Interview: Baku

Today we’re joined by Baku. Baku is a wonderful visual and fanartist. They mostly do fanart, but have done original work on occasion. They’re incredibly passionate about comics and plan to be a comic artist in the future. Baku is a very gifted artist and their work is brimming with color and life, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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De-er

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fanartist for the most part with random original pieces thrown in here and there. I’d say my specialty is comic, but I don’t really think that’s true yet, haha … It is something I’m working towards though. Being a comic artist. Right now it’s just a lot of doodles, illustrations, short comics, sometimes fanfictions, sometimes even more out-of-the-blue fan contents, like song translation for example.

What inspires you?

Naming any specific category of thing wouldn’t seem right, because I kinda draw and write for the randomest thing … I’d say love. Or emotions, in general. My strong emotions for something make me pick up my pen. Drawing and writing has become one of my main ways to express emotions now, even more of use than just proclaiming it sometimes.

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

I’ve always been a fan of things, if my memory serves me well. The first time I tried writing was after I read Harry Potter and thought to myself that I wanted to write something like this. The first time I took drawing seriously was after reading a magical girl manga and being introduced to the “standard manga style” so to said by my cousin. I think I’ve always had that fascination with narratives and stories, and the desire to make them came the moment I was exposed to the possibility. These people who are still alive made these things, why don’t you try your hand too, etc., etc.

The fact that I’m very emotion-driven probably adds to my becoming a fanartist, in that I’m most productive when I feel strongly about something, and that’s one thing that being a fan delivers plentily.

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Street God

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?

Lampposts, bus stops, electric poles, and liminal spaces in general. I also draw/write about dreamscapes a lot. Dripping/splashing effects are my favourite too.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone goes somewhere. There’s this special brand of nihilism that I find serves an artist well: all our struggles are ultimately objectively meaningless, so what matters is our own perception. If art fits somewhere into your perception, keep it. Do it for yourself. Give it the meaning you want to. Have your fun.

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Frog 2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aro/ace.

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

I am lucky to have found a very accepting community in the Mob Psycho 100 fandom around the time I started realizing that I’m as aro/ace, but there are stories told, of course. I myself try to distance myself from that; luckily no problems have wandered to my part yet.

In my personal life I haven’t officially come out to my family yet, but I’ve made my decision to not find a life partner quite clear, and my parents have long accepted (or emotionally dealt with) that. My extended family is another story; some of them don’t believe I can make it out there as an artist either. My mom taught me to consider talking to them ‘diplomatic work’. I’ve never been good at that, but I manage. Most of the comments on my choices come hand-in-hand with those on my appearance (and how I don’t care about it as much as I’m supposed to), so it’s a bit easier to dismiss them altogether.

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

That there are no such thing, mainly. My mom denied the existence of asexuality and aromanticism when I brought it up to her. Most people I’ve met in real life say that one can’t live without love, and that everyone will find their chosen one someday.

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

You are who you are. As long as you hold that belief dear and clear in your heart, there will be ways to work around everything else.

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

My Tumblr is bakanohealthy: http://bakanohealthy.tumblr.com/

And I have an AO3 account for my fanfictions: http://archiveofourown.org/users/BakanoHealthy

Some of my works are up for purchase in my Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/bakanohealthy.

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Moped

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

Interview: Hana Golden

Today we’re joined by Hana Golden. Hana is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital art but also works in traditional mediums as well. She does character design, capturing expressions and emotions through a masterful use of detail. Hana also frequently draws canines and her ability to capture dog’s personalities with color and lines is amazing. She’s an incredibly talented 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.

I’m mostly a digital artist, but still work with a variety of traditional mediums. I enjoy watercoloring, spraypainting, stippling, and simple illustration work. I like to focus on expression cartooning, character design, and heavily enjoy fanart as well. Canines specifically have also always been a go-to for me and is one of the things I’ve always been known for. I also like to create my own custom Funko Pop figures as another side hobby.

For my art, I’d say that I like to focus heavily on expressions and making you feel what the character is feeling. When someone feels the same emotion I’m drawing by looking at it, that’s the best thing. Either way, I love drawing faces and just sketching in general.

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What inspires you?

