Interview: Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing

Today we’re joined by Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing. Shona is an amazingly talented mixed media sculptor who specializes in metal. She dabbles in a number of other artistic fields, but sculpture is where her heart lies. There’s a truly amazing amount of detail and texture in her work, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m largely a mixed media sculpture artist with a focus on metal. Throughout my work I use crystal imagery as a way to discuss the anxiety of the relationship between the organic and the inorganic, and how that anxiety lends itself to a narrative of personal experiences of being caught “in-between”.

On the side I sketch, paint, and write novels and poetry that are often included in my installations through titles and accompanying works.

What inspires you?

I’ve based my recent work around the term tenalach, which is loosely used to describe ones relationship with the earth. I draw my inspiration from hiking in the Rocky Mountains, local flora and fauna, gemstones (particularly quartz), and local landscapes. I like things that don’t fit into strict categories.

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

My parents were interested in giving me a well-rounded education, so art lessons were always a thing for me when I was a kid. For the longest time I thought I would be a doctor, so I didn’t decide I “wanted to be an artist” until later in high school.

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 create monochromatic work as a way to subvert the understanding in art that white, whiteness, and minimalism are the purest form of artistic creation (it stems from modernism, the emergence of the “white cube gallery”, and theoretical writings such as “Ornament and Crime” by Adolf Loos – it’s SUPER problematic let me tell you). I use whiteness – traditionally coded as masculine – to explore the complexity of colour and texture, which are traditionally coded feminine.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try everything. The artist I was in high school isn’t the artist I was in undergrad, and the artist I was in undergrad isn’t the artist I am now. Allow yourself to be flexible and brave, you don’t know you what you’re capable of making if you don’t experiment regularly.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual/Aromantic

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

Frequently, more so as a grad student than a professional artist. Because grad students are playing out a specific life path that traditionally includes having a partner, there are definitely expectations from colleagues and faculty to be settling down with someone. Most of my peers are in long term relationships, and it’s just not something I have any interest in. As an artist, the conversation usually comes up around the overt link between sexuality and art-making that is frequently sited in art discourse. Because my art doesn’t directly reference my sexuality, I can usually bypass most arguments with pointed rhetorical questions or my favourite phrase “that’s a nice opinion you got there”.

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

That life is incomplete without a sexual partner/that sex is an integral and irreplaceable part of human experience. It’s a personal favourite. My friend, if all you need is a sexual partner, you’re the one who’s missing out.

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

Being able to defend yourself (and your sexuality) takes a lot of courage and time. It’s not easy telling people you love that they’re wrong, and it takes a lot of work to be able to learn and speak about sexualities in a coherent and sensible way. I know it’s frustrating, but it’ll happen. I promise that there will come a time when you’ll be able to turn to your friend/family member/stranger and ashamedly tell them they’re being problematic.

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

Website: shonafitzgeraldlaing.com

Tumblr: slaing-art.tumblr.com (infrequently updated)

Instagram: shona.f.laing (updated often but mostly pictures of my hikes, studio progress and cat)

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

Interview: DarkNerd

Today we’re joined by DarkNerd. DarkNerd is an awesome visual artist who works mostly in clay sculpture. Recently he has begun to dabble in sprite art and has done work in traditional media. DarkNerd is also an enthusiastic fanartist. His work has a very unique style and it’s very clear he has a great eye for detail. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

AC Gala Friga
AC Gala Friga

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I currently mostly do custom figures with Super Sculpey right now, along with sprites. I’ve been working with clay for around 3 years by now and spriting for around 8 years on and off. I also do traditional drawing and have very recently set my foot in the digital art realm. I mostly just throw stuff around and if something’s working, I stick to it for as long I feel good doing so. I have a really hard time coming up with original ideas I don’t plan on expanding into copyright stuff at some point, so most of the work I do post tends to be fanart, if not all. I have tried painting but I am not exactly the best at that. Though my working on figures is helping that a lot. While I don’t plan on getting a career in art, I do plan on making at least one toy that ends up in a physical store.

Fuchsia Amiibo
Fuchsia Amiibo

What inspires you?

