Interview: Schi-Lee A. Smith

Today we’re joined by Schi-Lee A. Smith. Schi-Lee is a phenomenal artist who is incredibly versatile. She does a lot of visual art and even teaches painting classes. When she’s not doing visual art, Schi-Lee enjoys writing and writes both original work and fanfiction. Schi-Lee also has a passion for singing and even has some karaoke fans. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an impressive amount of passion, 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.

Well, I paint quite often, I actually teach painting classes sometimes.  I sing, a lot; I have some fans at karaoke.  I draw with pen or pencil, too, and I write, both fanfiction and original works.  My writing is usually like what I read, sci-fi ish, and I pride myself on making realistic dialogue.  I like to paint and draw realistically, haven’t quite gotten abstract down.  My singing can be just about anything, I can sing Creep by Postmodern Jukebox and Highway to Hell just as easily.

What inspires you?

When I was a child, it was my Dad.  I still have his drawings and poems around my house, and when I was very young, he would record us singing on a giant cassette tape recorder thing and let me do skits in between songs.  He was very artistic, and just about all my artistic tendencies stem from him.  Now, it’s still that in a way, but also I just want to see the beauty in the world, and add to it if I can.  Lots of people love hearing me sing, and love my writing, and love my artwork.  If I can make someone else happy, then I’ve succeeded.

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

Technically my field is Biology, that’s what I’m majoring in in University, but I’ll always consider myself a musician, artist, and writer.  My Dad never put me down for any art I did, so I was never afraid to get into something I wanted to do, and it’s always been with me since childhood so even if I never get any recognition for any of it, I’ll always be an artist. Therefore it’s not as much something I want to do, as something I’m doing, even if I stay obscure.

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 do, actually.  My Dad’s signature was a heart with ‘LAB’, his initials, in the center, all interconnected, it’s really neat.  I made one for myself when my initials were still SAB, but it looked really weird, so when I got married, I changed it to a kind of horns, or something, to match SAS.  It’s hard to draw with a mouse, but it’s basically this.

Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry about what others say is art, art is what you want it to be.  I have friend who play metal that people say isn’t music, but it is to them, and it makes them happy.  Draw/sing/write/do whatever to make you happy, or to get it out of your head, don’t do it for others.

And don’t be put down if it sucks at first, most everyone’s first drawing of a person is a stick figure, just practice, and practice a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic asexual.  I suppose if one goes for this part, I’m sex-positive.

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

I have encountered some people that didn’t really know what it was, but my friends were very supportive and defended me before I could.  I have awesome friends.  Thankfully I have yet to encounter any prejudice or ignorance that scared me like I know plenty have, so I thank God every day for where I am in life.

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

That we hate sex, or we never have sex.

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

You aren’t alone, that feeling that you don’t understand what all the fuss is about?  Other people feel it.  It’s not weird to think that a ‘hot’ person isn’t hot, according to your body. You don’t have to pretend.

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

Well, I have a YouTube channel, youtube.com/schihigh, where I’m attempting to post my singing and music videos I make on.  I also have a Tumblr and a specific tag with my art on it.  You can just search ‘schi’s art’ on schi-walker-locked.tumblr.com.  If someone were to want commissions, they could message me on Tumblr, or email me at schihigh@yahoo.com.  Just put commission in the subject.

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

Interview: Jaem

Today we’re joined by Jaem. Jaem is a phenomenal visual artist who works in traditional mediums. She does a lot of painting and a little crocheting. Their paintings are large vibrant pieces, which often fit together. It’s clear she’s a very passionate artist who loves to create. 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 paint on paper or canvas using mainly acrylic paint in select shades for each piece

What inspires you?

Horror movies are great inspiration, and using subtle ways of that, such as cables, skeletons, syringes, or just background images and motifs is very interesting

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

I took art as a subject in high school, general at first then moved on to painting, and just enjoyed it and loved it so much I continue to do 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 use arrows and mountains a lot, whether in the background or as a focal point, I also use three (give or take one or two) shades in a series of work so they all have a good link and you can see how the story develops

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just continue with it, spend as much time as you can working at it, and if you don’t want to spend time on it find a medium that you do want to spend time on.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Currently as Demi, but I have previously identified as fully asexual

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

I am not out as such to anybody in my field, but I have been told/overheard people talking about sexuality and how “having sex/sexual thoughts is intrinsic to being an artist” I usually say something about how ignorant the person who said that must be or just ignore it

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

That people who identify as asexual are prudes/don’t like to talk or mention anything vaguely sexual – there are probably people who this applies too, but there are many others that it doesn’t apply too

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

Read up on it, do some research, and see how you are going to let it affect or change your life, you don’t have to let it become a major part of you and effect your everyday life, but if you ignore it or try to shove it away, it will negatively affect your self-perception and how you feel about life

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

I am not currently displaying or selling any of my work, but in future I am hoping to sell on etsy or a similar website, and maybe if I can, have my art displayed in a gallery.

