Interview: Taylor Cruse

Today we’re joined by Taylor Cruse, who also goes by Triscribe. Taylor is a wonderful up and coming writer who also does some visual art as well, including character design. She has recently become really interested in world building and has begun to create her own fantasy world, where her novel is set. She has this admirable love for art and the written word in particular, which makes for an engaging interview. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Crant - Wolfen's Rage Cover
Crant – Wolfen’s Rage Cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hold onto your hats, then, ‘cause this might take a while!

To start, I’m both a visual artist and a writer, as the two are often intertwined with me. A lot of my stories start out as drawings of characters who then receive names, backstories, places to live, adventures to experience, so on and so forth. I consider the world-building to be just as much a craft as the physical art of sketching and coloring my characters or planning out plots – having a wealth of little details to be able to include in even simple dialogue can be so important to making the story come alive for my readers. This holds true even in the realm of fan fiction, where I also spend a fair amount of time.

I’m also proud of how my recent experiences in college have opened my eyes to greater realms of diversity for my characters to take part in – not just visually, as I’ve done in the past, but also mentally, emotionally, and of course, romantically. When my Stories from Sarant, starting with the Turning Point trilogy, are published, I want them to be a beacon to marginalized categories of readers – the ones eager to read books with asexual main characters who don’t need romance to fulfill their plot, female leads who are strong in more ways than just being able to punch the bad guys, and characters of color who get to be more than the sidekick or comic relief. (Point in fact, the mainest of the main characters in my above-mentioned trilogy, Crant, is all three of these things, and also goes on to become a hero to everyone in her war-torn and race-divided world. She’s the greatest of all my creations, and I hope when the book eventually comes out that readers adore her just as much as I do.) This is the kind of art I’m eager to share, because it’s the sort of stuff I’d have loved to see more of when I was younger, the kinds of things we need more of nowadays too.

What inspires you?

What doesn’t inspire me? The mountains surrounding my college campus, the utter insanity of family stories I hear from my mom and her mother, even the amount of time my dad poured into his World of Warcraft blog, Need More Rage, when I was younger.

It’s quite common for me to create a new superhero character based off of a friend of mine, or incorporate something funny I heard in ordinary conversation into a story scene. Even my pets will gain representations of them in the things I write, especially my wonderful golden retriever, Athena – she’s an inspiration all by herself, even if my animal-drawing skills aren’t enough to do her likeness justice!

I’ll also mention the more famous figures I’ve been inspired by: J.R.R.Tolkien, first and foremost, because that man went and built an entire world for his books, starting with the languages and working outward. Pretty obvious how he’s influenced me, yeah? The other big author was Anne McCaffrey, simply because of the sheer volume of fantasy stories she wrote, taking place at all different times and places. That’s what I want to accomplish as an author – I might be starting small with a single trilogy, but I’ve got more than fifteen other books I plan to write that happen all throughout the 70,000 years of history I’ve crafted for my world of Sarant, and then all my other projects of high, modern, and science fiction fantasy.

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

Heh, well, you see, my parents were big on bedtime stories when I was little, using them as enticement to get me to want to go to bed rather than fight to stay up longer. Dad did an especially great job reading them, using all different voices, and went for a wide assortment: everything from Dr. Seuss classics to the Chronicles of Narnia to a children’s version of The Odyssey (Mom gave him a few weird looks over that last one, but then I became a huge fan of Greek Mythology and she gave up trying to interest me back into Amelia Bedelia).

As for my becoming a writer/illustrator… Apparently, at four years old, I wanted to get down some of the adventures I imagined during playtime. I dictated them to Mom, who dutifully wrote down every word in these blank booklets, into which I then drew all the corresponding pictures. I’ve still got a few of them in a box of old toys, and occasionally go take a peek to remind myself on the bad days that, yes, I do have greater writing and drawing skill than a four year old.

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?

Three! Literally, the number three finds its way into most things I work on. (Once again, I blame all the Greek myths I read as a child.) The leader of my Jr. Team superheroes is called Trihunter; when it comes to coloring my black and white sketches, I usually incorporate at least three colors, whether they’re all different or just varying shades of the same one. Even my signature makes use of all three of my initials, TRC, rather than a first initial and last name.

