels fit you, and you’re still a ‘proper ace’ if your orientation was due to past events, or if you think it might be temporary. It is not a life sentence. It is simply what fits you the most at the time, and sexuality can be fluid as heck.

Most importantly – you are welcome here. You are welcome in LGBTQIA. You’re always free to find one of us in the ace community and ask questions if you’re not sure where you fit or how you feel about your orientation.

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

Nowhere yet as I’ve still gotta get this degree under my belt before I take on any projects, but soon. Soon.

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

Interview: Kaj

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and used to be an actor.

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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

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

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Eldervine

Today we’re joined by Eldervine. Eldervine is a phenomenal visual artist who enjoys experimenting with different mediums and styles. She is mostly a realistic illustrator, but occasionally dabbles in impressionism and surrealism. Eldervine does both traditional and digital art. She does sculpture/3D modelling and is currently studying game art/design. She’s a passionate artist and obviously has a very bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

amadeus
Amadeus

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve been drawing pretty much my entire life- I can’t remember when I started but (looking back) by the time I started school I was pretty well practiced for a 5/6 year old. Since then I’ve dabbled in almost every art form; painting (and then digital painting) was my staple for a long time but I’m pushing myself to sculpt more now.

In style I consider myself a realistic illustrator, even though I slide into impressionism and/or surrealism a bit.

What inspires you?

I’m an unashamed lover of beauty whether it’s found in pleasing shapes, rich colours or lush textures. Animals are the best source for me, particularly horses- they’re made of such beautiful shapes (loads of sine curves) and textures and I was totally that girl at school that always drew horses haha

My first degree ended up being in biological anthropology though (through a weird slide from the art school into the humanities, into the sciences), and that did get me interested in how humans work- that and working at my city art gallery made me more appreciative of human (and cultural) beauty. And it seems weird to me but playing The Sims 3 inspired an appreciation for architecture and landscape. The greatest artistic urge I get remains equine though, so I guess it’s true that old habits die hard.

handsdoodling
Hands Doodling

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

Phew, it’s a bit of a twisty ride!

My obsession with horses lead me into playing a ton of the online text-based horse sim games that abounded during the 90s/2000s; they were good because they were targeted just at people that like horses, unlike the modern ones which also have a clear intended age bracket. Those games all eventually died so I found myself joining a forum that used The Sims 3 (in modded form) as a horse game, with picture shows and breed registries etc. hosted on the forum. That then led me into the world of computer game modding, and I found I really enjoyed retexturing things and became interested in learning how to 3D model.

So starting from last year I’m studying game design/game art, and I think it’s the best career idea I’ve had so far! I previously didn’t think I could make a living doing art, but games is a growing industry with heaps of demand for artists. I’ve also found that games is a field that allows me to apply the biggest selection of my broad interests and skills (I’ve found my anthropology surprisingly relevant too), and offers specialist and generalist opportunities in equal amounts so I’ll be able to try a lot of different jobs and/or specialize in whatever I end up liking the most.

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 know about a unique thing (apart from a signature obvs). I’m guilty of the ol’ scratchy sketching that my new teachers (all animators) hate and are trying to beat out of me haha, but I don’t like leaving much lineart in my coloured stuff anyway. I think I certainly have a style which is very different to what everyone else in my class does- mainly, I think, because my artistic influences come from fine art whereas most of them grew up on comics.

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MM Sculpture

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Stop worrying about having a style, it will happen naturally over the course of your life and if you try and force it you’ll just end up limiting yourself as an artist.

Learn the fundamentals of colour, light and anatomy (yes, I mean realism) BEFORE you start stylizing. If you do it the other way around you’re locking yourself in to only being able to do that style, and often not as well. Anime/manga artists are prone to this; the good ones did heaps of life drawing before translating into the style, whereas you can tell the ones that started out in the style because they do some real janky stuff with anatomy and perspective, and it just doesn’t look as good even when considering style.