Horrible/brilliant concepts tend to give me the most inspiration, along with a few games from my childhood and current life. This is pretty much a broader way of saying most of my art is inspired by the Gingerdead Man, Hamtaro, Animal Crossing, and Pokémon. I do look at a lot of artists, but most of them don’t have direct influence on my art style, the only ones I can really think of are a few of my old friends from a Pokémon forum I still hang out on. I did of course have an anime/manga phase, mostly inspired by Pokémon though. In terms of figures, Kaizahr from YouTube is my biggest inspiration, though Giovy’s Hobby, Cristhian Crafts, Nerdy Crafter, AkameruKawaii and a lot more channels, probably too many to list off.

Ham Collection vert
Ham Collection

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

The first figure I can remember doing is a Squirtle I made using Model Magic with Kaizahr’s tutorial. It started off as just me trying something new and kinda liking it. I then realized most of my fandoms didn’t really have accessible merch in the form of figures. So I figured, hey, if no one’s doing anything with this, I might as well. I always wanted to be an artist, but not as my primary career. Way too many people told me how bad of an idea that would be so I eventually developed a different goal for my job. Still doing art though and don’t plan on stopping.

GDC Fig
GDC Fig

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?

Nope. I have experimented with that a lot, though. I even had a logo for quite a few years. I stuck with that for a while, up until late high school, where I figured it wasn’t really that good. I did recently experiment with it again, using the head of my ACHHD character. I did not like it. Might bring it back soon, once I fix it up.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Whatever you do, keep doing it. Drawing? Keep drawing, even if it is tracing, redrawing, using how-to-draw books about specific characters, just draw. Sculpting? Sculpt, whatever you feel like, abstract shapes, YouTube tutorials, etc. Paint? Keep painting, landscapes, figures, 3D figures, etc. Paint. Don’t enjoy doing something even after giving it a try for several months? Try something. Write a bunch of art forms on pieces of paper, put them in a box, shake it, and pull something out. Do that. Like literally, do that. I did. A box with pieces of paper, the perfect decision maker!

Howdys and Papyxter Pacifist
Howdys and Papyxter Pacifist

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

On the ace spectrum, definitely sex repulsed. Not even a fan of the internet’s primary resource. No, I am indeed a sex repulsed ace, never putting that auxiliary organ to use. That said, I have the mouth of a sailor and the mind of a miner. Which is to say my thoughts and words are very dirty and inappropriate. As for my romantic orientation, I’m not sure. Never been in a relationship and currently too busy to get into one right now. I have thought about it, but I have no idea how I’d actually feel in one. For now though, I’m Aro-Ace.

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

I haven’t really spoken to many people outside of friends about my asexuality, but on my campus I did at one bring it up because I was asked and got the typically, “People can’t be ace, you just need to try it!” response. I have never mentioned it ever again. I do however deal with a lot of people who just assume every single human being is anything but asexual.

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Jax-O-Bomber

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

That we don’t exist. In truth, we do. I personally hang out with Elvis who is still totally alive. I’m also on a first name basis with Gregg, otherwise known as the Sasquatch. But seriously, those are myths people. Asexual people are not myths. We’re people. There are people who see people and do not think about sex. Sex is not the great motivator. People need to stop acting like it is.

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

If you can, ignore it. But I know there’s a lot of people who simply can’t and that’s okay. If you can, try to avoid those people who question who you are. If you can’t do either, you’re not alone. It’s okay. There’s plenty of us, feel free to talk to any of us. I will personally do all I can to help anyone who asks for my help. It doesn’t matter how small or how big whatever it is you need help with is. Sometimes a simple gesture of someone offering help is all you need. Sometimes what you need is someone to help you with the thing. I, and many others, will gladly help you. Even if it’s not directly, even if it’s just moral support, even if it’s just someone to help you deal with not accomplishing something, people can and will help you.

RooneyxChaz
Rooney x Chaz

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

You can check up my art blog, Captain-Waynes-Ship or my main blog, DarkNerd-Crossing. If you have any questions, I’m pretty open about my art, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I will answer it as best as I can.

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Zangrief

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

Interview: Sophia Gardiner

Today we’re joined by Sophia Gardiner. Sophia is a versatile and fascinating artist. She’s a multi-disciplinary artist who works in a variety of media and is most fond of sculpture and installation. She’s a dedicated activist who fights for a number of causes, all incredibly admirable. Hell yeah! Her art is fascinating and varied, as one would expect, but it’s obviously created with a fiery enthusiasm. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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After Porajmos

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m multi-disciplinary, I try all different kinds of styles and try different things. Sometimes the idea will direct what medium I use, and sometimes I might just want to do something with some goldleaf paint I found in a shed, or make a sculpture out of a piece of a broken guitar I find at Castlefield docks, or make a collage with lots of saints clipped out of an Orthodox calendar I find in an abandoned mental hospital in Romania.

