Interview: Jules

Today we’re joined by Jules. Jules is a phenomenal visual artist and writer who specializes in visual storytelling. They currently have a webcomic called Surface that regularly updates and revolves around the adventures of three lizard-like kids. They have done a number of smaller projects and are currently planning a large project for the near future. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate artist who loves what they do, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

The five expeditioners of By the Lantern Light.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is very much based around narrative. I guess the first thing to talk about would be my webcomic, Surface. It’s about these three lizard-like kids who are trying to get back home after sneaking out in the middle of the night. As of June 2018, it started its second chapter, and updates every week on Thursdays!

I have another big project that I’m working on, too. It’s in the development phase and will probably start up after Surface, or after I graduate college, haha. It’s about these five people — experts in their fields — who go on an expedition into the Shadowed Lands and find out what is causing the ever-spreading darkness. I share the concept work for this pretty frequently.

Other smaller things I’ve done include a mini comic called Space Bear (science fantasy comedy about a bear goes to space to look for bees), a series of supernatural travel guides for real places, and a zine called I Am Not a Girl (about my own discovery of my identity).

I’m always working on a comic or some other visual narrative! It’s what I love to do the most.

What inspires you?

Stories that I love! I know it might seem a bit silly, but watching my favorite shows or reading my favorite books or playing my favorite video games makes me want to make my own things! Those are the biggest things, but to be completely honest, almost anything inspires me. I love animals and plants and cool sounds and clouds and the feeling of rain, I love meeting people, I love so much about life!

My characters and stories feel just as real and important to me as all of those things, too. So when I think about how happy I get when I interact with the world around me, it encourages me to work on my own things. I love my characters and worlds! I want to share them with other people!

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

When I was very young, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but then I realized that would involve stuff like performing surgery on them or sometimes putting animals down, so I stopped wanting that.

I’ve pretty much always loved storytelling, and I loved drawing. Put them together, and you can get comics! While my medium has shifted sometimes, the storytelling aspect has been consistent.

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?

The closest things I can think of are tropes and themes that I love to incorporate in my comics. Found family, queer romance, soft apocalypse, botany, animals, self-sacrifice… My stories are about people and animals who overcome the odds to find happiness. I also tend to draw a lot of glowy things for some reason, lol.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try to find out why you want to make art, and remember it! My personal reason for making art and stories is because I think that anyone can be a hero, that anyone can do wonderful things. This is what drives me, and it keeps me going. Even if I get frustrated, even if I feel like nobody sees my work, thinking about that helps me press forward. So if you find that you’re struggling to find motivation or ideas, thinking about why you create in the first place might help.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

As asexual as one could possibly be, I think. I honestly thought sexual attraction was made up until I was 18 and went to college! I’m also aromantic and agender.

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

I guess the most that I see are people ignoring aces. Just generally not including them, either because they think we’re boring or robotic, or they just don’t think about it. I haven’t met any webcomic artists who purposefully hate on aces, though. But with regards to the general invisibility in comics, I think the most I can do is make my own! Most of my characters are queer, and a lot of them are asexual. I think it’s important to show that queer people (and especially ace people) are just as diverse as any other group. I also try to be open about my own experience as an asexual, aromantic, and agender person, hoping that openness will help.

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

Probably that if someone is asexual, that means they’re like a child. Innocent, naive, unaware. Some people are like that, but being asexual doesn’t really have anything to do with it. Just as common as that, in my experience, is the idea that an asexual person doesn’t love anyone at all. I love lots of people! I’m full of love! Friends, family, animals, nature. Just because it isn’t sexual, many people think it doesn’t count.

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

If you can, try to find at least one good friend who can relate to your experiences. There’s nothing wrong with you, just like there’s nothing wrong with someone who is gay or bisexual or trans or lesbian or anything else. And you don’t have to force yourself to be in any relationship that you don’t want. I’ve been there, and it never goes well.

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

My webcomic, Surface, can be found at surfacecomic.tumblr.com.
My website is julesdrawing.com
Patreon is patreon.com/julescomics
Art tumblr is julesdrawing.tumblr.com
Twitter is julesdrawing, Instagram is jules.larsen.drawing.

