Interview: Wolfberry Studio

Today we’re joined by Jay at Wolfberry Studio. Jay is a phenomenal visual artist who works in digital illustration. Their work is mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres and features people of color, who are underrepresented in such genres. Jay’s work shows extraordinary attention to detail and the images evoke such an amazing sense of imagination and beauty. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Kadal Kanni
Kadal Kanni

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a digital illustrator who works mostly in vector. My fantasy and sci-fi illustrations focus on people of color who are under-represented in these genres.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by legends and myths from around the world. I enjoy exploring the differences and similarities between stories from different cultures. Stylistic influences include Chinese classical painting and Japanese animation.

In addition to visiting museums and galleries regularly to gain exposure to a wide range of styles, I do live drawing outdoors. Nature can inspire, even if you are not a nature painter.

Cables
Cables

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

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I was one of those kids who got reprimanded for doodling in class in elementary school. I saw drawing as a way to tell stories. I drew comics about my classmates.

As I grew older, I became increasingly aware of the role of visual art in disseminating social messages. I had observed the lack of diversity in certain genres. One day, I realized that instead of complaining about other artists not drawing what I want to see, maybe I should draw what I want to see. That was when I decided to pursue formal artistic training.

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 studio signature is consists of the Chinese characters for Wolfberry Studio.  Wolfberry is another name for goji berry.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is OK to feel disappointed with your work sometimes.  The fact that you are self-critical is a good thing. It shows that you are ready and willing to improve. In art school, I saw that the artists who improved their skills most quickly were the ones who were the most open to critique.

Regarding how to deal with the gap between where we are as creatives and where we want to be, Ira Glass of This American Life says it best in a 2009 interview:  (http://www.mcwade.com/DesignTalk/2011/04/nobody-tells-this-to-beginners/)

He was talking about video producers, but his comments can apply to just about any field.

We are all on a journey to getting better. It never ends.

Lattices
Lattices

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-A. Aromantic.

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

Not in professional relationships, since the subject has never come up with clients.

I do want to say that I am pleased by the presence of out asexual artists of all levels in online communities. Their visibility paves the way for the rest of us.

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

Some people think that asexuality is pathological, and that aces would be happier if they weren’t asexual.

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

There is no need to fit yourself into someone else’s concept of a happy, fulfilling life.  What’s right for others might not be right for you. You are the only one who knows what’s right for you.

People shouldn’t be giving you a hard time for being asexual any more than you should be giving than a hard time for being allosexual, or for being a football fan, or liking ice cream, or being into whatever else they’re into but you’re not into.

You’re the only one who has to live your life. You’re not living it for anyone else. Seek out people who respect you and accept you the way you are.

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

https://wolfberry-j.deviantart.com/
https://wolfberrystudio.blogspot.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wolfberrystudio/
https://www.redbubble.com/people/WolfberryStudio/portfolio.

Autumn Kitten
Autumn Kitten

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

Interview: RoAnna Sylver

Today we’re joined by RoAnna Sylver, RoAnna is a phenomenal author, who has authored such books as Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce. One is a hopeful dystopia involving superheroes and the other involves punk vampires, which sounds awesome. When they’re not writing, RoAnna enjoys visual art and does a lot of digital painting. They have painted most of their own cover art and hope to get into coloring work for comics, including webcomics. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate artist with a great drive, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Runtime COver
Runtime cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hi there! So, most people probably know me by my writing; I write the Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce series, hopeful-superhero-dystopian and queer-punk-vampire books, respectively. But I’m also an artist, I design and paint the majority of my own covers, and I’d really like to talk more about visual art for a change.

I love digital painting, and find (most of it) really relaxing and soothing, which is very helpful for when my brain goes into nonverbal mode or I’m just feeling burnt out on talking/writing. Which is pretty often.

I’m definitely going to continue painting my own book covers for as long as I can, and have done commissions for a few people too. I love them, and keep meaning to do more. I’d also love to get some work as a colorist for comics (including webcomics) because I find coloring especially relaxing (and I’m good at it darn it!).

One other cool thing, on the subject of ace stuff specifically, I recently had a journal-type article Thing published in The Asexual, about how important representation in mainstream stuff is (and how much I love Todd Chavez from Bojack Horseman). So check that out if you’d like!

What inspires you?

So much. Music, bits of conversation I overhear, people just living their lives. But most of all I think is reading or watching movies and seeing what I’d do differently. Usually, that means “less marginalized people die, and more get to be the heroes.” If that sounds like fix-fic, that’s because it is! I used to write so much fanfiction before I started my own stuff. I STILL DO, but I also used to. (Thanks, Mitch Hedberg!)