Although, really, I think I don’t use that other option because I happen to have the same initial and name as my grandpa Tom… Was very awkward on the occasion when a friend of my grandmother’s visited their house, saw a watercolor of mine hung of on the wall and signed ‘T. Cruse,’ and asked in a startled tone if my grandfather was following Grandma into being an artist, as she makes and sells oil paintings for fun. After that, I decided it was a necessity to develop my own symbol, which I sign nearly all my art pieces with.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t. Stop. Practicing. Seriously, I’ve compared recent pieces (whether drawings or short stories) to stuff I made as recently as a year or two ago, and can see marked improvement because I spent so much of the time in-between getting in as much practice as possible. And feel free to mix it up, too! Dedication is good, but not to the point you become sick of the material you’re working with. Writing for superheroes and fantasy characters sometimes get stale, and I feel so much more invigorated to keep going after taking an hour’s break to write a journal entry or jot down some insane piece of family history from my maternal grandmother’s days as a professional juvenile delinquent. Same goes for visual art – when I can’t stand sketching one more skin-tight outfit or piece of armor, I take a while to go sit in my campus cafe and draw some of the people I see, or head partway the local hiking trail to paint the landscape around me. It all goes a long way to restoring my frayed sanity, and I highly recommend the same to anyone else dealing with the same issues.

Self portrait, color pencil
Self Portrait, color pencil

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual panromantic, I think? Or perhaps lithromantic. I never had much in the way of romantic feelings or experiences growing up to gauge by, though I would every now and then develop what I thought was a crush on a friend of mine. To be honest, learning that asexuality was A Thing in my senior year of high school was a wonderful blessing I blindly clung to like a liferaft, and didn’t really start looking into all the different types until I came to college and got to meet great friends of all sorts of genders and sexualities. Even now, I’m much more content to spend evenings in writing alongside my fellow ace roommate, a previous interviewee by the username of Knightlychika, rather than attempt to define my unique brand of something-nice-to-daydream-about-but-not-to-the-point-I-want-to-do-anything-to-act-on-it attractions.

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

Heh, yeah, my mom had no clue what I meant last winter break when I told her I was ace. She listened to my explanation and even did some research of her own, coming to the conclusion that I was becoming My Own Person – which is all she’s ever wanted anyway, regardless of what form it took. I did make a point of telling her I wasn’t averse to the idea of eventually adopting a kid of two, in case she was watching any dreams of having grandchildren to spoil go down the drain, but Mom said she wasn’t anywhere near as worried about that as knowing I was happy and content.

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

“Oh, that’s just a phase, you’ll grow out of it.”

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

Don’t feel guilty if you meet someone that makes you decide you aren’t asexual after all. For some people, maybe it was a phase, a defense mechanism against the world of dating and hooking up that becomes unnecessary. It’s fine – you absolutely ARE NOT justifying the ignorant people who think it’s a phase for all of us.

Every person is unique, with their own identity made up of all sorts of different factors, and while you can find groups of others with whom you share one or a few or a lot of those factors with, there’s no one you’re identical to. And if some of your factors change over time? That’s perfectly acceptable, normal, and doesn’t invalidate anything you were at an earlier point in time.

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

I have the same username, Triscribe, on Tumblr, DeviantArt and FanFiction.net, where you can find old and new art, snippets of my current original projects, and of course stories written in all sorts of fandoms (Star Wars, the DC Batfamily, Harry Potter, and Voltron LD being some of my more popular favorites). Hope to see you there!

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

Interview: Sarah Pickard

Today we’re joined by Sarah Pickard. Sarah is a phenomenal writer who specializes in genre fiction. She writes a variety of genres and has a wide array of LGBTQ+ characters populating her work. Her passion and enthusiasm shines through in her interview, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

IMG_2008

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

While I’ve been published for poetry, I mostly work writing LGBT+ genre fiction. In my experience as a reader, too much of LGBT+ media is focused on the coming out process, so I try to fill a niche of writing fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, etc. novels that has a full LGBT+ cast. There’s none of the angst that comes with the discovery or coming out process. Instead we have a cast with a full range of gender identities and sexualities who are out living their lives, commanding airships or working in underground street-racing teams. When you already had to live through the experience, sometimes you just want to see a lesbian punch a dragon.

