Interview: Hanna

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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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?

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. christmas tree crochet

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

Interview: Anne

Today we’re joined by Anne. Anne is a phenomenal artist who specializes in crochet. She crochets the most extraordinary things: from dishcloths and scarves to actual sculptural crochet. Anne enjoys making things that make people smile. Her work is beautiful and adorable, filled with gorgeous vibrant colors. It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I crochet as a hobby, mostly small pieces like amigurumi (sculptural crochet) dishcloths, potholders, market bags, scarves and hats. I like to create things that make people smile or bring people comfort.

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What inspires you?

I’m inspired by people most often. I see a pattern and think of someone who could use that. I love the feeling of something coming together in my hands, stitch by stitch.

My mind becomes so engaged through my hands and my tools, that even if a project sits in a drawer after I finish it, I can pick up that piece and remember something. I love that feeling.

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

A therapist suggested I take up a hobby at a time when I was unemployed and unhappy. I had been working with one of those Nifty Knitters you find in craft stores, but I never thought of myself as a crafty or creative person. Since she crocheted, she suggested I try that; the supplies and instructions were right next to the Nifty Knitter looms, so I grabbed a book and taught myself. I never expected to succeed, but I was determined to get out of my depression.

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I tell people that it took a lot of swearing and frustration, but I sure had the time and the stubbornness. I did the basics for a while, making plenty of mistakes (I still do) Right as I was getting confident, my friend got me interested in Bloodborne. I watched Let’s Plays and chatted with him about it a lot. (Spoiler Alert) I ended up creating the Moon Presence infant from the game, a black, slug/squid like creature (it’s cuter than it sounds!) It’s the first pattern I ever drafted myself. I had to learn Amigurumi techniques first, and then prototype a bunch of different ways to create the shape. I even gave it a little sweater. In the end, he said it was a good neck pillow and his cats liked it. I knew from then on that I could create anything I wanted.

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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?

I don’t often have a chance to “sign” my work, so I don’t have a maker’s mark as such, but every piece feels unique. Even if I’m working off a pattern, I get to choose the yarn color and style, I have my own way of doing things and modifying it to fit my needs and desires. In the end, it’s my hands that have created it, and no one else’s hands could do it quite the same. I know every inch of that piece and it’s mine.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Play! Play is how you discover your next project, or the next skill you need to develop. Play will often inspire you to something you didn’t imagine before. The pressure to make money and produce value can often take us away from the freedom to experiment without consequences. I take a very loose philosophy with life and crochet. If there’s too much tension, you won’t be able to work with it, or the thread may even snap.

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If you feel you’ve lost your spark, it will come back, perhaps differently than before. If you get stuck on something, then maybe it’s not the time for that project to happen. The whole reason I crochet is to relax and be happy, if I get away from that, I can’t do it. Don’t loose sight of the reason you create.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and aromantic, because the basic definitions feel right to me. Beyond that, it’s complicated. I’m a fan of the word queer, because attraction is strange. I grew up with very clear, heteronormative expectations to marry and have a family, and now I have a very different concept of what that “family” could look like.

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

Mostly ignorance. If I go to knitting and crochet circles, I’m often the only queer person there, and the only single person in my age group.  Crochet is included in the “homemaking” arts, and I have zero interest in that field. People will ask, “Who are you making that for?” And more often than not, the answer is, “myself” because I don’t have a partner or kids. It can also be a good conversation starter if I’m making something in ace or gay pride colors, I get to explain why I chose them. I see more assumptions about gender when it comes to fiber arts, myself included.

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

Most people assume that it’s a function of my anxiety. It’s not. Most people assume I’m never interested in sex, or I have none of the accompanying desires. I often have to remind people that I do experience attraction, but not the way most of them are used to it. I guess the biggest misconception is that I don’t have feelings for anyone, and that I’m somehow innocent or that I’ve given up. I haven’t given up on love or people, I’ve accepted who and how I love, and I have learned to love myself and my curiosity.

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

If you’re struggling with your orientation, find other people who talk about it. Read about their It’s not always going to be a clear and fixed thing, and that’s okay. Respect that part of yourself, and you’ll learn a lot about it.

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

I’m on Reddit, u/theta394 where I post my progress and finished objects. I’m also on Pintrest at anelysis and Ravelry at SailorArtemis collecting patterns.

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

Interview: Alex

Today we’re joined by Alex. Alex is a wonderful artist who is a bit of a jack of all trades. He does a lot of visual art, mostly drawing and painting. He also does crafts and enjoys knitting and crochet, particularly long scarves. When he’s not doing crafts or visual art, Alex also makes music and can play the ukulele. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist who enjoys what he does. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. meeeee

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I use my art to create things I think the world is missing, whether it’s music, or extra-large scarves, or just a painting.  My art is my outlet, it’s diverse and powerful (even when it’s just for me) and it enables me to express myself.

What inspires you?

