Interview: Ash Kleczka

Today we’re joined by Ash Kleczka, who also goes by Umber online. Ash is a phenomenal visual artist, an all-around fantasy enthusiast. They love using visual art to tell a story and highlight beauty. Their images show a unique style and a very vivid imagination. It’s clear Ash loves to create, 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 a fantasy illustrator, a painter, concept artist, and all around enthusiast… I was going to add more to that statement, but honestly I think ‘enthusiast’ about covers it. I get really excited about concepts that are self-reflective in some way, or that highlight an unexpected beauty.

I really try to create art that tells a story.

What inspires you?

Nature, mythology, the occult. Things that are taboo or archaic. I’m also deeply inspired by role-playing games like D&D and the character building process.

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Hogwashn Newton

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

The simple, inelegant answer is that I got into visual arts because I was dissatisfied with the attractiveness of some characters from a video game I was into at the time – and I wanted to make characters that would appeal to me.

It’s an ongoing struggle haha.

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?

My super-secret naming convention for pretty much any character I’ve ever created ever is to try to match their personality/appearance/some interesting feature to a bird or other natural flora or fauna and then I build their name around the scientific binomial of that thing.

So for example, one character named Cyril Alcyon is based around the belted kingfisher megaceryle alcyon. Another is named Melia Edarach which is taken from the chinaberry tree, or Melia azedarach.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice is to just keep going. It’s OK for things to not look exactly as they do in your head, or to be dissatisfied with where you are with your art. It means that you have room to grow! Stay open to new ideas and roll with the punches. Art, like life, is full of happy accidents.

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Greed

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey-Ace/Pansexual

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

I’m not particularly open about my sexuality in the workplace, but the few times it’s come up typically end with the person I’m talking to feeling sorry for me. It’s not hateful – just a lack of understanding. So I try my best to explain that it’s not a negative part of my life experience. It’s just an orientation in the same way that being gay, or bisexual is.

I have encountered prejudice in my personal life however. One instance was in my last D&D campaign. I played an ace/aro character, and was met with some questionably in-character commentary from another player. That was really the first time I’d encountered something like that in the wild before, and honestly…I’m open to advice myself.

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Fort Save Web

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

That it’s something to be fixed.

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

Find people you trust that you can talk to, and be patient with yourself. Sometimes it’s not as simple as just being one piece of the big sex/gender pie. Sometimes you’re a triple decker slice of pie with whipped cream and cherries.

I’ve found it really helpful to talk to my husband (who’s allo) to see where we differ. Sometimes the answers you’re looking for are in the empty spaces between two truths.

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

I have a website umbertheprussianblue.com!

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter at ThePrussianBlue

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Solas

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

Interview: Fiona

Today we’re joined by Fiona. Fiona is a wonderful visual artist and writer. For writing, Fiona is working on a number of stories at the moment and enjoys writing a variety of genres. She’s no less versatile when it comes to visual art, doing both traditional and digital art. Her work demonstrates a keen eye and an amazing attention to detail, as you’ll soon see. 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 both write and do visual art. Both vary quite a bit as I am currently working on 3 extended stories/novels and all three are vastly different genres. As for visual art, I used to do a lot of traditional art in varying media (acrylics, graphite, pen, etc.) and most of it was as realistic as I could get it. Now I do mainly digital art mainly because it’s hard to get materials for other forms and Photoshop has an undo button… My style in digital art is still fairly realistic but more comic book like with lines and kind of soft cell shading.

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What inspires you?

I have never been able to give this question a good answer. I guess I’ll do ‘who’ inspires me because I’m honestly coming up with a blank for ‘what’ inspires me. Currently I am working on a Sci Fi story/novel and that was really inspired by The Martian by Andy Weir because I really like the more realistic type of Sci Fi where it could conceivably happen. In my digital art, my style was inspired a lot by Fiona Staples’ art (Fionas are generally gr8) though my style has evolved a bit and is far from just copying what she does. (Hopefully.)

