Interview: Kerstin

Today we’re joined by Kerstin. Kerstin is a phenomenal fanartist and visual artist. She writes a lot of fanfiction and cosplays as well. When she’s not writing, Kerstin enjoys drawing. She has been drawing and writing for years and has a great deal of passion for both, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

hand
Hand

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m mostly a writer, especially a fanfiction writer nowadays. I started with original stories when I was about nine or ten years old and continued to write original works until I was maybe sixteen. I never lost interest in writing but somehow I barely ever finished anything because I didn’t have the drive to write without getting any feedback. That’s where fanfiction came in. It’s a great way to practise writing, explore different styles and genres and also get feedback from people who love the characters as much as I do.

Drawing has always been important to me, too. I’ve drawn for pretty much my entire life, anything from little doodles or abstract art to manga to attempts of realistic art. I mostly draw people, many original characters, but recently I’ve started using real people for references as well and tried myself in art studies.

Lastly, I also started cosplaying about four years ago. I don’t do it regularly but it’s a lot of fun, especially when you see other people’s reactions to your portrayal of their favourite character. I’ve made cosplays that were close to the originals as well as freeforms.

What inspires you?

Honestly, pretty much anything can inspire me. Photos, buildings I pass, sceneries I see while going for a walk, music, people or objects around me, characters I adore,… Occasionally I’m inspired works by other artists, especially when it comes to drawing – I just love Renaissance and Romantic art. In fanfiction it’s the canon characters mixed with headcanons, oftentimes also conversations with friends that give me ideas. I’m also a big fan of thrillers and medieval European literature and I try to combine these two types when I write.

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

Ever since I was a child I’ve been reading tons of books and soon started coming up with my own stories. It just fascinates me how words can create worlds and capture one’s imagination but everybody still has their own pictures in their mind while reading the exact same story or sees different things in the same painting. I love the emotions art can elicit. I’ve wanted to become an author for years now and just graduated in art history and German literature and I hope that it will help me pursue my dream.

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 don’t really have any signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep creating, no matter what field of art you like. You will get better, even if it might not seem like it occasionally. Practice is crucial, but so is having fun. Create what you’re interested in, not what you think you should create. Accept constructive criticism and don’t beat yourself up if you think your art isn’t getting any better. It is. You just need some time. And remember, no one will ever be able to create the exact same things you do – your art is one of a kind and you should be proud of it.

jensen jeffrey
Jensen Jeffrey

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as akoisexual and akoiromantic. Now and then I find some people attractive but it usually doesn’t last very long and if this attraction is ever reciprocated it just fades away.

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

So far I haven’t since I only recently started including asexual characters in my writing and most people don’t even know I’m on the spectrum.

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

The misconception I get confronted with all the time is that people on the spectrum don’t ever have sex and can’t have functioning relationships because sex “is a crucial aspect to any romantic relationship”. People don’t seem to understand that sexual attraction and enjoying sex are two different things, that you could have sex even if you’re not physically attracted to that person and that there are people who make relationships work just fine without sex.

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

Personally, I was glad to find a term that describes me because I felt a little less alone, but it’s not the most important thing to find a label for yourself so if you’re unsure, that’s okay. You’re not strange, you’re not alone, and you’ll be fine. You might encounter individuals who won’t be able to understand your orientation but their opinion doesn’t matter. Find people who accept you the way you are. Try to stay true to yourself – I know it can be hard, but it’s okay to struggle and question your orientation, I still sometimes do that, too. Your orientation does not define what kind of person you are.

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

I occasionally post some of my artwork and cosplays on my Tumblr: http://crazy-walls.tumblr.com/

My fanfictions can be found on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/crazywalls

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

Interview: Edy

Today we’re joined by Edy, who also goes by omegalovaniac. Edy is a phenomenal versatile artist who is mostly a writer. She writes fanfiction as well as original work. Her original work tends to be terror and supernatural. Edy is also a first for Asexual Artists: she hosts her own low-fi community radio program. It’s obvious she’s an artist with a great amount of passion. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

pccff16woy

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer before anything else; I really enjoy fanfiction and have for years, even if the wide majority of my older work is no longer accessible. I hope to have a few more fandoms published for in the coming year. The original work I’m pushing for publication is along the lines of uncanny terror and the supernatural, and the original work that won’t be meant for mainstream release is stuff I’ve been working on for over a decade now. Most of the artwork I put out is for fandom or the non-pub fiction. I also do cosplay, and I host a weekly lo-fi community radio show every weekend.

