Interview: Ray Wyse

Today we’re joined by Ray Wyse. Ray is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. They mostly write fanfiction but hope to publish some original work in the future. Aside from writing, they are also a dedicated visual artist who enjoys drawing and painting. They do a lot of portraiture work and their art is extraordinarily detailed. It’s clear they’re a passionate and talented 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.

My work varies, but I enjoy writing, drawing and painting. My writing is most often fictional pieces with characters I’ve created, and while I try and branch out with my artwork my strongest pieces have always been portraiture. In all my work I try and integrate what I know, in terms of my experiences and imagination. I’ll mainly referencing my artwork in this interview as it’s what most of my time and my education is dedicated to!

What inspires you?

Other people inspire me. I’m driven by seeing creators do what they love and doing it well, it really pushes me to try and be better.

But for choosing what I want to draw or paint I’m inspired by perception. I find drawing exactly what I can see boring, and I want to explore more emotive ways of portraying people and places. Usually this means playing with the features of the subject matter, taking them away or changing them through distortion or obstruction.

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

I’ve always wanted to create art. I’ve taken it at every level available to me through primary and secondary school, but it’s only recently at college I became determined to find some sort of career in it. I think most of our everyday life is the way it is because of artistic people, from film to advertising to product design, and yet it goes by unnoticed. Almost every field has a need for us, and when I realized that it only helped push my interest in the subject.

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? There are maybe certain things I always do that I’m not aware of, but as someone who’s still trying to find their own style and techniques I don’t think I have any repetitive patterns, but I suppose I always draw specific attention to the eyes or the obstruction of them. I feel like that makes or breaks a good portrait.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say that I know, I understand it’s frustrating sometimes. There will always be others that are around your age, who you think has work that surpasses your own. There will be times where you can’t get a picture JUST right. But you have to realize that your art is always changing and improving. It’s hard to notice day to day but try and redo a piece from just a few years or even months ago to see how you’ve changed! Practice, there isn’t a shortcut to progress! Support and learn from each other!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual, but I don’t know where on the spectrum. I’m in a serious relationship, but I haven’t been for long enough to know whether or not I could be demi. Currently I identify as a panromantic ace, meaning I can have romantic attraction to any gender but sexual attraction to none.

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

I generally encounter confusion when talking to someone about my sexuality. It’s difficult, because as someone who didn’t find a label that worked for them until their late teens, I spent a lot of my childhood thinking I was ‘broken’ or otherwise ‘wrong’. And hearing it insinuated from someone else saying ‘how do you know? Maybe you just haven’t found the right person, etc. etc.’ can hurt a lot. Especially if coming from other people in the LGBT+ community.

But I have to remember I’m valid, and that’s what I tell them. I calmly explain that I just don’t feel sexual attraction, I never have, and it really isn’t a big concern. And if they don’t accept that, I stop conversing with them.

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

The most common misconception is that asexuality is comparable to practicing abstinence, as if sexuality is some sort of choice. Another common one is that all ace people ‘become’ asexual after some sort of traumatic experience

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

I would say it’s not your job to educate others, and it’s okay to not have everything figured out! You’ll hear about how it’s a ‘phase’ at some point in your life, and this will suck. But remember that no matter what, whether how you identify changes over the years or if a label you found at 13 still works for you at 33, you’re valid.

I’m not going to tell you it isn’t a phase and you won’t experience doubts. I’m going to tell you that if it is, that’s okay too.

Take time figuring yourself out, research the spectrum of different sexualities, and don’t feel bad if things change. How you identify at this moment is still 100% valid and don’t settle for anyone that doesn’t respect that.

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

You can find more of my work on Instagram! I also do commissions; my username is at Rachel.Wyse

I’m hoping to branch into other social media sites soon, but for now the majority of my work is on Instagram.

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

Interview: E.T.Vise

Today we’re joined by E.T.Vise. E.T.Vise is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in 2D cartoons and photography. He has recently gotten into filmmaking and is exploring that medium as well. It’s clear they’re a passionate and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Jumpin on Tramp
Jumpin on Trampoline

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I primarily do 2D cartoon and pen art but I do go into photography and I’m starting to get into Filmmaking and the art of filmmaking.

What inspires you?

The world around us and how our brains are built with what we feel & think.