Let’s see … kinda tough question cause there’s so much that inspires me. From an early age, my oldest sister was an artist, and my biggest inspiration and drive to improve. Now, I’d say that Disney/DreamWorks is my biggest inspiration. Watching certain films and shorts just make me want to push myself more and more. From the character design to the emotional feelings you get when you look at a scene, that’s what I want to create. I want to capture that one moment that made my heart pound, where I pause the scene and just stare at the characters face for a long time. It was that face that gave me a feeling, and I have to be able to do it too. I can get pretty obsessed about it actually, haha. I’m just super into animation, and hope to animate again. I use to do it a lot as a kid.

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

Like I had stated above, my oldest sister was the one who got me into drawing. I wanted have that one thing in common that we could do together. Watching anything animated/cartoon pushed me to draw those characters constantly. I remember being in my room drawing the covers of old VHS Disney movies, drawing Pokémon cards, really anything I could get my hands on. I was just drawing all the time.

I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, like most everyone else, but I’m not sure to be honest. It never really occurred to me that I could partake in making these movies, or designing these characters. I’m not sure why, I guess it was never pushed on me or talked about as something I could potentially be a part of, not even by my teachers.  I knew I loved to draw and wanted to do it all the time, but I never pursued it the way I feel like I should have. My mentality about it was all wrong compared to how to feel about it now, and I wish I had pursued it more seriously. For the simple short answer, yes, I have always wanted to be an artist.

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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?

Honestly, there’s really nothing this deep in anything I do haha. I have a simple signature that if it’s not out in the obvious, then it’s small and hidden in the picture. I’ve never been a fan of putting my signature on my work, but since I had multiple works stolen, I’ve gotten to the habit of hiding it in the picture so it couldn’t be erased haha.

When I work on commissions, I really try to pull the person’s personality (or animals) out on paper. I want people to see their pet, s/o, or themselves in my work. I want them to feel like their personality is right there. That’s really important to me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Please, just don’t give up. I know it’s what everyone says, but it’s so true. Too many people I know who use to draw and loved it, don’t do it anymore cause they said they were intimidated by other artists, or just got too down on themselves and came to a stop. It takes work, and you just have to push past all that stuff and focus on you. Compare your work to your own, not someone else’s. Look at how far you’ve come and embrace that. Just keep going.

Also, don’t be afraid of referencing/copying when starting out. That’s how you’re going to learn such a variety of things and all the different styles and types of art out there. You’ll develop your own style eventually by dropping things that don’t work for what you visually like, and picking up parts of others that you do and adding it to your own. Drawing from life is important though to learn proper proportions, lighting, color, etc. Don’t rely fully on cartoons or anime to teach you that stuff haha. It’s okay to copy other people’s work as long as you’re not claiming it as your own, just give credit where credit is due. A good rule of thumb I always worked from was if you copied it, keep it to yourself. If you had help from another artist’s work, credit it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual. I’m not super sure if I lean towards gray or not, but I’m comfortable just using the term Ace. Finding out there was a word for how I was feeling, and that others were like me, was one of the most important parts of my life. I can still remember how I felt the minute I typed that word into Google and discovered its meaning haha.

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

Not really to be honest, at least not to my face. If anything, with some people I just got a feeling that they didn’t truly believe me or fully understand. It’s tough, because I want to have a family someday. I’ve always wanted children, and people who know me, know that. When I told them that I was ace, most of them will point out “You know how to get children, right?” I hate when people say that because I’m not stupid, yes I know about sex, I understand how it works, but I don’t like it, and don’t want it.

I even went to go see an Endocrinologist (a hormone doctor) cause I do actually have an issue with my hormones. I asked her about my libido and stuff like that (before I identified as ace, I thought my hormones were the problem) and she told me that with the way my hormones are, I should have a high sex drive and crazy libido. I laughed and cried the whole way home, because that wasn’t me, and I still got no answers.

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

That we don’t want a family, a significant other, or refuse to have sex in general. That’s not true for many people who identify in this orientation, and for some, it is. There are many asexual people who want their own children, want to be in a relationship, and even like having sex. All of that is okay, being Asexual just means that you don’t feel sexual attraction.

For me personally, I still struggle time to time. I want to be in a relationship, cuddle, hold hands, and I want a family. I just don’t want to have sex so it’s tough when I tell people that cause they don’t understand. Most people just tell me that when the time comes, I just need to “suck it up and do it” if I want kids.

