Category: fanartist

Interview: Celine Chin

Today we’re joined by Celine Chin, who also goes by

Rururinchan. Celine is a phenomenal fanartist from Singapore. She loves to draw her favorite characters and write fics as well. Celine also creates YouTube videos. She also does a bit of original work on the side. Her work is beautiful, brimming with emotion and detail. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated 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.

My art primarily focuses on things that spark emotion in
both myself and others. I am a fan-artist most of the time, and I love just
drawing my favourite characters, putting them into stories in fanfiction, and
making videos to express how much I love the shows/books/movies etc. I also use
art/writing especially to express myself, often during the more stressful times
as it helps me get through those times a little easier.

What inspires you?

Inspiration and I have a weird relationship. I tend to get
random bursts of inspiration at any given time, sometimes for ideas that are
simple enough, and sometimes the ideas are just so ridiculous and wild it’s hard
to figure out what to do with them. I write most of it down as soon as I can
though, and these little lists I keep are what I would go to first if I need an
idea for content. If not, I like to go on YouTube, and pick videos and music to
watch/listen to based on my artistic mood of the day. Music tends to give me
more inspirational vibes though.

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

Art has been a hobby to me for literally all my life. My
parents tell me that I learned to draw in colourful crayons before I could
speak. I remember being a child and drawing whatever made me happy or sad, and
I was always so proud of them even though my art was not of average kid-quality
back then. I was proud of the fact that I created something myself, and it
never went away, only growing more and more over the years.

Drawing was my primary art form as a kid, then when I got to
my teens, I started trying out more creative art forms, like sewing, baking,
singing and dancing, etc. The one that stuck was writing, as book had become a
major part of my life around then too. Again, that pride of being able to
create something with my own hands was no less than a wonderful feeling. Also,
it was the first time I was creating full stories. It was amazing.

I took media and animation studies in polytechnic after
secondary school, and there my love for video work and photography took off.
Now, I could put my art and my stories to good use in video format. It’s
ridiculously tedious half the time, but the satisfaction at literally watching
all your hard work pay off at the end? It’s the best.

So yes, I’ve always wanted to be in artist, but really, I’ve
been one all along haven’t I? Career or not, art is what brings the most joy to
my life, aside from those close to me of course!

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 at the moment. I’m working on my name as an artist, and
would love to create my own signature symbol but I’m a little stumped on that
for now as I’m still figuring out what defining feature I would like to
highlight about myself.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

The best advice I can give is: Please never try to hold
yourself back by making your own expectations too high. I’ve seen many, many
people give up on creativity despite loving it simply because they felt like
their content was never “good enough”, and it’s only harder when they compare
themselves to people around them.

On that note, I’d also like to say that you should never
assume art is something that strictly requires “talent”. Would having a natural
affinity for being creative and good with your hands be useful as an artist? No
doubt it would, I can’t deny that. However, once you firmly decide that
“talent” is a strict requirement and that you may not have that “talent”, it’s
over for you, because once you get into this mindset, everything you do will
never feel “good enough” to you, as you’ll keep feeling that you simply don’t
have the “talent”. It harms your creative self more than you may think, I knew
someone who hated their own art and gave up because they taught they were the
only one in their family without the “natural born artistic talent”, and
despite being fairly decent at their craft, they ultimately gave up because
they resigned themself to believing that they would never do as well as they
didn’t have the “talent”. Also, by believing “talent” is necessary, you
undermine all the hard work artists put into their work. Many spend years and
years and years working on their craft, and trust me when I say that most of
them still think their work isn’t as good as they would’ve liked. But they post
it anyway, because it’s at least “good enough”.

Don’t weigh yourself down with invisible chains. Let
yourself be “okay” instead of “perfect”. You’re only human, let your art
reflect that. Study the art form you want to learn, look up references and helpful
tips, practice and practice.

All artists will hate their art sometimes. Even I stopped
for a while during some darker times in my life, but if you feel that art is
truly something you love, never give up on it, even if nothing BIG ever comes
out of it. If you love it, if it makes you happy in any way, it’s already doing
it’s job for you right.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m asexual! Still working on the romantic side, but it’s
somewhere on the aro-spectrum. I do find girls at least aesthetically
attractive a lot, so I overall identify as a a sapphic aro-ace person.

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

Unfortunately yes. I live in Singapore, where anyone that
isn’t gay/lesbian/trans is considered a “weird normal person” (“normal” as in
cishet, it sucks). I’ve tried to include asexuality in my works in school, and
have often received comments about how it was childish, misinformation, or
simply something that didn’t exist. Explanations don’t work when people don’t
want to listen. I’m not free from the prejudice online either. Sometime ago on
Tumblr, I made asexual headcanons for characters that were popularly seen as
gay and pan respectively within the fandom (but were not confirmed in canon)
and got quite a bit of anon hate for it, the comments ranging from how I was
homophobic or how I shouldn’t be “forcing a ace headcanon on young teens since
they aren’t sexual anyway”.

It’s hard to handle, that’s for sure, but in the end it’s
not my job to educate the ignorant. I will support those who do and help to
bring up fellow aces in my community when I can, but the bigoted don’t deserve
my attention as far as I’m concerned. I block them when I can, and move right
on to making more asexual headcanon posts out of spite. As far as I’m
concerned, I’m just here to live my life and exist as a person, not be an
informant for people who refuse to take in any information they’re given
anyway.

