Interview: Noel Arthur Heimpel

Today we’re joined by Noel Arthur Heimpel. Noel is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in illustration and comics. They have a couple webcomics out, one of which is completed and the other is currently being posted. Both sound like fascinating stories and have multiple ace and ace-spec characters. When they’re not working on webcomics, Noel also works on Tarot and Oracle decks. The guidebook for their Tarot Deck (the Numinous Tarot) has ace inclusive interpretations. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

artist-portrait
Artist Portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a cartoonist and illustrator—in particular, I do webcomics and illustrate Tarot and Oracle decks, although I also do book covers and such once in a while. All of my work is done traditionally in watercolor and ink; the process is just so absorbing and fun. I absolutely love vibrant colors and so my art ends up being very rainbow-y no matter what I’m making.

I currently have one finished webcomic, Ignition Zero, and a new one that just launched recently called The Thread That Binds. Both are stories about trying to understand yourself, your emotions, your relationships to others, and how to heal the hurts we all carry. And magic, of course! Ignition Zero has faeries and The Thread That Binds has magical bookbinding and a giant magic library. Both stories have ace- and aro-spec main characters who are comfortable with themselves and get to be happy and have happy relationships.

My Tarot deck, the Numinous Tarot, came out earlier this year. It’s a very personal take on the Tarot made to be a tool for healing & for marginalized people to see themselves in—I tried my best to include as many gender expressions, orientations, races, body types, ability levels, etc. as I could. The card titles and guidebook all use gender neutral language to make it as accessible as possible, and the interpretations are ace-inclusive as well, of course!

IgnitionZero_pg98
“Ignition Zero” page 98

What inspires you?

My own life experiences and those of my friends inspire me the most. I want to tell stories that I haven’t seen before, or don’t see enough of, so that people like me and my friends can find ourselves in them. Stories are such an important way we figure ourselves out, whether we’re the creator or the reader. I’m also very inspired by nature, especially flowers, and all the magical things I do and experience as a witch. I like to think a lot about the nature of the universe/reality and put that curiosity into my work.

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

Pretty much! I come from an artistic family, so I’ve been making art since I was very little, and my interest only grew from there. I wanted ways to put all the stories in my head onto paper. At first that meant writing and drawing separately, but eventually I combined them into making comics. I started reading Tarot when I was 13, and being an artist, of course I knew I wanted to draw my own deck one day. The deep and complex symbolism of Tarot is very much like storytelling to me, so it also falls under that desire to share my stories and imagination with people. Stories have always been important to me, especially growing up in a difficult home I needed escape from (and hope for the future), and I want to give that back to others.

IgnitionZero_pg309
“Ignition Zero” page 309

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?

There are certain themes that almost always appear in my work, the biggest one being healing from trauma and loss. I’ve been through a lot of that myself and my art is one way I’ve worked through it—by sharing it, I hope it can help others as well. I also use flowers symbolically in my work on a regular basis, deciding which ones to draw based on the Victorian flower language or common magical associations that go with the story/piece.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep going! Follow your passion and make what you want to make. A lot of times we second-guess ourselves and say “I’m not good enough to make this great idea yet, so I’ll wait,” but a) the best way to get better is through experience, and b) you’ll have more amazing ideas later, I promise, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Also, as much as we all want to improve our skills, try to focus on having fun and enjoying it! There will always be times when we’re frustrated or doubting ourselves, but if you don’t like making art most of the time, why are you doing it? The enjoyment of the process is a reward all on its own.

NuminousTarot01
Numinous Tarot 01

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual, although it has taken me a long time to figure that out and find the label I feel suits me best! I’m also grey-aromantic and agender.

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

Not any more than I’ve encountered everywhere else. I feel lucky that when I marketed Ignition Zero specifically on having ace characters and an ace romance that the response was overwhelmingly positive. Otherwise it’s usually just that people don’t know anything about asexuality and need it explained to them, which I typically do as patiently as possible. I know I’m not obligated to be an educator, but currently I feel comfortable doing that in most cases. Or just ignoring it if it’s not worth my time!

