Interview: Erin Malo

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

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

No, I don’t think I do.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

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

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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