Interview: Gemma Irene

Today we’re joined by Gemma Irene. Gemma is a phenomenal writer who writes a variety of things. She’s written a few novels and hundreds of poems, as well as some fanfiction. When she’s not writing, she enjoys visual art. Gemma draws, paints, sews, and takes photographs. She even plays the violin. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate individual who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a writer, though I’ve been known to draw, paint, sew, take pictures, and play violin. Anything to keep my hands busy! As far as writing goes, I stick to fiction, with occasional detours for poetry, and a song on the very rare occasion. I haven’t published anything yet, but I’ve got about three original novels and around a hundred poems under my belt. I’ve also been pretty immersed in fan fiction the past few years, writing for The Phantom of the Opera, The Boondock Saints, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.

What inspires you?

I hate to say it, it sounds cliché, but inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I wrote my first novel after a daydream I had when I was bored at the mall and trying to entertain myself. I’ve drawn things I’ve seen in dreams. I’ve photographed things that happened to catch my eye. One of my favorite poems I ever wrote came about while I was sitting outside listening to the creek flow. I try to stay alert to anything that feeds the muse, which means either living very much in the moment, or hiding out in my own little world.

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

I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my grandpa’s lap with a book, with me reading to him as much as he read to me. I remember telling stories to my mother and her writing them down in a blank journal. I relate a lot to Anne Shirley, or Sara Crewe in A Little Princess like that; my stories always started as a game of pretend, and realizing I could share them with people was a game changer. With the Internet, I could share with even more people. And in the case of fan fiction, connecting with people who were as passionate about the same characters as I was helped me get even more joy out of it. So, long answer to a short question, I’ve always wanted to do this!

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?

In my writing, I notice a lot of alliteration, and a lot of fire imagery. I like getting down into the deep, personal aspects of storytelling, so I’m very concerned with the soulful and intimate. I don’t know if there’s any specific thing that watermarks my writing as mine…if any readers would like to point something out?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Experiment. Let yourself suck. That first novel I wrote? As is, nobody is reading that, if I have anything to say about it. There’s a lot of hang-ups about being trite or cringey, but that’s the only way you grow and evolve. And it’s cool if you want to pursue more interests than one, or if you’re only so-so at something else but do it for the joy of it. I’ve worked for years at my writing, but only ever turned to drawing when I needed the release it gave me. Consequently, it’s not one of my strongest skills. Same deal with the violin. I’ll never be the next Van Gogh, or play in an orchestra, but that’s fine. I draw and play for love of both, and that’s enough for me.

The inverse is true, as well. If you’re passionate about your art, don’t be afraid to invest yourself in it. Any way you feel called to. I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second and say how glad I am that fan fic is slowly getting positive traction, because if I hadn’t started writing fic, I would never have found an audience, much less one willing to give feedback and help me grow as a writer. That’s the thing about finding someone genuinely interested in what you’re sharing, they want more, and they’ll often help you in the process. Whether it’s encouragement, advice, or simple enthusiasm, it’s out there. Hold it up to your ear and give it a listen, then decide if it will help you develop your art. Keep what does, discard what doesn’t. That’s what fan fiction did for me, is help me find my voice a lot sooner than I might have without it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a panromantic demisexual, which is at once very broad and very specific. To me, they go hand-in-hand. I don’t develop sexual attraction without an emotional bond, and if I’ve gotten close enough to someone to form that bond, I’m unlikely to care about gender. It’s the person I’ve developed feelings for.

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

In my field? No. In my life? A bit. I was discussing sexuality and orientation with a group of ordinarily open-minded individuals and casually mentioned I identify as demi. I explained it was similar to being asexual, and they were on board with the ace part but casually dismissed the demi part. “Some people just want to be special.” It took a while to get past that, and I’ve presented myself since then a little differently. On social media, I proudly post all the ace, aro, demi, bi, pan, gay, trans, nb, everything, supporting positivity that I want to see in the world. In person, I’ll comment on my aesthetic attractions, regardless of gender, I’ll express support of representation, and shut down discourse when I hear it. I do what I can to be an ally and a safe space, and hopefully send a message that I won’t stand for any prejudice.

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

That we’re prudes, afraid of sex, damaged, or “waiting for the right person.” Yeah, some of us are, but so are some allosexuals. Sexuality is such a complex, complicated subject, and I don’t understand the aphobia and ace discourse I’ve seen. The thing is, we’ve always been here, it’s just that now we’re willing to claim our space, and hopefully we can spread more knowledge to put an end to the misconceptions.