Honestly, I hate when people crap on fanworks so much, both art and writing, because not only are they a great starting point (I’ve written more than one thing as essentially fanfiction AUs. I doubt anyone will ever guess which~), but they’re entirely valid works on their own. And they inspire the hell out of me, both writing my own and reading others’.

Also, it’s not as popular to say, but… spite is a hell of a motivator. Wanting to prove people wrong who’ve said I can’t do something, or people like me (queer, disabled, etc.) don’t belong in publishing/the art industry/life. Knowing bigoted assholes hate what I’m doing is an incredible accelerant. Just warms the cockles of my heart, it does.

2. moonbright tides cover with text
Moonbright Tides cover

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

I joke that I just have a lot of emotions and I need different ways of letting them out—writing, drawing, singing—or I’ll explode. And I’m actually only about 30% joking about that, really. I am blessed/cursed with glorious and overwhelming feels, and if I don’t have an outlet for them, I tend to get paralyzed with…over-feeling. I need to express them like releasing internal pressure with a steam valve.

Unfortunately, I also tend to go nonverbal on a pretty regular basis from any number of reasons (illness flares, pain, various brain weird nonsense) so sometimes I’m physically incapable of writing. But I still have emotion I need to express, or else the pressure just builds up anyway. It doesn’t care that I don’t have words. That’s when the drawing or singing comes in—when writing brain shuts down, art or music brain takes over.

So yeah I guess I have always wanted, and needed, to be an artist.

I used to be a much more physical one, though. I have a degree in dramatic performance and used to do a ton of musical theatre. Nothing comes close to being on stage, and I was convinced that was it for me, that was why I was here and what I was supposed to do with my life. But then I got hit with several debilitating health conditions at once, and never really recovered. I haven’t been on stage in years, and probably will never again. But that’s okay. I still have writing and art, and on an extremely good day, music. Expression is still the most important thing in my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have one.

3. BNUH cover
But Not Up Here cover

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?

For my writing, the Themes are definitely found family, queer and disabled people kicking ass, and trauma healing… the ‘secret symbols’ tend to be really nerdy references. Usually Star Trek and/or Greek myth. Go figure.

For art, I don’t really have a watermark or anything, though I’ll usually sign a major work. Trademark-wise though, I love the idea of making digital art look as traditional as possible, so if you look at something and think it’s an actual watercolor and not a digital one, I’ve done my job right~

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For commissions, figure out about how long it takes you to do a thing. Timing yourself/logging time is good. Then find out the minimum wage for your state and charge *at least* that per hour.

I saw a really good tweet a while ago saying you should charge at least 3x minimum wage for commissioned art, because 1) it’s your time and energy, 2) art is a specialized skill that you’re applying to this individual request, not a standard product, and 3) you’re your own boss here and paying for your own materials/food/life.

I don’t know if I could ever do that, but I’m sticking to At Least Minimum Wage for myself. I still feel a lot of guilt (as I do asking for money ever even if I’ve worked for it) but honestly, selling your stuff for super cheap really does devalue the whole market and cheats both you and other artists out of hard earned cash. I know it’s different when you’re just starting out and trying to get established, but really, once you are… your efforts are worth so much more than the bare minimum, but that’s a place to start.

4. ev merm
Evelyn merm

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Biromantic ace, and definitely on the aro spectrum too. It took me a long time to figure this out, in all its maybe-seemingly-contradictory glory. I’ve never really experienced sexual attraction to a (real) person. (“Real” because there are some fictional characters who could get ittttt) But I’m romantically attracted to women, agender, and nonbinary people… but like I said, definitely aro-spec too, so this happens much less than you’d think. Polyamorous too; I have queerplatonic partners as well as one romo partner~

In short, “potentially attracted to a lot of people on paper, but not in practice!”  It’s one of those “sounds very complicated, is actually very simple” things. Except for when it actually is very complicated. (What the hell is attraction? I don’t know it.)

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

…Never so much as during Pride Month. It’s really sad, but entirely true. Usually I manage to stay away from the Ace Discourse and keep it to a dull roar in the background of my life, but whenever the spotlight is on The Queer Community in general, that ugly particular head rears once again, and it’s very hard to avoid.