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

When I was a little kid I drew so much it was ridiculous. Whales mainly for some reason. I kind of lived in the middle of nowhere and the only thing to do was draw or read so I did that 24/7. I blame that for why I like to write, read, and draw to this day. I never really wanted to do art as a job, I’m more science minded, but since I could remember I’ve loved to draw and I started writing extended stories in probably 6th grade.

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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?

Not particularly… my stuff is way too all over the place to have a connected symbol of some sort.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know young artists have heard this time and time again but Practice. When I was younger I always was told I was good at art and it was just because that’s all I did. I never really took any formal art classes that would teach me how to draw (I did take some classes but they were more ‘studio time’ kind of things where the teacher didn’t actually teach anything.) I only started digital art the summer before last and already my stuff has vastly improved as I’ve gotten used to the media and practiced with it. Scrolling through my art blog you can see my improvement in digital stuff from my early posts to my more recent ones. Other than that I would just have advice for people who want to improve with anatomy which is take a life drawing class. If you can’t do that, watch a dance video or something and pause at different times to do drawings of different lengths. (10 seconds, 30 seconds, 5 minutes etc.) it really helped me a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am sex repulsed and bi romantic (if you really want to get into it, demi romantic as well) basically I’m a massive amalgam of ‘hard to explain’ so I usually don’t go into it lol.

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

Well, as far as my art goes, I just work in my room and post stuff online so I haven’t experienced much in that regards. I’ve encountered it a bit with just people I tell I’m ace (which honestly, hasn’t been that many people) but mainly it’s just along the lines of ‘wait that’s a thing?’. Ignorance as opposed to being outright mean basically.

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

Mitosis? Lol. No seriously I’d say the most common is that ace people are just people who ‘can’t get any’. Like, honey no. I just don’t want any.

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

I’m really bad at giving advice like this lol but maybe just that a lot of people feel the same way you do and those who say it’s fake are just as ignorant as someone who looks at some characters in a language they don’t speak and insist that therefor, it isn’t a language. (Basically, those people are just ignorant and you should ignore them). Don’t ask me advice about coming out because I am just as lost about that.

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

My main blog is kvothe-kingkiller, my art blog is cork-run and I’m uploading one of my stories chapter by chapter as I finish them, both on my fictionpress account (cork-run) and AO3 (cork_run)

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

Interview: Emmy

Today we’re joined by Emmy. Emmy is a wonderful writer, fanartist, and visual artist. She writes a lot of fanfiction, but she’s also currently working on an original novel with a fascinating premise. When she’s not writing, Emmy does a lot of digital drawing. She hopes to one day to write and draw a graphic novel. It’s clear Emmy’s both a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Lion Fishrhett

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write mostly fan fiction, however I’m working on writing an original novel! It’s a story about a salty, magicless witch named Felix, who lives with his aunts and older sister – powerful witches who keep the peace between all of the magical creatures in their coastal town of Hagstone Grove. When an obnoxious vampire named Rhett comes along, Felix tries to ignore his flirtatious advances while dealing with all the other vampires that seem to have followed him into town.

Other than writing, I enjoy doing digital art to relax. I draw most anything that’s suggested to me and more often than not I draw silly things for friends. I would love to develop my art enough to do a graphic novel someday as well so that my writing and art can come together to make something amazing!

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Birb Boi with his Big Wings

What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from life in general. My friends and family, music, other content, etc. I’m inspired most when I talk to people who read my stuff because sharing my stories with them is a lot of fun!

Doing fan fiction helped inspire me a lot in the beginning too, because there’s usually a community behind it and you’ll often get feedback soon after posting. Plus, it’s easy to bounce ideas of your own off of the original content to get you started and spark up some creativity!

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Black Sea

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

I first started writing when I was about eleven. I had a cool dream I wanted to share with people, so I wrote it and other things that came to mind. I didn’t think of it as my calling then and it took me a few years of writing on and off before I realized that I really love it. I went through a quite few career choices during that time, jumping from psychologist to baker and everything in between.

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TEETH

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 put a lot of myself into everything I do. Whether it’s a large trait I share with a main character or a similar problem we face in our lives, I do what I can to connect myself with the story and people in it. To me, it helps make them feel more like real people, which in turn makes them easier to write.