NuminousTarot02
Numinous Tarot 02

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

Probably the one where asexuality gets conflated with aromanticism. I myself knew the word asexual since I was 17, but I didn’t use it for myself until I was 20 because I didn’t know about the split attraction model and assumed the romantic attraction I experienced meant I wasn’t ace. I see this misconception around a lot still, years later, although it’s getting better. I also often struggle to get people to understand demisexuality—the response is often “that doesn’t exist because that’s just how everyone feels and it doesn’t need a label.” It can be difficult to explain to people how my experience of attraction is different in a way they understand…or maybe there are way more demi people out there who just don’t realize that the label could fit them!

ThreadThatBinds_pg038-039
“Thread that Binds” pages 38 – 39

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

Find like-minded people who you can talk to. Meeting other ace people was how I began to question and understand myself. When they shared their experiences, I found stories, feelings, and words I could relate to that I didn’t even know I was missing. Being part of a community made me feel less alone and more empowered and certain in my identity. Also, sometimes this exploration can take a long time. I started identifying as ace when I was 20 and over the last eight years I’ve readjusted which label on the spectrum I use several times. And that’s ok! Sometimes it doesn’t feel great to be constantly wondering and changing, but every time I’m glad I went through the process.

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

You can see all of my work on my website, noelheimpel.com! I’m also very active on Twitter and Instagram, where I post my art and the occasional ramble. I have a Patreon with tons of fun content, and the Numinous Tarot is currently on Kickstarter to fund a second print run. Lots going on!

Website: http://noelheimpel.com
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/noelarthurian
Instagram:
http://instagram.com/noelarthurian
Patreon:
http://patreon.com/noelarthurian
Ignition Zero:
http://ignitionzero.com
Numinous Tarot:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/noelarthurian/the-numinous-tarot-2nd-printing

ThreadThatBinds_promo-banner
“Thread that Binds” promo banner

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

Interview: Raven Jay

Today we’re joined by Raven Jay. Raven Jay is a phenomenal visual artist who is currently studying at uni. They mostly draw fanart and original characters. They currently have a fascinating webcomic entitled Anthrel, which is summarized as follows: “A comic series following the lives of the Anthreligions; immortal personifications of the world’s religions, sects, and other spiritualities.” (It updates on Fridays). It’s clear Raven is a very creative and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a visual artist and illustrator, and most of my work is cartoonish. I draw a lot of both fanart and my own original characters and ideas. I have a few webcomic ideas in the works, and my current one is named Anthrel!

What inspires you?

My current favourite shows to draw from are Voltron: Legendary Defender and Boueibu, but most of my inspiration comes from religion, magic, and art history!

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

I’ve wanted to be an artist since primary school! I remember spending most of my time ignoring chances to socialize so I could sit and draw. My drive to draw – especially comics and illustration – became a lot bigger in high school because of friends I made and my supportive art teacher.

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?

A lot of my original work centres around religion and mythology and the beauty I see in it, and my webcomic is about personified religions, so I guess that’s a recurring theme I have?

My physical artist signature comes from a messy stylisation of my deadname; I just kept it because I’ve been using it for so long and it doesn’t really look like a word anymore. That being said, I forget to sign half of my art anyway.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It might sound cliché but don’t give up on art because some people think it won’t amount to anything; instead, keep making art because they think that. My father used to tell me I’d never make a living out of art, and his girlfriend’s friend once laughed at me for wanting to be an artist as a job. But now I’m at uni studying a creative industries degree and building art into a career, so the joke’s on them!

Also, don’t forget how important art theory is. Not only does art history tell you where you came from, it can inspire you too.

roman standoff
Roman Standoff

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m just asexual. I’m also sex-repulsed but don’t mind talking about/drawing sexual themes within certain boundaries.

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

Though I’ve experienced ignorance from peers, I haven’t experienced much prejudice, as most of my network is my university cohort and close friends. Normally I deal with ignorance by just politely explaining what asexuality is! Most people understand after that.

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

The most common misconception that I’ve encountered, I think, is that all asexuals are by default sex-repulsed. Though I am, I know not every ace is, and we all have different comfort boundaries for any sort of physical affection.

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

Always remember you’re valid in your asexuality. Maybe you’re questioning where you sit on that spectrum, and that’s okay, and maybe you’ll wake up tomorrow and realise you don’t identify as ace at all! We learn more about ourselves and about sexuality all the time; what matters is knowing that identifying as ace or aspec right now is a valid thing to do, and you don’t need to prove yourself to everyone.

