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: 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: Rachael Peabody

Today we’re joined by Rachael Peabody. Rachael is an amazing visual artist who specializes in digital art. She’s a comics artist and is currently working on a romance comic that features an asexual character. She is incredibly passionate about her art, which always makes for a great interview. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

card2016smllr

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mainly work with digital art (predominantly Adobe Illustrator) and create comics. I’m not professional but I am very passionate about comics and their creation. Currently I am working on a romance comic. This was more of a challenge until I thought it might be nice for it to feature one of the main characters as an Asexual. This will come into play in the second book since he hasn’t realized it yet.

What inspires you?

I get the biggest source of inspiration from music, but following my favorite creators on social media is always a great place to get strength. A lot of artists are willing to share their thoughts and ideas online. Granted no one should make their work a checklist of things to impress their role models, but you can see the world from a much broader perspective which is definitely something a creator needs. And, to be completely self-centered, hearing from my readers really gives me a boost to continue.

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

When I was little I actually wanted to be an Entomologist but my heart wasn’t in it. I fell into drawing and writing to deal with some issues going on with my family. While I was in college getting my BFA I started to pour hours and hours into comics. It went from a coping mechanism to an obsession and then a drive. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t create.

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?

Uhm, I’m not sure. I’m always trying to add something to my work to make it stand out. I’d like to be someone who could be recognized by their style like some of my favorite comic creators. I have made it a point to never add highlighting to black areas other than hair (this is a leftover flip-of-the-bird to a really awful drawing professor I had in college who told me pure black doesn’t exist). I’ve been told many times that my expressions are awesome but no one has been able to pinpoint it, including myself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The best advice I ever got was when I was stuck in a rut with a previous story. I was talking to a comic writer at a comic convention. He said: “You’re a creator. Some people aren’t. There’s no reason you can’t just create something, even if it’s terrible. That’s something only you have and can control 100%. So do it.” There will be times when you feel blocked and miserable and guilty about not creating, or maybe you just can’t find the time with Life happening. It’s okay. You’re a creator. You will find the time and the place and when you do, breathe life into something. Until then, just take care of yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I came out as a Hetero-romantic Asexual a few years ago to my friends and online mutuals. I had been dealing with some very serious depression for my whole life; most of it was centered on my inability to find a partner because while I knew I wasn’t gay, my dating experiences ranged from brief and confusing for the guy to awkward and uncomfortable for me. I felt some weird need to prove to the planet that ‘hey look at me a normal functioning heterosexual beep boop’. I discovered an ocean of orientations being talked about online and suddenly the word Asexual hit me. I fit it so perfectly. When I found out who I was and that I was not broken my life became so much more enjoyable. Even my depression is easier to deal with.

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

So far only one person has given me any guff for it, but they are in their 60’s and pretty resistant to new information. It’s just strange that this individual is also a Homosexual – I had kind of hoped he’d be more understanding or accepting. This is partially the same reason I haven’t come out to my parents. When it comes to comics, however, people are wide-mouthed and ready for diverse characters, creators and situations. I want to be able to create an Ace character to help with representation just like the creators who are making Gay, Trans, and Nonbinary stories. If I had had exposure to the concept of Asexuality when I was in my teens I have no doubt that things would’ve been much easier for me.

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

The biggest issue I have with coming out to people is that I’ve never had sex or a serious relationship and they seem to think I need those experiences to PROVE to them that I’m Asexual. While I do desire a close relationship with another person romantically or at least affectionately, I have had only bad experiences with Heterosexual men. There is an expectation that I can’t fulfill. My body goes into panic mode, alarms are going off, I immediately go into a flight response and, in about a week, there is a very frustrated and angry guy calling me a tease or a Lesbian. You don’t need to have sex or even a long-term relationship to know your own body. The idea that you need to be clawed to pieces by a tiger to know you don’t like being clawed to pieces by a tiger is just as stupid.