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

Definitely the misconception that we hate sex. I myself am a
sex-repulsed ace with a very low sex drive, but it irks me when people assume
we’re all exactly like that. Let asexuals who are open to sex be sexual without
calling them fake aces. Like damn.

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

You might hate it sometimes at first, especially if you’re
younger and/or on the aro-spectrum. With how our society focuses so much on
romance and sex as a requirement of love and happiness, it’s sometimes easy to
fall into a trap that no one will ever love you and that you won’t ever be
happy. Even after you get more comfortable with your sexuality, you still might
feel like that every now and again, even if you’re an allo-romantic ace who’s
fine with sexual intimacy. Just remember that who you’re attracted to, or lack
thereof, doesn’t define who you are. There’s nothing “broken” or “unnatural”
about you for being ace, and I want you to know you’re valid and you and your
sexuality deserve to be respected. There are so many types of love out there,
not just romantic and sexual. Keep those you see as your family close and
treasure them, and don’t let go of your passions and things that bring you joy.
Don’t forget that self-love is important too. If you’re like me, who took a
long time figuring out how to love myself, don’t try to force things, but also
give yourself chances to be proud of the things you’ve done. If you’re an
artist like I am, take pride in your artwork (within reason), and let yourself
be confident in your skills in yourself. You’ll get there. 🙂

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

Tumblr: http://rururincreative.tumblr.com/
(Art Blog)
AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/Rururinchan
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE_pHKt0IeMJVwbjdWtvA0A
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rururinchan/

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

Interview: Jasmine Aguirre

Today we’re joined by Jasmine Aguirre. Jasmine is a wonderful fanartist, who also does a little original work. Her art has a very dreamy and surreal look to it with quite a lot of bright and vibrant colors. Jasmine is a very dedicated 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.

My art mainly consists of like 95% fanart and the other 5%
is some original art, which I don’t make a lot of. I usually get much more
enjoyment working with already existing characters and worlds, whatever holds
my obsessive interest at the time.

The art I create has a lot of hours and passion put into it.
I dabble often with pairings, I love the inspiration they give me after a small
artist’s block. I draw a lot of romantic pieces as well, it’s what adore doing.
I love drawing details of the clothing and hair and expressions and actions in
my own art style. I go for very semi-realistic vibes and bright, fun colors.
Colors are my favorite part of any piece, pink and purples are my go to!

What inspires you?

Music, day dreaming and other artists, so much really, but
what towers over those is self-improvement. I struggle with still needing
practice on different aspects of drawing. But, with every frustration that
emerges from me when I can’t get something right, I tend to reverse that and
use it as optimism that I’m still learning. It might not look right now, but in
the future I will get way more better and get less stressed. Looking at a piece
from 2012 until now causes a huge boost of confidence and satisfaction, knowing
you heavily improved on drawing eyes the way you wanted to or getting better at
legs, etc.

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

I have always wanted to be an artist (more specific an
Illustrator), since I was super young. I remember how obsessed I was with
Disney’s The Little Mermaid and loved
Ariel so much, I tore out a piece of notebook paper and opened my Little Mermaid illustration book and
drew Ariel on the paper on one side of the book while her image was on the
opposite end.

Since then, I was enthusiastic about drawing at school and
even my art teachers supported it and wanted me to thrive, knowing I had this
creative ability. I did especially well in high school where my final year
there I won an art contest and got a medal. My biggest art related
accomplishment goes to having my illustration design as one of my local
libraries new library card designs while I worked there, it was the most
popular and it was flattering seeing everyone adore my card.

There isn’t anything I see myself being but an artist for
the rest of my life! There isn’t a day I go without drawing something,
anything.

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 suppose my art style is quite unique, it’s a mix
semi-realism, yet it’s still got cartoon vibes to it. At the moment, I don’t
have anything special to reveal.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Never compare yourself to anyone, you’re never a step
behind. Never say to anyone that you can’t draw and what’s the point in trying.
Drawing does take loads of time and patience, but it’s honestly extremely
rewarding. Go above and beyond with drawing, with the whole media of art. The
best things about the art field is that its big, so you can try your might with
animation, painting, cartooning, watercolors, markers, even sculpting. It’s all
about creativity and we all have a great deal of creativity to find within us
and use and show.

Always be proud of what you make. Make mistakes. Learn from
them. Let yourself thrive.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

It’s slightly complicated, but let me break it down.

My sexuality was fluid for years. It wasn’t easy, I was
actually scared to find out I was a-spec and worried about what I should label
myself, but once I did research and found out it was normal and I wasn’t alone,
I felt more comfortable.

Since I was 20, I generally identified myself as being
Asexual to anyone that’s curious to know. In a nutshell I would say, “Im Ace,
I’m not interested in sex or anything sexual.” I have asexual merch, like the
ace flag, pin, shirt and popsocket. However, if you want a more detailed look
into who I am, I’m on the a-spectrum, I am autochorissexual.

Autochorissexual is “Predominantly or entirely
fantasize about fictional characters or celebrities, rather than people in real
life they know. Identify as asexual and feel no sexual attraction to people,
but enjoy masturbating, are aroused by sexually explicit content, and/or have
sexual fantasies”
(Quote from
Asexual’s Wikia).