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

You can find my art at draweththeraven on both Tumblr and Instagram! I also have a website, draweththeraven.com, which I try to update regularly (aka, I never update it). My webcomic Anthrel is at https://tapas.io/series/Anthreligion.

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

Interview: Reimena Yee

Today we’re joined by Reimena Yee. Reimena is a phenomenal visual artist and writer whose graphic novel, The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya, was recently nominated for an Eisner Award. Reimena has done a bit of everything, but webcomics are where her focus is at the moment. Much of her work is rooted in an ace POV and many of the characters she writes are asexual, including the main character of The Carpet Merchant. How cool is that!? Reimena is a talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Dullahan
Dullahan

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Heylo! I’m an artist, writer and designer. I’ve worked on all kinds of projects, from game design, clothing collaborations and editorial illustration, but I spend most of my time developing comics. I’m the creator of two webcomics, The World in Deeper Inspection, and The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya, which recently was nominated for the Eisner Awards.

I’d consider myself a visual problem solver — I provide artwork that my clients want, whether it’s something personal like a wedding card or a commercial thing like a game. If I’m not occupied working on solutions, I’m telling stories.

What inspires you?

I’ve a deep passion for the world’s history, art and cultures. Learning is what inspires me. It’s fascinating to think about the lives and stories of people back then, and how they expressed themselves through artwork and literature.

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

I’ve always been doing some form of art and storytelling throughout my life; if not a dominant pursuit, it was something that occurred at the periphery. It was only recently that I decided to commit to it as a career, after half a life of pursuing science and academia.

3. BabushkaCatWitch
Babushka Cat Witch

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 really. My work is all over the place, in the sense that you can see what is my latest obsession at the time. Lately, it’s tapestry and florals, but I want to progress to something with a more Malaysian flavour.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’d recommend finding a passion, interest or even side gig that isn’t art-related, or as removed from your art specialisation as possible. For example, sports, knitting, cooking, reading, etc. Having something separate, especially if you don’t monetise it, helps in establishing balance and perspective in your life, as doing only one thing for the rest of your time can affect you mentally and emotionally.

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The Carpet Merchant Tapestry

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Probably closer to demi, but if asexuality was a black-white spectrum, I’m a dark grey.

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

Personally I haven’t had any issue. I rarely ever talk about asexuality or sexuality. I only speak about myself as ‘queer’, which is true due to being non-binary, and my biromantic interests (disclaimer: more complex than this).

BUT there has been some feeling in the field that asexuality, along with bi/pansexuality, and other so-called smaller identities, have been looked down upon as identities that don’t experience the same kind of trauma or oppression as the more prominent identities. This logic (which needs to be unpacked for its problematic implications) skews the community’s ability to be a safe space.

How I handle that is to just to do good work. Hopefully, by being myself and making work I believe in that also happens to include aces, it normalises asexuality as an identity that can just exist.

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

There’s just a general misunderstanding of what asexuality is, and how it is a nuanced and complicated experience that differs even between aces. It doesn’t help that there are parts of the ace community that adopt puritan, conservative language to control other people’s expression of queerness. Having such a voice be the dominant one narrows other’s view of what asexuality can be.

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

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but it helps to think of your asexuality (however it expresses itself) as part of the large, varied, diverse, individualised experiences of being human. The bigger your conception of what being a person is, the easier it is to accept your unique brand of asexuality, alongside others’, as a normal, human thing. And you don’t have to be asexual, or strictly a particular kind of asexual, forever either – things can change, morph, shift, be more complicated – but you’re still a valued human with talents to contribute to society.

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

My website is reimenayee.com
I post a lot of my art, and talk aplenty on Twitter (at reimenayee)
A more curated experience is blog.reimenayee.com

You can read my webcomics at alcottgrimsley.com

At the moment, The Carpet Merchant has a crowdfunder to publish a hardcover copy of Vol I. If you want to buy a book, head on here: https://unbound.com/books/the-carpet-merchant-voli

2. Enchantedsmall
Enchanted

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

Interview: Jainai Jeffries

Today we’re joined by Jainai Jeffries, who also goes by fydbac, llc. Jainai specializes in creating violent and erotic imagery to break through mediocrity. They specialize in concept design, tattooing, and violent webcomics. It’s clear they’re a dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for participating in this interview.

