Interview: Angelica Bentley

Today we’re joined by Angelica Bentley. Angelica is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in traditional media. She works with oils, watercolors, and graphite. When she’s not working on visual art, she does graphic and communication design. Angelica is also a stage technician for the theater where she does a lot of lighting design. And on top of all this, she also writes. It’s clear she’s a versatile 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 traditional media artist.  I work primarily with oils, watercolours, and graphite.  Right now, my work tends to follow themes of life and death as well as showcasing what I call ‘organic human spaces’ (unaltered rooms and living spaces that are telling of what the person living there is like).  I also work with graphic and communication design. I’m still working on learning the more ‘artsy’ side of that line of work, but for right now I do more design and layout oriented things.  At my school I work as a theatrical stage technician where I focus mostly on lighting design, i.e. I program and operate lights for shows and events.  Lastly, I’m a writer, though I don’t consider myself as successful with writing as I have been with my other forms of art.  I enjoy writing young adult fantasy novels…when I can get myself to actually write.

What inspires you?

This is hard to answer because it totally depends.  Other people’s art is probably my biggest inspiration.  Seeing or reading something really cool someone else has done gets the gears in my head turning.  It makes me wonder if I could create something like that, or do it even better.  But a lot of other things inspire me too.  Nature, cool architecture, songs, movies, dreams.  Just living is an inspiration to create art.

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

I think I have always wanted to be an artist.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or painting.  And ever since I could pick up a pencil I’ve been writing.  Of course, I went in and out of phases of inspiration throughout my life.  In middle school I was determined to be a writer.  In high school I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than art. Toward the end of high school I felt really down about being able to do either art or writing, and I hadn’t had any exposure to graphic design or lighting design at that point.  So I went into college majoring in–get this–accounting. I changed my major to a double major in art and graphic design within the first semester.  That’s what got me interested in graphic design.  A lot of the requirements for an art major overlapped with a graphic design major and taking design classes really appealed to me. Going into college I got a job as a theatrical stage technician (basically a techie) and I learned how to operate a light board and program lights, which I fell in love with.  Now I can’t see myself not doing all of these things!

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

Nope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try it all!  And don’t be afraid to be bad at it.  I used to avoid painting like the plague because I was afraid of being bad at it, but after I forced myself to learn how to paint it’s become my favourite media.  The same with graphic design and lighting design.  I thought I’d be no good because I’d never opened adobe illustrator before or touched a light board.  But then I did.  And I learned how, and I practiced, and I found out I really enjoy it.  Of course, there will naturally be some things that you try and try and try and never become good at.  And that’s okay!  Now you know! There’s no shame in trying and failing as long as you tried first.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as asexual, though I’ve definitely been questioning whether or not I’m also aromantic lately.

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

Thankfully, I haven’t. Though I don’t consider myself ‘closeted’, most people who consume my work don’t know that I’m asexual.

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

That they can’t ask questions.  I think a lot of people don’t want to come off as uneducated or intolerant of asexuality, so when I come out they don’t ask any questions.  It’s so frustrating because I know they probably don’t have a complete understanding of what the a-spectrum is, and they definitely don’t know what it means for me to be asexual, but they pretend they do.  I went out with a guy one time (sort of by mistake, but that’s a different story) who, when I told him I was asexual, thought I meant that I was bisexual and refused to ask questions about it.  To avoid this I normally ask people if they have questions about it when/if I come out to them.  Even then people are often still too afraid to ask.

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

It’s totally okay to not know what the hell is going on.  Change is hard, especially when it’s a whole shift in your identity, but change is okay too.  If you need to identify as a-spec now only to realize a different identity later that’s totally cool.  And you can always try labeling yourself as questioning, or simply queer.  I still struggle with my romantic identity, but I find it helpful to identify as a questioning aromantic.  That way I don’t feel guilty about identifying a way I’m not sure I am yet.

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

I just got an Instagram account, so it’s kind of bare right now, and I also use it a bit as a personal account, but my art is still there!  My handle is at a.n.g.e.l.i.c.a_b.e.n.t.l.e.y.  You can also email me at 0angben0@gmail.com for questions, commissions, and interests in my art.

