Today we’re joined by Neil. Neil is a very talented visual artist. He enjoys experimenting with various stylistic aspects like lighting. As he mentions in his interview, he does both more cartoon-esque style and also realism. The images he sent are really interesting to look at. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
My art is pretty versatile. For the most part I work in a fairly cartoony style, but when I have the time I like to work on more detailed or realistic painting. I do more digital work than traditional work these days, mostly because of the relative cost of materials. I enjoy experimenting with lighting and color, and I really admire artists who are skillful in their use of contrast. That’s something that I aspire to. I like to try new things often because I’m always looking to improve, and I believe taking artistic “risks” is the fastest way to do that. (Things may go wildly wrong! But it’s still a learning experience.)
What inspires you?
The human body is really fascinating; I love figure drawing. I also get inspired by natural images and enjoy painting landscapes. If I see really striking imagery, anywhere, I always want to capture it. Music also inspires me to create a lot of my work; I often get inspired by song lyrics, and a lot of my fanwork is related to musical theatre. I’m sometimes inspired by current events or emotions in my own life.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I consider myself a hobbyist, and I’ve no desire to produce art professionally. That being said, “artist” has always been a strong part of my identity, and I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Being an artist of any kind, to me, is about developing the skill of interpreting things in a unique way. Over the years I’ve learned how to observe and interpret things more skillfully. Being able to share the way I see the world and the things that are important to me are the reasons I continue to purse art.
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 experiment a lot with different techniques, so while I do have a recognizable style, I wouldn’t say I have a signature element that I always include.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Draw from life, draw from life, draw from life. When you’re trying to learn how to draw something, observe it in as much detail as you can. Whether that involves using photos for reference, or life drawing in a studio, or painting a landscape out in nature, it will help you learn to observe and interpret things in your own way. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to use references; it doesn’t make you less of an artist. Sometimes imagination isn’t enough to get all the details right, and that’s okay.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as asexual and aromantic (more specifically, I’m probably WTF/quoiromantic, but in general I shorten it to aro). I first heard about asexuality several years ago, but only realized the label applied to me about one year ago, so to be honest I’m still working on the self-acceptance part. It’s been difficult coming to terms with the fact that my life is probably not going to turn out the way I presumed it would, but I’m getting there.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
As I mentioned above, “my field” isn’t actually art. But yes, in the psychology/behavioral health field there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding asexuality. I’ve overheard conversations at my workplace that made me wary of coming out even to my closest work friends. I do try to inform people who I think will be receptive to new information, but even raising awareness can be an uphill battle. It can be very stressful not being out to many people, and I’ve ended up in uncomfortable situations because of it. I hope to find a workplace/location where I feel more comfortable being out as ace someday.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it doesn’t exist. I’ve run into more people who had trouble believing asexuality is an orientation than I have people with misconceptions about ace people. (I should note that I’m including people who pathologize asexuality in this category, which is something I see a lot of in my field.) My hope is that ace visibility and acceptance will continue to increase, and that won’t be the problem anymore.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Talk to other aces! Being able to discuss shared experiences, and realizing that I’m far from the only person who has felt the things I feel, has helped me so much. Hearing other aces’ stories and descriptions of their experiences has made me feel more validated about my feelings and identity than anything else has. As I said, I’m still coming to terms with all of this myself, but that’s what I have found to be the most helpful.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My art blog can be found here: bootsssss.tumblr.com
Thank you, Neil, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.