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

Wanting to create something that said me and just the influx ideas for art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make whatever the hell you want to make, grab a pencil and paper and experiment and find your creative voice.

Mr Tape Man
Mr Tape Man

ASEXUALITY

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

No… not really that and I haven’t really been active in the community but I’m sure as I become more active the situation will arise one day.

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

That we don’t have any physical interaction (cuddling, holding hands kissing etc.). I’ve had to tell people so many times “no it’s just sexual things”

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

Embrace it and just know that this doesn’t affect who you are as a person.

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

You can find more of my work on my YouTube Channel: E T V, (and while there’s not much there right now a big project of mine is coming soon so be on the lookout for that.)

Also my Twitter ETVtwutter and my Instagram etvinstagrem and my Tumblr, apersonwholikestodraw.

Tyler08
Tyler08

Thank you, E.T.Vise, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Wolfie

Today we’re joined by Wolfie. Wolfie is a phenomenal makeup artist who uses makeup to create extraordinary looks. She has done a number of different things with makeup, from standard beauty to more fantasy and horror related looks. She has also done special FX makeup. Aside from makeup, Wolfie also dabbles in a couple other mediums as well. 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.

One of the things I do is makeup and special FX. Be it beauty, fantasy or horror. I mostly do whatever has caught my fancy that day or week. I have done photoshoots, short films and even a wedding or two with my makeup.

Which plays into my other mediums, such as drawing and painting. I have a ton of sketch books filled with art, some I give away and the same with my paintings.

Along with costuming which has been trial and error. As for my leather working I am still a beginner, which I was learning from my aunt and now my dad. Also have been dabbling into jewelry making.

What inspires you?

When I was a kid, fantasy (books, art etc.) and music played in a big part in my creativity.

Along with a rich family heritage that led to being a Pagan Witch, lets me see the beauty in magic and life that goes into my art.

My Aunt also who is deceased now, was also a big inspiration to me.

Being a writer and creative person herself, part of the LGBTQ+ community and Pagan, she always encouraged me to not give up and to pursue what I love.

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

Ever since I was little girl, I was always drawing and then moving onto other things as I got older. Heck, I even wanted to be a manga artist at some point!

As for my makeup and special FX, I give that one to my family. We have always been big on Halloween and doing creative costumes, which led to me eventually finding conventions in my late teens. It would also be my early 20’s to mid-20’s that I would go to makeup school for it.

Which I am always learning new and creative ways to improve.

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?

Mostly just my name and other account names I would hid in it, or just smack dab where you can see it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. Self-doubt will happen where you think you art, or you’re not good enough.

But it will be, maybe not in your eyes.

But others will love your art even if you think they don’t.

Never compare yourself to another, each of us is unique and different. We go at our own pace and our artistic journey happen sometimes now or a little bit later.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a proud Asexual Pan romantic 29 year old.

In my early 20’s I thought I was just Pansexual, but that didn’t seem right to me.

It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that talking with a friend, that they said “Uh Wolf, I think you may be Ace.”

So I looked it up and it started making more sense to me. While giving me a feeling of relief that I wasn’t “broken”.

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

Oh boy, in my makeup field I have, since it slipped out one time during class.

And mostly I just educated them, while being calm about it and maybe a ‘wee’ bit of Sass when they asked a personal/ignorant question. But mostly, I just refuse to apologize anymore for being who I am.

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

“Well, how can you be in a relationship if you don’t have sex?” Is probably the most common thing I get.

Again I just calmly answers/educate, or (at times) Sass back with a witty clap back that makes them go “Oh! I see! Sorry about that.”

But it is also just standing my ground and not letting other tell me “oh but you just haven’t met-”

“Or have you seen a doctor?” etc.

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

It may seem you’re alone and others tell you that you are broken, but you are not.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, this is your journey of discovery and your identity is real.

For your community sees you and you are loved, valid in your right to not be silenced or harmed as you keep learning who you are.

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

My Instagram which I welcome anyone to join me! wolfie_shieldmaidenswitch

Deviantart: Moonlightwolfos

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

Interview: Runesael Johansson

Today we’re joined by Runesael Johansson. Runesael is a wonderful digital artist who specializes in character design. He works mostly in roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. He has recently gotten into drawing World of Warcraft characters too. It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what he does, 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.

