Interview: Michelle

Today we’re joined by Michelle. Michelle is the phenomenal artist and creator behind the comic Centralia 2050, a “female-led cyberpunk mystery comic with themes of isolation, oppression, and transhumanism.” The comic has a variety of diverse characters and Michelle puts a lot of importance on creating ace-friendly material. Michelle is soon going to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first volume of the comic, which I’ll post a signal boost for in about a week (so keep an eye out for that). Michelle is an incredibly talented and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a storyboard and comic artist, currently working on my original cyberpunk mystery comic Centralia 2050. Right now, the comic is just starting its 4th chapter, with a volume 1 book in the works. I also work as an artist doing live-action storyboards for commercials and music videos. Now and then, I like doing watercolour painting, too.

What inspires you?

Usually the people around me. Each person I get to know inspires me with their unique life story, their struggles, their aspirations. A lot of that gets subconsciously channeled into the stories I write and the characters I create.

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

I’ve always been drawn toward telling stories, and drawing is the easiest way for me to get my ideas out. I’m not great with words, so it’s often easier for me to just show what’s in my head. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I thought about pursuing art professionally, though I didn’t know what kind of job I wanted. Eventually comics and storyboarding became the most natural path to satisfy my love for storytelling.

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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?

Nothing I’m aware of! I’m not great at noticing those little trends in my art, honestly. Like, I couldn’t tell you what my style is or any direct visual inspirations. I just draw what looks right to me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Perfection is the enemy of finished. A lot of young artists hide their work because they feel it’s not good enough to share, but the world can’t know about you if you hide everything you create. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and have a constructive attitude towards failure. I think that’s a quality that every successful artist must possess.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a heteromantic ace.

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

In my field, no. I don’t typically make my orientation known, largely because it only invites a lot of awkward questions. Of course there’s going to be ignorant people in the artist community, but I’ve been fortunate to not have to deal with any of them personally in my career.

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

That I’m ace because my partner is lousy in bed. It sucks, because I’m inclined to not “out” him as having an ace girlfriend– I don’t want to potentially embarrass him. When you tell people you’re ace and in a relationship, they want to know how that works. It’s different for every couple, and I don’t think it should be anyone else’s business.

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

Find ace-friendly communities online. I didn’t even know what to call myself until I was in my mid-20s, and it caused me a lot of grief. I hear a lot of aces say they thought they were “broken”, and I absolutely felt that way before I realized asexuality was a thing. I felt a lot better when I started reading about other people’s experiences and having the validation that I wasn’t a broken person.

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

You can read Centralia 2050 at centralia2050.com. There is also a Kickstarter for the first volume of the comic, which you can find at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/michelledraws/70043576?ref=355027&token=8e80ddd4. (Kickstarter will be live on October 15th)

I’m Art of Michelle Stanford on Facebook, at michellestanfordart on Instagram, and at Michelledrawz on Twitter.

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

Interview: Doodlebuggy

Today we’re joined by Doodlebuggy. Doodlebuggy is a wonderful storyboard artist and character designer. In the past, she has worked at Hasbro and will soon have a series on Netflix, which sounds fascinating. It’s clear she has an admirable dedication to her art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Abigail

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a storyboard artist and a character designer.

I will also be creating my own cartoon series about a disabled girl who lives in a junkyard and build battle armor.

I also like to write poems and songs.

What inspires you?

The concept that I could do something to help someone else live a better life.

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

When I was in health class in middle school we had to give a presentation on different STD’s. As a religious girl talking about genitals at all was embarrassing, so I made a cartoon by putting a bunch of frames into PowerPoint and scrolling down really fast. I got an A and a cookie.

Also in the Behind the Scenes of Monster’s Inc. I saw a grown man wearing a Viking helmet getting pushed down the stairs in a cardboard box like a rollercoaster. The day I was told adults could get away with it was the day I realized this was meant for me.

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Bat

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.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fail, fail often and fail spectacularly. Make a plan and screw it up. I used to want to punch anyone who ever said that you learn more with failure but now as a 28 year old I see why. You may know that something won’t work but you won’t know WHY until you try it. See why you can’t use watercolor and oils, see WHY you can’t use medium heat when making Hollandaise sauce. See WHY. Always find out why. (Unless it is something that could lead to death don’t try to see why you can’t drink bleach or something.) Sometimes you find out there is no reason why and rules have been holding you back. Sometimes you realize “OK THIS is why you can’t have candy for breakfast.”

