Interview: Marie Blanchet

Today we’re joined by Marie Blanchet.  Marie is an extremely talented visual artist and a writer.  She’s currently working on her first novel, which has a number of characters including an ace girl and a demisexual man.  Oh, and lots and lots of dragons.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

On a professional level I am a graphic designer with a minor in comic books, fresh out of university. On a personal level my art is mostly centered on illustrations and writing and illustrations of my writing.

I’m working on my first novel, a medieval fantasy called Scale Hearts that is the first part of a trilogy. Hopefully, it will be followed by a modern fantasy sequel and then a futuristic sci-fi fantasy volume. I also have plans for a tie-in comic to top it all off, but these are still only plans at this point. All of these projects include a wild range of characters, both gender wise and sexuality wise because I don’t believe in making assumptions about characters until they are on the page and reveals themselves to you (and usually succeed in ruining all your plans for them).

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What inspires you?

Everything that I see around me. Art, graphic design, architecture, science, history… I can go on tumblr or turn on the TV expecting to relax and then Bam! Inspiration.

I love socio-history am I am fascinated by the idea that everything you see around you has a history and a reason to be there (why do we use forks? Why are forks the way they are? Is there an historical, geographical or even social reason for the evolution and use of forks?) Since I am developing a whole new world in which my novel takes place (the tangible existence of dragons would change a lot of our culture, I believe) then I constantly turn to history and even mythology for inspiration.

I also tend to take ideas more out of fanfiction and other assorted fanworks than out of published media because I feel like there is more creative freedom to be found in these stories. Notable exceptions to this would be the works of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and the manga group CLAMP because you just cannot get this perfect.

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

I always wanted to be some sort of artist and I always made up stories, ever since I can remember. As for being a graphic designer (graphic design is my wife and illustration is my mistress, as I am fond of saying), that’s actually a funny story. I am a bit of a scientific person, who works better with rigid constraints and deadlines. Wild creativity was never my forte. I like to make a project for a client for a purpose when working professionally. So I always knew I didn’t want to study in a visual art program, but I knew I wanted to work in something related to the arts. So one day I high school I go see the orientation lady, and we sit down and Google for a bit to see if anything fits my criteria (art, not visual arts, maybe work on a computer…?). We eventually find the graphic design program, which is both art and marketing. Neither of us knew what is was about, not really, but I still decided to enroll in that. Fast forward to my first class in CEGEP. I sit down, listen to the teacher in intro to graphic design talk a bit, and then it hits me. Oh. This is it. This is exactly where I want to be. I found my people.

I had the same feeling some years later when I took the comic book minor classes in uni, and isn’t it amazing that something like that happened to me twice?

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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?

As I mentioned I’m not one for wild creativity, so a lot of my professional design work is very structured and efficient. (efficiency before beauty or beauty before efficiency are two very differing mindset in the design world. I am the former, and most of the people when I studied in France were the latter, and that created frictions a bit). I also like using white space and minimalist design when I can get away with it. But since it’s all client work, I can’t really say that any of my projects have anything in common.

As for my personal work, I tend to gravitate towards anime-inspired characters when doing illustration, and I always sign with my initials.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do you like doing art? Then keep doing it. Even if the people directly around you don’t like it, remember that there are a hell of a lot of people on the planet and everyone likes something different. You’ll find your public eventually. Also there is no crap in art. There is only practice for more art. You want to write a Mary-Sue that will make you and two of your friends happy? Then go ahead! Someday you might write something else and use the experience you acquired when writing that Mary-Sue.

And never let yourself be stopped by the “it’s good in my head but when I put it down on paper it didn’t come out like I intended” thing, especially when writing. A lot of my characters decided to reveal things about themselves to me, like Alexander’s depression or Lilas’ asexuality, only while I was writing them and not before. So what if the product is different than it was in your head? That doesn’t mean it’s inferior.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual, although some days I wonder if I’m not closer to ace than to demi. If I look at someone and see something I like, it’s usually in a aesthetic neutral way, which I always attributed to being an artist (as it’s usually followed by the thought ‘oh wow I want to draw your muscles’) before I knew what asexuality was.

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

Well apparently we don’t exist.

There isn’t much prejudice in the field of design aside from the usual “marketing is selling stuff and sex sells and everyone loves sex” way, which I always find hard to understand. The world is obsessed with sex and that’s just weird.

When it comes to writing, a lot of what I get is the assumption that I’m a prude when I don’t write sex or surprise when I do write it.

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

People, even my own boyfriend, have a hard time wrapping their heads around that I don’t mind talking about sex but I get super uncomfortable when there is discussion about sex that somehow involves me or the assumption of me being a sexual being. Like, I don’t mind talking to other people about their experiences but start making innuendos at me and I’m gonna shut that conversation so damn fast

I could say that the misconception is that either
-aces don’t exist, or
-aces don’t ever want to walk about sex ever (man, when I make a dirty joke do I get stares) or
-that if they are okay talking about it then they are okay about talking about everything

Also it is not the result of abuse, come on people.