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Hawkward Felix

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This is going to sound cheesy, but never give up! You’ll hear it a million times, probably to a point where you think it’s stupid advice, but it’s true! There will be many –many– times you feel like giving up, or even times people will tell you to give up, but getting through those is unfortunately part of the process. If you truly want to be an artist those are things you have to power through. Just find the parts about it you love the most, hold onto them like your life depends on it, and you’ll make it through all the other crap just fine.

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Mudblood

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual biromantic

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

Not personally, whoever I’ve heard some people suggest that Asexuals can’t properly write anything on the…E-rated side of things because they, “don’t know how”. I think we all know how it works, even if someone doesn’t want it for themselves, thanks.

Sure, experience can help you write a scene, but I’ve written about demons and magic. I didn’t/can’t have experience with those and I did just fine.

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Wiiitch Boi

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

A lot of people don’t seem to know about the spectrum and how everyone is different. Even though someone identifies as Asexual, that doesn’t mean they’re sex-repulsed or are prudes.

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Kae

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

It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to never know for sure. Sometimes in life we never settle, and it’s perfectly okay to never pick a label if you don’t find one that’s right for you.

If you feel like having a specific label will help, then do some self-searching and read up on some to see where you might fit best. Remember, you’re not a puzzle piece designed to fit perfectly in place, you are clay meant to be molded into whatever shape you want. If you don’t 100% fit under a label, just find what’s closest and stick with that until you find something better.

If it’s a matter of wanting to be able to explain it to others, try to narrow it down into a few bullet points. Leave any of the super specific things aside at first and get out the main bits. If they still don’t understand, it may be best to just point them to the internet where they can Google these things for themselves. Don’t stress over other people not understanding because sometimes they just can’t/won’t.

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Hug

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

My fan fictions and original novel can be read in their first-draft forms as I write the chapters on my Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/roboticspacecase

For anything else, I often post my art and writing updates on my Tumblr, which is here: http://roboticspacecase.tumblr.com/

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Felix Magic

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

Interview: Ty Jordan

Today we’re joined by Ty Jordan. Ty is a wonderful young illustrator who is just starting out. He’s experimenting with a few different styles. He specializes in what he describes as a “trippy realistic style.” Ty is currently trying to make his drawings resemble monochromatic oil paintings. He’s a very passionate artist who has a great amount of enthusiasm as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m currently writing a novel where two of the central characters are ace, but I won’t be done for a few months because it’s very complex. I’d love to get it published so you could read it! That’s all for my writing.

My art is usually very busy looking, but the style depends on my mood. I split my works into a main series of related pieces and “pastime scribbles,” which are basically anything I make that’s not in a series. The series I’m working on at the moment is called Illusions and its main goal is to show the viewer a distorted reality that has vaguely familiar things, while also being very disorienting. There’s usually no specific message that I’d want the viewer to get because I want them to come up with their own answers and not rely on one definitive answer. It tends to be that what you see in these drawings says more about you than it does about me. Since people will always come up with their own meaning for things even if the actual meaning is explained, I decided I’d have a little fun and not give a viable answer at all.

One quick mention before we’re off to the next segment: One of my drawings looks like it’s clearly supposed to be upside down but it’s actually not. It’s made that way specifically to irritate that human tendency to want things to be easy to understand and well aligned with everything else we see.

What inspires you?

This changed a bit over time. In the beginning I wanted to be good at drawing because one of my cousins is amazing at it and I always thought he was cool. Around middle school I wanted to be famous, then I wanted money, then I just wanted to get better. Recently my life’s been a storm of s…sauerkraut. I think about my life a lot and the impact I want to leave behind, so that finds its way into my art. Life’s been really stressful and it seems like nothing’s working, and that along with a lot of discouragement and berating really put a dent in my self-esteem. I’ve been in this rut for a few months where I have a really hard time wanting to draw and unfortunately I’m still there. In mine own life it feels like there’s no point in trying when I have so much opposition and nothing seems to be paying off, but I don’t do it for my own sake anymore. The knowledge that there are other people like me in situations like mine makes me want to keep trying with everything I’ve got. I dedicate my art to them. The people like me who are around right now, the kids of the next generation, and all the one’s I’ll never live to see; I’m doing this for them.