Now this isn’t 100% believed to be a real sexuality. But,
personally as someone who knows themselves and has experienced such strong and
similar feelings, I know I am.

As for romantic, I still have yet to fully figure out what
I’m comfortable with, or if I want to ever put a label on it. All I know is
that it’s on the aro-spectrum at the moment while I do.

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

Luckily, I have not at this time. Everyone I have
encountered and that know I am on the a-spectrum are quite positive and
supportive.

For pride month last year, while I worked at the library at
the front desk with my co-worker (who I also found out was queer and was ace as
well, very happy revelation,) we put the flags on the window. The one people
asked about respectively was the asexual flag. I would nervously but proudly
tell them about it and they would nod and understand. It was nice to know that
others were genuinely willing to know.

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

That it’s a phase, we’re doing it for attention, we wanna be
unique and quirky, or we have yet to find the right person; also, that every
asexual person is sex-repulsed. Or the worst one, we don’t really exist, so to
say. But, none of those are true.

We’re entering a new generation of people who identify more
as asexual than ever before and we’ve always
been here. It’s even more incredible to see older folk learn about what
asexuality is and finally come to a conclusion that they’ve felt that way all
their life and never knew why, or that it had a name, and that they were not
alone.

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

It’s okay to keep questioning what you like and don’t like,
your sexuality is fluid, there’s an entire spectrum for you to discover. It
took me my entire life until I was 20 and a few relationships to figure it out
completely.

You’re not broken at all and you’re not alone. It does get
so much better, I promise. Don’t give into pressure either. If you feel like
you have to be in a relationship of any kind like your peers, don’t push
yourself to that degree. Trust yourself and your feelings.

All in all, it’s your label if you want one or not. No one
knows you better than you! You know who you are, you are valid and you are
real.

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

I’m almost all over the place, but here’s where you can
easily find me!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/supernovajazzy
Art Blog: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/supernovajazzy-art
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supernova_jazzy

Thank you, Jasmine, 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: Anila

Today we’re joined by Anila. Anila is a wonderful fanartist and jewelry maker. They write in a variety of fandoms and enjoys writing fanfiction. They aspire to publish some original work some day. When they’re not writing, they enjoy making jewelry. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m primarily a creative writer – mostly fanfiction but I’m
working hard to finish my original works. It’s a dream to be published someday.

Other than that I make wire jewelry.

What inspires you?

To be honest, it can be anything from a long-forgotten
scribble in the margins of old lecture notes to something a passer-by might be
wearing. On one hand that means I’m lucky because I can draw from most things
but on the other hand all these WIPs can get me down.

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

I’ve always been good at writing – and when I started
showing it to other people they were interested and, more importantly, they
were affected. That made me want to write more.

As for jewelry, my mum bought a jewelry making book when I
was a teenager and it seemed to stick.

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 writing tends to have an overabundance of commas, an
abuse of semicolons, and a tendency for things to come in threes. Just like
that previous sentence ;D

It’s hard to have a signature when it comes to wire jewelry,
since it’s so freeform.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Try not to put yourself down too much, though I understand
it’s easy to do so.

Having friends act as cheerleaders is a blessing and can be
one of the few things to keep you out of a slump.

Also, specifically for writers, if you understand the
importance of receiving feedback in your work please be the change you wish to
see the world – when you read online works, leave comments you yourself want to
receive.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m a biromantic grey-ace. Basically I can have feelings for
just about anyone regardless of gender, but wanting to be intimate is not
necessarily included in that.

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

While writing there is a big lack of ace representation. And
of course there are the people who insist that so-and-so character simply cannot
be ace because there’s no evidence that that is so – to which the reply is that
this is fanfic, everything is possible, and ace-spectrum people do exist. There
was also one person who tried to tell me that I couldn’t be grey-ace because of
my smutty works, which… still makes me sigh.

On the outernet, where I’m closeted anyhow, there is very
casual prejudice – the expectation that of course everyone has sex and
you’re some sort of deviant otherwise. I do my best to educate when I can,
though admittedly I tend to get defensive and annoyed very quickly.

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

That people need to have sex to live. Nope, bzzt,
wrong, try again.

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

Take your time. There’s no rush to find out who you are. Do
your research because knowledge is power. And, if you ever decide down the line
that your orientation on the spectrum isn’t exactly what you thought it was,
then that’s okay too.

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

My writing’s on AO3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/diemarysues),
and I do yell about writing on my personal blog (http://diemarysues.tumblr.com).

Jewelry stuff is on my side blog (http://rustypliers.tumblr.com) though I am currently taking a break
while I take better photos and edit them.

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

Interview: Skyler

Today we’re joined by Skyler. Skyler is a wonderful fanartist who has written a massive amount of fics in the Doctor Who fandom. She writes fics about the 10th Doctor and Rose Tyler. Aside from fics, Skyler has also created moodboards and 8 tracks. She’s clearly a passionate artist who enjoys 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 have written about 145 fanfics for the Billie Piper and
David Tennant fandom. Most of those are Doctor
Who
, for the Tenth Doctor x Rose Tyler ship (sort of. It’s sci-fi complicated.).
I’ve also made some playlists on 8tracks with manips for cover art and
moodboards and such for this ship.

What inspires you?

I think since I’m aro ace, I find relationships fascinating,
and I love exploring the drama and what-ifs.

