Interview: Linz Vandermeer

Today we’re joined by Linz Vandermeer. Linz is a phenomenal writer who has recently gotten into cosplay. They mostly write fanfiction, but they started out writing poetry and stories. For the cosplay, they’ve only recently started dabbling in it and enjoys it. It’s clear they’re a passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, it’s almost a compulsion with me. I started with poetry, some bad, some even worse, and then branched out into stories. Eventually, through my love of comics and movies, I ended up in the realm of fanfiction, and that’s where I’ve focused most of my attention for the last 3 or 4 years. The other thing I have really started to get into is cosplay, and though my sewing skills are not the greatest, I have a great group of friends to turn to where my abilities are lacking.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of my inspiration from daily life. I take a situation that I’ve encountered, and wondered ‘what would such-and-such a character do in my place’, and ‘how could this have gone worse’? It’s like a little mental exercise, and then before I know it I have 1200 words on a page. When I am cosplaying, I try to find a character that really calls out to me, someone that I can see a bit of myself in.

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

Even from a very young age I wanted to be a writer. I used to write stories with my friends about the adventures we would go on if we didn’t have to be in school, or if our parents were actually super spies, and things like that. As I got older I realized that I didn’t want writing to be my job, it was my mental escape from life and to put pressure or deadlines killed my creativity. Cosplay naturally evolved from my love of roleplaying games like D&D. I took part in a LARP (live action role play) for almost a decade before health issues made it too difficult, and that’s where I really started to learn to build costumes.

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 like to use British cuss words, they’ve always entertained me and I grew up watching shows like Monty Python and Red Dwarf, so that coloured my view of humour. More than that I like to take one scene and add more description than necessary, really make it the centerpiece of my work. I also rarely have sexual content in my fanfiction, which makes it a bit of an oddity.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

When you are writing, write for you. That way any person who likes what you have done, that’s just a bonus. Art should come from inside of us, and serve us, the rest of the world is a distant second. Do it to make yourself happy, that’s where the best art comes form.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual and agender individual.

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

There’s a lot of pressure towards sexualization and romanticism in writing, and fanfiction in particular. I occasionally get pressure to add sex scenes, and I will the odd time concede and add them, but it always feels wrong to me. I have no interest in sexual actions, so I’m not certain that I can really build them appropriately or accurately.

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

I find that for the most part I encounter a lot of confusion over the fact that my partner and I have been together for almost six years. We’re both asexual, and though we live together we have separate bedrooms because I am an extremely restless sleeper. When people hear that we have never even kissed (I’m touch-averse), they assume we are more like friends that live together, but it’s not that at all. I love and adore my partner, and being with her is very different than being with even my best friend.

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

Struggle is natural. I grew up in a world where asexuality didn’t exist, and where even more standard queer identities like gay and lesbian were barely discussed. I tried on a lot of hats when I was trying to figure out who I was, but it wasn’t until I found asexuality that I felt comfortable and that it was ‘just right’. Don’t be afraid to change your identifiers when they don’t suit you anymore. Sexuality is not only a spectrum, but it flows and changes as your identity and personality develop.

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

I have some of my old poetry up on Deviantart at https://www.deviantart.com/cavannarose and my fanfiction is up on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/users/CavannaRose

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

Interview: Erika

Today we’re joined by Erika, who also goes by one-true-houselight online. Erika is an awesomely versatile artist who dabbles in a few different fields. They do a lot of writing. Erika specializes in poetry, much of it focusing on mental health and their experiences. They’re currently working on an original story, which features three main characters who are ace and the fourth is a dragon. When they’re not writing, Erika dabbles in fanart and has written a few comics. They have also been in the theater too. It’s very clear they’re a dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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D&D Comic

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have a couple of thing I do. For a while, the only thing I did was write poetry because when I tried to write other things, I never liked what I started and never finished. So I wrote poems on many things, gravitating towards my struggle and life with mental illness. It became a coping mechanism for me. I started drawing for the first time in a long while because again, I felt like I couldn’t. But I drew a comic of a moment in the D&D campaign I am a part of because I wanted to, and I recently sent in a comic as fan mail to Rhett and Link. I also have been getting into more narrative fiction! I’ve written two fanfics: a tiny one about Rhett and Link as children, and one Psych one where I explore Shawn being aro-spec. I’m also working on an original story with three ace main characters, one of whom is non-binary. So that’s fun. I’ve also been doing theatre for years, and I’d like to think I’ve created some art there as well.

What inspires you?

I love that I get to create things in ways I feel comfortable doing so, and I love that doing so can help me understand things better. Like, when I would write a poem about my anxiety, I could use interesting turns of phrase to define what before was just unintelligible screaming in my head. Drawing my and my friends D&D characters made the game feel more present. I explored my fear of heights and the demiromantic part of myself in my fics. I had just recently figured out I was non-binary when I started my original piece, so I got to write a character going through similar things. And my time in theatre has let me see the human condition in so many ways.

