Interview: Matthew J-B

Today we’re joined by Matthew J-B. Matthew is a wonderful artist who specializes in crafts. He does quite a bit of crafting, a little bit of everything in fact. He does crochet, sewing, yarn spinning as well as things like paper craft and duct tape craft. He even does some cooking. Matthew is an incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I craft.  I make everything that I know how to make.  I crochet, spin yarn, sew, sculpt, paper craft, duct tape craft, rainbow loom, paint, make bath products and cook.

What inspires you?

Mostly what makes me happy inspires me.  I create thing for friends, family (including my critters) and sometimes just for myself. My best friend is also a very good and positive muse.  They inspire me to create things to make people happy.  I am also inspired by my spirituality and my devotion to my path. I have a close connection to Hephaestus, god of artisans.

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

I grew up surrounded by all sorts of crafting materials.  My mother has always had crochet projects and my grandmother before her is a leader in her retirement communities crafting circles.

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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 do work with a lot of bird and animal imagery in my paper crafts since my parrots are such a huge part of my life.  But as far as universal signatures in my work, not so much.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep making.  You will find a medium you click with and maybe that is the one you love but sometimes you will love the look of painting but be predisposed to being better at crochet.  Nowhere is it written you can’t do both!  You can diversify and work on both what you are good at and what you love.  You have enough creativity to do it all!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a panromantic and probably asexual at this stage in my life but I am still exploring labels right now.  (I am also a somewhat fluid trans man which makes things just a little more complicated)

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

I have encountered a little since most of my crochet, spinning and scrapbooking is taught and expected of cis, straight women.  The expectation is to be creating for kids or a partner… whereas I have neither and don’t really want either.  But as far as outright prejudice, I have been lucky and most I come into contact with are understanding.

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

That it is one or the other. Most people I have mentioned it to expect someone who is asexual to be entirely non-sexual, this simply isn’t the case.  I do have a sex drive… I just don’t want to do anything about it with anyone.

I have also encountered the concept that because I am not interested in a sexual partner I must have been sexually assaulted.  I am lucky that I have not been, and even if I had, that knowledge is not for public consumption.

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

Explore on your own terms. You don’t have to pick terms right away, you don’t have to ever pick labels if you don’t want to.  It is your life and your identity.  It is entirely up to you how much if anything you explain to others.

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

I post quite a bit to my Tumblr:  ravenbara.tumblr.com

I also have an Etsy shop where I share a lot of my crafts at www.etsy.com/shop/RavenBara

Thank you so much for listening to me ramble!  I hope you find your way.

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

Interview: J.B.

Today we’re joined by J.B.. J.B. is a wonderful visual artist and writer. J.B. mostly writes but also does a lot of painting, woodburning, and sculpting. J.B. is very into creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to J.B. for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Sometimes I paint, sometimes I burn pictures into wood, sculpt or whatever I can lay my hands on.

Mostly I write.

Not because I chose to, but because I do not really have a choice. If each of my creative urges is a voice, writing has not only a megaphone, it is also standing right next to my ear and at the same time, tapping me on the shoulder. Craving attention like a 4-year old who really, REALLY needs to pee and has been hopping on the spot for the last half hour, but does not dare to go alone.

When I write, I sit in front of the screen and my mind goes dormant. Like someone flipped a switch. Pictures form in front of my eyes, words appear like someone is whispering them in my ear. My hands write on their own. Most of the time I have a rough Idea what I have written. The general idea that character A wants to confront B at a certain place.

How the place looks, the characters look and sound and what is around them, I usually do not notice. It appears like in a dream and flashes away as the scene continues. Characters burst through doors or appear suddenly without me ever thinking about them. Without me planning on further Characters. They just step out of shadows, come in and are active.

I never ask why or how. I just watch, while my mind conjures up the images and my hands write.

Only afterwards, when I read through what I have written and correct, I realize the details I had already forgotten. The cat that streaked round the corner while the characters were talking. The rain that splattered on the floor and sounded like applause. Or how one of the two characters was pausing a moment during talk, coughing dryly and then pulling his hat lower in his face, pressing his thin frame deeper into the shadows.

Details like this just come and go. And when an Idea like that appears, I have the choice to either write it down immediately or wait with the scene repeating in an endless circle in my mind, shoving all other thoughts away until I sit down and write.

That is mostly what I do.

What inspires you?

Everything.

It’ not something I can control. When I am outside and hear a rustle in the leaves, a scene might flash up with ear-splitting loudness. Someone being chased, frantic, hiding. Looking behind himself, breathing hard, eyes almost round with fear.

Why? From what? What goal does he have?

Or…. not.

Might be just a normal bird that I hear. I cannot control it.

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

I don’t know if I could call myself an artist. Is it art, if you do not really have a choice? I don’t think I have a choice if writing knocks me down like this. People sometimes call me an artist. Yet I do not think that I could compare with true artists. Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo. They made masterpieces. But I can’t do what they can. So no.

I neither see myself an artist, nor do I wish to be one.

But if I could continue writing and have other people enjoy what I write, maybe being able to make a living from it… well. That would be something that I really wanted. Just write and see where the story goes. I know the general path. But I want to know what the details are.

