Interview: Arf

Today we’re joined by Arf.  I could not be more excited to have a fellow ace blogger:  Arf runs the demigray Tumblr (http://www.demigray.org/), which is awesome.  She is also a ridiculously talented and versatile visual artist.  Arf works in a number of different mediums and her art is absolutely beautiful.  She’s also open to commissions.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

embroidery

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work in several different mediums: watercolors, colored pencils, digital art, and hand embroidery. I’ve been using traditional mediums since I was a child, and like combining watercolors with colored pencils to make layered, textured areas of color. My digital art has a graphic design focus, and I work with both vector and raster images; my current projects are making designs for my t-shirt line, Pride and Joy Prints, and playing around with glitch art. I recently took up embroidery as a hobby and have found it rewarding and relaxing to engage with a slower, more tedious process.

What inspires you?

I’m primarily inspired by nature — most of my subject matter features birds, plants, and animals, and it’s always vividly colored with flowers, foliage, patterns, plumage, and pelts. This is flavored with mythology and spirituality, as I like drawing deity-like or even mythical creatures sometimes.

Other sources of inspiration include vintage postage stamps, fashion and textile design from all cultures, contemporary tattoo design, and art dating from the late 1800s to the present. I also have a fondness for the clean lines and neon/muted colors of cyberpunk and dystopian aesthetics.

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

I have always been an artist, so it has always been natural for me to create images. My dad is an apparel designer so I grew up with Photoshop and Illustrator and an interest in graphic design. I think being an avid reader of fiction since forever helped, as I always have clear images in my head that want to come out. Finally, I’m Indian, and India of course has a very colorful culture, with saturated illustrations of Hindu gods, rainbow-colored silks, and much more.

glitchart

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?

I don’t have a specific symbol or secret, but I think my bold lines and use of color tend to be distinctive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you have the opportunity, take formal art classes at school or privately. There isn’t a replacement for getting feedback on your work from a professional, especially if you are just starting out. If you aren’t able to do this, do all the basic exercises that they would make you do, like drawing still lifes of apples, and consider finding a mentor.

Take time to refine your taste. This doesn’t mean that it is narrow necessarily, it just means that you know what you like. This helps in the development of your unique style. I maintain a personal Tumblr for this purpose and I reblog images that I think have something—color palette, subject matter, style—that I can incorporate into my own work.

Spend time researching different artists and think about why you like or dislike their works. Focus on curated sources like galleries, museums, and blogs/magazines.

trad

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am demisexual, though gray asexual also fits.

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

I haven’t, thankfully! But that’s because I rarely if ever tell people about it offline.

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

There are many misconceptions about asexuality as a whole, but the main one I hear about demisexuality is that it’s how everyone “normally” is, which is, of course, a misunderstanding of the basic concept. I also (disturbingly) hear from both aces and non-aces that gray asexuality is not a necessary or useful label.

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

Remember that labels can be as constricting as they can be liberating. If identifying with a label is stressing you out, it is perfectly acceptable to step back and say something like “I relate to asexuality” rather than “I am asexual.” It’s okay to be yourself first and accept your individualized sexuality on its own terms, rather than deal with the baggage a label might bring.

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

I have an unfortunately rarely updated “my art” tag on my blog and an Etsy shop where I sell pride t-shirts. There is more glitch art on my other blog.

vectors

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

Interview: EJ Oakley

Today we’re joined by EJ Oakley.  EJ is another remarkably talented and remarkably versatile artist.  They do just about everything, from painting and drawing to music to filmmaking.  My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

5

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I dabble in a lot of different types of visual art. I used to solely draw manga but I branched out from that and changed my style a lot when I started taking Visual Arts as a serious school subject. Now I do anything and everything from painting canvases to digital art, and I still find time for the occasional sketch or two.

Personally I love making glitch art and collages. I’m probably going to sound really pretentious but I really like how you can make something beautiful out of an error, or out of fragmented pieces of things that could come from many different places. I also like drawing with charcoal because I was born messy.

I also make short films documenting the times when I go out and do interesting things, which is not very often because I’m quite boring. I like filming things that people normally just pass by or don’t really appreciate, because it’s “trash” or it’s something that they’re so used to passing through every day, like a bus stop or tube station.

On the side; I’m the bassist and co-frontman in a band called Drop Bear. We don’t have anything up yet but I’m really excited for when we start recording.

What inspires you?

Other people. We have life drawing classes at school and I always get really excited whenever I find out we’re going to have a session because the human figure really fascinates me. It’s really interesting to see the body as how we all know it and then capture it and represent it on paper as something else, something different.

3

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

I did sort of always want to do something related to art. I used to really want to be a comic book artist. That was my burning desire throughout my childhood until I was about fifteen when I then realised I probably wasn’t good enough. Now I want to be a graphic designer, which is probably as much of a long shot, but hey, kids can dream…

In terms of my current “field” (if one could call it that) I guess I really got interested in it when I realised that people could actually make money doing what they liked, and I always liked the idea of representing thoughts and concepts in a visual, graphical way. Whether it involves drawing it out or chopping up a couple of pictures and pasting them together on Photoshop. In my current school and the school I was previously at I was (and am) head layout designer for several magazines in circulation around the school, and it’s a fantastic job.