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

I started reading fanfic when I was a preteen on a message
board and by the time Harry Potter peaked in popularity around my high school
and college years, I was reading tons of fic. I deeply wished I could create a
Fanfic.net account and start posting. But I was too scared and never did it. I
came back to fic after college when I watched Doctor Who and needed to know
what happened after the happily-ever-after. I started reading fic and had all
these ideas about what I would do with that story. That’s another thing that
motivates me: wanting more than we were given about how a plot point or
relationship tied up.

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

Having the voices of the characters in my head, thinking
about how the actors would say it, how the character would perceive each
other’s actions… if I don’t have that, I can’t write. It wouldn’t be any good.
But when I do, people say I have captured them well, so it’s worth the battle
to push through.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

There are not as many rules as you think there are. We all
have insecurity. It is tempting to think of fandom as this cool kid table where
you have to get permission to join, but you don’t. Just write. Create what YOU
like. Read as much as you want, and yes there will be fanon that people
consider sacred or whatever, but some of the best fic is from writers who are
new to the scene because they don’t get trapped in the same tropes done the
same way. When you’re in a fandom a long time, it’s tempting to write the same
thing over and over 100 times that everyone else is writing. But new writers don’t
have that sense of conformity. If you can preserve that curiosity and wonder
while also gaining experience and growing as a writer, that’s when true art is
born.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Aegoromantic/aegosexual (aro ace for short)

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

There’s always aphobes on Tumblr, who aren’t worth my time,
but my actual community has been hugely supportive. I would say all the
prejudice and ignorance from people who matter has been internal. I limited
myself because I didn’t think I could be ace if I like writing and reading smut
(then I found the aegosexual label!). Then I made a post about it and it still
shows up in my notifications years later. I was so afraid to publish my fic for
Pride last year about Rose being bisexual and the Doctor being demisexual. It
was really personal for me. But people are still leaving comments a about how
much that story meant to them. So I think we limit ourselves a lot more than we
should.

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

There are so many out there, but one personally is that people
don’t understand the split attraction model. Usually it doesn’t both me because
I’m both aro and ace, but I do have aesthetic attraction, and people don’t
really get that. I like the visual of a “hot” person and can call people
“sexy,” but that doesn’t mean I personally want to have sex with them. lol It’s
just an expression to explain what type of aesthetic appeal they have. Which
probably doesn’t make sense to people who do experience sexual attraction, but
when you don’t, it is like a huge lightbulb.

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

First, it’s OK to change labels later if you decide you were
wrong. Second, it’s a spectrum so you probably weren’t wrong, just somewhere
else on the spectrum than you thought. And third, you can also be sure! Even if
you’re a teen, you don’t have to “wait until you get older” to identify as ace.
You can be ace at any age. It’s also not a Tumblr thing. People have been ace a
lot longer than Tumblr has been around.

Also, just ignore the discourse. It is minimally helpful
just to be familiar with the arguments people are using these days, but it’s
not worth getting upset about and definitely isn’t worth engaging. Just gather
real fellow aces and allies you can count on and support each other.

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

The best place to read my writing is AO3: Skyler10. My Tumblr
is Skyler10fic. And here is my edit tag and 8tracks.

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

Interview: Matthew Maione

Today we’re joined by Matthew Maione. Matthew is a phenomenal visual artist who also writes and creates fanart. He enjoys drawing faces and also does quite a lot of fanart. When he’s not creating visual art, Matthew enjoys writing and writes both fanfiction and original work. He’s particularly fond of historical fiction and crime suspense. It’s clear he’s an incredibly dedicated artist who loves to create as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a
virtual artist and creative writer. I enjoy drawing faces and fanart.  I like playing with colour and texture a lot.
I write almost entirely fanfiction and fiction. Historical fiction and Crime
Suspense novels are some of my favourite to write.

What inspires you?

Music is a
huge inspiration in my life, it can get me in certain moods that are perfect
for writing. My fiancé often inspires me with the little things she does,
dances around the house that make me want to write romance. Nature gives me a
breath of life, revitalizes me and makes me want to draw.

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

It was
actually my older sister, she is a cosplay and traditional artist. She is 5
years older than me and I, being a younger sibling, was jealous and decided I
needed to be better than her. Now I do it because I love it, of course.

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 used to
but since I lost most of my sight I’ve just been trying to re-explore what my
art is. Playing with styles and shading to recreate it so I can still actually
create, I used to sign my older works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give
up! Make your weaknesses your strengths! There is no reason why you can’t
pursue art if it’s what you love. Always do what makes you happiest, not what
others want you to do.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify
as Grey-ace. I don’t really experience sexual attraction, but if I have a
strong romantic connection with someone I am able to connect with them in that
way as well. But it’s more of a, I do it because I love them and want to make
them happy. Not to say that is the only way to do so, there are many ways to
connect with your partners and sex is never a mandatory part of a relationship,
but it can enhance your romantic connection. Simply put, while I don’t
experience sexual attraction, for me, being intimate occasionally makes me feel
emotionally closer.

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

I haven’t
really in my field. It’s not something that just casually comes up in
conversation but those I have told have all been very understanding. A few
people I told were even comfortable enough with me after the fact that they
were able to come out to me as well. In my daily life a few people have said
that it’s because I hadn’t met the right person, or claimed they could fix me,
very common things to run into. I mostly just ignore this and do my best to
stay safe.