Warning: potentially triggering material in this interview and the images included. Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this interview don’t reflect those of Asexual Artists.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Its aim is to murder off the mediocre and cliché.

What inspires you?

Exploring the unseen and untold. The countless unexplored (or rarely explored) ideas and concepts.

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

I always loved fantasy and hearing stories I never heard before.

Where does “always” start for you? Let’s just say, yes; if we don’t count the half day I considered being a Veterinarian, or the month or so I reached out to the FBI about being a sniper/assassin.

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 change it periodically: For the past year or so, I’ve been stamping my work with “©fydbac,llc”.

I hope that’s what you meant. Is it what you meant? …We’ll just say that’s what you meant.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Undercharging yourself (anything under $20 for line art) is a sign of an amature, and makes you look unprofessional (like you have no respect for yourself).

Don’t half ass shit: like relying on only social media. Work on your presentation and business as hard as you work on your craft.

But then again, there are folk out there who are half assing it, but still making $2k+ on Patreon, so da fuck do I know?

Point is…there are countless paths to maintain an art career. There is no “correct” one. But they ALL share one thing: Luck. [Don’t obsess over it.]

3. kenzi_profile_sm

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex: Ace [thought not ruling out demi, cause I think I have the capacity, but never had such a connection]. Romantically: Aromatic (my idea of “romance” doesn’t fit into the general category of this era I think).

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

No. I actually still don’t understand how prejudice against ace is possible: The lengths folk go to infringe upon someone’s existence over something that ain’t they fucking business is just utterly ridiculous to me in general.

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

Probably, “you just haven’t found the right person yet”. That was mostly just before I realized I was Ace, or just as I was realizing it. Cause I have yet to share that I was Ace to those people, (no reason why I haven’t, I’m just not one to share myself unsolicitedly).

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

I don’t think I can give “advice”, as I never “struggled” about it. I guess I can share my personal attitude about things pertaining to myself? What other people think have no relation on what I think about myself and how I view the world. They have their world, and I have mine. Sometimes they brush against each other to learn from each other, but…yeah, my orientation has never been a “struggle”, so don’t think I can help

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

Official: http://fydbac.com
Webcomic: http://ipity.me
Tattoo boutique: http://fydmi.ink

My current primary social medias:
http://twitter.com/fydbac
http://instagram.com/fydbac

2. Iron Sketch 074

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

Interview: Micah Amundsen

Today we’re joined by Micah Amundsen. Micah is a phenomenal artist who writes webcomics. They’re best known for the webcomic The Roommate from Hell, which they have the best summary for in their interview. They’re also currently working on a graphic novel entitled Cursed, which sounds fascinating and is something to look forward to. It’s clear Micah is a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. floating Hugh title_better
Floating Hugh

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m most well-known for creating the webcomic The Roommate from Hell, (http://enchantedpencil.com/roomie/) a supernatural slice of life about gays and their metaphorical and literal demons, which updates with a new page three times a week.

I’m also working on a 10-part graphic novel series called Cursed, a fantasy adventure about a bunch of thieves, family, and what it means to be human. I’m hoping to release the first book May 2019. Follow my Twitter to get more updates on that. (https://twitter.com/enchantedpencil)

Besides those and other comics, I write and perform music and sell art online.

What inspires you?

A lot of my inspiration comes from other stories and art that I’m a fan of. Either I see something I really like and think “how can I do this my own way?” or I see something with potential and think “how can I do this better?” I get a lot of enjoyment and comfort from the comics and shows I watch and read, and I want to create these emotions in other people. There’s also a lot of themes I like to explore and beliefs I hold that I want to share with others through my comics.

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

I’ve been “creating comics” since 1st grade of elementary school, even though it was a weird stick figure scribble that was stapled together and drawn in pencil. I made quite a few comics that way through middle school, tying pieces of paper together and binding them with cardboard from cereal boxes. At that time, I was mostly inspired by the limited selection of Japanese manga I could buy at the Scholastic Book Fair every year. Discovering that you could read comics online for free basically blew my mind, and I published my first webcomic (Opertion: Reboot) in 2012 while in high school.