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

Most of the time, I started by just fooling around with the field until I realized I really liked 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?

I have a weird symbol I draw that combines my first and last initials. You can see it in the last panel of the comic attached. That’s just for the small amount of drawing I do, though. Beyond that… I don’t think so?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Hello young artist! I will repeat the advice you often get: keep practicing, you are good enough, don’t give up. All that. And also: do the art that makes you happy. Do the art that makes you feel things, that means something to you. Yes, if/when it becomes a career, that isn’t always possible. But understand what you want to do, what makes you feel whole. Then, even when you don’t have a ‘dream’ project, you know why you are where you are. If that makes sense.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and akoi-demi-bi romantic. I know. I don’t find it any easier to understand than you do.

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

Um. I mean, there is the ever-present ‘entertainment must have sex to be good/wanted by a lot of people’, but since I am a hobbyist at best, I don’t get too much problem with it? And obviously my coworkers sometimes don’t understand everything, but I have been so lucky to have people who do their best and listen to me.

Handling it for me is either just explaining or sarcasm. Again, I am in a position of privilege where I can do that without fear from most people I encounter.

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

Probably just ‘how’. A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around how it is possible. I also get people assuming it means someone just doesn’t like sex, but since I am sex repulsed I generally try to explain that while I might be like that, not everyone is.

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

Hello friends! Guess what? I love you in the least creepy way possible. And for real, you are fine. It’s hard. I felt so amazing when I figured out I was ace, and I still sometimes get crippling self-doubt and fear. We live in a world where our identities are erased, ignored, joked about, misinterpreted, and so many other things. But we are who we are, and we will be ok. If you want to find someone, you can. If you don’t want to, you will be fine. You deserve to be happy and loved in a way that you are OK with. Don’t let people tell you that you deserve less of anything.

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

You can find me on Tumblr and AO3 at one-true-houselight. I tagged everything about my RandL comic as ‘comic’ (I know), and some D&D stuff fell in there as well. My writing tag is ‘I write sometimes’. Ask me theatre stories if you want a fun time. Have a lovely day!

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

Interview: Jai M. King

Today we’re joined by Jai M. King, who was interviewed quite a while ago. Their company has since evolved into something almost completely new. Jai is a fascinating and unique artist that has a style that’s entirely their own. They’re behind Madjaw Dolls, a brand gearing toward multimedia arts. They do a lot of illustrations but also quite a lot of writing as well. Jai is currently working on a science fiction series, which is part of the Madjaw Dolls universe. Based on their interview, Jai is a fascinating and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

(WARNING: Some images contain nudity and are risque)

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King watercolor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Madjaw Dolls is brand gearing towards the multimedia arts. There is one main universe in which all products and creations stem from. The stories under MJD combine influences of retro-fantasy, raypunk and Grimm’s fairytales to create a distinct branch of dark tales that are both innovative in terms of character and world design but also blunt in terms of political and social commentary.

My work ranges from traditional illustration to digital most recently with working on the IPad Pro. I am also going into producing for multimedia to expand MJD so I am also a creative director in collaborative projects.

Currently I’ve been in the process of producing a science fiction series called “Sector M.I.” which takes you through a multi-world war. The world design is very distinct to the universe in which a multitude of my stories derive from. Most of what will be seen at Madjaw Dolls exists within that universe.

What inspires you?

My inspirations range from the array of media I grew up on to naturally being attracted to retro-media such as anime/manga from the 1970s-1990s to western influences such as Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World” to much of the bizarre fantasy works from the 1970s and also the strange futuristic narrative of 1970s funk music. I also grew up loving the Grimm Brothers which has influenced my work and story process quite a bit. I love creating words that feel at least a little uncomfortable. A lot of my work has a warped quality that I’ve developed purposefully for the stories. I’m not so much about supplying reality as I’m about creating something entirely new.

Since my last interview with Asexual Artists I do think I’ve returned to my roots a little more with my influences. Every project I take on entails a good amount of research which I personally love as I often find that people tend to overlook just how much time and research it takes to develop a well-crafted creative process. I think my influences change the more I grow and learn.

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Kingfin

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

I’ve been illustrating since I was little though around 17 was when I landed my first job illustrating a children’s book, though I didn’t know very much about illustrating at the time and taking on the process of illustrating a book was hard, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when illustrating books. I went back and forth for a while as I was potentially good at so many things, ultimately illustration is where my roots have always been, I’ve been looking into multimedia producing for the very reason that I can expand in the future through different platforms and ways to tell the stories, starting with graphic novels; which the graphic novels under MJD will be a combination of written and illustrative narrative, a format I’ve been working on to be a little more unique to MJD.