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

Interview: Noreen Quadir

Today we’re joined by Noreen Quadir. Noreen is a phenomenal filmmaker, actress, and writer. She has acted in stage productions and short films. Noreen also writes screenplays and has written a feature length script about an asexual character. When she’s not working on film or stage, Noreen also writes in other forms too. She has written a children’s book, which she plans to self-publish soon. Noreen is an exciting artist and definitely someone to watch in the future. 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 an actress, writer and filmmaker with a background in theater and media studies. Aside from having acted in stage productions, I have also acted in short films and did background work on TV. I have also written and produced my own projects. I wrote a feature length script which is still in works, but I’ve produced a short scene from the script. The film is about a high school girl who is discovering that she’s asexual. And as she is realizing this, she is struggling with feeling like an outsider, especially when no one around her believes that she is asexual or that asexuality is even real. In addition to screenplays, I write in other forms and have written a children’s book which I intend to self-publish soon.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by so many things. I certainly get inspired by bits and pieces of my own life, but I have never really written or produced anything that exactly mirrors my life and experiences. It’s a little too intimate for me and I value my privacy. The feature length screenplay I wrote has certainly been inspired by my experience as an asexual, but it is still a very different story. The character is a bit different and how she discovers, processes, and handles her self-discovery is extremely different than my own story. That of course made it more fun to write because I got to invent stuff and had to look for inspiration from other places. I do get inspired by other artistic works including music, books and other movies. Inspiration is something that just happens organically for me. I can’t force it, which can sometimes be frustrating because when I want to write something, I am out of ideas. But when I do get inspired, I am able to put the words down which is always a great feeling!

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

I suppose it all started when I took dance classes around the age of 5. I loved performing and being up on stage. And then as I got a little older, I developed an interest in singing and music. I sang in my school’s choir and I also played the flute. Sadly, I cannot play the flute anymore. But, I remember it was a lot of fun. I also learned a little bit of piano. So, I had a huge appreciation for the arts at a very young age. And eventually, I got interested in acting and performed in plays in high school and then decided to study theatre in college. And then from there, I wanted to create my own projects. I was also a writer from a young age. I remember I used to write a lot of short stories and poems in elementary school and my teachers would compliment me on my works. I was not getting high marks in math, but I found my skill in writing. And in fifth grade, my teacher encouraged me to become a children’s author and that always stayed with 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?

I don’t think I have any special symbol, but I love the color pink. It’s my favorite color and it is what I wear in my headshot. My room back at my family’s home is also pink. And it is often that you will see me in that color. 🙂

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say to really invest in yourself and in your dreams. Whatever it is that you want to do – be it writing, filmmaking, performing, drawing, singing, etc., make sure you’re really committed to it and spend time each day on your craft. If you want it to be more than a hobby, then you have to do more than just dabbling in it here and there. It’s good to invest in adequate training, be open to feedback and learning, and exercise your artistic muscles daily.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic ace.

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

A little bit, but not any more than I’ve encountered in other areas of life or in general. Since most of the people I meet in my field are professional contacts, my personal life isn’t much of a topic anyway. Occasionally, people have said ignorant things because sex is a big part of the film industry and it has been kind of implied that if you don’t fit in with that, you don’t fit within the industry. I suppose the only way I handle stuff like that is by calling people out on their ignorance and letting them know that despite the sexual liberation, there is still hypocritical close-mindedness when it comes to sex.

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

It’s really hard to pinpoint one, because there have been many. I think probably one of the most common ones is that asexuality is impossible or that if you claim to be asexual, you either have experienced abuse or trauma, you have a medical disorder that is causing you to feel that way or you’re repressed. Some people think it’s just a phase and that you haven’t met the right person yet. I used to get a lot of comments like that when I was a teenager and when I was in college. There’s also this view that if you dress and act very feminine, wear makeup and perfume, etc., that you can’t be an asexual. I think some people equate asexuality with unattractiveness and a neutral gender expression.

