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!

03 Fiery Mushroom - brush markers - 2017
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. 😉

04 Space Ace 2 for Tanouska - watercolour - 2018
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.

05 Violet - ink - 2018
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: Lucy Cyclone

Today we’re joined by Lucy Cyclone. Lucy is a wonderful visual artist and fanartist. She mostly uses digital mediums although she also dabbles in traditional ones as well. Lucy enjoys drawing comics and animations, which allows her to convey more emotions in her work. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with a lot of enthusiasm, 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 draw mostly digitally nowadays, rarely finishing sketches I do on paper. I like to tell stories with my drawings, and am very attracted to comics and animation, as those can convey a lot of feelings more efficiently than a single picture.

Externally I live to learn and can appear sturdy, while art is my vent of things I don’t trust to show in company as well as sources of enjoyment I can’t possibly show any other way.

I also suffer from the very common Can’t Draw Properly With A Tablet 2 At Pm But Definitely Will Make A Realistic Portrait At Midnight With A Ball Point On Lined Notebook Paper syndrome.

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What inspires you?

Music, random ideas, other fanwork and personal thoughts. My biggest muse would be sitting up late while staring at the ceiling, and Sleeping at Last’s music. Currently really into Transformers comics and Boku no Hero Academia as well.

Once I get a good idea it tends to completely overwhelm me. I don’t finish a lot of them because I always find myself caught up in something else before I do. It takes a while for me to set foot on solid ground and decide that I want and I will do something.

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

Currently – art is a hobby. I drew while young but only took it seriously around two years ago, when I started practicing more often. When I was 12 I got dragged into cartoons – most notably My Little Pony at the time – and I suddenly wanted to create more and more visions of fictional worlds – and create my own.

My appreciation for animation and expression grew from thereon. I still struggle with some human anatomy aspects (legs-) but overall I’ve come a really long way in the past years.

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 settle on having my signature being legible. With style being the subject, I prefer to pander to natural proportions as much as I am able to. Big fan of Disney and western styles, and while I do refrain from anime and chibi, I do try to replicate the styles of eastern animation work I enjoy.

Even though chibi is always a go-to when I am tired and just want to draw something cute.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t take criticism personally, tracing is superb as long as you credit the original, and studies of photos do miracles

Also don’t be like me and spend 3 years of your life drawing almost exclusively cartoon horses. Ultimately it helps with general quadriped anatomy but… just don’t.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Ace and Bi – I prefer not to directly use SAM unless someone insists.

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

Luckily, no so far! Asexuality isn’t widely known (which I personally don’t mind) and I like to be hopeful enough to dare to say a lot of the young generation in the connected world doesn’t really care about which way one swings. We’ve come a long way!

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

Being somewhat young, I can understand people suggesting it is just a phase, and I accept that as a possibility, but I notice that a lot of other aces experience this as well. Whether or not it is a phase, if the shoe fits I’ll wear it.

5. egge

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

It’s okay not to know and never okay to hurry! Take some time to know yourself, it’s a very long way and ultimately has meaning only to you, but can still affect others, so keep your head cool. Reason is the best road.

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

On Tumblr, I post my work at lucy-cyclone, and I try to post at least once per week. I plan to reboot my DeviantArt soon, though this is enough for now.

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Thank you, Lucy, 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.

Butterflies
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.

paletteportrait
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.

SCAN0226

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.

SCAN0236

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!

TheWitch
The Witch

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

Interview: Monica Stuffle

Today we’re joined by Monica Stuffle. Monica is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in realistic drawing and portraiture. She has also dabbled in sculpture. While she prefers realistic drawings, Monica also draws in a cartoon style on occasion. It’s clear she’s a dedicated 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.

My art ranges from digital to traditional, and even occasionally sculptural. I usually draw as realistically as I can, but my people-pleasers tend to be more simple and cartoonish. My art is almost always portraiture, and my strongest portraits are in plain old graphite.

What inspires you?

People around me, both on and off the internet. I’m drawn to aesthetics, so I’ll be inspired my a pretty face, a lovely themed blog, or another artist’s work.

blue vent painting

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

I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. I never really considered my talent and important thing until recently. I’ve been trying to incorporate my passion into my life more and more, including doing commissions (open 😉 ) and posting my work to try and build a career out of 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 wish! Maybe I should come up with one. Like a tiny ace flag in the corner or something.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Young or new artists should always remember to breathe, taking a step back and looking at where they are. I know I struggled a lot with not living up to my own expectations, so I had to learn to sit back and remember how far I’ve come already in my artistic journey. There will always be someone better than you, and that’s okay. My advice is to take what you can from your experiences. Learn from other artists, acknowledge your mistakes and fix them, and never give in to frustration.

hinanananananata

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic asexual as far as I know! Still unsure of my romantic orientation but very set on the asexuality.

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

Very little. There’ll always be someone who just doesn’t understand when you come out, but for me they have always grown either accepting or quietly confused yet still loving. I’m very lucky in that sense.