Also, be intelligent with your art; always ask yourself why you’re doing something or why something looks good to you. It helps you learn about yourself as well as your craft.

ibex
Ibex

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I knew I was asexual when I was 12, and I’m now 100% again, but there were bumpy bits at 22 and 25 where I thought I could be demisexual (thinking back and being brutally honest with myself, the first boyfriend I wasn’t interested in at all and the second one I thought I had found someone who I could be happy with, but they didn’t seem to get what I said about my sexuality and so I just tried my best to be into him sexually too. Spoilers: didn’t last long with either of them).

As far as the romantic scale is concerned, I have no idea. I do overwhelmingly connect better with women than (heterosexual) men, but I honestly don’t know what exactly the difference is between a close friendship and a platonic romantic one. Because I seem to be missing something, my current guess is that I’m aromantic as well. xD

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

I’ve only mentioned asexuality to a few friends so far in the games field, so I’m going to answer from all the fields I’ve dabbled in.

I am conventionally attractive, and my body developed early- my breasts were already fully developed and large at 12. Both things I have had people try to use as evidence that I cannot possibly be asexual, despite my pointing out that what feelings they get from my body are the results of their sexuality. (That and breasts are not actually sexual organs, they’re just sexualized in many cultures).

Apart from that, whenever I do mention it (which isn’t often) people tend to go “uh” and then gloss over it, clearly not understanding/not believing but not wanting to make more of a deal out of it. Which is fine by me actually, except I’m pretty sure my parents still have their fingers in their ears (some crossed) and are looking the other way as well. (I’ve definitely heard the “you just haven’t found the right person yet” line).

yuki
Yuki

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

Apart from the binary fission joke (which every asexual gets I think) and the one where people get their sexuality mixed up with yours, that asexuality is due to trauma.

I did actually have panic attacks – with my first boyfriend, the first week after we became official I couldn’t eat anything or I’d throw it up. Doctor gave me meds to calm the acid in my stomach and then I was fine. With the second boyfriend I woke up one day in abdominal agony, shaking and sweating (making it rain, but not in a good way!) but as soon as he called the paramedic hotline and I was talking and joking to the lady on the line I was better- when doctors later examined me they found absolutely nothing wrong. I had another exactly a week after (and I still feel awful about this one) where we had finished making out for a bit and he went to start on lunch (or something, can’t remember) and he came back to ask me something, and as he sat down next to me/leaned over me I suddenly felt so ill, had to bolt to the bathroom- didn’t quite make it- and was ridiculously, violently sick everywhere.

It was at this point that my mother helped me set up 6 months of therapy with a well-reputed sex therapist. xD Who was actually really lovely, and I enjoyed those sessions with her! It was really nice to have talks about sex that weren’t charged with expectations, with someone who was relaxed and had actually studied sexual health, critiques of sex ed, etc. She didn’t believe though that anyone with any hint of sexual need was asexual (and I did say that I was fine to have sex with myself occasionally) so I didn’t really get the benefit of that discussion. She also thought that my aversion to men (as she saw it- honestly I think guys being the only issue was because no lesbians ever hit on me haha) was due to my developing early and being sexualized by others before my mind was caught up. That boys would pretend to be friends with me because I had the big boobs, she said, lead to me linking sexual desire with dishonesty and so I distrusted it. Now, I still think it’s a really interesting idea and I do wonder if my sexuality would’ve expressed any differently if a)I got boobs later and b)if the world/how we raise boys was different. It’s been a long while now though and I’ve continued thinking about it and reflecting on myself, and while I do think I am put off a lot by how the world at large treats sex and sexuality (and women), I think 13 year old boys being self-centered pricks triggering asexuality for the rest of my life is giving them rather a lot of credit!

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

I used to get so stressed when I was a teenager because I was taking on everyone’s expectations about me and my future, and felt that a relationship and sex was just going to happen to me and I had no control over anything. Don’t stress- I can’t talk for everyone, everywhere in the world or in every situation, but at least in my case, the only thing that was keeping me from feeling secure and in control was me thinking that I wasn’t. Hopefully, this can serve as a reminder for someone else in a similar situation. You don’t have to do shit if you don’t want to. If you’re not in a similar situation, don’t be scared to go looking for help to get that control. It exists.

Having said that, don’t be scared to revisit what you think and try working yourself out all over again- you are what you are, and labels are tools that we can use to try and make more sense of ourselves, for us and for others, but remember that they are tools crafted from an imperfect world and they are clumsy.