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

If you don’t feel like you fit any one aspect of the Ace spectrum, please know YOU AREN’T BROKEN. And you DEFINITELY don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Join or at least follow as many Asexual information sources that you can. Consider that you might change at some point. If you do desire a relationship find someone who loves you and not your junk. Be comfortable and open about who you are because you might, without knowing it, give strength to someone who is just as lost as I was. Follow some Asexual humor blogs, too – sometimes they have the best comebacks for people who are being really intolerant about your orientation.

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

My main Tumblr blog is tlaloc4kids.tumblr.com and my comic is posted on ilikeyoucomic.tumblr.com. I also have a Twitter where I post random sneak peeks of the finished pages and other odd things. You can find me there (at) rlpeabody.

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

Interview: Brenna

Today we’re joined by Brenna. Brenna is a wonderful young artist who is quite versatile. She does visual art, writing, and singing. She’s currently studying art in school and is incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do many arts from painting and drawing to singing- but the one I’m most passionate about is my writing. I even go to an arts high school for it.

What inspires you?

Music usually inspires me, but other times it’s dreams or TV shows, movies or books that I really like.

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

I really got into writing in sixth grade, I loved it and I realised that that’s what I want to do for a living. When I was younger I really wanted to be a vet- then I wanted to be a singer, then I wanted to be an actress, so you can say I’ve always been into art- but it wasn’t until the sixth grade that I was sure of which 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?

I’m not sure if I do- I’m sure if you look intently through my recent works you would be able to find something. I usually write first person from a female protagonists view, that female protagonist is usually quite arrogant and sarcastic. That’s all I can notice for now, but I’m positive that there has to be something else.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To young aspiring artists: Go out there, experience new things, work on your art- because you’ll never be perfect, there’s no such thing as perfect- but you can pretty well damn try.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as heteromantic, demisexual.

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

I haven’t actually experienced any ace prejudice or ignorance in my field, as I said- those in my field that I interact with all go to the same arts school as I, and so we are exposed to many sexual orientations, many genders, many religions- and so we kinda have to go into everything with an open mind. I say I’m very lucky not to have experienced it in my field.

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

The most common misconception that I’ve encountered is that since you identify as somewhere on the asexual spectrum you are also aromantic. It actually gotten tiring explaining it to people when I tell them that I identify as demisexual and then in later conversations say that I want a boyfriend, they’re always like “oh but aren’t you aseuxal?” Yes, I am- but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel romantic attraction.

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

It’s okay if you don’t understand where you identify on the spectrum- you honestly don’t need to put a label on it, no, or ever. It’s okay if you don’t know why you feel, or don’t feel these things- we don’t know either, the best thing I can tell you is to embrace it and move on with your life, it’s a part of you and you can choose what to do with that knowledge.

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

People can find more of my work on Wattpad at: https://www.wattpad.com/user/JazzHz0o0 but I would advise not reading the stories I wrote before 2016, because they are cringey and make me visably cringe when I read them. But you can do what you want with your life, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other than that I am working on another story that will come out soon, because it is almost finished- so look out for that.

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

Interview: Morgan Lees

Today we’re joined by Morgan Lees. Morgan is a wonderful artist who specializes in fantasy art and illustration. They’re have an ongoing comic entitled Corner the Maze, which is delightful urban fantasy about a racing driver who winds up in a different dimension. Aside from the comic, Morgan also does a lot of freelance illustration and has done some theater (including stage combat) in the past. Their work is beautiful and the detail is extraordinary, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

mephoto

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I draw, paint, write, and do theater – some of those things more than the others. I’ve been focusing primarily on my comic of late, and I’m a freelance illustrator. My comic work is done in pen and ink, and I’ve been working with pencil on toned paper a lot lately for other art. I haven’t done much with theater aside from stage combat lately, but I’m hoping to get into it more again when I have more time (which I’ve been saying for years now, so who knows when that will be). I guess the common thread is that I like telling stories with art in one form or another.