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

Hang in there. It’s a process. I remember that I was elated at first to realize I was demi, then I had to process what that meant to me, evaluate my relationships with people in light of my new understanding of my identity, decide whether this was something I wanted to keep to myself or make known to others. Then on down the line, after I felt reasonably secure in my identity, I realized I was panromantic and had to start all over again. I’ve found my writing is a very good way to explore my sexuality and my orientation, and I’m working on more aspec characters to reflect how I feel about my identity.

My biggest ongoing struggle is feeling ace enough to identify on the spectrum. I’m very sex positive, and I lean towards the, let’s say, colorful side of sexual expression, which is far removed from the misconception about asexuals and how we’re all prudes afraid of sex. That’s where the ignorance hurts us the most, in my opinion. We measure ourselves by the stereotypes and assumptions, which are often incorrect, and we cut ourselves down when we don’t fit. Thing is, I’m still aspec whether I like sex or hate it, whether I’m kinky or vanilla, because it’s about attraction, not action.

Aces, grays, and demis, you do you. Own your identity. Share it if you want, or keep it secret. It’s who you are, and it’s as much about discovery as the rest of you.

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

Tumblr is my primary hang out. My URL is at risingphoenix761, and my blog is a giant mess of fandom, writing, music, humor, and positivity. I’m also on Fanfiction.Net as AngelxPhoenix, and Archive of Our Own as RisingPhoenix761. For anyone interested in my visual art (I consider myself a passionate amateur), my Instagram is at risingphoenix_761. Come say hi to me!

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

Interview: Freya Murphy

Today we’re joined by Freya Murphy. Freya is a phenomenal dancer from England who does ballet with a bit of contemporary thrown in. She has been dancing ballet for fifteen years. When she’s not dancing, Freya enjoys doing visual art and has worked in a wide variety of mediums. She mainly does charcoal drawings, oil paints, sewing, and ink painting but has also recently gotten into nail art. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mainly twofold: dance and the more traditional art of creating physical pieces.  When it comes to dance, I’m mainly a ballerina with a little bit of contemporary added in here and there.  My physical art is a mixture of all sorts – charcoal drawings from Life Class, clay sculptures, ink paintings, and some sewing.  My main and most favourite medium however is oil paint.  Oh, and I love doing my nails – I’ve done the ace flag on my nails several times whenever I’m attending LGBTQ+ events.

What inspires you?

Mainly my problems or difficulties in life haha.  I find it so much easier to create based upon my own personal experiences, as I find it more interesting and like it’s my own. So far, I’ve done projects on insecurities (more as a concept than any one specific insecurity), my eczema, my less than usual sleeping position (and my lack of sleep), and my bad eyesight. Seeing all of the amazing art that other artists have created and seeing what new and exciting directions that they have managed to push their art, certainly inspires me to try ideas even if I’m not certain of the results.

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

When it comes to ballet, I’ve been doing it for just over 15 years, since I was three years old.  Over time, I’ve come to realise that it helps me with my social anxiety – I can perform in front of anywhere from 3 people to 400, and I only get the normal nerves, rather than the crippling anxiety I would normally get doing anything in front of any number of people.  I also just love the beauty of ballet, and the free feeling I get when dancing.  It has become such an intrinsic part of me.

For my physical art, I have taken it throughout school, all the way to A-level.  It was only at GCSE that I realised I had such a love for it, as that was when we were given so much more freedom to do what we wanted and make it very personal. However, looking back, I’ve always been creative in some way, and I have a very vivid imagination – often too vivid! I’ve also loved museums for as long as I can remember, always needing to visit at least one museum whenever I went to a new place.  In the past four years or so this has expanded to include art museums and galleries as well.

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 so far, as I’ve just started to explore all the many possibilities of art that are out there, when you’re not restricted by trying to get the most marks in the exam!  I’m excited to find out where it goes next.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Experiment! Try things out! Art is one of those special places where you can try whatever you want, just to see what happens! Also, write down any ideas you have, or anything you find interesting.  In school we were given ‘visual diaries’ to write down anything relating to our art.  I have found it massively helpful, sometimes to just visualise your ideas, or sometimes to come back to when you’re struggling for an idea, or just to be nostalgic. I write everything in it, from the numbers of photos I want to print out, to artists I want to research or just like, to sketches of final pieces or about what materials or techniques did or didn’t work.  When your brain is always going 1000mph like mine and many others’ are, it helps to have something written down that you can physically flip back to, so that you don’t have to stress about forgetting it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a biromantic asexual.  I’ve identified as asexual for the past three or four years, but only just discovered about myself that I was biromantic in the past two or three months, so that part of me still feels very new to say and acknowledge.