And the most important thing. LEARN from your failure. It doesn’t work if you keep making the same mistakes.  Embrace your mistakes. Make it your armor.

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Gods

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am Demi. But even then my interest in sex is EXTREMELY limited.

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

Not in my field but I have been told that I haven’t “met the right guy” by others. To which I reply. Why don’t you date llamas? Oh you not into llamas? How do you know if you never been with one? Maybe you haven’t found the RIGHT llama. But people in animation tend to be fine with it. As long as you are not an asshole and get your work done it’s fine. We got lesbians, gays, and I actually found my first ace friend at Hasbro. We both laughed/cried and finding out we are not alone. More and more of my friends have started opening up to me about their own sexuality. It is apparently more common than I thought. Thought I still feel I don’t have the right to be at a pride parade since I feel like everyone else is fighting to be with someone they love and I am fighting for…what? Wanting to not have sex? Many feel asexuals shouldn’t be in the LGBT community if someone tells me I don’t belong then maybe I don’t. To be honest, it makes me sad.

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Hog

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

The difference between libidos and attraction. Someone can be asexual but still have a libido. It is like being hungry but not in the mood for anything in the fridge. Sure you might eat one thing or another to satisfy your appetite but you don’t hunger for it.

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

You are not broken. You are not incomplete. I know it sometimes feel like you are living in world with a color you will never see or a flavor you can never taste but you are you who are. There is a reason you are made this way.

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

http://doodlebuggy.tumblr.com/.

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Queen of Eggland

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

Interview: Nilah Magruder

Today we’re joined by Nilah Magruder. Nilah is a brilliant visual artist and writer who I met at Capricon. She moderated a great panel that I was on about friendships in SFF and I was ecstatic to find out she was a fellow ace creator. Nilah’s work is absolutely gorgeous and I’m so excited to check out her new projects. Her upcoming graphic novel, M.F.K., looks particularly intriguing. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

By day, I’m a storyboard artist in the animation industry. In my free time, I make comics and children’s books. My most recent projects are HOW TO FIND A FOX, a picture book about exploring the outdoors and perseverance, and M.F.K., originally a fantasy webcomic that will be hitting bookstores in graphic novel form in September.

What inspires you?

Life! Stories! Observing the world, its nature, its people, its politics is a huge inspiration. I also get inspiration from other people’s art.

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

I saw the pencil tests for The Lion King for the first time when I was twelve (I’m old, and The Lion King was still under production at this point) and from that moment I wanted to work in animation. I’d loved drawing from a young age, but I don’t think I ever considered it a serious profession. I had no concept of how to become an animator; it was more a pipe dream than anything. So at first I was interested in pursuing music, writing, or something more practical like accounting. It wasn’t until I was applying to colleges that I found out you could study animation, and it rekindled my interest.

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?

Nothing unique or consistent like that. My work is kind of all over the place, actually, because I’m always trying new things. If there’s anything, I guess I draw a lot of girls.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work on the fundamentals. Explore styles and influences. Be a sponge. Work hard, but don’t work yourself sick. Your health and life are important. Take breaks, stretch, exercise, eat well, sleep, enjoy the world around you, and learn to say “no” when you need to.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and aromantic.

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

I guess ace erasure is what I encounter most commonly. Most people don’t seem to have a concept of what asexuality is, so there’s very little representation in animation and comics. I’m trying to be more open about my own sexuality, but in the meantime, I include asexual characters in my work. The main characters of M.F.K. are asexual. In my own canon, asexuality is always present.

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

I’ve been hearing the “asexuals are just straight people who wish they were queer” rhetoric a lot lately. And also the idea that it’s the same thing as celibacy, like it’s a choice. It’s sad, and also annoying to have your identity and feelings treated as invalid… something that I’d think more people would relate to, honestly.

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

Asexuality is a fairly new term, but asexuals have always existed; we just used different language in the past. So don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong in the queer community. We’ve always been here.

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

I’m on Twitter (nilaffle) and Tumblr as nilaffle, and Instagram as nilaffles. My website is nilahmagruder.com. You can find M.F.K. at mfkcomic.com.

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