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

That I’ll
never be able to have a permanent partner or that it’s a phase. I have a fiancé
who has no problems with it, we have been together for two years. She is always
very understanding if I’m having a repulsed day, because there are good and bad
days. Some days I’m totally okay with the idea of sex and others I can’t stand
to watch movies with implied scenes in them. But if you’re worried about
finding someone who will love you, of course you will. There’s somebody for
everyone.

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

Being
asexual, while it is a way to identify, does not define you. If the thought of
it is new or uncomfortable, it’s just another part of wat makes you, you. It’s
not something to be ashamed of or hide, there are so many people out there who
will accept you for exactly who you are.

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

My Tumblr
is Naoki-arts, I have AO3, Ammarettu. I’m currently working on getting my first novel published
so any news on that will be found there as well!

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

Interview: NW

Today we’re joined by NW. NW is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in fanart. She does mostly digital art, though she does occasionally dabbles in traditional media. NW does a lot of costume and character design. She enjoys doing mostly fanart, but will occasionally do original art. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

So, a lot of my work right now is done digitally — that is
to say I don’t have an aversion to traditional media, it’s just more accessible
to me at the moment — and usually it’s of people. Ranging from character or
costume design, fan art, and a lot of my original artwork I don’t get to post.
I love drawing portraits and faces, so right now, I guess the majority (that I
post, anyway) is of that. I’m mostly self-taught; I’ve learned through
practicing, studying classical paintings, and even watching Bob Ross as a
little girl. I’ve had the traditional drawing courses (you know, still lives of
apples or shapes) in addition to a lot of experimentation software like Paint
Tool SAI, Adobe Photoshop, and Procreate.

I don’t particularly stick to one “style”; I don’t really
like doing line art, I find it too time-consuming and I have issues with
tremor, no thanks to my medication I take. So my style is very “paintery”, if you
like. What I’ve learned in painting courses (and, again, Bob Ross) and I paint
over my mistakes. When I do traditional media, I usually go back to the pencil
or watercolors. I’m a visual person and I love coloring and colors. My favorite
thing about creating art is eventually coloring it.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me.

Art has been a therapeutic thing for me and I’ve gone back
and added my own feelings in them. I’m very guilty of day-dreaming and since I
was a kid, those day dreams inspire art. I think of stories and they become my
pieces. Things I see in real life, whether it be color combinations, fashion,
or images I pass, I try to hold onto that visual memory and bring it back.  Nowadays, I carry my iPad and stop to at
least get it out before it goes. Movies definitely do—I hadn’t realized how
much movies affected my stories and images until I got older.

Other artists most definitely do, which is why I’m Tumblr a
lot. Most of the blogs I follow are other artists. There are also a few blogs
that post traditional and classical artwork that I love. And, really, the music
I listen to also is a huge influence on me and I always listen to certain bands
and artists to try and captivate a mood in my pieces. My usernames
“ofborrowedlight” and “rainbowillness” actually come from one band that I
listen to a lot when I do artwork, Wolves in the Throne Room. They’re titles to
two songs, “Rainbow Illness” and “Queen of the Borrowed Light”. For my personal
“project”, I listen to them quite a bit.

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

Well, I’ve been holding a pencil since I had an
Etch-a-Sketch and I cannot recall the rest. And I keep bringing up Bob Ross for
a reason—I watched him religiously as a little girl. I’d say that he was
actually the first influence that wanted me to get into the field. By the age
of five, my mind was made up: I wanted to be an artist. I struggled with
dyslexia and bullying and art was my constant companion for me. Having that man
on television taught me so much about color and composition at an early age and
his attitude of “there are no accidents, only happy mistakes” is such a
positive thing to have and he’s really still pushing me, to this day, with that
attitude. If you ask me now, yeah, I still want to draw and create for a
living. It hasn’t been easy working full-time and trying to earn money, though,
but I have not given up. I still try to draw every day; unfortunately, I get
really shy posting stuff online or I’m spending more time on it than I wanted
to.

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 in particularly? At least I don’t think so; maybe my
coloring?

Maybe the closest to it if anyone notices that I incorporate
a wave or a flow around my figures, sometimes. That comes from how Gustav
Kilmt, Alphonse Mucha, and some traditional Japanese paintings that seem to
have a special way to draw smoke and water. I can’t really write it, but anyone
can find it in my sketches. But flat out, there’s no real unique symbolism,
usually. If there is, it’s with my original stuff with little hints, but no one
is going to know context, it’s just me, because I haven’t really presented the
world with that story yet. It’s an inside joke with me, I guess.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing, draw as much as you can, and don’t be afraid
to expand your style. I was like a lot of artists out here on Tumblr; I’d print
Sailor Moon illustrations and copied them. It’s good to do that to get up on
your feet, but don’t allow that to be a dependency. Don’t be afraid to get
books for the sake of illustrations—I still do. And don’t feel bad about your
level of technique doesn’t match your friends or other artists out there. Art
is all about your interpretation. While I can go on hours how stupid still
lives and contour drawing is, they are essential to getting better. Take
classic courses; if they’re not accessible to you, check out Udemy or Coursea.