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?

I work with a lot of classical figures and busts. The sculpture sections at the British Museum and the V&A are two of my favourite places; you’ll probably find me there most weekends I’m free actually. I like contrasting these really pure, smooth images of human beings against glitches and errors and static, because that’s what life is really like; nobody’s that perfect in real life.

first

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t do what I do, which is basically look down at your work and think, “Oh, great, that’s shit, I’m never making art again.” (I have to stop myself from doing this and give myself the following pep talk on regular occasions.) Art is a process and a journey, not a fixed thing. Make art regularly and don’t worry about consistency, you could produce a couple of sketches or a massive painting, as long as you’re keeping yourself moving down the path and on this journey.

You’ll constantly be improving all the time as you practice. Your style may change. You may change as a person and start to draw different things, or get better and worse at different mediums. It doesn’t matter. People change. Just keep going and keep moving and you’ll be all the better for it.

chilli

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am biromantic; I (sometimes) experience sexual attraction towards those who identify as male but only experience romantic attraction towards those who identify as female. I’m not even sure if I’m describing this right.

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

A lot of people I’m friends with just do not know what asexuality is. Either they’re unaware it exists or they think it’s something other than it actually is. (I once heard someone say that they thought asexuals hated children. Although I do dislike small, loud children; I’m very sure this is not true of all asexuals.) If I try and explain it to them things generally work out, though. I’ve never been bullied or been the butt of discrimination because of my sexuality, thankfully.

hannibal

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

Whenever I mention asexuality to someone, a response I get a lot is, “what, like plants?” Several people have also asked me if asexual people reproduce by splitting themselves into two. This is a real thing.

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

If you’re unsure why you feel a certain way, don’t worry. You unconsciously know what you want and what’s best for yourself, even if you can’t or won’t consciously admit it. Go with what you feel, and don’t try to change yourself, because that will make you feel even worse. And if you don’t know where you fit on the spectrum, it’s okay. You don’t even have to try and label yourself, or feel uncomfortable if you don’t fully fit under one umbrella or another. You won’t ever be asked to sit down and describe your sexuality in three words or less. That doesn’t happen. Really, it doesn’t.

Mind Mischief

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

My work is scattered all over the Internet:

My “official” art portfolio (for bidniss only aaiiight?) is at http://waterjump.tumblr.com

My art/personal Instagram (for sketches and small stuff, this is updated more often than the portfolio) is at http://instagram.com/doyjivision

My Instagram for photography is at http://instagram.com/totalstrifeforever

I have a YouTube account for films at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF4oDxHbDSHd68zAkXDRcbA

And I also have a YouTube account for covers of songs I like at https://www.youtube.com/user/snowpatrolling

I have a Bandcamp for the previous band I was in (which is now broken up but you’re still welcome to enjoy the tunes) which is at http://thefountainkings.bandcamp.com

And I have a mostly abandoned Wattpad account (which I might revive soon, but if you’d like to read the half-finished story on there that would be brill) at http://wattpad.com/user/hallidays

If you want to follow my main (music-oriented and sometimes personally-oriented too) blog you can find me at http://roryloveless.tumblr.com

pudsey

Thank you so much, EJ, for taking the time to participate in this interview and this project.  It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: CK

Today we’re joined by CK.  CK is an amazing glitch artist.  CK has made some stunning work and I highly recommend looking it up.  My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 20.18.48

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work with the raw text/code of my image files, which are composed of traditional and digital collage content that is scanned and manipulated to form a unique image, and “glitch” or “datamosh” the code of the final saved image to produce a unique visual output comprised of the collaged image and whatever damage or affect my code alterations make on the image file itself, to present a final image generated by, in a way, hacking the art.

I have dyscalculia, which is a numerical/mathematics learning disability, and I have a very severe form of it. I cannot tell time, read a map, or do simple addition. Nothing involving numbers! So playing with code is very challenging for me, which makes it very rewarding when eventually get a final piece out of all the art making and code manipulation.

Glitch art can be very unpredictable or very controlled, depending on your methods and what you use or how you go about it, so I enjoy the possibilities, and I enjoy the sensation of being techliterate despite the fact that my disability prevents me from reaching a great deal of what I can’t help but feel would be my full potential otherwise. My coding methods are very different from what I have seen in other parts of the datamoshing or glitch art generating communities around the internet, and that is largely due to my disability. I fundamentally cannot understand numbers, their values or meanings, so I am a visual coder. It only makes sense that if I have to learn numbers by the way they look alone, and use visual memory to feign calculating and so forth, that I should be able to take those shapes and make new shapes with them. All numbers are to me are shapes. They mean nothing.

But art means something. I’ve done editorial glitch art, fashion illustration glitch art, and I’m working on a gallery show where large scale prints of my glitch art will be presented! So I’m taking that hidden underlayer of indecipherable mess, interpreting it in my own way, and using it to create something that DOES have meaning for me, that I can use to convey meaning to other people with visually, the same way I have to parse code.