(I also have a personal pledge to only ever write one straight character, which to this day I’ve maintained.)

What inspires you?

I think every comment about ‘pandering diversity’ or ‘if you want representation, go out and make it’ fuels me to take these genres that have been traditionally very heteronormative and queer the fuck out of them. For anyone who widely reads fanfiction, the transition back to reading traditional literature is always a jarring one as you remember how white/straight/cis everything really is. And there’s no reason it has to be! Diversity breathes life into plotlines – not stifles them. Why close yourself off to possibilities? I mean, when we add nonbinary people to high fantasy, think of all the curses/prophecies that get foiled. And why deprive yourself of all the puns? Yes, that’s it. I’m inspired by all the pun-possibilities.

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer…always. Honestly, my first written work was dictated to my grandmother at the age of four. And in some ways it’s terrifying to have no idea who I’d be without writing, but I count myself very lucky that I found my calling at such a young age. There was never any specific moment or event that triggered it. I probably came out of the womb this way.

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?

Yes! So, I basically write my own novel length AU fanfiction. That is, I have a set cast I work with in all my novels and genres, and the fun comes from exploring how they and their relationships grow and change and develop under different circumstances and settings. And most of my readers find comfort knowing that just because their favourite character died in one novel doesn’t mean they won’t survive the next. How many works can boast that?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you really love something, do it. Do it in every free moment you have. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll never be inspired. Writing is hard work (no matter how easy Stephen King makes it seem) and it never gets any easier. Most of the time it gets harder as the years go on! You start worrying about sentence structure repetition and never using the word ‘was’ and staying in the active voice and before you know it you’ve rewritten the same sentence ten times because something’s wrong with it and you can’t figure out what. Yeah, some days words will fly off the keyboard like little fairies with minds of their own, but most of them time you’re going to slog through it one word at a time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual, and I have no idea what my romantic orientation is.

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

While I haven’t personally encountered any writers who are against asexuality, I have run into the old rhetoric of asexual characters being boring to write about. But honestly, if you need sex to move your plot along, you have a pretty terrible plot?

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

That we’re all either Childish, Sociopaths, or Geniuses instead of actual people.

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

Right now, Tumblr is probably the worst place to be if you’re struggling with your asexual identity. Nearly every LGBT+ space I’ve encountered in person has been warm and welcoming and accepting. So just forget all the bullshit about whether or not you’re a part of the community – because you absolutely are – and figure everything out on your own terms. Also aromantic heterosexuals and heteromantic asexuals are 100% queer (no take backs) and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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

I’m afraid I don’t post any of my work online. I’m soliciting my first novel right now and it can’t be previously published – and some publishing companies consider posting online as ‘previously published’. But if anyone wants to Beta any of my work, they can contact me at reallifeisfiction@gmail.com. I’m always happy to get feedback and constructive criticism!

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

Interview: Ceta

Today we’re joined by Ceta. Ceta is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in drawing cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). Her work has an extraordinary vibrancy and is remarkably detailed. Ceta has a real love and passion for her art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Art1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mostly do cetacean (dolphin, whale, and porpoise) art; it is a mix of traditional art and digital. My traditional art include sketches, pointilism art, and completed works in a sketchbook using a 2B pencil, standard pen, and/or Prismacolor Scholar brand of colored pencils. For digital, I use either a Nintendo 3DS with Colors 3D or a Wacom Intuos tablet with the program GIMP. Nothing too flashy but it gets the job done. My art journey started in August of 2005 as a preteen when I started cramming as many poorly drawn dolphins as I could on paper. And now, almost 12 years later, the works shown are the result of those days. I am currently attempting to expand my subjects to other animals.

What inspires you?

I had grown to love the form of whales and dolphins. How they swim elegantly. And seeing the result of what I draw brought me personal joy and satisfaction. Lately though my motivation and inspiration have been dry but I’m still trying to better myself. I want to one day be able to make extra money off of what I do.