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

Whoops, I already answered some of this one! I’ve been drawing since I was four, which as long as I can remember. My drawings were terrible for a while, but I kept at it because I really enjoyed it. Like I said, seeing my cousin’s work made me want to take art seriously. Comic books definitely influenced my style, specifically any issue drawn by Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko!

Nerd tidbit: Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko both drew covers for Amazing Fantasy#15, but Kirby’s was the one used in 1962. Ditko’s cover was used as a limited variant for The Amazing Spiderman#700. Kirby also drew my favorite superhero: Black Panther)

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?

Funny you ask; there’s a character I put in most of my drawings called Peppermint Pete. He represents me and his location and actions in my drawings gives a glimpse into how I was feeling when I drew that piece. Bonus: my signature and handwriting are pretty cool.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You’re good enough! Keep at it! You won’t be at 100% all the time, but that’s okay! Take breaks! Don’t push yourself too hard! Your physical and mental and physical health are more important than the art you’re making! You can’t make art if you’re not alive, so take good care of yourself! Be consistent with your work! Make art and post on your platform(s) it even if it seems like nobody cares about what you’re doing; do it for you! Stay true to yourself. Even though you won’t get as much fan-fare in the beginning, there’s no other feeling like people being interested in your work solely because it’s your vision!

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a movie that really helped me get motivated again. It’s a movie that artists should definitely see! I’d love to talk about it more, but that’s not what here for, is it?

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual, but I’m cool with having sex. Some would say my pursuits are promiscuous, but that doesn’t invalidate my lack of sexual attraction. If someone told me I had to choose between sex and cheesecake, I wouldn’t even hesitate to give up sex for the rest of my life. As my romantic orientation — I’m not sure if I’m aromantic or not, but it’s not that big of a deal to me. Maybe I’ll figure it out one of these days.

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

A few artists I’ve had to work around have been very ignorant about more things than asexuality and the LGBTQIA+ community. However, people generally know better than to try and say things that could get me upset. To put in short; I’m not the kind of the person it’d be a good idea to fight.

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

I’ve heard the tired arguments of “sexual attraction is what makes us human”, “But you’re so good looking”, and “That’s not even real”. Apparently, since sexual attraction makes us human, I’ve transcended humanity a long time ago. As for the other ones, I don’t care. People will be ignorant from sunrise to sunset. Unfortunately, being black in the U.S means you’ll probably be fetishized at some point in your life. Sure, I don’t have it as bad as black women, but if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been fetishized, I’d have enough to pay for college and an apartment in New York. Seriously, can somebody set up that deal for me? I’m gonna get fetishized anyway, I’d at least like to be paid for the inconvenience.

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

You’re valid. Whether you’re sex averse, you’re like me and it’s nice to you, or if your experience is anything in or outside of those bounds, you’re valid. Know who you are and trust in that; it’ll carry you through any storm. If you like the same sex and you’re ace, you’re valid. If you like the opposite sex and you’re ace, you’re valid. If you like men and women and you’re ace, you’re valid. If you like any gender and you’re ace, you’re valid. If you don’t subscribe to the idea of gender at all and you’re ace, you’re valid. If you’re ace, you’re valid. Not experiencing sexual attraction or very little is the only thing that it takes to be on the asexual spectrum. None of your other identities will obscure or invalidate your (a)sexuality. I wish you all the best in life!

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

At the moment I just have a Tumblr: ty-jordan-ty. I’m working on a website right now, so whenever I have that up I’ll put a link in my description. I don’t have other forms of social media yet because I’m trying to focus more on my work rather than the platform I’d be using to present it. However, when I do get other forms of social media then I’ll also put that in my description.

You can also email me at tybrown099@gmail.com if you want to go that route. See you around! I hope you have a spectacular day!

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