Category: visual artist

Interview: Ash Kleczka

Today we’re joined by Ash Kleczka, who also goes by Umber online. Ash is a phenomenal visual artist, an all-around fantasy enthusiast. They love using visual art to tell a story and highlight beauty. Their images show a unique style and a very vivid imagination. It’s clear Ash loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

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

I really try to create art that tells a story.  

What inspires you?

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

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

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

It’s an ongoing struggle haha.

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

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

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

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

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

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Grey-Ace/Pansexual

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

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

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

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

That it’s something to be fixed.

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

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

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

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

I have a website umbertheprussianblue.com!

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter at ThePrussianBlue

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

Interview: Micah Amundsen

Today we’re joined by Micah Amundsen. Micah is a phenomenal artist who writes webcomics. They’re best known for the webcomic The Roommate from Hell, which they have the best summary for in their interview. They’re also currently working on a graphic novel entitled Cursed, which sounds fascinating and is something to look forward to. It’s clear Micah is a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m most well-known for creating the webcomic The Roommate from Hell, (http://enchantedpencil.com/roomie/)
a supernatural slice of life about gays and their metaphorical and literal
demons, which updates with a new page three times a week.

I’m also working on a 10-part graphic novel series called Cursed, a fantasy adventure about a
bunch of thieves, family, and what it means to be human. I’m hoping to release
the first book May 2019. Follow my Twitter to get more updates on that. (https://twitter.com/enchantedpencil)

Besides those and other comics, I write and perform music
and sell art online.

What inspires you?

A lot of my inspiration comes from other stories and art
that I’m a fan of. Either I see something I really like and think “how can I do
this my own way?” or I see something with potential and think “how can I do
this better?” I get a lot of enjoyment and comfort from the comics and shows I
watch and read, and I want to create these emotions in other people. There’s
also a lot of themes I like to explore and beliefs I hold that I want to share
with others through my comics.

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

I’ve been “creating comics” since 1st grade of elementary
school, even though it was a weird stick figure scribble that was stapled
together and drawn in pencil. I made quite a few comics that way through middle
school, tying pieces of paper together and binding them with cardboard from
cereal boxes. At that time, I was mostly inspired by the limited selection of
Japanese manga I could buy at the Scholastic Book Fair every year. Discovering
that you could read comics online for free basically blew my mind, and I
published my first webcomic (Opertion:
Reboot
) in 2012 while in high school.

While I create lots of different kinds of art, comics are my
primary passion, and I can’t imagine life without it.

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

I do. I have a signature that I use to sign my comics, but I
also created a unique icon to represent each of my comic series. I like to
doodle these icons next to my signature when I do book signings to personalize
the comics a little more.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Create work for yourself. If you keep chasing ideas of what
other people want you to be as an artist, you won’t be happy with your work.
Find a way to break the cycle of needing validation from others, and find that
validation inside yourself instead. You can’t please everybody, but if your
work pleases yourself, it’s bound to please others too.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Asexual demiromantic… Maybe. Relationships don’t interest me
much in general.

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

I really haven’t. In fact, a number of my artist friends
identify as ace as well. I think I got really lucky in that regard. Being ace
isn’t exactly something I advertise, though, so there hasn’t been a lot of
opportunity for others to react.

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

That it’s “just a phase.” That’s the misconception that I’ve
actually had told to my face, but it also bothers me when people assume that
being sexual is inherently human nature and applies to every single person.
Have you ever heard this? “There’s three things all humans have in common: The
need to eat, sleep, and have sex.” Yeah, that drives me nuts.

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

Don’t let other people tell you what you are or aren’t.
Nobody understands you, your body, or your feelings better than you do. Being
ace isn’t weird, and you aren’t broken. Find friends in real life or online who
identify similarly or who understand you. Finding those kinds of people is
really important when you’re still exploring your identity.

As a non-binary person, I extend this advice to those who
may be transitioning as well. Also, I find the NB and ace identities seem to
get overlooked by regular LGBT+ discussion sometimes, so don’t feel like you
aren’t important too.

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

Read The Roommate from
Hell
here: http://enchantedpencil.com/roomie/
Follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/enchantedpencil
Find lots of extra art and bonus content on my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/enchantedpencil

If anyone wants to chat about comics or being ace, don’t be
afraid to contact me on Twitter.