I learned quite a bit in the last year after interning for another comic artist and developing sound connections with illustrators and comic artists who’ve helped me a lot with both communications and not to let the mainstream dictate my vision.

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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?

At the moment, I’m working on the first installation under “Sector M.I.” Which is currently titled “The Hanged Man’s Plan” though changes are always possible in editing. I’ve been quiet about much of the story, in previous experiences I’ve had, I’ve learned to do so, haha. What I will say is that HMP occurs 200 years prior to the main events of “Sector M.I.” It was a story I started last year, nixed, and then decided that it had more potential as it establishes the birth of a lineage with one of the main characters of SMI, King. At least right now, all of the stories will be told in relatively short books, similar to a children’s book, but with a more mature story. HMP is relatively benign compared to what I have lined up for the future editions in the series. All of the stories cover particularly controversial subjects, one of the mains in HMP suffers through a smear campaign within his own workplace, and there’s a huge focus on the destruction and outcome of jealousy as well as laying the groundwork for the world seen in “Sector M.I”

The story has undergone rights and registration along with the entirety of the Sector M.I. series so it’s a matter of completely the first story. I’ve been experiencing the ever-so-lovely world of publishing but I’ll be happy when it’s done.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take pride in the effort you put into your work, but always be open to learn more. It’s a process first and foremost, there is no golden finish line where you’ve made it as an artist. The moment you close yourself off to growth, you’ve basically cheated yourself from the next level of your journey. It takes time, and at times it really sucks. Also, if you have an idea you believe in, don’t bend to please other people. I’ve learned that the hard way throughout my journey so far, there are literally thousands of ways to be an artist, if one idea doesn’t work, keep pushing and don’t take no for an answer when you know what you have to offer. Also process the rights to your work, haha I also learned that the hard way after experiencing content theft!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m still asexual and aromantic, I don’t really know if that will ever change.

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

Yes and no. It’s not so much in my field as it has been coming out of art school. Oddly enough, most would think art school is particularly accepting of every type of person but I’ve learned the opposite. My art tends to trickle over into my daily outfits, I still work as a creative director for photo shoots from time to time, so I love to express through creating extravagant outfits, but I’ve found that with creating flamboyant outfits people tend to assume you’re an equally flamboyant person. Flamboyance has its own set of stereotypes as people assume I’m someone who goes out and dates a lot or dressing up to impress others. I’m a bit of a contradiction in that sense, how I dress is mostly because I love to create myself every day, it’s an extension of my art to me. I’ve faced the expectation to “stop being ace” because of what someone else expects or wants and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s disturbing that much of society doesn’t accept no as a valid answer when it comes to relationships (this is when “no” should be taken as an answer!).

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

I would say for me that it’s a phase. Or that I’m waiting for some knight in shining armor to save me from asexuality as for me, it was never a choice. I can’t speak for every asexual but I have always been this way, though there were times in high school before I knew who I was, where I tried to date and be “normal” due to social pressures. In many communities, even in black/mixed communities, asexuality isn’t fully accepted due to the heavy stigmas black people still face. Black women tend to automatically be sexualized and stereotyped (and it’s even worse for non-binary folks, as I am as well) that it’s even harder to say I’m asexual without being laughed at or denied.

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

Definitely to speak up when you feel uncomfortable. If you feel like someone is pressuring you, speak up and leave the situation. You shouldn’t have to explain who you are to those who don’t get it.

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

“The Hanged Man’s Plan” is still in production, so whenever all the cards are in place is when it will come out, there’s no telling how long it may take but I’ve recently be finishing the process for the rights and registration for “Sector M.I.” and Madjaw Dolls so it’s all in that awkward phase of planning to put out actual products and not just prints of works.

http://madjawdolls.com/
https://www.instagram.com/madjawdolls/
https://www.facebook.com/Madjawdollsmjd/
https://twitter.com/MadjawDolls

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

Interview: Jenn Ocana

Today we’re joined by Jenn Ocana. Jenn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in a couple different fields. She’s currently majoring in Communications, but has been doing quite a lot of writing. Jenn loves the written word and writes in quite a few different forms. She has recently had her first poem published in her school’s literary magazine. She has also recently gotten into cinematography and enjoys that as well. 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 don’t think I’m at any level to where I could possibly be able to call myself an artist. However, I am trying to work towards making my hobbies writing, and content creating available for others to read/watch/listen. For the most part I write things journal entries on Wattpad (as well as previously writing some fanfiction), as well as fiction stories, poems and even speeches. Also at my college I am considered an audio and video engineer. I help record and produce podcast, PSAs, radio shows, as well as, do camera work and editing for music and promotional videos.

What inspires you?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what inspires me. I would say I often find inspiration from other people and poets that I have much respect for and wish to emulate. I would also say a lot of my work inspired by my own life and past experiences whether that be family, health, or school related, or really anything I find that I could possibly share my own thoughts on.

