Category: actuallyasexual

Interview: Ash Kleczka

Today we’re joined by Ash Kleczka, who also goes by Umber online. Ash is a phenomenal visual artist, an all-around fantasy enthusiast. They love using visual art to tell a story and highlight beauty. Their images show a unique style and a very vivid imagination. It’s clear Ash loves to create, 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.

I’m a fantasy illustrator, a painter, concept artist, and
all around enthusiast… I was going to add more to that statement, but
honestly I think ‘enthusiast’ about covers it. I get really excited about
concepts that are self-reflective in some way, or that highlight an unexpected
beauty.

I really try to create art that tells a story.  

What inspires you?

Nature, mythology, the occult. Things that are taboo or
archaic. I’m also deeply inspired by role-playing games like D&D and the
character building process.

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

The simple, inelegant answer is that I got into visual arts
because I was dissatisfied with the attractiveness of some characters from a
video game I was into at the time – and I wanted to make characters that would
appeal to me.

It’s an ongoing struggle haha.

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?

My super-secret naming convention for pretty much any
character I’ve ever created ever is to try to match their
personality/appearance/some interesting feature to a bird or other natural
flora or fauna and then I build their name around the scientific binomial of
that thing.

So for example, one character named Cyril Alcyon is based
around the belted kingfisher megaceryle
alcyon
. Another is named Melia Edarach which is taken from the chinaberry
tree, or Melia azedarach.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

My advice is to just keep going. It’s OK for things to not
look exactly as they do in your head, or to be dissatisfied with where you are
with your art. It means that you have room to grow! Stay open to new ideas and
roll with the punches. Art, like life, is full of happy accidents.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Grey-Ace/Pansexual

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

I’m not particularly open about my sexuality in the
workplace, but the few times it’s come up typically end with the person I’m
talking to feeling sorry for me. It’s not hateful – just a lack of
understanding. So I try my best to explain that it’s not a negative part of my
life experience. It’s just an orientation in the same way that being gay, or
bisexual is.

I have encountered prejudice
in my personal life however. One instance was in my last D&D
campaign. I played an ace/aro character, and was met with some questionably in-character commentary from
another player. That was really the first time I’d encountered something like
that in the wild before, and honestly…I’m open to advice myself.

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

That it’s something to be fixed.

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

Find people you trust that you can talk to, and be patient
with yourself. Sometimes it’s not as simple as just being one piece of the big
sex/gender pie. Sometimes you’re a triple decker slice of pie with whipped
cream and cherries.

I’ve found it really helpful to talk to my husband (who’s
allo) to see where we differ. Sometimes the answers you’re looking for are in
the empty spaces between two truths.

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

I have a website umbertheprussianblue.com!

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter at ThePrussianBlue

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

Interview: Lucas Wilga

Today we’re joined by Lucas Wilga, who also goes by luci online. Lucas is a phenomenal game maker and writer. They create tabletop role-playing games and the first one is entitled Sundown, which sounds fascinating and I highly recommend checking it out. Lucas has recently branched out into writing short stories set in the Sundown universe. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate and driven 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.

I make tabletop role-playing games, and I recently branched
out into writing fiction as well. The first game I’m creating professionally, Sundown, is currently in an open
playtest. It’ll have an official launch sometime next year. It’s light on
rules, and it’s set in this cyberpunk, biotech inspired fantasy setting. It has
transhumanism, politics, and sword cowboys. My work on it is mostly done, so
I’ve started occupying my creative time writing a serial of short stories set
in Sundown, starring a sarcastic
young monster slayer.

What inspires you?

Other games and works of fiction. I’m always itching to
design something new after I read a new game. Sundown itself came out of a modification of a different game I’d
recently picked up at the time.

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

I’ve always been imaginative. I entered the hobby at eleven,
and I started running games and designing adventures at fourteen. This
eventually turned into creating my own games, but I didn’t know I wanted to
make a career out of it until a year ago.

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?

My style is all about keeping people engaged, so my
signature has become brevity. I keep things short and snappy. Whether teaching
a game or weaving a narrative, it pays to avoid toiling too long on the nitty
gritty.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Especially when designing a game, start small. Keep your
scope limited. Know what you want to say and cut anything that isn’t in direct
support of it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t spend too long thinking about one
specific thing. Don’t try to create the perfect piece. You’ll burn yourself out
chasing perfection.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I don’t know if there’s a word for this yet, but I’m okay
with sexual things that take place entirely within my imagination. Things like
smut. Sometimes images are okay, too. But I have no desire for, and am usually
repulsed by, sex ‘in real life.’