While I create lots of different kinds of art, comics are my primary passion, and I can’t imagine life without it.

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

I do. I have a signature that I use to sign my comics, but I also created a unique icon to represent each of my comic series. I like to doodle these icons next to my signature when I do book signings to personalize the comics a little more.

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Symbols

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Create work for yourself. If you keep chasing ideas of what other people want you to be as an artist, you won’t be happy with your work. Find a way to break the cycle of needing validation from others, and find that validation inside yourself instead. You can’t please everybody, but if your work pleases yourself, it’s bound to please others too.

3. Orev_10x8
Orev

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual demiromantic… Maybe. Relationships don’t interest me much in general.

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

I really haven’t. In fact, a number of my artist friends identify as ace as well. I think I got really lucky in that regard. Being ace isn’t exactly something I advertise, though, so there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for others to react.

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

That it’s “just a phase.” That’s the misconception that I’ve actually had told to my face, but it also bothers me when people assume that being sexual is inherently human nature and applies to every single person. Have you ever heard this? “There’s three things all humans have in common: The need to eat, sleep, and have sex.” Yeah, that drives me nuts.

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

Don’t let other people tell you what you are or aren’t. Nobody understands you, your body, or your feelings better than you do. Being ace isn’t weird, and you aren’t broken. Find friends in real life or online who identify similarly or who understand you. Finding those kinds of people is really important when you’re still exploring your identity.

As a non-binary person, I extend this advice to those who may be transitioning as well. Also, I find the NB and ace identities seem to get overlooked by regular LGBT+ discussion sometimes, so don’t feel like you aren’t important too.

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

Read The Roommate from Hell here: http://enchantedpencil.com/roomie/
Follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/enchantedpencil
Find lots of extra art and bonus content on my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/enchantedpencil

If anyone wants to chat about comics or being ace, don’t be afraid to contact me on Twitter.

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Stole from Code Geass

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

Interview: Katy L. Wood

Today we’re joined by Katy L. Wood. Katy is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who is from Colorado. She recently debuted her webcomic, which features two asexual main characters. Katy combines her visual art with her writing, frequently drawing character art and cover art. Her webcomic, Gunpowder & Pine, sounds like an incredibly intriguing mystery story. It’s clear that she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Gunpowder and Pine_Part 1 Cover
Gunpowder and Pine, Part 1 Cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hi! I’m an author and illustrator, so a lot of my art is very interwoven with the stories I write. I do single illustrations, webcomics, novels, cover art, and character art regularly. My work is mostly digital, but I also do a little traditional work here and there, mostly pen and ink, watercolor, and marker. I’ve had work featured in the Society of Illustrators in New York, I have one self-published book, and I have a webcomic (with two asexual protagonists!) that just started posting!

What inspires you?

I was born and raised in Colorado, a fourth generation native of the state, and I come from a HUGE family. I grew up with so many stories about settling the mountains and growing up off the beaten track, and I grew up a bit off the track as well. It really fostered a sense of adventure and exploration in me, and I try and pack as much of that into my work as possible.

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

It always seemed like the only possibility for me. I’ve always told stories and done art, so making a career out of it was the natural way to go. Admittedly I’m still working on the actual “making money” part, but who isn’t?

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?

Hmmmm… not INTENTIONALLY. People tell me all the time that I have a style, but I don’t see it (which I think is true for most artists, you’re the last one to ever see your style). I do have one character that is in nearly all my novels, though. His name is Kala and he’s my oldest OC, and I always manage to sneak him in somehow. He’ll just be a random café worker or voice on the radio in someone’s car or something. He accidentally became important in one of my projects, though, and now he’s actually got scenes. Whoops.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make friends. Make all the friends. It doesn’t matter how good your portfolio/novel is, your chances of getting your work out there in the world are 1,000 times better if you have a good network to help you out. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people you admire, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Talk to people and keep in touch.

Bellewood Promo Image
Bellewood Promo Image

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual with probably a dash of bi-romantic leaning towards women. Small dash, though. If all I ever end up with is a bunch of cats I’m okay with that.