Which probably sounds very strange! But I hope it makes sense.

What inspires you?

I watch a lot of 80s/90s cheesy cyberpunk or subculture based Blist movies, low budget stuff, the really good kind of bad! I’m also into riot grrl zines, early tech home published zines, a lot of indie/underground art and publications, photocopier zines, fandom creations from the early days of alt. pages and webrings, just a sort of “vintage net” interest in general. I like finding weird, outdated pages and playing with old tech, learning about how things started, the earliest methods of connecting to the internet, all sorts of weird trivia-like useless information that I look up just because I can.

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

I’ve been doing traditional illustration most of my life, but as I never worked with digital illustration before, I decided to take a completely different approach to my digital artwork and go from largely fine arts-style work to using code (Javascript, WebGL, etc.) to generate images. I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life, only that I’ve always made some kind of art (singing, writing, drawing) so wherever creative pursuits lead me, I’m willing to follow! I generally just do what I enjoy doing, and if it leads me somewhere, excellent. If not, I’ll always have another interest to delve into, so I’m not too worried about long-term permanence or bogging down into one genre of art or one theme. I’m very flexible when it comes to inspiration, interests, activities, anything.

What got me interested in art was just the idea of expression, and the look on people’s faces when I would draw, and how good it made me feel when I could make other people happy with the stuff I was doing. It’s hard for me to feel like anything I do is worth anything at all! But it makes people happy, and I enjoy doing it, so even if it’s worthless in the end and it goes nowhere and means nothing, at least there’s a moment or two where someone somewhere was happy about something I did, and that’s enough for me. I make art for myself, there’s no pleasing everyone, but I was always treated fairly poorly growing up (don’t worry, I’m not gonna make this depressing!) so just the thrill of seeing someone be positive in my general vicinity was enough accidental encouragement to get me to start drawing in class, and time evolved on from that.

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 particularly, actually! By which I mean I have no little insignia or anything, so there’s nothing particularly to reveal. I rarely have recurring themes, although I do tend to use human forms and eyes in a majority of my digital work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love, don’t feel like you have to listen to anyone, don’t feel like you have to make a career out of a hobby. If things happen, they happen, and if they don’t, don’t worry about it! Your priority should be how you feel and what you want to make. Get into self-promotion and network with other artists in whatever way you can, and have fun with it, and that’s the best way to snowball your fun into something that might actually pay off. Of course, don’t be jaded and aim for a paycheck! Don’t stress, just enjoy what you do, and don’t feel obligated to stick to one style and one interest and one theme or method or anything. Nothing is impossible: I have a severe number-based learning disorder, and I generate art with code! So don’t be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone, get weird, make mistakes, teach yourself what you need to know in order to do what you want. Nobody can teach you how to see but you. It’s your head, it’s your heart, it’s your hand.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual/romantic! For what it’s worth, I am also FTM, and my fiancée is genderqueer.

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

Yes, I have had some seriously bad experiences, in fact. Unfortunately, I don’t handle it per se. I avoid mentioning it all together. My relationships with others in my field go one of two ways: Impersonal collaborations, or like-minded artists that become my best friends. I tell my best friends, I know better than to put myself in the situation of having to explain to people I can’t trust not to listen to me or hurt me.

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

Oh, lord! When I was attempting to get on T for my transitioning, the gender therapist I was sent to (upon learning I was asexual) demanded blood tests for hormonal imbalances and kept telling me that it was either a result of imbalanced hormones or past sexual abuse traumas. You can imagine how offensive that was, considering my asexuality has absolutely nothing to do with my various traumas, or my (perfectly normal, I might add) hormones! I was enraged, and never went back. My trans* medical status has been on hold since then, so the struggle with being trans* AND being asexual is pretty severe, as most doctors, therapist, psychologists etc. will insist that one is the “result” of something else, insinuating that asexuality is a defect or a psychological problem exclusively. Which is obviously extremely ignorant and problematic for a number of reasons!

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

Oh, how familiar I am with that situation. The first thing to always remember is that nobody else is you. You are on your own time, you have your own feelings and your own expressions and your own life, and nobody can dictate who you are or how you identify or anything else.

There is no right or wrong way, there is no rulebook or solid set of universal guidelines or tells. And while that might seem scary and intimidating, you just need to sit back and think about yourself, not how other people see you or what they will think or how they will feel.

Your life is first and foremost about YOU, and you need to give yourself as much time or as much thought as you would give anyone or anything else. There are no rules, no specifics, just you and who you are. And if it’s hard to figure out, or very complicated, that’s fine! Just give yourself time.

Always remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of communities and resources and people on Tumblr and elsewhere, and while we aren’t as visible as many other LGBTQ+ communities, we’re there for you to help you with whatever you need, whenever you need it!

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

I have my glitch art portfolio here: effluviah.tumblr.com
I have my personal Tumblr: angryqueershakespeare.tumblr.com
My Twitter: @effluviah

And I am working on more formal portfolio sites, online shops, etc. which will be updated as new link pages at those blogs once they’re ready to go live! 🙂

portraitglitch1

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