Interview: Brittany L.

Today we’re joined by Brittany L. Brittany is a wonderful visual artist I met at Indy PopCon. She does a lot of traditional visual art, specializing in acrylics and watercolors. Brittany also does a little digital art too. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and 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.

_Father Sky
Father Sky

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I think my favorite medium is paint. I’ve used acrylics and watercolors, but I’d like to learn how to use other types of paint like oils. In high school I started learning how to do digital art using the Adobe Cloud and it is a blast, so I want to get better at that too. Basically, I’m interested in a whole lot of things and would like to just keep trying new things and getting better at what I love to do.

What inspires you?

I seem to be inspired by random things. I’ll just be going about my day and then think of something. It can be a bit stressful because I can randomly forget things just as easily, so I have to make sure that I write things down as I think of them.

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

Art has always been incredibly important to me for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to make things and what others might’ve called junk I would find some sort of craft to give it a purpose. Over the years I have gotten involved in different kinds of art; as a kid it was visual art, but in middle school I got involved with theatre and writing then in high school I joined show choir and developed an interest in graphic design. That’s how I ended up where I am now.

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

I usually sign my work as “Blu” because it takes the first letter of my first name and the first two letters of my last name. And blue is one of my favorite colors!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s cliché, but my advice is to keep practicing if art is something you really love. But practicing does not just mean doing. Of course, you will have to actually make some art. However, if you are becoming too frustrated with yourself and over criticizing your work then you can take a break from doing and absorb art. Watch videos of art tutorials. Read books about art. Find artists with styles you like to gain insight for what you want to do with your own. And just remember while you are growing that it is okay for your work to not turn out exactly as you expected. That’s completely normal.

_Oceans of Neptune
Oceans of Neptune

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Finding how I wanted to identify myself was really difficult for a long time until a really close friend of mine just casually told me that if I wanted to, I could use asexual and heterosexual to identify myself simultaneously. I had thought of it before that conversation, but I felt like I couldn’t do that because I figured most aces would just call themselves heteroromantic asexual or a gray ace. For some reason those terms just didn’t work for me personally.

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

I started wondering whether I was asexual during my freshman year in high school. This was also when I developed my first crush. Both of us grew up in religious families, but his environment had different ideals than my own. When I brought up my questions to him he said he would have to break up with me if that was the case because it went against what he believed in. I was so head over heels for him at this point that I forced myself to say that I wasn’t asexual at all so that he would stay with me. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only change I made for him. It was all really damaging to me as a person. We ended up breaking up a couple months later anyway and I was devastated for a long time. But thankfully we have both grown so much from this experience. He apologized for the way things were and how things ended, and we are actually friends now. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience. Even though it was hard for a while, I’m grateful for what came out of it.

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

That aces just haven’t met the right person. I feel like that idea comes from a very basic idea of asexuality. Not all aces are the same; it’s different for everyone! Some like to have sex and others don’t. Some experience romantic attraction and others don’t. So, while some aces may meet someone that they’ll date, have sex with, marry, etc., others won’t because that just isn’t for them.

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

Be brave! Even though we make up a small percentage of the population, out of 7 billion people that’s a lot of individuals. None of us are actually alone. I went to my first pride festival recently and I meet other asexuals, which was something that had never happened to me before. Since then I have continued to find resources and spaces online for asexual individuals (such as this blog!) or to spread awareness about asexuality. I’m even in a subreddit called r/asexuality, and people post questions in there all the time to get help trying to become comfortable with their orientation. Find ways to talk to other people in your situation. If you are religious and are struggling with that aspect of it, try to find someone you trust who is safe to talk to about your journey. I talked to so many other friends who are also religious after my first boyfriend told me it was wrong, and they helped to reassure me that it is okay. You do not have to suffer in silence. I am open to having a conversation too if it will help a fellow ace in need; my Instagram is at brii.the.blu.bird. And please, please remember to be kind to yourself while you are on this journey.

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

The public Instagram account that I mentioned before (at brii.the.blu.bird) is a separate account I made in hopes of starting to share my work more. There isn’t much there right now, but hopefully I will be able to start uploading more work soon. I also have some writing on Wattpad under the username at brii_the_blu_bird.

_Rings of Saturn
Rings of Saturn

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

Interview: Eva I.