With digital art, it’s a lot of practice. You just need to
play around with features in software and you’ll find some really cool effects
to enhance your coloring. Transitioning from a sketchbook to a drawing tablet
is weird and don’t feel bad about not getting it; it took me years to get it
and I’m still trying to play around with it. You’ll find a favorite program
that you love! And even then, I would encourage you to have more than one
digital art program. I hop around Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop, and Procreate all
the time.

And really, I can’t stress it enough: don’t give up. You’re
in an age where more of these things are accessible to you and it wasn’t when I
was a kid. Keep drawing, draw more, and draw whatever you want.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Heteromantic asexual but more often gray-sexual. I think men
are handsome, that’s about it. I’m not bothered by it and I really don’t care
about relationships. Finding a man attractive is the furthest I’ll go; I don’t
want much interaction after that.

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

The closest I’ve experienced any sort of misconception have
been at concerts, anime, or comic conventions (surprise, I draw there too) and
having to really push back men that have approached me for a date or my number.
If they really can’t take the hint or accept “no” for an answer, I’ll get up
and leave. A few times I’ve had men at just concerts or gatherings telling me
they can “fix” me or change my mind. Then I’ll just tell them to fuck right the
hell off, literally.

However, the most prejudice and ignorance I experience is
outside of art and I experience it more with my family. It’s an odd mix of
Irish and Mexican Catholicism where most of the women in my family married
young (we’re talking 17-19) and they think there’s something wrong with me
because I have no kids and I’m not married. No matter how many times I tell
them “I don’t care, I don’t find anyone attractive” or “sex doesn’t interest
me”, it doesn’t seem to sink in. Even when I told them there’s a community of
other asexuals, one said “well, they must all be very depressed”. I make jokes
about things like “this is why I don’t date” and use it to reiterate I don’t
care about relationships.

So I’d say the run of the mill crap—“you haven’t found the
right man”, “you’ll change your mind someday”, or “you must be very lonely”. I
just shrug it off because I’ve had this conversation so many times with my
family.

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

I’m not sure if this is common, but my father believed it
was the same as bisexuality—I’m just glad he recognizes that even if I’m not!

One thing I’ve seen is people assume its celibacy and then I
have to explain there is a huge difference between the two. It does get tiring
having to explain it’s a lack of physical attraction and a desire for it and
no, I am not going to change, I’m not worried about not being married, and I’m
well over 20 years old and it’s not likely I’m having second thoughts. I am,
myself, sex-repulsed, but other asexual people are not and that’s usually one
assumption that people go with. Having other people chime in and say they
aren’t hleps.

Unfortunately, I will say that because I struggle with PTSD from
abuse, therapists assume that the asexuality may be a cause of it. I’m sure
it’s a contribution, but more along the lines I just find general touch
revolting, though I’m confident that it’s not the ultimate reason why I’m
asexual. I feel like psychology needs to learn more about it because I am tired
of that assumption is because its due to trauma. I don’t think it’s asking too
much that therapists and psychiatrists learn about asexuality. We’re not all
like this, not every asexual person is like that due to trauma. And this
thinking let me believe that I was really, really destroyed for years when I
was not.

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

If you also had a past of trauma like me, I’d say check out
Aven and other communities geared towards asexuality so that you will know
you’re not broken. I feel like this isn’t really talked about that much and
it’s a shame. This isn’t part of PTSD or other forms of mental illness; you are
not mentally ill if you’re asexual. When I first heard asexual at 18, I didn’t
know about these things and I’m so happy other people have this access. Even
now, at Pridefest here in Denver, there are asexuals and I haven’t seen them
not even five years ago. My present employer, Ikea, even had “asexuality”
listed on their diversity and inclusion talks—that’s really awesome.

There’s a lot of research and groups, there’s a whole world
out there. But if you get the same spiel as I do, I think at this point, all we
can do is just poke fun at it. Nothing makes me feel better than mocking these
conceptions with other aces, it’s a nice reassurance. And if you’re in the same
boat with me and family, yeah, post a link on Facebook or just print it off and
be like “read this”. I don’t feel like we have the same level of resistance to
people that are gay, lesbian, bi, and trans, so we need to also understand
that. Watching a family member bullied out of the closet was horrific; I still
couldn’t draw comparisons to their situation. Ours seems like a lot of people
just can’t comprehend a life without physical attraction, I think. I just hope
people remember that, especially.

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

Most of my stuff is posted on Rainbowillness.com, which is hooked up to
Tumblr. If you’re in the American McGee’s Alice fandom, you know me, I’m sure
you’ve seen my stuff. I’m also on Instagram under “ofborrowedlight”;
sometimes I will post WIPs (works in progress) on my personal Tumblr, “ofborrowedlight”, but I urge
everyone just go on my site and follow me there.

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

Interview: Linz Vandermeer

Today we’re joined by Linz Vandermeer. Linz is a phenomenal writer who has recently gotten into cosplay. They mostly write fanfiction, but they started out writing poetry and stories. For the cosplay, they’ve only recently started dabbling in it and enjoys it. It’s clear they’re a 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.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, it’s
almost a compulsion with me. I started with poetry, some bad, some even worse,
and then branched out into stories. Eventually, through my love of comics and
movies, I ended up in the realm of fanfiction, and that’s where I’ve focused
most of my attention for the last 3 or 4 years. The other thing I have really
started to get into is cosplay, and though my sewing skills are not the
greatest, I have a great group of friends to turn to where my abilities are
lacking.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of my inspiration from daily life. I take a
situation that I’ve encountered, and wondered ‘what would such-and-such a
character do in my place’, and ‘how could this have gone worse’? It’s like a
little mental exercise, and then before I know it I have 1200 words on a page.
When I am cosplaying, I try to find a character that really calls out to me,
someone that I can see a bit of myself in.