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

As a preteen around the time I first started drawing, I read a series of fictional books called the Dolphin Diaries. The covers were beautiful, the stories of travel and adventure were great. As a kid it must’ve impacted me enough to start drawing. As such, from what I recall, I never really saw myself as that big of an artist while going through middle and high school. It was just a hobby that I did in my free time. And as of now, I see it being a side career once I improve myself enough; something to do to earn extra money on top of a main career.

Art4

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?

All I do is my general signature, either my online name or first name. However, I recently discovered an art thief on Twitter took one of my older pieces and claimed as their own so I’ve cracked down harder on the signature, adding my username, real name, and date strategically placed in a way that’d be difficult to remove without ruining the entire pic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

DON’T STEAL OR TRACE OTHERS’ ART!!! Seriously, it takes years and years to get art to look decent. By thieving, you’re taking away those years of frustration and hard earned work in a matter of moments. If you want to establish yourself as a good artist, start now and have incredible patience. Artists aren’t made overnight. Professional sports players aren’t born. Anything good you want in life you have to work for it yourself and take no shortcuts.

Art2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am fully asexual, but not repulsed or averse, and aro spectrum, somewhere between aromantic and heteroromantic (I think).

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

I prefer to stay away from conflict so I haven’t had anything firsthand. But I have seen posts on Twitter even just last night where posters say stuff like “I’m done with men/women, I’m turning asexual” and every similar post makes me roll my eyes and think to myself that that’s not how it works. I tend to ignore it though and move along.

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

That it’s celibacy/aces cannot date. Or that asexuals don’t have sex ever. The latter is a common viewpoint even among the ace community, and it kind of dismisses the neutral and favorable aces who do belong as well as demisexuals and graysexuals.

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

Be the asexy hottie that you are! There is a whole world outside of sex. You don’t have to have sex to be happy, and you can have sex and continue having sex even though it does nothing for you if making your partner happy makes you happy too. Having sex does not negate your orientation. Continuing to have sex while asexual means you are still asexual. You can date someone who will love you, those people are out there. And for the aro aces? Being a single pringle rocks! There’s no right or wrong way to be you.

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

I post on various sites, including on Tumblr here. The full list of sites to find my art are below:

Tumblr: artbyceta
Deviantart: cetasoul2
Instagram: art.by.ceta
Twitter: ArtByCeta
Colors 3D (www.colorslive.com): (at) art-by-ceta

Art3

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

Interview: Claire Greenhalgh

Today we’re joined by Claire Greenhalgh. Claire is a wonderful visual artist who is a freelance artist and university student. She does a bit of everything: digital art, fanart, and original work. Claire is versatile when it comes to style but she tends to favor cartoon/comic visuals and digital painting. She’s very enthusiastic, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

citywalkwm

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve been a traditional artist, favoring pens and wet ink, for most of my life, but once I started using my graphics tablet in earnest for a university module in 2015, I’ve been completely hooked on digital work. I still love to draw on pen and paper, but working digitally has a lot of advantages and is much more cost effective in the long run.

I’ve been told I have either a talent or a curse for managing to make almost everything I draw cute, even when it probably shouldn’t be, which I’ve embraced (though I’m still trying to get better at drawing less friendly looking monsters)

What inspires you?

My inspirations change over the years, but the things that seem to have stuck in my head most in the past 5 years or so are sea creatures (specifically octopi) and magical girls. I draw a lot of inspiration from the video games I play and the anime I watch, and since I like to have music on whilst I draw, I’ve got numerous playlists of music to suit different themes, characters and overall feelings that help me feel inspired as I work.

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

I’ve been drawing for longer than I can remember, but I know when I was very young, we’re talking about 5 here, I wanted to be a vet or a zookeeper, something that involved working with animals. This was before I understood what allergies were, or why I always seemed to get sick near furry things.