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

I would say to know that asexuality is not abnormal and that they are not the only ones in the world with this orientation. And even though it is still not widely acknowledged, it really will take people being confident with their orientation to make the difference and to change how people view asexuality. So I would say to embrace yourself and that your orientation is just one aspect of you. It doesn’t define your entire self and there are so many other interesting aspects of a person. I tend to define myself and other people by choices and how you treat and interact with others. That’s what really matters at the end of the day.

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

Here’s my YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/ZizzyNQ

And this is my actor’s website: https://www.noreen-quadir.com/

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

Interview: Abby Bender

Today we’re joined by Abby Bender. Abby is a wonderful young up and coming performance artist who is studying acting at my alma mater, Beloit. She is a very passionate and talented artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Please, tell us about your art.

I am Studying Theatre Performance in College

What inspires you?

The ability to become someone else and look at the world through a different set of eyes. This idea helps me grow and change as an actor.

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

I started acting in middle school and I thought it was a great way to express myself because before that I was very shy.

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. I am still learning about the field but it makes me happy to just learn about.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Put yourself out there. If you are scared you are doing something right. Challenge yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a lithromantic Asexual

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

Not directly, but I struggle with playing sexual characters. I have no experience to pull from. I am often type cast as the young innocent girl.

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

How it is portrayed. I know a lot of people who have heard of asexuality but when I ask them about it they have wild misconceptions and when I try to correct them they tell me I’m wrong.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong. Everyone experiences their orientation differently. You are perfect.

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

People can follow my Instagram: _abby_bender_ I sometimes post about the shows I’m in.

Or email me directly at benderac@beloit.edu. I’m open to discussing a lot of things.

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

Interview: Beth

Today we’re joined by Beth. Beth is a wonderful young actor and writer. For writing, they write a mix of fanfiction and short stories. They studied English Literature in college and have had a passion for writing for most of their life. As for acting, Beth is part of an amateur acting group and loves the theater. They have an incredible passion and enthusiasm, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Please, tell us about your art.

I’m 19 so I’m not mega experienced but I have been writing and acting since I was a child.

Acting

I’m studying drama and theatre studies at college. I’m a part of ‘Hessle Theatre Company,’ I’ve performed at Hull Truck theatre, Hull New Theatre. More notably I performed in an amateur acting course on Shakespeare’s Globe. I’m a City of Culture 2017 volunteer so I’ve done a lot of small performances through that. I performed in ‘into the light’ a dance for UK pride, choreographed by Gary Clarke.

Writing

I also study English literature at college. I’ve been writing my entire life really. When I was given crayons in a restaurant I’d write stories while other kids would draw. I’ve posted a fanfiction about an ace character on Archive of Our Own (pink_haired_hunter). I haven’t shown my work to most people. The fan fictions I post are always drabbles and I usually delete them pretty soon after they’re published. I’ve shown my English teacher my work and she loves it, she was really impressed with my poetry but I can’t see myself doing that. My stories are good but I struggle to finish them without getting angry and throwing them out.

What inspires you?

Acting

I use method acting, I have even before I knew it was a thing. I really feel my role so my inspiration comes from my character and my own life experiences which I can relate them to I guess.

Writing

I don’t even know. I have thousands of ideas squashed into my head so I normally write just to get them out and on to paper. I have insomnia because all the story’s that won’t shut up and let me sleep ahaha I take inspiration from what I see in everyday life. I’ll see a person on the bus and think you’d make a brilliant character and then just let my imagination take me where it wants. I can literally be inspired by anything, litter on the floor, a car, a wall, there isn’t many particular things.

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

I have always wanted to be an artist of some kind, though I’ve frequently fluctuated on what type of artist I want to be. I’ve always been a very emotional, creative, individual and socially observant person. (Not being arrogant or anything, they’re just my best traits :/) I’ve constantly been called weird but who wants to be normal anyway? But really I’ve always been an artist at heart, there was never one moment or a trigger where I decided 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?