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

I’ve had folk tell me to tone down the queerness in my work,
but I haven’t really encountered any sort of acephobia. There is a strong queer
independent tabletop role-playing game community, so I don’t really have to try
to sell to, or interact with, non-LGBT+ spaces.

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

The most common misconception, I’d say, is the idea that
asexual is synonymous with aromantic. Especially for ace folks in relationships,
it can get tiring to explain the difference.

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

This might be hard advice to follow, but just don’t give it
so much weight. It’s okay for your sexuality to shift or change as you grow as
a person and learn more about yourself.

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

Grasswatch Games is the company my two creative partners and
I created to work on Sundown. Its
website, grasswatchgames.com is
the hub for our current work. You can find Sundown
itself there, as well as my first short story. You can also find our Twitter, Facebook, and the Discord server we’re running Sundown’s playtest on.

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

Interview: Anne Hawley

Today we’re joined by Anne Hawley. Anne is a phenomenal novelist and editor who writes queer-themed historical fiction. She has a novel entitled Restraint, which features an ace secondary character. Anne is currently working on a new historical novel that features an ace protagonist, which is exciting (we need more historical fiction featuring aces). It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate writer 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 write novels featuring queer characters in historical
settings, exploring issues of identity and acceptance. I’m also a Story Grid
Certified fiction editor, helping other writers shape their novels and
screenplays.

What inspires you?

People’s individual search for wholeness and
self-acceptance. The search for meaning. My stories revolve around people on
spiritual journeys, and my editing work is focused on helping writers find and
tell the story that’s in their heart to tell.

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

I’ve been writing since I could read. I started my first
novel when I was nine. I was inspired by fantasy novels and wanted to create my
own worlds.

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 name something after a notable feature in my
hometown of Portland, Oregon USA

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

If you’ll permit me to change the question, I’d like to say
something to aspiring artists who may not have started young, or aren’t young
anymore. Ageism is real and insidious in our culture, and it has a huge
silencing power. Just as the dominant culture would still prefer it if you were
allosexual and cisgendered (though thank goodness that’s changing), it would
like you to be silent and invisible if you’re not young. If you have a story to
tell, tell it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Aromantic asexual. I think “autochor” is probably a term
that applies to me.

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

There’s not much ace representation yet in fiction, and as a
person who came to the identity late in life, I’m still working to change my
own ingrained belief that “nobody” wants to read stories without sexual
tension, or about individuals who are fulfilled without romance.

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

That asexual people don’t really exist, and that people in
my age group who claim that sexual identity are simply resigned to being “too
old” for love or sex–or that we’re some sort of holdover from an earlier and
more prudish, sex-negative era. We aren’t.

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

Many, many people in older age groups like mine have never
even heard of asexuality. If you’re like me, hearing about it at a late age
might create a real internal struggle, especially if you’ve given a lot of
energy over the years trying to conform to old cultural standards of “normal”
sexuality.

It helps to read as much as you can about all the nuances in
the spectrum of asexuality, and realize that it’s okay to try on different
names and labels. It might take a while to feel at home with one or another of
them. But you might also find, as I did, that little by little embracing
asexuality solves so many mysteries of your life.

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

https://annehawley.net

Thank you, Anne, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Interview: CG Thomson

Today we’re joined by CG Thomson. CG is a wonderful fantasy author who is currently working on a seven-book fantasy series. She’s currently pursuing representation for the first novel of the series. CG is an imaginative and passionate artist, 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 fantasy writer,
currently working on the fourth book of my seven book series while seeking
representation for the first book.

What inspires you?

Everything. 🙂 No,
really. I have so much wonder for this world we live on. I find inspiration in
nature, humanity, everyday life. I can spend twenty minutes marveling at
sunlight dappling the ground, lose hours by the sea.

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

I’ve been writing since
I was three. My mother chose storytelling as a way to focus her very ADHD
toddler and whether I was simply telling her stories or learning how to write
them down, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer of fantastic tales.

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 is always an
element of found family in my work, specifically a flawed heroic father figure,
a man whose daughter is not his biologically but chosen by heart. This is an
homage to my father who is (technically) my stepfather. We chose one another
when I was very young and he has defined my life like no other.

What advice would you give
young aspiring artists?