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

I’ve never experienced any when it comes to my art, thankfully, but then again, my work has never involved my asexuality – maybe that could be what my next project is about…

In my personal life I’ve experienced more ignorance than prejudice.  Most people tend to be accepting once they understand it, but it takes some people a while to wrap their heads around the idea for some strange reason.  Luckily close friends who don’t understand it have been accepting straight away, even when confused!  And I encourage them to not be afraid to ask me questions about it, as I always love to help people in any way – and I’d rather they asked me, than sat there confused and accidentally said something rude or ignorant to someone else.

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

That we don’t want romance, or that a romantic relationship with me would be ‘boring’ (direct quote from a close friend).  Not all asexual people are aromantic, just as not all aromantic people are asexual.  Actually, a lot of people don’t realise that your romantic and sexual orientation can be different, and not just amongst aro/aces.  I should hope that a relationship with me isn’t boring (my boyfriend seems perfectly happy!), or if it is, then it’s due to my personality or something, and not my asexuality.

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

I’m still relatively new to discovering my asexuality, so I don’t have any major advice, but probably never let anybody tell you who you are, or that who you are is wrong.  Only you truly know who you are, better than anybody else, even if you’re still figuring it out.  They can help you on your journey by providing advice and support, but at the end of the day it’s yourself that you’re figuring out.  Oh, and don’t be afraid to try out different labels to work out which one fits you best – AND you don’t have to end up with any labels at all, if that’s what feels right to you! I went through a period of about half a year where I tried out different labels internally to figure what felt right, from homosexual to bisexual to demi sexual, to homoromantic to heteroromantic before I finally settled on biromantic asexual, and that might even change in 10 years’ time once I get to know myself even better than I do now!  It’s also fine if it takes you time to figure out who you are, as it can be a complex thing – we are all complicated simply by being human!

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

Well I’ve just set up a new Tumblr blog for my art and ace things (along with newbie witch things and the occasional jacksepticeye reblog) where I’m going to start posting my art in the next week or so. It’s called freya-the-ace-artist.

My art account on Instagram is also very very new, but it’s called freyas_ace_art.

You’re welcome to have a look, it would be greatly appreciated

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

Interview: goatbunny

Today we’re joined by goatbunny. goatbunny is a phenomenal visual artist who works in a number of different mediums, both traditional and digital. goatbunny has done shows in the past and has a number of different projects they’re currently working on, including creating her own Tarot Deck. It’s clear she’s a passionate and driven artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

2. HammerTPIG
Hammer

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I paint and draw using both traditional (pencil, ink, watercolor and illustration marker are my main tools, but I also use gouache, acrylic, spray paint, crayons, and pretty much anything else I find) and digital media (I’ve recently gotten back into digital media so I’ve been exploring more of that). I dabble in almost everything else, I’ll try anything once. I’ve sculpted in the past, and I sew a lot when I don’t really feel like drawing or painting, by hand and with a machine. I am currently creating my own Tarot Deck and collaborating with a fellow artist on a card game, activity/coloring books and I have started to experiment more with non-traditional styles of animation with him using “2-D” type of puppets using cardboard and even felt. I have recently created my second short film.

What inspires you?

I try to gain inspiration from everything around me. I try not to focus too much on other visual artists like myself as I try to avoid the trap of having other drawing styles impacting my own too heavily. I am very inspired by music, films, books, etc. I just try to be as observant as possible. Meeting up with other creatives also helps a lot. I have a lot of musicians and artists, and a couple of writers in my friend circle so I like to think we inspire each other.

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Llamacorn

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

I’ve pretty much been drawing and creating since I was able to hold a pencil in my hand. I have always loved cartoons, comics, animated film and even videogames and had always wanted to be an animator, cartoonist, illustrator or character designer when I was younger. I HAVE always wanted to be in a creative field, even if I was steered in other directions. Even when I was studying the sciences in school or during my short career in the medical field, I never stopped drawing and now I can finally say that art is what I do full time.

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 really have a unique signature, aside from signing “Goat” when I do remember to sign my pieces. Lately I have been watermarking any pieces I have posted publicly online, and have also been incorporating my Goatagram logo in digital work (It’s basically a pentagram with a goatbunny head – a bunny with goat horns).

1. RETRO GOATAGRAM NOBGig
Retro Goatagram Nob

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep creating. Even if you don’t end up being a full-time artist, always make time for art. It’s not the easiest career choice. I’m 35 and have only been a full-time artist for the past 3 years, so I can feel the difference, financially. I almost want to say my parents were right and that you should find a steady, well-paying job but to be honest, I traded said job for the sake of my mental health and I can say that, for the most part, it was worth it.