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

I never really had the best life, some may say I was just given an awful hand of cards at birth. When I was younger, I became blind in one eye and since then, it always seemed like it was just one bad thing after another. When I started going to a small public school at around the age of 7, I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to fit in being the only child with skin darker than the color of notebook paper in my whole town. That was one of my first experiences with being excluded. Over the years, I’ve also had to deal with physical, mental, and emotional abuse whether that be at home or at school and because of it I’ve always felt alone and lost. That is when I’ve found myself beginning to be more drawn to writing, drawing and music. I don’t know if always wanted to be an artist, but I remember as a kid, one of the only teachers that I felt believed in me strongly encouraged me to continue with art, I disagreed because I’ve never thought I was good at it, or with anything for that matter. However, as I grew older, I noticed that I could never find interest in any other subject that we were required to take high school and somehow, I’ve always ended up coming back to writing.

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 have anything that is unique to my own work, for the most part, most of my work is done on a computer, but when it does come to my own signature I have a very specific way of signing things. Some people say it just looks like two likes and some squiggles but, I like it. As far as specific features, I guess that it would be that you can tell that I almost never write about things that tend to be happy. This does not mean that I don’t write about happy things, because I do. The reason to this is because I feel like not everyone knows what it’s like to be happy about something, or to express appreciation, or even have the feeling of being in love with someone. This could make it harder for a reader or listener to connect with my work on a personal and emotional level. However, everybody has been sad at some point in their life about something. So, by default, everyone knows that gut-wrenching feeling that I’m trying to express in my work and therefore can be able to relate and or sympathize with my characters as they can connect their own emotions with my work.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. Scared about what others may think? Go by a pen name. You are the only person that create make your thoughts into a reality, whether that be a story, a poem, a video game, a melody, anything you can possible want to create. You are the only one that can create it, so don’t let anything get in your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I wouldn’t know how to identify myself exactly but if I had to choose a term to go by, I would consider myself to be lithromantic (or akioromantic) asexual. I can have literally the absolute biggest crush on someone but if I find that they like e back the feelings immediately go away… its quite frustrating sometimes. However, I would say that I’m quite sex repulsed. If you touched me anywhere else besides to rub my back and maybe, just maybe, hold hand, the odds of me slapping the medulla out of your head be highly likely. Ha-ha, I’m just kdding but yeah, you get the idea lol.

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

Directed towards me? No. The people who I work with whether that be in my major in college, or when I work with the people in my school’s radio station/club are very open to others and diversity. This is probably due to the reputation my major and club has at our college, we welcome all with open arms.  However, the environment in the dorms is quite different. Some people think it’s just crazy thinking that it’s impossible to think that way. However, others some just seem to not be able to comprehend the idea. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, I was once involved in a conversation when my friends were discussing how someone’s girlfriend was asexual. They just didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and didn’t really know that it was a thing. They never really understood I, but they were overall respectful for that person.

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

I really haven’t encountered much since I’m only open about my sexuality with two people. However, I have tried to tell my mother who is convinced it is only a phase and I’ll think differently when I’m older. Also, one thing that seems to be a misconception is that when I first told one of my friends, he thought I was lying because I had crushes on guys and always told him about them. He thought that because I was asexual, I was incapable of liking someone. Nevertheless, after explaining that it is possible he’s become more understanding, which is good. J

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

This is a hard one because I’m still not fully accepting of my own sexuality however, I’m becoming more self-aware of it every day. My biggest advice would be to not force yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable will doing. It could just make you feel more uncomfortable and even worse than you felt before. Writing is what works the best for me, I often would write about my experiences with trying to figure out why I don’t have that “butterfly feeling” when I kiss a guy and try writing may ways to find a solution to what I’m feeling. If you’re stressing yourself out about it step back and take a breath. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, do anything you feel that can take you mind away from the stressor. A big part for me in to trying to come to term with my orientation is trying to say it out loud. I know it could be hard and scary for some people. The first time I told someone I was asexual, I said it in a text message. Honestly, by doing that I felt like I was still trying to hide it from myself. If I were to be complete honest it wasn’t until just a week ago, that I said that I was asexual for the first time out-loud and it was in front of my school counselor. I may or may not have cried in the process. Even though doing this was probably the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, the act of finally saying this out-loud has almost, in a way been a catalyst with my process of accepting myself. So, if you think you are ready you can do what I did and go to a school counselor, look at yourself in a mirror, or even just lay down on your bed and tell that to yourself, it can really be the push you need to accepting your orientation.