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

Interview: Ellen

Today we’re joined by Ellen. Ellen is a phenomenal freelance artist who does both traditional and digital art. She loves to draw and specializes in both cartoons and realism. Her work has an incredible vividness to it and demonstrates a masterful use of color. 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.

pride part 2
Pride

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is a combination of cartoons and realism. I have been developing my art for 8 years. I love to draw humans, animals or mythical creatures. I use drawing as an escape from the hardships that I face, when the pencil touches the paper or when my stylus touches the tablet, I enter a world where I can express myself without being judged for who I am. In some ways art can be very therapeutic, whether it’s because of school or life in general, I pick up the pencil and doodle away……until the lead snaps or the battery dies on my stylus.

What inspires you?

My friends, they have inspired me and stood by my side through thick and thin. They have supported me for the longest time and they’re the reason I’m still drawing! My dad is also my biggest inspiration, he has supported and inspired for many years. I remember when he would put up my pictures on the fridge when I was in preschool.

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

I started drawing in 1st grade. I would just draw the usual stick figures with noodle hair. But, one specific person kick started my love for art. When I was in 4th grade, this one girl taught me how to draw humans in a way that looked like a human it didn’t have all those advanced features that an actual human had. Ever since then I started to develop that style into what it is today. I never thought that I would ever become an artist but, look at me now!

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?

Whenever I draw my main human character, I draw this little curl on the top of their head. This trait came from my love of anime as a child and it carried through my style for as long as I can remember. Also I draw the tips of shoes/feet very pointy.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Always take constructive criticism! It will help you in the future when you want to become professional!

two time
Two Time

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Biromantic Asexual 🙂 but I’m still contemplating if I really like boys or not

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

Unfortunately, yes. Sometimes I’m really scared to go to a pride event because I’m scared that I will receive backlash due to my orientation. And I have been told constantly that “It’s just a phase, you’ll grow out of it” or “You don’t belong here because you’re basically straight!” Every time I make something pride related and I don’t add the lesbian flag or if I add the ace flag, I will get attacked by other artists who will flood the comment section saying that I’m homophobic for not adding the lesbian flag or that asexuality doesn’t exist and that I should remove it, and that really hurts my self-esteem. I try to ignore it and move on.

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

That we’re all just whiny virgins who can’t get laid or that we are just “innocent space beans uwu.” another thing that I’ve encountered is that all asexuals are sex-repulsed, some asexuals can have dirty minds or they can view that kind of material, it’s all up to them what they do. If you’re sex-repulsed, that’s fine, but all of us are different.

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

You are not alone, trust me. I was having trouble with my orientation when I was figuring out where I belonged in this community. You are valid! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not, you are a part of this community and you matter! We are one huge asexual family.

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

You can follow me on:

Deviantart: https://www.deviantart.com/datshinyzoroark
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/datshinyzoroark/

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

Interview: Chip

Today we’re joined by Chip. Chip is a phenomenal visual artist and fanartist who uses both traditional and digital media. While she mostly does fanart, she’s hoping to do more original work. Though art is a hobby, her drawings show an extraordinary attention to detail and a vividness that is truly amazing. The use of bright colors draws in the viewer. It’s clear she’s an artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I always loved arts and crafts of all sorts but I usually share drawings on my blog (both traditional and digital). I tend to make more fan art than original but I wish to change that in the future

What inspires you?

Other artists mostly. I take my inspiration from Tumblr, Tapas and Webtoon. I love the way they show their personality in their work.

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

My earliest memories are of my mum painting with watercolors. She used art as a way of self-healing and reflection and I always watched. I think I’m trying to do the same now.

