Category: digital art

Interview: Nikki

Today we’re joined by Nikki. Nikki is a wonderful fanartist who does
digital art and is an avid cosplayer. She mostly sells digital art at
conventions, where she also shows off her incredible cosplays. It’s
clear she’s a dedicated artist who loves what she does. My thanks to her
for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am a digital artist & cosplayer!  I sell fanart at cons, do commission work,
and, well, build cosplays!

What inspires you?

For my cosplay, characters who I see part of myself in
inspire me the most.  Strong women,
mostly.  I’ve also just made cosplays
because the character design/execution in the original media look cool.

For art, I find that real somber, sad scenes inspire
me.  I’m not entirely sure the reasoning,
but it resonates with me more than happy, cheerful stuff.

by Daily Bugle Photography

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

I’ve always been interested in art of any form, but I don’t
think I actively wanted to be an artist until around 2 or 3 years ago.  I also didn’t know I wanted to seriously do
cosplaying until maybe a year ago!  As
for what got me interested in cosplaying, I think it’d have to be the utter
confidence being in costume gives me.  I
love putting in hours and days of work into a cosplay, putting it on, and
showing the world what I made with my own two hands!

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

Not that I can really think of!  I do have a little trinket given to me by
Guerrilla Games, the company who made Horizon Zero Dawn that I wear when I
cosplay from the game!  I also have a
bracelet my best friend gave me that matches the aesthetic of the game that I
wear, too!

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Very cliched, but keep practicing!  Nothing has to be perfect, in art, cosplay,
really anything, so don’t stress the small details.  That, and, if you put your heart and soul into
your work, it will show, no matter your skill level.

by Final Eva Productions

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am fully Asexual, and most likely greyromantic, but I’m
not sure about that.

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

Not that I’ve seen, but you never know what people say when
you’re not there.

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

I think the most common misconception that I see is that
it’s about libido or interest in sex, which isn’t the case.  Just like there can be allosexuals can be
uninterested in sex or have a low libido, an asexual can have interest in sex
and/or a high libido.

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

First and foremost, whether you’re asexual or not, that
doesn’t change who you are.  If you feel
comfortable identifying as ace, that’s wonderful!  If you don’t, you don’t have to! Maybe it
will just take some getting used to, or maybe the label just isn’t what you’re
feeling, and that’s perfectly okay.  No
one else can decide who you are, only you can. All I can hope for is that you
love yourself.

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

Anyone who is interested can find me on Tumblr and Instagram at AceArtCosplay,
and on Facebook at Ace Art
& Cosplay
.  I try to post updates
as much as I can, but it doesn’t always happen.

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

Interview: Jess Renae Curtis

Today we’re joined by Jess Renae Curtis, who also goes by Jess or Pup. Jess is the phenomenal artist behind PuppyLuver Studios. She does mostly fan work at the moment but has also recently branched out into original work. She is currently dabbling with creating an original universe. Jess is mostly a digital artist and creates both fanart and original characters through drawing. Her work is bright and colorful, capturing the viewer and drawing them in. It shows an amazing attention to detail. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented 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 both a writer and a digital artist. My illustrations are
generally focused on characters, both original designs and those from fandoms
I’m involved in, and tend to use a lot of varied color. My writing is involved
in both fanfiction (notable ones I’m working on at the moment include Chronicles of Tajiria, a Pokémon series but with the Pokémon as
people with superpowers/magic, and Sonata
in Triplicate
, a Legend of Zelda
AU series) and my original series Theia
Historica
, of which I have the first entry (titled A Kingdom of Children) published.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a definite answer for that, it could be
just about anything depending on what sort of thing or things it ends up
inspiring. I’ve had small one-page comics based on something funny that
happened to me while playing a video game, I’ve designed a character because a
YouTuber I follow posted a video of himself shaving his beard with a razor that
I initially thought looked like an owl, I’ve drawn pieces based on something
funny a friend said to me, lots of things. In fact, the general art direction
of Theia Historica has its roots in
one very specific part in the PS2 role-playing game Okage: Shadow King, but it’s a long explanation so that’s a story
for another time.

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

I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and while I
always liked drawing it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life for the longest
time. Funnily enough, my first career choices were astronaut and veterinarian,
before I realized that the things in space kinda scared me and I was squeamish
about blood and other bodily fluids, so around middle school I decided to try a
career path that I already had some skill and comfort in. I started
storytelling shortly after becoming literate, though unlike visual art that was
always something I could see myself doing professionally, though more as an
“after I’m done being an astrovet” thing than as part of my main career.

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?

Can’t think of anything in particular except for the star
that I use as my watermark (a five-point star with each point being a different
color of the rainbow except for orange). Also in major writing projects I tend
to find some way or another to put myself in there. Just…self-insert in the
background, there I am.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

If you’re feeling discouraged about your skill level,
remember to keep trying and that you can only get better. You’ve got wonderful
visions that’ve been concocted solely by the processes of your imagination, and
only you can bring them to life for the world to see. Also, don’t pay attention
to what cringe culture says. Make that multicolor Sonic OC if you want. Write a
short story about you getting transported to your favorite fictional world and
becoming best buds with the main characters if doing so cheers you up when
you’re feeling down. Don’t let anyone stop you from enjoying something that
makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual. I’m not entirely sure yet of
where I fall in regards to romantic attraction, but if I were to try dating I
think I’d want my first attempts at romantic experiences to be with women.

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

Not specifically in my field, no, and I don’t really know
how I would handle it if I were to encounter prejudice that was physical or
coming from a position of authority. Most people I’ve told about my asexuality
are a bit confused as to what it means at first, but once I explain they’re
generally supportive. I have had encounters with people who flat-out refused to
believe that I was an adult who didn’t enjoy sex and couldn’t ever imagine
doing so, but that one was on me for commenting on a video explicitly titled “Why Does Sex Feel Good?” and saying that I
couldn’t understand why sex-havers craved it so strongly (I mean, I technically
can, cuz if sex weren’t at least somewhat pleasurable to those willingly
engaging in it then the species would die out because then no one would be
boinking and possibly making babies) and I thought the whole societal obsession
with it was a bit ridiculous. I kinda walked into that one, and I ended up just
muting that conversation and moving on.

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

If they don’t outright dismiss the possibility of
asexuality/aromanticism existing, they tend to assume all asexual people share
my feelings in that sex is something they wish to avoid. While I am not one of
them, there are obviously plenty of asexuals who either are indifferent or even
enjoy sex as an activity. I’m put off by all the mess that I’ve heard results
from a typical sexual encounter to even consider trying it, but I will never
knock on any sex-positive or sex-neutral aces.