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

It’s okay. It’s a thing that exist, it even has a name. You are not alone. There are blogs on the internet where you can reach out to people like you, and you don’t owe anyone anything. You are perfect, always remember that.

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

Well I have an official website, www.blanchetmarie.com, or you could always come ‘round my personnal blog http://toostressedforthis.tumblr.com/tagged/my-art where I post all of my new art that doesn’t make it to the website. It’s mostly Scale Hearts art though, because that project is my baby.

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

Interview: Heather Nunnelly

Today we’re joined by Heather Nunnelly.  Heather is an incredibly talented professional comic book artist.  She draws a comic with an asexual main character entitled Vacant.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a professional comic book artist. Right now I am working on a science fiction/film noir web comic called VACANT that stars an Asexual main character with a crew of varied sexualities. Along side that I am working on Illegal, a comic written by Jeremy Whitley, and do various illustrations to make a living.

What inspires you?

Being a feminist and trying to promote the positives ideas associated with movement. As a child I lived a very difficult life because of my gender, and I don’t want other little girls and boys to have to live the same life I did. I want to spread awareness, educate others, and inform others that they don’t have to feel alone.

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

I wanted to be a part of the field because my sister was always very good at it. Her name is Michelle Nunnelly, and I was mesmerized by her work; so much so that I wanted her to teach me.  She did, and in return I taught her how to tell a story.

We’ve been drawing since we’ve been children. So for most of my life.

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?

Not really. The only thing I can think of is that a lot of my characters have a lot of sass. But, the only reason on  that is because I, myself, think I am too nice. A part of me wishes that I were a lot meaner than I actually am, and that channels through the characters a lot.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to fail. Make ugly art. That sounds stupid, but one of the biggest roadblocks I see in new artists is the fear to mess up. They want everything to be perfect. If it’s not perfect they beat themselves up about it afterwards. This is unrealistic, unhealthy, and doesn’t allow you to grow.

Screw up, get used to screwing up, and then learn.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I guess I classify myself as Bi-Asexual, which is that I am Asexual, but wouldn’t mind dating a girl or a guy. The idea of being romantic interests me, I guess but not much else. I’ve never been in a relationship, and don’t plan on it anytime soon. I’m not against the idea; I am just very very very rarely into anyone enough to do so.

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

Oh my god. Yes. Where do I even begin with this question?

When I was younger I didn’t classify as Asexual. I didn’t even know what that was. All I knew was that I was “different”, and that I had no interest in dating when I was in school. For a very long time I thought I was broken because of it. I thought that I was a monster (I literally said this at some point).

Everyone else treated me like I was different, too. I was constantly called a prude, and that I was “very innocent and naïve”. A lot of my colleagues treated me like I was stupid. Whenever there was sex in movies or TV, they would explain to me what was happening. This was despite the fact that I was well educated, and knew exactly what sex was.

It hurt a lot. People still do it to this day. Someone recently explained to me what oral sex was. I know what that means. I also know where the clitoris is. Just because I am not sexual doesn’t mean I am a hermit and don’t know what these things are. Sexual Education is important, and I understand that. It’s important to understand your body and how it works.

As a result of this constant backlash, I started saying that I was Bisexual. It was easier saying that then explaining what Asexuality meant, and being convinced that “I wasn’t really Asexual. I am just confused”.

Even Hayze (The main character of Vacant) suffered from this. I started saying he was Bi, because it would have been too confusing to say that he was Asexual, too. It wasn’t until this year that this changed. I finally said that he was Asexual, and luckily everyone was very accepting.

Which is absolutely wonderful, and I thank everyone who has been supportive about it.

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

That we don’t know what sex is and that we can’t be aroused. I, as an Asexual, can look at someone and think, “they’re pretty”. I can write and draw porn and think it’s fun. As an Asexual, I am in charge of my sexuality. I can have the right to know what I want.

We also aren’t weird, prudish, or broken. We are not all victims of sexual assault. If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t into sex, they’re normal. Not being sexual doesn’t make you into a freak of nature.

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

You’re not strange. Nothing about you is different than the person standing next to you. You can also find love and happiness. Someone will understand you. Don’t think that because you don’t want to have sex that people will reject you. You also don’t have to change. For anyone.

If you want to be single, be single. If you want a relationship, get one.

There are a lot of people who won’t understand. But there will be people who do.

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

You may read VACANT (Which, again stars a Asexual character who talks about these things) here: http://imaginetheending.net/Vacant/

You can follow my art on tumblr here: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/imaginetheendingart

And here is my portfolio: http://www.imaginetheending.net/illustration/

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