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

I’m going to start posting a lot of my poetry on my Tumblr but if you want, you can find any of my work on almost all my social media accounts (Wattpad, Instagram, Twitter). The username is CupcakeJiley and it is spelled the same way on every site. I you are interested in checking out any of the podcast/interviews and music videos I help produce and create you can go to my colleges radio Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/wkcv-lp-908850132) and YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2mJoWoVZnNJ6Q3I3bCBdg). I’ve also considered making my own YouTube Page in which I talk about my work, interest, as well as sexuality. I haven’t decided quite yet but I’ll keep you posted.

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

Interview: Kat

Today we’re joined by Kat. Kat is a wonderful aspiring writer who enjoys a variety of different sorts of writing. She’s a passionate sci-fi writer, but also dabbles in poetry and persuasive writing. Her current project sounds fascinating and will undoubtedly be an interesting read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I’m a new writer (as well as a professional procrastinator). I really enjoy stories, poetry, and persuasive writing. My current project is a story about an alien race with a sixth sense of empathy. They literally feel one another’s emotions with them. The main character is a child, born without this sense, and in a society where emotional communication is taken for granted, emotions are rarely intentionally communicated, she grows up feeling lost, confused, and out of place. She fakes it until humans land on their planet, and, intrigued that these people actually tell one another how they’re feeling, she stows away on their spaceship, in the hope that they’ll take her to a society where she belongs. It’s still in the outlining phase. It actually wasn’t intended to be any kind of parallel; it was intended to explore the roles that empathy and emotional communication play in different types of relationships. But now I see that it might serve two purposes, because that description sounds kind of similar to an asexual in an over-sexualized culture! Maybe I’ll dig into that parallel a little more now. Who knows?

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was young, and I’ve just been doing it on my own. I’m always looking for advice and help. I’ve done a lot of research on the structure of the story, I’ve taken a lot of writing classes, and I do a lot of reading, all of which together have fueled my passion for writing.

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?

Well, every story I’ve written has explored ethics in one way or another. I wrote one that explored a girl’s experience with guilt after accidentally killing a family friend in a car crash. It didn’t only imply that it’s harmful to stay angry at yourself, but it also implied certain ethical responses to the guilt (how she could apologize to her family, how she shouldn’t approach the issue, how to gracefully accept the legal consequences without sacrificing her dignity). I did my best to personify her without making her weak.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For aspiring novelists, specifically, I would say don’t start with page 1! I’ve wasted days of my life that I can’t get back for that. If outlining is too rigid and doesn’t get your story flowing correctly (I totally understand! I’m the same way), try writing a short-story version of your proposed novel, and then use that short story as your outline. That way, when you hit writers’ block, you have somewhere to turn.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteroromantic ace.

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

Specifically in the field of writing? Nah. I’m not out of the closet, but I don’t talk about sex like sexual people do, and whenever the topic of sex comes up, it’s obvious that I’m missing some element that everyone else is in on. So I get some unintentionally inconsiderate comments from friends and acquaintances about that (they’re either oblivious or they’re teasing). It’s kind of hurtful, especially since I’m in a successful romantic relationship already; it can feel like they’re not granting my relationship validity. But those are often people who are really close to me, so I just have to remember that they don’t intend to be hurtful. They’re just really oblivious to the reality that not everyone experiences what they do. I’ve gotten pretty thick skinned, because honestly, relationships are worth more to me than the right to take offense.

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

I’m not out of the closet, so I don’t see any misconceptions about the term, but I see misconceptions about my disinterest in sex. If I actually express disinterest in sex, I almost always get one of the following: “You’ll get there eventually!” “That’s just because you haven’t been exposed yet.” (That one is far from true). “You’ll meet the right person eventually!” The problem is that I can’t really correct those misconceptions, because I’m not out. Without using the label, it’s hard to say “actually, there are people who grow up without ever experiencing sexual attraction. It’s a valid reality.” So I tend to just forgive and move on. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll come out.

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

If you feel like you’re missing something when it comes to sexuality, like everyone else is sharing a common experience that you don’t have, then odds are, your gut is right. Trust it! I wondered for a while if everyone was just making sexual attraction seem bigger than it really is, and if I was experiencing it but not exaggerating it like they were. I was wrong! If you feel like you’re different, you probably are, and that’s a good thing, so don’t be afraid of it 🙂

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

I haven’t published anything yet, but I plan to write an asexual story, and when I do, I’ll put it on my blog acesareroyaltytoo. If I actually get some interest in that, I might post some unasexual related stories on a different blog! It’ll all just depend on whether people seem to want to read it.