If you do choose art as a career, you may feel discouraged. You may feel like you want to quit. You may even become disgruntled about what you see in the art world. It’s important to remember why you create and why it’s important to YOU. It also helps to have a close, supportive network to help you through any of the rough patches you may hit.

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Vidscreen

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I feel like I discovered asexuality waaaaay late in the game (early-30s) so I found it really difficult to figure out where I fall in the spectrum. In retrospect, I feel like I could be a grey-ace but it’s hard to really tell what I really felt and what I thought I SHOULD feel. So I generally just use the more general asexual term because I am at least certain about that.

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

It’s hard to say as I tend to keep my personal life out of my work for the most part. My city has a large LGBTQ+ community, and a large arts community and they both overlap. I have been invited to fairs run by queer artists through a mutual friend but I feel like ace representation wasn’t strong on there at all. The community feels very overtly sex favorable, and most art is very inundated with social commentary, especially about sexuality, gender and orientation. It even felt like there was even a certain “dress code”. Since my art doesn’t have any specific themes about gender or sexuality, didn’t “look” like them, and am cis in relationship with someone of the opposite sex, I didn’t feel very welcome. Not to say that I wasn’t, but I didn’t feel very included by some of the merchants/organizers. I’m not entirely sure if that counts, but it felt like if I didn’t openly express my sexuality or orientation, I don’t really count or am truly accepted. I tend to not let situations like that get to me since I want people to relate to and judge my art, not who I am.

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

Of the few people I came out to and had to explain it, the main misconception was basically that I just don’t like sex. In the case of my husband before we were married, he thought it meant that I didn’t/couldn’t love him or didn’t want to have sex with him. After having explained it a few times, he finally understood that I am capable of love, but sexual attraction is something I don’t experience. I’ve come to realize that for a lot of people, it is very difficult to separate sexual attraction, romantic attraction, love and the act of sex itself.

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

That one’s tough, since I feel like I’m still learning a lot about my own every day. I guess: Keep reading up on it. Do some introspection. Be open to what you learn. Accept the fact that your orientation may change. Just learn to accept who you and what you’re going through at the moment. Finding community among others who accept and support who you are and what you are experiencing will also help, whether it’s in real life or online.

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

My Tumblr is http://www.church-of-goatbunny.tumblr.com/
And Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/churchofgoatbunny/, but it’s mostly just posts shared from my Instagram: at winner.gets.a.rake.
I do have a Patreon which is a huge help for self-employed artists: https://www.patreon.com/goatbunny
Work can be purchased directly through me or my Big Cartel shop: https://churchofgoatbunny.bigcartel.com/

7. Tarot 17 Scholar
Tarot 17 Scholar

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

Interview: Marie-Pier

Today we’re joined by Marie-Pier. Marie-Pier is a phenomenal seamstress who uses her incredible skills for fashion design and cosplay. A dedicated cosplayer, Marie-Pier has cosplayed as various characters from different fandoms. Aside from her costumes, she also makes the accessories that go with her cosplays. Marie-Pier has also designed regular everyday outfits as well. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Elsa
Elsa

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hello! I am Marie-Pier and I am an artist in the broad sense of the term. From drawing, to writing and even programming (it’s an art, believe me!), I enjoy many aspects of art, but my favorite outlet at the moment is sewing and cosplaying. For me, the main appeal of this activity is the fact that it’s so versatile and it encompasses most of my other passions. I draw my own concepts, I make my own patterns and I often have to handmake accessories, which allows me to build up so many skills. I haven’t made a ton of outfits and costumes thus far, but that’s because a lot of care is put into everything I make, which ends up being quite time consuming. Among the characters I’ve cosplayed, one can count Queen Elsa, The Evil Queen (Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time, Emma Swan (“Dark Swan”, also from Once Upon a Time) and a few other simpler cosplays like Wednesday Addams.

When I make “regular” outfits, I often go for little black dresses, although my most recent creation is an autumn/spring wool coat.

What inspires you?

I’m mostly inspired by the gothic aesthetic, as well as fabrics. I love things that look graceful and elegant, but I also have a soft spot for more structured/tougher looking outfits.

As far as cosplay characters go, I am mostly drawn to evil or dark characters, because more often than not, they’re the ones with the best outfits! It’s also always fun to portray villains or anti-heroes because they’re usually really confident and completely unashamed to be themselves.

