Category: aromantic asexual

Jughead Jones!!!

Jughead Jones!!!

slams pots and pans HE’S ARO ACE

Interview: KelbremDusk

Today we’re joined by KelbremDusk. KelbremDusk is a wonderful visual artist who specializes in digital art. She does a bit of everything, including webcomics. Her work is eerie and interesting to look at. It’s clear she’s a passionate individual who loves to create, 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 digital artist, I’ve been working
with a tablet for about 11 years now. I was never big on traditional art, even
when I didn’t have access to a tablet but recently I’ve been trying to get into
oil painting and so far it’s been kinda fun.

I draw everything from original to fanart
and even in comics. I have a webcomic which is unfortunately in hiatus right
now but I also make short comics for my various characters and worlds.

On the side I’m currently working on a
novel, which I hope to finish this year (or at least early next year) called Black Sun Rising. Four friends on a post
apocalypse roadtrip with no main character romance.

What inspires you?

I get inspiration from everything.
Stories, movies, illustrations, photographs, everyday objects. It’s wild. The
more abstract I can make something that would normally be mundane and boring,
the more fun it is to work with.

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

This was never really a plan of mine. I
just kinda started drawing around 2004, I drew a lot before that but something
just made me keep going. Boredom, the need for a creative outlet. I didn’t have
a lot of friends, didn’t go out much. Mostly stayed at home in front of the TV.
So I needed something to do.

I guess Anime was the thing that really
made me keep going. Especially Inuyasha
and Wedding Peach and Doremi.

And the new novel writing stuff, that also
just kinda happened. I’ve been working on that story in my head for about 4
years at that point and I wanted to make it into a comic first but that would
have taken ages and it got really demotivating. So one day at work, while my
boss was out, I just opened up word and kept writing and writing. By the end of
the day I had the prologue done.

Sometimes things just happen I guess???

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?

Oh boy, if I were to reveal more of my
stories, you’d certainly see a pattern in them. Especially when it comes to
family. Lots of single parents … or no parents at all.

Another thing would be about two
characters which show up in every story in some way. Either as an actual
character, a background character, the name of a cafe, a street name etc. Look
out for that.

And my unique signature you might even be
able to see on the pictures featured in this interview. The winged skull
wearing a crown. No real symbolism behind it other than 1. Skulls are cool, 2.
Crowns are dope and 3. I only added the wings to make the logo rectangular.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Find a medium that suits you and go nuts
with it. If you suck at watercolor, even after countless hours and desperately
trying, watercolor might not be your thing and that’s ok! “Practice makes
perfect” but sometimes you just gotta acknowledge that you can’t be the best in
every medium.

Look at references! Poses, faces,
buildings, plants. You are not obligated to draw everything from memory. Nobody
is going to come for you for drawing from a reference. The old masters did it,
so you’re allowed do it as well!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am an Aromantic Asexual. I dabbled in
many different identities in my search to find the right one and about 4 years
ago, after lots of back and forth and self-reflection, I settled on this.

It was a long journey to come to this
conclusion. I spent my entire school life thinking something is wrong with me
for never falling in love with anyone, while my friends and classmates had
boyfriends and girlfriends. This continues into my time at trade school. Where
I even had people telling me that they’re interested in me romantically but for
me it was just … never an option. I don’t know how to behave around such
people. I’d have to let them touch me and they’d want to be around me and my
social battery is just not capable for that amount of affection.

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

Most prejudice and ignorance I get is not
at work cuz my coworkers or boss doesn’t care. It was from classmates and trade
school and my own family (mostly my dad).

“What do you mean you don’t want to have
children?” and “Oh you just haven’t found the right one yet” are the most
common. I never outright day that I’m asexual, to avoid awkward conversations,
but I say “I don’t date” and for some reason that really grinds people’s gears???

Like I said, my dad is the worst one. He’d
constantly ask me when I’d bring my boyfriend over and it made me so
uncomfortable. Or whenever I had a good announcement he’s ask “Are you
pregnant?” He thankfully stopped doing that for now thanks to his new wife (who
is super lovely and really understanding). Whenever he brought up the topic I’d
just roll my eyes and tell him to shut up.

I was never able to tell my mom about my
asexuality before she died, but I’m positive that she would be understanding as
well. She already accepted that I never brought home any boyfriends and didn’t
even ask or pester me about it. So I feel like she knew.

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

According to some, all asexuals are just
plants and have no libido. Wrong, there’s different types of aces just like
there’s different types of gays and lesbians and bi people. Some aces are sex
repulsed, but not all. Some aces enjoy a good wank at the end of the day and
some don’t. People are different and you can’t throw them all in the same
drawer.

“Oh you’re just saying you’re asexual
because you can’t find anyone to date you!”