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

Not having a sexual or romantic attraction is just as normal
as having a sexual or romantic attraction to people of a different gender, the
same gender, or multiple genders. You’re not broken just because all your peers
are ogling “sexy” celebrities and you find yourself feeling indifferent to the
whole thing. And don’t listen to all the highly vocal exclusionists plaguing
the internet that say a-spec people don’t belong. They are the minority given
megaphones, and the majority of LGBT groups and spaces are inclusive of
a-specs.

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

You can find my stuff on DeviantART under the username PuppyLuver, and on Tumblr, Twitter, FanFiction.net,
and AO3 under the
username PuppyLuver256. I also have a Redbubble store and a
Patreon.

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

Interview: goatbunny

Today we’re joined by goatbunny. goatbunny is a phenomenal visual artist who works in a number of different mediums, both traditional and digital. goatbunny has done shows in the past and has a number of different projects they’re currently working on, including creating her own Tarot Deck. It’s clear she’s a passionate and driven 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
paint and draw using both traditional (pencil, ink, watercolor and illustration
marker are my main tools, but I also use gouache, acrylic, spray paint,
crayons, and pretty much anything else I find) and digital media (I’ve
recently gotten back into digital media so I’ve
been exploring more of that). I dabble in almost everything else, I’ll
try anything once. I’ve sculpted in the past, and I sew a
lot when I don’t really feel like drawing or
painting, by hand and with a machine. I am currently creating my own Tarot Deck
and collaborating with a fellow artist on a card game, activity/coloring books
and I have started to experiment more with non-traditional styles of animation
with him using “2-D”
type of puppets using cardboard and even felt. I have recently created my
second short film.

What inspires you?

I
try to gain inspiration from everything around me. I try not to focus too much
on other visual artists like myself as I try to avoid the trap of having other
drawing styles impacting my own too heavily. I am very inspired by music,
films, books, etc. I just try to be as observant as possible. Meeting up with
other creatives also helps a lot. I have a lot of musicians and artists, and a
couple of writers in my friend circle so I like to think we inspire each other.

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

I’ve
pretty much been drawing and creating since I was able to hold a pencil in my
hand. I have always loved cartoons, comics, animated film and even videogames
and had always wanted to be an animator, cartoonist, illustrator or character
designer when I was younger. I HAVE always wanted to be in a creative field,
even if I was steered in other directions. Even when I was studying the
sciences in school or during my short career in the medical field, I never
stopped drawing and now I can finally say that art is what I do full time.

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
can’t say that I really have a unique
signature, aside from signing “Goat”
when I do remember to sign my pieces. Lately I have been watermarking any
pieces I have posted publicly online, and have also been incorporating my
Goatagram logo in digital work (It’s
basically a pentagram with a goatbunny head – a bunny with goat horns).

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Just
keep creating. Even if you don’t end up being a full-time artist,
always make time for art. It’s not the easiest career choice. I’m
35 and have only been a full-time artist for the past 3 years, so I can feel
the difference, financially. I almost want to say my parents were right and
that you should find a steady, well-paying job but to be honest, I traded said
job for the sake of my mental health and I can say that, for the most part, it
was worth it.

If
you do choose art as a career, you may feel discouraged. You may feel like you
want to quit. You may even become disgruntled about what you see in the art
world. It’s important to remember why you create
and why it’s important to YOU. It also helps to
have a close, supportive network to help you through any of the rough patches
you may hit.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I
feel like I discovered asexuality waaaaay late in the game (early-30s) so I
found it really difficult to figure out where I fall in the spectrum. In
retrospect, I feel like I could be a grey-ace but it’s
hard to really tell what I really felt and what I thought I SHOULD feel. So I
generally just use the more general asexual term because I am at least certain
about that.

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

It’s
hard to say as I tend to keep my personal life out of my work for the most
part. My city has a large LGBTQ+ community, and a large arts community and they
both overlap. I have been invited to fairs run by queer artists through a
mutual friend but I feel like ace representation wasn’t
strong on there at all. The community feels very overtly sex favorable, and
most art is very inundated with social commentary, especially about sexuality,
gender and orientation. It even felt like there was even a certain “dress
code”. Since my art doesn’t
have any specific themes about gender or sexuality, didn’t
“look”
like them, and am cis in relationship with someone of the opposite sex, I didn’t
feel very
welcome. Not to say that I wasn’t, but I didn’t
feel very included by some of the merchants/organizers. I’m
not entirely sure if that counts, but it felt like if I didn’t
openly express my sexuality or orientation, I don’t
really count or am truly accepted. I tend to not let situations like that get
to me since I want people to relate to and judge my art, not who I am.

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

Of
the few people I came out to and had to explain it, the main misconception was
basically that I just don’t like sex. In the case of my husband
before we were married, he thought it meant that I didn’t/couldn’t
love him or didn’t want to have sex with him. After
having explained it a few times, he finally understood that I am capable of
love, but sexual attraction
is something I don’t experience. I’ve
come to realize that for a lot of people, it is very difficult to separate
sexual attraction, romantic attraction, love and the act of sex itself.

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

That
one’s tough, since I feel like I’m
still learning a lot about my own every day. I guess: Keep reading up on it. Do
some introspection. Be open to what you learn. Accept the fact that your
orientation may change. Just learn to accept who you and what you’re
going through at the moment. Finding community among others who accept and
support who you are and what you are experiencing will also help, whether it’s
in real life or online.

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

My Tumblr is http://www.church-of-goatbunny.tumblr.com/
And Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/churchofgoatbunny/,
but it’s mostly just posts shared from my
Instagram: at winner.gets.a.rake.
I
do have a Patreon which is a huge help for self-employed artists: https://www.patreon.com/goatbunny
Work can be purchased directly through me or my Big Cartel shop: https://churchofgoatbunny.bigcartel.com/

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

Interview: Lucy Cyclone

Today we’re joined by Lucy Cyclone. Lucy is a wonderful visual artist and fanartist. She mostly uses digital mediums although she also dabbles in traditional ones as well. Lucy enjoys drawing comics and animations, which allows her to convey more emotions in her work. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with a lot of enthusiasm, 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 draw mostly digitally nowadays, rarely finishing sketches
I do on paper. I like to tell stories with my drawings, and am very attracted
to comics and animation, as those can convey a lot of feelings more efficiently
than a single picture.