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

My Tumblr that I set up to share my game art/schoolwork is eldervine.tumblr.com (you can also find my Twitter through there, which I use to post arty stuff, game stuff, school stuff, news stuff and feminist rants haha)

If you’re interested in seeing the Sims 3 horse art I did when I was a part of Equus-Sims, you can have a look at eldervinefields.tumblr.com (it’s sadly not active anymore but all my stuff, including mods, is still there).

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Doodle

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

Interview: Tempest Wisdom

Today we’re joined by Tempest Wisdom. Tempest is a fantastically talented actor who is studying at University of Chicago. She specializes in physical comedy and improv. Tempest also has aspirations to direct one day. It’s very clear that she loves acting, 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 am an actor at the University of Chicago! I am interested in many styles of acting, but I am most interested in (and best at) physical comedy and improvisation. Most recently, I played the twin brothers Antipholus & Antipholus in Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors.” Right now, I am most involved in the University of Chicago’s Commedia dell’Arte troupe. Commedia is a VERY old form of Italian masked comedy that uses stock characters and scenarios to create humor. One of my friends in the troupe (our artistic director!) says that it’s improv with the hard parts taken out — you already know your character and the basics of the scene, so you’re free to play! Commedia was an extremely important and influential moment in theater history: it gave rise to everything from modern clowning to ballet. You know the word “slapstick?” That’s Commedia, too. “Harlequin?” Commedia. “Pants?” Even that comes from Commedia.

My character specifically is a lover. His primary occupation is being vapid and pretty and in love. One of the neat things about having stock characters is that I am playing a character who has been embodied literally countless times by countless actors since the 1600s. I am from a long line of lovers, all of whom are their own versions of that basic character skeleton of “pretty, vain, not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” My character even crops up in fiction! The vampire Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles played a lover with the same name (Lelio) in a Commedia troupe once upon a time. Something tells me our interpretations are a little different.

Basically, my art involves doing silly things with my body and face to make people laugh. I cannot think of anything better to do with my time.

What inspires you?

To be completely honest, I am incredibly motivated by attention and laughter. But if you’re looking for a more serious, artistic answer, I am fascinated by the performative aspect of theater, by which I mean the relationship between audience and performer and how to give a genuine performance onstage, whether you’re doing intense realism where you have to genuinely believe that you’re standing in your living room, arguing with your real-life wife despite the fact that there is a room full of people staring at you and you’re actually yelling at another actor or whether you’re in a musical and have to find a way to make speaking directly to the audience and singing and dancing and holding for laughs a natural, real thing to do while allowing yourself to believe that your character is a real person and that this IS your day-to-day life and that it is all true and immediate and your emotions are genuine. What it means to be onstage and be watched is very interesting to me and is actually going to be the subject of my thesis project next year.

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

I have no idea. I don’t think I ever considered the possibility of NOT being involved in theater. My mom is also an actress, so my sister and I grew up listening to musical soundtracks and that kind of stuff. I’m also just very, very extroverted, so this is a pretty natural outlet for me.

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 think the beauty of acting is that if you’re doing it right, YOU are the special signature!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This is a really great question because I actually want to teach theater for a living so I love being asked stuff like this! Of course I want to say all of the “follow your dreams, don’t give up, keep creating” stuff that is super important to know, but I have a couple more specific things to say that I don’t think are said enough. Thing #1 is one of the most important things I was told by one of my mentors: you are enough. A lot of aspiring actors seem to think that you need to try so, so hard all the time and be Acting all the time or you’re not doing enough, which is simply not true. You bring more to the table than you think you do, and you don’t need to Shatner it up to give a good performance.

Thing #2 is another really important thing to remember: fail. You are going to. A bunch. You’re gonna make terrible art and you’re gonna fall flat on your face onstage and you’re gonna feel like a total loser. It does not make you a bad actor or director or improver or whatever it is you do. What it means is that you were taking risks, which is part of the process and what allows you to make really great art. Being vulnerable onstage is a HUGE part of performance, and you aren’t really vulnerable if there’s no risk involved. If and when you fail, do it spectacularly. Don’t just stumble and try to brush it off and pretend that you didn’t. Instead, stumble and trip and fall all the way down the stairs and accidentally rip your pants and EMBRACE IT. Apologize for nothing.

antipholusdromio2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but who the heck knows where.