Fam, no, that is the complete opposite of
what I’m telling you. I don’t want to “find anyone to date” I don’t date. It’s
simple as that.

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

You will feel alone, you’ll feel pain,
you’ll feel like there’s nobody in the world who feels like you but I will tell
you now that that’s not true. Don’t force yourself to do things you don’t want
to do just because you think you might be broken. You’re not broken, you never
were.

Go into yourself, find yourself,
acknowledge and cherish the things that make you happy.

I still feel extremely alone, I haven’t
found many people who feel like me yet but I’m hoping that through this I can
reach out to some of them.

I can always lend an ear for anything.

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

Here’s a bunch of links you can find me on
and look through more of my work.

Tumblr: http://kelbremdusk.tumblr.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1NaDNqgbf5SN5HnfYiOR-A
Twitter (although there’s barely anything): https://twitter.com/eatshitdr0pdead
My webcomic: https://tapas.io/Kelbremdusk
and my NSFW discord server (you can pm me for that one)

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

Interview: Anne

Today we’re joined by Anne. Anne is a phenomenal artist who specializes in crochet. She crochets the most extraordinary things: from dishcloths and scarves to actual sculptural crochet. Anne enjoys making things that make people smile. Her work is beautiful and adorable, filled with gorgeous vibrant colors. It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I crochet as a hobby, mostly small pieces like amigurumi
(sculptural crochet) dishcloths, potholders, market bags, scarves and hats. I
like to create things that make people smile or bring people comfort.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by people most often. I see a pattern and think
of someone who could use that. I love the feeling of something coming together
in my hands, stitch by stitch.

My mind becomes so
engaged through my hands and my tools, that even if a project sits in a drawer
after I finish it, I can pick up that piece and remember something. I love that
feeling.

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

A therapist suggested I take up a hobby at a time when I was
unemployed and unhappy. I had been working with one of those Nifty Knitters you
find in craft stores, but I never thought of myself as a crafty or creative
person. Since she crocheted, she suggested I try that; the supplies and
instructions were right next to the Nifty Knitter looms, so I grabbed a book
and taught myself. I never expected to succeed, but I was determined to get out
of my depression.

I tell people that it took a lot of swearing and
frustration, but I sure had the time and the stubbornness. I did the basics for
a while, making plenty of mistakes (I still do) Right as I was getting
confident, my friend got me interested in Bloodborne. I watched Let’s Plays and
chatted with him about it a lot. (Spoiler Alert) I ended up creating the Moon
Presence infant from the game, a black, slug/squid like creature (it’s cuter
than it sounds!) It’s the first pattern I ever drafted myself. I had to learn
Amigurumi techniques first, and then prototype a bunch of different ways to
create the shape. I even gave it a little sweater. In the end, he said it was a
good neck pillow and his cats liked it. I knew from then on that I could create
anything I wanted.

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 often have a chance to “sign” my work, so I don’t
have a maker’s mark as such, but every piece feels unique. Even if I’m working
off a pattern, I get to choose the yarn color and style, I have my own way of
doing things and modifying it to fit my needs and desires. In the end, it’s my
hands that have created it, and no one else’s hands could do it quite the same.
I know every inch of that piece and it’s mine.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Play! Play is how you discover your next project, or the
next skill you need to develop. Play will often inspire you to something you
didn’t imagine before. The pressure to make money and produce value can often
take us away from the freedom to experiment without consequences. I take a very
loose philosophy with life and crochet. If there’s too much tension, you won’t
be able to work with it, or the thread may even snap.

If you feel you’ve lost your spark, it will come back,
perhaps differently than before. If you get stuck on something, then maybe it’s
not the time for that project to happen. The whole reason I crochet is to relax
and be happy, if I get away from that, I can’t do it. Don’t loose sight of the
reason you create.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as asexual and aromantic, because the basic
definitions feel right to me. Beyond that, it’s complicated. I’m a fan of the
word queer, because attraction is strange. I grew up with very clear, heteronormative
expectations to marry and have a family, and now I have a very different
concept of what that “family” could look like.

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

Mostly ignorance. If I go to knitting and crochet circles,
I’m often the only queer person there, and the only single person in my age
group.  Crochet is included in the
“homemaking” arts, and I have zero interest in that field. People will ask,
“Who are you making that for?” And more often than not, the answer is, “myself”
because I don’t have a partner or kids. It can also be a good conversation
starter if I’m making something in ace or gay pride colors, I get to explain
why I chose them. I see more assumptions about gender when it comes to fiber
arts, myself included. 

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

Most people assume that it’s a function of my anxiety. It’s
not. Most people assume I’m never interested in sex, or I have none of the
accompanying desires. I often have to remind people that I do experience
attraction, but not the way most of them are used to it. I guess the biggest
misconception is that I don’t have feelings for anyone, and that I’m somehow innocent
or that I’ve given up. I haven’t given up on love or people, I’ve accepted who
and how I love, and I have learned to love myself and my curiosity.