Most of my work these days centers around Dungeons and Dragons player characters and NPCs, alongside other TTRPGs and roleplaying games. I’ve also done a fair amount of people’s characters from World of Warcraft.

I work almost exclusively in Photoshop CS-6 or Procreate.

What inspires you?

Primarily, stories. One of my absolute favorite things about doing the work that I do has to be hearing other people’s stories about their characters and the adventures they’ve had with others. There’s such a broad variety of individuals and experiences across the TTRPG community, so every character I ever get to draw tends to be unique or unusual in some way. Even if you have two chaotic good fighters from a small village who’ve sworn an oath to protect their friends, say, those two fighters can and often will be radically different people.

The TTRPG and WoW communities are both enormously creative, and getting to see all of the various ideas that people come up with is something I’m really grateful for and honored to be able to help bring to life.

Additionally, music – I can’t paint without it!

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

I began drawing because I wanted people to be able to see the characters and places I described in my stories as a kid. However, it was never really anything more than a serious hobby until about 2016.

As obnoxious as this might sound, I’ve never not been an artist, so I’m not sure what it’s like to want to be one. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon.

My original career was in music performance. An injury exacerbated by overuse and stress pulled me out of a performance career, and I kind of spent my twenties wandering around with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with myself or my life. I was really lost. I’d gotten a full scholarship to a small school, and figured I’d make my way through a four year degree before going on to pursue a masters. That did not happen.

During my late teens and twenties, I was also a volunteer storm chaser with ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services), and working emergency telecommunications. I loved the work, but it stopped being fun after I realized the extent of the impact that natural and man-made disasters had on the human lives around me. Though the work was fulfilling, I knew I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life.

There were a few attempts at other careers. Honestly, all they ever taught me was about all of the things I didn’t want to do with my life. The last one being that I wanted to become a French translator and a linguist.

As a sort of last hurrah, I posted a thread on Reddit in 2015 offering to draw people’s World of Warcraft characters. There, I met a handful of really incredible people who brought me into the WoW art community, and from there I got into Critical Role and started becoming increasingly engaged with the TTRPG community. The rest, as they say, is history.

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?

Most of my work these days is done for other people, so you’re not going to find much of my own personal motifs in the majority of my portfolio.

The signature that I put on my artwork is the text symbol for “thunderstorm.” (It looks like this: ☈) It’s a play on my first name and it’s a nod to the work I’ve done in the past. Also a reminder to myself – if it’s not a tornado, it’s probably not worth getting super worked up about.

I use a lot of blue and gold – they’re my favorite colours, mostly because I’m from a coastal town in Florida and have always loved the water.

There’s so much music in my work, to the point where all of my Inktober pieces this year were just based on songs.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s enough tutorials and technical advice these days on the internet that I feel like anything I could say on those subjects has already been said. So, instead, here’s some lessons I learned the hard way.

First of all. Don’t be an asshole. It does not matter if you are the most skilled artist in your particular field, if you treat people like garbage, no one will want to work with you. This includes being vocally critical of other artists. This includes treating the artists around you as competition or as enemies, rather than potential friends or coworkers. This includes being a sarcastic, sardonic shit about everything. Cynicism doesn’t make you cool. It doesn’t make you some enlightened sage of the ages, it makes you a prick. Empathy, kindness, understanding and patience will get you far, far further than raw skill alone. Praise others in public, critique if asked in private. Don’t be an ass to younger artists, they’re doing their best.

Second. Art is extremely hard work. There is nothing cute or fluffy about being a creative of any sort. You don’t get to float around waiting for inspiration, or depending on some “muse” to bring your ideas. If you do you’ll never get anything done, and you’ll never get better.

When you first start making stuff, you will suck at it. You’ll suck at it for a while. It’s normal, don’t stress. Art isn’t something you master overnight or in a year or even in ten years. You will be fighting a continual, uphill fight for most victories and breakthroughs. When you “level up” as an artist, it will be because you worked your ass off. The answers to the problems you face will not be written out for you in books. You will need to find those answers for yourself. If that doesn’t sound like a good idea to you, don’t be an artist.

Third. Talent is a myth and an excuse. There is no bullshit force in the universe that ~magically~ gives you the ability to create anything. There is the only the work, the desire to do it, and the determination to keep doing it when it gets hard. That’s all. You get better by practicing and studying your craft.