Externally I live to learn and can appear sturdy, while art
is my vent of things I don’t trust to show in company as well as sources of
enjoyment I can’t possibly show any other way.

I also suffer from the very common Can’t Draw Properly With
A Tablet 2 At Pm But Definitely Will Make A Realistic Portrait At Midnight With
A Ball Point On Lined Notebook Paper syndrome.

What inspires you?

Music, random ideas, other fanwork and personal thoughts. My
biggest muse would be sitting up late while staring at the ceiling, and
Sleeping at Last’s music. Currently really into Transformers comics and Boku
no Hero Academia
as well.

Once I get a good idea it tends to completely overwhelm me.
I don’t finish a lot of them because I always find myself caught up in
something else before I do. It takes a while for me to set foot on solid ground
and decide that I want and I will do something.

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

Currently – art is a hobby. I drew while young but only took
it seriously around two years ago, when I started practicing more often. When I
was 12 I got dragged into cartoons – most notably My Little Pony at the time – and I suddenly wanted to create more
and more visions of fictional worlds – and create my own.

My appreciation for animation and expression grew from
thereon. I still struggle with some human anatomy aspects (legs-) but overall
I’ve come a really long way in the past years.

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 settle on having my signature being legible. With style
being the subject, I prefer to pander to natural proportions as much as I am
able to. Big fan of Disney and western styles, and while I do refrain from
anime and chibi, I do try to replicate the styles of eastern animation work I
enjoy.

Even though chibi is always a go-to when I am tired and just
want to draw something cute.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t take criticism personally, tracing is superb as long
as you credit the original, and studies of photos do miracles

Also don’t be like me and spend 3 years of your life drawing
almost exclusively cartoon horses. Ultimately it helps with general quadriped
anatomy but…just don’t.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Ace and Bi – I prefer not to directly use SAM unless someone
insists.

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

Luckily, no so far! Asexuality isn’t widely known (which I
personally don’t mind) and I like to be hopeful enough to dare to say a lot of
the young generation in the connected world doesn’t really care about which way
one swings. We’ve come a long way!

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

Being somewhat young, I can understand people suggesting it
is just a phase, and I accept that as a possibility, but I notice that a lot of
other aces experience this as well. Whether or not it is a phase, if the shoe
fits I’ll wear it.

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

It’s okay not to know and never okay to hurry! Take some
time to know yourself, it’s a very long way and ultimately has meaning only to
you, but can still affect others, so keep your head cool. Reason is the best
road.

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

On Tumblr, I post my work at lucy-cyclone, and I try to post at
least once per week. I plan to reboot my DeviantArt soon, though this is enough
for now.

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

Interview: Renn

Today we’re joined by Renn. Renn is an extraordinary visual artist who also dabbles in embroidery and sings in their state’s LGBTQ+ chorus. They have mainly worked in traditional mediums, though they have recently started branching out into digital art. Their work is fascinating in its use of color and light. It’s clear Renn is an incredibly talented and passionate artist who enjoys 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 something of an ace-of-all trades (pardon the pun). Most
of my work has been traditional pen and ink drawings- I’ve always been the most
comfortable with felt pens as my medium since you can re-do the sketch as many
times as it takes to get each line juuuuuuust right before finalizing it in ink.
Every now and then I’ll do a watercolor- the colors can be quite vibrant and
watercolors can blend together in a way markers and ink can’t. Watercolor is
something of an exercise in discipline for me; I’m not the most patient of
persons even without taking my ADHD into account- so waiting for the paint to
dry before adding another piece of color can be trying sometimes. I’ve ruined
plenty of paintings only because I just couldn’t wait! I recently started
painting digitally with my beloved Huion tablet- a much better way for me to
explore painting as a medium because there are no more wait times for colors to
dry! And layers! Oh do I love my layers. Working digitally, I enjoy using a
limited but vibrant pallet to challenge myself to really bring out the
highlights and shadows of what I’m drawing, making the artwork overall more
striking.

Sometimes when I have the time + materials + energy, I craft
my own cosplays (and bowties!) In my spare time I also enjoy doing embroidery
and singing with the Rainbow Chorale, my state’s local LGBTQ+ chorus!

What inspires you?

A lot of my main drive to create comes from seeing the work
of other artists. You know how your brain will see someone else’s work and go
“Gee I wish I could draw like that!”
I take that feeling and turn it into “Well why don’t I go and draw something I
want to create that will look just as good that I and other people will enjoy!”

I also enjoy doing art as an out and visible queer asexual
person, because it gives other people like me the chance to see themselves
reflected in my art and see themselves being represented, even if they
themselves cannot be out and visible like me.

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

I’ve been drawing since I was really little, like 4 or so.
Creating art through drawing was something I would do to relax after
school…  or something I did to avoid
taking notes or doing homework… ah ha. For young, awkward, socially anxious me,
art was the best way for me to express myself and communicate. So, in a way,
I’ve always been interested in creative fields because that ability to create
from my own ideas has always been with me. With respect to “wanting to be an
artist” (I’m interpreting this as become a professional) drawing as a job isn’t
something I want to do. I’m happy to take the occasional commission, or make
something as a gift, but drawing as my main profession isn’t for me. Art is an
escape for me, for when life gets to be too overwhelming. If that escape was
invaded by the stress and pressure to constantly create and keep churning out
artwork, then creating would no longer be that escape for me.

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 sign my work (well, when I remember) with my
screen-name (Renaissance Aeroplane) initials “RA” and a little airplane flying
out from the “A”. Typically I’ll put it in the corner of digital paintings, and
tuck it in somewhere in sight when I do pen and paper drawings.