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

Interview: Kailey Lewia

Today we’re joined by Kailey Lewia. Kailey is a wonderful young hobbyist writer and visual artist. She’s currently working on a couple different novels that deal with pretty heavy subject matter. When she’s not writing, Kailey enjoys doing visual art. She paints, sketches, and does digital drawings. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am a hobbyist writer in high
school and I’m currently working on two projects. The first is a novel that
focuses on rape trauma, identity, sexuality, and race which is currently on
hiatus, and the second is a novella about the concept of Stockholm syndrome. I
also do some painting and digital drawing in my free time, just little sketches
for fun.

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

Nope, sorry.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

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

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: AJ Drake

Today we’re joined by AJ Drake. AJ is a wonderful game design artist who is currently studying Game Art, Design, and Animation. He focuses mainly on particle effects and environment modeling. When he’s not working on that, AJ dabbles in concept design, graphic design, and photography. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist with an incredibly bright future, 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 currently a student of Game Art, Design, and Animation
(GADA). I focus mainly on particle effects (I make explosions look ‘splodey and
rain look rainy) and have a bit of a side interest in environment modeling. I
also dabble in other areas of art, like concept design, illustration,
photography, and graphic design. Sometimes I try new things – I experimented
with stained glass window stickies a while back, as well as hand-painted
shirts!

What inspires you?

A lot of things really. Music is one. Books. The artwork in
existing games (other people play video games for fun and follow the story and
do missions. I’ll be in the middle of the mission and stop for half an hour to
admire the materials used in a rock wall). Nature, sometimes. Sometimes friends
say or do something that inspires me. History sometimes. Sometimes it’ll be
something as simple as someone saying what their favourite animal is.

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

For art in general, when I was really young, I really didn’t
like my sister, and I set out to do one thing, anything better than her. She
used to be really good at drawing, so I settled on that. The rest is history,
as they say.

As for GADA, there’s a game I play on occasion (called Furcadia), that is very maker-oriented.
I started off doing my own art for it, then commissions for other players, and
then I got noticed by the game’s owners and asked to do official artwork for
the game. A couple of years into that, I realized I really liked working on
game art, so now here I am, goin to school for it.

For the other things I dabble in, it’s a variety of “origin
stories.” With photography, for example, I really liked doing it, and decided
to get a DSLR, then decided to take some classes to learn how to do it better.
For more crafty stuff, it’s because I have a drive to make custom things for
myself to use.

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

In my art for the game I mentioned before, I sometimes would
include a small skull sitting on top of a bone in a corner of an image to mark
it as created by me. For other areas in my career, I now use my ‘Evil Skunk’
logo, along with my handwritten signature. In the past I’ve used anything from
just my name in a corner, to a more detailed skull and bone watermark.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t compare yourself to other artists, unless it’s to
learn from them. Each person has their own style and learning speed.

And to the aspiring artists out there living at or below the
poverty line – don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t afford to go to art
school, or that it’s a waste of time or money. FAFSA is your friend here, and
you can make invaluable friends and connections at school.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m both apothiromantic and apothisexual. That is, I am both
romance- and sex-repulsed. However, I’m still good for dirty jokes. I just
don’t need, or want, detailed descriptions or imagery.

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

Not in my field, no. I’m too quiet offline to have it really
come up often. Online and at my part time job, yes. Mostly I deal with it by
walking away and reading a book for a bit, or hanging out with other ace folks
and venting. Sometimes I try to help when I see another ace person being
attacked online.

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

Honestly, the most common one I’ve seen is that “we’re all
cisgendered heterosexuals trying to push our way into the LGBT so we’re can
feel oppressed.”

It was incredibly frustrating to see it keep popping up this
past Pride Month.

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

You are not broken, and whatever you’re feeling is valid.

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

My art Twitter, which has everything from school work, to
doodles, to furry art: at Evil_Skunk

My main Twitter, which has everything from politics, to
pirates, to furry stuff, to general stupidity: at farrendustfur

My website, currently under construction while I turn it
into a GADA portfolio: www.evilskunk.com

And my DeviantArt, which has art from way back in the day
(2007 or so), so you can see my progression as an artist: http://ajdrake.deviantart.com.

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

Interview: Ollie Martin

Today we’re joined by Ollie Martin. Ollie is a young writer and visual artist. They have posted a 36 chapter trilogy entitled A Vampire’s Travels on their blog and they really want to be a screenwriter in the future. Aside from writing, Ollie is an avid visual artist and drew the art for A Vampire’s Travels. They favor a cartoon style when it comes to drawing. It’s clear they’re an incredibly enthusiastic and driven artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I do both art and writing. My art is mainly in cartoon
style, simple but fun. I want to make TV shows and movies, and have to date
written four TV shows and two movies. I stick to the horror, adventure, and
superhero genres.