No not really. I’m not really the planning type so every idea is always completely new and different from the other.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Go for it. The worst thing I think is when people don’t try and achieve their dreams because they’re ‘unrealistic.’ The amount of people who have told me to aim for something more achievable or to utilise my talents because I’m academic is ridiculous. Somebody gets to be an actor or a novelist, why can’t it be me? There is no reason why we can’t all achieve what we want to be, just don’t let other people restrict you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

No sexual or romantic attraction whatsoever

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

Definitely ignorance. I mean, I’ve had quite a few people try to flirt with me and I’ll tell them: “I’m sorry, I’m not interested. I’m asexual and aromantic.” And then of course I have to explain what it is, which I don’t mind doing, I know not everyone knows about it and that’s fine. (It is a bit annoying the amount of people who’ve asked if I was a plant though!) And most people are you know, shocked. A lot of them don’t understand it, which I think is weird because it’s a pretty simple concept. Most people accept it though and leave me alone. A few, of course, don’t. I get the people who think “I just haven’t met the right person” or that “I don’t know until I try” wink wink. Which is uncomfortable, especially when they know I’m clearly not interested and still continue to try and flirt with me. Luckily I’ve never felt threatened in these circumstances, as they eventually leave but the issue is that I always have this fear that one time it will turn.

Prejudice wise the most I get is probably that same ignorance, sexual pressure and just the lack of acknowledgement (in terms of media or social awareness). My parents completely dismiss my sexuality and still continue to presume that I will end up married in a heterosexual relationship with kids. And on top of that dismissal I have accepting friends who don’t think acephobia is a thing and people in the LGBTQ+ community who don’t welcome or accept me. I feel as though everyone is always trying to pressure me into having sexual relations and I really hate that.

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

That it’s not real. That’s it’s a side effect of my medication. That I’ll grow out of it.

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

At the end of the day, I wear my label loose. I identify as asexual and aromantic but if those feelings change then they change. As much as I love labels to feel like a part of a group, to feel understood and validated… I also don’t want to feel trapped in my label. I might develop romantic or sexual feelings and that’s okay but for now I haven’t and that’s also okay. My main advice would be to not let it worry you so much. Tell people about it if you feel confident enough to but don’t feel like you have to because it often isn’t relevant. I don’t think anyone should have to ‘come out’ but at the same time I don’t think you should hide what you are either.

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

I’m performing in ‘The Producers’ at Hull New Theatre

My Tumblr is: iconic-ironic-insomnic
My archiveofourown is: pink_haired_hunter

There are videos of ‘into the light’ on YouTube and a documentary coming up soon. Think that’s it 🙂

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

Interview: Nessie

Today we’re joined by Nessie. Nessie is a phenomenal playwright from Scotland who is also working on the first draft of her first novel. When she’s not writing, Nessie also acts and directs. Nessie also participates in a medieval re-enactment society as well. It’s very clear that she has an incredible amount of passion and dedication, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Please, tell us about your art.

I am a playwright, a writer more generally, an actor, and a director. I also LARP, and I am part of a mediaeval re-enactment society. I have written eight plays so far, three of which have been performed – one of them twice, the second time under a new title, Shakespeare Syndrome, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016 – and one of which had extracts read from it by professional actors at the Traverse Theatre, as part of my MSc Playwriting programme. I will graduate in November this year and recently received my degree award; I will be graduating ‘With Merit’!

My plays so far have most been quite dark, and often historically inspired. My two most recent scripts were inspired by the lives of mediaeval queens (Margaret of Anjou and Mary of Guelders, the wife of James II of Scotland), while my first ever script, This Breathing World, was heavily influences by Shakespeare’s Richard III and was set in space; I actually have a short lived Tumblr blog about my experience directing the show if you’re interested (http://thisbreathingworld-play.tumblr.com). Funnily enough, my play that has been performed twice, and at the Fringe no less, was my first foray into comedy; Antic Disposition, later retitled Shakespeare Syndrome, is a play in which several of Shakespeare’s characters visit a psychiatrist, and things go about as well as one might expect.

What inspires you?