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

I think the biggest issue I’ve seen is in publishing for novels. The industry has gotten a lot better about allowing queer content, but they still have A LOT of catching up to do. Some people in the industry are stuck in some very old grooves and the refuse to get out of them. At the same time, there’s tons of awesome, forward-thinking people that are fighting incredibly hard to change the system, and those are the people I seek out.

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

That the community doesn’t experience homophobia. I, thankfully, haven’t (in relation to asexuality, anyways). But it does happen to so many people and it can be incredibly harmful both mentally and physically.

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

You’re awesome. You deserve to be happy and secure in who you are and how you love other people, and if those other people can’t accept that it is okay to let them go.

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

My website (which includes my newsletter!), Webtoons where you can read my webcomic, my Tumblr, and my Patreon.

Thanks so much for having me!

Vivian's Kitchen Test Illustration
Vivian’s Kitchen Test Illustration

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

Interview: DarkChibiShadow

Today we’re joined by DarkChibiShadow, who also goes by DCS. DCS is a fantastic visual artist, writer, and game developer who specializes in erotica comics. They are very interested in erotica and sexuality, which informs much of their work. DCS strives to make things that everyone can enjoy, but are particularly dedicated to making things ace people can enjoy. Their stories include a wide variety of ace and aro spectrum characters. DCS also makes a copious amount of SFW comics and games as well. They have recently started SofDelux with their friend Nami, who was interviewed yesterday. The pair of them are a powerhouse, collaborating to make some truly awesome visual novels and games. It’s clear DCS is a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hey! I’m DCS, otherwise known as DarkChibiShadow!

When it comes to my art — it’s my life! It has been for so long, ever since I was little.

I would say I mainly make comics with a heaping side of visual novels right now — as well as a ton of different kinds of commissions! I’m basically always working on something!

Right now my biggest focuses are my webcomic, Space School, and my various erotica comics! I update both once a week; with my erotica comics rotating between a cast of characters and stories.

Good ‘ol Space School has been going on for a long while now — and it’s had it’s ups and downs cuz of that. It started out as a really silly RP idea that I then grew super attached to and wanted to make a comic of. (Little did I know at the time just how attached I’d get, haha!)

The main character, Zeggy, is a reflection of me as a teenager struggling to find acceptance among people my age — I was rowdy and way outspoken about my interest in sexuality and I think it drove some people around me batty. (Sorry everyone I hung out with!) Needless to say I uh, understand boundaries a lot better now and am always glad seeing when readers of mine relate to Zeggy in the same way. Plus, it’s got a great ‘lil ace bird boy named Joe, who is very outspoken and a lot of fun. Oh! Alkaline (the love interest) is demisexual as well — with a few other background characters also being on the ace spectrum but they don’t get into it as much during the main plotline.

The comic is very old now — with the beginning being…made by me in my late high school years; but I still love it, and want to finish it one day even if it takes me another five years, haha.

1. DCS Space School [2017]
DCS Space School [2017]
My other passion is my Erotica Comics! They focus on a few different stories and set of characters; and right now it’s featured me and my girlfriend’s characters, Dennis and Booker.

I’ve made a ton of erotica comics thanks to my Patrons (Love ya! You know who you are!) and I’m always super excited to explore new worlds and characters and see how they fall in love and get down ‘n dirty.

Porn and sexuality have always been a huge thing for me; and something that I always wanted to create. There was just…not a lot of porn out there that made me feel good — despite my interest in it. I’ve just always wanted to create my own little corner of the internet where I could enjoy fun porn and invite people in to enjoy with me.

I’m always really excited and happy when there’s ace people who reach out to me and say they like my porn. Knowing my stuff can help other ace people feels great, honestly! It’s all I ever wanted! I just want to make stuff that’s fun and focuses on characters and romance and having a good time, having a laugh!

Agh — if I go on I’ll definitely write a whole essay about it. Needless to say; I really enjoy erotica and I’m passionate about making more comfortable and fun stuff for me and my fans.

2. Solanaceae, Ch.2 (2016)
Solanaceae, Ch.2 (2016)

And lastly — but certainly not least — I make visual novels now too!

I believe I started making visual novels in 2016 (around this time of year, actually) with some short fan-games and then went from there.