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

Interview: Noxaura Cille

Today we’re joined by Noxaura Cille. Noxaura is an incredibly young ace who has an enthusiasm for writing. Xhe writes both stories and songs and also sings a bit. Though xhe is young, Noxaura is serious about art. Xhe submitted a story to a competition in xhyr state, where xhe wound up winning second place. My thanks to xhyr for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, alright. I’m a writer/authoress and singer/semi-songwriter (I use authoress because I prefer to deviate from the norms and it sounds more sophisticated, don’t you think?). I write stories, usually what I call/consider “Tragic/Dark Sci-fi”, though I am also working on a satirical story. Tragic Sci-fi is sci-fi, but it messes with the feels so badly that it can’t even be considered normal sci-fi any longer. I am proud to bear the title of the only Tragic Sci-fi writer, as I am the one who made the term up. I prefer to write alone, though I will sometimes ask for the opinion of a family member or classmate. I am my own editor as of this point in time (OCD helps with that), though I suppose I will have to have a professional edit my work once it is completed. Oh, that’s another thing about me: I only have fanfiction and unfinished works as my claim to the title. I get bored easily (I happen to have ADD), so almost as soon as I start a project, I get another idea and move on to another, leaving a trail of unfinished/unpublished works that I worked hard on.

If someone could give me a prompt I could have a pretty decent story written in a few minutes if anybody is interested? I am willing to look through comments/responses to find any.

Anyway, because of this, I am currently unpublished, but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer/author.

On to my second field: singer!

I have been singing since I was three and could form the sounds properly. Fun fact: up until I was nine years old, I literally listened to nothing but country music. When I was nine, I was on Charter On Demand and looking through the music, and I have a strong memory of Beyoncé. That’s right. Beyoncé.

My parents were shocked and exasperated. It is an odd sight to behold, the mix of exasperation and shock.

I sing in a high soprano (I prefer a neutral tone. You’ll know what I mean if you ever hear me), though I can always go higher, to the pitch of a tenor. My mom tells me my voice has a “tinkling/bell-like quality”. I sometimes have trouble finding the correct octave for a song, especially country songs, because my brain says “GO LOWER” while my voice says “DUDE I CAN’T DO THAT LOW! THE LOWEST I CAN GO IS, LIKE, G-FLAT/F-SHARP!” (Fun, fun fact: my vocal cords are 2 ⅓ inches tall/long) and the argument ends up kind of in-between, where I go from, like, G-flat to E-sharp, and it sounds funky because I keep switching. Sometimes I have to completely drop out because the singer goes below C4 and I can only go up to A5 because I’m a soprano. Duh.)

Oh, I just remembered something. When I was around six, my cousin (she was around 5 at the time) said she had a passion for singing. I told her that, no, she can’t have a passion for singing because that’s my passion and she wasn’t gonna steal it.

Ah, six-year-old me was still a little chienne.

I have been writing songs since I was about nine. Now, I’ve always dreamt of writing my own songs and playing guitar and being a famous singer. Well, I can’t play guitar, but I’m alright at piano.

Back to the topic at hand.

I used to think that I couldn’t write songs, simply because every attempt came out unorganized and unending.

At one point, I gave up completely.

And then my grammy told me that I could actually do it.

So I tried again… and failed.

However, I started asking myself what I was doing wrong. I began looking at song structure, and soon, I could write a song that seemed decent to me.

But my mom told me it sounded like I was going to commit suicide.

And I, being me, took that personally.

And began working and working.

And now, I can write songs with semi-ease and they make sense. I’m proud that I’m closer to my dream…

Maybe. But America is full of dreamers.

(A little-known fact about me is that I am great at memorizing songs. All it takes is hearing it once or twice and it is forever engrained. I also do this in my sleep. I am not joking.

I remember hearing a song on the radio that I thought I’d never heard before, and then proceeding to sing along, word for word.

It can get pretty freaky sometimes)

What inspires you?

The only answer is anything and everything has the ability. I can, however, assure you that the result of my inspiration will be dark. Sorry that I’m not sorry.

Oh wait.

No I’m not.

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

As a child, my parents would read me stories, as some parents do.

However, even at age three, I had a decent grasp on the English language.

Sometimes, I would take the book from my parent and read the book.

As for singing, well…

I was a troubling child. I didn’t eat anything but oatmeal, I was severely malnourished… (my birth parents’ work. My grandparents raised me and are, essentially, my parents. Oh, and they adopted me around two years ago. So…)

So I would have a radio playing country music (the only music my then 40-something year-old parents liked) every night.

Now, I don’t sleep well without it. Or some other form of music.

And, actually, the first thing I wanted to be was a paleontologist. Three-year-old me could pronounce that, too. She—my agender identity is a very new and fresh thing. Younger me identified as she, so she was she—could also read books with words like dinosaur and she could count all the way to one hundred, just like a big girl! Aren’t you proud, person I’ve never met before?

I stopped wanting that when I turned around seven and realized I would have to go outside and work with bugs (I have entomophobia. It’s actually pretty bad).

But I have always loved to sing, and my imagination is still so wild. It helps me write, but doesn’t help me sleep, if you catch my drift.

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?

Besides my sign-off? Um… Let me see…

I already mentioned how it is tragic, yes? Well, another key point in my work is that I am both a poet and a narrator.