The ability to create, to bring something into this world that causes emotion.  When I knit or crochet I am, more often than not, creating a gift to give to someone else.  When I play my ukulele I hope that someone listening can feel the emotions of the music.  I am inspired by the ability to make something that was once missing from the world.

2. boi

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

I had a friend in elementary school who inspired me to create comics.  They were just stick figures, but I had so much fun coming up with jokes and stories, that even when I stopped creating comics I continued to draw.

At the same time, my family has always been very musical and so, when my nana let me play her ukulele I decided I wanted have one too.

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?

Ah, no haha, I’m too inconsistent to do something that clever.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

At times it may seem tough, but art is an outlet, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s good if you enjoy it. What matters is if you feel good while creating whatever it is you are making.  Improvement will come with practice, for now, just enjoy the ride.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and do not use the split attraction model (SAM).

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

I’m rather isolated, and I do not bring up my asexuality unless it is with people I trust, so as of current, I have not experienced any prejudice from my fellow artists.

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

That asexual means you don’t like sex.  Which is false, different people have different views on sex and just because I experience so sexual attraction does not mean that I have no libido or interest. But like I said, it’s different for everyone.

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

If you decide one that that you are not ace, that’s OK.  If you live your whole life never subscribing to a label, that’s OK.  What matters is your comfort and that others respect you. I thought I was a lesbian when I was younger because if I didn’t like guys I must have to like girls then right? But I allowed myself space to grow and now I know I am trans and asexual. There is always room to grow and explore, so don’t feel stuck with one label.

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

My music is available here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLHiHayKl58aLduLbGJShFw
And my art can be found here: Lukassskywalker.tumblr.com/tagged/my+art
And I have some things posted on RedBubble :D: https://www.redbubble.com/people/slothguard?asc=u.

4. sponge

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

Interview: Noelle

Today we’re joined by Noelle. Noelle is a fantastic visual artist who does ceramics and crochet. She enjoys making art that can also be touched and felt. Her crocheted creatures are absolutely adorable and the colorful material is so incredibly pretty. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

gir embroidered pillow
Gir Embroidered Pillow

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a mostly self-taught artist. I work completely in art that you can touch with your hands, mostly in crochet and ceramics. I like to create things that people can wear, use, or that they can cuddle up with. I have more crochet hooks than make-up pallets. I have a particular fascination with Tunisian crochet and amigurumi, although I also enjoy making hats, scarves, and gloves.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is music. It’s always been a happy place for me, knowing I would have a safe haven at the listening end of an iPod. I’m also inspired by color, nature, and yarn. I’ve always been of the opinion that the world doesn’t have enough color. I also love to see my fandoms come to life, like Pokemon, Firefly, Steven Universe, among others.

Milotic doll
Milotic Doll

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

I haven’t always considered artistry. In my younger years, being an artist was being able to draw or paint, or play music. I can do neither of those things. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized art could be realized in many forms. As for what got me interested, my mother, a jewelry artist, taught me how to crochet when I was around 9. It started with how to make a simple chain and I taught myself everything else with the help of Youtube and some old crochet pattern books we have in the house. It wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered amigurumi, and began to crochet with a passion. Now, it’s a very comforting and fun artistic outlet.

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?

The Chinese Hanzi for “Serenity” shows up quite a bit in my work. In my pottery, it’s carved into the clay body somewhere. I don’t sew it onto my crochet, but my tools are held in a bag that has the symbol drawn all over the place.

dragon egg dice bags
Dragon Egg Dice Bags

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make art for you. No one can stop you. Always remember that you have a refreshing new way to portray the world, new stories to tell, and a new song to sing. Always keep making stuff and doing what you love.

Stained glass hummingbirds
Stained Glass Hummingbirds

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a gray-romantic asexual.

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

I’ve never experienced prejudice/ignorance in my field, thankfully, as it so very rarely comes up. When it does, most people are understanding.

In a personal and/or social setting, however, that’s a complete yes. I have family members that prefer to think I never told them. I have also had friends who told me, to my face, that they could fix that.

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

That there is something medically wrong with me. I have been asked several times, by complete strangers, whether I have seen a doctor, because it was “not normal”. I’ve also been told that I just haven’t found the right man, or that my previous sexual experiences just weren’t up to snuff and I would need to be patient.

Moonkin
Moonkin

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

You are NOT BROKEN. You are valid. Don’t ever believe anyone that tells you otherwise. Take your time coming to terms with the realization, because it can be a big pill to swallow. And of course, if you ever need to talk, talk to someone you can trust. If you’re still in school, seek out counseling services. They’re free, and the counselors really do care.

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

I have an Etsy (etsy.com/shop/SerenitySkyCrochet), where I put my crochet works on sale. I also have a DeviantART (elledos.deviantart.com) where you can see most of my works, including my early high-school creations.

Baby umbreon doll
Baby Umbreon Doll

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