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

If you’re struggling with your orientation, find other
people who talk about it. Read about their It’s not always going to be a clear
and fixed thing, and that’s okay. Respect that part of yourself, and you’ll
learn a lot about it.

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

I’m on Reddit, u/theta394
where I post my progress and finished objects. I’m also on Pintrest at anelysis
and Ravelry at SailorArtemis collecting patterns.

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

Interview: Inbar

Today we’re joined by Inbar. Inbar is a phenomenal visual artist and writer who has been running a webcomic for almost a year and a half. It’s entitled Just a Sidekick and it’s a superhero story that sounds fascinating. Aside from the webcomic, she’s also currently studying animation and is working on her final movie. When she’s not working on the webcomic or animation projects, Inbar also writes fanfiction. 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.

The main project I am currently working on right now is a
webcomic called “Just a Sidekick”, it’s a superhero ensemble story
with a large focus on character interactions and character development. I’m
also studying to be an animator, I’m in my last (fourth) year – and although I
currently haven’t done any animation work that isn’t technically school work,
I’m fairly proud in my animations. Currently, I just started work on my final
movie, an urban fantasy called “Shoshi Ben-Abraham: Good Witch (Usually)”
about a soft pastel witch and outgrowing the influence of toxic parents. In
additions, I do some writing. The stories that I have online (and in English)
are mostly fanfiction on AO3 (I’m currently writing for the Ace Attorney
fandom), but I’ve also written original fiction before. Mostly short stories,
but I’ve dabbled in poetry too.  

What inspires you?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Sometimes I
feel like I’ve got stories overflowing in my brain all the time and I just need
to grab the not-sucky ones and share those in the best medium possible. But I
guess my biggest source of inspiration is… other works of art and storytelling
media. Not in the sense that I consider myself a rip-off artist or that I steal
ideas, but I just… I look at a work of fiction and find something about it I
like; a particular character, a trope, a relationship, a plot point, a design
aesthetic or even just a feel that the work inspires, and I go “That’s
neat, I wonder what I could do with that. I wonder if I can give this idea a
take of my own. A spin that takes the stuff that I like but makes it unique
enough so it’s mine.” I used to go roaming on the TV Tropes website
all the time, find a trope I think has cool potential and think what I could do
with it. I’m a fan and analyst as much as I am a creator, and I think it
reflects in my artistic process. Also, “Just a Sidekick” started out
a middle-school piece of crossover fanfiction that mutated so much that I was
better off just making it original fiction, so that’s something.

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

I’ve been drawing and making up stories since I can remember
myself. As a kid, I used to draw in any given opportunity, on anything I could
find. On the final first grade, I had to stay after everyone had left to clean
up the desk in my classroom as punishment for all the desks I doodled on. After
that, my parents started buying me blank “drawing notebooks” to draw
on instead. I filled them up, sometimes an entire notebook in one school day,
with illustrations (and sometimes stories) I made up. I also always really
liked animation, cartoon shows were my favorite form of entertainment as a
child (I was always inherently biased against any kid’s show with live-action actors,
they were always less interesting to me.) However, up until middle-school I
didn’t consider animation, comics or art in general as a future career option.
I thought of them as a hobby, my first dream (well, after I outgrew wanting to
be a puppeteer-air hostess-cook-kindergarten teacher-robot scientist-farmer)
was to be a zoologist. I love animals and I love reading facts about them, I
thought I would enjoy becoming a scientist who studies them. But around middle
school I started realizing it wasn’t a very realistic dream, I didn’t have a
head for the sciencey subjects and I only really enjoyed knowing about animals
from a distance and without all the icky stuff. Around that time, as I was
reconsidering what I want to do with my life, I was watching some special
feature about the history of Pixar in one of their DVDs (maybe the
Incredibles?). Someone there said that they got into animation because they
grew up watching Disney animated movies and so they wanted to do so themselves.
That seemed like the right angle to go at, a lot of people answer ‘why did you
decide to become an X’ with “well, I grew up inspired by X and I wanted to
pay it forward to the next generation”. And what was my favorite form of
media as a kid? The one I would like to advance forward to the kids of
tomorrow? Cartoon shows! That’s when I decided that one I day I’ll be the
creator of a cartoon show, or if that can’t happen – I’ll at leas be an
animator. Also around the same time I was suddenly starting to have some
problems with art class in school because it was starting to lean more
‘realistic’ and toward live-drawing – while I, I realized, care more about the
art of telling stories via my drawing. The move to comics and animation is only
logical from there.