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

Even from a very young age I wanted to be a writer. I used
to write stories with my friends about the adventures we would go on if we
didn’t have to be in school, or if our parents were actually super spies, and
things like that. As I got older I realized that I didn’t want writing to be my
job, it was my mental escape from life and to put pressure or deadlines killed
my creativity. Cosplay naturally evolved from my love of roleplaying games like
D&D. I took part in a LARP (live action role play) for almost a decade
before health issues made it too difficult, and that’s where I really started
to learn to build costumes.

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 like to use British cuss words, they’ve always entertained
me and I grew up watching shows like Monty
Python
and Red Dwarf, so that
coloured my view of humour. More than that I like to take one scene and add
more description than necessary, really make it the centerpiece of my work. I
also rarely have sexual content in my fanfiction, which makes it a bit of an
oddity.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

When you are writing, write for you. That way any person who
likes what you have done, that’s just a bonus. Art should come from inside of
us, and serve us, the rest of the world is a distant second. Do it to make
yourself happy, that’s where the best art comes form.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual and agender individual.

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

There’s a lot of pressure towards sexualization and
romanticism in writing, and fanfiction in particular. I occasionally get
pressure to add sex scenes, and I will the odd time concede and add them, but
it always feels wrong to me. I have no interest in sexual actions, so I’m not
certain that I can really build them appropriately or accurately.

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

I find that for the most part I encounter a lot of confusion
over the fact that my partner and I have been together for almost six years.
We’re both asexual, and though we live together we have separate bedrooms
because I am an extremely restless sleeper. When people hear that we have never
even kissed (I’m touch-averse), they assume we are more like friends that live
together, but it’s not that at all. I love and adore my partner, and being with
her is very different than being with even my best friend.

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

Struggle is natural. I grew up in a world where asexuality
didn’t exist, and where even more standard queer identities like gay and
lesbian were barely discussed. I tried on a lot of hats when I was trying to
figure out who I was, but it wasn’t until I found asexuality that I felt
comfortable and that it was ‘just right’. Don’t be afraid to change your
identifiers when they don’t suit you anymore. Sexuality is not only a spectrum,
but it flows and changes as your identity and personality develop.

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

I have some of my old poetry up on Deviantart at https://www.deviantart.com/cavannarose
and my fanfiction is up on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/users/CavannaRose

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

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: Jacob

Today we’re joined by Jacob, who is known on social media as Jacob’s Jottings. Jacob is a phenomenal author who writes both original fiction, nonfiction, and fanfiction. For nonfiction, he writes about autism and mental health for the site “The Mighty.” For fiction, he has mostly written fanfiction and original short stories, but has recently taken on two large projects. One involves a detective in post-war Britain and the other is about an autistic wizard (which is something i would absolutely love to read because it sounds fantastic). It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m a writer, and I’ve really started to come out of my
shell in the last few years. I’ve always written short stories and never shown
them to anyone before, but that changed when my friends started writing
fan-fiction, and my English teacher at college told me to attend a creative
writing club.

Though I’m still very private about my larger projects, I
started publishing articles for mental health site The Mighty, one of those
articles received 32,000 hearts on the site, and got shared a lot on social media,
so I started to say to myself ‘what if people would like my creative work too?’
and here I am now, writing two large scale projects, one about an autistic
wizard, the other about a detective in post-war Britain. Not just that, but I
published some fan-fiction of my own, and I found once that was out there, I
found it a lot easier to write without much self-doubt.

I’ve recently finished college, and I’ve been accepted onto
the Creative Writing BA course at a university I’ve dreamed about going to for
years. I’m hoping this will really make my dream of being a full-time writer a
reality, even if it takes years to take off.

As well as writing, I also do a bit of photography, and some
digital design. I make all my own covers for my projects, as well as posters
for events, and I love going out and taking pictures. I often use the pictures
for reference for my writing, and it’s a great skill to have alongside.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in many things, mainly everyday life. But
I often find myself looking into what I loved as a child, certainly what
comforted me. Sometimes this is in the form of stories by other authors, such
as J. K Rowling, or Terry Pratchett, but other times its films and music, or
most importantly to me: knowledge. Plants, animals, and space particularly
always have heavy presence in my stories, and that’s because I love to learn
new things.

I’ve always written to escape the real world, so I suppose
it is natural that my other methods of escape blend well with this, I often
find that going to a museum or exhibition particularly fuels my writing, it
often ends in me trying to fit a lot into one box- my wizarding story contains
as much knowledge of the natural world as it does fictional magic for example.  

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

I’ve always been creative, and I was sure I wanted to
utilise that in some way, but could never find an exact form that suited me. I
tried art, and drama, and found myself not ever truly comfortable. I mainly
thank books, films, and television, for getting me into writing. The idea of
making my own stories was irresistible! I cannot pinpoint when it exactly
started happening, probably about five years ago, but I finally found that
writing (alongside reading and watching) was the most enjoyable thing to do. Then
it all fell into place, and I find myself writing all the time, even if it
never gets added to again- it’s fun.