My comic is called Corner the Maze, and it follows the adventures of a racing driver who finds himself inadvertently trapped in another dimension after falling into a strange portal during a race. It ties into the same setting as the books I’m writing, and some of the characters end up appearing in both, but I’m making sure that they both work well as standalone things, too.

What inspires you?

Mostly I have a lot of story and character ideas jostling about in my head, and I want to get those out and in some form where other people can (hopefully) enjoy them. I’m also inspired by music, nature, and rather unpredictable flashes of insight coming from seemingly random sources. So, I guess mostly it’s whatever happens to set my imagination off, which isn’t very predictable.

Roleplaying games have also been a big source of inspiration for me since I was really little. A great percentage of everything I’ve ever drawn has been one of my characters or another, either in pen and paper games or from CRPGs, and that probably had something to do with getting me thinking about characterization and storytelling so much as well.

Stylistically, again with the roleplaying games, I always really liked the black and white illustrations found in the RPG books I grew up with – first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and then Middle-earth Roleplaying/Rolemaster – and I’m sure that had some effect on my pen and ink style. Same goes for Choose Your Own Adventure type books.

001

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

I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, but I didn’t get serious about it until I was eighteen or so. For some reason, both drawing and writing as career options seemed out of reach to me when I was younger, but then I decided that I was going to give it my best shot and see if I could make it work. I was actually more focused on theater (directing and lighting design especially) when I was younger, but the amount of travel that would end up being necessary for that put me off in the end – that, and what I really want to be doing more than anything is telling my own stories. That’s what led me to the comic, and what inspired me to get my writing in shape.

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 really! I sign my work with my initials and the date, but that’s about it.

038

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop practicing. Whenever you’ve got time, as much as you can possibly stand it, practice. When I look back and see the difference between where I am with my work and where I want to be, and look at the people who are where I want to be, the single greatest difference is always that they were more dedicated earlier on. I goofed off a lot when I was a kid and a teenager – there were plenty of whole weeks where I didn’t draw at all. There are lots of different ways to learn, and there’s no one piece of advice there that will work for everyone, but practice is universal.

morganlees_nerevarine
Nerevarine

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual. I’ve simply never had the slightest sort of romantic or sexual interest in anyone else. It took me an oddly long time to realize that’s not how most people are, and once I realized that, it “only” took me another few years to realize the rest of it.

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

The worst I’ve encountered is people thinking I’m weird, but then, the place I’ve generally spent the most time with other people in my life is in the theater – and it is true that people tend to get less flak for being seen as different there than in some other places. I was also home-schooled until I went to college, so overall I’ve had a lot less opportunity to encounter prejudice than many people. I did deal with some in college, but again, pretty mild and not directed at me (I hadn’t yet quite realized that I was asexual at the time). It made me uncomfortable, but that’s about it.

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

I did get a lot of people telling me I would grow out of it when I was younger (although that was only when I expressed a lack of interest, since I didn’t identify as asexual yet), but nothing in that vein for the last six or seven years. Again, I’m probably lucky with my circle of acquaintances in this regard; they tend to be rather reasonable and open-minded people.

morganlees_shadowofmurder
Shadow of Murder

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

There’s nothing wrong with you, and if you’re happy with yourself, that’s what matters. There’s no one recipe for happiness, so don’t let anybody tell you that there is. You don’t need to have a romantic relationship or have sex to have a great life (although of course neither of those things will stop you from it either), and being unusual isn’t worse in any way, just different.

I wish I had more useful advice, but I just went about happily assuming that nobody else actually cared about those things either until I was already in my twenties, so… yeah. I’m kind of oblivious about things sometimes, especially where people are concerned.