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 signature is the Hebrew Letter Ayin (the first letter of
my name) stylized and with a dot in the middle to make it look like an eye (another meaning for the word
“Ayin”). Although I don’t use it on a lot of online content. In terms
of recurring storytelling motifs, I guess most of my stories have a
mostly-female cast, and I really like the trope where a character has to face
against a pre-character development representation of themselves.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Find something that you’re both pretty good at and have fun
doing and focus on that. Also, originality is overrated. Having a unique idea
nobody ever thought before is not nearly as important as presenting and
delivering those ideas well.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

The identity I feel most strongly about is “Asexual, period, full stop.” For the sake of communication,
I can say that my identity is “Asexual Aromantic”, and it’s not that
I’m ashamed at my lack of romantic attraction or that I don’t feel
solidarity with other Aro people… but I’ve spent so much time questioning and
second-guessing my own orientation and worrying that I might be ‘faking it’.
But “Asexual” is the one label I’ve always come back to, the one that
feels the most ‘right’, the most like home.

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

I’ve encountered ace prejudice, but not in my ‘field’, so to
speak. I’m not very vocal about my asexuality outside of the internet, and
online (where I am very vocal) I’m just not that well-known as a creator. One
time I made a piece of art as schoolwork about my AroAceness, and the teacher
started out with “Oh that’s very sad that you felt like you have to fake
attraction to a boy” but ended up constantly talking about her husbands
and soulmates and how wonderful relationships were as if me talking about how I
was hurt by heteronormativity is insulting her relationship somehow. That kinda
hurt me, especially since it was such a personal piece. I am very afraid of the
possibility I might be the target of ace prejudice, though. It’s an anxiety
that’s constantly on my mind.

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

That it’s not ‘real’. When I first mentioned Asexuality to
my dad, before I came out, he dismissed it as “what crazy thing they’ll
make up next” and it really hurt me. I’ve seen all sorts of crazy
antagonism and misunderstanding about Ace People online, but the outright
dismissal of our identities is still what hurts me the most.

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

Surround yourself with good friends who respect your
identity. Even if the world can be really crappy sometimes, a good community to
take refuge in can make you feel a lot better. Also, try and not get stressed
about your identity the way that I did, okay? You’re probably not faking it or
lying to yourself, and if asexuality feels like the most ‘right’ label for you
and makes you happy – that’s all you need.

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

My webcomic, Just a Sidekick, is found at http://justasidekickcomics.tumblr.com/
and http://justasidekick.thecomicseries.com/.

My fanfiction is on Archive of Our Own under “Invader
Ham” https://archiveofourown.org/users/InvaderHam

I might upload some animated projects to my YouTube channel
soon, which is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTL3B4o0qQzpyd_cvzHw-jg

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

Interview: Naomi Clements Gettman

Today we’re joined by Naomi Clements Gettman. Naomi is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. The visual art is digital and mostly for fun. She does fanart, collages, and sometimes collaborates with her sister. When she’s not creating visual art, Naomi also writes a lot of poetry. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist who loves to create, 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.

My art encompasses a few things. I dabble in
Photoshop and making digital collaborations with my sister. Most of the time
this means I will create a reference for her, she will draw line work, and then
I will scan and color. Other times I make simple collages, fan-art for bands I
love, or illustrate random jokes.

I also enjoy writing and have written lots of poetry,
although none of it is published anywhere. I am currently in the process of
collecting it all and will probably self-publish sometime soon, just to have a
physical collection to share with whoever would like to read it. I am also in
the process of writing a book, which is from an idea I developed in several of
my screenwriting classes.

What inspires you?

I think for my graphic design things, there are
certain things I create regularly, and other things I only create occasionally.
For instance, I may decide I need a new Twitter or Facebook banner and I whip
together a themed collage of things/characters I like. These are easy to do,
and I don’t spend much time thinking about it. Other times a band may host a
fan-art contest, or I may feel inspired by a line in a song, and I create a
single piece I am proud of after a few weeks of mulling it over. Once I am
finished with a bigger project like this, it takes a while to create something
again.

For my poetry, I am inspired by the sound of
things as much as the meaning. I enjoy rhyme and often write a whole poem
around a single phrase that I think sounds good. Sometimes my poems are
fictional stories, sometimes they are about self-doubt, sometimes they are
about growing up. There really is no uniting theme, which is why I find it so
hard to determine what is good and what is trash.

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

To say “field” is probably a bit of a
misdirection. I am currently in the awkward techinically-last-semester-but-done-with-credits-and-looking-for-anyone-who-will-hire-me
phase of life. My chosen field of study is in film/media, and I have a few
different experiences under my belt; from film digitization to advertising.
However, whether it is in the form of an essay, a video, a PowerPoint, or
whatever else, I love being creative and even enjoy working on a team to
research and complete a project. I have never wanted to be an artist in any
traditional sense of the word (like being an illustrator or a musician), but I
do believe that creativity and fun can be a part of almost everything you do.