Spread5A

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

Interview: Fishtanks

Today we’re joined by Fishtanks. Fishtanks is a wonderful visual artist who also does some writing. They mostly do fanart, but also do original work. When they’re not drawing, Fishtanks is working on a webcomic and also does zines. They’re very enthusiastic, 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 am mostly a fan artist of a company called Rooster Teeth, but I also do Original pieces, Zines, animatics, and you heard it here first, I’m working on creating a webcomic right now!

What inspires you?

My inspiration for a majority of what I do is a mix of determination and stubbornness. If I want to do something someone tells me I can’t I work ten times as hard to do it! I have people watching me every day, and I want everyone who does watch me to know they can do whatever their heart desires.

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

I actually never thought that I would be an artist in any capacity as a child. I was interested in engineering and medicine! What got me interested was in my sophomore year of high school, I started talking to my now best friend. He was always by himself drawing, so to get closer to him, I started drawing! Once I started, and my best friend encouraged me, I was hooked!

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

I sign all my works of course, but nothing particularly special!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If someone says you can’t do something, do it anyway. Prove them wrong. Work harder to get there. Know you can do anything you want when you work harder and look at things from a new perspective.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Regular ol’ asexual

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

I have had a few times I have had to stop talking to people I enjoyed messaging because they either said aces aren’t real, or they don’t belong in the LGBT+ community, as well as left group chats.

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

Me complimenting a person or saying “She’s cute” and someone responding “But you’re ace.” Ace people can think someone is cute or attractive

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

It’s totally okay to be confused and questioning, and I even encourage it! Do not worry about saying you are something and then change it if you think it is wrong. Also, it is okay to not have a label for who you are, you are you, not a sum of labels!

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

I post most on my Tumblr: http://emptyfishtanks.tumblr.com/
And YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClB2m2taU60U_br8hQ7P4og
But I also have Twitter: https://twitter.com/emptyfishtanks
And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fishtanksart/

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

Interview: Elliott Dunstan

Today we’re joined by Elliott Dunstan. Elliott is an awesome grey-ace trans writer who works in a couple different styles. He’s currently working on an online webnovel (found at Ghosts in Quicksilver), which features an ace main character. When he’s not working on his webnovel, Elliott also writes quite a lot of poetry and he has also published two zines. It’s very obvious that he’s incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Deep in the Bone
Deep in the Bone

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer of poetry, mythic fiction and queer literature, and I’m happiest when I find those three things intermingling with each other. My primary project right now is Ghosts in Quicksilver, a web-novel about a 17-year-old wannabe private investigator who can speak to the dead. The book features characters from all over the queer spectrum, and the main character is an ace butch lesbian.

I’m also the author of two self-published zines, Deep in the Bone and Home Is Where The Ghosts Are, available in both print and digital formats on my Etsy store. They’re collections of poetry and a short story each, the first centered around mythology and the second telling the story of my semi-haunted apartment.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Music is a big one – certain songs inspire visuals which in turn become stories. I’m also inspired by the reflection of mythology onto modern day issues and vice versa; the story of Icarus projected onto somebody’s manic phase, the tale of the Golem in a world where AI is becoming a certainty, or the story of the forbidden love of Eros and Psyche recontextualized as a queer love story.

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

Always, always, always. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer; I learned to read when I was two and how to write a few years later, and even from very early on I was scrawling poetry in margins. Not very good poetry, but poetry nonetheless.

As far as my genres and medium of choice, I prefer to have a certain amount of control over my work, and the business practices of Cory Doctorow is probably what inspired me the most directly to do a webnovel. It’s also a testament to old Dickens novels and Stephen King’s slightly more recent The Green Mile; serial novels have always been around in one form or another. My poetry zines are a little bit more directly inspired by ‘zine culture’ in indie writer/musician circles.  

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’m not really sure! I suppose there is symbolism I return to, but in general I think my ‘trademark’ would be the clash between darkness and humour. I have a very morbid sense of humour, so I manage to find something funny in almost everything I write. A girl seeing the ghost of her dead sister is scary. A girl arguing with her dead sister and hoping nobody else catches on is hilarious. Dionysus going to the Underworld is a myth. Dionysus catching a cab and striking up a casual conversation with the cabbie while terrorizing them into driving to the Styx is bizarrely entertaining.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A couple things, I suppose. One, that the whole ‘keep writing no matter what’ phrase is true. It really is. But having a few bad days isn’t going to ruin everything. Two, your writing is never going to be perfect. But you have the right to talk it up like it is, to have pride in your own work, and to have the courage to open up to criticism and filter out the good from the bad. There’s a lot of culture around how you’re ‘supposed’ to talk about something you’re proud of, and I hate it. Be proud of what you’ve made, even if you know you’ll do better next time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Oof. Uh, all over the place? Somewhere between gray-ace and demisexual, or both at once. Or maybe completely asexual – I haven’t been able to divide up how I feel about things accurately enough to really know. But I know I’m definitely somewhere in there. The actual label I think is less important than being in the right general area.

