Interview: Claire Greenhalgh

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual and biromantic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Gwyneth Ochsner

Today we’re joined by Gwyneth Ochsner. Gwyneth is a phenomenal artist who is incredibly versatile. They haven’t met a field they don’t like: writing, visual art, and music. Gwyneth is an artist who does it all. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Most of my work is in illustration, and I do original and fan art. I prefer to work traditionally, with paper and pen, but I sometimes draw digitally in MS Paint. I’m also a writer, and have already finished writing one book, and am working on publishing it. I do write fan fiction, but I tend to write more original fiction stories. I hope to work professionally as an actor, with a focus on voice work. I also write music and sing, and have performed several times for my schools in the past.

What inspires you?

In terms of illustration, I am inspired a lot by comic book artists like Kris Anka and the like, as well as various artists online. However, I do often draw inspiration from filmmakers and animators, like Wes Anderson and Tim Burton, especially in regards to staging and colour schemes.

For my writing, I think two of my biggest influences are Douglas Addams and Laurie Halse Anderson, the former for his humour, the latter for her realistic and inclusive writing style.

My main inspiration for wanting to be a voice actor, if I’m being honest, is to be the voice of some child’s favourite character. I enjoy doing impressions, and nothing makes me happier than the absolute joy on a kid’s face when I do the voice of, say, a Disney character.

As for music, I draw my inspiration from various places, but an embarrassingly obvious influence on my original work is definitely the jazz music my dad always listened to while I was growing up.

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

I’ve always been interested in illustration, ever since I could hold a pencil, but I didn’t really start focusing on it until a friend introduced me to anime in third grade. I’ve been drawing like a maniac ever since.

Like illustration, I’ve always been interested in writing, but my interest in it has been pretty consistent, mostly spurred by my mother and Oma, my mother being a poet and screenwriter, and my Oma having been a librarian. Not to mention my whole family are bookworms.

I’ve always been a theatre kid, but what really made me want to be a voice actor was seeing an interview with Rob Paulsen, one of my favourite voice actors.

Also with music, I’ve always been interested, my whole family having been musically talented growing up, and my mother has a degree in music history and used to write songs for me and my brother when we were children.

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. In all aspects of my art, I still tend to experiment with my style.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Whatever it is that inspires you, whatever it is you want to do, you hold on to that, never forget where your love of art comes from. There is so much you can do with your craft, and if more people put their all into what they care about and makes them happy, the world, I think, would be a much nicer place to be.

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A Rose by any Other Name

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am Aromantic Asexual.

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

Not much in voice acting, but plenty in illustration, and especially writing and music.

There are very few ace characters within visual art, and we seem to be non-existent in major comic books. It’s a similar case with fiction and music. There are next to no ace characters in popular fiction, and you would be hard pressed to find an openly-ace, popular musician, or any songs written about asexuality. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of romance heavy novels and compulsory heterosexuality, and forget about ace songs, it’s nearly impossible to find a song that doesn’t include sex or romance.

The biggest prejudice I’ve found in all of these is in the fan community. Fan art and fan fiction are very much driven by shipping culture, and a lot of fans refuse to accept any ace or aro headcanons lest they interfere with their ships. It’s really disheartening.

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

Well, the one that I’ve personally had directed towards me is the idea that I’m too young to know, that I haven’t met the right person, that I’ll change my mind someday. Basically that I’m wrong, that asexuality is a type of immaturity or that it’s just plain not real.

Although, while I’m on the subject of reactions to telling someone I’m ace: Don’t ask ace people if they masturbate! Seriously, I’ve been asked this, it’s just rude. If you wouldn’t ask a gay person that, why would you ask an ace person? Honestly!

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

I’ll tell them what I wish someone had told me before I went through years of discomfort and confusion: Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction. Aromanticism means not experiencing romantic attraction. Asexuality is a completely valid orientation. Aromanticism is a completely valid orientation. We exist. I exist. You exist. You are not broken, weird, or inhuman for not wanting to have sex, not finding anyone attractive, not wanting to date anyone, no matter what your classmates might say, no matter what your family might say. You are real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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

The best place to look would be my Tumblr: zeddpool. Other places are DeviantArt: 6ForgettheCookies9, AO3: zeddpool, Fanfiction: Gnoff, and my YouTube: Gwyneth Ochsner.

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