But there’s social media Discourse (harmful on its own) and then there’s creative field prejudice or ignorance, and that’s arguably even more annoying and damaging. Luckily, most of mine has been confined to the occasional shitty comment about my work. I generally don’t read reviews, but sometimes someone will point one out to me that’s particularly… not bad in a ‘didn’t like the book’ sense (I don’t care about those, for real), but a ‘wow, this is a dangerous and bigoted viewpoint actually.’

When people “can’t relate” to asexual (and aromantic, and neurodivergent, disabled, any other marginalization) characters, that tells me right there that I’m not going to be able to trust them. If someone slams a book or marginalized character for displaying characteristics of their marginalization (mentally ill people will act mentally ill; ace people will act ace), and dislike them specifically for what makes them them… that’s a Red Flag right there.

I don’t really “handle” that. I don’t comment (and you shouldn’t either, ever), but I take notice of who said the bigoted thing, and remember. Then I keep writing.

5. goliath elisa
Goliath Elisa

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

Oh lord, the aro/ace conflation thing. Where people think “asexual” means “aromantic,” and “aromantic” means “what is that, I don’t know what that is, how is that even a thing.” You can absolutely be asexual without being aro, or aro without ace, or a blend of the two that fluctuates over time and you have no interest in categorizing.

The most common individual misconceptions are definitely the “unfeeling, inhuman, dead/lifeless, passionless, robotic, forever alone” ones, because surely it’s romantic love and sex that makes us human, not anything else. Nope, that’s it, that’s the most important “universal” experience. Ever notice how it’s usually the same people who scream “don’t reduce our identities to one thing/define us by that!” Who then go on to do exactly that for others? There’s a lot of TERF overlap here too.

I have to say though, the special poison aimed at allo aromantic people is really something else; apparently just by being sexually but not romantically attracted to someone, you’re a horrible abuser/predator. (This is, of course, not true, and there are such things as attractions and bonds that are not romantic. The small-minded tunnel vision is exhausting.)

So yeah, there’s a lot, and I have absolutely no interest in getting involved in Discourse of any kind anymore. No spoons left for that at all.

6. Zenith Sheet
Zenith Sheet

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

There’s nothing wrong with you, first off. You might feel like there is, and people might decide to be gigantic asshats and say that there is, but there isn’t. There isn’t, regardless of how you end up identifying, even if that’s not ace at all. Try different identities out like clothes until you find one that fits. If none do, keep trying, or throw them out. It’s your “body,” and your identity and life. Use what serves you and makes you happy, not what someone else wants you to.

You’ll know when it’s right. When I finally hit on exactly what my gender and attraction type was, it felt like releasing every clenched muscle all at once. My constant, constant anxiety was silent for once, the panic in my head finally shut up. It was the absence of strain and exhaustion and tension and fear that was shocking. I hope it feels like that for you. The cessation of pain is a hell of a drug, and we don’t get it nearly enough.

Also, you’re totally queer if you want to be. If someone says you aren’t because you’re ace or aro, that person is not your friend. You don’t HAVE to identify as queer, the way some nonbinary people don’t identify as transgender, but you absolutely can, and screw anyone who says otherwise. (Or don’t. Especially if you’re sex-repulsed. *weak rimshot*)

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

I have an Artstation portfolio over here (if you need a colorist and/or inker, talk to me!) – https://www.artstation.com/roannasylver

All of my books are on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/RoAnna-Sylver/e/B00OI321DO

And most are available through other places like B&N and Kobo, which you can find at their universal links at my Draft2Digital page – https://books2read.com/ap/RWk0PR/RoAnna-Sylver

But by far the best place to support me is my Patreon. For as little as $1 a month, you can get Tons of Chameleon Moon bonus content—advance stories, art, lots of stuff—and exclusive looks at what I’m doing next (Like my upcoming interactive fiction portal-fantasy romance, Dawnfall for Choice of Games)! And also make me a little more secure as a disabled creator. patreon.com/RoAnnaSylver

Stake Sauce/Death Masquerade also has one over here, for if you enjoy monthly fiction about queer vampires! patreon.com/ModulatingFrequencies

Also, if you want to say hi on Twitter, I’m at RoAnnaSylver!