Today we’re joined by Eva I. Eva is a phenomenal South Asian visual artist and author. She draws portraits and character concepts, using a variety of mediums. As far as writing, Eva is currently working on two fantasy novels, both of which feature asexual protagonists. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Character Concept
Character Concept

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m one of those artists who likes to dabble in, well, everything. Over the years, I’ve tried out typography and hand lettering, crafts, music (I still play the ukulele occasionally), writing, and drawing. Out of all those things, I suppose the ones that have stuck with me would be the latter two.

Even with drawing, I can’t make up my mind. My style fluctuates with my mood, the weather, every time I sneeze… This is evident if you scroll through my Instagram feed; it’s like one of those repost accounts featuring different artists. However, I am consistent in the sense that I mainly draw portraits and character concepts, and my preferred medium is digital art – although I do work traditionally, using ink and sometimes watercolours, whenever the fancy strikes me. I’m hoping to branch out and try illustrating more environments in the future.

As for my writing… I’m currently working on two fantasy novels, both of them featuring ace protagonists, because I want to see more ace characters (particularly those of colour) in SFF. I’m a slow writer, especially as my mental and physical health are never that great, but I think I’ve made good progress with both novels. I’m almost done with a passable draft for one of them, which I hope to send out to trusted readers soon. I’m not sure if I want to publish these stories or not – at least, not at this point in my life.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration (haha) by consuming all kinds of art by all kinds of artists. In fact, I’ve found it pretty inspiring to go through some of the interviews on this blog! Whenever I need to recharge my creative battery, I just read a book, study the works of my favourite artists, watch a movie/show, read/watch interviews, and listen to some music. In addition to that, I also like sleeping? I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon (aka I have a chronic illness) so I tend to sleep a lot; I end up having a ton of cool dreams, which I sometimes weave into my writing.

fish
Fish

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

Creativity runs in the family, so I picked up art as a matter of course when I was very young. I have vague memories of throwing tantrums at the age of five when I couldn’t draw things the way I wanted; thankfully, I’ve since managed to improve my skills (and my temper). I opened my first art account on Facebook when I was fifteen-ish. I deleted that one a few years ago, and started my current accounts on Twitter and Instagram under a pseudonym so I can be more out about myself.

More recently, I started accepting freelance commissions via social media, which has helped expand my reach (and my wallet). I wouldn’t consider this as a career, yet, though. I don’t receive enough commissions to depend upon it as a main source of income, so I have a day job of sorts, and I’m trying to figure out how to get myself yeeted into college.

Writing has also been a huge interest for me since I was a toddler; my earliest memories are of my father telling me stories. I was quick to develop my reading skills, and you would rarely find me without a book to read. From there, it felt natural to me that I would eventually write my own stories. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so I read and write those for the most part. I used to post my writing on Wattpad, but I’m a little more private about my writing at the moment.

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 almost always sign my art, either with ‘EVA’ or ‘evadrawssometimes’. I don’t really hide anything special in my artwork, but there is one thing about them that I can confess to: I sometimes forget to draw eyelashes. I’m not very good at drawing them either. I’m working on it.

In contrast, I think my writing contains many elements that I feel are personal to me; I include puns (multilingual ones, too) and references to real-life events that I’ve experienced personally, or have taken place in my hometown. Those who know, will know.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Your art is a luxury, so if you’re offering commissions, price them as such! You deserve to be compensated for your time and efforts. (Still working on this one myself).

Breaks are good! Don’t burn yourself out just for the sake of updating your social media. Your most dedicated fans will still stick around even if you miss a post or ten. Maintaining a social media presence is not worth the risk of burnout, injury, or even losing passion for your art.

If you’re offering commissions, try to include your contact information on your profiles. Make it easier, not harder, for potential clients to reach you.

Don’t feel obligated to post all your art on social media.

Don’t forget to make art just for yourself sometimes! Even if capitalism says otherwise, you don’t have to monetise all your work/hobbies, particularly when it comes to art.

It is acceptable – and good, even – to use references. It’ll save time, and ultimately it will help you improve.

ilyas
Ilyas

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m ace, I guess. I’m still figuring it out, though I’ve gotten more comfortable with my identity over time. I experience little to no sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction to people of all genders, and romantic attraction mainly towards people who are not of the same gender as myself (I think??).