Also one of my favorite memories is when my primary school invited Nicoletta Costa to talk with us about how she wrote and illustrated her kids books (which I adored)

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 think I’m too young of an artist as of right now 😉 stay tuned to find out

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’d tell myself to try out and practice the new stuff as I learn it

To not buy beautiful sketchbooks I’m too afraid to ruin (get really ugly ones for practice)

To take a picture/scan/make a copy before you color in the lineart so you don’t have to worry about ruining it

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I fit in the spectrum and I don’t wish for a more specific label. I used to think I HAD to find my super specific custom “term” to be valid but I realized it’s just not the case. For some people it’s important but I’m happy with just knowing the direction I’m going instead of the coordinates y’know?

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

I keep myself away from the discourse online and I’m only out to 2 friends irl so I haven’t faced any hardship. I do feel somewhat invisible and unwelcome in both worlds at times but I’d say my insecurities are the only “prejudice” I faced so far.

When I’m lonely I come back to this blog

When I feel unlovable I remind myself it’s a lie and when I feel like too much of a snowflake I tell myself that everybody is one

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

That we’re prudes (not true), that nobody will date us without sex (also not true) and that we’re just trying to hop on the “queer train” one way or the other (…no)

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

No experience is like the other. Do your research, listen to as many stories as you can and then just step back for a minute. You don’t have to figure it all now. Go for what feels right and allow yourself to change

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

You can find me on both Tumblr and DeviantArt at c0uchpotatochip! Feel free to tag along

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

Interview: goatbunny

Today we’re joined by goatbunny. goatbunny is a phenomenal visual artist who works in a number of different mediums, both traditional and digital. goatbunny has done shows in the past and has a number of different projects they’re currently working on, including creating her own Tarot Deck. It’s clear she’s a passionate and driven artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Hammer

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I paint and draw using both traditional (pencil, ink, watercolor and illustration marker are my main tools, but I also use gouache, acrylic, spray paint, crayons, and pretty much anything else I find) and digital media (I’ve recently gotten back into digital media so I’ve been exploring more of that). I dabble in almost everything else, I’ll try anything once. I’ve sculpted in the past, and I sew a lot when I don’t really feel like drawing or painting, by hand and with a machine. I am currently creating my own Tarot Deck and collaborating with a fellow artist on a card game, activity/coloring books and I have started to experiment more with non-traditional styles of animation with him using “2-D” type of puppets using cardboard and even felt. I have recently created my second short film.

What inspires you?

I try to gain inspiration from everything around me. I try not to focus too much on other visual artists like myself as I try to avoid the trap of having other drawing styles impacting my own too heavily. I am very inspired by music, films, books, etc. I just try to be as observant as possible. Meeting up with other creatives also helps a lot. I have a lot of musicians and artists, and a couple of writers in my friend circle so I like to think we inspire each other.

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Llamacorn

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

I’ve pretty much been drawing and creating since I was able to hold a pencil in my hand. I have always loved cartoons, comics, animated film and even videogames and had always wanted to be an animator, cartoonist, illustrator or character designer when I was younger. I HAVE always wanted to be in a creative field, even if I was steered in other directions. Even when I was studying the sciences in school or during my short career in the medical field, I never stopped drawing and now I can finally say that art is what I do full time.

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 can’t say that I really have a unique signature, aside from signing “Goat” when I do remember to sign my pieces. Lately I have been watermarking any pieces I have posted publicly online, and have also been incorporating my Goatagram logo in digital work (It’s basically a pentagram with a goatbunny head – a bunny with goat horns).

1. RETRO GOATAGRAM NOBGig
Retro Goatagram Nob

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep creating. Even if you don’t end up being a full-time artist, always make time for art. It’s not the easiest career choice. I’m 35 and have only been a full-time artist for the past 3 years, so I can feel the difference, financially. I almost want to say my parents were right and that you should find a steady, well-paying job but to be honest, I traded said job for the sake of my mental health and I can say that, for the most part, it was worth it.

If you do choose art as a career, you may feel discouraged. You may feel like you want to quit. You may even become disgruntled about what you see in the art world. It’s important to remember why you create and why it’s important to YOU. It also helps to have a close, supportive network to help you through any of the rough patches you may hit.

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Vidscreen

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I feel like I discovered asexuality waaaaay late in the game (early-30s) so I found it really difficult to figure out where I fall in the spectrum. In retrospect, I feel like I could be a grey-ace but it’s hard to really tell what I really felt and what I thought I SHOULD feel. So I generally just use the more general asexual term because I am at least certain about that.