7. zadkiel_2
Nonbinary Fire Witch, Zadkiel

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

Interview: Sara

Today we’re joined by Sara. Sara is a phenomenal visual artist who I met at this year’s Indy PopCon. I was so excited when I realized she was ace and made sure to hand her a business card for the blogs, because good heavens she had such beautiful art. She draws mostly fantasy and original work, favoring a stylized look rather than realism. The result is her work has a wonderful dream-like feel with vibrant colors and soft lines. It’s clear she’s an incredibly talented and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Little witch_new
Little Witch

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I draw a lot of fantasy pieces, whether it’s sketching or digital paintings. I like painting/sketching in a stylized style instead of realistic one. I mostly paint my own characters but I love to do fanart of characters in my own style just to see what they’ll look like.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is music. I love listening to classical or instrumental music when I draw/paint. Music helps art flow and it opens up new ideas for me. I hear a melody playing and think I can turn that into something. I paint a lot of fantasy pieces and nature also helps add to my inspiration especially flowers.

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

When I was little I wanted to go into animation. Traditionally animated Disney movies were some of my favorite things to watch as a child and I always wanted to know how they made everything move. Now that I’ve gone to school for animation I’ve gravitated more towards concept art and illustrations.

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 of right now, no I don’t have a special signature. But maybe some day I will.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know this has been said and done many times but Practice, practice, practice. Having raw talent is the start of being a good artist but honing that skill and perfecting it will make you an even better one. That there are gonna be days where you second guess your art, style or your skill but always remember there are ups and downs in all aspects of life even art. Many talented artist out there still have those ups and downs. So don’t quit and don’t lose hope in your abilities.

Veil of Stars_new
Veil of Stars

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual/aromantic.

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

Towards me, personally, no I haven’t. But one of the things that does irk me is that there is barely any representation in media. Sure sometimes they have hints that a character is Ace but then they sweep it under the rug as if it wasn’t an important part of a character or that Asexuality is a disease that needs to be cured (I’m talking about the House episode that centered around that).

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

“How do you know if you’re Asexual if you haven’t had sex yet?” or “You haven’t met the right person yet.” These questions drive me up a wall and make me feel uncomfortable since I don’t necessarily wanna be in a romantic/sexual relationship with people. So when these questions are directed at me I feel a bright glaring spotlight put on me and it absolutely embarrasses me.

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

Take your time with your orientation it’s not a race to figure everything out in one night. It took me maybe 3 years to final except what my orientation was. Talk it out with people you trust and do research (it’s what I did). You are not broken because you don’t want to have sex or be in a relationship.

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

I have a two Tumblrs and an Instagram. You can find them both here:

http://the-lady-saron.tumblr.com/
https://sarahartart.tumblr.com/
https://www.instagram.com/sara_hart_art/.

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

Interview: Hampermarketplace

Today we’re joined by Hampermarketplace, who also goes by Sophie. Sophie is a phenomenal visual artist and fanartist. For visual art, they mostly do digital illustration, both original work and fanart, They also do some photography as a hobby. Aside from that, Sophie also cosplays and writes fanfiction. It’s clear 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.

hampermarketplace homestuck collage
Homestuck Collage

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Sure thing! I’m mostly a digital artist, though I don’t know if “drawing” or “painting” describes best what I do, but in any case, I have a lot of fun doing it. I draw a lot of Homestuck, (I’m unfortunately rather obsessed with it—and it’s easy to share online), but I also do original work, when the inspiration strikes. Since, when it comes to hobbies, I’m very much a jack of all trades, I’ve done writing (I once wrote a 40k fanfic, several one-shots, and began some original stories I’m probably never going to finish, I’ve got a word doc somewhere full of cringy poetry), cosplay (once again Homestuck—so basically, I’m just really good at putting on grey facepaint), and photography (I take my iPhone and try to take pretty pictures I then post on Instagram so it’s not just all filled with selfies).

Basically, I just like to create stuff, no matter the medium.

What inspires you?

You mean, apart from Homestuck? I’d say my life. Ok, I know that’s vague, but I haven’t quite got a more specific muse. There is a lot to show and tell about the subtleties of everyday life, the things I see, hear, or feel. I’m ADHD, so perhaps trying to put my constant zoning out to good use is my main inspiration after all. I think sunsets are good, too. They’ve got lots of pretty colors, there’s nothing like a rainy autumn sunset to get a good photoshoot full of pinks. The city inspires me, too. The sort of aesthetics born of the layered lives of so many people, written in the concrete and the weed peeking through it, the graffiti’s, the decaying factories and the shiny skyscrapers. In painting, I draw people a lot, too. I think it’s because the figure is so evocative. I like the humanity, the feelings, the fleeting joys and pains of life, and so I try to capture them whenever I’m bored enough. It’s cheesy, but it’s true.