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

That aroaces have no soul! Honestly, there are different kinds of love. We aren’t all apathetic!

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

Take your time. There’s no pressure to find a label, soon or ever. If you feel that you’re asexual or aromantic, that’s your own business and no one else’s. If you figure that you don’t identify on the ace spectrum even if you thought you did, no worries! The LGBT+ community is one of self discovery.

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

I have a Redbubble and an art Tumblr, both at monic-artt. (Again, commissions are open!! It’s dirt cheap!)

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

Interview: FurvaNoctua

Today we’re joined by FurvaNoctua. FurvaNoctua is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in drawing characters and party members from RPGs and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Aside from character art, FurvaNoctua draws things from cartoons and games. They draw both in a cartoon style and a semi-realistic style. It’s clear they’re a passionate and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I really enjoy drawing my characters and other party members from the DnD and Pathfinder RPGs I participate in as well as fun scenarios that happen in the sessions. I have also started to sometimes draw animal mash-ups, I’ve drawn a lot of stylised owls, occasionally do some small comics and sometimes draw things from games and cartoons. I enjoy drawing with my girlfriend and draw stuff for her sometimes.

I do a lot of traditional drawing as well as digital. I often fluctuate between mostly drawing traditionally or mostly drawing digitally. I most often draw in a cartoony – I guess also semi-realistic – style. Sometimes I do some more realistic stuff.

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What inspires you?

Cartoons, webcomics and video games I like, and just a lot of art I come across.

I often get motivated to draw by watching Doodle Date from YouTube. It’s a couple who draw together and it’s just really relaxing and uplifting to watch!

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

I have always loved drawing and been fascinated with the process of creating animated movies/cartoons, comics and video games. Since I was a kid I wanted to make video games, but I thought that couldn’t be a possibility.

I’m not currently actively pursuing making video games, but I plan on trying in the near future. Even if I’m just going to make a small game on my own, for myself, I’m definitely going to do something with video games!

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

I have made signature that looks like a small owl with an F and N for wings (to stand for FurvaNoctua) that I often forget to sign my work with. Otherwise I don’t think so.

Katrine sketch in colours
Katrine sketch in colours

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

As someone with depression and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, so ADHD without the hyperactivity) I have struggled a lot with actually getting around to draw when starting any task feels impossible and overwhelming, especially a few years ago. What I found helped was to not beat myself up for not drawing and instead just soak up any information about art that came my way. Even if I wasn’t drawing often I could still learn a lot about drawing while being too low on energy. I watch drawing tutorials on YouTube, read any drawing tutorial I come across, examine the colours/lines/light of any drawings I like and look at how they are build. Besides learning a lot, it might also give you inspiration/motivation/energy to get drawing yourself! But either way you learnt something and probably had some relaxing time for yourself in the process.

I felt this helped my art grow a lot after I got out of (my equivalent of) high school and got more time and energy to focus on drawing. I had gotten a lot of knowledge about drawing and now I could really try it out in practice, which was really nice.

So, focus on getting to a better place, passively take in any art tips you come across, do art if you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. You will have plenty of time to improve.

Another thing I have struggled with which is tied to what I have already talked about, is feeling like I’ve fallen behind and not being where I could have been if I could have just drawn regularly. What I feel has helped me feel happy with where I’m at (but still excited about improving of course) is imagining showing a recent piece to my younger self. Who hasn’t wondered how much their skills will have grown in a few years? If you could actually answer your younger self and show where you are now, they would flip out (for many reasons, but let’s focus on the art)! “Those hands look so good!” “I love this character, they are so cool!!” “I can’t believe I will get this far!” “I’m so glad to see I’ll get better at poses.” You might wish that you were further than you, but I’m positive your younger self would already be very impressed. Knowing my younger me would be happy with where I am helps me be happier with where I am too.

I focused on drawing, but I think both things can apply to about all art and I hope it helps someone.

Mona and Shy Plague Knight low res
Mona and Shy Plague Knight

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aroace and feel zero percent sexual attraction and romantic attraction.

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

Not specifically in regard to being asexual, but being sex-repulsed certainly creates some struggles. I’m not very good with nudity, so learning to draw proper anatomy still feels difficult to me as most common ways to improve is to do things like croquis. A lot of artists I have asked about good ways to learn anatomy that isn’t croquis have almost all told me that croquis is really just the way to go and everyone can be uncomfortable at first, but you quickly get absorbed by the drawing. They don’t tend to get that I wouldn’t just be uncomfortable, but most likely will have a panic attack before I get the chance to draw… I have however gotten some nice resources from a nice fellow ace artist recently (who doesn’t share this problem, but can understand how it’s difficult), and I’m excited to look at them further!

I find it difficult to find good resources on my own. Having something like croquis, but have the models be in underwear so the anatomy is still very clear, would be nice, but I don’t quite dare to search for people in underwear on the internet.