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! I suppose I should start signing things, but
I haven’t yet.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be to just have fun with whatever
you are doing. Lots of ‘serious’ jobs require creativity, and lots of
‘creative’ jobs require business skills like budgeting or scheduling. Your best
bet is to approach whatever it is with a good attitude, and even if you don’t
love the whole job or the assignment or whatever, you can at least find an
aspect of it to enjoy.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I have happily identified as aro/ace for about 5
years now (since I was 17). The aro part of my identity came a little later, but
so far everything fits. I am fulfilled with the close friendships I’ve managed
to maintain, although I think I would like a QPR.  

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

I have never encountered any type of prejudice in
my workplace, but mostly I think that has to do with the fact that I have no
idea how to be out at work. I never actively hide my aro/ace identity, but also
it never actually comes up. Do people think I’m straight?? Maybe. Although it’s
more likely they think I’m gay since I talk about going to pride and what not. However,
whenever I do mention it, there is never any push-back from the person. Sure,
there’s the usual “what is that?” if they don’t already know, but there is a
never a follow-up “don’t worry, you’ll meet the right person.”

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

I have been very lucky to have an accepting family
and friend group. My whole “coming out” experience is not typical, I think.  I never tried to be anything I wasn’t or even
realized there was something different about me.  Even within the first years of knowing my
sexuality I was on an NPR segment talking about my experience. (Check it out if
you’d like, but be warned it is a few years old now https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2016/08/11/51199/asexuality-and-the-internet-s-key-role-in-the-ace/)

However, one thing that breaks my heart (even
though it isn’t a misconception per se) is when I tell someone I am aro/ace,
and they say they have never met anyone else like me. It happens quite a lot,
and it feels horribly isolating.

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

I wish I had novel advice that could be applicable
to any type of person. Sometimes the “love yourself” mantra is easier said than
done, especially when you battle with anxieties and insecurities that others do
not. But I’m afraid I am not that person, and the only advice I can offer is to
find the connections that allow you to love yourself. Put all your energy into
cultivating a small network of love, and support will be there when you need
it.

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

If you would like to see my work or check out my
socials, please go to https://sncgportfolio.weebly.com/

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

Interview: Zoe

Today we’re joined by Zoe. Zoe is a wonderful young up and coming author who writes YA and middle grade fiction. She has drafted three novels, all are in the genres of supernatural and magical realism. They feature a diverse cast of characters, most of them are LGBTQIA+, the kind of characters Zoe has often wanted to see in the books she was reading. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated writer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, 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 young adult/middle grade books that could
also count as magical realism or supernatural. My current project centres on
different supernatural/paranormal beings such as angels, demons, vampires,
sirens etc. It is pretty diverse compared to a lot of books I’ve read recently,
and includes a gender fluid vampire, a pansexual warlock, an aroace demon in a
queer-platonic relationship, a bisexual demon, a biromantic angel, a lesbian
werewolf, an aroace fae who is sex and romance repulsed (There are others, as well
as heterosexual characters.) It also includes all the struggles they have to
deal with because of their sexualities and genders, as well as their
supernatural race. (While also trying to stop a very evil woman from taking her
revenge out on the whole world)

I thought it should be a bit more diverse than the
other young adult/middle grade books I have read because to me, having two or
three LGBTQIA+ characters in an entire 16 book world seems very unrealistic. At
school, I had at least three or four LGBTQIA+ kids in each class I went to for
every lesson.

What inspires you?

Usually, books I’ve read. I didn’t really know
what to write about to be honest, before I started. But then I read a few young
adult books of the same type I wanted to write and something clicked. With
every book I read, I had a new idea for something that could happen. Of course,
I didn’t steal from the books. What I mean, is that I could picture how old
spell books looked, and realised a King would probably care more about having a
son for an heir than a daughter. This helped me picture a possible scene for an
argument between a father and daughter, in which this point could have been
brought up.

Also, music inspires me a lot. I always listen to
music. Classical pieces, soundtracks from movies, actual songs even musicals.
Whatever it takes to give me some inspiration, I even sleep while listening to
music to help me better picture what might be giving me trouble when writing.
Think of it like writing fanfiction in my head, of my own stories, while I try
to sleep.

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

I have always loved reading, and throughout
primary school (ages 3-11) we had a lot of opportunities to write our own short
stories in class. I loved it, and thought it was fun. I didn’t know I wanted to
be a writer until a few years ago when I discovered NaNoWriMo (I won) and
realised how fun writing could be and got back into 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 haven’t done the math, but there’s roughly the
same amount of LGBTQIA+ characters as there are heterosexual characters (not
counting small children). In any book I will ever write, I will always try to
keep it as close to 50/50 as I can, because that is the most realistic figure.
There’s also hardly ever any angst revolving around romance, or any explicit
stuff because I strongly dislike it and have no time for that nonsense of “he
loves me, he loves me not.”