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

It’s hard to say as I tend to keep my personal life out of my work for the most part. My city has a large LGBTQ+ community, and a large arts community and they both overlap. I have been invited to fairs run by queer artists through a mutual friend but I feel like ace representation wasn’t strong on there at all. The community feels very overtly sex favorable, and most art is very inundated with social commentary, especially about sexuality, gender and orientation. It even felt like there was even a certain “dress code”. Since my art doesn’t have any specific themes about gender or sexuality, didn’t “look” like them, and am cis in relationship with someone of the opposite sex, I didn’t feel very welcome. Not to say that I wasn’t, but I didn’t feel very included by some of the merchants/organizers. I’m not entirely sure if that counts, but it felt like if I didn’t openly express my sexuality or orientation, I don’t really count or am truly accepted. I tend to not let situations like that get to me since I want people to relate to and judge my art, not who I am.

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

Of the few people I came out to and had to explain it, the main misconception was basically that I just don’t like sex. In the case of my husband before we were married, he thought it meant that I didn’t/couldn’t love him or didn’t want to have sex with him. After having explained it a few times, he finally understood that I am capable of love, but sexual attraction is something I don’t experience. I’ve come to realize that for a lot of people, it is very difficult to separate sexual attraction, romantic attraction, love and the act of sex itself.

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

That one’s tough, since I feel like I’m still learning a lot about my own every day. I guess: Keep reading up on it. Do some introspection. Be open to what you learn. Accept the fact that your orientation may change. Just learn to accept who you and what you’re going through at the moment. Finding community among others who accept and support who you are and what you are experiencing will also help, whether it’s in real life or online.

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

My Tumblr is http://www.church-of-goatbunny.tumblr.com/
And Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/churchofgoatbunny/, but it’s mostly just posts shared from my Instagram: at winner.gets.a.rake.
I do have a Patreon which is a huge help for self-employed artists: https://www.patreon.com/goatbunny
Work can be purchased directly through me or my Big Cartel shop: https://churchofgoatbunny.bigcartel.com/

7. Tarot 17 Scholar
Tarot 17 Scholar

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

Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

01 Bianca (own character) - pencil - 2017
Bianca (own character)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve always loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages, starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly, a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with her disappearance…

02 Cover for 'The Dragon of Ynys' by Kirby Crow
Cover for ‘The Dragon of Ynys’ by Kirby Crow

I also love drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders. There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little on my Instagram.

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

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt like that counted.

Fast-forward to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo, it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last school drawing years earlier.

From that point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some pretty things!

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Fiery Mushroom (brush markers)

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?

As I mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders. The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I think it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been “born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was talented. But I had to work to become better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from. Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big “mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing interviews on awesome websites. 😉

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Space Ace 2 (watercolour)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec” rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that one out.

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

There’s certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

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Violet (ink)

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

That asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain, very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I might be broken or wrong.

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

You’re not alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces (in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs, or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and made me more comfortable with myself.

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

My website is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to follow me!

Paranatellonta, a flash fiction project inspired by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places to buy my stories:

– The Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

06 Cats Rule the World for Ether - watercolour - 2017
Cats Rule the World (watercolour)

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

Interview: Renn

Today we’re joined by Renn. Renn is an extraordinary visual artist who also dabbles in embroidery and sings in their state’s LGBTQ+ chorus. They have mainly worked in traditional mediums, though they have recently started branching out into digital art. Their work is fascinating in its use of color and light. It’s clear Renn is an incredibly talented and passionate artist who enjoys what they do, 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’m something of an ace-of-all trades (pardon the pun). Most of my work has been traditional pen and ink drawings- I’ve always been the most comfortable with felt pens as my medium since you can re-do the sketch as many times as it takes to get each line juuuuuuust right before finalizing it in ink. Every now and then I’ll do a watercolor- the colors can be quite vibrant and watercolors can blend together in a way markers and ink can’t. Watercolor is something of an exercise in discipline for me; I’m not the most patient of persons even without taking my ADHD into account- so waiting for the paint to dry before adding another piece of color can be trying sometimes. I’ve ruined plenty of paintings only because I just couldn’t wait! I recently started painting digitally with my beloved Huion tablet- a much better way for me to explore painting as a medium because there are no more wait times for colors to dry! And layers! Oh do I love my layers. Working digitally, I enjoy using a limited but vibrant pallet to challenge myself to really bring out the highlights and shadows of what I’m drawing, making the artwork overall more striking.

Sometimes when I have the time + materials + energy, I craft my own cosplays (and bowties!) In my spare time I also enjoy doing embroidery and singing with the Rainbow Chorale, my state’s local LGBTQ+ chorus!