I’ve had that screen-name for a while, except ‘renaissance’
was spelled with two Ns since spelling wasn’t a strong suit of mine. Thus that
turned into the nickname “Renn” which I’ve gotten rather attached to and
started using as an offline nickname as well.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Take a deep breath, and relax.
Sit back, stretch your arms, and release that tension you’ve been holding
in. It’s okay- if you aren’t as popular as that one artist, if that one line
just refuses to come out right, if you fudged up the inking, painting didn’t
come out the way you wanted it to- It’s
going to be all right!
There’s always so much pressure as an artist, to
keep making more art and be perfect and get likes/reblogs/retweets/site
traffic. That pressure is overwhelming and the last thing that will help you
improve is pushing yourself so hard that creating art becomes stressful and
overwhelming. So take another deep breath, relax, and continue to do what makes
you happy.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Definitely full-on asexual; the frying-pan of sexual
attraction feelings won’t be hitting me in the face anytime soon. It’s not a
sensation I’ve ever felt, likely will never feel, and I am cool with that being
so. I’m probably?? somewhere on the gray-bi-romantic scale of things; every now
and then I’ll become romantically inclined towards someone, but it doesn’t
happen all that often. *shrug*

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

Fortunately I haven’t had much experience with prejudice
aside from the occasional bigot being rude online. What I have encountered more
of is well-meaning but ignorant folks coming into my inbox and expecting me to
educate them. Which can sometimes be annoying, and other times be emotionally
draining and exhausting. So, what I’ll do is send them a few links with good
articles about asexuality (or trans/nonbinary issues because I get questions
about that too. Yaaaaaay.) that I’ve read through beforehand to ensure all the
info is correct. Then I’ll let them know I’m glad they want to learn more, but
I don’t have the time/energy to educate them one on one on the basics, that the
links I sent contain more info about the subject, and once they’ve read through
what I’ve sent and understand it, I’ll be happy to talk with them later.

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

That eventually I’ll “grow out of it” or “there’s always the
possibility you meet the right person!” *barf* I get that for some people,
sexuality can change or you can discover something you didn’t know about
yourself, but that is not me. I already did all my soul-searching and exploring
and I am quite happy labeling myself as ace, thanks very much. That and there’s
something so gross about the insistence that I will become sexually attracted
to someone. Euggggh.

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

It’s helpful to ask for advice or experiences from other ace
folks and to ask other LGBTQ+ folks about their experiences to help you figure
out what you’re feeling- BUT what determines your sexuality, above all, is what
YOU think and how YOU feel. So, if you think “Well I’ve never/rarely/only
sometimes feel sexually/physically attracted to people” then congrats! You’re
ace! And that is for you to decide whether or not you want to label yourself
that way.

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

Y’all can find me on Tumblr at renn-aeroplane-art.tumblr.com
where I post all of my recent works or if you want to trawl my old Deviantart
for some of my older stuff I go by Senkokura
there. If you like goofy cat pictures interspersed with the occasional drawing
or selfie, then check out my Instagram at renaissance_aeroplane!

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

Interview: Megan

Today we’re joined by Megan. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist who is starting out in writing as well. They are an illustrator and comic artist from the Kansas City area, who focuses mainly on storytelling and narratives. They do a lot of narrative illustrations and comics. For writing, they’re interested in writing fantasy and prose. They’re clearly an incredibly 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 am an illustrator and writer, working full time as a
production artist to pay the bills, and then working on comics and
illustrations with narrative components on the side. I primarily work
digitally, employing both a comic-y inking style, as well as a realistic sort
of oil-painting style, all either on my computer and display tablet, or on
programs on my iPad. As a writer I love to write fantasy and other prose
fiction, and have started efforts to build a portfolio and work towards getting
published, both short stories and future novels.

What inspires you?

The first place I usually look for some sort of inspiration
is anything Neil Gaiman has said. He has given many speeches and written many
essays on the importance of story and art in the world, and those- as well as
his words on imposter syndrome- give me strength.

But I’m also fascinated by people. Humans are capable of
amazing things like constructing massive skyscrapers and engineering microscopic
movies
; surviving under dangerous conditions, and getting together to hold
festivals full of color and light.
Traveling to different countries and being exposed to new cultures has been
eye-opening for me and is a never-ending resource for inspiration and
creativity.

As of late, Dungeons and Dragons has also been stimulating
for me, from the components like dice and figurines to the stories people tell
through the witty and clever characters they (and I) create. Who doesn’t love
goblins and magic?

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

I always enjoyed drawing and painting, although I was never
really good at it. I loved getting new paint kits and sitting down to paint a
little teapot or planter, but what really got me into art was my obsession with a particular video game.
I was a high school sophomore, just starting part-time in college with the
intent of pursuing a medical degree, and bored. My dad worked at my school, so
I would sit in his office after class and wait til he could take me home. I
vividly remember one day sitting in his office, and instead of doing homework,
I started writing a fanfiction, pen on paper, that I had started rolling around
in my head. Art had also sprung out of this video game obsession, where I discovered
the concept of fanart on DeviantART (I was a sheltered homeschooled child). It
made me honestly, truly happy to write and draw and see the progress I was
making, and to see other people enjoying what I had made. When I took a college
drawing course a year later, I only became more passionate and ditched the
medical school plans for art, and never looked back.

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?

One thing I like to do is that whenever I have to draw a
crowd scene, I like to sneak in some of my characters from other places-
Dungeons and Dragons, or old fanfiction characters- just subtly enough that not
many would see anything different, but if you know the character, you could
find them. I hope someday it becomes a bit of a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Have fun, and take care of yourself.

These two tasks seem so arbitrary but they really mean the
difference for physical and mental wellbeing. Drawing can seem like a chore
sometimes, especially when you’re only drawing or writing something to pay
bills, but when you have free time to draw whatever you want, you should draw
what you want to draw. Write what you want to write. If you go in with the
idea that whatever you make has to be ‘good enough’ to be printed or published,
you’re going to hit a lot of brick walls in the process that only give you
headaches. But if you have fun with it, you’re more likely to finish your
project, and just finishing is half the battle.

But taking care of yourself is vital as well, and I wish it
was emphasized more in educational settings. You NEED rest, you NEED food and
water, and though I realize the idea of the ‘depressed artist working 16 hour
days’ is fairly romanticized, it’s actually incredibly debilitating to work
like that, if you can work at all. You can’t make your best work while you’re
exhausted, and pushing yourself too hard will end up destroying your mind and
body. Seriously. Take a break. Right now, go stretch and drink a glass of
water.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as Asexual as a broad term, and I’ve definitely
hovered over different labels and questioned myself several times, but I’m most
comfortable for the time being with the umbrella term of ‘Ace’. I believe I may
be demiromantic, but I’ve never had a relationship and don’t intend to explore
that area just yet. Someday though.

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

I’m not really out about my identity, so I’ve avoided it.
There aren’t many aces that I’m aware of in my field, so I haven’t seen
anything. I’m sure there’s prejudice out there though, people are unfortunately
afraid of things that are different.

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

That asexuals don’t like sex! I think that it could be more
difficult for some to get into the mood, but Asexuality is defined as having a
lack of sexual attraction to people, not the lack of desire for sex. An ace
person could still be romanced for sure, or maybe they just really enjoy some
self-love!