I use metaphors a lot. And I mean, a lot. Most are very, very extensive and last a long time.

Oh, and character names are usually something unusual and unique for the first name, followed by something completely normal for a surname, but sometimes with an odd spelling.

I like using animals, and nature.

I just really like these things.

Oh, and femininity is a prevalent factor. Despite my agender identity. I also enjoy writing about children. Small, small children…

And storms. And snow. I LOVE writing about snow. You don’t want to know what I can do with the simplest prompt of “snow” or even “rain”. *evil laughter*

I’m tempted, so tempted to show you…

It’s on Wattpad, if you care enough. *sticks tongue out*

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You can do it.

Probably.

I’m not gonna lie; you will have to actually get off your cul and do stuff. Maybe learn a new language or two.

Expand your grammar a bit. This works in both writing and songwriting, which is a subcategory of writing, in my opinion.

Oh, and don’t plagiarize. That isn’t cool and nobody likes it.

Be original or you can just give up now.

And it’s probably gonna take a while for anything to happen.

But quitters don’t make it in this field. You have to have the drive to create and then you have to have the guts to act on that drive.

And always keep trying.

If at first you don’t succeed… by God, you keep at it until success hunts you down and hands you a pure diamond plaque that doesn’t have sparkles, but shines in the right lighting.

(Yes, I did pull that quote right out of my brain. Thanks for noticing)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as an agender female aromantic-biromantic sex-averse asexual with an apathromantic mindset.

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

Weeellllll… no, not really. And there is a simple reason for that: my fields are very specific but also very inclusive at the same time.

Acenegatives hardly ever find me because… I’m a writer, a singer and songwriter that goes (mostly) unnoticed, and an unpublished authoress. I don’t broadcast my asexuality to the world (in my field). Heck, I barely go into the world. I can do my job right here from my bedroom.

Well, at least I didn’t broadcast it until I started writing my latest (and only) satirical nonfiction book. *wink*

However, I have a feeling that the backlash will be large (or at least significant).

Now, recently, I posted a rant to my Tumblr about the ace discourse and my writing style just so happened to leak through… And I dealt with the acenegativity the way I deal with all people that get on my nerves.

I blocked the acenegative.

I also replied, saying that they were a perfect example of what I was talking about.

(The post, their reblog, and my reply to the reblog, are on my Tumblr [noxauracille]. Finding it may take a bit of scrolling, but you should find it within about five minutes, probably less)

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

This is kinda difficult…

“It’s a phase”, “are you sure it isn’t a phase?”, “[you’ll]* grow out of it”, “how do you know you don’t like it?”

The second to last was said by someone I considered an acquaintance, as we sometimes talk about school and other stuff while our parents work.

But she said that with such certainty…

My main problem is that this ties in with “you’re too young to know” and “how can you know it if you haven’t tried it?”, which can also lead to things like corrective behaviors (because I am positive rape is not the only “corrective” tactic) and generally a lot of confusion and hurt.

*Her original words were “she’ll grow out of it”, as she was talking to my mom.

She couldn’t even say it to my face.

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

This is going to sound really cheesy, but…

You are not broken, and you are not alone. Just be yourself and don’t listen to what everyone else tells you about you. In the words of Rihanna and T. I., live your life.

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

Once again, I’m unpublished and therefore I don’t have a lot of places for this. However, I am NoxauraRiddle13 on archiveofourown, NoxauraCille on FanFiction.net, and Noxaura_Cille on Wattpad.

Wattpad is where I post songs I write (most of the time), and my non-fanfiction (and some fanfiction that I can get by with) stories. If you want my “serious” projects, go there. Hopefully, in the future, I can get even more organized, finish my novel, and then I can get my website fixed up.

Man, that sounds so awesome…

Maybe I can even do the coding myself! (Anybody got any pictures they will let me use for it? Heh, I’m kidding. Creative Commons should work… Though it would be really helpful of anybody has a picture of a night sky, preferably with some stars, maybe some moonlight… Perhaps the moon itself, solitary and alone? Just some ideas for what I’m looking for…)

…sorry for the little ramble on coding a website and pictures…

I just love the sound of keys. I love it so much that my Kindle notification is a person typing on a computer.

I’ll wrap this up now. Bye!

~Nox

(I’m also bipolar)

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

Interview: Chuang Wang

Today we’re joined by Chuang Wang, who is also known as millenniumfae online. Chuang is a phenomenal versatile artist who works in a number of fields. They mostly do digital illustration and animation, but they’re also working on a short film and do a lot of painting and drawing. They also happen to be a fellow Guillermo del Toro fan (be still my heart). Chuang demonstrates an amazing amount of talent and there is so much emotion and beauty in their work. I was amazed at how they use color and lines to draw the viewer’s focus in. This is an artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Acesurvivor
Ace Survivor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fourth-year full time student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, working primarily digital illustrations and animations. I make movies, paintings, comics, and drawings, and I write my own scripts and stories. I’m currently making a short film called The Amber Witch, which has been over a year in the making, and will be finished within the next six months. I’ve also worked with phone game app developer teams. You might have also seen one of the pop-up ads that I’ve animated.