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

In my field? Not directly, I would say. I choose my audience very carefully, and so far people have been largely accepting. I have come across some misconceptions from others, but thankfully, most people have been receptive to being corrected. I block those who are not interested in changing their minds, and honestly? Best decision I ever made.

I’m not out in other circles except for a select few family members, friends, and my current partner. I only come out to and explain my identity to those who I think will be understanding. I don’t really mind explaining, but it can get exhausting, especially when you’re dealing with people who don’t listen in good faith.

Lake of Voices
Lake of Voices

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

One of the major ones I’ve come across is the conflation of asexuality with aromanticisim, and asexuality with lack of desire for sex; the Venn diagram of those experiences is often seen as a circle, when in reality there are an intersection of various experiences, some of which may or may not overlap depending on the individual.

In addition to that, there are people who believe that the ‘A’ in LGBTQIAP+ stands for ally and not asexual, aromantic, and agender. I’ve also had someone suggest that asexuality was a phase I would outgrow, or that I was simply nervous or afraid. There have been other extremely harmful hot takes I’ve come across on Twitter by trolls, but they’re too numerous and unpleasant to recount.

All of these misconceptions seem to multiply during Pride month, which is disappointing but not surprising.

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

I would say… be open to the possibilities, and don’t be too worried about taking your time figuring yourself out. It’s also okay to decide on another label in the future; it does not negate the label itself nor your experience while using it. Ultimately, it’s your identity and you are in control of deciding who you are. Even if you’re not comfortable with/able to come out to certain people, I hope you get to feel confident about your own sense of self.

I’ve also managed to connect with a lot of aces during my time on Twitter, which has been a big help in affirming and discovering more about my identity – and, incidentally, picking up on quality ace puns (and pins. Gotta love well-designed merch by ace/LGBTQIAP+ artists).

Finally, I highly recommend checking out The Asexual (http://theasexual.com), an online journal about asexuality run by Michael Paramo. The site includes content like essays, artwork, and personal pieces, contributed by ace people of various backgrounds. The Asexual has helped me pick apart many of my own misconceptions and find joy in being who I am. You can find The Asexual on Twitter as asexualjournal (https://twitter.com/asexualjournal).

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

You can find me on Twitter as isthispigeon (https://twitter.com/isthispigeon), where I sometimes post my art and accept art commissions, but mostly tweet about art-related shenanigans. If you want to get to know me, or commission me in a more informal setting, that’s the place to go!

I’m also on Instagram as evadrawssometimes (http://instagram.com/evadrawssometimes), if you want to see all my art in one place without getting distracted by random thoughts and terrible puns (though they sometimes work their way into the captions). I accept commissions there as well.

I have a few phone wallpapers available on my Buy Me A Coffee account (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/isthispigeon), if that’s something you might be interested in.

Finally, if social media is not for you or if you wish to contact/commission me in a more professional setting, you can reach me via email: eva (dot) isq4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Currently, my writing is not available anywhere.

Shampoo ad Alucard
Shampoo ad Alucard

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

Interview: Hannah

Today we’re joined by Hannah. Hannah is a phenomenal visual artist whose current focus is on digital art, though they have worked in traditional mediums as well. Hannah does a fair amount of fanart, but they also have a lot of original work as well. It’s clear they’re a passionate artist who loves what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Asexual Ace
Asexual Ace

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Currently I’m putting most of my focus into digital art and graphic design. I tend to sketch everyday nonetheless. I love acrylic painting, but watercolor definitely happens to be my favorite traditional medium. Most of my art nowadays is done in Photoshop with a Wacom Intuos tablet. My art is mostly about people, bodies, and the mind. I’m hoping to branch out and do more landscapes or animal based drawings, but I haven’t found the inspiration for it. Aside from fanart of video games, musicals, or shows, I like to draw a lot about personal struggles. I have a lot of pride themed art on my account as of this moment. 🙂

What inspires you?

Impressionist and expressionist style paintings have always been a key focal point in my art growing up. I’ve definitely branched out and taken aspects from comic books and even animated movies, though. On top of that, I especially love music. Whenever I’m in a funk, or have art block, music is generally the best way for me to slip out of it.

2. Pan Prince
Pan Prince

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

As a young kid I’ve always just been drawn to painting and art. I’ve always dreamed of being an artist, but that mentality has kinda slipped away over the years. I still love art, but I don’t think I could ever follow it as a full time career. Nonetheless, I am currently studying graphic design to keep my creative juices flowing.