Shakespeare’s History plays, actual history, books I read, people and events in my life and, more recently, situations and characters from the shared universe my friends and I have in LARP. My first book, which I plan to start working on as part of NaNoWriMo, is inspired by one of my characters and his family, but this character was in turn inspired by a number of different historical figures and events, from Pope Alexander VI to the Spanish Inquisition. He’s… he’s a bit of a mess. Although he is asexual, so he has that going for him, haha!

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

I have always wanted to be a writer, since I was seven years old and ‘wrote’ my first ‘book’; basically I copied out Rapunzel and drew illustrations for it, and I specifically remember her having a triangular orange dress! I briefly swapped from wanting to be a writer to wanting to be an actor when I was in high school, but I’ve always been a writer, really; whether through writing reviews for an online publication (Broadway Baby), doing one of my degrees in English and the other in Playwriting, or making up stories with my friends when I was younger (and I still do that, to be honest)! I wrote fanfiction for a while in high school – for CATS: The Musical and Dickens books mostly, because I was, and am, a person of very niche interests. For a long time my magnum opus was a fifty-three chapter fanfic called Bill Sykes detailing the backstory of the violent thug from Oliver Twist! I started writing plays during my second year of undergrad and playwriting has been my jam ever since.

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, my characters die a lot, but I wouldn’t say that’s a signature, more a worryingly frequent feature! A lot of them also tend to be quite wordy, and that’s a problem I have as a self proclaimed ‘word nerd’, having done two degrees with creative and analytical slants; my characters and I tend to use several words were only a few would do. One of the exceptions to this rule is Frank Lovell, my version of Shakespeare’s Francis Lovell, who was himself a historical figure; he tends to say very little and, when he does speak, it’s monosyllabic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know it’s a cliché but I would say never give up on your art, you will only get better with practice. I look back on my older scripts now and I realise how far I’ve come, especially since I was lucky enough to be able to pursue a degree in Playwriting to better understand how scripts are written and how they work. I would also say be ruthless when it comes to editing, if you’re a writer; I had a first draft of a play once that was around eighty pages long, and it was only meant to be around an hour long in performance. If it had stayed eighty pages it would have taken around two hours! I would also say, again for writers, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite; your first draft is not perfect – and don’t worry, it’s not meant to be! It doesn’t have to be, it just has to exist. As my playwriting tutor used to say, a first draft is a pile of shit with occasional nuggets of gold. She was a very unusual woman.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic asexual. It took me a long time to get to this point, from questioning my sexuality, to thinking I was bisexual; I didn’t even know what asexuality was until very recently! I am now pretty comfortable calling myself asexual, and my friend recently bought me a shirt for my birthday that says ‘Asexual pirate isn’t interested in your booty’ (Look Human is an incredible website and has a huge range of ace themed shirts, accessories and so on. They’re not paying me to say that, I just adore this website!), which I hope to debut in public sometime soon, as it’s my first piece of clothing/accessory or anything that displays pride colours.

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

I’ve honestly been very quiet about my sexuality in public, as I feel it’s on a need to know basis, though a lot of my friends know. My family sort of knows (long story) and my Dad will sometimes make jokes about me needing to find the right person, but I know he’s joking so it’s OK. I have encountered a lot of ignorance online though, but as I haven’t encountered it personally, the ignorance being directly at the orientation and not me specifically, I can’t really say how I have handled it. I am more open about my sexuality online, and feel I’m able to be more proud of it there, as I have encountered a very loving and supportive community; in the real world, I’m not sure, and in fact I know, not everyone I know would be so understanding, sadly including some members of my immediate family.

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

Oh gosh, in my quest for discovering who I was/what asexuality was I encountered so many misconceptions; humans aren’t plants, that’s not a real orientation, you’re an emotionless robot, how can you not be interested in sex?, what’s wrong with you?, who hurt you? etc. No one hurt me, nothing’s wrong with me, I’m ace and that’s a-OK!