Although there are some mediums are I prefer over others, like I’m particularly fond of sculpture and installation, I try to explore and experiment as much as I can because you can sometimes surprise yourself.

I’m also a human rights activist, I’ve worked a lot with refugees, asylum seekers and migrant rights groups so naturally, a lot of that comes through in my work. When you work with these kinds of groups, it’s not just about immigration and anti-racism, there’s so many issues underneath that. If you work with refugees, you’re also dealing with anti-war issues, women’s rights, fighting domestic abuse, FGM, LGBT+ persecution, exploitation in the workplace. You’re helping people who are fleeing natural disasters, dictatorships, poverty, it’s all a part of it.

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Arrivals

Most of the work that I’ve done around the subject of asylum and immigration, I created it with intent to educate and inform people who are more ignorant of what is going on for asylum-seekers, and also primarily, to annoy bigots. It can really annoy racists when you use art to share stories that humanize their scapegoats.

Other times, it’s just about having fun, putting stuff together because it seems right that way, and celebrating something you found, a place you’ve been, a dream you had, visuals you just conjured- things like that which are not charged politically or socially in any way.

I’ve exhibited internationally, and I’m taking part in an exhibition this March for International Woman’s Day in London from the 7th March called STOPJECTIFY that’s being curated by Jess De Wahls.

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Alone Here Like This

What inspires you?

Stories I hear, news articles, people I meet, places I go, weather patterns, it’s all there. You might see something just lying in the street and think, ‘oh, that looks like something, I’ll take it with me and make it into a thing’.

Music helps too with the stuff I produce, generally because I find I work so much better if I have music on, but also because it can help you imagine more and it gives you the energy to keep working at something.

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Body Language

Sometimes it’s just all about playing and sometimes art is more serious and can be an important way of helping us share a better understanding of what’s going on… Or just to simply find new and interesting ways to complain about what’s happening.

I find that my best work is often the stuff I do in anger. I read about something that happened or is happening or someone says something that upsets people, so I produce something in response to that. I find it can be quite therapeutic. I can diffuse a lot of anger or feel a lot less depressed if I answer back to what is happening creatively.

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Drapetomania

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

I’m from a Northern working class background, born in a town where people seemed to have a very one dimensional perception of art and what art is or can be, and that artists were very much a historical thing. Unless you’re L.S. Lowry, or a children’s illustrator, artists didn’t really exist in that way for them.

All my family as far as I know worked in factories, but my dad is a painter, so in our house growing up, there were tins of acrylics and pastels everywhere, and my dad would mostly do pictures of Manchester United players and sell them around the pubs near Old Trafford- in fact we got excited recently when one of his paintings appeared in a shot of this documentary called ‘Class of ’92’. But my dad also collected a lot of art books as well, so unlike most kids around my area, I had a much wider knowledge about artists and the art world much earlier on.

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Drapetomania Mabo

But I would by no means say I’m a good painter, my dad is a much better painter than I am and it always frustrated me how I was never as good at drawing as he was. But I always loved making sculptures, I would build little houses out of sticks in the garden and I was taught to sew by my nan, so I would always make my own stuff from old fabric. I could make my own toys no problem and her friend gave me a sewing machine and taught me how to use it so I became pretty good at that too.

I did always want to be an artist, despite general opposition, just because I really enjoyed creating things. I was never academically gifted like my sister, so when I made things, people were really astonished and amazed by how a child could make that. I can remember showing my dad- I’d made like this whole weird outfit for a doll out of an old cardigan, and he just stared at it and looked up at my mam and said ‘We’ve gotta do something about this! We can’t let this go!’ So when affirmed that I wanted to go to art school, he really backed me up. Everyone was saying I would never get a job out of it, maybe I should get a ‘proper degree’, but I didn’t want to do anything else.