One of my idols in the designing world is Eduardo Castro, the costume designer for Once Upon a Time, hence why most of my cosplays are from that TV show. Let’s just say that I am easily won over by impressive gowns and really captivated by anything that sparkles.

When I make actual clothes, I usually go for things that I am unable to find in stores. I don’t really care about what’s trendy; I simply make what I want to own and what I know would look nice on me.

Emma-Regina
Emma-Regina

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

I’ve always loved arts and crafts, as well as dressing up. Both my grandmothers used to make clothes and costumes for me. I would draw what I wanted to have and give them the drawings so that they could make it.

In high school, I decided it was about time I learned to sew on my own. As a longtime fan of Halloween, I started making my own costumes and I attempted to outdo myself every year. By the time I finished High School, I learned about conventions and cosplaying and began to consider it.

A year later, in 2014, I joined a fashion design club and took that opportunity to make my first wearable garments and my first real cosplay (Queen Elsa from Frozen).
What I grew to love the most about cosplaying is the amount of skills I got to learn from it. Each costume of mine came with different challenges that allowed me to learn things I wouldn’t have otherwise. (E.g. woodworking, making 18th undergarments, sourcing screen-accurate materials…)

However, despite my love of sewing and costume making, I would not want to make a career out of it, because it is my own way of clearing my mind and relaxing. I never really try to force myself to work on a project; I just let out my creative energy whenever I feel like it.

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 is a little something special I try to include in all my cosplays and it’s a bit of an inside joke. It began when I made sequins out of plastic soda bottles to cover the entire surface of my Queen Elsa bodice. Ever since I discovered how versatile a material plastic bottles could be, I’ve incorporated at least one element made from them in all my costumes. Thus far I’ve used them to make sequins, a hair comb, detailing on a dagger’s handle, and a necklace.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There are three things I would tell young aspiring artists. Firstly, practice makes perfect. The more you practice your skills, the better you’ll get. Don’t be scared to tackle huge challenging projects, they are the ones that provide the most learning experience. Also, don’t be scared to ask for help when you need it.

Secondly, don’t feel bad if you start preferring another art form over what you currently are into. Do what makes you the happiest and build as many new skills as you like.

Lastly, follow your own quality standards no matter what others say. If someone tries to tell you that you can’t possibly do something of a certain quality, don’t listen to them. Trust in your abilities and in your will to learn and perfect your craft.

Fashion-Design
Fashion-Design

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual greyromantic/aroflux.

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

Since my favorite character to cosplay (the Evil Queen) is known for being quite sexy and alluring, some people think that I dress like her to attract the male gaze and seek attention. Some even said that if I really was asexual, I wouldn’t choose to dress like that. I had thought about that sort of thing before making my costume and it almost stopped me from making it because I was afraid of conveying the wrong message, but ultimately, I decided to not care. I cosplay the Evil Queen/Regina because I love her as a character and because her outfits are beautiful and intricate works of art. I chose to not let people spoil that for me.

Orientation has nothing to do with the way we dress and asexuals have the right to be confident, comfortable in their own bodies and wear whatever they like.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is that asexuals simply haven’t met “the one” and that they’ll change their minds one day. There are a lot of people who think we need to be “fixed or cured” and that does get very tiresome in the long run. Also, some people think that we can’t be in a relationship if we’re asexual, which is not exactly true.

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

This is not really an advice, per say, but I think that those people need to hear that they are not broken, no matter what society tells them. Today’s world is so overly sexual, but we must not let that discourage us. Even if we’re a minority, we’re out there, we’re valid and we shouldn’t let other people tell us otherwise. If you think that you might be asexual, just follow your gut feeling and let that guide you. Set your own boundaries and limits and respect yourself; do what makes you happy.

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

I am on multiple social media under the name Silyah246.

For sewing and cosplay progress (and the occasional daily life post), find me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/silyah246/
For more professional high quality photos, you can head over to my DeviantArt page: https://silyah246.deviantart.com/
For more fandom orientated things and the occasional makeup tests, my Tumblr is the place to go: http://www.silyah246.tumblr.com/

I am also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/silyah246) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/Silyah246), but I use those less frequently than the others.