(Also, the A stands for Asexual, not Ally!!)

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

Nothing is set in stone, your identity is going to change as
you explore and experiment. And that’s fine, most people try several different
labels and have various experiences before they settle into something that
‘fits’. And sometimes, maybe you don’t find something that fits, and that’s
okay, too. You’ll always be You.

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

You can find my artwork here, and my little baby blog is here!

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

Interview: Wolfberry Studio

Today we’re joined by Jay at Wolfberry Studio. Jay is a phenomenal visual artist who works in digital illustration. Their work is mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres and features people of color, who are underrepresented in such genres. Jay’s work shows extraordinary attention to detail and the images evoke such an amazing sense of imagination and beauty. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

image

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am a digital illustrator who works mostly in vector. My
fantasy and sci-fi illustrations focus on people of color who are
under-represented in these genres.  

What inspires you?

I am inspired by legends and myths from around the world. I
enjoy exploring the differences and similarities between stories from different
cultures. Stylistic influences include Chinese classical painting and Japanese
animation.

In addition to visiting museums and galleries regularly to
gain exposure to a wide range of styles, I do live drawing outdoors. Nature can
inspire, even if you are not a nature painter.

image

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

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I was one of those kids who got
reprimanded for doodling in class in elementary school. I saw drawing as a way
to tell stories. I drew comics about my classmates.

As I grew older, I became increasingly aware of the role of
visual art in disseminating social messages. I had observed the lack of
diversity in certain genres. One day, I realized that instead of complaining
about other artists not drawing what I want to see, maybe I should draw what I
want to see. That was when I decided to pursue formal artistic training.

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 studio signature is consists of the Chinese characters
for Wolfberry Studio.  Wolfberry is
another name for goji berry.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

It is OK to feel disappointed with your work sometimes.  The fact that you are self-critical is a good
thing. It shows that you are ready and willing to improve. In art school, I saw
that the artists who improved their skills most quickly were the ones who were
the most open to critique.

Regarding how to deal with the gap between where we are as
creatives and where we want to be, Ira Glass of This American Life says it best
in a 2009 interview:  (http://www.mcwade.com/DesignTalk/2011/04/nobody-tells-this-to-beginners/)

He was talking about video producers, but his comments can
apply to just about any field.

We are all on a journey to getting better. It never ends.

image

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Gray-A. Aromantic.

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

Not in professional relationships, since the subject has
never come up with clients.

I do want to say that I am pleased by the presence of out
asexual artists of all levels in online communities. Their visibility paves the
way for the rest of us.  

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

Some people think that asexuality is pathological, and that aces
would be happier if they weren’t asexual.

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

There is no need to fit yourself into someone else’s concept
of a happy, fulfilling life.  What’s right
for others might not be right for you. You are the only one who knows what’s
right for you.

People shouldn’t be giving you a hard time for being asexual
any more than you should be giving than a hard time for being allosexual, or
for being a football fan, or liking ice cream, or being into whatever else
they’re into but you’re not into.

You’re the only one who has to live your life. You’re not
living it for anyone else. Seek out people who respect you and accept you the
way you are.

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

https://wolfberry-j.deviantart.com/
https://wolfberrystudio.blogspot.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wolfberrystudio/
https://www.redbubble.com/people/WolfberryStudio/portfolio.

image

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

Interview: RoAnna Sylver

Today we’re joined by RoAnna Sylver, RoAnna is a phenomenal author, who has authored such books as Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce. One is a hopeful dystopia involving superheroes and the other involves punk vampires, which sounds awesome. When they’re not writing, RoAnna enjoys visual art and does a lot of digital painting. They have painted most of their own cover art and hope to get into coloring work for comics, including webcomics. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate artist with a great drive, 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.

Hi there! So, most people probably know me by my writing; I
write the Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce series,
hopeful-superhero-dystopian and queer-punk-vampire books, respectively. But I’m
also an artist, I design and paint the majority of my own covers, and I’d
really like to talk more about visual art for a change.

I love digital painting, and find (most of it) really
relaxing and soothing, which is very helpful for when my brain goes into
nonverbal mode or I’m just feeling burnt out on talking/writing. Which is
pretty often.

I’m definitely going to continue painting my own book covers
for as long as I can, and have done commissions for a few people too. I love
them, and keep meaning to do more. I’d also love to get some work as a colorist
for comics (including webcomics) because I find coloring especially relaxing
(and I’m good at it darn it!).

One other cool thing, on the subject of ace stuff
specifically, I recently had a journal-type article Thing published in The Asexual, about how important
representation in mainstream stuff is (and how much I love Todd Chavez from Bojack Horseman). So check that out if
you’d like!

What inspires you?

So much. Music, bits of conversation I overhear, people just
living their lives. But most of all I think is reading or watching movies and
seeing what I’d do differently. Usually, that means “less marginalized people
die, and more get to be the heroes.” If that sounds like fix-fic, that’s
because it is! I used to write so much fanfiction before I started my own
stuff. I STILL DO, but I also used to. (Thanks, Mitch Hedberg!)

Honestly, I hate when people crap on fanworks so much, both
art and writing, because not only are they a great starting point (I’ve written
more than one thing as essentially fanfiction AUs. I doubt anyone will ever
guess which~), but they’re entirely valid works on their own. And they inspire
the hell out of me, both writing my own and reading others’.

Also, it’s not as popular to say, but… spite is a hell of
a motivator. Wanting to prove people wrong who’ve said I can’t do something, or
people like me (queer, disabled, etc.) don’t belong in publishing/the art
industry/life. Knowing bigoted assholes hate what I’m doing is an incredible
accelerant. Just warms the cockles of my heart, it does.

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

I joke that I just have a lot of emotions and I need
different ways of letting them out—writing, drawing, singing—or I’ll explode.
And I’m actually only about 30% joking about that, really. I am blessed/cursed
with glorious and overwhelming feels, and if I don’t have an outlet for them, I
tend to get paralyzed with…over-feeling. I need to express them like releasing
internal pressure with a steam valve.

Unfortunately, I also tend to go nonverbal on a pretty
regular basis from any number of reasons (illness flares, pain, various brain
weird nonsense) so sometimes I’m physically incapable of writing. But I still
have emotion I need to express, or else the pressure just builds up anyway. It
doesn’t care that I don’t have words. That’s when the drawing or singing comes
in—when writing brain shuts down, art or music brain takes over.