Manchester School of Art. I can remember after one particularly bad tutorial where my tutor was very critical about all my work, I can remember all my fellow students were really sympathetic and everything, but I’d had an epiphany, and realised that I’m by no means a great artist. I’d been one of the best so far in my schools, in my college and so on, but here, of course I wasn’t the best! Here were artists from all around the world, and I was nothing compared to them. All that time I’d thought that I wanted to do art because I was ‘good’ at it, and because I was successful with it. I learnt then that I wasn’t as good as I’d always thought, and probably wasn’t going to be as successful as we’d all want to be, but it didn’t matter, because that wasn’t what made me want to be an artist. It was because I was happy doing art, even if my tutors weren’t very impressed with what I did and probably the wider world didn’t, I still felt happy. So totally worth getting into all that debt for.

That was how I finally knew that this was right. I never won any awards or prizes like so many of the others did, I didn’t get the top marks and I haven’t been as successful as some of my former colleagues have since then, but I’m still happy so long as I can keep doing art.

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Drapetomania Three Friends

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?

No, in fact I often feel annoyed with myself that I don’t seem to even have a particular ‘style’ or one method that belongs to me. My projects are all so different you can’t really tell they’re by the same person and I feel like none of my paintings are the same in the way that you could look at them and know it was me who did them both, they could be from anyone.

I think the only thing that applies to maybe, is what I call my ‘amateur cartography’, which are maps I make, but they’re not actually effective maps, I’m terrible at reading or drawing maps myself, but I love looking at them and my cartography is just, in a way, celebrating all the styles and aspects of what a map has, and aren’t supposed to be taken seriously.

I usually (but not always) include this big, obnoxious looking red ‘X’ on them, sometimes for no apparent reason. I usually use red cable tape for that.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Unless you come from a successfully creative background to start with, people are probably not going to take you seriously. You will pressured to demote your art to a hobby and get a ‘proper’ job, or a more financially stable career. Especially if you’re from a poor background, you will struggle. You will be fishing for scraps of tracing paper out of the bins in the printing room, you will be stealing glue sticks from work, you will nearly lacerate your hand on a faulty sewing machine from the seventies, you will have a war with scrap-collectors for the rusted gate dumped at the end of the street, you will have no more room in your house to hold your sculptures, so you will have to bury them in the garden like murder weapons or burn them like sacrifices at Islington Mill’s ‘Art Burn’ event.

You will have to empty your bank account just to be able to take part in an exhibition, you will be unable to enter SO many perfect residencies, shows and other brilliant opportunities because there’s no way you can afford that entry fee. You won’t ever be able to afford that studio space, and if you can, you have no time to use it because you’re working in a job you hate to get the money in the first place. You will fight with your family, you will fall out with relatives who think you’re looking down on them because you don’t want to work in a call centre forever, you may have to go for some days without eating, you will constantly have to battle for recognition and validation.

In the face of these overwhelming odds against artists, I advise you this: keep going. Despite all opposition, please don’t give it up. Anything you can do in a day that’s creative keeps the embers glowing. Also, it helps to have other creative allies who can help keep up the morale. I’m so lucky that some of my best friends are also artists, and despite what they told some of us at university, we are NOT in competition, we are a community, so we share what we know, we share our thoughts, our struggles and we are open about everything we are going through, we share and read each other’s applications, if one of us gets picked for a show and the other doesn’t, it doesn’t matter because we’re all struggling so you’re still happy, and we all know how it feels to be on either end of the scenario because we’re honest about how we feel.

But I promise you all, even though it’s really hard to live like this, it’s totally worth it, if you see where the alternative gets you. I’ve met so many older people who tell me that they started out wanting to be an artist, actor, writer, but just lost themselves to a ‘proper job’ and a ‘real career’, and stayed stuck like that for thirty years. You do not want to end up like that, because it doesn’t matter how ‘stable’ their lives are, they’ve lost themselves to the system and the world has lost another artist.

And speaking as someone who was raised as the child of a struggling artist, I promise you, if you find yourself with a child and feel like you now have to get that proper job and give up on art all together to provide for them, that’s a wonderful sacrifice. But I myself couldn’t help but feel guilty that someone would have to surrender to that forever for my own sake. Kids want to see their parents happy too, and if my dad didn’t keep painting, I probably wouldn’t be an artist now, answering these questions. Struggling artists with kids are well mighty, I can tell you.

One more thing I would say is you have to be stubborn and persistent. Being successful and being in loads of exhibitions and selling lots of pieces isn’t what makes you an artist, making ART is what makes you an artist. If you get recognised and people buy your stuff and someday, make a living out of it, great! But it’s harder for some of us and it doesn’t mean you’re not on the right path just because the system thinks that most artists are worthless.

