Interview: AJ Drake

Today we’re joined by AJ Drake. AJ is a wonderful game design artist who is currently studying Game Art, Design, and Animation. He focuses mainly on particle effects and environment modeling. When he’s not working on that, AJ dabbles in concept design, graphic design, and photography. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am currently a student of Game Art, Design, and Animation
(GADA). I focus mainly on particle effects (I make explosions look ‘splodey and
rain look rainy) and have a bit of a side interest in environment modeling. I
also dabble in other areas of art, like concept design, illustration,
photography, and graphic design. Sometimes I try new things – I experimented
with stained glass window stickies a while back, as well as hand-painted
shirts!

What inspires you?

A lot of things really. Music is one. Books. The artwork in
existing games (other people play video games for fun and follow the story and
do missions. I’ll be in the middle of the mission and stop for half an hour to
admire the materials used in a rock wall). Nature, sometimes. Sometimes friends
say or do something that inspires me. History sometimes. Sometimes it’ll be
something as simple as someone saying what their favourite animal is.

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

For art in general, when I was really young, I really didn’t
like my sister, and I set out to do one thing, anything better than her. She
used to be really good at drawing, so I settled on that. The rest is history,
as they say.

As for GADA, there’s a game I play on occasion (called Furcadia), that is very maker-oriented.
I started off doing my own art for it, then commissions for other players, and
then I got noticed by the game’s owners and asked to do official artwork for
the game. A couple of years into that, I realized I really liked working on
game art, so now here I am, goin to school for it.

For the other things I dabble in, it’s a variety of “origin
stories.” With photography, for example, I really liked doing it, and decided
to get a DSLR, then decided to take some classes to learn how to do it better.
For more crafty stuff, it’s because I have a drive to make custom things for
myself to use.

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

In my art for the game I mentioned before, I sometimes would
include a small skull sitting on top of a bone in a corner of an image to mark
it as created by me. For other areas in my career, I now use my ‘Evil Skunk’
logo, along with my handwritten signature. In the past I’ve used anything from
just my name in a corner, to a more detailed skull and bone watermark.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t compare yourself to other artists, unless it’s to
learn from them. Each person has their own style and learning speed.

And to the aspiring artists out there living at or below the
poverty line – don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t afford to go to art
school, or that it’s a waste of time or money. FAFSA is your friend here, and
you can make invaluable friends and connections at school.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m both apothiromantic and apothisexual. That is, I am both
romance- and sex-repulsed. However, I’m still good for dirty jokes. I just
don’t need, or want, detailed descriptions or imagery.

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

Not in my field, no. I’m too quiet offline to have it really
come up often. Online and at my part time job, yes. Mostly I deal with it by
walking away and reading a book for a bit, or hanging out with other ace folks
and venting. Sometimes I try to help when I see another ace person being
attacked online.

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

Honestly, the most common one I’ve seen is that “we’re all
cisgendered heterosexuals trying to push our way into the LGBT so we’re can
feel oppressed.”

It was incredibly frustrating to see it keep popping up this
past Pride Month.

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

You are not broken, and whatever you’re feeling is valid.

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

My art Twitter, which has everything from school work, to
doodles, to furry art: at Evil_Skunk

My main Twitter, which has everything from politics, to
pirates, to furry stuff, to general stupidity: at farrendustfur

My website, currently under construction while I turn it
into a GADA portfolio: www.evilskunk.com

And my DeviantArt, which has art from way back in the day
(2007 or so), so you can see my progression as an artist: http://ajdrake.deviantart.com.

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