So yeah I guess I have always wanted, and needed, to
be an artist.

I used to be a much more physical one, though. I have a
degree in dramatic performance and used to do a ton of musical theatre. Nothing
comes close to being on stage, and I was convinced that was it for me, that was
why I was here and what I was supposed to do with my life. But then I got hit
with several debilitating health conditions at once, and never really
recovered. I haven’t been on stage in years, and probably will never again. But
that’s okay. I still have writing and art, and on an extremely good day,
music. Expression is still the most important thing in my life. Without it, I
wouldn’t have one.

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?

For my writing, the Themes are definitely found family,
queer and disabled people kicking ass, and trauma healing… the ‘secret
symbols’ tend to be really nerdy references. Usually Star Trek and/or Greek myth. Go figure.

For art, I don’t really have a watermark or anything, though
I’ll usually sign a major work. Trademark-wise though, I love the idea of
making digital art look as traditional as possible, so if you look at something
and think it’s an actual watercolor and not a digital one, I’ve done my job
right~

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

For commissions, figure out about how long it takes you to
do a thing. Timing yourself/logging time is good. Then find out the minimum
wage for your state and charge *at least* that per hour.

I saw a really good tweet a while ago saying you should
charge at least 3x minimum wage for commissioned art, because 1) it’s your time
and energy, 2) art is a specialized skill that you’re applying to this
individual request, not a standard product, and 3) you’re your own boss here
and paying for your own materials/food/life.

I don’t know if I could ever do that, but I’m sticking to At
Least Minimum Wage for myself. I still feel a lot of guilt (as I do asking for
money ever even if I’ve worked for it) but honestly, selling your stuff for
super cheap really does devalue the whole market and cheats both you and other
artists out of hard earned cash. I know it’s different when you’re just
starting out and trying to get established, but really, once you are… your
efforts are worth so much more than the bare minimum, but that’s a place
to start.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Biromantic ace, and definitely on the aro spectrum too. It
took me a long time to figure this out, in all its
maybe-seemingly-contradictory glory. I’ve never really experienced sexual
attraction to a (real) person. (“Real” because there are some fictional
characters who could get ittttt) But I’m romantically attracted to women,
agender, and nonbinary people… but like I said, definitely aro-spec too, so
this happens much less than you’d think. Polyamorous too; I have queerplatonic
partners as well as one romo partner~

In short, “potentially attracted to a lot of people on
paper, but not in practice!”  It’s one of
those “sounds very complicated, is actually very simple” things. Except for
when it actually is very complicated. (What the hell is attraction? I don’t
know it.)

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

…Never so much as during Pride Month. It’s really sad, but
entirely true. Usually I manage to stay away from the Ace Discourse and keep it
to a dull roar in the background of my life, but whenever the spotlight is on
The Queer Community in general, that ugly particular head rears once again, and
it’s very hard to avoid.

But there’s social media Discourse (harmful on its own) and
then there’s creative field prejudice or ignorance, and that’s arguably even
more annoying and damaging. Luckily, most of mine has been confined to the
occasional shitty comment about my work. I generally don’t read reviews, but
sometimes someone will point one out to me that’s particularly… not bad in a
‘didn’t like the book’ sense (I don’t care about those, for real), but a ‘wow,
this is a dangerous and bigoted viewpoint actually.’

When people “can’t relate” to asexual (and aromantic, and
neurodivergent, disabled, any other marginalization) characters, that tells me
right there that I’m not going to be able to trust them. If someone slams a
book or marginalized character for displaying characteristics of their
marginalization (mentally ill people will act mentally ill; ace people will act
ace), and dislike them specifically for what makes them them… that’s a Red
Flag right there.

I don’t really “handle” that. I don’t comment (and you
shouldn’t either, ever), but I take notice of who said the bigoted thing, and
remember. Then I keep writing.

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

Oh lord, the aro/ace conflation thing. Where people think
“asexual” means “aromantic,” and “aromantic” means “what is that, I don’t know
what that is, how is that even a thing.” You can absolutely be asexual without
being aro, or aro without ace, or a blend of the two that fluctuates over time
and you have no interest in categorizing.

The most common individual misconceptions are definitely the
“unfeeling, inhuman, dead/lifeless, passionless, robotic, forever alone” ones,
because surely it’s romantic love and sex that makes us human, not anything
else. Nope, that’s it, that’s the most important “universal” experience. Ever
notice how it’s usually the same people who scream “don’t reduce our identities
to one thing/define us by that!” Who then go on to do exactly that for others?
There’s a lot of TERF overlap here too.

I have to say though, the special poison aimed at allo
aromantic people is really something else; apparently just by being sexually
but not romantically attracted to someone, you’re a horrible abuser/predator.
(This is, of course, not true, and there are such things as attractions and
bonds that are not romantic. The small-minded tunnel vision is exhausting.)

So yeah, there’s a lot, and I have absolutely no interest in
getting involved in Discourse of any kind anymore. No spoons left for that at
all.

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

There’s nothing wrong with you, first off. You might feel
like there is, and people might decide to be gigantic asshats and say that
there is, but there isn’t. There isn’t, regardless of how you end up identifying,
even if that’s not ace at all. Try different identities out like clothes until
you find one that fits. If none do, keep trying, or throw them out. It’s your
“body,” and your identity and life. Use what serves you and makes you happy,
not what someone else wants you to.

You’ll know when it’s right. When I finally hit on exactly
what my gender and attraction type was, it felt like releasing every clenched
muscle all at once. My constant, constant anxiety was silent for once,
the panic in my head finally shut up. It was the absence of
strain and exhaustion and tension and fear that was shocking. I hope it feels
like that for you. The cessation of pain is a hell of a drug, and we don’t get
it nearly enough.

Also, you’re totally queer if you want to be. If someone
says you aren’t because you’re ace or aro, that person is not your friend. You
don’t HAVE to identify as queer, the way some nonbinary people don’t identify
as transgender, but you absolutely can, and screw anyone who says otherwise.
(Or don’t. Especially if you’re sex-repulsed. *weak rimshot*)

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

I have an Artstation portfolio over here (if you need a
colorist and/or inker, talk to me!) – https://www.artstation.com/roannasylver

All of my books are on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/RoAnna-Sylver/e/B00OI321DO

And most are available through other places like B&N and
Kobo, which you can find at their universal links at my Draft2Digital page – https://books2read.com/ap/RWk0PR/RoAnna-Sylver

But by far the best place to support me is my Patreon. For
as little as $1 a month, you can get Tons of Chameleon
Moon
bonus content—advance
stories, art, lots of stuff—and exclusive looks at what I’m doing next (Like my
upcoming interactive fiction portal-fantasy romance, Dawnfall for Choice of Games)!
And also make me a little more secure as a disabled creator. patreon.com/RoAnnaSylver

Stake Sauce/Death Masquerade also
has one over here, for if you enjoy monthly fiction about queer vampires! patreon.com/ModulatingFrequencies

Also, if you want to say hi on Twitter, I’m at RoAnnaSylver!