What inspires you?

My surroundings mostly. A lot of characters are based off of
people I have seen while walking around my town (Eugene, Oregon) and my writing
is based off of my own experiences. In terms of people and shows, I am heavily
inspired by Rebecca Sugar, The Good Place,
and 60s film (Hitchcock, Star
Trek
, cold war sci fi, etc.).

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

I didn’t want to really be an artist until in 6th grade I
got into drawing to impress a girl I had a crush on. I then discovered that I
really liked drawing, and have been drawing ever since! As for writing, I have
always written stories, but it never got serious until 9th grade. I wanted to
make cartoon shows for a while, but then after watching Classic Star Trek , I wanted to make live action
shows.

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 really, I used to sign with my initials, but a) they
were OC, which confused people when I signed art of characters that weren’t
mine and b) I am working on getting my name changed. I have yet to create a
signature that I am happy with.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

For cartoonists, there are going to be plenty of crappy art
teachers that are going to tell you that your art style isn’t real art, and
they are completely wrong. For writers, you’re never going to know if your
writing is good unless you start writing and learning

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Asexual, I never want to have sex, as I find it gross. I
still however want to a romantic relationship.

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

Where do I even begin? So many TV shows have a scene that
goes from two characters arguing and cuts to them lying naked in bed together.
I have never understood that. I find the show How I
Met Your Mother
especially acephobic because of how they had an
episode saying that sex and romance are inseparable. Ace representation in TV
shows is usually a person who is practically a robot/ is a robot and
emotionless. My ace characters are vibrant and I can’t wait to put them on the
screen.

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

That we’re aro as well. I was talking to a teacher about how
I needed a partner like this one movie character to which she responded, “I
thought you were asexual and didn’t want anyone.” I said that I just didn’t
want to have sex but still wanted to have a romantic partner to which she said,
“Well you’re a senior in high school, it’s okay for you to feel that way now .”

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

If someone tells you, “You’re too young to decide that you
don’t want to have sex!” Or “You’ll change your mind later,” Ask them, “Would
you tell me that if I was straight?” It catches them off guard every time.
There are people who are not going to understand, but they don’t decide your
sexuality, you do.

I remember that when I was younger and didn’t know what
asexuality was, I thought I would have to force myself to have sex to please a
partner. You never have to do that, ever. If you don’t feel sexual attraction
but still want sex, you’re just as ace as the rest of us, welcome to the club
of people who were made an outcast by their peers in 2014 for not finding
Bendyman Crumpersnitch hot.

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

On my blog at film-focus-mind.
I wrote a trilogy of novelettes called A
Vampire
s Travels about an Italian vampire. The main
characters are an aromantic man and a nonbinary person. I also have all of my
art on there too, and if you go to the tags page you can find links

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

Interview: Morgan

Today we’re joined by Morgan. Morgan is a phenomenal artist who is currently studying to become a fashion designer. When they’re not studying, Morgan cosplays as a hobby and they also draw as well. It’s clear they’re an incredibly talented and dedicated artist with a very bright future ahead of them, 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
studying to be a fashion designer and also cosplay and draw casually. I have
various designs as well as cosplays and art pieces.

What inspires you?

As a
cosplayer and artist, I am influenced by shows and characters I love and feel
passionate about. For original art and designs I am inspired by issues I care
about as well as interpretations of my environment and my own feelings. My
gender identity and sexuality also inspire my art.

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

I
was always interested in drawing, especially nature and humans. My passion and
creativity extended to my self-expression through clothing and led me to create
my own clothing.

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
necessarily. When I start to have more clothing designs that I have made and
created I plan to name my brand after my grandmother’s last name, because she
has always supported my art and all aspects of my identity.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Explore
different ways of expressing your creativity and don’t limit yourself to one
media. Even if you aren’t as experienced or skilled in other areas, trying
different methods opens new ways to interpret your feelings and your art.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am
asexual and sex-repulsed.

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

Not
yet. Though I feel as though some of my family/friends doesn’t understand why
some of my art/designs are more revealing or “sexual” in nature when I myself
am not sexual.

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

That
being asexual (and/or sex repulsed) means you think sex and people who have sex
are dirty/wrong. I believe sex is a very natural thing and if all parties
concerned are happy and consenting, then that’s great. Do what makes you happy.
Just because there are people who aren’t into it doesn’t mean they are against
it.