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing. If someone says you write too
much, or you should spend more time doing something that benefits them, don’t
listen and keep writing. I was told that I spend too much time reading and
writing, the only two things I do for fun, by my family who wanted me to
essentially become a third parent to my brother who is only 2 years younger
than me. It upset me, and I stopped both. I didn’t read anything for ages, and
eventually forgot about my writing for a few months. It’s good to take a break,
but on your terms, or as close as you can get.

I still struggle trying to get into writing again,
because I feel like it will be hard. Because I don’t remember what I was going
to do with this sentence, or because I can’t remember what that character looked
like or if they are even in this book. Don’t let anyone – and I mean anyone –
tell you that it isn’t worth it. Write for you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as a sex and romance repulsed aroace,
and I experience aesthetic attraction. I also identify as pan because my
aesthetic attraction can be to anyone of any gender.

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

I haven’t experienced any. However, when I was
talking to my best friend and fellow Asexual about some of the characters,
trying to work out a scene, I mentioned they were both Aroace. I also have an
ace-biromantic character not in that scene. She asked “That makes three on the
Ace Spectrum, right? Isn’t that a bit much?” No. it is not “a bit much” because
I know several asexual people online, and together we make two. In real life,
in a world with billions of people, at least 1% of which (7 million I think
total) asexuals, it makes sense to have a few who know each other. She knew
this, it was just more of shock at seeing more than one Ace character in a
single book, and she wasn’t being mean or anything.

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

I have several, and they are all from my best
friend’s ex-boyfriend, although I have heard other people say stuff along these
lines too.

  • (asexual refusing to have sex with her boyfriend because
    she’s a sex repulsed asexual) “But biologically speaking everyone needs sex.” –
    This isn’t true. I’ve heard it can be fun, great, stress-relieving, and a bunch
    of other positive things from people who continuously talk to me about it even
    when I tell them not to. But biologically, you don’t crave it. You don’t die
    without it. Biologically speaking, it is how babies are made. Nothing more.
  • “You’re not asexual because you don’t need to
    photosynthesize” – hahaha, no. he said this sincerely, and he meant this to
    hurt. It isn’t a joke. There are multiple meanings for different words in the
    English language. “My nose is running” does not mean you’re nose is in fact
    running down your face and about to make an escape to go join the party next
    door.
  • “Asexuality isn’t a thing. It’s just an excuse. You’re a
    lesbian” – yeah she’s an Aroace lesbian, but she didn’t know it at the time.
    She’s still aroace. It doesn’t matter what else you identify as, if you think
    you are on the spectrum, no one can invalidate you like this. Asexuality is a
    thing. It is also annoying to hear this several times in the same conversation.

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

Asexuality, and the whole spectrum, is a thing.
Aromanticism is a thing. Aroace is a thing. You can be both, you can be one or
the other. You can be in a qpr, you can be single forever. You can have a
partner, or not. You can be a third sexuality on top of this. You can hate
sex/romance with a fiery passion or you can still enjoy it. Don’t let
uninformed people try to tell you how you feel, because the person who knows
you best is you. And if this means having your aroace-pan awakening at 2am and
grinning like a fool for three days then so be it. Because you deserve to be
happy. If someone you love says the words “but biologically-“or “you aren’t
ace/aro” or any variation of “it’s a fad/you just want attention.” Even after
you’ve explained it to them? Even after you’ve given them a chance to learn
about your orientation? Get rid of them because you can do better. Any loved
one who forces you to ignore how you feel, or invalidates you, or pressures you
into things you don’t want to do, is not worth your time.

When you come out to people, be ready for the
inevitable vocab lesson, but don’t be upset about it and if they ask a lot of
questions, try not to be offended. In all likelihood, they have no idea what
any of this means because when they were growing up it wasn’t as widely known.
Take a few minutes to explain. They might get it, they might not. They might be
supportive, they might not. But at least they know. And if they get confused
somehow and think you just came out as a lesbian, please, for the sake of your
sanity, correct them. Do not let them think you and your best friend are
lesbian lovers unless you, for some reason, want them to think that. It is
about what you are comfortable with.

Tell the person you are dating what your
boundaries are, or what you are uncomfortable with. For example, I personally
despise all physical contact with all but 2 people. Maybe they can work their
way in, but for now, tell them. Don’t let yourself be uncomfortable just so you
don’t have to have the awkward conversation where you tell them you don’t want
to be kissed or you don’t want to have sex. And if they don’t respect your boundaries,
get rid of them. A person who is willing to just be platonic cuddle buddies
with no pressure on either side is much better than a person who refuses to
understand your orientation and the things you don’t want to do.