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?

Being shackled to the story. Quite literally.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I really don’t know. There are a lot of sayings like “follow your dreams” or “do what you want” or whatever. Most of them are hollow to me. They tell you what to do, yes. But not HOW to.

HOW to pay your rent if you follow your dream but cannot live from it.

HOW to know if what you do really has a future. If you are really good enough or maybe should be honest with yourself and just do it as a hobby because maybe you are good, but not good enough.

HOW to constantly defend what you do from critics and still struggle on, doing good work, believing in yourself against all odds and not to fall into the pit of self-doubt.

I am not that good on the advice part.

Maybe that’s the thing about advice though. There is an uncountable number of them. And maybe we all have to pick the ones that suit us an support us best?

Not really sure about that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Uff, I am not that good on definitions there. Because I hardly ever think about it.

I see myself neither as male or female, I do not really have the urge to define myself there.

I write what my characters feel, that is enough. I do not think about it for myself and that is perfectly all right with me. Most of the time, sexuality is something that I do not think about for myself. I do not feel important enough to think about it and define myself.

Plus, whenever I try to concentrate on it, my mind taps me on the shoulder and says “while you are focusing on that totally unimportant stuff, let me tell you about this AWESOME idea I have…” and then it is gone again.

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

No. I usually avoid discussions about sexuality and people are usually very quick to spot that I do not want to talk about this. If someone insists, I listen, but I do not discuss it for myself.

A wall works best for me.

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

The most common that I have seen so far? I really don’t know. There are so many things that run nose to nose toward the finishing line like racehorses. Sometimes “That is a lie, you just don’t want to talk about it” is in front, then “special snowflake wants to be important” beats it by a millimetre. Only to be immediately shoved out of the way by “so asexuals have no feelings at all?” And when no one is watching, “things that people dream up in their spare time after they have read stuff on the internet” creeps up from behind.

It is a weird mixture of prejudices and false accusations and media confusion. Mix that with the inability to peer into another person’s mind and heart and maybe throw in a little ignorance and you get a mixture that threatens to explode with things I would never have dreamed about.

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

Again the advice thing. The only thing that I can really say and that served me well is:

Tread carefully and keep your secrets to yourself if you want them to stay secret.

I am comfortable to not talk about this to people and kill the unpleasant conversations quickly.

But that suits me. I think, people need to see what fits them best. Maybe some people are best suited with discussing it until they are sure, maybe they aren’t. Everyone is different after all.

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

That is still pretty difficult, if you do not speak German.

So far, my book has not yet been translated into English. I hope it will be soon. But for everyone who speaks German, my book is called “Der Fluch der Dunkelheit” (The Curse of Darkness)

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Thank you, J.B. 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.

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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.

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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).

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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)

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

Interview: Alison

Today we’re joined by Alison. Alison is another amazingly versatile artist who does a little bit of everything: sculpting, painting, animation, cake decorating. Her work is spectacular and she has such a wonderful enthusiasm for her work. She’s currently working on a game for her senior project. It’s obvious that this artist has a very bright future ahead of her. 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 do a stupid variety of stuff – painting, sculpture, 3D modeling and animation, drawing, jewelry making, decorating fancy cakes, etc.

I usually just make whatever I’m in the mood for, but I’m looking to get more into sewing so I can fill my dorm with little stuffed foods. I also make cosplay stuff for people sometimes, but I’m really too cheap to make it for myself with any frequency – that stuff is expensive!

Recently, my time’s been taken up by making Mirrors of Grimaldi, a game for my senior project (semi-shameful plug: we’re actually looking for play testers now, if you have at least 2 Xbox controllers, you can download our alpha build here: http://51standfire.com/play-now/)

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What inspires you?

I draw inspiration from the things other people have done as well as nature and the random stuff around me. In my most recent batch of paintings, I’ve taken an interest in the screenshots I perpetually take of my boyfriend and his cats while we Skype – they’re quite funny.

(see below paintings 1-2 for examples of screenshots turned into paintings; fun fact: they’re the same guy in both paintings…)

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I also do a bit of writing, which often involves ace characters. In the coming weeks I’m actually going to be writing a series of short pieces about asexual experiences in relationships (both commonly encountered and personal) and the miscommunications and misconceptions that often arise. I’ll be posting about that later on my blog if anyone is interested…

Mostly though, I just kind of do whatever I’m in the mood for whenever I start doing something, though I often times have kind of a morbid flair to my stuff

(see below cakes 1-2 for example of morbid cakes)

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

I’ve been into crafting ever since I was little – my mom and granny are both pretty crafty and my dad was pretty into woodwork for a while. Presently I’m studying 3D Animation (until I graduate and am released into the real world in a few months – a truly terrifying thought) but have realized I want to take my “career-art” into a more game-based direction. For my hobby art I prefer the more traditional mediums like paint or charcoal… usually just whatever I’m in the mood for when I reach for my art supplies.

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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 that I can think of. Sometimes I’ll put little spades in my stuff, but that’s usually in my personal stuff or blatantly ace-related artwork. The stuff I make to sell I usually put any signature marks into except my actual signatures.