My first inspiration for my art, my interest and eventual study in video games, that all gets traced back to Pokémon. I watched the anime so much as a child, the whole concept of a world with magical sentient animals was enthralling to me, and my art started developing properly with me copying the style of the show and expanding on that. Learning that there were Pokémon games too is what got me into video games, and that turned out to be a form of media I was never going to fall out of love with. Now I’m a few months away from having a degree in Graphics For Games.

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?

Well aside from my watermark, my work often includes a lot of glowing sparkly things. The ability to draw things which are emitting light so much more easily is one of the things which solidified my working with digital art more frequently than traditional. It’s one of the reasons why I set so many of my compositions, and the bulk of my current project’s story, at night, to make the glowing parts stand out more.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Experiment and persevere. Observational drawing is good groundwork to build your skills and understanding of the basics, and there’s not much better practice for drawing people than life drawing. But try using as many different forms of media as you can, paint, ink, pencils, sculpture, various digital methods. Try out every technique you can, see what gels well with you and feels right, and don’t give up, if it feels like your work isn’t getting better, you’re probably just getting better at analyzing artwork and your skill at drawing itself will catch up soon. You’re not going to improve if you don’t keep trying.

THB falling1

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual and biromantic.

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

Ignorance certainly. My field currently consists mainly of the other games, animation and visual effects students at my university, most of whom aren’t unpleasant people, but they don’t seem to know much about any orientations other than straight and gay and the occasions I’ve mentioned that aro and ace spectrum identities exist it was met with confusion and dismissal. Hence why I’m only half out to most of my peers, I don’t really feel like having some guy from class interrogate me or try and convince me my orientation doesn’t exist, or should be ‘fixed’ by now because I’m not single.

I’ve tried coming out about my demisexuality to my parents but they just laughed at me and told me I was confused and that ‘every woman waits before she sleeps with someone’. That at 17 I was too young to know, which is an argument I will never understand. They didn’t want to listen to me when I tried to explain that it’s not a matter of choosing it’s a matter of feeling nothing at all before a bond is formed, so I’ve avoided talking to them about my orientation since.

Hence why as far as I’m aware they don’t know I’m also bi. Unless they’re reading this. They’re not homophobic people I just get the impression a lot of the time that I keep disappointing them by being myself and I’m not sure whether that’d extend to my not just liking dudes, so I’ve avoided having that particular conversation with them.

Most of the outright prejudice I’ve faced has been online. I’ve gotten death threats and some very unpleasant anonymous messages to the effect of ‘you’re lying, asexuality is a fake orientation so that fat ugly cows like you don’t feel so bad about never being loved.’

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

Well there’s the plant thing as you might imagine. Personally I’ve had people ask me repeatedly how I can be ace and still have a boyfriend, seeming to be confused as to how he hadn’t ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ me. Thankfully, my boyfriend himself is a very understanding person who doesn’t exhibit these misconceptions and prejudices.

There’s the assumption that asexuality is a sickness, or tied to mental illness, which whilst yes, for some of us there is a connection, but as a neurodivergent woman myself, I don’t like people to assume that that’s the case for absolutely all of us, or that asexuality is any kind of illness or disorder in and of itself.

That and the idea that someone under the age of 18 can’t know they’re ace, or that ace and aro spectrum identities are somehow inappropriate for children and teenagers to know about or identify as. My childhood and teens would have been much less miserable if I’d known I wasn’t sick or broken before all my classmates suddenly started taking an interest in sexual things and started ostracizing me for not being able to relate to them, rather than about 4 years after that started.

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

Particularly with young aces struggling to feel at home with their peers, it’s tough, there’s no denying that, and people won’t always be accepting of who you are, but your orientation doesn’t make you any less worthwhile as a person. You don’t ever need to feel like you have to ‘try’ anything to be sure that it’s not what you want, you can live a happy and fulfilling life without ever feeling sexual attraction, or wanting sexual contact with anybody. Sex repulsion is a real chore, I’m lucky that I only experience it periodically rather than all the time, repulsion can be frightening and deeply unpleasant to go through, but you’re not sick and you’re not broken, you’re you, and you don’t need to conform to what others want you to be to be a good person.