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

Even
if you are worried that you might change your mind in the future or that you
should be sexually attracted to others, remember that your feelings and
identity NOW are valid, no matter what you have felt in the past or could
potentially feel in the future.

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

I
have an art Tumblr under the URL mmmdraws and a cosplay Tumblr with
the URL maeroncosplays. I also post a lot of my
cosplay/cosplay progress on my Instagram irish.i.was.dead. My clothing design Instagram is morrisroe_designs though I haven’t posted a whole lot on there yet.

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

Interview: Alex

Today we’re joined by Alex. Alex is a wonderful artist who is a bit of a jack of all trades. He does a lot of visual art, mostly drawing and painting. He also does crafts and enjoys knitting and crochet, particularly long scarves. When he’s not doing crafts or visual art, Alex also makes music and can play the ukulele. It’s clear he’s a passionate artist who enjoys what he does. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I use my art to create things I think the world is missing,
whether it’s music, or extra-large scarves, or just a painting.  My art is my outlet, it’s diverse and
powerful (even when it’s just for me) and it enables me to express myself.

What inspires you?

The ability to create, to bring something into this world
that causes emotion.  When I knit or
crochet I am, more often than not, creating a gift to give to someone
else.  When I play my ukulele I hope that
someone listening can feel the emotions of the music.  I am inspired by the ability to make
something that was once missing from the world.

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

I had a friend in elementary school who inspired me to
create comics.  They were just stick
figures, but I had so much fun coming up with jokes and stories, that even when
I stopped creating comics I continued to draw.

At the same time, my family has always been very musical and
so, when my nana let me play her ukulele I decided I wanted have one too.

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?

Ah, no haha, I’m too inconsistent to do something that clever.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

At times it may seem tough, but art is an outlet, it doesn’t
matter if you think it’s good if you enjoy it.
What matters is if you feel good while creating whatever it is you are
making.  Improvement will come with
practice, for now, just enjoy the ride.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as asexual and do not use the split attraction
model (SAM).

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

I’m rather isolated, and I do not bring up my asexuality
unless it is with people I trust, so as of current, I have not experienced any
prejudice from my fellow artists.

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

That asexual means you don’t like sex.  Which is false, different people have
different views on sex and just because I experience so sexual attraction does
not mean that I have no libido or interest.
But like I said, it’s different for everyone.

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

If you decide one that that you are not ace, that’s OK.  If you live your whole life never subscribing
to a label, that’s OK.  What matters is
your comfort and that others respect you.
I thought I was a lesbian when I was younger because if I didn’t like
guys I must have to like girls then right? But I allowed myself space to grow
and now I know I am trans and asexual.
There is always room to grow and explore, so don’t feel stuck with one
label.

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

My music is available here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLHiHayKl58aLduLbGJShFw
And my art can be found here: Lukassskywalker.tumblr.com/tagged/my+art
And I have some things posted on RedBubble :D: https://www.redbubble.com/people/slothguard?asc=u.

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

Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very 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.

I’ve always
loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these
days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry
and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages,
starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly,
a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the
ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with
her disappearance…

Cover by Kirby Crow

I also love
drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t
had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with
different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and
ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a
professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and
my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up
with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the
Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy
tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young
age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so
important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out
your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally
experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in
popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to
believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that
my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell
them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards
others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read
myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in
the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more
specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired
by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for
which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two
photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta
is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is
a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it
comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders.
There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try
new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different
themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my
handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It
once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one
word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little
on my Instagram.

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

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As
I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned
to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were
never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as
I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew
what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I
wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those
beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing
story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t
draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in
school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references
enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt
like that counted.

Fast-forward
to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th
wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about
a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it
was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re
a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand
artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in
between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I
went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo,
it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind
them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a
lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a
reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last
school drawing years earlier.

From that
point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on
Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five
years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some
pretty things!

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 I
mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in
my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders.
The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always
happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t
think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a
signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and
legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring
artists?

I think
it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s
something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been
“born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was
talented. But I had to work to become
better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved
writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from.
Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big
“mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say
is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into
history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some
cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that
luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing
interviews on awesome websites. 😉

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual
and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec”
rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that
one out.

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

There’s
certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s
are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more
knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

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

That
asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly
nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes
things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep
asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from
that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the
same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do
experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way
round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain,
very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search
to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding
the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I
might be broken or wrong.

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

You’re not
alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces
(in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me
discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I
made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some
kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their
experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird
one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become
quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in
the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs,
or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and
made me more comfortable with myself.