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?

When I did more traditional art I always tried to hide my name in paintings. However, this has gotten harder for me with digital art. I’ll probably start doing it again soon, but as of this moment my main signature is just my first name in Korean.

3. Red & Blue
Red & Blue

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

PRACTICE. I feel like everyone says that, but practice is the best way to improve your art and get better. It can be discouraging seeing amazing artists around, but you have to work hard to improve yourself. I like to take aspects of other artists’ work and see how I can mold it into my own. That’s not to say copy other people, but inspiration from already existing works can really help you take steps to finding your stride. Secondly, for anybody who likes drawing books and how to guides, do yourself a favor and actually read the words. The pictures are pretty and nice to look at, but reading the meat of the books is really helpful.

4. Depression in Blue
Depression in Blue

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as demiromantic asexual. For me I personally use the split attraction model. I don’t experience sexual attraction to anybody, but I’d be open to dating someone of any gender assuming I have a decent relationship with them.

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

I’ve met many people who find asexuality stupid or invalid. Some people have changed their minds upon further research, but others aren’t as informed or kind. There are certain situations where I do try to lay down some facts as one would with any other kind of LGBTQ+ style problem, but I have had to learn when to back off. Some people just won’t bother trying to respect aces. It sucks, but sometimes not interacting with toxic people is the best way to go.

5. Anxiety in Red
Anxiety in Red

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

People tend to be inherently confused about asexuality as a whole. Often times people think I’m too young to decide, or I just haven’t met the right person yet. Other people don’t see how you can be asexual and like someone romantically; they assume the two attractions are tightly connected for everyone.

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

Sexuality can be fluid for many; at a younger age you might not have everything quite figured out. BUT DO NOT WORRY! What you’re feeling is valid and OK no matter what others tell you. If you identify as ace now, but don’t feel the same later, you’re still valid, and that’s ok! If you discover your ace and have sex or you feel like something has invalidated you, don’t worry. If you identify as asexual, you are 100% normal and valid even if you don’t feel like it. 🙂

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

As of this moment my social media presence is tiny; I don’t have a huge following. Though if anyone is interested in finding my art I am _conspiracy_of_ravens_ on Instagram.

6. SpiderGwen
SpiderGwen

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

Interview: Amy Valentine

Today we’re joined by Amy Valentine. Amy is a phenomenal visual artist who does a lot of art journaling. She uses mostly colored pencils, watercolors, and various markers. She’s also an art student, so she works in a variety of mediums. When she’s not creating visual art, Amy also writes quite a bit of fanfiction. It’s clear she is a dedicated and passionate artist with a very bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. green lady
Green Lady

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

On my free time, I do a lot of art journaling, which is basically having a sketchbook expect I put more effort in decorating the pages to fit with my current mood. I also enjoy writing, mostly fanfictions, but I’m very eager to write something of my own someday.

I’m also an art student, so at school I also do paintings, photography and whatever else, and hopefully after school I could practice painting at home, too.

For art journaling, I like to use watercolors, color pencils and different kind of markers. Sometimes I just glue things in.

What inspires you?

Music is a big inspiration for me, because I’m almost always wearing headphones. I also get a lot of ideas from movies – When there is a scene that is just so pretty to look at, I always want to draw my own version of it.

I also take a lot of inspiration from my own feelings, since art journaling is kind of something that you do to express your emotions.

I also draw a lot of women’s nude bodies as a way to start learning to love my own body, so I guess they also give me inspiration. Don’t know what to draw? I’ll draw a torso. The headless statue of a woman is always there to save me from art block.

2. kissing watercolor
Kissing Watercolor

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

Yes, definitely. As a kid, I loved drawing comics and other cute things. I was really into manga back then. I would always be sketching at the edge of the test paper, even if the teacher told me not to.

At school, we also wrote a lot of our own stories, and I was always told that the stories I wrote were good and unique, so I got more inspired to write every day. I guess I can safely say I have always wanted to be an artist/writer. At this moment, I think I’d want to be a writer more than an artist.

3

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?