If you feel happy as you make that piece, write that fanzine, sing that song, then this is where you belong. Even if you’ve never been in an exhibit, still tell people ‘I’m an artist’ if that’s what you feel. It’s just like saying ‘I’m asexual’, the more you say it, the stronger you’ll feel about being yourself.

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Draupadi Consent Modesty

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aromantic Asexual because I’ve never been interested in having a relationship, I’ve never tried having one. I’ve always just been happy with my friends, and have some of the most amazing friends.

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Map of this Life

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

I think in artistic communities, where things like sex and relationships are much less of a taboo subject, it might take people by surprise, and that you’re expected to be a bit more savvy and open about sexuality.

When I studied art at university, I remember encountering a lot of bafflement and doubt from my colleagues, but I think asexuality was still a bit new to the world I guess, so it was probably a bit fresh in people’s minds and I used to get a lot of questions. Although I didn’t feel like I had much to say on the subject, and I didn’t want my own experience to dominate what they perceived asexuality to be about, so I don’t know if I did such a great job of it.

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Dreamscape Big House Swamp

I get the feeling that these days that universities and arts groups are more aware about spectrums and I noticed as well that there’s a lot more awareness of Transgender rights and lot less uncertainty, probably because of what’s happened in the world since then, and people are coming a lot more aware of who we all are and how we express that and generally becoming a lot more visible.

The best way to handle any ignorance is just to keep sharing the knowledge, keep telling each other’s stories- I always say stories are a very powerful method of sharing information, and just to keep listening to each other.

And also I would say, humour definitely helps. If someone asks you a really ignorant question or says something that you find a bit offensive, disarm them with humour. They hate that.

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Feminislam

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

One misconception that sometimes troubles me is the belief that you have to try sex to know if you’re asexual or not. This worries me because I wonder how many asexuals may feel pressured to try it on that basis to validate their identity and may end up in what could be very traumatic scenarios where their consent is compromised. I’ve never had sex in my life, and I feel absolutely fine as I am, but I’m lucky to have friends who are very open to understanding my own experience and my own feelings, and growing up, I didn’t have peer pressure or anything as a teenager or at school because I was a social outcast anyway, but I know that this is only my experience that not every asexual shares, so they might encounter more problems like this.

I have found that the line- the one where if someone asks how you know if you’ve never tried it, and you just ask ‘have you ever done it with another man?’ (if they’re a man) proves to be mostly successful. I’ve found it doesn’t always work on women though. So many women appear to have gone through what they call a ‘lesbian phase’, I’m told it’s considered more acceptable in this heteronormative society while gay men’s relationships are considered more of an affront to ones masculinity for some reason. Although one day, when I was discussing the notion of lodging with a Portuguese professor friend, he asked me ‘You would be a good roommate, yes? No wild parties, no boys staying over?’ I assured him that on the latter point, he had nothing to fear for I am asexual. He’d never heard of it and asked how I knew without trying it and I asked him ‘How do you know you’re not gay unless you’ve had it off with another bloke?’ and he just replied ‘well you know… I’ve had my moments’ (we had two young asylum seekers in the room with us at the moment who were quite astonished by all this talk coming from one of their mentors and an academic professional).

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Globe Borsec

Other misconceptions… I had a hard time with my mam for a while. She literally thought there was something wrong with me. She seems to be a lot more understanding about it now, but I know she still wants me to have a boyfriend and be ‘normal’. It upsets me though, if I ever mention a man at all who I might have met in my daily life, she’s instantly like ‘ooh! How old are they? What do they do? Where do you know them from? What do they look like? Do you think they love ya? I’m just askin’! They might do!’

I’ve also had to deal with a few communities for whom anything outside straight or gay is as yet unheard of. There is a family for example who kind of adopted me into their clan some years ago, and, they have a fairly traditional outlook on life, they obviously have grown up without knowing much about the spectrum of human sexuality. I love them dearly, but all my attempts to explain asexuality to them haven’t been successful.

One of the ‘mătușile’ is just adamant that I must be a lesbian and when she sees me just yells ‘Ah! Sofia Bulanjika este aici!’ But as I’m getting older, some of them are a bit concerned that if I don’t get married soon, I will end up an old maid and no one will want me and who will look after me when I’m old? They tell the young girls, if you don’t get married before you’re nineteen, you’ll end up all alone like Sofia! They’re wonderful though, they’re so good to me. You just have to let some people get used to the idea I think. I always tell them stories about my gay friends, pan friends, bi friends, and they do ask questions and although they might get a bit confused, they’re never hostile.