What inspires you?

My current font of inspiration is Disney’s Wander Over Yonder, but I have irons in so many fandoms that it’s a bit overwhelming on any given day, to say the least! There is so much inspiration in shows and films I enjoy, and comics and books I read. There’s a lot in the people I’ve met and places I’ve gone and things I’ve done. There’s a lot in the songs and poetry I hear. I find it’s important to be open and take in as much as I can, as there are a lot of stories to be found, everywhere and in everything.

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

I can’t remember a time before wanting to write. From scribbling comics and characters to lugging an old typewriter around the house to keeping a notebook with me wherever I go, that’s me and a lot of people close to me know that. Telling stories is something I enjoy almost as much as hearing good stories. As for the radio, I have a clear memory of dragging one of those “My First Sony” radios around and pretending to broadcast radio dramas of sorts – stories I would make up on the spot or retellings of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons (Hair-Raising Hare comes to mind). Art has always been a part of that, too, in illustrating what I’d write or want to write, and then moving onward to fandoms and friends’ original characters. The costuming is nothing new, either. If I could have been Babs Bunny every day that one year instead of Halloween, I tell you what. If I could be Lord Dominator every day instead of trying to find work-place appropriate costumes for Halloween this year, well, I’ll tell you what again.

CanaryCoalpsre

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 am a huge sucker for callbacks, references, and homages. HUGE. So of course, I use them too. I had someone tell me once that it pulled them out of their immersion in the fictional world of their choosing when they’d catch one, but adversely, I feel even closer to the characters, they are more relatable. They make the same jokes I would and they enjoy the same things I do. I love it. I recognize it’s not for everyone, at least where the pop culture aspect might be concerned, but I feel like utilizing them carefully in one’s own story as a closed loop, that’s a good, solid move. The ideal goal is to become part of that myself, one day. Someone references a quote of mine or a thing I’ve done, in something they’ve done.

I also really enjoy subverting tropes like no one else’s business, twisting them and seeing how far I can break them or how much better I can make them. Tropes can be good and useful. They can also be terrible. But even if they’re terrible they can still be some fun…

Where the radio show is concerned I’ve reached for a staple tool I’ve used in my writing in the same way that I might use TVTropes: Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies. Every week I pull a card from my tattered, DIY deck and craft an hour-long segment around it. It’s a big challenge and I look at selecting songs for it in the same way I might pick pieces for a collage. It’s gotta be comprehensive, but at the same time very lateral in composition, and overall, enjoyable and entertaining. From songs with different time signatures for “Distorting Time” to exploring musical themes of Philosophy in the current show I’m putting together for “Disconnect from Desire”, this segment I call Obliquities is my signature, cornerstone segment.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A few things. Don’t listen to Stephen Moffat. Don’t be afraid to do things, even if someone already has – you might do it more differently than you think. Remember to take breaks often and play with your pets if you have them, drink some water, have a snack, and then get back to it. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you find you’re in a mental block moment! Your brain needs some serious rest too, sometimes. Be serious and be honest about your collaborations, both towards your partner, your input, and the output. Learn. Listen. Keep at it.

pccgfgroup

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’ve finally settled on Asexual. Just that. I’ve not yet decided where my romantic leanings lie (as I can at least say aromanticism isn’t where I’m at) and I waffle on those so much that I just say forget it, more often than not. It took me a long enough time to find the word “asexual” and what it means in relation to me and my life that I also spent sometime shuffling through the other forms of it and doing some thinking as I went along, for good measure. I’m happy sitting here for the moment.

