Interview: Rachel

Today we’re joined by Rachel (who goes by badasszombiespinster on Tumblr). Rachel is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in conceptual art. She has a variety of interests including character and creature design. Much of her work is fantasy and scifi based and she has also done some 3D sculpting. Rachel also happens to be a fellow badass feminist (yay!). Her work is absolutely amazing, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Black Shuck (finished) copy
Black Shuck

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a visual artist, who works mostly in conceptual art! I design characters, creatures and environments (though mostly the two former), in the hopes that I will be able to study Games Art and Design at degree level! I also do my own pieces now and then, including little doodles, that are either fantasy, sci-fi, or animal based (one of my favourite doodles, a cat called Inky, is actually my blog icon). I’ve also done a small amount of 3D work in the programme MudBox.

What inspires you?

My art is influenced and inspired by lots of things, but when it comes to the creatures I design, it boils down primarily to nature. Nature creates some of the freakiest things and some of the most beautiful things you can ever encounter. Nothing I can create will ever match the sheer mass and unique qualities of animals already alive and walking around, but I can draw inspiration from them for my own work. When it comes to characters, well, my and other people’s stances on subjects such as sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, etc. has a definite influence on what characters I create. As my political and moral stances have changed over the years my characters have become more diverse, and furthermore more interesting! I want my characters to be engaging, and to break the mold – not to be the same old white, straight, cisgender and primarily male characters you see everywhere in fantasy and sci-fi art.

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

No, actually, I haven’t always wanted to be an artist. When I was younger, I was determined to be a marine biologist and even pursued scuba diving in this desire, becoming a certified Open Water diver when I was thirteen. Then I realized that open water (no reefs or ocean floor beneath) terrified me; that and I barely passed science. I decided then I was more of a creative, and went for creative writing, no hard-focused on becoming a fantastic author. Then after my first year of A Levels I discovered I hated English Literature (which was necessary to do Creative Writing – something which still bamboozles me a bit), and I actually loved Media Studies, where I was learning all about the male gaze, representation and racism in movies, games and magazines. I was also studying Art and Design at the time because, while I wasn’t considering it for a career choice for a long time, I still enjoyed it and wanted to do more (though the A Level Art and Design course was a bit too academic for me, I still managed to pass!). It was through the two of them, and with the support of my Media Studies teacher, that I first learnt of Games Art and Design, though I didn’t consider it seriously until this year, when I started my Foundation Art and Design course.

Now, I’m surprised I hadn’t learnt of it sooner!

Deer
Deer

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?

Unfortunately no! The most I stick on my work is my signature which looks like a weird scribble.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Whatever you do, don’t believe the claptrap that there is no work in Art. This is what I believed for donkeys years and it was actually what made me put off looking into the creative industry for so long! Everyone I knew told me there were no jobs in Art, that people who went on to study it left with no jobs and starved on the street. It wasn’t until I started looking into University with my Art and Media tutors that I realized there was much more diversity of subjects in art that I believed, and all of them could be a possible job, and it was mind-blowing! There is an incredible range of jobs out there for artists – illustrators, graphic designers, costume designers, concept artists, architects, 3D modelers, jewellers; art is such an intrinsic and important part of our culture! It takes up a place in everything from the advertisements on the billboards, to the houses on every street – all of them had an artist at some point behind them, so don’t believe these people who say there’s no jobs there for you! If you’ve got the passion and love for your art, you can find a way to go!

Gold-Crested Tropics Dragon
Gold-Crested Tropics Dragon

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual biromantic! I’m not yet certain how I feel about sexual stuff, but for the moment I stand as sex-responsive.

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

Generally just the ignorance it exists, but I have encountered a few people who have flat out told me it was a made-up sexuality. I’ve only ever had men say it straight to my face though, and I’d say that was definitely coupled with misogyny. Unfortunately my field of art does generally have a higher ratio of men, particularly white, cisgender, straight men who are usually the ones making the decisions. Thankfully, the numbers of people of other genders and sexualities are starting to increase in the sector and I hope it makes a difference!

As to how I handle it? Social anxiety keeps me from ever really having an argument with them, but I do like sticking asexuality jokes all over their monitors and talking over them whenever a conversation comes up about sexism and homophobia in the media – usually a “screw you I studied this for two damn years” sort of attitude.

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

There are quite a few misconceptions that I’ve bumped into about asexuality. For a start, a lot of people seem to assume that the term only comes from the “Tumblrs” and is a way to identify ourselves as “special snowflakes” which is demeaning, patronizing and completely wrong. People outside of the ace community also seem to be completely unaware that asexuality is, like all sexualities, a spectrum with a lot of variety, including a variety of romantic attractions (which they seem incapable to separate from sexual attraction; the assumption is usually that all asexuals are automatically aromantic as well) That or the forever unfunny “so you’re a plant” response.

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

It sounds weird, but the Internet is a wonderful tool. Its how I recognized my own asexuality and gave it a name – and no longer felt like I was weird – and gave me access to a much wider community who are more accepting of asexuality. I’m utterly thankful for it. And, if you’re concerned that maybe you’re not ace enough, there are lots of blogs on Tumblr that are super helpful about asexuality and romantic attraction that might be able to help you figure things out (and believe me when I say, you’re ace enough).

About coming out, I can’t say. I have personally never come out to my family, though I do plan to this year (wish me luck!), but I have come out to my friends. If you’re concerned that maybe they won’t understand you, or be nice to you, or even like you anymore, try to prompt some discussion on it first, get their point of view. If they don’t seem accepting, don’t come out to them. Your safety and happiness is top priority, and if people aren’t willing to be kind or accommodating of that, then they don’t need to know. Take care of yourself loves ❤

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

I currently don’t have one set art blog, but I will be setting one up soon! I do have a more casual Tumblr blog, at badasszombiespinster.tumblr.com, and I will occasionally post my doodles and artwork there.

Tundra Dragon
Tundra Dragon

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

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