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Places of Worship

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

Well, I’m still struggling with my orientation and I’m nearly 25, but I’m much better at giving advice than taking it. I don’t talk about my orientation a lot, and I know that we’re all very different people so I wouldn’t want my experience to colour the rest of us, but I can only tell you what I know from my own perspective.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about how you’re not broken, you are who you are and don’t be ashamed and so on. So, I think what I want to tell asexuals is- and remember this is just my experience, so it probably doesn’t resonate with everyone, but if it helps… One of the hard things about being asexual that I’m only recently coming to terms with, is those important friendships that you will lose because you don’t want to engage in ‘physical intimacy’.

Now this may seem really stupid, and it is probably. On the surface you’d think, well, if someone only wants to be my friend to have sex with me that’s their problem, why should I feel bad about it? Forget them! But I’m only just learning that things aren’t always that simple.

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Strangeways (ink)

You could meet people, wonderful people. They talk to you about art, music, football and everything you love. They listen to you, and you are fascinated by what they tell you, you’re excited every time they open their mouths, you feel incredibly flattered that this person would talk to you of all people! This person thinks that anything you have to say is interesting?! You feel a little lighter every time they walk in the room, and you feel so honoured when they introduce you to everyone as their friend. If they hold your hand or sit with their arm around you, you might not think that’s a big deal because you do that with your friends all the time. If they hug you hello, they hug you goodbye, nothing wrong with that, you’d do the same with your close friends as well. You might stay over at their house, maybe even in their room, okay, what’s the big deal? You’ve shared one mattress with a family of five before now, so what’s weird about that? You’ll get really pissed off when people ask if you’re going out, for god’s sake! Why can’t we just be friends?! Why do you people always assume that just because you’re hanging out all the time that there’s something going on?!

Then, one day, maybe that person makes a move on you. Maybe out of the blue, they suddenly try to kiss you in the corner of the pub, or start trying to touch you as you’re stood watching the opening act or just turn around as you’re on your way to grab some falafel and admit that they’ve liked you all along. Or maybe they’ve been making more subtle passes and calling you various epithets… or not so subtle passes even, but you ignored it or made a joke out of it in the hope that you could change the course of where this is going before they got any more ideas, but now you can’t even pretend it’s not obvious till finally all your tricks and diversions are exhausted and you have to tell them that you were serious before when you said you were happy being single and you don’t want to have sex ever, really, you’re asexual… yes, you’re sure. And inevitably, they’ll probably turn away and desert your whole friendship.

People will side with that person if you tell them. They’ll say, ‘awww, they must be so confused, why did you do that to them? Why did you lead them on like that?!’ These people will not understand because heteronormativity has really undervalued the power of friendships. I’d like to tell you that you will see that people like this are not worth your time and they’re not worth troubling yourself about if they consider sex more important than being your friend, and although that truth stands, you probably won’t feel like that is the case at the time, (but I really hope you do).

Instead you will probably feel completely worthless. One minute you felt flattered that you were worth spending so much time with, especially from the opinion of someone you admire and adore, and just because you can’t have sex with them, now you feel like nothing. You may wish you were ‘normal’, you may, as I have, find yourself crying on a hotel roof in Pisa as you accept that they probably hate you now and will likely never speak to you again, and if they do, they probably won’t want to hang out with you as you did. And you too, will not be so free and open with them as you were, lest it again be mistaken for a romantic objective.

Logically, you know you should feel insulted and angry with that person, and you know that they are in the wrong, not you, but feelings don’t work the way they’re supposed to. You will probably end up feeling more angry with yourself for not being born ‘normal’, or for being born female and thus cursed to walk the earth being seen only as a potential romantic subplot for everywhere you walk into. Maybe you will forgive them because you also want to be forgiven for not being ‘normal’, and because you didn’t make it more obvious that you didn’t like them in that way, perhaps, so maybe it is your fault after all (but like I say, I hope you don’t feel like that).