Regina-V1
Regina-V1

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

Interview: Sweety Aurore Mutant

Today we’re joined by Sweety ‘Aurore’ Mutant. Aurore is a visual artist who does a bit of everything. They draw and paint, both digital and traditional. When they’re not drawing or painting, Aurore is writing and while they haven’t had anything published yet, they’re working on a number of stories. Aside from that, Aurore is also into crafting and writing fanfiction. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist, as  you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

IMG_3315

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is quite diverse. I would say that my “main” medium, as in the one I spend the most time on, is writing. I am working on two novels and a short stories series right now (none are ready to be published yet because I am a perfectionist) and in the meantime I work on a lot of fanfictions (I have been writing a fanfiction about a 60s movie since July 2016, it’s about 75k words long now and not yet finished. Not yet published either, because it needs to be perfect, by that I mean good enough). I am also writing on a few Larp and video game projects right now. Yes, I multi-task. When I write, I am mostly obsessed with the concepts of subjectivity and points of view. How reality can change depending on who you are. (This must be why I love Larping so much)

I also draw/paint, both digitally and traditionally. Fanart and original art alike -plants, people, original characters, commissions…-  I like pencil drawings and watercolour the most, even though I try my best to draw with ink, because it looks so gorgeous! Also Photoshop is my best friend, I spend several hours in a row often to paint on photoshop the details of something.

I also like to take pictures -mainly of plants and people, but sadly my old camera is dead and I haven’t yet found the money to buy a good one again. I have a few filming ideas too (mainly co-ops) but again, lack of material.

I also knit, crochet and sew, mainly costumes but also a few clothing items for myself or friends. I did cosplay long ago, but decided to leave the community,

Lastly, I also do happenings, of which there are rarely any picture. My next one with involve old domestic objects and plants, I will try to record its process.

What inspires you?

So many things! The people I see in the street, the world around me, my friends and their awesome ideas (I remember painting Henry David Thoreau as a hispter because of a university friend…), the Larps I play, the video games I play, the books I read, the shows and movies I watch… I have no shame about doing fanart and fanfiction, it is as worthy and honourable for me than any other form of “original” art. (Yes, I am a proud believer in the monomyth and the fact that there is no real “original” idea, and that the re-telling and the ways of representing is the only thing that matters, hence the important place of fan-work in my conception of art). Another source of inspiration for me is also the social and environmental context (I am working right now on an environmentalist happening).

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

What got me interested? Oh what a difficult question! I began drawing and painting as soon as I could hold a pen, and writing once I knew how to. I was a very curious child/teen, so I learnt to knit, crochet, sew, embroider, and I soon made my own costumes and cosplays. Taking pictures and filming came later, when I was in High School because I studied cinema and arts then, and had access to good quality material. Writing for larps came also later, when I was more inside the community but I remember writing roleplaying games in middle school already.

I have always wanted to be an artist, yes. I tried to convince myself that I wanted to do other things as jobs to earn money, but yes, even studying for a Linguistics Masters like I do now, I know that in the end, I am meant for art.

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K Family

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 have a signature I have been using since I was 13 or so, and writing this I realise how long ago that was, oh my! It’s a “R” in the right corner of the drawing/painting/picture, and at first I decided to use it for three reasons: it is the only consonant of my first name, it is a homophone of “air” which is my element, and it is the first letter of the pseudo I was using back then. As time went on, I also realised it was the initial of the first name of my idol and the rébus of the fictional character I relate to the most (Grantaire in Les Misérables)… two things I had not thought about at all when I chose that signature, and because of that I like it even more!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work, work, work. Fail, hate your work. Work again, be proud for a day or two, hate it a week after. It’s normal to be proud of something and then to hate it, it’s normal to be envious of other people’s work, it’s normal to be discouraged, and it does not mean that you are not good. There will always be people who are better than you, and people who will be worse and jealous of you. Just keep working, and work for yourself. Do it for the fun, for the art. No one will be mad at you if you can’t finish something, if you abandon a drawing or a draft. If they are, they did not deserve you in the first place. Your art should be made for your own enjoyment first. Be selfish.

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Marika

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic grey-asexual, or as I like to say it, I love everybody too bad I don’t like them. I really need to be in a very “special” relationship with the person to consider having sex with them, and I noticed that is had a lot to do with how much I find them interesting on the intellectual side of things.

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

I have, mainly ignorance, incomprehension and the same old clichés than everywhere else. When I face an ignorant person in my field that is open-minded, I handle it by helping hem understand what asexuality is. If the person is, forgive my vocabulary, an imbecile that just want to cling to clichés and not learn, I handle it with a raised middle finger,

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Silver

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

The old “you haven’t found the right person yet/it’s a phase” bullshit. What hurts the most for me is that I see such misconceptions about aces in communities like feminists or LGBT+ that, I hoped, should have been more open-minded than your usual human. I most of the time get this feeling that people just don’t try to understand aces.