Fourth. Art is for everyone. See number three. Art is not for special talented people who have ~the gift~. The arts in general, creative work – they are for everyone and anyone. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If someone says you’re talented, say, “Thank you, I work very hard.” They mean well, take the compliment.

Fifth. There are a bunch of people who will tell you in kind ways and not-so-kind ways that the arts are for fools who can’t manage a “real” career. What they do not and perhaps cannot understand is that not being an artist when you want to be simply leads to a chain of unfulfilling and meaningless careers that you never fully commit to or enjoy. Life is far too short to go through it longing.

Sixth: Don’t be alone. Involve yourself in a community. Isolation is death for artists. Surrounding yourself with artists of all different skill levels will teach you more than any class ever can. A good community will raise you up when you’re struggling, and will keep you grounded. There will always be someone better than you, don’t let that discourage you or inhibit your progress.

Seventh: Rest. If it hurts, stop. If you’re frustrated, take a break. If you need help, ask. Don’t let pain and exhaustion be a point of pride and don’t work yourself to death. Sitting in front of your tablet or easel for sixteen hours a day without eating or drinking is going to fuck you sideways when you get older. It doesn’t say that you’re devoted and hardworking, it says you don’t take care of yourself and don’t manage your time properly. Eat regularly, take your medication, make sure you drink water. Don’t survive on sleep deprivation and energy drinks. Your work suffers when you suffer.

On that note. Great art does not come from great suffering. If you create beautiful things from pain, imagine the things you could make when you’re safe and okay.

Tragedy, trauma, angst, anger and sadness don’t make you interesting. They inhibit your feelings, keep you from growing, they keep you from forming good and healthy relationships with the people around you. They keep you from becoming the person you want to be. Don’t wear your sorrow like a trophy, because it isn’t. The fact you survived it makes you strong. What will make you interesting – and your work interesting – is how you recovered and grew beyond those circumstances.

You are worth more than the things you produce. Don’t tie your self-worth and self-esteem to your craft.

Stay humble. Work hard, be sincere in your passions and in your relationships with others. Be as good to the people around you as you can be, and if you can’t say anything kind, shut the actual fuck up because no one needs your bullshit.  The most important thing in this world that we can be is kind. Life is difficult. Life as a creative is even harder. Do not be the reason someone else decides to quit doing what they love. Everyone has something amazing about them, be receptive to finding it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual.

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

Personally, no. I don’t talk about it much as I’m a pretty private person about my romantic relationships.

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

That asexual people are sex-repulsed. That we’re frigid or cold. That we don’t actually enjoy any form of physical contact whatsoever. That we’re broken or defective.

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

“Even if it gets hard

don’t lose that light.”

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

http://www.twitter.com/runesael

http://runesael.squarespace.com/

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

Interview: Emily Jane

Today we’re joined by Emily Jane. Emily is a phenomenal artist who does a bit of everything. She enjoys singing, writing, and drawing, but her main passion is photography. Emily has a great passion for creating and is incredibly enthusiastic, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a sort of jack of all trades artist to be honest. I love to sing, write, draw, photograph…I love many things, and try not to limit myself to just one. When I sing, I often sing about my personal experiences, but when I’m writing, I try to immerse myself in my characters. To me, art should express something about the artist or the subject that he or she has not or cannot share with the world. I try to capture that in my photography as well- to find a secret and exploit it on camera- though the person seeing the photo won’t see the secret, they might catch a hint of emotion tagging along the end of it.

What inspires you?

Oh, gosh, the list is endless. A current inspiration is just the existence of people. People, as a whole, are so miraculous. They live, they breath, they exist and one of my favorite things is catching them doing that. I also try to find myself in my work. I try to ask myself, who am I? What person do I show to others, and is that person really me?

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

Unfortunately enough, I think the person that got me into my field was my mother, though I really don’t want to credit her with anything that I love. She was a graphic designer in college, and just frankly an extremely creative person… Without her influence, I doubt I would have found myself as deeply entrenched in the artistic world as I do.

Ever since I’ve remembered, I’ve wanted to be an artist, but I often wonder about the differences between nature and nurture. Had my father, who is an engineer, had more to do with my growing into myself, would I be leaning more into the STEM fields? Or had I grown up in a family that didn’t focus me on anything, would I have begun to lean towards a completely different field? The world may never know.