I had dabbled in making games a bit when I was a teenager but never thought I would be fit for finishing any? I guess I just never thought I’d have an idea that would fit — but once I started thinking of ideas specifically JUST for games; it became a lot easier.

Going from comics to visual novels was actually pretty easy since both involve lots of pictures, and lots of words — but there were definitely things in either that were easier or harder to do depending on the medium.

It’s only been 2 years but I’ve already released or help release a bunch of VN’s! It’s been awesome!

The ones I’m most proud of are Tomai, Disaster Log C, and Mermaid Splash: Passion Festival!

3. Sofdelux Studio, Disaster Log C (2017)
Sofdelux Studio, Disaster Log C (2017)

They were all collabs and all super fun and I’m so proud of the final product — check ‘em out if you like stuff that’s goofy, romantic, and not-too-long, haha.

In 2018 I’m expecting to release the first of four games in my “One-Eyed Lee” series of games, titled, “One-Eyed Lee and the Dinner Party” as well as helping release, A Werewolf Oppunirty, Obviously; which has a massive 30k word count demo out right now. As you can tell by the name, it’s a queer werewolf dating sim and it’s awesome. Check ‘em out!

And as a side note — I always try to include PG-13 options in any game I make so that people who are not comfortable with sexual stuff can avoid it entirely!

I’m really excited to be making visual novels and I’m pumped to make more in the future.

Shout-out to Nami who has taught me basically all there is to know about making games in Ren’py and is probably the sole reason I can keep making them. Love you!!!

What inspires you?

There’s so much that inspires me! My friends, nature, animals, mythology, games, comics, movies, shows — so much!

I’ve always been big into the look of PS2 games and am always kind of searching to emulate that in my style — I think. Games like Shadow of the Colossus, Okage: Shadow King, the Katamari line of games, Dark Cloud, Space Channel 5, Kingdom Hearts — all of those things really inspired me when I was young and still continue to do so!

Right now a BUNCH of indie-games inspire me! Just seeing other game devs go for it and make stuff is…so awesome! Whenever Nami shows me her WIPs I always get excited to work on my own games — and vice versa! Any game that really feels like it was made by a team or person who is really passionate about it shine through to me so much…it’s such a good feeling!

Not to mention all of the good comics out there!

I’ve always been a huge fan of Full Metal Alchemist and for a long time Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure was a huge influence too. (I got into it back in…2008? I think? I was a Junior in High School and BUDDY, was it hard to get back then. Anime fans have it good right now!)

And then as I got into my twenties I finally got into One Piece and it’s soooo good! Plus it’s great that Luffy is basically confirmed as ace-aro, hell yeah!

Other comics like Mushi-shi, Franken Fran, Nana to Kaoru, and a hand full of smaller or one-shot comics have also been a huge influence.

Not to mention all of the doujins and porn and movies and TV shows I like…there’s so much!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Overwatch, a BUNCH of documentaries — AGH! It’s just all so interesting and exciting!

Every new thing I see and learn about just gives me another fun idea for something to work on! Again, if I keep writing I’ll never stop — there’s too much fun stuff! It’s all so good! I’m so glad people create things!

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

I’ve always been an artist — and I don’t remember a time I wasn’t drawing?

I’ve been making comics more “seriously” since the 5th grade and I started posting my comics online when I was a freshmen in High School. Back then, I had a comic I used to update every day! I don’t know how I did it. I was wild.

For a while I wasn’t convinced I could do art full-time just because (at the time) the internet wasn’t where it was right now for freelancers and because so many people around me told me that being an artist wasn’t viable.

So I originally went to community college thinking I would maybe go abroad — but once I saw my girlfriend, Niku, going to art school and doing her best I thought, “If I don’t at least TRY to do what I love for a living won’t I end up regretting it later on?”

So I said fuck it and started on my way to full-time art!

I was really lucky though. My parents are together still and I’ve got a great support system of family and friends — and not to mention I already had a following from posting my comics back in High School — so I think the stars were just aligned for me. I’ve still got a long way to go!

I think anyone can do what I do! All it takes is working a lot, honestly! As long as you’re finishing work and communicating with people; I think it’s possible!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep at it! If you’re feeling like your art will never find it’s audience — just keep at it!