Also, don’t listen to aphobes, at all.

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

I haven’t published anything anywhere, but I’m
always up for questions about my work in progress, or anything to do with
writing (or my orientation really). My Tumblr is at solangelo3088.

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

Interview: Jo Troll

Today we’re joined by Jo Troll. Jo is a phenomenal dancer who has recently branched out into what they term artistic intervention. They do a lot of Irish dancing and they have danced contemporary styles in the past. They’re currently focused on tackling cisnormativity in dance. It’s clear they’re a passionate and dedicated artist with an important message, 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 dancer/choreographer that’s branched out into
installation art and other methods of “artistic intervention”. I’m originally
an Irish step dancer who strayed from the path and got really interested in
contemporary dance. After a year at a conservatoire, I got really fed up with
the value system in a lot of contemporary dance worlds and have been moving
back towards Irish dance. I say Irish dance because that includes contemporary
(but not competition) Irish step, older styles of step dancing, and sean-nos,
an improvisational percussive dance form. Recently, a lot of my work has
centered around my trans identity and trans visibility, and I’m currently at a
point of transition where I’m trying to figure out how to tackle other concepts
while continuing to challenge cisnormativity in dance.

What inspires you?

Anger. Anything that makes me even the slightest bit angry.
I even made a whole piece about anger
inspired by the respectability politics I was managing at my school at the time
(I’m also super petty and may have built an installation based on how to most
inconvenience someone that was being transphobic). It’s hard to exist in the
world without being angry and it’s even harder as someone with multiple
invisible identities (nonbinary, trans, asexual, aromantic…) who is usually
read as female because anger is so much more likely to be invalidated by people
in power. Performing is my chance to express my anger and make people listen.
If you pay to go see someone, you’re a lot more likely to listen to them than
if they try to challenge you in the middle of a conversation. Even if you
should probably listen in both circumstances (this is a very general you).

Jane 3: Photo taken by
audience member

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

So, when I was ten, my mom was really sick of driving me to
soccer games and bribed me out of soccer with Irish dance lessons. That’s the
main story. I’ve had a lot of beginnings in dance, but I’ve probably known
since I was eight or so that I was going to be a dancer. Since ten is actually
a late start for dance, I’ve had a lot of insecurities which kept me from
voicing that for a long time and gotten in my own way a lot of the time, but
it’s always been knowledge that this was what I was going to do, not a wish or
a desire.  

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?

Well, everyone that knows my work (i.e. the wonderful
friends that help me workshop things) claim that it’s distinct. I’d say that’s
more because there’s not a lot of non-competitive dancers doing work around
queer identity than because there’s anything particular to me. The most
signature thing that stays true between pieces is costume – I always wear a hat
and I almost always wear a skirt. The hat is just because I like hats and feel
vaguely naked without one. The skirt is a very specific form of protest –
people struggle to see feminine FAAB nonbinary people as nonbinary because we
don’t fit the standard “androgynous” look deemed acceptable for FAAB folks. So,
when I do have all the power to make people listen, I want to look as feminine
as possible while I do it.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

If a system isn’t working for you, that’s not your fault.
It’s always fine to leave, say “no”, or even make your own system. This is very
true for dance – it took me a long time to learn that if a ballet teacher made
me feel icky, I didn’t have to go to their class – but I feel like it is
probably true for other forms of art too. There are infinite ways to make
things. If something doesn’t work for you, there’s always another way.

Also, surround yourself with people that care about your
work. I have a great list of people I trust to give me both encouragement and
constructive feedback. It is impossible to make work in a complete vacuum
(there are artists who have tried, I know), so be picky about who you work
with, and find the people who truly want to make your art as strong as it
can possibly be, because that is how you will find support and growth.

Photo by Olivia
Blaisdell Photography / halfasianlens, courtesy of Dancing Queerly, 2018

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Aroace. Probably.

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

Hehe. Quite recently, I was speaking on a panel on queer
dance and I was responding to a question about asexual dance when I was
interrupted mid-thought by another panelist who went on to talk about how they
would never apologize for putting sex into their work. There’s a habit in
dance, especially in queer dance, to focus on the sexual and see the nonsexual
and the asexual as restrictive, backwards, and uninteresting. I can make work
about transness and be brave. If I make work about asexuality, I’m regressive
and “hurting the cause”.

I haven’t found my answer yet, but I’m working to really
figure out what it means to dance asexually. I can make statements and comments
as much as I’d like, but the most important thing is to keep owning the work
that I make and who I am. If someone feels the need to go on
the defensive about it, that’s their problem.