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 know if I have a specific symbol in my work… I often draw young women. I think that might be because of my sexuality, me trying to draw potential girlfriends haha!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would encourage them to never give up! I have received so much backlash from my work- being labeled the weird emo girl (because apparently only emo people draw??), people yelling at me for drawing different body types… it’s not ideal, that’s for sure. But never give up on your art. And remember, while it’s not wrong to want praise for your work, the person you most need to accept your work is yourself.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

As of now, I identify as a panromantic asexual. I’m attracted to people, not what’s in their pants- probably because I never want to touch what’s in their pants haha.

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

Not so much relating to my field as to me as a person. As of now, I am only halfway out of the closet with one person, which means that she knows I’m asexual, but not that I’m panromantic. I have experience aphobic things in my dating life, unfortunately. Guys seem to be under the impression that everybody loves kissing and sex, and they get angry when you say you aren’t into either of those things. Since I’m not out of the closet, I’ve never dated a female, so I’ve no idea how they would react to being told that I do not like sex.

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

The most common misconception I see about asexuality is the idea that people who identify as asexual also do not have romantic relationships, or that all ace people are also aromantic. Not only is this patently false, but it harms people who are asexual by promoting the idea that we don’t want romance. It also harms people who are not on the asexual scale by promoting the idea that all romantic relationships must involve sex or it’s not really a romantic relationship, which can be INCREDIBLY toxic.

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

Sure! Just remember that no matter how many people turn you down or scoff at you for your sexuality, you are VALID!! You may be more on the graysexual scale, and that’s totally fine. Humanity is filled with so many people of so many types- it only makes sense that you won’t fit in a box completely perfectly. And remember also- you don’t have to figure it all out yet! People change- you may change as well, and that’s totally okay and valid.

Sure! Just remember that no matter how many people turn you down or scoff at you for your sexuality, you are VALID!! You may be more on the graysexual scale, and that’s totally fine. Humanity is filled with so many people of so many types- it only makes sense that you won’t fit in a box completely perfectly. And remember also- you don’t have to figure it all out yet! People change- you may change as well, and that’s totally okay and valid.

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

I’m not really online at all except for my Tumblr account. Feel free to stop by and say hi to me at uppercase-ace 😉

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

Interview: Erin Malo

Today we’re joined by Erin Malo. Erin is a phenomenal visual artist who was interviewed some time ago on this site. She has done quite a bit of work since then, including some design work on asexuality. She works in a number of mediums, both traditional and digital. Her work is fascinating and diverse, showing a great amount of talent. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. malo17 sustained tonal

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a 4th year visual communication design student, and I work primarily with logos and identity branding. I also love both digital and traditional illustration, and traditional art when I have the free time. Photography is a recent darling of mine as well. I guess I do a little bit of everything!

2. malo 27 five hour tonal

What inspires you?

When it comes to design, I get really inspired by other creators. I can scroll Instagram and Pinterest for hours, looking at all the amazing and unique ideas people have! In my illustration work, I’m endlessly inspired by the various D&D campaigns I’m in. I feel like I’m always doodling the characters and the monsters we come across. For my traditional art, I’m inspired by the body and the natural world.

3. p2 finalist5

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

I’ve always wanted to be an artist, as far as I remember. I loved art as a kid, so I did it a lot and got good at it. I didn’t want to formally pursue art after high school because it’s such a difficult field to break into, especially in a fairly small city like Edmonton, so I looked into animation, interior design, and visual communication design, and settled on the latter. It turned out to be much closer to my heart than I expected, and 4 years into my degree I’m still loving it!

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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?

No, I don’t think I do.

6. dee b day 2018 poster

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Nobody can create exactly what you can. Don’t get discouraged because there’s artists out there better than you. Just do your own unique thing, and do it lots, and share it with everyone you can. You’ll find the people who love what only you can do, even when you don’t always love everything you make.

5. EMcover page

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual when asked, but I’m probably more specifically demisexual. I’m biromantic as well.

7. bg test

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

I’ve received very little negativity in person when it comes to my identity. I’m pretty open about being asexual, so if people have a problem with me, they’re staying quiet. I presented a zine I made on asexuality to my design classmates in my second year, and I got polite curiosity and even some praise for my openness.

