Interview: Shannon

Today we’re joined by Shannon. Shannon is a fantastic artist who does a combination of fan and craft art. She knits some of the cutest little plushies based on various fandoms and popular media. She just opened an online shop (Lil Squish) this summer to sell her adorable creations. She has so much enthusiasm for knitting it’s wonderful. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is a combination of both fan art and craft art!

I am the sole owner and proprietor of Lil Squish Novelties. This is an online store where I sell handmade items inspired by fandoms and popular media! All my items (or pieces of art!) are soft, squishy, and lovable, but also showcase my appreciation for all the TV shows, movies, and games that I love. Most of my items are made from patterns of my own design inspired by popular media that has made an impact on my life. Aside from having limited shelf space, selling my work allows me to share my appreciation with others and funds the continuation of my work!

I have been knitting for more than five years, and crocheting for two. It was always just a hobby of mine, but I never managed to finish anything. I would start a scarf, get halfway through, find some cool new yarn, and then abandon it and start a different project. This went on for years until I started college two years ago, joined their fiber arts club, found some new friends, and decided to pick it up again! Now, I am the club’s vice president! Since picking up my needles again after almost three years, I have become a much more adventurous and confident crafter. Almost all of my products are made from my own designs and made to be as cute and accurate as possible.

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What inspires you?

To put it plainly, the things I enjoy inspire me. Just like people are inspired by their favorite characters to make fanart, my art comes from my appreciation for TV shows like Steven Universe, and video games like Legend of Zelda! I have so much appreciation for the artists that put their time and talent into all forms of media, that I channel it in the only way I can – I make things out of yarn!

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

I went to a Girl Scout camp with my friend when I was in….7th grade? The program I chose to take there was called “Knitty-Gritty”, and I’m not sure why it caught my eye. I wasn’t pursuing it very seriously until I got to college because .”knitting was for old ladies”. It wasn’t until then I realized it was cool to make your own stuff – and now I had people to do it with!

I’d always been interested in, but fairly mediocre at all kinds of art. I’ve written (and subsequently abandoned) novels, played the trumpet, flute, and violin, I’ve been in choirs, tried out for acapella groups, dabbled in traditional pencil and digital art, but nothing really stuck with me and I eventually got bored with it all. Honestly, I think I saw them more as work than a hobby or pastime. When I picked up knitting again and learned how to crochet, I found myself looking forward to Thursdays when our club would meet, and I would prepare projects to excitedly show all my new friends. I still enjoy writing and drawing occasionally, but yarn crafting is much more my speed. 😉

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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?

It’s hard to include signature elements in the medium I work with, so not really? I try to sign off all the time by saying “Love and Squishes!”, but I guess you could also say my signature is that almost everything is fandom-based, and I try to stick to small things – novelties!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up! No matter how many times someone tells you to give up, or that your art will never be good enough, keep at it! Practice makes perfect is 1000% true, so if you stay your course, you WILL noticeably improve!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and aromantic.

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

Yes, but not in the way you’d expect other LGBT+ folks to experience it. In general LBGT+ spaces tend to be very sexualized, which unintentionally ostracises those who identify as asexual. It feels nice to be included, but when all my queer (and straight!) friends joke about dicks and boobs and just acting very “gay”, it makes me uncomfortable.

A lot of times too I get asked if I have a boyfriend (and why I don’t), and I wish people could respect my privacy and preferences without having to come out to every stranger who asks. Even people I’m close with assume I like girls because I hang out with the SGA club on campus. It hurts that they aren’t open minded enough to consider my identity to be a possibility.

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

That we’re wrong and just haven’t found someone we like yet. No one feels that way about “finding the right piece of broccoli”, so why do they push it on us about our love lives?

I ~almost~ dated a boy before I discovered I was ace/aro, and I was still trying to figure all my feelings out when he told me he loved me. It was a very stressful encounter for me, but luckily he wasn’t too homophobic or close-minded about it. After I had told him everything, he said he understood, but then he went on saying that he’d be happy for me if I found someone else instead, as if I really was just making excuses and that I’d realize I was wrong when I met the right person. He didn’t really understand.

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

You are not broken or a robot. You may love them very much and are confused about that, but there is no right way to love someone. Romantic identities exist. You don’t have to have sex with someone to have a meaningful relationship with them.

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

My store can be found at http://lilsquish.storenvy.com/, and I am also on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram under the name Lil Squish Novelties. Thanks for listening! 🙂

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

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