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

My art blog, where you can find my recent work, my commission information, and where you can submit drawing suggestions, can be found at: http://cgreenhalghart.tumblr.com/

I also have a Redbubble, which I also take suggestions for, you can send those to my art blog’s inbox as well should you wish: https://www.redbubble.com/people/Mewsa/shop?asc=u

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

Interview: Mxnim

Today we’re joined by Mxnim. Mxnim is an absolutely wonderful visual artist who does a lot of digital art and comics. She mostly does character art, but also enjoys writing life comics. Their work shows an extraordinary imagination and their comics are adorable. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

dear boi
Dear Boi

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hello! I make digital art and comics! I make paintings and other crafts occasionally. My digital art consists just of character art and concept art for a comic I want to make. In between, I dabble my own life comics!

What inspires you?

Animated movies/shows and music.

Watching the movies I love really inspires me to create stories and draw! My favorites are some of Ghibli’s movies and the old Disney movies!

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

I wanted to be an animator when I was growing up! I watched Disney movies and Pokemon as a kid and I loved how the pieces of art were moving!! Characters had voices and were so real!! But I slowly realized that I don’t have enough energy for animation so comics were a close second! So I pursued comics to tell my stories and to hopefully bridge the gap between a single piece of paper to a million pieces of paper!

asdfgjmhngdeth

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 draw short haired androgynist people when I’m passively drawing. So if a person were to dig through all of my old art you would see a lot of that! There’s where a lot of my characters stemmed from and became variants.

Also all of my characters at first have a single trait but as I continue to develop them, they become pretty melancholy and thoughtful. I honestly don’t do this on purpose but I don’t mind that it turns out this way.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Even if you don’t think you’re drawing a lot, a circle or a line is sometimes enough!! Keep that up and you’ll be drawing in no time!

Also, you might be compelled to feel bad when looking at other people’s art, but did you know that everyone felt that way! Don’t despair! Just use that really good piece of art as inspiration and a goal to get better (and might even surpass)!

music
Music

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual panromantic!

I realized I was asexual when I wasn’t sexually interested in people as my peers, but it wasn’t by choice so I couldn’t say I was celibate. It took me a long time to realize where I fit in, but through some digging through the sexual spectrum I realized that asexual and demisexual existed and there were people like me! It stuck immediately when I found out.

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

I don’t really have people come up to me and ask what my sexuality is. I feel because since I don’t sway Gay or Lesbian, people don’t bother with my indifference.

DOGS ARE THE WROST
Dogs are the Worst

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

People often don’t know that asexuality exist and sometimes when I tried to explain it to my cousin she said “Sounds like you’re celibate”. Which only bothers me because, calling someone celibate erases their asexuality and also implies that sex/being sexual is the default.

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

For those who are struggling, I do hope that you have at least a safe space or supporting friends where you can wind down! Dealing with people who pressure you or refuse to accept your sexuality is tiring and you don’t want to be worn down by that! Always have a “treat-yo-self” day or thing! And one day I hope you get into an entirely supportive community! It’s going to be okay!

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

You can find me on my Tumblr (http://mxnim.tumblr.com/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mxnim/)!

space kaddet
Space Kaddet

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

Interview: Cassandra Wolfe

Today we’re joined by Cassandra Wolfe. Cassandra is a phenomenal artist jack of all trades. She’s predominantly a fantasy writer who is working on a novel that sounds absolutely fascinating. When she’s not writing, Cassandra enjoys photography, particularly wildlife. She’s incredibly passionate, as  you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

death adder

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a bit of a jack of all trades really but my main focus at the moment is my writing (funny considering I’m trained as an art teacher). I work mainly in the fields of urban fantasy. I am currently working on the final drafts of what I hope to be my first novel featuring a bunch of werewolves living in modern day Australia along with a few short stories that I’m working on getting published in some online anthologies.

Outside of writing I’m trained in painting but I find that these days most of my work tends to utilize photography as a medium, with wildlife being one of my favourite subjects. I’ve also dabbled in both ceramics and sketching.

What inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from the natural world and folklore. I grew up in a family that loved nature so I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the African wilderness which made me fall in love with the wonder that is wildlife. There’s a certain thrill that comes with getting up close to wild animals and it hasn’t faded now that I’m dealing with kangaroos instead of springbok. I’m rather proud of the fact that I can and have gotten within meters of hartebeest, bat-eared foxes, snakes and lizards. Reptiles are my absolute favourite subjects to shoot simply because they’re so chill that it makes approaching them a piece of cake.

The folklore that inspires me comes through mainly in my writing where it combines with my love of the natural world in the form of critters that are closer to that world than most people are. I tend to include a lot of shape shifter lore in my work and the fae are never far behind! I also enjoy including aspects of my religion into what I write in terms of how I shape the magic and witchcraft that is 99% guaranteed to be a part of my fictional work.

Untitled 2

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

I was the kid who always wanted to sit down and write stories when asked what I wanted to do; it used to drive my sister up the wall. I actually entered a writing competition when I was pretty young and got to meet a whole bunch of authors at the close of it which helped drive my passion even if my story for it wasn’t what you’d call great. I still own the signed copies of one of Fiona McIntosh’s series and every time I feel disheartened by my writing I find reading that ‘keep writing’ on the front page keeps me going. Reading that little handwritten quote inspired me to be published one day when I was all of ten years old and that dream has yet to die on me.

My passion for Visual Arts came later in life even if, like most kids, I liked to draw when I was young. I actually originally planned on going into the equestrian industry with hopes of training race horses one day and even got a job as a groom at a show yard but unfortunately I had a bit of a tough time of it there. I ended up being rather over worked and on top of a couple of injuries I received I was slowly wearing my body out. I found that at that time the one thing that got me through it all was my art. I was doing some writing at the time but what really distracted me from my sore legs, ankle and back was painting. I bought a couple of canvas boards and some acrylic paint and Bob’s your uncle, I was falling in love with art all over again.

When I finally accepted that working in the equestrian industry wasn’t going to be possible going into art was the obvious choice. And since I had no desire to try and live purely off of my art I felt that being an art teacher was a perfect fit for me.

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 so much in my drawings and photographs per say but I do have a few in my writing. One of the big things is ‘circles’, I love having little tidbits here and there that circle back and link to another part of the story. Half the time they’re completely irrelevant to the plot and very subtle in their implementation but I just love including them. Eyes would another one, I fully believe that eyes are the window to the soul and as such the eyes of my various critters tend to tell a tale in themselves. It’s one of the reasons why all of my shifter characters retain their human eye colour when in animal form.

On a larger scale you can expect to see a bunch of diversity in what I write, half of my characters end up being some version of queer (often less well known sexualities) and I try to limit the amount of cis, straight, white males in my writing since they’re over-represented in fiction.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to experiment; try different mediums and genres, play around, try something that might not work for the hell of it. It’s the only way to grow no matter what your field is. And above all, persevere. It doesn’t matter if what you made didn’t come out the way you wanted it to, you still made it and the next time it will be even better. Even your worst mistake is better than not having tried in the first place.

tumblr_nrb7ntUS7g1uyf7neo1_540

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual and homoromantic.

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

Most people haven’t heard of it to be honest, I’ve only heard it mentioned once. That time there was a bit of confusion about it but I didn’t exactly feel comfortable explaining more since I was just a prac student at the time. As a whole the Australian education system is generally anti-LGBTQIA+ with a recent program designed to teach high school students about the various genders and sexualities and why it’s wrong to discriminate being muzzled and defunded by the government over fears that it was sexualizing children. I find that being an art teacher makes it easy enough to get around that prejudice however as half of the artists I teach experienced some form of discrimination.

I haven’t really encountered anything in terms of my writing but if I get published it’ll only be a matter of time considering Wolf Moon and its sequel currently feature at least two lesbians, an ace-aro, and two non-binary folk.

Untitled

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

That it’s the same as being straight. That’s the big one online at the moment and it drives me demented considering that most of the people spouting it refuse to be swayed from their position by the experiences of actual ace and aro people. It’s especially frustrating because of the impact it has on the ace (and aro) communities as both are made to feel unwelcome in both straight and LGBTQIA+ spaces.