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

Interview: Sara

Today we’re joined by Sara. Sara is a phenomenal visual artist who I met at this year’s Indy PopCon. I was so excited when I realized she was ace and made sure to hand her a business card for the blogs, because good heavens she had such beautiful art. She draws mostly fantasy and original work, favoring a stylized look rather than realism. The result is her work has a wonderful dream-like feel with vibrant colors and soft lines. It’s clear she’s an incredibly talented 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 draw a lot of fantasy pieces, whether it’s sketching or
digital paintings. I like painting/sketching in a stylized style instead of
realistic one. I mostly paint my own characters but I love to do fanart of
characters in my own style just to see what they’ll look like.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is music. I love listening to
classical or instrumental music when I draw/paint. Music helps art flow and it
opens up new ideas for me. I hear a melody playing and think I can turn that
into something. I paint a lot of fantasy pieces and nature also helps add to my
inspiration especially flowers.

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

When I was little I wanted to go into animation.
Traditionally animated Disney movies were some of my favorite things to watch
as a child and I always wanted to know how they made everything move. Now that
I’ve gone to school for animation I’ve gravitated more towards concept art and
illustrations.

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?

As of right now, no I don’t have a special signature. But
maybe some day I will.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

I know this has been said and done many times but Practice,
practice, practice. Having raw talent is the start of being a good artist but
honing that skill and perfecting it will make you an even better one. That
there are gonna be days where you second guess your art, style or your skill
but always remember there are ups and downs in all aspects of life even art.
Many talented artist out there still have those ups and downs. So don’t quit and
don’t lose hope in your abilities.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as asexual/aromantic.

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

Towards me, personally, no I haven’t. But one of the things
that does irk me is that there is barely any representation in media. Sure
sometimes they have hints that a character is Ace but then they sweep it under
the rug as if it wasn’t an important part of a character or that Asexuality is
a disease that needs to be cured (I’m talking about the House episode
that centered around that).

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

“How do you know if you’re Asexual if you haven’t had sex
yet?” or “You haven’t met the right person yet.” These questions drive me up a
wall and make me feel uncomfortable since I don’t necessarily wanna be in a
romantic/sexual relationship with people. So when these questions are directed
at me I feel a bright glaring spotlight put on me and it absolutely embarrasses
me.

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

Take your time with your orientation it’s not a race to
figure everything out in one night. It took me maybe 3 years to final except
what my orientation was. Talk it out with people you trust and do research
(it’s what I did). You are not broken because you don’t want to have sex or be
in a relationship.

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

I have a two Tumblrs and an Instagram. You can find them
both here:

http://the-lady-saron.tumblr.com/
https://sarahartart.tumblr.com/
https://www.instagram.com/sara_hart_art/.

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

Interview: Hampermarketplace

Today we’re joined by Hampermarketplace, who also goes by Sophie. Sophie is a phenomenal visual artist and fanartist. For visual art, they mostly do digital illustration, both original work and fanart, They also do some photography as a hobby. Aside from that, Sophie also cosplays and writes fanfiction. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate 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.

Sure thing! I’m mostly a digital artist, though I don’t know
if “drawing” or “painting” describes best what I do, but in any case, I have a
lot of fun doing it. I draw a lot of Homestuck,
(I’m unfortunately rather obsessed with it—and it’s easy to share online), but
I also do original work, when the inspiration strikes. Since, when it comes to
hobbies, I’m very much a jack of all trades, I’ve done writing (I once wrote a
40k fanfic, several one-shots, and began some original stories I’m probably
never going to finish, I’ve got a word doc somewhere full of cringy poetry),
cosplay (once again Homestuck—so
basically, I’m just really good at putting on grey facepaint), and photography
(I take my iPhone and try to take pretty pictures I then post on Instagram so
it’s not just all filled with selfies).

Basically, I just like to create stuff, no matter the
medium.

What inspires you?

You mean, apart from Homestuck? I’d say my life. Ok, I know
that’s vague, but I haven’t quite got a more specific muse. There is a lot to
show and tell about the subtleties of everyday life, the things I see, hear, or
feel. I’m ADHD, so perhaps trying to put my constant zoning out to good use is
my main inspiration after all. I think sunsets are good, too. They’ve got lots
of pretty colors, there’s nothing like a rainy autumn sunset to get a good
photoshoot full of pinks. The city inspires me, too. The sort of aesthetics
born of the layered lives of so many people, written in the concrete and the
weed peeking through it, the graffiti’s, the decaying factories and the shiny
skyscrapers. In painting, I draw people a lot, too. I think it’s because the
figure is so evocative. I like the humanity, the feelings, the fleeting joys
and pains of life, and so I try to capture them whenever I’m bored enough. It’s
cheesy, but it’s true.

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

Oh boy. Well, I’ve always hung around people who drew, and
the envy that I felt at their cool talents pushed me to try my hand at it.
Around maybe 11 or 12, I got into manga and anime, and the thing with those, is
that they make the human figure very appealing, and yet very simple-looking to
draw, for someone who is just starting out. I’ve been a casual artist ever
since my early teens, and recently, when I graduated high school and all my
friends entered art programs, I started to realize just how much I didn’t know
about art, and that’s really what helped me get much better really fast. Just a
year ago, I didn’t draw half as well as I do now, because now I draw almost
every day, pay attention to the world and put a lot more effort in studying the
theory of art than I ever did in any of my school classes, ever.

I’m still in college, and I’m not planning on making a
career out of my art, but I’ve still got some ambitions to reach a point where
I can paint and draw at a professional level, for myself.

Maybe one day I’ll write an actual book or make money from
my art—I’ve been offered to be an assistant photographer once, when I showed my
Instagram feed to the woman whom we had hired to take our family portraits, but
it didn’t work out. In the end, I take opportunities as they go. Art is just
one of the things for which I have potential and interest, it’s a refuge, and I
don’t want to ruin that by forcing it into a business perspective.

