Today we’re joined by K.M. Claude. It’s actually wonderful timing: February is Women in Horror Month and K.M. Claude is working on an erotic horror comic for their undergrad thesis. Their artwork is darkly beautiful as you will see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I think someone once described my art as erotic Southern Gothic. Or maybe that was me hoping someone would. But my art does tend toward the gothic and horrific — sometimes outright horror with monsters and demons, sometimes mundane horror where all the demons are internal — often mixed with the erotic, both at once sensual and horrific. Also priests, I tend to draw a lot of priests. Heck, the comic I’m working on at the moment for school, Ninety-Nine Righteous Men, is all about priests. Bit of an obsession, really. Regarding boring technical stuff, my art is mainly digital and draws a lot from manga and anime. I am shackled to my beloved MangaStudio.
What inspires you?
In terms of media, Disney movies from the 90’s, particularly The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and earlier Tim Burton films like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands are constant background inspiration, as are Asian horror films, particularly Ju-On and Ringu. Outside of films, there’s comics — especially manga like Yami no Matsuei or Hellsing and webcomics like Starfighter or Yu+Me — and most recently musical theatre, notably productions by Takarazuka Kagekidan (there’s a lot of fanart of Takarazuka’s Elisabeth on my blog, fair warning.)
In terms of the mundane, I’m mostly inspired by Roman Catholicism, which I grew up in, Roman myth, and my hometown, New Orleans, as well as some of the surrounding towns in southeastern Louisiana.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Outside of watching my mother who does art, probably Disney films, to start. I wanted to be an animator until I found out you had to draw 24 frames per second of animation — that scared little seven year old me. So I kinda gave up on that dream and just drew as a hobby, getting into comics and watching cartoons and spending many an allowance on trashy yaoi manga during high school, but I always wanted to do art, which is why I’m now majoring in English and creating a graphic novel for my undergrad thesis. I tried to escape and it caught right back up with me! I guess I’ve always sort of taken the roundabout way to being an artist.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I used to change signatures so much! For a long time, I’d sign things KT (for my first name) and then a scribbly rendition of my surname. Now I sign things with my initials: KMCR. But I occasionally sign things with 貞 as a nod to my old, longer fandom handle (a handle which I still use for personal blogging and the deviantART account that I don’t bother switching over, haha!)
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Just do it — whatever it is you want to do, however daunting it seems, do it. You learn by doing. So keep doing; keep making art. And don’t feel pressured that you have to go a “safe” route in school, like academic excellence or whatever, if you know you want to do art and are able to do so — don’t live with regrets and what ifs because that’s gonna take valuable energy away from making art. (And for anyone who, like me, for whatever reason, be they personal, financial, etc., took the “safe” route: don’t worry, it’s not too late. You’ll have your own struggles but it doesn’t make you or your art any less because you didn’t major in art or didn’t take classes or didn’t go to art school or whatever. You don’t have to have made a masterpiece by the time you turn 21. Just make art.)
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as aromantic asexual.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Eh, the only real ignorance I’ve ever dealt with was tangentially related to my field. I work on the school paper as the resident cartoonist and when I wrote an opinion piece and did a cartoon for the paper about asexuality, there was some (allegedly — I never had it said to my face) grumbling about, you know, who cares, what does it matter, etc. But it never was directly to me so I did not have to handle it myself and my friend who did encounter stood up for me in absentia. So I guess I handled it by having a supportive friend group, ha! I definitely got backlash on the paper’s website though. But hey, what can you do? I did my part trying to educate, let haters work themselves into a frenzy. I’ve stopped trying to control what others’ think; all I can do is try to explain.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Usually, for me, I get a sort of double take because I draw a lot of erotica and my works deal with sex and sexuality so people tend to go “wait, but if you’re asexual, then how come you can draw smut?” As if my lack of attraction or my lack of activity somehow dictates what I can and cannot draw. I’ve actually been insulted to my face by a rather ignorant friend who said “oh but you draw the yaois so well, you’ve got to be a little bit … you know … I just don’t believe you’re like totally asexual or whatever” which was mind boggling, honestly, since there is so much wrong with that statement, starting with some basic biology that I regrettably don’t have. But yes, that’s come up a lot for me, personally The other is the common “oh that’s just a phase, everyone goes through not wanting to get married or have kids, you’ll grow out of it” which is frustrating to say the least.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
First, you’re fine. You might not be normal in the sense of the average or the majority and that might cause difficulties and struggles depending on your situation, but you’re fine as you are — don’t feel that you have to change who you are or do anything that might compromise what you know is true about yourself. Additionally, I know with the internet, tumblr especially, it can be very overwhelming and sometimes, if you’re still questioning if you’re ace or straight or gay, you may feel like you have to figure out exactly where you are right now and use the most correct and up-to-date terminology and God help you if you don’t (and I say this as both an asexual and as someone whose gender is still up in the air and who is still having a hell of a time trying to fit the pieces together). If you find something and it works, great, more power to you, but don’t ever feel like you need to have your orientation all figured out and exact and to the point right now this very second. Sexuality is difficult and different for everyone. Psychology’s still figuring out how human sexuality works and that involves researchers with degrees and years of study! So, you know, don’t feel bad if you haven’t got everything figured out either.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I can be found on tumblr where all my art both finished, sketchy, and in progress go at katiemarieclaude.tumblr.com or on wysp where I occasionally post finished pieces at www.wysp.ws/katiemarieclaude
Thank you so much, K.M., for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.