Today we’re joined by Tina Speece, who also goes by tinadrawsstuff. Tina is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in pinups and portraits. She mostly does black and white and grayscale. Her work is beautiful and has an extraordinary amount of detail. It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
My name is Tina, and I’m multimedia artist-illustrator with a deep love of stories and storytelling. I love color, but I wind up working in black and white and grayscale a lot for reasons I still haven’t figured out. Pinups and portraits are my bread-and-butter and I take a lot of pride in making things “cute”.
What inspires you?
Stories! Especially the way themes cycle and recycle and how we relate to those themes. Cautionary tales disguised as kids’ bedtime stories, campfire scare stories that you know by heart but still a net a scream in the right atmosphere, stories “you think you know BUT” with some aspect changed [anything sympathetic to the monstrous is my favorite in this category]–there are patterns and beats that are older than time, but they still draw us in and we still keep going to those themes no matter what the world is like, and that’s so amazing to me!
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Funny story: my 4th grade art teacher told me I had no talent for art and needed to pick a new elective, which as a highly impressionable child pretty much destroyed any confidence I could’ve had at any point as a kid. I switched to vocal music and theater and didn’t really make any art for a long time after that. I was still fascinated by visual arts but since I “had no talent” for it, I settled for watching tons of movies and cartoons and writing fanfiction, and telling myself “This is good, this is fine”.
Then I got to college, and was planning to go on as an English major. My first semester (like most everybody’s first semester) was a hodgepodge of “required” Gen. Ed classes that didn’t have anything to do with what I wanted to be doing but I had to do it. I had some really good friends in my Japanese class, and to practice both the writing and our vocab, we started making silly little comics with the characters in our book (the illustrations in GENKI! were really easy to copy). Because we were all doing little comics and we were all friends, there wasn’t pressure to be “great” at it? They were just silly little things that we made, that I enjoyed making–that I drew during other lectures because I have always needed to do something while listening to something else so I could focus.
So I was sitting in Philosophy one day, doodling the ongoing love-triangle between Mary, Susan, and Takashi and listening to the lecture when it hit me [we’re talking a metaphorical punch to the face]: I like language, I don’t like it enough to sit and analyse it to this kind of depth for the next four years. I called my mom, told her I didn’t want to study English, I wanted to study art, no I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it’s more right than anything I’ve thought about studying.
Fortunately for me, my mom was (and still is) super supportive.
I graduated with a BFA in 2013 and after a year of not being sure what to do (because freelancing is hard and art-focused opportunities in my area wanted more degree than I had), I applied and got into the Masters program at Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio, finished THAT in 2017 and am still freelancing but now with a much better idea of what I’m doing. I honestly can’t imagine having gone in any other direction at this point in my life, and I only regret not drawing for so long between 4th grade and college.
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 try to remember to sign everything, but I like a small unobtrusive signature, so I tuck a TS somewhere in just about everything.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
1. You are going to make some really, really, really ugly things. Sometimes you’ll be proud of those ugly things for a while, but they’re still gonna be ugly. And that’s a good thing: you have to make ugly to understand what it is and whether you want to use it actively.
2. Do your best to purge the pop-culture expectation of an artist from your brain. That way lies the path of disappointment and being really freaking annoying, not to mention it takes a lot of energy to namedrop and fake ennui.
3. Don’t fear the “art block”. It’s your friend in the long run, because it lets you know something’s not working–either your mental health needs some attention and that’s why you’re not making, or you’ve stopped actively trying to hone your skills and have gotten lazy and your brain is bored and that means you need to get out of your comfort zone for a while, or that you need to take a break from the thing you’re currently doing and go do something else; even if that “something else” has nothing to do with art–everyone needs a break regularly.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m a demisexual bi!
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Oh yeah–I get it two-fold for being both demi and multi-attracted. I usually get asked if the figures and character I’m drawing are ideal sexual partners or if my conflict and discomfort with another person in my field is because deep down I just want “bang them”.
The subject question is easy to displace, I just start ranting about the lack of variation in character design and that kills almost all follow-up. The second question I usually just shut down with a face-melting stare because sometimes it’s not a judicious moment to ask someone if they’re a friggin idiot.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it’s something that can be “fixed” by an encounter with “the right person” and you’ll know in an instant
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
1. How you feel does have a name, and there are other people who feel the way you do.
2. You’re not alone, and that’s important.
3. You’re not broken, you’re not stupid, and you can’t just “pretend to be normal” because there’s nothing abnormal about you.
4. Most of the people you try to explain this to probably won’t get it, and they’ll say things that hurt because they mean well. You have every right to correct them, you have every right to defend yourself; don’t feel bad when you do, because you deserve that respect, even from people who generally mean well.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you, Tina, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.