At the moment, I don’t think I yet have my own style or my own unique thing. In art, I’m still figuring out what I want to create and what kind of a style fits me the most. In writing, I’m trying to experiment a little to see what kind of stuff I want to write and how. So, for now, no unique signatures or anything.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice and practice. And do not compare yourself to others. I did that and only felt worse about my skills. The first 6 months at art school were rough because I kept thinking everyone else was better than me. But when I learned to just focus on my own work and did my best, my drawings ended up looking a lot better. So just don’t give up. We’re all at different skill levels here, so just focus working on your own thing.

5. big painting
Big Painting

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’d say I’m somewhere between being a demisexual and asexual.

I did just find the term ‘aegosexual’ that fits me quite well, but, I’m still trying to figure myself out. And that’s okay.

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

When I told my parents, both of them were confused but supportive, thankfully. Before I tried to get into art school, I told my school nurse that I felt like I was close to an asexual, and they said to me ‘I WILL find the right one’, and if I wouldn’t, I should seek medical help. I also told my friends that I was in the ace spectrum, and they said that wasn’t possible.

I’ve also been in two relationships before and in both of them I felt like being asexual was wrong. I felt like saying ‘no’ to sex was wrong, and that was used against me. I’m still healing from that.

I think the best way to handle any kind of prejudice is to know that you aren’t broken, and that there is nothing wrong with you. Also, calmly explaining to them what asexuality is can help them understand it better. And honestly, never, EVER, do something that feels uncomfortable to you just so you could please someone else. Listen to your own feelings.

4

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

Probably the one where they think that if I’m in the ace spectrum, I can’t feel any kind of sexual pleasure, or that I can’t have sex, or that I can’t include sex scenes in my writing, and so on. Asexuals aren’t 100% sexless – some can be, but some asexuals are okay with having sex for their partner, and some asexuals masturbate. Some people don’t seem to get that.

The other misconception is people thinking asexuals can’t experience romantic feelings. And the third one that my school nurse one suggested – that being asexual meant you were afraid of sex.

6

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

It’s OK to not be sure where in the ace spectrum you are, and it’s OK to change labels later on, and it’s OK if you’re still searching for yourself. Just know that there is no rush. You are what you are, and even if you aren’t 100% sure what your label is, then that’s alright. You don’t have to put yourself into a box if you’re not ready yet. Just take your time with your inner self, love yourself.

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

Tumblr: https://paper-star-fight.tumblr.com/
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/ValentineRunaway

7. lake
Lake

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

Interview: NW

Today we’re joined by NW. NW is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in fanart. She does mostly digital art, though she does occasionally dabbles in traditional media. NW does a lot of costume and character design. She enjoys doing mostly fanart, but will occasionally do original art. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

meeeeee

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

So, a lot of my work right now is done digitally — that is to say I don’t have an aversion to traditional media, it’s just more accessible to me at the moment — and usually it’s of people. Ranging from character or costume design, fan art, and a lot of my original artwork I don’t get to post. I love drawing portraits and faces, so right now, I guess the majority (that I post, anyway) is of that. I’m mostly self-taught; I’ve learned through practicing, studying classical paintings, and even watching Bob Ross as a little girl. I’ve had the traditional drawing courses (you know, still lives of apples or shapes) in addition to a lot of experimentation software like Paint Tool SAI, Adobe Photoshop, and Procreate.

I don’t particularly stick to one “style”; I don’t really like doing line art, I find it too time-consuming and I have issues with tremor, no thanks to my medication I take. So my style is very “paintery”, if you like. What I’ve learned in painting courses (and, again, Bob Ross) and I paint over my mistakes. When I do traditional media, I usually go back to the pencil or watercolors. I’m a visual person and I love coloring and colors. My favorite thing about creating art is eventually coloring it.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me.

Art has been a therapeutic thing for me and I’ve gone back and added my own feelings in them. I’m very guilty of day-dreaming and since I was a kid, those day dreams inspire art. I think of stories and they become my pieces. Things I see in real life, whether it be color combinations, fashion, or images I pass, I try to hold onto that visual memory and bring it back.  Nowadays, I carry my iPad and stop to at least get it out before it goes. Movies definitely do—I hadn’t realized how much movies affected my stories and images until I got older.