Nor
Nor

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

Probably that aces don’t have sex or that aces and allos can’t be in any lasting relationships because the allos would leave at some point because they would eventually want something the aces can’t give.

Owl lake from dream
Owl lake from dream

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

Take your time and don’t do anything you don’t want to do. The expectations and pressure of society might make it feel like you should just go do some stuff you don’t want to in order to be normal and happy, but that’s not true and it won’t help. So just listen to yourself and take your time.

Veta - First and recent
Veta – First and Recent

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

Anything that I post goes on my Tumblr: https://furvanoctua.tumblr.com/
My Instagram, where I post anything that isn’t digital art: furvanoctua
My Redbubble shop: www.redbubble.com/people/furvanoctua.

Zelda
Zelda

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

Interview: Alex

Today we’re joined by Alex. Alex is a wonderful visual artist who works with both digital and traditional media. A lot of their work is experimental or abstract. They have a particular affinity for the strange and enjoy drawing monster people. Their work is interesting, with muted colors adding a sense of eeriness to it. It’s clear that they’re a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

bleedingheart
Bleeding Heart

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Oh man, what is there to tell? I draw original works and a lot of abstract and experimental ideas. Be they my own or friend’s characters, ideas, scenes, bad puns, you name it. I am constantly challenging myself to improve and draw all the strange ideas that come into my head.

I do have an intense interest in monster people though.

What inspires you?

It’s more along the lines of “What doesn’t inspire me?” Being disabled I’ve spent a lot of time inside my own head; built species, characters, worlds, ideas. A bit of music, a bit of nature, a phrase, a person in a state of emotion, smells even can get my brain working and thinking; ‘Who does this remind me of, what would this character do in this situation? How would this species interpret this?’

I’ve ended up creating entire characters after waking up after a rough night in the hospital from drug fueled dreams, desperately pleading with the nurses for some paper and pen so I could get it out of my head before I forgot all of it.

Myself
Myself

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

I always drew but didn’t always want to be an artist. I remember my duotangs in elementary school being filled to just an inch short of the brink with doodles, shapes, silly cartoons, puzzles, patterns and a lot of dragons. I remember then never hitting the edge of the duotang because I used the work paper inside to hide the fact that I used drawing to pay attention to my lessons.

It was honestly my paternal grandmother that really got me into art, she paints but never had a knack for drawing things from her imagination. And when she found out I could and did, she actively encouraged me, often getting me to draw fantasy creatures for her to use as references for her own art.

I didn’t start doing digital art seriously until a few years ago when the arthritis in my hands started to make using pen and pencils difficult to use for long periods of time. Its been a fun learning process that I’ve been lucky to have other artists that inspire and encourage me along the way.

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 sort of do but I tend to forget to put it as a watermark on my art. I designed a crest for myself that is in desperate need of an update. (My digital art skills have evolved a lot since then)

Other then that, maybe intense colours and lots of flowing lines.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

As dumb as it sounds, practice the basics. When you find yourself frustrated with your art go back to doing basic gesture pieces and pages of doodles. Once your ready to draw something big that practice will be ingrained into you and will make things easier in the long run.

And don’t be afraid to fuck up! Making mistakes is how you learn, its allowed, and sometimes you end up finding out how to use those mistakes to make your art even cooler!

Newface
New Face

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a panromantic asexual in a polyamorous relationship. I’m also a transitioning agender person. Two months on hormones now, woot woot!

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

Not overly, I’ve faced more backlash for being non-binary transgender then I have for being asexual. Most of the time my sexuality doesn’t come up when I’m drawing for someone, and the few times it has those I’ve been working with have been openly curious or even relieved because WOW there are a lot of Ace artists out there.

Redemption by Blood
Redemption by Blood

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

‘You can’t be asexual, all humans have sexual urges, you’re not a plant’ –Said to me by my abusive mother at 15 when I was trying to explain why I wasn’t really okay with identifying as just bisexual.

Another big misconception people seem to have is that I won’t have a raunchy as hell sense of humour. Admittedly my humour tends to go from raunchy to ‘wtf’ in seconds flat because I don’t view sex as anything but funny, so see no issue mixing it with other things I find absurd and funny.

I like to write porn (my favourite people to write it with are other Asexual people or Demisexual people) and think dildos are the funniest things on the planet. Just because I don’t want to hear about my friend’s sex lives or be physically involved myself in sex doesn’t mean I can’t see how it can be important in other people’s relationships.

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

Its okay to be unsure, its okay to question things. But know this, no matter what anyone else says, you know you the best. You always will.

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

I’m mostly active on Tumblr: bohgeyboss.tumblr.com

Or at my Redbubble shop: www.redbubble.com/people/agentboss.

waterravensmall
Water Raven

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

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.

FullSizeR

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.

Image-1

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.

Image-1-2

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.

IMG950307

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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 9.01.43 PM

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