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: Gigi

Today we’re joined by Gigi. Gigi is a phenomenal and versatile artist who does a bit of everything. She writes a bit of poetry and she also has a running fan comic set in the Kirby universe. When she’s not writing, Gigi does a bit of visual art. She mostly does fanart, but she also does self-portraiture and some abstract drawings. It’s very clear that 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.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I like to write mostly, and I’ve started with fanfiction. Ever since late 2010 I’ve worked on a fan comic called 20 Times Kirby, and my story with it is kinda funny. I started it just ’cause, literally, I had no expectations for it and I was only working on it due to boringness, but soon I grew attached to it, to a point where I actually started putting effort into it. The results are a pretty complex story with multiple characters, almost 1000 pages, and almost 7 years of work, with constant updates! In fact, the comic became more my own thing rather than just me exploring the Kirby universe; the elements of the series are there, but they aren’t extremely important. Looking back, this all is insane! But I love it; working on this comic is my passion. I even plan on rewriting it in the future, since I’ve made some mistakes in the past and I’d like to fix them.

I also like writing poems, both in English and in my first language (Brazilian Portuguese). They are literally about anything, and I write them when I suddenly feel inspired. I haven’t really published most of those, but I’m starting to think I should.

Another art thing I do is drawing, usually fan art, but sometimes self-portraits and some abstract drawings. Most of them end up as sketches only, however. I’ve also more recently started to learn to compose, but for now it’s mostly experimenting and trying to learn stuff.

What inspires you?

In general, videogames and music inspire me, but any kind of art may do the trick as well. When I see something that I can tell that was made with care and attention to detail, that motivates me to do something similar. Also, whenever I find something I really like in any kind of fiction, I try to make something similar to it happen in my stories, if possible of course.

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

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a huge imagination and I would make countless stories in my head about literally everything. I would never write them down, however, apart for one or two Pokémon fanfictions I only drafted the beginning. Only when I started working in 20 Times Kirby, and got so attached to it, I stopped to think that maybe writing had be my secret passion all this time. That’s when I actually started to write stuff down, even if it’s just bullet points of a story. Seeing friends and other people do other art stuff like drawing motivated me to try these too, but writing will always be my main passion.

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 think? Although I do love giving a meaning to everything that happens in any story I work on, and connect all events whenever possible too.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up! Whatever the field of art you want to work with, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll be a master at it on your first tries, and this goes for everyone! I know that when you start, you already want to be very good like the artists you see around, but it’s actually a long road, and those people have travelled it. And you can do it too!

Also, don’t be afraid to rewrite stories, redraw drawings, remake your songs, and so on. If you think you can improve something you’ve already finished, you probably can, and you’ll learn more in the process!

Finally, don’t be afraid of criticism, it only helps, no matter how much it may hurt. Take it and try to learn with it, whoever commented about your work like that only wants to help you. However, if you notice someone commenting about your work only giving negative thoughts, looking like they aren’t trying to help, ignore them. Giving constructive criticism is one thing, giving hate is another, and learning the different between the two is very important.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual. Well, at least I think I am; these are the labels I identify with right now.

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

Not really directly, and I guess this is more aro related, but I do notice that lots of people comment a lot about shipping and have gotten disappointed when I didn’t really do any real romance in my comic (yes, even in a Kirby fan comic). Honestly… I just ignore them for most part. I don’t avoid romance completely but I rarely use it, I don’t think this kind of stuff is mandatory in a story.

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

The misconception that Asexuality is just a “phase”, and that it will change when you “find the right person”. That’s like telling a straight person they are going through a phase, and will realize they are actually bi when they find the right person of a gender they claim to not be attracted to. It makes no real sense and it’s just trying to erase who we are.

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

First of all, no matter what others say, your orientation is valid. You are valid. Don’t let others tell you otherwise.