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

Oh boy. Well, I’ve always hung around people who drew, and the envy that I felt at their cool talents pushed me to try my hand at it. Around maybe 11 or 12, I got into manga and anime, and the thing with those, is that they make the human figure very appealing, and yet very simple-looking to draw, for someone who is just starting out. I’ve been a casual artist ever since my early teens, and recently, when I graduated high school and all my friends entered art programs, I started to realize just how much I didn’t know about art, and that’s really what helped me get much better really fast. Just a year ago, I didn’t draw half as well as I do now, because now I draw almost every day, pay attention to the world and put a lot more effort in studying the theory of art than I ever did in any of my school classes, ever.

I’m still in college, and I’m not planning on making a career out of my art, but I’ve still got some ambitions to reach a point where I can paint and draw at a professional level, for myself.

Maybe one day I’ll write an actual book or make money from my art—I’ve been offered to be an assistant photographer once, when I showed my Instagram feed to the woman whom we had hired to take our family portraits, but it didn’t work out. In the end, I take opportunities as they go. Art is just one of the things for which I have potential and interest, it’s a refuge, and I don’t want to ruin that by forcing it into a business perspective.

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?

Well, I’m known on most platforms (Instagram, deviantart, tumblr—although only for Homestuck in the last one) as hampermarketplace, and I sign my digital paintings (some of them—I often forget) as HMP. By now, it’s how I sign pretty much all of my artwork. Often, I won’t put it in the lower corner, but try to include it within the drawing, if there is writing somewhere, graffiti or posters in the background. It’s my thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You’re going to feel bad sometimes, like you can’t quite illustrate what you want, or like everyone is better than you. It’s important to learn to use that dissatisfaction as motivation, not as a deterrent. The process of improving is an adventure, to be taken one step at a time, so awaken your inner Moana or whatever, and sing about wanting to know how far you’ll go. When you’re stalling, and nothing works, push through by going back to your basics, and putting less pressure on yourself. Take a chill pill. Go watch some Bob Ross. It’s ok to just doodle for 15 minutes sometimes, you’ve got to make art time a time to meditate, to enjoy yourself. If you do it right, it won’t feel like a chore (too much—I can’t make any promises if you decide to make a living out of it). One day you’ll look back and be amazed by how far you’ve come.

montage instagram
Montage

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual, low libido but not sex repulsed per se, and somewhere in the grey areas of romance, probably demi, although I still think of myself as a lesbian because I’ve always had a strong aesthetic attraction to women, and if I were to fall in love, I feel like it would be with a woman, or someone woman-aligned. I identify *mostly* as a woman, although I won’t deny to some gender fluidity as well.

Usually, the womanlier I feel, the gayer I get, then on some days I’m just what is gender and what is love, I want to blog about cats. My main on Tumblr is like 75% cats, 20% beautiful women and 5% ace positivity. I think that sums it up pretty well.

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

The most kind of ace prejudice or ignorance I’ve personally encountered is from myself. I’m usually quite down-low about it, I’ve come out a couple of times, but not to everyone, and I’m pretty sure most people going through my art aren’t even aware of my sexuality—I come off quite gay in real life. Since I don’t do commercial work, I can easily surround myself with people who are OK with my orientation, and anyway, I live in some of the most progressive places, where no one would openly challenge you on stuff like that, even if they disagreed with it. I’m lucky in that regard. I’m always afraid that people will still hold subconscious prejudice towards me, though, I don’t think I’m paranoid, but I need to get over it if I want to be myself, and work towards deconstructing those prejudices. When I’ve actually come out, I’ve been met mostly with love and acceptance—just once a bit of confusion. Also, once I came out to a sex-loving vegan by saying “I don’t like sex, but I do like ice cream” and she just told me “You go girl! Live your best life!” and anyway, she gets it.

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

I think this one is not an explicit, but an implicit misconception that even well-meaning people will hold, and that is this idea that aces don’t like to talk about sex, or be exposed to sexuality, and that the goal of asexual activism is to make a world where it’s possible to ignore the fact that sex and romance exists. I mean, some aces may be uncomfortable with discussions about sex, or don’t want to be exposed to explicit sexual content, but truly, anyone may have these holdups regardless of sexuality. The basics principles of consent, human decency and content warnings should be plenty to cover that. In my experience, most aces I’ve met are more than eager to talk about sex and the different types of attractions, so long as they are allowed to openly share their experiences without feeling like outcasts or weirdos. Unless they tell you otherwise, it should be perfectly fine to share your latest thirst with your friend who came out to you as ace. You don’t have to stop being yourself, and most asexuals don’t want to be treated like little kids with bleeding hearts that can’t handle the sexiness, neither do they want you to stop being yourself: they just want to be allowed to be themselves as well.