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 definitely! The infinity symbol finds its way into most
of the stuff I write, not just because of its use by the autistic rights
movement, but because of my fascination with the concept behind the symbol. I
also always incorporate types of birds as symbolism- usually owls, or penguins,
as they’re my favourite, penguins especially.

Playing with colour is something I’ve recently moved into, I
don’t have a single character that does not heavily associate themselves with
colours and their meanings, even if it is just a subtle inclusion. Blue for my
protagonists usually, a colour I use not only to create a cold atmosphere, but
also to show the presence of intelligence, imagination, and peace. Reds and
oranges meanwhile shows up my more passionate and instinctual characters, with
purple showing a combination of the two.

I also love playing with imagery, with many of my characters
having ‘hair the colour of fertile soil’ or the ‘great spurts of an ancient
wine, hemorrhaging profusely’- it can feel a bit forced sometimes, but it often
pays off, and I find it a great way of illustrating the worlds I’ve made.

I’m also told I tell stories in a unique way, my friend
recently commented that when she reads my writing, I am clearly telling the
story, rather than just creating it. I’ve never quite understood this
evaluation, but I’ve heard it quite a few times in several forms.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cliché- but I would say just do whatever you love!
I spent far too long worrying about what others think, and though that matters
if you want to make a career out of it, the initial starting of a new art is a
solo-activity. If painting makes you happy- paint! Everyone I know who does
something creative for a living started off doing it to just kill time, or to
help them with another activity, and it grew from there.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I use the label asexual as standard, to me, this means not
feeling sexual attraction. I’m confident in identifying as a sex positive
asexual, but I’m yet to 100% settle on my romantic orientation.

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

I think one of the strangest encounters in my life was when
I first explained asexuality to someone, without attaching the label to myself.
I was told its ‘unnatural’- for this reason, in my private life, I don’t talk
about my sexuality until prompted.

I also find that some in my age group is often sex-obsessed,
I’ve often been labelled prudish just for not wanting to talk about sex, and I
find it very hard to try and express my frustration with that. I am not at all
prudish, I just think about it completely differently to they do!

I incorporate it into my work- I actually find it harder to
write allosexual characters, and therefore many of my characters are asexual by
accident! And I do worry that some people won’t understand the representation
if they haven’t experienced it first-hand, but I do my best to write characters
that educate as well as represent now.

Outside of my field, I see prejudice and ignorance
regularly, insults such as ‘frigid’ and so on, I also see the constant
discourse present on sites such as Tumblr, and though I do my best to keep out,
I sometimes worry for our community, I hate the idea that anyone who identifies
as asexual will feel like it isn’t valid or can’t talk about it in case they’re
verbally attacked.

As an autistic person, I also find that some people think my
asexuality is part of that. I don’t think it is- and it’s quite insulting to
assume that someone’s sexuality is part of their sensory issues for example.
The two often overlap for me, and I also know autistics that do feel sexual
attraction and have those sensory issues anyway. Some people in both
communities would even say their sensory difficulties enhance their sexual
experiences.

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

Personally, I find that the definition of asexual is often mis-identified.
It means lacking sexual attraction. But I know people who are completely
convinced it simply means ‘won’t have sex, or won’t masturbate’- it is often a
pain to try and debate it with them, and I find myself bringing up articles
from the community to back my side up.

I don’t like discussing the personal details of my own
asexuality in too much depth with people who might not understand, and therefore
I think the extra labels of ‘sex positive’ are really useful when discussing
asexuality, as well as the other identities within the spectrum.

At the end of the day though, the only person other than me
who has a right to that deeper information is a partner, and I don’t think
asexuals should ever feel pressured to dissect their identities for another
person’s curiosity or because of an ignorant person’s misconceptions.

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

Firstly, it is okay to struggle! I found it incredibly hard
to find the orientation that best described me. I still think sexual
orientation is a fluid concept, and I think people who are struggling should
remember that. If something doesn’t feel right, find the label that does feel
right, and don’t feel guilty if that changes. Some asexuals might not find that
identity for a long time.

I myself often find myself wondering if I might be aromantic
as well as asexual, or demisexual instead of asexual, this is a natural part of
development. Just as sexuality in all its forms is natural. A lot of people go
through that internal debate. And nobody should ever be afraid of using the
label that best suits them.

I would also repeat that the only person who needs to be
happy is you. Come out at your own pace. Experience your sexuality at your own
pace. Some people don’t find the identity they’re most comfortable with until
they’re halfway through life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s a thriving asexual and LGBT+ community waiting to
help you through it all, and the right people within it are not going to judge
you for struggling.

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

People can find my work in several places. For a more personal
touch, there’s my own Tumblr blog which is at jacobs-jottings, or my AO3 under the
same name (but without a hyphen).

As well as this there’s my new Facebook page, also called
Jacob’s Jottings, and my user page on The Mighty, under my full name-
Jacob Durn. If anyone is curious, my photography can be found easily on Instagram, where my
username is identical to my AO3 one.

My blog has a bit of everything (including personal posts,
and lots of reblogs), my AO3 some fanfiction, and soon some original works, whilst
the last two focus on my non-creative work.

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