There’s so much advice
out there, and most of it is good, but no matter how good, no matter how
successful the person giving that advice, that does not mean it will work for
you. Figure out what you want from your art. Not everyone wants a career and
not everyone can make a career of it (I’m certainly still waiting to see) and
there’s nothing wrong with that. Figure out what you want and then figure out
what works for you. Sadly, there isn’t a formula for success, but if you’re doing
something you love and you’re improving regularly, you’re on the right path.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do
you identify?

I’m demisexual.

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

Interestingly enough, I
would have answered this with a no just a week ago, but when I tweeted a boost
to this website’s call for interviewees, I lost followers. That said, as a
cisgender female married to a cisgender male, I am heteronormative passing.
There is some privilege there and I acknowledge that and try to use it to raise
asexuality awareness.

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

That being on the
asexuality spectrum means a person must be sex-repulsed. Of course a person can
be, but frankly a person who is not asexual can be sex-repulsed. Likewise a
person can be asexual and sex-ambivalent or even sex-positive.

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

Understand that you
don’t have to “know” right now. You can be questioning. You can still be
figuring things out. No matter what, you are perfect and lovable just as you
are.

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

I’m currently seeking
representation, so there’s nothing out yet, but anyone wishing to keep up with
my process can find me at onaredhorse on Twitter.

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

Interview: Jason

Today we’re joined by Jason. Jason is a fantastic artist who loves to knit. They run a small business selling their knitted creations, which is all LGBTQIA+ themed. Their work is absolutely gorgeous, brimming with color and demonstrating an amazing craftsmanship. It’s clear they love what they do, 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.

I’m a
knitter! I was taught as a child
but seeing as I’m ADHD
it didn’t go to well. I began knitting again after I had wrist surgery as a
form of gentle rehab and fell in love with it all over again! I now knit
several hours a day and am working on my first sock, but I prefer making small
soft toys and such. I also run a small business selling my pride flag related
knitting!

What inspires you?

Every time I get a message from someone saying, “I never
knew I had a flag!” or “I’ve never seen my flag mentioned or sold!” it makes my
day. The ace flags was one of the first I added on and I still get happy
messages when people find it. Also, after my surgery I was so scared about what
it would mean about the usability of my hand, so I keep knitting to make sure
it stayed working.

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

I took part in a project to raise money and awareness for
the LGBTGIA+ community in Australia around the time my country held a vote on
legalizing same sex marriage. I began knitting rainbow flags and selling them
to raise money for charity. Looking back now, they were awful, but people loved
them! I began expanding; got new yarn, got a website and now I have a popular
Instagram account, a growing business and 130 sales under my belt! Due to
chronic illness I can’t work, so this business has become my main source of
income. I’ve always wanted to create things as long as I can remember but I
never thought I’d get this far

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 don’t but this has me thinking I should create one!

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Whatever you do, enjoy it. Even if the other style looking
better, gets more likes, or whatever, the important thing is that you truly
enjoy your art. My first creations were hideous. I wish I was kidding but they
were truly awful. However, I was having a blast! The fact I was having so much
fun with it lead me to continue. Also, likes are great and it fine to be sad if
you get less than usual (I freely admit that I do!)/that you hoped, but the
amount has no bearing on your skill. 

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Plain, 100% asexual. I’m still not convinced sexual
attraction is real 😉

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

People seem to think that the fact I stock the ace flag is
the most horrifying, soul destroying heinous crime that exists. Before I was
able to source the yarn for the lesbian flag, I was regularly the recipient of
slurs because “ugh you don’t have the lesbian flag but you have the ace and non-binary
flags and those aren’t even real!!!!!!!”. As a non-binary ace that wasn’t the
nicest thing to experience. I did my best to explain to people why I had the
flags I did and if they wouldn’t listen, I’d disengage completely. When I was
really sad, id post photos of my ace and aro products in my Facebook groups and
they’d hype me u and remind me that good people exist. Knitting is my happy
place and gives me independence so I do my best to only share it with those
that respect it and me. 

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

Either the pure innocent child myth (completely false, my
aroace friend and I are filthy minded) or that all aces/aspecs hate sex

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

I know that feeling. I know the pain. You are NOT alone. You
have a whole community behind you and if you figure out that this isn’t your
community, we’ll send you on your journey with a smile and a hug. Give yourself
time and be kind to yourself.  