This is pretty abstract, I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but I feel like this needs to be said more. Asexuality doesn’t exist within queerness as a form of “Don’t force sex on me”, because, honestly, sex shouldn’t be forced on anyone, but rather as a force of “It’s OK to live in accordance to how you feel, regardless of social norms or whether or not it aligns with the majority around you,” because that represents much better the aroace community as I’ve known it: diverse, open, with a wide range of worldviews and experiences, just wanting to live their truth.

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

It’s not easy to find out who you are. Being asexual is challenging, because it’s probably even only one part of the identities you’re going to have to cope with—asexuality doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with the prejudice of being gay, bi or trans—but it’s also challenging in and of itself. You’re going to have to deal with conflicting cultural ideals about chastity, lust, marriage and family, with a world that you’ll never quite understand despite your best efforts to do so, and which probably won’t even try to understand you. You’ll fidget in your psychology or sexuality class, not quite capable of explaining how you know for a fact the textbook is wrong without sounding like you’ve spent way too much time on Tumblr. You’ll smile, glad, at queer representation in the media, not quite daring to ask for some yourself—afraid it’ll take away some gay or trans kid’s chance to see themselves on screen. You’ll feel like you don’t exist, like there are no historical figures or public personalities who can bear your flag in your name, you’ll doubt yourself.

Don’t. There is nothing to doubt about it, there is nothing to be ashamed about. You’re on the frontline of progress, of our growing understanding of love and sexuality, as a society. Asexual people have always been there—the world just didn’t have a box to place them in until recently. Before that, we erred like bohemians among dandies and spinsters, bisexuals, pilgrims and nuns. But today, there are words for it, for asexuality, for aromanticism, for all the maybes and in-betweens. We are many, more than you would think, and we are solidary—to one another, and to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people, and to all other minorities, and it is our strength. Through sharing our experiences, through creating new words to define how we feel, we help people from all walks of life define themselves. So maybe, really, we’re something like great.

You can be proud.

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

My main blog on Tumblr is chaoticintellectual, though, like mentioned previously, it’s mostly  filled with cats and pretty women.

I have a Homestuck blog where I post art frequently, called Hampermarketplace, for all the filthy Homestucks out there

I write on AO3 under the name miki_and_company

Hampermarketplace is also my DeviantArt, though I don’t post much on there, but I do show my original art there more,

And finally, my Instagram, still hampermarketplace, where I post a lot of my photography.

My inboxes are open to talk, I’m quite friendly and impishly verbose, however I’ll be gone and inactive for most of the summer, sadly, but I’ll be back without question next fall.

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

Interview: Morwenna Greenleaf

Today we’re joined by Morwenna Greenleaf. Morwenna is a wonderful writer who specializes in poetry and fanfiction. She also dabbles in music, mostly song covers, and visual art. Morwenna takes inspiration from subjects that aren’t often talked about. It’s clear she’s 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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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly written word, though I occasionally draw, and sometimes post covers of songs on my YouTube channel, and I have had dance lessons, though I don’t really showcase dancing and don’t really do much anymore. I occasionally write poetry, but the majority is fanfiction written in prose, usually with a theme of fantasy and they can cover really heavy, or not commonly talked about, subjects.

What inspires you?

Well, I guess that events in my life have inspired my stories, but also the stories of others. For example, I’ve always loved watching crime shows with one of my personal favourites being Law and Order S.V.U. and I think that inspires me, because they go into subjects such as rape, kidnapping, and human trafficking. These subjects intrigue me, so I find myself researching them to add into existing stories, or I piece together new stories featuring things like them, which results in a lot of half-finished stories, some of which aren’t yet published so the public can’t read them.

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

What got me interested? Well, I’m not sure. When I was younger, I would always make up stories, whether they be epic sea battles with phoenixes, all from a cluster of clouds, or fanfiction, before I realised it was a thing. I always used to just insert myself into the shows/movies/books and tweak the storyline slightly to involve myself. Drawing? I kind of just slipped into it, like with the writing. I was always drawing over my books and scraps of paper, pretty much anything I could find. Dancing, I think one day when I was about three or four, I saw a ballet on TV, probably Swan Lake, and fell in love. After about four years or so of pestering my mum, I ended up doing four years of classical ballet classes, including character, and two years of jazz classes. Singing has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I’d sing around the house as a child, and my dad started taking me to karaoke at bars in town when I was about seven or eight, I think, and I’ve recently turned eighteen, so that’s about ten years of karaoke.