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Teach

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

I would say… labels don’t matter, as long as you feel good. You don’t have to fit into a category, what you feel and how you live it -alone or with how many partners you wish- is the only thing that matters in the end. Sexuality is fluid, don’t be afraid to change, as long as you feel right about yourself. Also, you’re the only one who know yourself, don’t let toxic people influence you towards anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

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

Mainly my Tumblr for my drawings/paintings: The Artful DodgeR’s Tea Rooms (http://sweetymutant.tumblr.com/) because my DeviantArt has been dead for too long. I will probably create a YouTube and Twitch channel soon, but have not yet found the time to! To read me, there is my AO3, Sweety_Mutant: (https://archiveofourown.org/users/Sweety_Mutant/pseuds/Sweety_Mutant)

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

Interview: Pesky

Today we’re joined by Pesky. Pesky is a wonderful fanartist and crafter. They write a lot of fanfiction, specializing in queer relationships. When they’re not writing fanfiction, Pesky enjoys doing crafts and specializes in knitting and crochet. They sell their work on Etsy. It’s very clear that Pesky is a dedicated and talented artist, 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.

I write fanfiction in whatever fandom I’m in at the moment, usually involving very little romance and when there is romance, it never involves straight characters. Even my m/f relationships tend to involve at least one non-straight or non-cis character.

I knit and crochet a lot, and I usually have at least five different projects at any given time. Since I don’t usually make things my friends and family would enjoy, I’ve recently opened an Etsy shop to give those projects I have no use for a home. The completed project I’m currently most proud of is a triangle shawl I made out of wool scraps from an old elementary school finger knitting project.

Sewing is a recent addiction to my repertoire, mainly for the purpose of practicality and cheap small useful things.

What inspires you?

In fandom, my friends and my conversations with them are often my inspiration for my writing. Besides that, I try to fill absences and correct flaws in the source material. (We exist, after all, and yet, very few of us ever make it into mainstream media.)

In my crafting efforts I’m much more focused on aesthetics. I make things that I enjoy looking at, that I enjoy touching and wearing. Also, novelty. I have a terrible attention span, so I’m always on the lookout for new patterns, new techniques, new interesting projects, new challenges. (This is also why I have so many projects going at once.)

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

Actually, it’s all my mother’s fault.

She’s the one who introduced me to fanfic, because she found Twilight fic on deviantArt and was like, hey, I think my kid would like this! Eventually I started writing my own fic and poetry, and besides extended writer’s blocks caused by depression and anxiety, I haven’t stopped since I was fourteen. Now I’m almost twenty-four.

Mom was also the one who taught me to knit. I used to go to her to get help with casting on because I couldn’t figure it out how to do it for the longest time. These days I have things to teach her.

Crocheting on the other hand, I taught myself via YouTube, because my sister’s been crocheting for years and I wanted to learn this skill too. The differences and similarities with knitting have made it a valuable learning experience and the fact that many crocheted projects can be completed very quickly makes it much easier for me when my attention span is especially short.

Sewing is pretty much the only lasting gift my grandmother gave me. Everything else I learned from her has turned out to be toxic, bigoted cow manure.

All of my creative work comes from skills I discovered as a teenager and adult. I don’t think I would’ve gotten here any other way. And I look forward to continuing to learn new things.

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?

My Etsy projects all get a tag sewed on with my shop name and username on it, but other than that, I don’t think I’ve got anything besides my Tumblr profile pic, which I drew myself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before but the best thing you can do is practice. Find exercises for practicing common techniques in your chosen medium and repeat them over and over again.

Write all the terrible awful things you can. Trust me, you’ll learn from your mistakes.

Knit a hundred ugly uneven scarves or hats or legwarmers or whatever. You’ll learn a lot.

Draw all the unrealistic little sketches, paint all the paintings in badly chosen colors, sew all the weird little unusable bags.

Do research and then try out all the things you learn. Keep doing it until it starts looking like something you’re happy with. And in the meantime, forgive yourself for making mistakes. You’ll never stop making mistakes, you’ll just learn to fix them or make them look like they’re deliberate.

And keep in mind that practice and hard work always wins out over talent. Talent is a head start, not the goal.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and aromantic.

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

I’m lucky to have never directly encountered ace prejudice beyond the general “aces are basically cishets and they’re stealing lgbt+ resources”. But I’ve never encountered that kind of thing directed at me so I’m honestly not sure what I’d do if I did.

In fact, almost all of the close friendships I’ve made in fandom are with other aces. A funny coincidence, since I searched out fellow fans, not fellow aces.

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

“It’s just celibacy.” I’ve actually been told that to my face at a pride parade when I explained to someone that the colors of my clothes are the same as on the ace flag. I was still pretty new to the whole ace thing and ended up totally speechless.