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

Oh, yes. In earlier fandom fun I wrote some explicit things, did some adult art for friends, but as I realized I wasn’t super comfortable writing them, or writing them well, even, I started to taper off of doing that. And my audience started to taper off, too, very visibly. That is what it is. No matter how much someone who is selling you sex would have you believe, though, sex doesn’t always sell. Great and amazing stories can and do exist without it just as much as they do with. So I persist.

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

That it’s unnatural. I heard this from the Chair of my local Pride organization when I had started to volunteer for it, and I became sort of a token joke at meetings and sponsored canoodling events, as if I couldn’t possibly have an opinion on matters pertaining to sex or sexual relationships. They are not a good person in general and there’s been a lot of education happening from me and others. Including one of my favorite performers that we had worked with, with the organization. Being told “girl, what are you even doing here” by him was a bit jarring, but he has since apologized, and is working to better his personal understanding, and that of his drag scene, of the diversity in the queer community. I’m proud that the open discussion about that has had an effect. It was hard finding the words for it. Even as a writer I was at a loss for so long, and so angry about it until I was able to fix that, even if just for myself at first before others.

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

It’s okay! I’m still struggling. There are days when I want to love everyone and days where I want to love no one. Days when I want to be touched and days where I feel I might implode if I were to be touched, even non-sexually. Days where I know, and days where I don’t know. That’s just the way of it, sometimes, and it’s perfectly fine. It’s all part of getting to know yourself. And if you feel comfortable being as fluid and as wonderfully elusive as a Water Weenie, that’s just great too. There is nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with you. Don’t let that weird connotation of being “broken” somehow keep you from seeking yourself. It’s not true.

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

My fanfiction can be found on AO3 here: http://archiveofourown.org/users/3amepiphany.When I say it’s a wall of single fandom pieces, I mean it. I hope to have more things up soon enough, but come Wander Over Yonder with me there for a bit in the meantime, yeah?

The stuff I’m not tossing at the mainstream publication demons, and the ephemera around it and the arduous labor of love that is what I call writing (and not just dragging my face aimlessly across the keyboard) can be found here: http://billetdouxnondistribue.tumblr.com. If furry works aren’t your bag, I apologize. That’s … what … that’s what it is. Also, some of the fic I write that doesn’t end up on AO3 as well as the art I do and have had done for me winds up there.

As for the radio show, I can be heard streaming online worldwide here: http://radiosunnyside.org every Saturday night from 5pm-8pm PST. My show is called Written on the Studio Wall and I am DJ Hot Donna. Thanks for tuning in!

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

Interview: Hale

Today we’re joined by Hale. Hale is a phenomenal artist who does both visual art and fanart in the form of cosplay. She has degrees in graphic design and fine art. Hale is also a great cosplayer who has an admirable love for bringing characters to life. She’s an incredibly dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

DChuntress
DC Huntress

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Right out of high school I started as a graphic designer. I got my Associate of Science in Graphic Design, so a lot of my art from back then is focused on design principles. During the rest of my undergrad (Art History Bachelor’s with a minor in Fine Art) I took other fine art classes, but I still stuck with shapes and forms that were more simple or geometric – meant to advertise an idea or be a backdrop rather than a focus. Now that I’m going for my Master’s in Business Design and Arts Leadership, I make a lot of presentation graphics. A lot of the projects I work on take lengthy case studies or papers and turn them into design works that are understandable or fit a brand image.

Outside of school, I also cross stitch, take photos, and I cosplay. The cross stitches I make are usually based on old 8-bit graphics from video games. I tend to cosplay as video game characters, as well, though I enjoy anime cosplay, too. I’m currently interning at a photography business, so I’m learning to take portraits of family and weddings. This is informed by cosplay photography, but it’s also something that I just enjoy as a hobby. I took several photography classes at school, but they were more fine art focused rather than portrait focused. I like going down different avenues of thinking or going through different art worlds for my work, so it varies a lot.

What inspires you?