Have I always wanted to be an artist? I think I have, somewhere deep down. I love writing stories and singing, and have always, in the back of my mind, wanted to do something artistic. True, it was always performing, like singing/dancing/acting, but it’s all artistry anyway. I even have the small amount of acting experience that comes from primary school plays, hehehe. I love what I do, but I also have no clue exactly what I’m going to do once I leave high school, because I also love things like science (chemistry and physics), ancient history, and learning languages (I’m currently monolingual, but who cares?).

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?

In most of my stories where I use an OC, her name is generally Jessica McCarten, which is my real name outside of the internet. She’s basically me, but with different hair and sometimes different backstories depending on age, situation, and things like that, which are usually dependent on the story. If she isn’t the protagonist, then she’ll usually appear as a secondary character, but pretty close to the protagonist. Also, my profile pic tends to be the same on all platforms except for Tumblr, and if there’s a running obsession for another fandom or a certain type of music, it’s because that’s most/all of what I’m listening to at that time, or obsessing over when writing the parts of those stories.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Advice to young aspiring artists? Technically you could say I’m one of them, *insert awkward/exhausted laughter here*. I would say to keep doing whatever you’re doing and always, ALWAYS, look back over your old work to see how you’ve changed, grown, and evolved. I personally hate doing this, because my voice recorded, to me anyway, sounds terrible, and I cringe as I read over things like my first story on Wattpad. However terrible you think you were, always go back over your work, and you might find something better. Hell, I’m still looking for a story I started in year 4 or 5 because I want to read over it and build on it! The thing is, it doesn’t really matter. Just keep practising and looking over your old work. Maybe if you’ve finished a story, wait at least a year or so then, keeping the original, rewrite it, edit it, do what you need to to make it fit your current style, or to correct grammar and punctuation errors, because I can almost guarantee that you will have them, no matter how much you think you don’t.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

At the moment, as it could change when I’m older and such, I identify as asexual, but I am not aromantic. I still haven’t figured out my romantic orientation, properly, but that doesn’t really matter.

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

No, I haven’t. However, this could be due to the fact that aside from Tumblr and Quotev (my original platform) and about four people IRL, I haven’t really come out, as I’ve been hesitant about it, and I’m not really sure how people will react. The few people that I’ve come out to IRL have been really nice about it, and not made a big deal. I have to admit though, that I have a plan on coming out to my entire high school if a certain event I wish to partake in (public speaking) occurs before I leave, a term afore the other years. *Spoiler* If I do manage to, I’m doing a speech about asexuality, and will hopefully have a homemade flag to show people before I wrap it around my shoulders. As far as everyone that I haven’t come out to knows, I’m just a straight white girl.

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

Well, probably that asexual people don’t like sex, or don’t have sex. I know that this is true for possibly the majority of aces, but it’s also false for a certain percentage of aces. This has come from people that identify as bi/pan and do a subject that requires presentations on the LGBT+ community, though I’m not sure if any have included aces. As an eighteen year old female ace, I have never understood how sexual attraction works, or had a partner, romantic or otherwise aside from an occasional partner in science/chemistry. However, I have always been intrigued and curious about what the act of sex feels like, just never felt the attraction to anyone pertaining to it. Whenever I’ve heard this one, I stay quiet and just get silently annoyed/irritated/mildly mad, because I’ve learnt if I speak up about things that I’m interested in/passionate for, I tend to receive a lot of shit from people, and this is mostly to people I’ve known since year seven but haven’t come out to as I don’t really consider them friends.

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

Do your research, read the stories of other aces, watch videos on YouTube, whatever you need. I actually procrastinated for at least a year before I decided Yes, okay, I think I’ll identify as asexual now. It doesn’t matter how long you take to figure it out. Take your time, and remember that no-one other than you can tell you who you are or what your sexual orientation is, and don’t feel bad if it changes because sexuality is fluid. For example, here I am identifying as asexual, when for all I know, I could be demi-sexual or grey-asexual, but I haven’t explored anything that would let me know, so until anything changes, if it does, I identify as asexual.