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

Kinda depends on what exactly they’re struggling with.

In general, I’d say, find people who are struggling with similar things or who have struggled with similar things. Talk to them, try following their advice and give yourself time. Stop talking to people who make you feel guilty, ashamed or insecure about your identity.

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

I’m on Tumblr, Archive of Our Own and on Etsy. My username is peskylilcritter on pretty much every platform. My Etsy shop is, creatively, peskylilshop and my Tumblr writing sideblog is peskywritesstuff.

On my main Tumblr, I usually tag my writing with #pesky writes stuff and every other creative endeavor with #pesky makes stuff.

Feel free to come visit! And if you’ve got any more questions, my ask box is always open 😉

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

Interview: Alie Schnabel

Today we’re joined by Alie Schnabel, who goes by Astringent online. Alie is a wonderful up and coming visual artist who does a bit of everything. Her favorite mediums are printmaking and sculpture, though she has also done painting, weaving, sewing, ceramics, and book making. Alie hopes to open a community art center and she is clearly a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Oh geez. My work is kind of all over the place, I’ve done painting, printmaking, ceramics, weaving, sewing, I made a book recently, as well as a myriad of other things. My favourite mediums are sculpture and printmaking, although I still have a lot to learn. I’m still in college so I’ve been pretty busy with assignments I haven’t had the time to just create what I want to. The end goal is to run my own community art center where I’ll have a studio for myself.

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What inspires you?

The deadline? For real though I try to make my art personal. A lot of what I’ve been doing lately has been on a prompt since I am currently in school, but I try to make it relevant to my experiences, and to have a deeper meaning. Some of my favourite recent work has actually been about asexuality, most of it is craftier in nature as it comes from my Activism and Textiles class (although, if you ask me ‘crafty’ art like sewing and weaving doesn’t get enough recognition as an art form). A lot of my paintings take a fairly heavy topic and use a childlike style to make it seem almost fun while retaining that somber theme (like Time is Running out for Jeff, my piece with the balloon dog)

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

I’ve always loved art and I think deep down I always knew that it was what I wanted to do, but of course, people told me that it was impractical. In grade school there were so many things that I wanted to do; forensic scientist, veterinarian, anthropologist, psychologist, and even a pilot for a while, but I kept coming back to what I loved most. I think what really solidified my decision was my art teacher my senior year, he was always there for me and was always so inspiring (even during his amazing feminist rants about how awful and degrading the Carl’s Jr. commercials were). I guess I just realised that I wanted to inspire people the way he inspired 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 have a tag that I leave places, usually with chalk or sharpie, I got to use spray paint once on a boulder on the side of the freeway (chill. the rock is a local landmark because everyone spray paints it) Anyway, the tag is a little bird, sometimes I’ll give him a little crown and he becomes bird king. It doesn’t show up in my actual work though, at least not yet.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I don’t know if I’m the best person to give advice, since, I, myself am an aspiring artist. I guess what I would say is; “don’t listen to those who degrade you or your work, even if that person is yourself”. I know that I am my own worst critic and I usually hate what I create. However, I know that’s not healthy and I’m working to overcome that (yay counseling) seriously though, as long as you are creating for the right reasons, you are making a difference and that’s what matters in the end.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aromantic Asexual. But I do deeply love those who are close to me and I’ll fight anyone who says platonic love can’t be as strong as romantic love.

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

Not yet, I’ve been lucky, especially in such a conservative college town. Although I don’t really put myself out there other than in-class critiques when my pieces directly correlate with asexuality. I usually start out by saying something like “I’m happy to answer any questions, but if you’re just going to be a jerk you can just shove it” I tend to be pretty blunt and without much of a filter, so it usually comes out a bit more ‘colourful’ than that, though my teachers so far have thought my little disclaimer is funny.

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

I haven’t noticed one more than the others at this point, since I only recently came out, a memorable one is my mum asking “So do you like girls then?” that’s about is as far as asexuality goes. I get a lot more crap for my aromanticism though, mostly people assuming I don’t love others, or that I’m cold and distant. I like to think I’m a pretty friendly person, and I genuinely love the people close to me.

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

Stop it. I know the world can suck sometimes, but people are inherently good, and you will find people who accept you for who you are. There is nothing wrong with you, but there is also no shame in reaching out for guidance if that’s what will help. Also, if anyone gives you crap tell them I’ll beat them up.

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

Oof. My Tumblr is a bit of a mess, but I might post some work on there, it should be ada-refractor. I do post some stuff on my Instagram, that one is agentastringent.

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