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

Don’t just ignore your own feelings and please teach others. I went to great lengths to get an answer as to why I was afraid to be close with my boyfriend, or why I didn’t feel anything when it came to kissing or avoiding situations that would make the other feel like we could take the next step in our relationship. It was awful, and not fair to either of us. It was hard to admit to people I get more of a love feeling walking into an art store or watching an animated movie, and then I got going on a date. In the end, it wasn’t a doctor that helped me, but a person that I follow online who just happened to use the word asexual in a sentence, and I decided to google it. I wish that I was exposed to the idea that you don’t need to have sex. It can be scary when all of your friends and people you are exposed to daily are all talking about something you just can’t relate too. You look at your own life and see how old you’re getting, and you haven’t had sex yet. It’s normal, and it’s okay to not want that in your life.  Just talk, educate others, and be open about it! It’s important to teach people to listen to your own body, and don’t do something because you feel you have too.

You’re valid and important, talk about it openly, because it will help you to be more comfortable with who you are.

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

Sorry this got lengthy! I like writing. I post my art mostly on my Instagram! You can also follow me on my Facebook page, Sebatticus, and my Tumblr Sebatticus as well 🙂

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Thank you, Hana, 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: Nicole Blanchard

Today we’re joined by Nicole Blanchard, who is also known as nicoledraws online. Nicole is a wonderful visual artist who does quite a bit. They do a lot of sketches and drawings, as well as some fanart. They’ve recently gotten into cosplay and are currently studying Media Arts and Animation. They are obviously quite passionate about art, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Visual Artist here who mainly dabbles in sketching and drawing. Painting is on my list as well, but is done much less often due to the fact I do not get a lot of time to sit down at home where all my supplies are.

I also double as a FanArtist. I just recently got into the cosplay game and don’t possess “professional” photos, but I have been drawing fanart for at least the last six years of my life. It’s good practice and gets your name out there.

And occasionally, I do animate. Media Arts and Animation is currently what I am in school for so there’s that as well.

What inspires you?

There is no one specific thing that gives me inspiration. It comes and goes from many different places.

The only mildly consistent aspect of it is that it usually tends to be from real life. Whether it be from long talks with one of my closest friends or experiences I’ve had.

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

Memories of my childhood, in all honesty, are blurry at best. So I can’t say what got me interested in art—just that it happened.

For as long as I can remember, I have always found joy and comfort in drawing. It’s not only therapeutic but I feel I am most myself when doing it.

If nothing else, the one thing I do remember was the fact that I did always have a desire to grow up and be an artist. However, thanks to career counselors and other adults, it never seemed like a realistic goal and dream to have at the time. The whole “starving artist” myth is legitimately terrifying to a child from an already struggling household.

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. At least, not that I have personally noticed or consciously done.

Though I am hoping to fix that. I want to get to a point talent-wise and artistically where someone can immediately identify my work as mine without having to look at my name.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There is always going to be someone better than you in some way. However, don’t let this lead you down the road of a quitter—instead use it as a motivation to improve.

With any form of art, the only way to get better is to keep doing it. Don’t ever stop, because stopping might as well be you giving up.

Some people need to work harder to get to a certain level of mastery and that’s okay. Not every person in the world has a knack for picking things up easily. Every person learns at their own pace. At least a decade worth of drawing and I’m still learning.

Another important aspect to any form of art is constructive criticism. You, as a producer of content, need to listen to the criticism of your audience. The input they can provide can be very insightful and point flaws out that you might have never noticed on your own. And this goes for not only basic theories and principles of your art form, but potentially offensive topics.

However, also keep in mind that you cannot please every single person you meet. Simply be open-minded and kind.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

The sexual identity I am currently most comfortable with and feel fits the best is “asexual” itself — not a branch of it.

However, my romantic identity remains an oddity to even myself. I am currently coming to terms with the fact I reside somewhere on the aro-spectrum, but am also hesitant to label myself fully as “aromantic” despite never experiencing the feelings in question.

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

My sexuality isn’t exactly an aspect of myself I have made common knowledge in my daily life and to the people in it. So needless to say, the answer would be an overall “no.” Very few people, even within my circle of friends and acquaintances, know about it. It just isn’t something I tend to talk about, though it’s not a fact about me that I purposely hide either.

The topic of sexuality as a whole isn’t something ever brought up at the college I attend or the places I work, so it might just be a matter of “ignorance is bliss.”

There was a misconception of “being ace means you don’t like sex” once or twice, but that’s about as far as it went.

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

In person, definitely “being ace means you don’t like sex.”

On the internet, it’s been quite an ugly mix of comments. The two worst being “aroace people are just Straight People wanting in on the LGBT+ community and its resources” and “cishet aces are Straight.” Both of which mainly come from members of the LGBT+ community and enforce heteronormativity in the process.