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

People can find out more about my work by looking me up on different platforms. My *main* email is crush.girl.101.at.high.school@gmail.com because I made it in year nine when I was seriously crushing on a guy. My Quotev, Wattpad, Deviantart, and YouTube are all under the name Morwenna Greenleaf, and I have a Facebook page by the name Morwenna Greenleaf, managed by my actual account, and you can message me through the page. I also, obviously, have Tumblr that people can feel free to message me on, and I have Instagram under my actual name, though, like YouTube, I don’t really post often (at jess_mccarten). In fact, you can message me on any of the sites, though there is a high chance that the majority of videos on my YouTube may have their comments turned off, due to fuckheads being, well, fuckheads. When it comes to any of them, I do requests for things, songs, stories, whatever. Feel free to request some things, because, while I procrastinate pretty much everything *Hello! Procrastinated my sexuality!*, if I enjoy the request, I will, eventually, get around to fulfilling the request, and, just feel free to talk to me. I can be really awkward, and drop a lot of terrible, terrible, puns, jokes, whatever the fuck I’m in the mood for, on you, and just be extremely weird in general. Live long and prosper, aces, and remember, Barty Crouch Jr stopped drinking because it was making him Moody! 😉

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

Interview: Kir

Today we;re joined by Kir. Kir is a phenomenal artist who does a little bit of everything. They write, draw, voice act, and design games.They have a voice acting demo reel, a Steven Universe comic dub, and an author-approved full-cast narration of the first chapter of The Order of Odd-Fish. It’s clear they’re a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Ace Design

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I dabble in a lot of creative areas, like writing, drawing, voice acting, and making games! If it’s an art, I’ll probably try it at least once.

What inspires you?

Lots of things! Podcasts, cartoons, video games, my friends, my pets, weird bugs I see on the sidewalk. I conceptualized a whole cartoon series based on a cluster of garbage cans on the side of the road once.

chris_derp
Chris Derp

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

Honestly, probably Pokémon. I’ve been obsessed with that since I was a kid. It’s what first inspired me to draw, then to write, and it’s definitely been a big inspiration for making video games.

I’ve wanted to be an artist in some form or another since I was at least 12 (before that I actually wanted to be an ornithologist and study birds all day, haha). For the longest time, I wanted to be a novelist, and it’s only been the last few years that I’ve been really exploring other writing styles and other fields of art.

Game Map mock-up
Game Map mock-up

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

I don’t really have anything like that at the moment, no!

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Lerald the Bard

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Explore! Create! Learn about different areas of art, whatever interests you, and just try your hand at it! If it’s fun, learn more and continue on! If it isn’t, stop for a while and come back if/when you’re ready.

Combine different fields of art! My writing’s gotten a lot better since I started making video games, and my voice acting’s gotten a lot better since I started doing audio editing!

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Melanie Blink

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

It’s kinda hard to figure out! I consider myself bi-aroflux and asexual, but honestly everything seems to fluctuate quite a bit. Some days I’m 100% sex-repulsed and aromantic, other days I’m more…graysexual and biromantic? It’s confusing, but I don’t really mind it.

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

Not much, luckily! After the game my zucchini and I made for Ace Jam was released, we definitely had some rude comments about asexuality, and people who say that kinda thing aren’t generally open to discussion of the topic, so there’s nothing you can really do except ignore them.

And block them. I’m very liberal with my block button.

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Rooms

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

That it doesn’t exist! Too many people think asexuals are just making it up for…attention, I guess?

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

Take your time and explore your feelings! Learn the terminology used for different areas of the spectrum and try and figure out what fits you best. It might take you a while, and you might change labels a few times, and that’s okay! I identified as aegosexual for a while before figuring out that my sexuality fluctuates fairly often. There are labels out there that would probably fit my orientation exactly, but right now I’m comfortable with just using the ace label. Maybe that’ll change in a few months or years, but for now it fits, so that’s what works for me!

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Screen1 (character busts were drawn by Tumblr user iwouldliketosayhello)

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

I have several blogs dedicated to different creative areas, so you can find me in several places!

For my voice acting, audio plays, etc., you can find me at owlyvoices.tumblr.com or on YouTube as OwlyVoices.

For my games, you can find me at owly-games.tumblr.com or owly-bee.itch.io

For my writing: prucanada on AO3

For my drawing, and for a mix of everything else, you can find me on my personal blog, owly-bee.tumblr.com

You can even buy some of my drawings and audio dramas on my Etsy, AudioAce, if you’re so inclined!

I’d love to hear what you think of my art! 😀

gender shirts
Gender Shirts

Thank you, Kir, 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.

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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.

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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.