I’m also somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, although that one’s even harder to pin down. I just know I have a very different way and intensity of feeling those emotions, so

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

I actually haven’t dealt with any direct ace prejudice in my artistic field, but I do see it a lot on the platforms where I try to market with social media. I generally deal with it by blocking and moving on – sometimes it means I’m cutting myself out of a potential audience but I consider it worth it.

Offline, it’s mostly the pressure to put romance in my books and stories even when it doesn’t fit, or sexual commentary on my characters when it really, really isn’t appropriate. I have no interest in explaining to people whether my asexual character is a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’. I count that as ignorance because it’s the running assumption that I’m writing a YA book, it must have something to do with sex. Otherwise teenagers won’t pay attention. Whereas what I’ve discovered is that teenagers and young adults are actually thirsting for a book that doesn’t treat these topics as the be-all, end-all of human existence.

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

You can’t be asexual and attractive. You can’t be asexual and still have sex. You can’t be asexual and gay. You can’t be ace from trauma. You can only be ace from trauma. If you’re aromantic, you don’t have a heart. You can’t be aro and ace, that’s just boring.

Basically, there’s too many to count. Asexuality is critically, functionally misunderstood in both mainstream straight communities and queer/LGBT+ circles. I think if I had to pick one, though, it’s the idea that asexuality is just ‘straight lite’ or ‘gay lite’. Being on the ace spectrum doesn’t make my attraction to men or women any less potent – it’s just a different way of feeling and expressing that attraction. And the ‘gay lite’ in particular upsets me because, if two guys are walking down the street holding hands, no homophobe is going to stop and ask if they’re having sex.

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

That it’s okay to identify as ace and/or aro. Whether it ends up being temporary, whether it’s a reaction to trauma, whether it’s something you’ve known for years, whether it poked up its head yesterday – it’s okay to identify this way. A lot of people are going to try tell you that it’s not, or that it’s a phase (and what’s so wrong with phases?) and honestly? Ignore them. Your identity is yours to negotiate, nobody else’s.

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

You can find me at moonlitwaterwriting.tumblr.com or at elliottmoonlit on Twitter. My Etsy is AnachronistPanic and linked on my Tumblr page, and if you want to read Ghosts in Quicksilver, it’s up to read for free at ghosts-in-quicksilver.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: cxxxxxxxx

Today we’re joined by cxxxxxxxx. cxxxxxxxx is an incredibly versatile artist who has dabbled in almost everything but has most recently focused on zines. She has a great love for art and it’s very apparent this love has transferred into making zines, which are fascinating. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of stuff it feels like—poetry, fiction stories, nonfiction and more personal writing, drawing and painting with different kinds of pens and paints and pastels, making collages—but this summer I got into making and putting together zines and I can put all those things inside of a zine on a given topic, so I’ve been having a lot of fun writing and drawing for zines on dancing, creativity, my gender identity, romance stuff. I get stuck a lot when it comes to my art and writing but I’ve made a lot of things this year especially that I like to look back at now.

What inspires you?

I don’t follow a lot of artists but this semester I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about Dada and the Beat Generation and learning about those movements and reading their writings/looking at their art/collages and I feel really inspired by these artists and writers that look at a given society and create art to oppose it and express their own views. I like to put on films about stuff like that or just political movements in general and spend the whole time sitting at my desk painting and drawing. Watching Stranger Things really inspired me to draw some cooler stuff, too.

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

I’ve been writing since I was a kid and started drawing my first year of high school because a lot of my friends were into it and I really kind of idolized them. I’ve always felt like I had a lot to say but I’m abysmal at talking to people, so I’ve always liked being able to express myself and my thoughts in writing; there’s something special about it, I think.