What many LGBT+ people on the internet fail and refuse to realize is that The Straights don’t see us as straight. In their eyes, we are not one of them.

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

Life is too short to hate yourself. There are things about you that you can’t change; so instead of letting the world make you feel bad for it, embrace and accept it even if it is difficult to do so.

Do not change per the request of anyone (partner, family, or otherwise), because I can guarantee that you won’t be happy in the end.

And if one moment you find your ace label (whatever it may be) does not fit like it did before, don’t fret. Sexuality and gender is a spectrum. Labels are meant to help identify yourself, but are not inherently permanent. Do and use what you feel is best in that moment.

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

My artwork can mainly be found on Tumblr under a side-blog with the url nicoledraws.

However, I do also have a Twitter account that has some artwork that never sees the light of day on Tumblr. As a warning though: the twitter account is a lot less organized and also has a lot of non-art related topics attached to it. You can find me currently at mokamazing there.

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

Interview: Syd

Today we’re joined by Syd. Syd is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in cartoon-style images. She has a great eye and the images she creates have a sense of whimsy to them. It’s very apparent that Syd loves what she does, 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 mostly just do sketches and doodles but I occasionally line and color them if I like them enough. I don’t really do much realism, just my cartoony style ^w^

What inspires you?

Inspiration to draw just kinda hits me randomly, like while I’m listening to a good song or walking back from class.

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

What inspired me to start drawing, during middle school, was a really good friend of mine who has always been an amazing artist. She was always drawing or doodling cute and funny things and it always made me really happy to see so I decided to try it for myself.

I’m not exactly professional artist material, though I love doodling in my free time, so I’m actually going to college to get a degree in biology.

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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 think I really have a signature haha

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If it’s something that you’re passionate about, don’t be afraid to do it. No one starts out perfect, so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t turn out like you had hoped at first, and keep on trying! Try not to compare yourself to other artists too much; just because what you make doesn’t look like theirs doesn’t mean it isn’t just as amazing.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I haven’t put a lot of thought into specifically where I fit on the spectrum. All I know is that I’ve identified as asexual since I was 15 (almost 4 years ago) and I’m perfectly comfortable with that. UwU

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

Fortunately I’m currently living in a fairly friendly and accepting community. When I came out to most everyone this year not a single person tried to convince me that I was just confused and some even went out of their way to understand more, and that meant the world to me. When I encounter people who don’t really understand what asexuality is or what it means, I will just try to explain it to them as best I can.

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

I’m sure every asexual person ever has heard the “oh so you reproduce by yourself lol” but along with that I’ve had a few people tell me “well maybe you’d like it if you tried it” or “you just haven’t found the right person yet”. All of these are frustrating to have to listen to -_-

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

No matter how you identify yourself, you are valid. Starting to really think about your orientation can be scary, just know that you don’t have to put a label on anything until you feel ready. Give yourself time to figure yourself out. You’ve got all the time in the world.

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

I post all of my art on Instagram at sydmyrs.

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

Interview: Cassandra Wolfe

Today we’re joined by Cassandra Wolfe. Cassandra is a phenomenal artist jack of all trades. She’s predominantly a fantasy writer who is working on a novel that sounds absolutely fascinating. When she’s not writing, Cassandra enjoys photography, particularly wildlife. She’s incredibly passionate, 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 a bit of a jack of all trades really but my main focus at the moment is my writing (funny considering I’m trained as an art teacher). I work mainly in the fields of urban fantasy. I am currently working on the final drafts of what I hope to be my first novel featuring a bunch of werewolves living in modern day Australia along with a few short stories that I’m working on getting published in some online anthologies.

Outside of writing I’m trained in painting but I find that these days most of my work tends to utilize photography as a medium, with wildlife being one of my favourite subjects. I’ve also dabbled in both ceramics and sketching.

What inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from the natural world and folklore. I grew up in a family that loved nature so I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the African wilderness which made me fall in love with the wonder that is wildlife. There’s a certain thrill that comes with getting up close to wild animals and it hasn’t faded now that I’m dealing with kangaroos instead of springbok. I’m rather proud of the fact that I can and have gotten within meters of hartebeest, bat-eared foxes, snakes and lizards. Reptiles are my absolute favourite subjects to shoot simply because they’re so chill that it makes approaching them a piece of cake.