What inspires you?

Not any one thing. I’ll definitely say horror has always been a fascinating genre and source of inspiration. Good horror is successful because it’s entertaining enough to capture an audience, and terrifying enough to stick with someone after the story is over. Horror is a great catalyst for critical thinking and audience interest.

So my visual and storytelling style definitely draws from Konami’s Silent Hill series, manga artists Nakayama Masaaki and Junji Ito, Guillermo del Toro’s horror films, and others. Real life definitely offers the most inspirational horror – decay, corpses, and death particularly terrifies me.

My current Amber Witch film, a story about a witch that preserves ‘beautiful’ fresh corpses within orbs of amber, was inspired by National Geographic Johannes Bojesen’s photograph of a sheep corpse frozen in a pond. The top section of the sheep’s body had decayed to bones, and underneath the ice the sheep was perfectly preserved.

AmberWitch1    AmberWitch2

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

I didn’t take art seriously until my first few years of high school. On a whim, I began making fanart of my favorite video game and decided to join an internet forum fandom community. A pre-teen submitting their beginner art to an online forum of not-so-friendly adults went … as badly as you could imagine. I dedicated myself to improving out of pure spite. I quickly developed a work ethic, and decided to take my art skills to college, and beyond that.

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 every comic I’ve ever printed and distributed, there’s at least one onion sitting somewhere. Don’t tell anyone, but that onion is my avatar persona. Because I have an unholy love for onions. Especially raw and eaten like apples.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

‘Constructive criticism’ is 98% garbage. The only way to truly improve is to make and make more art, and to keep sight of your enjoyment. You develop a working rhythm within days, and that steady level of production is what’ll give you skill. Correct anatomy doesn’t actually exist, color palette and theory changes from person to person. ‘Good art’ goes in and out of fashion like everything else.

Not every artist draws every single day and works themselves to the bone while subsiding on cigarette smoke and pinot noir. I never did, and neither do my professional associates. This isn’t the Olympics. Improvement is sometimes just this one new technique that you decided to try on a whim, sometimes it’s you drawing this exact same pose over and over, until you couldn’t possibly mess it up ever again.

It’s not cheating if it works. Selling and crediting stolen art as your own is one thing, but using Photoshop filters, drawing aids, tracing and copying, anything that shaves off time and energy is what art has always been like, and what your idols and role models have always done. You’re only shown a carefully picked collection of finished art, and not the piles of garbage that led to it.

Iknowingme
I Knowing Me

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Panromantic asexual. My agender identity definitely muddles the ‘romantic orientation’ part, which has caused me enough drama to last my sad, queer little life.

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

Definitely not in my field of art … but my asexuality has been a rocky road from start to finish. Me being a young, brown (then-identifying bisexual) teen led to years of self-neglect. I had no reason to say no, so I always said yes. As far as I knew, my strange neurosis and underdevelopment could be solved if I ‘powered’ through it.

I knew asexuality existed, but never thought it could possibly apply to my life. What possible benefit was there in being asexual? There’s no role models, no pride, no happiness in that life. It was a tough time. I ignored my body’s various aches and pains, and it ignored me. Then I made that conscious effort to reclaim asexuality, and that fog finally began to clear. My asexuality was my way of growing into myself, in a completely different way than what I was taught.

My asexuality definitely affects my art, though. One of my popular, earlier stories was about a mythical figure called The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden, whose physical appearance was designed after the famous Xiaohe mummy, which is known for its long, curly hair and beautiful eyelashes. The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden was a story about falling in love with an emancipated (sentient) mummy, and now that I look closer, this character was very much designed in an asexual light. There’s no hint of her body or her figure, and she emits no sexual energy. Falling in love with no sexuality in the relationship almost seems like a learned skill for most people, but for me, it’s all I’ve ever known.

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

That it can be changed or compromised. I can predict these kinds of responses the minute before it happens. Sometimes, people voice some plan to change me. Sometimes, it’s subtle actions like invading my private space or belongings, or trying to ‘guide’ my thoughts and opinions. Sometimes, people get angry, because I ‘lied’ to them, or that I’m not involving them.

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

Keep it positive. Distance yourself from anything that rubs you the slightest wrong way. You aren’t owed any explanation, or behavior. Your comfort and safety is that much more important.

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

I’ve got an artblog on Tumblr, millennium-fae-artblog. I also offer art commissions, and I’m currently making various Ace pride merchandise to be sold on Redbubble and Storenvy, so keep an eye out for those!

Fenharel
Fenharel

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