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, to be honest. I’ve never been really consistent with that sort of thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I spent years drawing not because I enjoyed it but largely out of a desire to improve so that I could enjoy, and I don’t think that’s the right way to go about creating things. Make what you like, and if it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to, find things about it that you like anyway. Draw because you like to draw, not for the sake of other people. Something like that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and asexual, although technically slightly gray-asexual is probably most accurate.

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

Not really? In everyday life a majority of people I knew up until college didn’t even know it existed (me being one of them for a long time, too). I’ve seen people make prejudiced comments online and expressed some of my anger about such comments in poems I’ve written about being ace.

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

Mainly the one that I can’t be happy in the future without a partner, but I don’t think that’s true. I experience depression and anxiety frequently but dating someone/etc. wouldn’t change that, and I do feel happy and excited about enough things (poetry, history, playing guitar) that I don’t feel I’ll be missing something when I’m older. There are a lot of things I want to do someday and I don’t need another person to do them or in order to feel happy and fulfilled, I think.

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

I have a tendency to over-think things of that nature and make myself anxious wondering how I’m supposed to look and be and identify, but my best friend advised me to try not to worry like that and just accept myself even without labels and I think she was right about that. For me, anyway, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety when I don’t identify with any known labels for gender identity or sexual/romantic orientation, but lately I’ve just been trying to be the person I like being and feel comfortable being and I think maybe that’s helping. So I think I’d recommend trying that, just going with the flow of things and how you might feel.

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

My zines are online to read here.

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

Interview: Olivia M.

Today we’re joined by Olivia M. Olivia is mostly a hobbyist and an incredibly productive one at that. She does a bit of everything including traditional and digital visual art, game art and programming, and jewelry and accessory crafting. Her main focus is zines and she has made quite a few. This is an artist who is incredibly passionate about her art and it definitely shows in her art and in her interview. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

ailenncoloredweb
Ailenn Colored Web
acenecklace
Ace Necklace

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a student and a hobbyist when it comes to art. I work in a wide variety of mediums, including traditional drawing and painting, digital art, graphic design, zines, game art and programming, and making jewelry and accessories. Right now my main focus is on making zines, which are self-published, small run booklets that can be about just about anything. Most of my zines are personal writing, but also include some art and fiction. I do the layouts in a cut-and-paste style by hand or create them on a computer. Then I print them and sell them online or trade them with people around the world. Making zines allows me not only to write creatively, but also to do graphic design work.

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Neuro Metaphysical Recursion Flat

So far I’ve made 12 different zines. Most are in three different series. One is called (meta)paradox, and is a perzine (personal zine) series. Another is called Anecdata, a mini perzine series. And another is Psychometry, a found object zine/perzine hybrid. I’ve also made a minicomic, a science fiction zine, and two micro zines. I also help run a website called the Ace Zine Archive that documents zines that talk about asexuality, and I talk about asexuality in my zines, so my art intersects with my asexual identity.

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When it comes to my drawings, paintings, and digital art, I mostly draw people, preferably using a reference for realistic work or working in a cartoon style. I’ve taken several art classes, including a figure drawing class and an experimental drawing class. I also like drawing comics. One of my zines is a minicomic, and other zines include some of my short comics. A lot of my drawings are of characters that I write about. I write some fiction, but mostly just plan out characters and stories without ever getting any writing done.

I’m a computer science student, so it makes sense that my art intersects with my interest in programming. That’s why making games is so appealing to me. Making games allows me to combine programming, art, and storytelling. I’ve never finished one of my game projects, but I’ve dabbled in RPG-style games and visual novels. My current visual novel project is set at a school for people with supernatural powers and features queer romances and an asexual character. I make an effort to include diverse characters in my game and writing projects, as well as in my other art.

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Visual Novel 1
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Visual Novel 2
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Visual Novel 3

Lastly, I also make jewelry and accessories and sell them online. I haven’t been doing this as much lately, as I’ve built up enough of a stock for my online shop, but every now and then I make something new. One thing I enjoy making is LGBT+ pride jewelry. All of my ace pride jewelry has sold out! One of my favorite types of jewelry to make is cast resin pendants. Resin casting involves mixing two liquids and adding in glitter, beads and other bits and pieces before it hardens.

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Alondra Jacket Print
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Cute Necklace

What inspires you?