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

Theater is a pretty queer industry, and UChicago is a pretty queer campus, so people are generally knowledgeable and accepting. I have had to explain what asexuality is and what it means for me, specifically, but those are usually conversations with people who are curious, a little uncomfortable, but love their queer/LGBT+ friends and want to be good allies to them. I pride myself on being a forceful personality, so I don’t think anyone would ever challenge me to my face about, for example, identifying as queer as well as aro/ace. In general, my experience has been that people are kind and educated, and if they aren’t, they are more than willing to learn.

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

I’ve noticed a tendency to conflate asexuality and aromanticism. I have a memory of before I started identifying as aro-spec, when I made a joke about pick-up lines or something like that, and a friend of mine was like “but aren’t you ACE????” It really annoys me when people don’t get or don’t accept that a lot of people experience romantic and sexual attraction differently and that one is possible without the other.

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

I would say that labels are great and validating and all that, but don’t worry about justifying yourself and your experiences to anyone but yourself. I definitely don’t identify with everything I’ve read or heard about asexuality, and I DEFINITELY don’t identify with everything about aromanticism. And that’s cool. There isn’t a citizenship exam or a diagnosis or anything like that. That can be kind of rough if, like me, you REALLY LIKE LABELING YOURSELF, but trust me, it feels way better to base your identity off of your experiences rather than some kind of nonexistent “you must be this tall to ride” scale.

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

In all honesty, the internet is a great resource for general Commedia stuff— learn about our stock characters, look at pictures of the masks (they’re very weird!! I really like them) and check out some filmed performances. As for my stuff in particular, we have lots of good photos on our Facebook page at U of C Commedia. I’m the one pouting, usually. I’ve also included some pictures of the production of “Comedy of Errors” I just starred in, which was GREAT fun. The rest of those pics are on Facebook at University Theater at the University of Chicago.

commedia

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

Interview: Mee

Today we’re joined by Mee. Mee is a wonderful and versatile artist who does both visual art and writes. For visual art, they enjoy drawing and paint with watercolors. They also love to write and write a variety of things. It is very obvious that Mee is a wonderfully enthusiastic artist who enjoys what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

comilianff
Comilianff

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I’ve been drawing since I was in high school, and a little bit before that. I sometimes don’t consider myself an artist, because I don’t do it professionally or anything, and it’s hard especially when someone criticizes it without me asking for it or showing it willingly, even if a part of me want to show my work I get self-conscious to show it to others in real life, because I think people will laugh or something, but still I love to draw and to paint with watercolors, it’s a part that I really like of myself that I can create things that sometimes look beautiful, or decent at least!

I also enjoy writing, usually short stories, or children’s tales, but mostly in Spanish since that’s my native language, I love when people enjoy them.

What inspires you?

I get huuuuge blocks sometimes. But I guess it depends on the time, sometimes it’s a song, sometimes it’s a book, or a series, or some event that made me feel certain way. I’m also very inspired every time someone believes in what I do, and believes that I can do better. My dad for example is always buying me art books, he never comments about it, but he’s very supportive on his own quite way. And the rest of my family as well, they’re always calling me “the artistic one” or similar stuff. And my friends refer to me as “an artist” when I draw something, that helps a lot, that helped me to start appreciating more what I can and could do.

edsafs
Edsafs

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

Well my mother usually made small drawings all the time to explain things, I picked the habit. And then I had this amazing best friend, I was just learning to draw, exploring the possibilities and a lot more insecure of what I’m now, when I meet this friend everything changed, drawing was our thing, a thing only we understood of each other, we made stories about the drawings, and sometimes took the other’s drawing home, it was amazing.

I’m not a professional artist. Right now I’m actually a Social Worker, but I would have love to be an Art Teacher for children, in my work sometimes you need to be creative, having this skills helped me a lot along the way.

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?