These things take time — so much time!

I’ve struggled for so long to find people who connect with my art, but I know even more are out there and I just gotta work even harder to find them.

If you draw it…they will come…

You can too! You can make your thing, you can find your people!

Also; try not to be a perfectionist, mmkay?

Finishing your thing is more important than it being “perfect” and often times people will not notice the flaws you do — so just look at that finish line and get to it.

Getting your thing out there and in front of people will make it that much easier to get working on your next project and get better and better.

You got this!

To inspire you, here’s some of my first Webcomic art from 2007:

4. Wires
Wires

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am demisexual~! I also identify as queer, since it’s a nice blanket term for “not straight” and because I’m interested in so many types of people and bodies.

(I’m also genderfluid; but my gender has always been much harder for me than my sexuality, ugh.)

For me– knowing a character, knowing a person is…it’s everything.

I find myself totally not caring about a character until I get to know them, see them, fall in love with them in a way? Then suddenly I’m SO invested in all of the little things they might like to do in bed. Stuff I wasn’t even remotely interested in before I can become interested in because it’s what that character is into — and for me, that’s everything…

When I found out what being demisexual was — it was such a relief; because it perfectly described me and how I felt towards other people and characters. I wish I had known about it when I was a teen!

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

Hmm, in the past I’ve gotten some hate from random people but I think every artist has that to some point. Some people just don’t like your work and…well, that’s really that!

It sucks, and I hate it, but knowing it happens to just about everyone makes it easier!

Otherwise — I have had people question whether “being ace is a thing” in terms of some of my characters; which is annoying but hey!

I’ve also seen some rather un-kind things said in articles about ace-focused media — it sucks!

Typically I tend to keep to my own lane and just focus on my work; that tends to be the easiest way to go about it all.

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

That every ace person ever hates sex and anything to do with it!

Being ace, like being anything, is a spectrum! There’s a ton of ace people who like porn and there’s a ton who don’t and I think being able to make spaces for either is a good thing!

I’ve personally had some friends who weren’t interested in porn at all (and were actually kind of repulsed by it) turn a new leaf because they found out porn ISN’T ALL just the typical hentai stuff — it’s a whole range of things! Seeing someone find their kind of porn is so sweet!

It sucks for me knowing that there are people struggling balancing being ace with liking porn or liking sexuality — because I think those two things can totally live in harmony!

Nothing breaks my heart like seeing someone who is ace get asked questions like, “You still like porn? Aren’t you ace?” and “Are you really ace if you like porn?”

Because of COURSE SOMEONE IS STILL ACE IF THEY LIKE PORN! AAAAH!

I’m super interested in porn, in the sexuality of a character — but I am just not that interested in having sex. When I’m super in love with someone — there’s interest — but even then, not that much?! And I think a lot of people feel this way and think maybe it’s not right?! But it’s totally fine!

Also; it’s tough when people expect everyone who is ace to also be aro. It’s seperate!

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

Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t real and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be loud and proud!

And don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “PHASE” either — even if you eventually find the label isn’t for you — someone saying this to you is bullshit!

Yell you are ace as loud as you want! Put it all over your profile if you want — dye your hair like the ace flag — do it all! BE LOUD, BE PROUD, BE ACE! YEAH!

I’m so proud of you for being you!

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

I’ve got a lot of different sites — some include R18 work and some STRICTLY DON’T so I will organize them as such down below:

PG-13/SFW:
SFW Art Blog
Deviantart
Space School Comic
Sofdelux Studio

R-18/NSFW:
R18 Art Blog
Weasyl
Furaffinity
Comics Masterpost

A mix of PG-13/R-18:
My Itch.io
(My Itch.io includes stuff that is R18 but nothing explicit is shown and everything has a content warning before downloading.)
My Twitter
(I don’t post anything NSFW, but sometimes I like suggestive things and with the way Twitter currently works– that can sometimes be a problem!)

Or, if you want to support me monetarily, here’s some ways!

My Erotica Patreon My Space School Patreon My Ko-fi

Commission me!Hire me for your game!

Any follows, reblogs, retweets, anything like that– always help a ton and keep me making new free stuff for everyone!

Thanks a ton for reading my interview! I hope you found something new you liked!

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