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What inspires you?

A lot of my main drive to create comes from seeing the work of other artists. You know how your brain will see someone else’s work and go “Gee I wish I could draw like that!” I take that feeling and turn it into “Well why don’t I go and draw something I want to create that will look just as good that I and other people will enjoy!”

I also enjoy doing art as an out and visible queer asexual person, because it gives other people like me the chance to see themselves reflected in my art and see themselves being represented, even if they themselves cannot be out and visible like me.

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Butterflies

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

I’ve been drawing since I was really little, like 4 or so. Creating art through drawing was something I would do to relax after school…  or something I did to avoid taking notes or doing homework… ah ha. For young, awkward, socially anxious me, art was the best way for me to express myself and communicate. So, in a way, I’ve always been interested in creative fields because that ability to create from my own ideas has always been with me. With respect to “wanting to be an artist” (I’m interpreting this as become a professional) drawing as a job isn’t something I want to do. I’m happy to take the occasional commission, or make something as a gift, but drawing as my main profession isn’t for me. Art is an escape for me, for when life gets to be too overwhelming. If that escape was invaded by the stress and pressure to constantly create and keep churning out artwork, then creating would no longer be that escape for me.

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

I always sign my work (well, when I remember) with my screen-name (Renaissance Aeroplane) initials “RA” and a little airplane flying out from the “A”. Typically I’ll put it in the corner of digital paintings, and tuck it in somewhere in sight when I do pen and paper drawings.

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I’ve had that screen-name for a while, except ‘renaissance’ was spelled with two Ns since spelling wasn’t a strong suit of mine. Thus that turned into the nickname “Renn” which I’ve gotten rather attached to and started using as an offline nickname as well.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take a deep breath, and relax. Sit back, stretch your arms, and release that tension you’ve been holding in. It’s okay- if you aren’t as popular as that one artist, if that one line just refuses to come out right, if you fudged up the inking, painting didn’t come out the way you wanted it to- It’s going to be all right! There’s always so much pressure as an artist, to keep making more art and be perfect and get likes/reblogs/retweets/site traffic. That pressure is overwhelming and the last thing that will help you improve is pushing yourself so hard that creating art becomes stressful and overwhelming. So take another deep breath, relax, and continue to do what makes you happy.

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Palette Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Definitely full-on asexual; the frying-pan of sexual attraction feelings won’t be hitting me in the face anytime soon. It’s not a sensation I’ve ever felt, likely will never feel, and I am cool with that being so. I’m probably?? somewhere on the gray-bi-romantic scale of things; every now and then I’ll become romantically inclined towards someone, but it doesn’t happen all that often. *shrug*

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

Fortunately I haven’t had much experience with prejudice aside from the occasional bigot being rude online. What I have encountered more of is well-meaning but ignorant folks coming into my inbox and expecting me to educate them. Which can sometimes be annoying, and other times be emotionally draining and exhausting. So, what I’ll do is send them a few links with good articles about asexuality (or trans/nonbinary issues because I get questions about that too. Yaaaaaay.) that I’ve read through beforehand to ensure all the info is correct. Then I’ll let them know I’m glad they want to learn more, but I don’t have the time/energy to educate them one on one on the basics, that the links I sent contain more info about the subject, and once they’ve read through what I’ve sent and understand it, I’ll be happy to talk with them later.

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

That eventually I’ll “grow out of it” or “there’s always the possibility you meet the right person!” *barf* I get that for some people, sexuality can change or you can discover something you didn’t know about yourself, but that is not me. I already did all my soul-searching and exploring and I am quite happy labeling myself as ace, thanks very much. That and there’s something so gross about the insistence that I will become sexually attracted to someone. Euggggh.

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

It’s helpful to ask for advice or experiences from other ace folks and to ask other LGBTQ+ folks about their experiences to help you figure out what you’re feeling- BUT what determines your sexuality, above all, is what YOU think and how YOU feel. So, if you think “Well I’ve never/rarely/only sometimes feel sexually/physically attracted to people” then congrats! You’re ace! And that is for you to decide whether or not you want to label yourself that way.

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

Y’all can find me on Tumblr at renn-aeroplane-art.tumblr.com where I post all of my recent works or if you want to trawl my old Deviantart for some of my older stuff I go by Senkokura there. If you like goofy cat pictures interspersed with the occasional drawing or selfie, then check out my Instagram at renaissance_aeroplane!

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The Witch

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