If this is the case, it will help to have the support of your friends who accept you, and even if you don’t really talk about these kinds of things with your friends, some of them can surprise you in a good way. I’m so lucky to have friends who are willing to understand my own feelings instead of projecting how they would feel onto my experience, (and you do the same for others when for whatever reason they are feeling broken- even heteros have problems just like this remember). If you don’t have these friends in your own life, I’m sure you can reach out to other people on the wide world of web. I myself have never met another asexual in person- it’d be cool if I did and one day I hope to, but in the meantime we can share these experiences and give each other support in the virtual.

Then, hopefully, your feelings will finally catch up with logic and you will feel lighter again, and know that OK, people have severe lapses of judgement sometimes and fall for people they shouldn’t, but true friendships will come out the other side still intact.

Also, I’ll say, if you want to try sex, you try sex, it doesn’t invalidate you. Just listen to your feelings and if you’re scared, then don’t. Even if everyone says ‘yeh, don’t worry, everyone’s nervous at first!’ if you’re scared, don’t let anyone make you do anything you don’t want to do. If they care about you, they won’t want to make you feel uncomfortable or do anything to hurt you, don’t let anyone give you that whole ‘if you love me you’ll do it’ crap.

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

You can find out about everything at http://www.sophiagardiner.com/

trees_charcoal
Trees (charcoal)

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

Interview: Rebecca Mann

Today we’re joined by Rebecca Mann. Rebecca is a wonderful and talented art student who does both 3D and 2D art. Her 3D art is sculpture, which focuses on feminine forms. She also does a lot of drawing and sketching. There’s an emotion and vibrancy to her work that draws the viewer in. She’s definitely an artist to watch out for. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

demi kids re design 1
Demi Kids Design

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an AP 3D Art student in my final year of high school, so I do a lot of sculpting while I’m there, but when I’m not I sketch in my notebook and draw on my computer. All my 2D art is just for hobby and consists of characters I made up when I was in 6th grade or characters from games or shows I am currently infatuated with. My 3D is usually the female human figure, as it is my concentration.

What inspires you?

Women, absolutely women. Specifically, diverse women, as in diverse bodies, colors, cultures, religions, backgrounds, everything. Drawing them and sculpting them gives me so much more love and respect for myself, as a woman, through them. I also love telling stories, even if they are only to myself. I love showing those close intimate moments that don’t need sex and I love facial expressions and hands. That is why I keep sketching the characters from my own stories and the stories I love the most from others.

demi kids re design just shappur and loretta
Demi Kids Design: Just Shappur and Loretta

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

Well I have always drawn, but I got the want to draw when I was first shown anime (Bleach) in 6th grade. I was a total weeaboo and wanted to live in Japan and draw manga, but I haven’t wanted that life in a looooong time. I honestly do this as a hobby to relax myself, which is why almost everything I do is a sketch, but I hope it can be used to make videogames in the future as a way to share stories in an interactive way. I never sculpted until this year for art class because I hate painting and didn’t want to do it, so sculpting is a new adventure for me.

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?

Well I always draw in cartoonish ways, but one of the things I find most noticeable about my work is how the eyes face the same way. I feel it gives the face better flow. And a lot of people tell me my women are often very muscular, which they aren’t wrong. And I remember one time I saw a character that would be impossible to cosplay, and it pissed me off, so I told myself I would make all my characters down to earth enough to cosplay. I don’t think I have much of a signature, but I do think I have a recognizable style that reflects who I am.

dragon slayerzz
Dragon Slayer

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Oh my gosh, OK, never, and I mean NEVER, let anyone tell you your art won’t take you places, because it most definitely will!! And NEVER stop creating! Art blocks are a given but never let your limits define you, break you limits by not giving up, eventually they can’t catch you. Look at other people’s art, the art that inspires you, and let it guide you! And something very important that always pissed me off when other people told me: LOOK AT REAL LIFE! It doesn’t matter if you are doing abstractions or cartoons, basing it on realism, even if just a little, helps give your art the solid foundation it needs!

just spew it
Just Spew It

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a sex repulsed heteromantic asexual. I have always been indifferent about sex but became sex repulsed after ending an abusive relationship.