Other artists most definitely do, which is why I’m Tumblr a lot. Most of the blogs I follow are other artists. There are also a few blogs that post traditional and classical artwork that I love. And, really, the music I listen to also is a huge influence on me and I always listen to certain bands and artists to try and captivate a mood in my pieces. My usernames “ofborrowedlight” and “rainbowillness” actually come from one band that I listen to a lot when I do artwork, Wolves in the Throne Room. They’re titles to two songs, “Rainbow Illness” and “Queen of the Borrowed Light”. For my personal “project”, I listen to them quite a bit.

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

Well, I’ve been holding a pencil since I had an Etch-a-Sketch and I cannot recall the rest. And I keep bringing up Bob Ross for a reason—I watched him religiously as a little girl. I’d say that he was actually the first influence that wanted me to get into the field. By the age of five, my mind was made up: I wanted to be an artist. I struggled with dyslexia and bullying and art was my constant companion for me. Having that man on television taught me so much about color and composition at an early age and his attitude of “there are no accidents, only happy mistakes” is such a positive thing to have and he’s really still pushing me, to this day, with that attitude. If you ask me now, yeah, I still want to draw and create for a living. It hasn’t been easy working full-time and trying to earn money, though, but I have not given up. I still try to draw every day; unfortunately, I get really shy posting stuff online or I’m spending more time on it than I wanted to.

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 in particularly? At least I don’t think so; maybe my coloring?

Maybe the closest to it if anyone notices that I incorporate a wave or a flow around my figures, sometimes. That comes from how Gustav Kilmt, Alphonse Mucha, and some traditional Japanese paintings that seem to have a special way to draw smoke and water. I can’t really write it, but anyone can find it in my sketches. But flat out, there’s no real unique symbolism, usually. If there is, it’s with my original stuff with little hints, but no one is going to know context, it’s just me, because I haven’t really presented the world with that story yet. It’s an inside joke with me, I guess.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing, draw as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to expand your style. I was like a lot of artists out here on Tumblr; I’d print Sailor Moon illustrations and copied them. It’s good to do that to get up on your feet, but don’t allow that to be a dependency. Don’t be afraid to get books for the sake of illustrations—I still do. And don’t feel bad about your level of technique doesn’t match your friends or other artists out there. Art is all about your interpretation. While I can go on hours how stupid still lives and contour drawing is, they are essential to getting better. Take classic courses; if they’re not accessible to you, check out Udemy or Coursea.

With digital art, it’s a lot of practice. You just need to play around with features in software and you’ll find some really cool effects to enhance your coloring. Transitioning from a sketchbook to a drawing tablet is weird and don’t feel bad about not getting it; it took me years to get it and I’m still trying to play around with it. You’ll find a favorite program that you love! And even then, I would encourage you to have more than one digital art program. I hop around Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop, and Procreate all the time.

And really, I can’t stress it enough: don’t give up. You’re in an age where more of these things are accessible to you and it wasn’t when I was a kid. Keep drawing, draw more, and draw whatever you want.

versussmall
Versus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteromantic asexual but more often gray-sexual. I think men are handsome, that’s about it. I’m not bothered by it and I really don’t care about relationships. Finding a man attractive is the furthest I’ll go; I don’t want much interaction after that.

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

The closest I’ve experienced any sort of misconception have been at concerts, anime, or comic conventions (surprise, I draw there too) and having to really push back men that have approached me for a date or my number. If they really can’t take the hint or accept “no” for an answer, I’ll get up and leave. A few times I’ve had men at just concerts or gatherings telling me they can “fix” me or change my mind. Then I’ll just tell them to fuck right the hell off, literally.

However, the most prejudice and ignorance I experience is outside of art and I experience it more with my family. It’s an odd mix of Irish and Mexican Catholicism where most of the women in my family married young (we’re talking 17-19) and they think there’s something wrong with me because I have no kids and I’m not married. No matter how many times I tell them “I don’t care, I don’t find anyone attractive” or “sex doesn’t interest me”, it doesn’t seem to sink in. Even when I told them there’s a community of other asexuals, one said “well, they must all be very depressed”. I make jokes about things like “this is why I don’t date” and use it to reiterate I don’t care about relationships.

So I’d say the run of the mill crap—“you haven’t found the right man”, “you’ll change your mind someday”, or “you must be very lonely”. I just shrug it off because I’ve had this conversation so many times with my family.

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

I’m not sure if this is common, but my father believed it was the same as bisexuality—I’m just glad he recognizes that even if I’m not!