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

My comic can be found at http://cornerthemaze.net/ and updates every Tuesday and Thursday, my illustration portfolio is at http://morganelees.com/ (which is also where my writing stuff will be, when I get any of that up again), and I generally post all my art to my DeviantArt account at http://remmirath-ml.deviantart.com/. I try to keep those all just about as much up to date, but if anything’s going to fall behind, it’s usually DeviantArt.

morganlees_turnaway
Turn Away

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

Interview: Vide Frank

Today we’re joined by Vide Frank. Vide is a phenomenal illustrator from Sweden. They’re part of a group made up of asexual and aromantic individuals. Vide was also on a panel about asexual and aro issues at Stockholm pride. Their work is gorgeous and vivid, evoking an incredible amount of emotion, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

final1-details

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a visual artist, which is a very broad term. I paint and draw both digitally and traditionally but have also dabbled around in sewing, sculpting, writing and jewelry making. I mostly stick to painting and drawing though. I use a lot of different mediums, like watercolor, markers, graphite, oil paint, acrylic paint, colored pencils, photoshop and paint tool sai.

What inspires you?

So many things, like music, movies, books, fanfiction, poetry, photos, drawings, paintings and real life. I’m very driven by my emotions though, so it all depends on how I’m feeling in that moment.

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

I guess I always had this fascination with art, I used to beg my mom to draw things for me and I loved to use my hands to create things. Art has always been a part of my life, although I didn’t really try to improve until I was around twelve, and it wasn’t until I was fifteen that I actually thought of making it into a carrier. I don’t believe enough in myself to actually take that leap though, so I’m studying to become an assistant nurse at a gymnasium in Sweden.

untitled

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 a symbol or feature, since I think I would grow tired of it and start to hate it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s okay if your art look like crap, your dance can be off or you could have fucked up that seam, and that’s okay. Perfection isn’t necessary, it’s just tiring. Keep practicing, keep making mistakes, keep working and someday someone will say that you did well, and maybe that won’t be enough, but maybe it will. Learn to love the journey, not the result (as cheesy as that sounds).

yvfinal-resized2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demi gray asexual, which means (according to me) that I need to have an emotional connection to a person to feel sexual attraction to them, but it’s still very rare for me to experience sexual attraction.

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

In my field? No, but that’s mostly because I’m not very open about my “queer-ness” around my art. In other places? Yeah, defiantly. I mostly try to keep a calm and open mind when I meet these people, and try to calmly explain my point of view with examples and such. Most of the time they understand or we agree to disagree.

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

That we don’t have sex or that we just need to find “the one”. Both are complete bullshit, I can have sex with a person and still be ace, asexuality isn’t about our actions, but about our attractions.

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

You don’t have a find a label or figure everything out, it’s okay to just be. If the people around you don’t support you there’s always other people in the world, someone out of the seven billion are going to understand.

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

You can find my art on my Instagram at plantrot:
https://www.instagram.com/plantrot/

Or my portfolio http://vide.teknisten.com/

You can also buy some of my works at my Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/videfrank
(or contact me at vide.frankh@gmail.com)

tattoo

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

Interview: Mike Crawford

Today we’re joined by Mike Crawford. Mike is a wonderful visual artist from Scotland. He specializes in photography, but he also does a lot of drawing and painting. When he’s not creating visual art, Mike also writes poetry. It’s very clear he enjoys creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1424857_orig

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly figurative and realist, and includes such things as life drawing, still life, portraiture and landscape.

I identify as ace, but as yet this doesn’t really make an appearance in my art.

I have had long conversations with ace friends about what ‘Ace Art’ might actually be….whether it might be a political statement about our struggle, or whether there is actually some sort of intrinsic ‘Aceness’ that might be detectable in a person’s paintings.

And also there’s the whole question of ‘Ghetto Art’ i.e. ‘Gay Art’, ‘Black Art’, ‘Feminist Art’, ‘Queer Art’ etc. To me, those forms of expressions can be valuable politically, but I think they raise expectations in the minds of the potential audience, so for instance if I had an exhibition entitled ‘Queer Art’ which was made up of naturalistic landscapes, I can almost hear a viewer saying ‘Oh…this isn’t quite what I expected…’ …so the fact that I’m queer and I make art doesn’t perhaps automatically lead to ‘Queer Art’

So I guess I’m still pondering any ‘ace dimension’ that my work may or may not contain.