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

Heh. I think the biggest thing I see in dance, especially in
queer art circles, is that somehow or other, asexuality threatens or denies the
ability to claim and own other sexualities. Or, in other terms, that asexuality
desexualizes other sexualities. I understand the threat for queer artists queer
sexuality of all forms has been under attack for a long time, but it becomes a
problem when this is used as an excuse to silence asexual voices. The
possibility of asexuality does not negate the possibility of other queer
sexualities, it is simply an expansion of what queer sexuality can be, which I
find super exciting. I don’t have as much patience or understanding when allo,
cis, straight dancers get up in arms about this too, but it does tell me that
sexuality brings up lots of feelings for everyone. We just have to slowly
untangle them. I would prefer it if
all allo dancers would bother to look up the definition of asexuality before
getting defensive though.

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

It’s OK to struggle. These things aren’t always easy. All
you can do is own where you are right now.

Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Books with characters you relate to. Music that
speaks to your heart. People that make you smile and feel like you are worth
something. There are loads of recommendations out there for the young acespec
and that can be helpful if you don’t know where to start, but don’t feel guilty
if the thing that’s right for you isn’t in the ace community hivemind, or even
explicitly ace-related. Take what’s right for you.

And make art. Art is a powerful tool for self-care and
self-expression. Find the way it works for you and use it.

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

I’ve got a website: jotroll.wordpress.com

And I blog a lot: jotdancing.wordpress.com

You can also find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/jotrolldance/

And on Tumblr at: https://jotrolldance.tumblr.com/

Photo by Ray Bernoff

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

Interview: R.M.K.

Today we’re joined by R.M.K.. R.M.K. is a phenomenal poet who has just released their first poetry collection recently. It delves into topics like mental illness and recovery. They’re currently working on another collection about enbies, aces, and aros, which will be out this October. R.M.K. writes modern poetry and is extraordinarily talented. It’s clear they’re dedicated to their craft, 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 write what I refer to as “modern poetry.” It is in the
same style as Rupi Kaur’s. It isn’t like “classical poetry” which I see as
sometimes really dense and hard to comprehend. My poetry focuses less on
imagery and more on just getting your thoughts down on paper. Sometimes on Tumblr
you see it looking like “is this poetry if I just write prose and put a bunch
of spaces?” Yes!

My poetry ranges from mental illness, recovery, letters,
nonbinary, asexual, and aromantic themes. I talk about a lot of different stuff
in my work. My first collection focuses on mental illness and recovery, while
my upcoming collection will focus on enbies, asexuals, and aromantics.

The goal of my poetry collections is to inspire people to
share their own stories.

What inspires you?

Rupi Kaur inspired my first book. She is the author of Milk And Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. I am also inspired by Courtney Peppernell,
who writes lesbian poetry, and r.h. Sin, who writes about various subjects.

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

I got interested in poetry only about two years ago. Before
then I was an aspiring novelist, and still am, but poetry is a lot easier for
me to write. I’m not really sure what got me interested in poetry. It might’ve
been when I found Rupi’s first book. Since then I’ve bought around fifteen
different poetry books and have consumed them with fervor.

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 poetry I never use capitalization and show speaking or
quotes as italics. It’s part of my style but is in no way unique. Anyone out
there could use this style if they so wanted.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Write boldly and unapologetically and also, don’t turn your
nose up at self-publishing. This is the route I am going by now. If you want to
write about a nonbinary character who uses they/them pronouns, do it! Write
about whatever subject you want in whatever format you feel suits it best and
don’t pull any punches! Tell the story you want to tell and don’t compromise on
a thing!

If anyone is looking for self-publishing, look no further
than CreateSpace, an Amazon company, which will print-per-order your books and
also stock in stores. You can do everything you need to with the site, even
make a cover.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as asexual and also aromantic and nonbinary. I
use they/them pronouns.

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

When I submitted to publishers I used my pronouns and chosen
name on all my correspondences and never heard anything back. I don’t know if
this is just a coincidence or if it was directly related, but I have since gone
forward with self-publishing.

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

That it’s the same as celibacy, which it definitely isn’t.
People are celibate for religious reasons, usually. We are asexual because we
are born that way, or because of trauma. Both are valid.

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

If you find the label no longer fits, then you can drop it!
There’s no shame in that! Before this I thought I was just a skittish
pansexual. Before that I was totally convinced I was homosexual. It’s okay to
explore.

Also, you don’t really owe anyone an explanation. If you’re
asexual, you’re asexual. That’s it. They should be responsible for educating
themselves if they can’t understand you.

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

On my Tumblr at rmk-poetry
and my Instagram r.m.k.poetry!

The first book, entitled Days,
will be available by the time you read this. The second collection, entitled Queer, (I’m on the side of reclaiming
this slur, I’m sorry if you are not and I have offended you), will be coming
out October 11th to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

Thank you, R.M.K., 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.

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.]

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).

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

Thank you, Jainai, 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.