When it comes to the art I make as a student, I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. I don’t directly copy from them, of course, but I first get an idea of the brand that currently exists (or if I’m working on rebranding, the brand that I want to exist) and then search for images on Pinterest that fit that idea. For example, I might type “plants” into Pinterest to get an idea for a logo for a farming agency that hasn’t already been done. Or if I’m working on a case study write up about Etsy, I might type “orange” into Pinterest, since one of Etsy’s brand colors is orange. Making mood boards helps me get into the right mindset of the project I’m working on and sends me down different avenues I might not have thought of if I just had a sketchbook in front of me (sort of like the 2-D art version of the Youtube wormhole)

I find that RPG video games inspire me the most in both cross stitching and cosplay. For example: Pokemon, Dragon Age, and Ace Attorney are all games that I’ve used in my work. Usually when I cosplay from an anime, it’s because I’m doing it as a group or because it’s meaningful to a certain point in my life. I don’t usually just pick from an anime because I enjoy a certain character like I do with video games.

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

When I first got into all three of my degrees, I didn’t really know what I was getting in for. I just kind of went for it. I never really considered myself an “artist” because I am not as good at drawing or painting as some of my artist friends. I enjoy art and always wanted to do something related to art, but even now I feel some hesitation to call myself an artist. With all three of my degrees, I sort of took a baby step into the field first and then just jumped in without considering all of the consequences. For example, I started college as a PSEO student, meaning I took college classes as a high schooler for credit. I took Graphic Design as an elective, and then after graduating high school, decided that would be my career path. The same thing happened with Art History where I took an art history class as part of my Associate’s and decided to jump into it as my Bachelor’s. I took a year off in between my Bachelor’s and my Master’s where I tried to decide what I wanted to do. I still didn’t think I was an artist, but I had an art degree (kind of). I didn’t want to work on commission, and I had a vague idea of working in a museum, but didn’t really know how to get there. I went for my BDAL Master’s with the idea that it could get me headed in the direction of a nonprofit organization without needing to pick a certain area (Museum Development or Museum Studies seemed too specific)

I guess I was always destined to be involved in art in some capacity. I’ve always surrounded myself with other artists as friends and peers. I feel like artists get better critiques and feedback from their friends, especially if those friends are also artists. Friends got me interested in video games, in anime, in design; I wouldn’t have become an “artist” (in the loosest sense of the word) without my support. That being said, I don’t think the traditional categories of painter, writer, sketch artist, etc. necessarily make sense anymore in today’s digital world. Art doesn’t have to fit into one category to be art, so although my friends may fit into those categories better than me (and for a long time I didn’t consider myself an artist because of it) that doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t good art. It just means the ways in which my art gets critiqued needs to be different. I have always wanted to do what I do, I just didn’t always consider what I do to be “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?

Not so much in the art I’m making now, but I focused on stars quite a bit when I was starting out professionally. I said earlier that I use a lot of geometric shapes, and a star is more visually interesting than a simple circle, but I’m come to appreciate simplicity a little more than when I began. Otherwise, my signature is more literal. Especially in designing case studies, you get credited for “visual layout” or for creating charts that better convey the information. So my unique signature in my more recent art is literally my signature. I don’t do anything like that for the art that I consider to be more of a hobby (cosplay, cross stitching, etc.) and I use the basic metadata info for my photos and digital art.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try lots of different areas of art. Even if you’re a painter, and you’re always going to be a painter, there are lots of unexpected avenues you can find by trying something new. I never considered myself a sculptor, but my school required me to take a 3D class and some of what I consider to be my most unique art (if not my best) was 3D. It was hard, and not something I particularly enjoyed, but it broadened my horizons.

I would also say, study art history (and especially non-western art history). There’s no better way to learn about your own art than to immerse yourself in art. If you can’t immerse yourself physically by making something, learning about the ways that ancient people (or contemporary people) made art is just as informative. A lot of contemporary artists make works to continue conversations that artists of the past were having. We speak of art like it’s a visual narrative of an individual’s life, but it can be a conversation with another artist or political movement. It’s easy to get inspired by other artists around you, so it should be just as easy to get inspired by artists who made works long ago.

Print
Print

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey-asexual and Grey-aromantic. I can’t picture myself having sex or dating anyone in particular, but I can imagine myself having sex / dating in general. I don’t find anyone (or I haven’t found anyone) that I’ve met sexually or romantically attractive, but I can still picture myself doing the action in a more general sense.