Haha, I don’t think so, but I do enjoy a lot people that do have.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’d say go for it. If you feel like this is something you want to do for a living try it out, and if not then don’t stop being an artists, it’s a part on yourself, and just because maybe you don’t earn money with it doesn’t mean it isn’t an important part of your life or that you should stop doing it.

New Canvas

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Oh, that’s a hard one. I’m not that sure, I don’t feel sexual attraction, and even in the rare occasions that I have, I don’t feel like doing anything about it. And as far as I know I’m aromantic, but I’ve sometimes entertained the thought that I might be demiromantic.

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

Oh well not in my field, but in my life in general: yes. It has been hard to explain to people. Even more to people you care about, because what they think matters for you. They sometimes just assume other things because they’ve not heard about it before. Sometimes you see people struggling to understand, but they take a while, because asexuality it’s not something that you hear a lot about, at least not here in Latin America.

It was just recently that I discovered I was asexual, or rather it was somewhat recently that I discovered it had a name, and there were a lot of people like me out there.

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

That I’m a lonely person who doesn’t believe in love.

I love people, I really do, and I love people easily, and sometimes I feel lonely, but that’s because I’m human not because I’m asexual.

I believe in relationships, they work for other people, I just don’t feel that kind of attraction towards other people.

Ah and the old “you just need to find the right one or give it time.” That one is rather frustrating because you know people say it because they care, and it’s hard to make them understand that you’re okay, that you’re happy the way you are.

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

It’s okay if you don’t know! It’s okay if you have doubts or if you’re unsure about where you fit, you’ll figure it out in time, and you don’t need to have a list of characteristics to fit in certain community, you’re the only one who should define yourself.

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

Oh! Well I’m recently working on this Tumblr art blog
http://sometimesidrawyeah.tumblr.com/

And my DeviantArt

http://yue2neko.deviantart.com/

tumblr_o65k1sGTL71voeu7ro1_540

Thank you, Mee, for taking the time to participate in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Iulia

Today we’re joined by Iulia. Iulia is a phenomenal visual artist who does both drawing and painting. Her work shows a touch of surrealism and it draws the viewer in. As I was going through the images for the interview, I was struck by the really intriguing dream-like quality found in many of them. Iulia has an incredible grasp of colors and lines, which 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.

All of my art is traditional art consisting of drawings, paintings or a mix of the two. I like drawing people the most (and by that I mean females haha), either normal looking or magical creatures. I have also started drawing backgrounds more, now I can’t even imagine drawing something without one. I can’t say that I necessarily have a style set in stone though considering my drawings don’t really have a pattern.

2

What inspires you?

Mainly music (like any other artist I guess), but there are also things from my everyday life that I take, add a magical twist, and then transform into drawings. I also like traveling by car, in the backseat, just me, alone, with my thoughts. I had so many ideas just from that.

3

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

When I was a kid, I didn’t really like drawing or crafting I wasn’t what you’d call a creative child not even close since I was into math and science. But I met a person whose drawings really inspired me to create. I remember that when I was in middle school, I wanted to be a fashion designer, I think it was my biggest dream. Now I don’t want that anymore, I don’t know what I want to become (maybe a comic book artist) but what I know is that I want to create.

4

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?

No not really, though I draw a lot of daisies (since they’re so easy to draw) and they appear in many of my drawings.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Well besides the obvious advice “practice a lot”, they should try to make as much original art as possible and believe in their ideas. Don’t be afraid to explore your creative minds (◡‿◡✿)

(I don’t know if I should give advice though since I’m just an amateur)

5

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Just a normal asexual. (I might be aromantic too I’m not sure yet)

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

Not really because I don’t usually talk to people about this, because I don’t have a reason to. I only talk about my orientation with people I believe will understand me.

6

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

The well-known “you don’t know until you’ve tried”. Or most of the time people just don’t believe you and call you an attention seeker.

7

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

It might help you to join the community that’s already building up on Tumblr and other social media just so you won’t feel like you’re alone. Let us spread our pure unsexualised love.