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

My website
is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about
both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to
follow me!

Paranatellonta,
a flash fiction project inspired
by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read
all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found
here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw
on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and
the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own
evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find
me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places
to buy my stories:

– The
Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

Thank you, Minerva, 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: Jules

Today we’re joined by Jules. Jules is a phenomenal visual artist and writer who specializes in visual storytelling. They currently have a webcomic called Surface that regularly updates and revolves around the adventures of three lizard-like kids. They have done a number of smaller projects and are currently planning a large project for the near future. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate artist who loves what they do, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is very much based around narrative. I guess
the first thing to talk about would be my webcomic, Surface. It’s about these three lizard-like kids who are trying to
get back home after sneaking out in the middle of the night. As of June 2018,
it started its second chapter, and updates every week on Thursdays!

I have another big project that I’m working on,
too. It’s in the development phase and will probably start up after Surface, or after I graduate college,
haha. It’s about these five people — experts in their fields — who go on an
expedition into the Shadowed Lands and find out what is causing the
ever-spreading darkness. I share the concept work for this pretty frequently.

Other smaller things I’ve done include a mini
comic called Space Bear (science
fantasy comedy about a bear goes to space to look for bees), a series of
supernatural travel guides for real places, and a zine called I Am Not a Girl (about my own discovery
of my identity).

I’m always working on a comic or some other visual
narrative! It’s what I love to do the most.

What inspires you?

Stories that I love! I know it might seem a bit
silly, but watching my favorite shows or reading my favorite books or playing
my favorite video games makes me want to make my own things! Those are the
biggest things, but to be completely honest, almost anything inspires me. I
love animals and plants and cool sounds and clouds and the feeling of rain, I
love meeting people, I love so much about life!

My characters and stories feel just as real and
important to me as all of those things, too. So when I think about how happy I
get when I interact with the world around me, it encourages me to work on my
own things. I love my characters and worlds! I want to share them with other
people!

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

When I was very young, I wanted to be a
veterinarian, but then I realized that would involve stuff like performing surgery
on them or sometimes putting animals down, so I stopped wanting that.

I’ve pretty much always loved storytelling, and I
loved drawing. Put them together, and you can get comics! While my medium has
shifted sometimes, the storytelling aspect has been consistent.

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?

The closest things I can think of are tropes and themes that
I love to incorporate in my comics. Found family, queer romance, soft
apocalypse, botany, animals, self-sacrifice… My stories are about people and
animals who overcome the odds to find happiness. I also tend to draw a lot of
glowy things for some reason, lol.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try to find out why you want to make art, and remember it!
My personal reason for making art and stories is because I think that anyone
can be a hero, that anyone can do wonderful things. This is what drives me, and
it keeps me going. Even if I get frustrated, even if I feel like nobody sees my
work, thinking about that helps me press forward. So if you find that you’re
struggling to find motivation or ideas, thinking about why you create in the
first place might help.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

As asexual as one could possibly be, I think. I honestly
thought sexual attraction was made up until I was 18 and went to college! I’m
also aromantic and agender.

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

I guess the most that I see are people ignoring aces. Just
generally not including them, either because they think we’re boring or
robotic, or they just don’t think about it. I haven’t met any webcomic artists
who purposefully hate on aces, though. But with regards to the general
invisibility in comics, I think the most I can do is make my own! Most of my
characters are queer, and a lot of them are asexual. I think it’s important to
show that queer people (and especially ace people) are just as diverse as any
other group. I also try to be open about my own experience as an asexual,
aromantic, and agender person, hoping that openness will help.

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

Probably that if someone is asexual, that means they’re like
a child. Innocent, naive, unaware. Some people are like that, but being asexual
doesn’t really have anything to do with it. Just as common as that, in my
experience, is the idea that an asexual person doesn’t love anyone at all. I
love lots of people! I’m full of love! Friends, family, animals, nature. Just
because it isn’t sexual, many people think it doesn’t count.

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

If you can, try to find at least one good friend who can
relate to your experiences. There’s nothing wrong with you, just like there’s
nothing wrong with someone who is gay or bisexual or trans or lesbian or
anything else. And you don’t have to force yourself to be in any relationship
that you don’t want. I’ve been there, and it never goes well.

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

My webcomic, Surface,
can be found at surfacecomic.tumblr.com.
My website is julesdrawing.com
Patreon is patreon.com/julescomics
Art tumblr is julesdrawing.tumblr.com
Twitter is julesdrawing,
Instagram is jules.larsen.drawing.

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