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

I would say that it’s perfectly valid to struggle with your orientation, especially when sex and sexual attraction seem to be regarded as the key to all happiness these days! No matter where you are on the spectrum and no matter your struggle, you are valid and you are loved. You don’t have to have it all figured out, now or in the future, and there is nothing wrong with you! You are not broken, or weird, or going through a phase. You are who you are and you should be proud of yourself. ❤

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

I am in the process of trying to put together a website but it’s very slow going. Occasionally – very occasionally – I will say something about my work on Tumblr, so that’d be the best place to hear about my work for now. For more about some of my plays, if you Google ‘Shakespeare Syndrome Edinburgh Fringe’ you may be able to find some reviews of the last play I had performed, and I think if you search ‘This Breathing World play review’, you may come across some reviews for my first ever play, from 2014!

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

Interview: Diana

Today we’re joined by Diana. Diana is a phenomenal artist who does a little bit of everything. She’s a theater performer who has acted in a few plays. She’s also dedicated to music, playing the viola in an orchestra. Diana also does quite a bit of writing. She’s writing for a videogame demo and she also writes a lot of fanfiction. Diana has a wonderful enthusiasm for her craft, 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’m an artist in several arts, I suppose. I did theatre training for about 6 years in my local theatre, performed in my school plays and such. I also belong to a small community orchestra in which I play the viola (do not worry if you haven’t heard of it – I hadn’t, either). Finally, I write. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past 4 years, I’m a co-writer in an upcoming demo of an indie video game, and I also write and post fanfiction.

What inspires you?

In music, what often inspires me is the sense of community in orchestra, the joy of playing together, and the beauty of the music. One just longs to hear music. Performing in theatre is something that I just enjoy immensely, and simply having so much fun makes me want to keep doing it. When writing, though, what often inspires me is the books I read, and the people I want to see in stories.

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

I’ve loved stories since I was a kid, and especially telling them. My younger cousins were the unlucky recipients of my made-up bedtime stories, and I loved performing as a storyteller. Later on, that translated into theatre and writing. I’d always wanted to dedicate myself to it, yes. Dreamed of being a professional author for a long time, if you can believe it.  For music, my mom signed me up, lame as it might sound.

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?

Diverse characters in writing, I’d like to think. I also simply love fantastical elements, no matter the genre – I think it makes everything glow. As for theatre, I often make my characters very flamboyant.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop doing what you love. It may sound cheesy and cliché, but even if it leads nowhere, financially speaking, it can brighten your day. At the worst times for me, emotionally, art was a breath of fresh air. And don’t get discouraged, hard as it is – we all start somewhere.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual! This might be TMI, but I usually have no problem with sex with my partner as long as I’m not the one being touched. However, I dislike NSFW art, writing, and talking about sex regularly.

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

It’s hard in music and theatre, because you mostly play others’ works, and that’s usually very detached from my asexual identity. In writing…yes, definitely. Romance novels, especially, tend to have a very, very literal climax; an upwards progression to a definite sex scene the reader is looking for. There is very little asexual inclusion in literature, so often times there is a definite ignorance. Whenever I write romance, I feel almost pressured to include a sex scene, which I’m not very comfortable with. Especially in the fanfiction and fandom community, so sex-focused and ship-centered, being asexual or aromantic isn’t popular, and you’re accused of being “ill” or discriminatory.

I usually deal with it by blocking and ignoring people whose arguments are watered down prejudice and insults, and trying to educate and speak with those who are more confused. And, in the end, the gratitude of aces who read my work is always more than worth it.

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

The plant dilemma (and, let me tell you, as a biochem student this is hilarious, since most plants are sexual). The misconception that celibacy and asexuality are the same thing, or that no ace people ever want to have sex/masturbate/have a libido.

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

Find aces, especially older ones. In my experience, having that support is always the best thing you can get. Get into ace forums, surround yourself with positivity, and don’t be too hard on yourself on whether you are or not asexual. Orientation takes time to figure out.

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

My Tumblr and Twitter are usually the place!
http://i-read-good-books.tumblr.com/
https://twitter.com/gomadelpelorota

You can also check out my fanfiction on Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/users/thankyouforexisting

Thank you, Diana, 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.

D&Dcomic
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.