(。・ω・。)ノ♡

8

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

This is my personal blog: http://becreativeblog.tumblr.com/

And this is my recently made art blog: http://daisies-salad.tumblr.com/

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

Interview: Linda Burgess

Today we’re joined by Linda Burgess. Linda is an extremely talented and versatile visual artist. She works in both digital and traditional mediums. Linda is incredibly passionate about animation and hopes to be an animation director. Judging from the quality of her work, I’d say she definitely has a bright future ahead of her. 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 traditional art, digital art, character design and animation. Most of my work I’ve sketched out traditionally and then scanned and finished digitally. For my animation, I used to do all of it traditionally, but have recently started experimenting with it digitally.

I tend to stick to cool colors with my paintings, and for that reason a lot of my work has night skies as backgrounds, I don’t know why-but I’ve always hated painting with warm colors, it’s something I have to work at growing out of in the future.

Probably my favorite field of work is character design and animation (even though I’ve been focusing on my improving my digital painting the past few months). It’s one thing to draw something, but a whole other thing to breathe life into it.

When I draw out character designs I get to take an original character I’ve thought up and dive deeper into who it is as a person, I draw out the same character hundreds of times, in different poses, with different facial expression, through this process I can began to decide and form who I want the character to be as a person.

And then the best part is animating it. The first time I ever animated something I literally started crying, it was an extremely special moment in my life. I’ll never forget watching one of my drawings-who had always stared up at me blankly from a sheet of paper-now jumping around and waving up at me. I felt like I had given life to something, and it was at that moment I knew: this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

My goal is to become an animation director one day, and in truth, I’ve fallen in love with every aspect of movie making. Animation is the closest thing I’ve come to finding magic in the real world.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me: cartoons, comics, music, and definitely the work of other artists. But the thing that inspires me the most is animated films. There’s something about going to a theater to watch a movie in 3D and immersing yourself in the experience of the film. Laughing, crying and cheering the protagonist on through their journey and feeling like you’re right there alongside them through their journey, it always makes me feel like a kid again. It’s my favorite thing in the whole world to do.

flight
Flight

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

My father is an artist so I’ve been making and learning about art since I could hold a pencil. But I didn’t consider pursuing it as a career until I was fifteen. My father is what you would call a starving artist, I grew up in a small town and even though he is an amazing painter there really wasn’t that much work, so I never knew you could actually make any real money from it unless you were famous.

So for the longest time, I had plans to pursue a degree in English literature. It was the moment I made my first animation, that I decided I wanted to make animated films. The more I learned about animation, the more I decided I wanted to tackle and improve every aspect of my art I could. I bought a drawing tablet, started painting, learned how to write out storyboards and draw out character designs and started animating more and more. I came to love each day more and more, because I knew I could pursue and improve the thing I love the most.

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

I don’t sign a lot of my digital work (which I should), but instead print them off and sign them by hand when I sell them at anime conventions. Most of the time it’s just my name in cursive, or just my initials.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Always pursue what you love. Don’t make art to impress others, make art to impress yourself. When you start drawing, draw because you love art for what it is and that’s: taking nothing and making something beautiful out of it. I think that’s why a lot of artist’s give up early on, because they compare themselves to better artists and become depressed and think: I’ll never be that good. None of that matters, everyone starts somewhere, do art because you love it and for nothing else.

Ladybug [2]
Ladybug

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I definitely identify as asexual and probably aromantic. It’s incredibly hard for me to be attracted toward someone and I think it’s only happened one time in my entire life.

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

Mostly just the: “You’re too young and you’ll do it one day when you’re older.” But I just ignore these replies, I’m eighteen (almost nineteen), I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out whether or not I want to do it by now.

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

Most people I know have absolutely no clue what it is in the first place, so when I have to explain it to them they just look at me like I’m some kind of mythical creature.

moon glow
Moon Glow

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

You aren’t broken, you aren’t ill. You are an amazing, wonderful person who just happens to have a different preference from most people. I know sometimes it can be scary, but you were made this way for a reason. Always love and believe in yourself, never let society decide who you should and shouldn’t be.

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

You can find my website here, which has most of my work: http://lindakburgess.weebly.com/
Also my Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Burgess/100009533223660
And Deviantart: http://lindaburgess.deviantart.com/
And my Tumblr where I spit out a bunch of random fanart, comics, ship art and other sketches I don’t post anywhere else: http://lindakburgess.tumblr.com/

spirited away
Spirited Away

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