6000187_orig

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the world around me, by places I visit and by people I meet.
I’m also inspired by the artists, poets and photographers I love.

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

Yes, from a very young age I was always drawing or colouring in.

In my teens, I was very fortunate to have an inspiring art tutor at school. He taught me how to use a grid pattern to scale up my vinyl album sleeves into posters, so I spent many happy hours in school copying photos of Bowie, Elton John, Roxy Music and Queen. People began to ask me if I could paint a design on their leather jacket or on a drum kit or the petrol tank of their motorbike and I became hooked on the incredibly social nature of art. I’m naturally shy, but art gave me a position within the group, in the same way as the class clown or sporty person… I was the arty one.

Later on, I went to some evening classes to study colour theory and then after I moved to Scotland to live at Faslane Peace Camp (a community which protests against nuclear weapons), I began to stop using photos and other people’s art as my references and to instead draw the people I was meeting and the landscape around me. This was very liberating as I discovered that I no longer needed to be copying other people’s ideas….that I could be original.

During my time at the Peace Camp, I also studied for a Foundation Art Course, which allowed me to build a portfolio of life drawings etc…and to then apply to Art School.

I then spent the next four years studying intently and have basically never stopped learning ever since.

9503396_orig

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 try to begin every artwork from scratch….from first principles if possible. One of the problems I’ve had with using galleries and agents is that they prefer you to be the guy or gal who paints cottages or stormy skies or clowns or whatever. If a painting sells, they want you paint another 20 exactly the same, because that’s how they make money. I don’t do that and I try never to repeat myself.

I don’t really have any recurring iconography in my work, except to say that I love to paint flowers. But no….not a unique symbol as such.

Many of my favourite artists very much DO have repeated objects and themes in their art and I love it….it just doesn’t happen for me in my own work, but if it works for you, I would absolutely encourage you to explore any and all personal symbolism.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To always be your authentic self and to get as far away from any form of copying as possible. Try every possible medium you can. You might suck at oil on canvas, but be amazing at lino printing, so give everything a try. And also just have fun!

Something I used to teach my students;

Remember two simple things…’What do I want to say?’ and ‘How do I want to say it?’

…in other words, what do you wish your artwork to convey in terms of meaning, colours, politics etc, and also, which mediums will be best suited to tell your story? And of course as you continually revise your ideas, the mediums and methods can change too, so it’s a constant process…a journey rather than a destination.

dee-river_orig

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Just plain old ace is fine for me, as I’m personally not the world’s biggest fan of the ‘spectrum’ concept.

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

Several years ago I was invited by some gay friends to take part in a local LGBT art exhibition. I submitted a painting, but it was returned to me by the organisers with a note to the effect that ‘asexuality has nothing to do with LGBT’ and that ‘there must be some confusion, so we are returning your artwork’.

In actual fact, what upset me the most was not the ignorance of the organisers, but the fact that several LGBT artists I know were happy to continue to submit work to the show without a word of protest about my poor treatment. That experience taught me a lot.

7471309_orig

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

Most of the misconceptions and negativity seem to come from gay acquaintances, who will say stuff about asexuality being a medical problem caused by a hormone deficiency, or that ace relationships are not genuine or are ‘merely friendships’.

I’m not sure why straight friends have never said any of that stuff to me.

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

I would say that you are in a more fortunate position now than folk in my age bracket, who were struggling with their sexuality in a pre-internet, pre-google world.

I know it’s impossible to imagine now, but in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, there was literally no way to meet other aces, and no coherent way to explain to friends and family who you were as a person. Aces in their 50s and 60s often have failed relationships and marriages behind them, and years of suffering blindly, so I would say to young people ‘enjoy this amazing new community’

still-life-email_orig

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

http://mikeyartwork.weebly.com/.

4204927_orig

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