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

Website/store- www.proudknitting.info

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/proud_knitting/
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/proudknitting/
Etsy- https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/ProudKnitting

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

Interview: Melissa

Today we’re joined by Melissa, who also goes by Wolfish Arts online. Melissa is a phenomenal artist who does cross stitch. She creates beautiful works using needlework. She’s currently working on a large project and updates can be seen on her Facebook page and Tumblr. 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 do cross stitching, which is a type of needlework. I
started stitching in September 2017 or so.

What inspires you?

My friends to be honest. Most of my friends are very artistic
and talented, and seeing all the hard work they put into their art makes me
want to do better with mine as well.

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

Cross stitching is something I’ve always been fascinated by.
When I was really little, I saw someone cross stitching and thought it looked
interesting and wanted to try it myself. My family was super poor though, so it
never happened. I finally picked it up last year after talking to my grandma
about it.

I’ve always been surrounded by artists. My grandmother does
pastels on sandpaper, and she always encouraged my desire for art. I’ve been a
writer since I learned how to write – I wrote my first book in 1st
grade and haven’t stopped since. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve always
wanted to do something to bring my characters to life. Unfortunately my drawing
skills are terrible. So I suppose the long answer is yes.

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 actually don’t. Cross stitching is such an interesting
craft. I don’t know if it would be compatible with such a thing.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Keep trying and practicing. If you find you’re not good at
one kind of art or craft, then don’t be afraid to try another kind. I was so
set as a kid on writing and drawing as the only art forms available, I never
bothered trying anything else. Cross stitching never even crossed my mind as a
possibility until my grandmother mentioned the needlework that HER mother did
when she was a girl. If you find something or see something that sounds even
remotely interesting, don’t be afraid to try it. You never know what you’ll be
good at or passionate about until you try.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Asexual and Aromantic

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

I have, yes. Unfortunately some members of my family have
shown some ignorance towards it. My father doesn’t understand it and thinks its
just a phase or something, and my brother thinks I shouldn’t label myself and
we should all just be ourselves. I don’t know how the rest of them see it since
they never really give a reaction. I have friends as well who, while they
accept it, they tend to ask a lot of very personal questions about it.

For my family, I try educating them on it when I can, or I
just ignore it. My father doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to understand.
He’s too dead set on convincing me to give him grandchildren. (Note: Its not
happening Dad.) I love my family, but my family is more than a little
disjointed and I’ve learned to pick my battles with them.

As for my friends, I know they come from a good place. They
want to understand at least, and they accept me for who I am and don’t try to
change it. The questions do get personal very quick. I’m sure anyone on the ace
spectrum already knows what I’m talking about.

I don’t tell strangers about my orientation to avoid issues
so for the most part the only ones who do know have been accepting or just
don’t acknowledge it.

For the most part, if it’s someone I know showing prejudice
or ignorance I either try to educate them or just ignore it.

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

Oooh boy. That’s a tricky question. The most common one I’ve
encountered is usually related to actual sex itself. Can we climax, or do we
even have sex ever? I usually try to answer for my own experiences then throw
in a “not every ace is the same” sorta thing.

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

Find someone who supports you. My best friend is also on the
spectrum and she’s the one who first brought it to my attention. Without her,
it would have taken me a lot longer to discover the ace spectrum. Knowing that
I can talk to her about my concerns and questions and whatnot relating to
asexuality helps me feel better about myself because I know at least she’ll
accept me no matter what. And she understands. Finding someone that understands
you or at least supports you and is willing to listen when you need it is
amazing.

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

I’m on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/wolfisharts/

And Tumblr: https://wolfish-arts.tumblr.com/

Feel free to follow me on either one or both of them. I’m
always happy to answer questions or help out!

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

Interview: Sean Shannon

Today we’re joined by Sean Shannon. Sean is a phenomenal artist whose a bit of an artist-of-all-trades. She has two main focuses at the moment: writing and creating webseries. She has written a novel entitled The Prostitutes of Lake Wiishkoban that was up for an international award. Sean has also written two ebooks of classroom exercises for humanities instructors, several poems, some short stories, and a seventeen-year-old blog. As if that’s not impressive enough, Sean has also created a couple webseries. It’s clear she’s a 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.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am the author of the novel The
Prostitutes of Lake Wiishkoban
, which was shortlisted for the Dundee
International Book Prize and a quarterfinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough
Novel Award. In addition, I’m the creator and host of the teaching webseries Socratic Sense, which explores
current issues in teaching, and the intersection of education with politics and
popular culture, as well as a personal webseries called Musecast. Those are my (current)
major efforts, but I call myself an “artist-of-many-trades” because I work in
all kinds of mediums, from writing to the visual arts.