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, I’m known on most platforms (Instagram, deviantart,
tumblr—although only for Homestuck in
the last one) as hampermarketplace, and I sign my digital paintings (some of
them—I often forget) as HMP. By now, it’s how I sign pretty much all of my artwork.
Often, I won’t put it in the lower corner, but try to include it within the
drawing, if there is writing somewhere, graffiti or posters in the background.
It’s my thing.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

You’re going to feel bad sometimes, like you can’t quite
illustrate what you want, or like everyone is better than you. It’s important
to learn to use that dissatisfaction as motivation, not as a deterrent. The
process of improving is an adventure, to be taken one step at a time, so awaken
your inner Moana or whatever, and sing about wanting to know how far you’ll go.
When you’re stalling, and nothing works, push through by going back to your
basics, and putting less pressure on yourself. Take a chill pill. Go watch some
Bob Ross. It’s ok to just doodle for 15 minutes sometimes, you’ve got to make
art time a time to meditate, to enjoy yourself. If you do it right, it won’t
feel like a chore (too much—I can’t make any promises if you decide to make a
living out of it). One day you’ll look back and be amazed by how far you’ve
come.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m asexual, low libido but not sex repulsed per se, and
somewhere in the grey areas of romance, probably demi, although I still think
of myself as a lesbian because I’ve always had a strong aesthetic attraction to
women, and if I were to fall in love, I feel like it would be with a woman, or
someone woman-aligned. I identify *mostly* as a woman, although I won’t deny to
some gender fluidity as well.

Usually, the womanlier I feel, the gayer I get, then on some
days I’m just what is gender and what is love, I want to blog about cats. My
main on Tumblr is like 75% cats, 20% beautiful women and 5% ace positivity. I
think that sums it up pretty well.

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

The most kind of ace prejudice or ignorance I’ve personally
encountered is from myself. I’m usually quite down-low about it, I’ve come out
a couple of times, but not to everyone, and I’m pretty sure most people going
through my art aren’t even aware of my sexuality—I come off quite gay in real
life. Since I don’t do commercial work, I can easily surround myself with
people who are OK with my orientation, and anyway, I live in some of the most
progressive places, where no one would openly challenge you on stuff like that,
even if they disagreed with it. I’m lucky in that regard. I’m always afraid
that people will still hold subconscious prejudice towards me, though, I don’t
think I’m paranoid, but I need to get over it if I want to be myself, and work
towards deconstructing those prejudices. When I’ve actually come out, I’ve been
met mostly with love and acceptance—just once a bit of confusion. Also, once I
came out to a sex-loving vegan by saying “I don’t like sex, but I do like ice
cream” and she just told me “You go girl! Live your best life!” and anyway, she
gets it.

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

I think this one is not an explicit, but an implicit
misconception that even well-meaning people will hold, and that is this idea
that aces don’t like to talk about sex, or be exposed to sexuality, and that
the goal of asexual activism is to make a world where it’s possible to ignore
the fact that sex and romance exists. I mean, some aces may be uncomfortable
with discussions about sex, or don’t want to be exposed to explicit sexual
content, but truly, anyone may have these holdups regardless of sexuality. The
basics principles of consent, human decency and content warnings should be
plenty to cover that. In my experience, most aces I’ve met are more than eager
to talk about sex and the different types of attractions, so long as they are allowed
to openly share their experiences without feeling like outcasts or weirdos. Unless
they tell you otherwise, it should be perfectly fine to share your latest
thirst with your friend who came out to you as ace. You don’t have to stop
being yourself, and most asexuals don’t want to be treated like little kids
with bleeding hearts that can’t handle the sexiness, neither do they want you
to stop being yourself: they just want to be allowed to be themselves as well.

This is pretty abstract, I’m not sure if I’m making sense,
but I feel like this needs to be said more. Asexuality doesn’t exist within
queerness as a form of “Don’t force sex on me”, because, honestly, sex
shouldn’t be forced on anyone, but rather as a force of “It’s OK to live in
accordance to how you feel, regardless of social norms or whether or not it
aligns with the majority around you,” because that represents much better the
aroace community as I’ve known it: diverse, open, with a wide range of
worldviews and experiences, just wanting to live their truth.

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

It’s not easy to find out who you are. Being asexual is
challenging, because it’s probably even only one part of the identities you’re
going to have to cope with—asexuality doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with
the prejudice of being gay, bi or trans—but it’s also challenging in and of
itself. You’re going to have to deal with conflicting cultural ideals about
chastity, lust, marriage and family, with a world that you’ll never quite
understand despite your best efforts to do so, and which probably won’t even
try to understand you. You’ll fidget in your psychology or sexuality class, not
quite capable of explaining how you know for a fact the textbook is wrong
without sounding like you’ve spent way too much time on Tumblr. You’ll smile,
glad, at queer representation in the media, not quite daring to ask for some
yourself—afraid it’ll take away some gay or trans kid’s chance to see
themselves on screen. You’ll feel like you don’t exist, like there are no
historical figures or public personalities who can bear your flag in your name,
you’ll doubt yourself.

Don’t. There is nothing to doubt about it, there is nothing
to be ashamed about. You’re on the frontline of progress, of our growing
understanding of love and sexuality, as a society. Asexual people have always
been there—the world just didn’t have a box to place them in until recently.
Before that, we erred like bohemians among dandies and spinsters, bisexuals, pilgrims
and nuns. But today, there are words for it, for asexuality, for aromanticism,
for all the maybes and in-betweens. We are many, more than you would think, and
we are solidary—to one another, and to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans
people, and to all other minorities, and it is our strength. Through sharing
our experiences, through creating new words to define how we feel, we help
people from all walks of life define themselves. So maybe, really, we’re
something like great.

You can be proud.

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

My main blog on Tumblr is chaoticintellectual, though,
like mentioned previously, it’s mostly  filled with cats and pretty women.

I have a Homestuck
blog where I post art frequently, called Hampermarketplace, for all the
filthy Homestucks out there

I write on AO3 under the name miki_and_company

Hampermarketplace
is also my DeviantArt, though I don’t post much on there, but I do show my
original art there more,

And finally, my Instagram, still hampermarketplace,
where I post a lot of my photography.

My inboxes are open to talk, I’m quite friendly and impishly
verbose, however I’ll be gone and inactive for most of the summer, sadly, but
I’ll be back without question next fall.

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