One thing I’ve seen is people assume its celibacy and then I have to explain there is a huge difference between the two. It does get tiring having to explain it’s a lack of physical attraction and a desire for it and no, I am not going to change, I’m not worried about not being married, and I’m well over 20 years old and it’s not likely I’m having second thoughts. I am, myself, sex-repulsed, but other asexual people are not and that’s usually one assumption that people go with. Having other people chime in and say they aren’t hleps.

Unfortunately, I will say that because I struggle with PTSD from abuse, therapists assume that the asexuality may be a cause of it. I’m sure it’s a contribution, but more along the lines I just find general touch revolting, though I’m confident that it’s not the ultimate reason why I’m asexual. I feel like psychology needs to learn more about it because I am tired of that assumption is because its due to trauma. I don’t think it’s asking too much that therapists and psychiatrists learn about asexuality. We’re not all like this, not every asexual person is like that due to trauma. And this thinking let me believe that I was really, really destroyed for years when I was not.

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

If you also had a past of trauma like me, I’d say check out Aven and other communities geared towards asexuality so that you will know you’re not broken. I feel like this isn’t really talked about that much and it’s a shame. This isn’t part of PTSD or other forms of mental illness; you are not mentally ill if you’re asexual. When I first heard asexual at 18, I didn’t know about these things and I’m so happy other people have this access. Even now, at Pridefest here in Denver, there are asexuals and I haven’t seen them not even five years ago. My present employer, Ikea, even had “asexuality” listed on their diversity and inclusion talks—that’s really awesome.

There’s a lot of research and groups, there’s a whole world out there. But if you get the same spiel as I do, I think at this point, all we can do is just poke fun at it. Nothing makes me feel better than mocking these conceptions with other aces, it’s a nice reassurance. And if you’re in the same boat with me and family, yeah, post a link on Facebook or just print it off and be like “read this”. I don’t feel like we have the same level of resistance to people that are gay, lesbian, bi, and trans, so we need to also understand that. Watching a family member bullied out of the closet was horrific; I still couldn’t draw comparisons to their situation. Ours seems like a lot of people just can’t comprehend a life without physical attraction, I think. I just hope people remember that, especially.

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

Most of my stuff is posted on Rainbowillness.com, which is hooked up to Tumblr. If you’re in the American McGee’s Alice fandom, you know me, I’m sure you’ve seen my stuff. I’m also on Instagram under “ofborrowedlight”; sometimes I will post WIPs (works in progress) on my personal Tumblr, “ofborrowedlight”, but I urge everyone just go on my site and follow me there.

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

Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

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

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

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

03 Fiery Mushroom - brush markers - 2017
Fiery Mushroom (brush markers)

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

04 Space Ace 2 for Tanouska - watercolour - 2018
Space Ace 2 (watercolour)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

05 Violet - ink - 2018
Violet (ink)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other places you can find me:

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

And places to buy my stories:

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

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

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

Interview: Renn

Today we’re joined by Renn. Renn is an extraordinary visual artist who also dabbles in embroidery and sings in their state’s LGBTQ+ chorus. They have mainly worked in traditional mediums, though they have recently started branching out into digital art. Their work is fascinating in its use of color and light. It’s clear Renn is an incredibly talented and passionate artist who enjoys what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m something of an ace-of-all trades (pardon the pun). Most of my work has been traditional pen and ink drawings- I’ve always been the most comfortable with felt pens as my medium since you can re-do the sketch as many times as it takes to get each line juuuuuuust right before finalizing it in ink. Every now and then I’ll do a watercolor- the colors can be quite vibrant and watercolors can blend together in a way markers and ink can’t. Watercolor is something of an exercise in discipline for me; I’m not the most patient of persons even without taking my ADHD into account- so waiting for the paint to dry before adding another piece of color can be trying sometimes. I’ve ruined plenty of paintings only because I just couldn’t wait! I recently started painting digitally with my beloved Huion tablet- a much better way for me to explore painting as a medium because there are no more wait times for colors to dry! And layers! Oh do I love my layers. Working digitally, I enjoy using a limited but vibrant pallet to challenge myself to really bring out the highlights and shadows of what I’m drawing, making the artwork overall more striking.

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

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What inspires you?

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

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

Butterflies
Butterflies

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

paletteportrait
Palette Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

SCAN0226

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

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

SCAN0236

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

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

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

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

TheWitch
The Witch

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