Though, like I said before, I do have a tendency to make my stuff kind of morbid or unsettling sometimes. I don’t really know why, but it’s satisfying to hear people go “eww” or “wow that’s weird” when they look at my stuff.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Find the type of art you enjoy doing and a style that works for you. If you’re just arting for the sake of arting, just have fun with it! If you want to make a living off you art, learn to promote yourself – set up internet shops, go to local events, brand yourself. And, while it’s always good to go for what you really want, make sure you have backup plans because making a living as an artist is bloody hard.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as plain ‘ol asexual. Also aromantic-ish (I’ve stopped trying to work out a label for the romantic side of things 😛 )

Suffice it to say I don’t mind being in romantic relationships or having sex with my significant other if I super-trust them and it’s a thing they want/enjoy.

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

In my field? Not really… It doesn’t really come up that often though. That being said, I actually know other 2 other ace peeps in my major/year (which is a pool of 12 people :P). I was in a 4 person group once and 3 of us were ace so we were joking that the other guy was the token sexual person on the team. It was quite funny.

I have encountered a fair bit of not-great reactions from guys I’ve dated in the past or random people I’ve explained it to, but in general most of the people I surround myself with are super cool about it.

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If I’m faced with prejudice or ignorance I usually just try to stay calm and explain what asexuality is. Normally that works pretty well if people are open to what you have to say… Though if they’re not, then I usually just agree to disagree as long as we can behave respectably towards each other. However, if people insist on being obnoxious about asexuality (or most other things) I tend to respond with intelligent snark (I hope it’s intelligent).

One thing I will say though, if you’re dating someone and they refuse to accept your asexuality or give you a hard time about it, it’s a good sign the relationship is probably not going to work out… At least that’s been my experience…

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

Apart from confusion about what it is, I guess just curiosity about sexual interest/practices or that ace can’t do relationships with non-aces. I’ve gotten a lot of random questions about how much I masturbate (from my roomie’s boss!) to questions about whether or not my boyfriend cares that I’m ace…

I think the biggest thing I encounter is people having a hard time believing asexuality exists or that people can survive without being interested in the sex, which, frankly, isn’t terribly surprising given how sexualized the media is these days.

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

You gotta make peace with who you are. If you want to identify as ace (or anything really) go for it – how you choose to identify/describe yourself is your choice and nobody else’s. It’s not always easy, but then nothing in life really is…

Just know that how you choose to identify or how you feel doesn’t mean your broken, so don’t let anyone tell you that you are. They’re not worth your time.

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

This’ll be a list… aight…

Here’s all the places where you can find pics of my stuff…

Portfolio Website: http://alison.friedlander.me/
A giant amalgamation of my best works in almost every medium I work in

Tumble Blog (Too-Asexy): http://too-asexy.tumblr.com/.
‘Dis is just ma tumblr blog 😄

Mirrors of Grimaldi (game I’m working on): http://51standfire.com/
OK, one more semi-shameful plug for my team’s game! Hope you guys don’t mind!

Here are the places where I actually sell things:

Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BlackBunnyCrafts
Paintings, wire wrapped jewelry, polymer clay jewelry

Shapeways Shop: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/grumpyalison
Ace rings (sizes available upon request), a triforce ring, keychains. More coming soon!

Red Bubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/grumpyalison/shop
Ace shirts, other misc shirts. More coming soon here too!

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

Interview: Neas Ramius

Today we’re joined on Neas Ramius.  Neas is a jack of all trades and does a bit of everything.  They’re very enthusiastic about their art and it shows in their interview.  My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I would have to say I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to my art. I like to draw and paint, I bake and decorate cakes, I sing, I play the keyboard, I cosplay, I like photography, and I like to do sculptures.

What inspires you?

Different people and events have inspired me with my art. My mom with the cake decorating, Howard Ashman & Alan Menken with my music, & a lot of different animators and comic artist like Glen Keene, & Charles Shultz just to name a few.

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

Yes, growing up I always enjoyed singing and drawing. In fifth grade I moved to another school and they had a band program which got me into music (played the trumpet) When I got to high school I stuck with the band (was switched to the baritone), took chorus, and started to take some art classes. In college went and got a BA in art with a minor in music. I really wanted to be an animator working for Disney doing hand drawn work but that’s a dying art but it would be cool to someday do a larger hand drawn animated movie like the two I did in school. I also need to finish doing the illustrations for the baby zombie book I wrote called I Love My Daddy, He Taste Like Chicken. On the side I enjoy making cakes for family and friends and the cosplaying I enjoy doing at different cons that come to town or for Halloween and Mardi Gras.

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

Not really.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To follow your dreams! Don’t let people tell you, you aren’t good enough to do something you really enjoy doing.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray biromantic asexual

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

Not yet.

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

That you don’t fit in or you are broken.

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

There are others out there like you. Find a meet up group, join Aven but in the end be who you are, enjoy who you are, & love yourself for who you are because there is no one like you.

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

I don’t have a website yet for any of it but if anyone is interested they can always email me at touchedbythedevil@juno.com

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