8. malo9 perspective building

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

Definitely that (some) asexual people never have sex, or are incapable of sex. It’s very difficult to explain to people that attraction is highly separate from libido – especially when those people are people you don’t necessarily want to sit down and have a conversation about sex with. An unfortunate part of coming out as ace (I’ve found) is having to do the internal work to understand how your own attractions and feelings mesh together, and then articulate that to others if you want them to have an accurate picture of what asexuality is to you. Not that it’s anyone’s business. I just have less and less pride about it every passing year and I’m fine detailing the nitty-gritty to people who ask me questions. Aces with big ol’ sex drives exist, and I’ve had to become fine with explaining that to non-aces.

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

You’ll probably figure it out, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. It doesn’t matter how long you identify as ace, you will likely always doubt that you’re “actually” ace, and that’s okay. If it’s comforting to you and it describes your experience better than other labels in the moment, by all means, use it. Also, if you’re feeling like aces aren’t accepted in the queer community, get off Tumblr, and go make your presence known in a LGTBQA+ group in your school, community, whatever. You’re much more accepted and wanted than others would have you believe.

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

I’ve got an art blog on here at neon-biology, and an Instagram account full of art at erin_aceous. As well, if you’d like a free 12-page pdf. of my zine on asexuality, titled “Visible”, you can email me at emalo[at]ualberta[dot]ca.

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

Interview: Matthew Maione

Today we’re joined by Matthew Maione. Matthew is a phenomenal visual artist who also writes and creates fanart. He enjoys drawing faces and also does quite a lot of fanart. When he’s not creating visual art, Matthew enjoys writing and writes both fanfiction and original work. He’s particularly fond of historical fiction and crime suspense. It’s clear he’s an incredibly dedicated artist who loves to create 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 am a virtual artist and creative writer. I enjoy drawing faces and fanart.  I like playing with colour and texture a lot. I write almost entirely fanfiction and fiction. Historical fiction and Crime Suspense novels are some of my favourite to write.

What inspires you?

Music is a huge inspiration in my life, it can get me in certain moods that are perfect for writing. My fiancé often inspires me with the little things she does, dances around the house that make me want to write romance. Nature gives me a breath of life, revitalizes me and makes me want to draw.

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

It was actually my older sister, she is a cosplay and traditional artist. She is 5 years older than me and I, being a younger sibling, was jealous and decided I needed to be better than her. Now I do it because I love it, of course.

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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 used to but since I lost most of my sight I’ve just been trying to re-explore what my art is. Playing with styles and shading to recreate it so I can still actually create, I used to sign my older works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up! Make your weaknesses your strengths! There is no reason why you can’t pursue art if it’s what you love. Always do what makes you happiest, not what others want you to do.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Grey-ace. I don’t really experience sexual attraction, but if I have a strong romantic connection with someone I am able to connect with them in that way as well. But it’s more of a, I do it because I love them and want to make them happy. Not to say that is the only way to do so, there are many ways to connect with your partners and sex is never a mandatory part of a relationship, but it can enhance your romantic connection. Simply put, while I don’t experience sexual attraction, for me, being intimate occasionally makes me feel emotionally closer.

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

I haven’t really in my field. It’s not something that just casually comes up in conversation but those I have told have all been very understanding. A few people I told were even comfortable enough with me after the fact that they were able to come out to me as well. In my daily life a few people have said that it’s because I hadn’t met the right person, or claimed they could fix me, very common things to run into. I mostly just ignore this and do my best to stay safe.

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

That I’ll never be able to have a permanent partner or that it’s a phase. I have a fiancé who has no problems with it, we have been together for two years. She is always very understanding if I’m having a repulsed day, because there are good and bad days. Some days I’m totally okay with the idea of sex and others I can’t stand to watch movies with implied scenes in them. But if you’re worried about finding someone who will love you, of course you will. There’s somebody for everyone.

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

Being asexual, while it is a way to identify, does not define you. If the thought of it is new or uncomfortable, it’s just another part of wat makes you, you. It’s not something to be ashamed of or hide, there are so many people out there who will accept you for exactly who you are.

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

My Tumblr is Naoki-arts, I have AO3, Ammarettu. I’m currently working on getting my first novel published so any news on that will be found there as well!

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