I find myself highly inspired by science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction, whether it is in TV, books, movies, or video games, as well as YA fiction. My characters and stories tend to come from these genres, and even my zines and jewelry are somewhat inspired by them. When it comes to zines, I get a lot of inspiration from other zines that I collect and read. Some of my favorite zines that inspire me include: Taking the Cake (an asexual zine), No Missing Pieces, No Better Than Apples, My Aim is True, Pieces, Deafula, Collide, All in Your Head, Everything. Is. Fine., The Real Ramona, Julia Eff’s zines, Dig Deep, Seawitch, You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania, Last Night at the Casino, The Emeryville Ethereal, asexual zines, queer zines, POC zines, disability zines, and mental health zines. My asexuality and other aspects of my identity, such as my Latina ethnicity, my atheism, being autistic, being chronically ill, being a skeptic, and more all provide inspiration for my zines. People also inspire me. A lot of times I find myself sketching people around me to practice drawing. I love working from references. I also have a wall of my room where I post up art and ideas that inspire me. I like to keep up with new books, indie video games, zines, and handmade jewelry styles for further inspiration.

angeldemon
Angel Demon

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

I grew up in a family of artists, so it was never strange that I was interested in art. I’ve loved art ever since I was a child since I grew up surrounded by it. I also always enjoyed creating things, like drawing my own picture books, making booklets and family newsletters, which led up to my interest in zines as an adult. When I was 12 I discovered programming through website design and digital art. I was instantly hooked and into the idea of creating games. I knew that I wanted to have a career combining programming, art, and writing. I don’t necessarily want to be strictly an artist as a job, but to combine of all my interests. However, I always want art to be a part of my work.

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Ceris
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Ace Necklace 2

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?

Actually, yes! I have a personal symbol that I include in my zines and some of my art. It’s my logo for the work I do under the name Paradox Creations. The symbol is called the radialemniscate. “Radia” from “radiant” and “lemniscate”, which is the infinity symbol. The radialemniscate is an infinity symbol with a starburst at the center. It originated in a high school project to create an imaginary religion. Mine was called Infinitism, and the radialemniscate was its symbol.

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Logo
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Gummy Bears

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would tell young aspiring artists that as long as they create, they are artists. Even if their work isn’t at a professional level, they should never stop creating art as long as they enjoy it. Never let anyone tell you that your art isn’t “real” art. Art is about creation, not about staying inside of any list of rules.

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Girl
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Final Pose

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic (gray) asexual, though my primary identity is asexual. This means that I experience romantic attraction to all genders. Also, while there are many reasons to identify as gray asexual, I identify that way because I’ve never definitively experienced sexual attraction, though I’ve experienced some ambiguous attraction.

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Spanish Doodle 017

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

I don’t have a job in the arts, at least not one with a workplace. I sell my zines and jewelry online, so I haven’t interacted as much with customers as I would IRL and I don’t have coworkers, so there are less chances to encounter reactions to asexuality in my field. Of the interactions I’ve had with other people who make zines and on my blogs that involve talking about asexuality, most to all have been positive.

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Test Panel

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

From people that I’ve come out to, I’ve mostly had good experiences from people willing to learn, but occasionally I come across misconceptions. One of these is the idea that asexuals can’t have “real” relationships or that asexual relationships aren’t a thing. That is absolutely false! Asexuals can have all sorts of relationships, many of which don’t involve sex, and these relationships can succeed. Lots of asexuals are in relationships!

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Weird Portrait

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

Don’t despair! Society may make being asexual sound isolating and lonely, but community exists both online and in real life. I used to feel like no one could accept me as an asexual, but since then I’ve had many positive coming out experiences and have met dozens of asexuals in real life. So can you! No asexual has to be alone. There are possibilities for relationships and friendships. And there is nothing wrong with being asexual. It’s a natural variety of sexuality and perfectly healthy. Even if someone doesn’t accept your sexuality, there are hundreds more people out there who will.

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Woman Side Portrait
zine
Zine

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

I have a Tumblr blog where I sometimes blog about my work here: http://paradoxnow.tumblr.com/

My zine blog is here: http://oliviaszines.tumblr.com/
It has links to sites I have for individual zines.

My Etsy, where I sell zines, jewelry and accessories is here: http://etsy.com/shop/ParadoxNowCreations

The Ace Zine Archive can be found here: http://acezinearchive.wordpress.com/

Some of my older work can be found here: https://paradox11.wordpress.com/

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Return to Atlantis

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