What inspires you?

I could name specific artists whose influences I can see in
my work, but what inspires me more than anything is the desire to leave the
world a better place than I found it. That’s a drive that influences all my
work, across all mediums.

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

My parents were both artists, so I kind of come by it
naturally. I also had a very difficult childhood, and while I’ve never had
formal sessions in art therapy, my art has always been a refuge for me, and a
place for me to work out the problems I’m having (then and now). I’ve always
wanted to be an artist on some level, but I’ve always wanted to be everything. I still haven’t decided what
I want to be when I grow up.

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?

Whenever I’ve tried to include something like that in my
work, it always feels forced to me. Other artists don’t seem to have that
problem, so I guess I’m just not very good at that sort of thing.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Absorb everything you can. Consume art far and wide, even if
it’s not in a medium or genre you want to work with. Everything you experience
will fill your artistic well, and could inspire your art five minutes or fifty
years in the future.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual.

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

The biggest problem I’ve come across is people who assume
that I can’t write a novel about sex work, or a novel with sex scenes, because
I’m asexual. (Never mind that I fit some people’s definition of the term “sex
worker” because I’ve taught safer sex practices before.)

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

That asexuality is synonymous with celibacy, and that
asexuals can’t have (or enjoy) sex.

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

Above all, you are not alone. I don’t believe in making
promises like “it gets better,” because I’m not in a position to be able to
keep that promise to anyone else (or even myself), but know that some of us out
here are at least trying to make things better for asexuals. We would very much
like your help if you can provide it, but it’s okay if you need to stay private
about your asexuality for now, regardless of the reason.

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

My blog, seanshannon.org,
has links to my books and videos, examples of my photography, and short written
pieces about everything on my mind these last couple of decades, ranging from
political essays to narrative non-fiction.

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

Interview: Kailey Lewia

Today we’re joined by Kailey Lewia. Kailey is a wonderful young hobbyist writer and visual artist. She’s currently working on a couple different novels that deal with pretty heavy subject matter. When she’s not writing, Kailey enjoys doing visual art. She paints, sketches, and does digital drawings. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, 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 am a hobbyist writer in high
school and I’m currently working on two projects. The first is a novel that
focuses on rape trauma, identity, sexuality, and race which is currently on
hiatus, and the second is a novella about the concept of Stockholm syndrome. I
also do some painting and digital drawing in my free time, just little sketches
for fun.

What inspires you?

The idea of creating characters
that stick with people. You see all these characters in pop culture that
everybody loves and looks into: I want people to take my characters and bring
them to a point where everybody is dissecting my work and figuring out what,
exactly, my point is.

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

I was always an avid reader and
after reading stories like Harry Potter in
second grade, I instantly knew I wanted to write. I’ve been attempting to write
stories since I was eight, it’s just that I’ve never really had a solid idea
that I can follow through with. I think I do now, though!

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?

Nope, sorry.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Never give up. It doesn’t matter
if there’s someone ‘better than you’- you have to push for a chance for people
to see what you can do, and you have to strive to improve. Never give up and
make sure that you’re happy with what you’re creating, so what you want to.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m a biromantic asexual but I
prefer not to label myself as biromantic simply because I don’t think that’s
set in stone.

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

Not necessarily in ‘the field,’
but I know I’ve certainly experienced ignorance at school for my identity in
general. I know for me being part of the GSA has reinforced the way I feel
about myself and my identity because it puts me next to several other people in
the LGBT+ community who I know are willing to listen to me and speak up with me
if there are problems with other students.

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

Personally, the most common
misconception would be that someone of my age is too young to consider
themselves asexual. I’ve known I wasn’t straight since I was eleven and spent
two years figuring out I was asexual and I’ve obviously stuck with that since and
believe I always will- but people think, despite my personal journey of finding
my identity, that I’m either just saying I’m asexual for attention or because
I’m too young to experience sexual attraction.

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

If you have friends telling you
it’s just a phase or doubting you when you’re figuring out your sexuality, drop
them. If they can’t support you through such a tough time then they’re really
just going to make it worse.

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

I just recently created a Tumblr
so there’s only one digital sketch on it right now, but I plan on posting more
sketches on it and sharing my writing/ updates on my work on it! At actual-brontosaurus.

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