Also, feel free to explore labels, if you think one doesn’t fit you completely. If you asked me a year ago what my romantic orientation was, I would have told you grayromantic, not aromantic. That’s because it took me a while to truly identify as aromantic, and identifying as grayro for a while helped me do that. Really, you don’t have to pick a label once and never change it, change your labels whenever you feel it’s the right thing. These labels exist to help us find more about ourselves!

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

20 Times Kirby can be found here: http://www.smackjeeves.com/comicprofile.php?id=91583

I also have a Tumblr where I sometimes post art, although I haven’t done that in a while. Either way, you can find it here: http://gigithoughts.tumblr.com/tagged/my-art. If I ever get around to post my other art stuff, I’ll post about it in my Tumblr, but let’s see.

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

Interview: Lawton Braun

Today we’re joined by Lawton Braun. Lawton is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in a unique form of self-portraiture: he works with fiber and makes fabrics. He has a degree in fabric design and uses bold colors to create self-portraits. Lawton also does quite a lot of digital illustration, which range from digital fabric repeats to text based designs and artwork. His artwork is gorgeous and he’s incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

DSC_0003

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work mainly in fiber and digital art, have graduated from the Lamar Dodd School of Art, and am currently working a full time teaching job. My art is inspired by different interpretations of what it means to experience self-portraits. I remember being in the first years of art school when we were told to draw self-portraits and I would feel so bummed because I’m not a very photorealistic type of artist, but as I started to figure out what I enjoyed and what I was interested in I came to understand that a self-portrait can be anything that you want it to be. Capturing a person’s image can be a literal picture of the person, or a stylistic work that describes them through different aesthetics.

DSC_0010

What inspires you?

I take a lot of time to look at the intersectionality of my race, gender, sexuality, and my privileges in many ways and how they interact with the world. I am also really into skate culture and looking at the way that I feel and experience love. I navigate towards bold colours and high contrasting situations because I’m colour blind, and bold and neons are the colours I see the best.

DSC_0036

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

I always enjoyed art when I was growing up and I love building things. I was originally concentrating in ceramics with a focus on sculpture when I sort of got invested in cartoons and drawing funny things. I decided to branch out and see where I could put my cartoons in places other than just on pots or cups or slabs of clay. Because of this I ended up falling in love with fiber arts and how it can be both industry focused and fine art driven; it was basically the best of all the things I wanted. When I got into weaving I fell in love with the skills and having to take the time to work at mastering the process to make fabric. Then it became all about, “how do I work to make fabric unique and tell the story of who I am using materials that I find interesting.”

DSC_0046

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 a signature, but most people that know me and are familiar with my art recognize the colors that I use. They are bold and vibrant and not combinations that many would pick. I love neons and mixing them with neutrals along with blacks and dark tones.

DSC_0059

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just make a lot, honestly art is just a skill like anything else, it does not come down to talent, it’s just about how much time and practice and effort you put into it. If you don’t think you’re good at it, fucking welcome it and live in the fact that you’re not good at it and just find the small things that make you laugh or smile about what you are making. You can make it for a certain audience or just for yourself, just make a lot and think about what you make a lot.

DSC_0070

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and demiromantic. I am sexually active, but I only have or enjoy sex under very specific conditions. BDSM allows me to have sex within strictly defined parameters outlining what will and will not happen. This allows me to have sex in a way that lets me set the limits and feel relaxed while being able to enjoy the pleasure and fun of the session without having to get into a debate about me not feeling sexual attraction.

DSC_0073

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

I’ve had plenty of partners and people tell me that I can’t be ace because I have had sex and do enjoy sex in the right environment. Most recently this came from a past partner breaking up with me because I refused to say that I wasn’t ace.

DSC_0085

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

I’ve honestly heard people compare asexual people to sponges. Asexuality is a spectrum and it’s fluid for some people just like any identity.

DSC_0093

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

Believe in yourself and just do you. Try your best to find other people to talk to, learn more, and take the time to experiment with the label that fits you best.

DSC_0094

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

You can find my Tumblr at middleboi.tumblr.com and find me on Facebook here and my Redbubble shop for some stickers if you want HERE

DSC_0119

IMG_6291

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