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

Ignore the current online discourse; it’s not reflective of real life LGBTQIA+ spaces at all. Most of the people in those spaces have no issues with aces or aros and those who do aren’t worth giving a damn about if you ask me. Whatever your orientation you are valid, it doesn’t matter if things change down the line or if you don’t have the exact word to describe your orientation, you and your experiences remain valid. Just hold your head up high and be proud of who you are.

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

Those interested in my writing can find it at http://cassandrawolfe.tumblr.com/ I tend to post drabbles, and writing advice there as well as keeping people updated on the progress of my bigger works there. My art can be found at http://thepaintedwolfe.tumblr.com/ with the vast majority of it being wildlife photography.

Scan0002

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

Interview: Al

Today we’re joined by Al. Al is a wonderful visual artist who has her own style and characters. She is a self-taught artist, who creates some absolutely beautiful imagery as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

CeeCew
CeeCew

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a cartoonist. Overall though, I like doing my own thing. Own style, own characters, and own stories to go with them.

I’m more or less self taught, I enjoy drawing both digitally and traditionally, and I also animate. Usually on my DSI and 3DS though, as I don’t own the appropriate tablet yet.

I mostly draw my characters and occasionally I don’t know, draw a tree or something.

What inspires you?

The idea that someday, I might be able to put my ideas and creations out there and they will be forever immortalized so that when I die, they will continue on without me.

flyte and marquel refs
Flyte and Marquel refs

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

Oh, I’ve been interested since I was a little kid. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, even before I hit preschool. My parents seemed to like what I created with my grubby little hands- so being the attention seeker that I was, I just kept drawing and drawing, until I eventually started to really like it and here I am.

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?

Sure. I have an art logo I created a few years back, and although it’s not in all of my art, it gets some cameos here and there. It’s of a dead fish, looks like this-

Logo <div class="question"></div>

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice. Practice a lot and stop comparing yourself to others and belittling your art just because you don’t think you’re good enough. No artist improves at the same rate or the same way, and the only thing that will happen if you keep drawing is that you get better and better, until you become absolutely fantastic. The worst thing you can do is give up.

Monstrosity
Monstrosity

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

For sexual orientation, I just call myself ace/asexual. On the romantic side, I’m grayromantic.

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

Honestly, I never really got anything bad directed towards me in terms of my asexuality. There was one time where a person believed that it was the same thing as celibacy, saying that being ace is a choice and if you have sex, it automatically makes you well, not ace. But y’know, it’s just ignorant words coming from an ignorant person.

As for parents/family, I hinted it at them a few times but I’m pretty sure they just think I’m some sort of late bloomer or saving it for marriage or something. They’re no doubt just waiting for me to suddenly wake up one morning and be like, “HEY!!! I’M NOT A SQUEAMISH SISSY ANYMORE!! I’M GONNA HAVE SEX LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!!!”.

It never really bothered me though. The worst kind of prejudice/ignorance I’ve seen is from Tumblr itself, but it’s not exactly personal so, I just get angry for a second and then move on.

panic icon
Panic Icon

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

Oh, there’s a lot. “Only girls are asexual.” “If you have sex, you’re not ace.” “It’s just a phase.” “I wonder what made you decide to be asexual?” etc. Yknow, the usual ace myths.

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

First, don’t beat yourself up for how you feel. Not only is it possible that other people are already hurting you for being ace, but now you’re hurting yourself, and that just makes things ten times worse. Your lack of sexual attraction is fine and normal, and if you’re gonna take the word of someone else about how YOU feel, then you’ll be as misguided as they are.

Second, if along the way, you end up discovering you aren’t as ace as you thought, don’t beat yourself up about that either. You’re not a fraud. You just learned more about yourself, or changed over time and that’s perfectly fine. And don’t feel obligated to keep calling yourself something just because that’s what you already told others. Like I said, labels can change and you should accommodate them to describe yourself.

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

Oh, mostly Deviantart or YouTube. My YouTube account is SaltyMilk and my DeviantArt is Captain-Dark-Kitty.

skele duck
Skele Duck

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