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

I’ve found that most artists are fairly accepting of asexuality. Ignorance is vastly more common than prejudice, in my experience. I know that there are many female artists that define their work as feminist art and engage in feminist conversation by either pointing out gender roles as necessarily sexual or making art that is intentionally sexual and thus provoking. There are also artists that focus on sexuality and gender as a social construct and assume that the conversations they want to convey apply to all people within their audience. I’ve run into the conversation in critiques where the artist will explain sexuality as a “universal experience” while they, in the same breath, explain that gender roles are not universal. I usually just question their beliefs further and try to understand why they came to that conclusion or how they justify their ignorance. In terms of prejudice, I find it much more common to experience prejudice against asexual individuals from home, or when I was in college, at the dorm, rather than directly at work in my field.

There have been a few experiences in cosplay where I have been hit on or flirted with because I was in costume (despite the ‘cosplay is not consent’ banners everywhere), but I tend to view those as one off experiences that I ignore rather than something that I personally need to address. I handle them the same way that I would handle someone flirting with me were I not in cosplay, which is usually to find a group of friends and avoid contact with the person flirting. I haven’t found any of the flirters to be particularly aggressive once I’ve left, though ignoring the problem is obviously not addressing the deeper issue, it works in those one off situations.

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

I get the misconception that there must be something wrong with me quite often. I was in a pretty dangerously sexual situation as a child that many people who know about the situation think informed my ‘decision’ to be asexual, but honestly I have never experienced attraction, so I don’t think it has anything to do with that– or there being anything wrong with me. I’ve been lucky that most people have been pretty accepting, although there have been a few of those “oh you just haven’t found the right person yet” replies that get under my skin. Still, the biggest misconception tends to be ignorance more than anything else. The fact that people in my area just don’t know what asexuality is or refuse to believe that a person may not experience attraction is the most prevalent conversation that I’ve run across.

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

I would just recommend doing your research. If a label makes you happy, use it. Don’t feel like you have to keep it forever. I’ve gone back and forth between ace and grey-ace forever in my head and just decided that in the end, it makes no difference to anyone but me. If you’re comfortable with labelling your orientation as something now, then label it. If later you decide that it doesn’t really fit, you can change the label. I know that when I first researched asexuality, I was thinking that it might fit me, but I was hesitant to agree because what if it didn’t fit me sometime in the future? What matters is your comfort now and finding supportive people might start with a label, but it might not. You should find people that support you no matter what your orientation is. That might mean seeking out a support group or forum for asexuals, or it might mean just finding a group of people that don’t care what your orientation is. It’s more important to reflect on yourself and to know your boundaries and morals when it comes to sex and romance than it is to find a label that perfectly fits you. It’s just as important to find a group of people that will help you to keep those boundaries rather than pressure you into something you’re uncomfortable with– whether that’s because you’re ace or just uncomfortable with the situation. It feels cheesy just to say “don’t worry about your orientation, the label will come when you’re ready” but the best way to find supportive people and figure yourself out is to do your research.

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

The three social media areas I update on a regular basis are-

My online portfolio: behance.net/halebi
My cosplay Facebook: facebook.com/puppyrock32
and My Society6: society6.com/puppyrock3
My personal Tumblr is: puppyrock3.tumblr.com
It has my art, process images, cosplay, etc. but also just things I enjoy, so it can be a lot to sift through. I only link it here because you can send me an ask on Tumblr as a form of contact, and I can link you to other social media pages that I update less frequently or to process images on certain pieces of interest.

godproject
God Project

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

Interview: Bethany Heim

Today we’re joined by Bethany Heim. Bethany is an amazing and versatile artist who hasn’t met a medium she doesn’t like. She writes, she draws comics, and she does quite a lot of Girl Genius fanart. Bethany is quite popular for her tea blends, which she sells on Etsy. She’s an incredibly passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

invincible
Invincible

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m pretty much constantly creating something. I draw two ongoing comics, I write prose fiction, and I dabble in cosplay and other textile arts. Around these parts, though, I think I’m mostly known for making the Girl Genius tea blends.

What inspires you?