The folklore that inspires me comes through mainly in my writing where it combines with my love of the natural world in the form of critters that are closer to that world than most people are. I tend to include a lot of shape shifter lore in my work and the fae are never far behind! I also enjoy including aspects of my religion into what I write in terms of how I shape the magic and witchcraft that is 99% guaranteed to be a part of my fictional work.

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

I was the kid who always wanted to sit down and write stories when asked what I wanted to do; it used to drive my sister up the wall. I actually entered a writing competition when I was pretty young and got to meet a whole bunch of authors at the close of it which helped drive my passion even if my story for it wasn’t what you’d call great. I still own the signed copies of one of Fiona McIntosh’s series and every time I feel disheartened by my writing I find reading that ‘keep writing’ on the front page keeps me going. Reading that little handwritten quote inspired me to be published one day when I was all of ten years old and that dream has yet to die on me.

My passion for Visual Arts came later in life even if, like most kids, I liked to draw when I was young. I actually originally planned on going into the equestrian industry with hopes of training race horses one day and even got a job as a groom at a show yard but unfortunately I had a bit of a tough time of it there. I ended up being rather over worked and on top of a couple of injuries I received I was slowly wearing my body out. I found that at that time the one thing that got me through it all was my art. I was doing some writing at the time but what really distracted me from my sore legs, ankle and back was painting. I bought a couple of canvas boards and some acrylic paint and Bob’s your uncle, I was falling in love with art all over again.

When I finally accepted that working in the equestrian industry wasn’t going to be possible going into art was the obvious choice. And since I had no desire to try and live purely off of my art I felt that being an art teacher was a perfect fit for me.

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

Not so much in my drawings and photographs per say but I do have a few in my writing. One of the big things is ‘circles’, I love having little tidbits here and there that circle back and link to another part of the story. Half the time they’re completely irrelevant to the plot and very subtle in their implementation but I just love including them. Eyes would another one, I fully believe that eyes are the window to the soul and as such the eyes of my various critters tend to tell a tale in themselves. It’s one of the reasons why all of my shifter characters retain their human eye colour when in animal form.

On a larger scale you can expect to see a bunch of diversity in what I write, half of my characters end up being some version of queer (often less well known sexualities) and I try to limit the amount of cis, straight, white males in my writing since they’re over-represented in fiction.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to experiment; try different mediums and genres, play around, try something that might not work for the hell of it. It’s the only way to grow no matter what your field is. And above all, persevere. It doesn’t matter if what you made didn’t come out the way you wanted it to, you still made it and the next time it will be even better. Even your worst mistake is better than not having tried in the first place.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual and homoromantic.

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

Most people haven’t heard of it to be honest, I’ve only heard it mentioned once. That time there was a bit of confusion about it but I didn’t exactly feel comfortable explaining more since I was just a prac student at the time. As a whole the Australian education system is generally anti-LGBTQIA+ with a recent program designed to teach high school students about the various genders and sexualities and why it’s wrong to discriminate being muzzled and defunded by the government over fears that it was sexualizing children. I find that being an art teacher makes it easy enough to get around that prejudice however as half of the artists I teach experienced some form of discrimination.

I haven’t really encountered anything in terms of my writing but if I get published it’ll only be a matter of time considering Wolf Moon and its sequel currently feature at least two lesbians, an ace-aro, and two non-binary folk.

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

That it’s the same as being straight. That’s the big one online at the moment and it drives me demented considering that most of the people spouting it refuse to be swayed from their position by the experiences of actual ace and aro people. It’s especially frustrating because of the impact it has on the ace (and aro) communities as both are made to feel unwelcome in both straight and LGBTQIA+ spaces.

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

Ignore the current online discourse; it’s not reflective of real life LGBTQIA+ spaces at all. Most of the people in those spaces have no issues with aces or aros and those who do aren’t worth giving a damn about if you ask me. Whatever your orientation you are valid, it doesn’t matter if things change down the line or if you don’t have the exact word to describe your orientation, you and your experiences remain valid. Just hold your head up high and be proud of who you are.

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

Those interested in my writing can find it at http://cassandrawolfe.tumblr.com/ I tend to post drabbles, and writing advice there as well as keeping people updated on the progress of my bigger works there. My art can be found at http://thepaintedwolfe.tumblr.com/ with the vast majority of it being wildlife photography.

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

Interview: Keelan

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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Dai Li Agents

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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Proud Ace

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ace Positivity Post

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