My brain doesn’t sit still. If I have to a mindless repetitive task, then I guarantee I’m writing in my head. Sometimes I’m just plotting major events in a story, but I’ve actually had to memorize entire paragraphs of dialogue because I wrote them while driving.

If I’m terribly honest, anger and spite also give my work a major boost. I’m currently writing a novel that would not exist without spite.

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

Oddly enough, I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember, and I first developed a serious interest in writing when I was about ten or eleven, but I was in my early twenties before it occurred to me that I could combine the two by drawing comics.

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 like monochrome. My comics are black and white. I also do a lot of ink wash style fanart in single colors (I tend to favor burgundy and brick shades for those).

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never stop trying new things. You don’t know what your next Big Project will be.

sfynn-tea
Sfynn Tea

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aro/ace. 100%

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

At my day job, the bosses tend to treat me like I’m a lot younger than I am because I neither have nor want a “significant other”. When work friends complain about their love lives and I try to contribute to the conversation, I get told: “You wouldn’t understand.” Then I blow off steam by angrily writing healthy relationships in my fiction.

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

I was about to say that it’s the old “You just haven’t met the right person” nonsense, but actually, I hear “You wouldn’t understand” so much more. I’m a writer. I observe people professionally. I may not understand wanting to be in a relationship from personal experience any more than I know what it’s like to fight Vikings, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use my imagination to put myself in someone else’s shoes.

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

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s okay if you’re thirty, forty, fifty years old and you still don’t know. Just take your time and get to know yourself. I promise, you’re valid, and there’s nothing wrong with you.

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

My two comics (which will be coming off hiatus in February) are outside-in.thecomicseries.com and discord.thecomiciseries.com, and a small excerpt from the novel I’m working on, as well as quite a lot of Girl Genius fanfiction, can be found on my fiction blog at overlord-off-record.tumblr.com. My main blog, bethany-sensei.tumblr.com, is a mess of art and reblogs. Oh, and those teas I mentioned can be found at etsy.com/shop/bethanysarts.

wolfbros
Wolf Bros

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

Interview: Kit

Today we’re joined by Kit. Kit is a wonderful writer who writes a bit of everything. She writes a lot of speculative fiction with queer characters and aspires to be published one day. When she’s not writing, Kit enjoys fanart and dabbles in cosplay. She’s got an incredible love of her craft, as you’ll read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I write speculative fiction of just about every kind you can think of — high fantasy, urban/contemporary fantasy, occasionally sci-fi or Twilight Zone-style horror — with plenty of queer characters. I have been known to write the occasional fanfiction, and I cosplay as well! I love making cheap/DIY and “closet” cosplays. In this picture I’m playing DC’s John Constantine, with an embarrassingly bad temporary dye job.

What inspires you?

Everything. I’ve gotten sparks of inspiration from everything from my own day-to-day life, to History Channel documentaries and Wikipedia rabbit holes, to binge-watching Shadowhunters. I believe in actively seeking inspiration from the world around me, because it really has so much to offer!

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

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I started reading, which was at the age of 3. It took a little longer before I learned how to write, but in the meantime I made stories with crayon drawings and Little People dolls. I’ve always been a storyteller.

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 of my main characters have some kind of physical scar or injury. I’m a self-harm survivor, so showing characters with scars that they don’t hide, that they consider part of their story, is really important to me.

Also, this is more of a recurring theme, but I love writing “roguish” characters — “outlaws with hearts of gold,” as the saying goes. Characters whose hearts and intentions (and hair) are good, even if sometimes they do bad things. I’m a sucker for guys/gals/NB pals like that.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. Seriously. You will think, “Oh, I’m not good enough,” “Oh, no one’s going to read this/like this,” “I’m just going to get rejected,” etc, but don’t listen to that. Yes, you’re going to write stuff that isn’t good, you’re going to write stuff that no one likes, you’re going to get rejected, but you’ll also write stories that people love. That will make it worth it, believe me, and you’ll never get there if you don’t JUST START.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual (I go back and forth between that and greysexual, I’m still questioning, but for now I think demisexual fits best) and bi-romantic.

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

I wouldn’t consider it prejudice, or even ignorance, but there is a very pervasive, and kinda frustrating, idea in modern publishing (especially YA) that a story isn’t ~interesting enough~ without romance, and the sexier the romance the better. I think it’s important for both ace and allo readers to see that, first, you can have a perfectly good story with no romance, and second, you can have a perfectly good romance with no sex!

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

A surprising number of people — including my parents! — don’t really “buy” that I don’t experience sexual feelings (or, more accurately, don’t experience them outside of people I already have romantic feelings for), because I’m a teenager and aren’t all teenagers always thinking about sex?? (Well…no, actually. I have to go with no on that.)

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

No one gets to define asexuality for you except you, just like no one gets to define your romantic orientation, gender identity, etc. Whether you’re completely sex-repulsed or you still want to have sex one day, whether you consider asexuality a huge part of your identity or NBD, whether you experience romantic attraction or not, you are ace and aces totally rule, ergo you totally rule!

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

I write under the name K. Noel Moore at https://www.wattpad.com/user/K_Moore13, most stories there have also been published on inkitt.com, and I sometimes post flash fiction on my personal (well, my only) blog at http://gayamericanoutlaw.tumblr.com. I’m also working on selling my first short story (a ghost story set in the 1930s with a gay narrator), so if you follow any magazines in the vein of Apex or Nightmare (by which I mean fantasy/sci-fi/horror-centric stuff) keep an out for me!

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

Interview: Chika

Today we’re joined by Chika. Chika is a phenomenal visual artist who also dabbles in writing and fanart. Though she started out in traditional mediums, Chika has been focusing mainly on digital art. When she’s not sketching, she does some cosplay and has started to get into tattoo design. Whatever she does, she puts her heart into it, as you’ll soon see. 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’m kind of all over the place in my interests, but lately I’ve been focusing a lot on digital art and writing. Even so, my roots are in traditional drawings so I still do a lot with traditional media (character sketches/drawings and watercolors, yay art degree teaching me to appreciate wet media!) and I’m a cosplayer when my schedule allows for it. I’m also starting to play around with tattoo designs

The majority of my works are fan-based, usually revolving around my friends’ and my fan characters. Even so, I’m trying to get some of my own stories scribbled down so I can give them proper attention too

What inspires you?

Music is probably my biggest source of inspiration – especially emotional music, like instrumental or metal. My family also has a huge impact on my art, and on my characters especially. (they’ll sometimes find themselves in situations similar to what’s happening with my family in real life. Oops!) Researching gets me in a creative groove too – researching anything! Myths, cultures, history, medical journals, unusual animals, genre tropes, what have you.

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

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, though I put it aside for a few years in my young teen years and didn’t push myself to really improve my artwork until I got back to it at age 15. Even then, it was actually my sister who got me back into it, bursting into my room not a month after we discovered anime and saying that I should learn how to draw it.

Even when I wasn’t drawing, writing was a constant hobby of mine. And as I got back into drawing, I realized that my passion wasn’t just drawing or just writing, but it was in creating stories that I could share with the world – and now being able to express these both visually and in writing? Young me was stoked! Heck, older me is still stoked.

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?

After a nasty bout of art theft in my main fandom, I usually sign my deviantART handle on my drawings. Aside from that, I’d say my “signature” is probably just the fact that 90% of my works involve my characters

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep going! I know there are days that the going gets rough, especially if you’re not at the level you want to be at, but you can get there someday if you just keep your chin up and eyes on-target. And if you can, surround yourself with people who will encourage you, give you tips, build you up as an artist and a person. Having a positive atmosphere around you will make every aspect of your life better, and your art will especially benefit from that positivity!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a cupioromantic asexual, though often I’ll just say I’m aro ace if I don’t want to go into the full explanation of what being cupio means (I have yet to master explaining “I lack the attraction but still want the relationship” without just leaving folks more confused than they were to begin with)

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

Thankfully I haven’t run into a lot of prejudice, and my online circle of friends have been incredibly helpful and understanding, but I’m met with a fair bit of ignorance in my daily life. Unfortunately, up until recently I didn’t combat it at all because I didn’t feel safe coming out in public and I wasn’t sure I could discuss it and not out myself. But of late I’ve been providing definitions and explanations when needed, to the best of my ability. It’s not always easy, but if someone is going to listen and take it in when they voiced confusion, cool! If they don’t, then that’s not on me – I did all I could

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

That asexuality is just a fancy word for sexual immaturity. Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I heard “oh you just haven’t found the one yet,” “what was your childhood like,” “you’re just too young to know,” etc. then I wouldn’t have to take out student loans to pay for school

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

Nobody knows you better than you do. Don’t let others assume that they know you better than you know yourself; and don’t let someone else’s perception of you negatively impact your life. You’re too complex and interesting and cool for that!

You’re learning something new about yourself, and that’s really exciting! If you don’t find a box that you fit perfectly into, that’s perfectly fine. If you do, that’s okay too. And if your understanding of yourself changes over time (like your orientation changes), then that’s totally cool as well. The important thing is that you stay true to you

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

You can find me here on Tumblr at knightlychika, though a lot of my drawings don’t make it on here. You can find them all on my deviantART page, though!

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

Interview: Cherry

Today we’re joined by Cherry. Cherry is a fantastic writer who loves to write original stories and aims to publish a series some day. On the rare occasions she’s not writing, Cherry also loves to cosplay. 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’m a writer and I’m constantly writing, sometimes multiple stories at a time! Currently I’m settled on one story that I hope to publish and make into a series with several main characters who are on the ace spectrum! I also cosplay on the side!

What inspires you?

Honestly? Spite.

I’ve read plenty of stories where there are only few gay characters and even then they’re written by people who are so obviously straight and they write them wrong or push them to the side. I get angry because they put steeotyoes on their characters and often they don’t even talk about asexual people.  I write to make characters like me and reassure myself that what I feel is valid and okay to feel and, honestly, it’s really helped. I used to feel so ashamed about who I was but writing was the greatest outlet I had and now I’m so proud of who I am.

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

I got into writing when I was eleven, I wanted to express myself and I loved reading so I thought I would give it a try! I started with fan fiction and I ended up loving it so I started moving on to my own stories and I’ve been at it since then! I can’t think of a day I haven’t written!

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?

My writing style is very lax. I’ve always found books to be so formal and stiff so I make my writing have my sense of humor so the readers can laugh and enjoy my story :)!

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s always going to seem there’s someone in your field that is better than you.

And that’s okay.

Just focus on yourself and work hard to improve on what you love to do. Writing or drawing isn’t a born trait, you need to work at it everyday. Also you don’t need to fit a mold of how it should be done. It’s wonderful when it’s done your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Homoromantic and possibly demisexual or gray ace. I haven’t really been able to figure out yet, but I have all the time in the world!

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

Yes I have. From my own parents, friends, and coworkers. I’ll tell people who I am and they think something’s wrong with me. I tend to explain it but if they don’t get it then it’s whatever, they’re not worth my time. They’re not in a relationship with me so their opinion of me not wanting sex doesn’t matter to me.

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

“You just haven’t met The One™”

“Once you have it, you’ll like it.”

“You’re not part of the LGBT community if you’re ace.”

“If you haven’t tried it, how do you know you don’t like it?”

“Not being able to get turned on? That’s a disease!!” (Actually heard that one today while talking to a coworker who was referring to another ace)

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

You are so valid and there is nothing wrong with not feeling sexual attraction and not wanting to have sex. Sex does not equal love and you should not force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t need to have sex to know you don’t want it. If your partner was really The One™ then they wouldn’t make you have sex if you don’t want it or guilt trip you into doing so. They would love you how you are and wouldn’t change anything about you.

You are not broken. You don’t have a disease. You are so perfect the way you are don’t let anyone tell you other wise. You have a long life ahead of you, you don’t need to label yourself right away as Demi, gray ace, sex repulsed ace, sex indifferent ace, whatever. Just figure yourself out, safely, and just live life. You are a valid ace, with a sex life, or not.

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

I haven’t exactly posted my work online since it’s still very much so in the works but you can contact me on Tumblr (at) Chulacereza I’d love to talk about my story!

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