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

I am actually not out in my school except for a few close friends and my boyfriend, who actually goes to a different school. It will forever annoy me, however, how I will make a purely non sexual situation or create a human figure in a nonsexual way, and it will be seen as sexual, and labeled as sexual without my say. This is why I am scared to ever create an asexual character and share them with the public.

meh

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

That it is a choice or that I am faking it. I haven’t come out to many people, I don’t want to deal with the harassment, but when I did and they rejected me, they always said I would find a man who would change my mind or I was just a lesbian that hadn’t figured it out yet. One case of “it’s not real” rejection I received is when I came out to my mother, who laughed at me in my face and didn’t discuss it further. (I didn’t even try my dad)

poc kids
POC Kids

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

Test things out! There is no shame in trying something and finding out it is or isn’t for you. If you later find out your romantic or sexual orientation isn’t what you thought that is perfectly fine! If you don’t fit perfectly in any box or label, feel free to use what you think best describes you, even if that means you have to kinda explain things to others after introducing yourself.

undyne ff7
Undyne

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

I don’t share much of my work online, but I do post fanart on my personal blog eatallthefoods.tumblr.com from time to time. I have never posted my OCs or because I don’t think people would find them interesting and I haven’t posted my 3D because I haven’t done it long.

witch lizard sketch
Witch Lizard Sketch

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

Interview: Beth Murten

Today we’re joined by Beth Murten, who also goes under the URL hawkeyetoo.  Beth is an incredibly talented visual artist who makes the most adorable clay dragon sculptures.  The Peggy Carter and Angie Martinelli dragons are particularly adorable.  Beth works in a number of other mediums as well and her work is absolutely beautiful.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Mainly I make little polymer clay dragons, inspired by Chris d’Lacey’s Last Dragon Chronicles books. I’ve made Glinda and Elphaba dragons for some of the cast of Wicked (Louise Dearman has 2, Nikki Davis-Jones has 1, and I have a Glinda in reserve that I intend to give to Gina Beck when she performs at a town near me at the end of the year.) and I also gave Peggy Carter and Angie Martinelli dragons to Hayley Atwell. I’m very proud of that.

I do offer commissions for these dragons.

I also draw a lot. Often animals that I know. My cat is a regular model, as are some more exotic animals that I’ve had the pleasure of working with (I’ve been a Zoo Management student for the past 2 years and now I’m trying to get a job as a full time keeper.)

My boyfriend’s Mum also got me into papercutting. I’ve incorporated it into some of my drawings, creating windows from quotes and letting the pictures behind show through. Most often though I do regular papercuts. Sometimes from templates, sometimes inspired by pictures I’ve seen. I have a few ideas floating round my head at the minute, which I hope to work on soon.

gideon_by_bindah-d8hmha6

What inspires you?

I’m a Scout Leader, so I spend a lot of time outdoors, and even though I’m no good at landscapes and can’t draw the beautiful views I get to see, it still helps me come up with a lot of ideas. The scouts are some of my biggest fans, and I get a lot of encouragement from them. Quite a few own some of my dragons, and the Explorers (the 14-18 yr old section) are among the few who’ve seen my earlier drawings (I got a badge for that.)

I’m also really inspired by mythical creatures, hence the dragons. I love to give them bright colours and make them all unique. My little brother knows this, and often shows me cool pictures, or drags me downstairs to watch the Dragon cartoons. He also has a lot of my works. Mostly the earlier ones that didn’t work out how I’d hoped, but also some specially made for him.

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

I’ve always loved drawing and crafting, ever since I was old enough to actually do it. Art was always a subject I enjoyed at school, but I sometimes got frustrated that everyone seemed to be so much better at it than me. I think now it was just that I hadn’t figured out what was going on. I still haven’t, really.

My Grandma got me into papercrafts because she started cardmaking, which she’s bloody amazing at. She encouraged me to make cards for my parents and close friends, and I’d often use her scraps to make little pictures and stuff. Then Josh’s mum started papercutting (she’s really good at that too!) and I was curious, so she put together a starter set for me for Christmas.

The dragons were inspired by Chris d’Lacey’s Last Dragon Chronicles books, where one of the characters makes little clay dragons (whose names all begin with G, a tradition that I tend to keep with my dragons), which are secretly alive. The books caught my imagination, but it wasn’t until a few years after reading the first three, when I finally found them in a bookshop and finished the series, that I decided it’d be cool to make my own dragons. Sadly, mine don’t move or blow smoke rings when they’re annoyed, but they ARE very cute!

glinda_the_good_by_bindah-d8hmiyn

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. I’m trying to get into the habit of signing my work with a cute little dragon drawing, but I maybe need to simplify it a little bit first.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m still working on building myself up properly myself, but I’ve learnt a lot since high school. Mainly that practice really does help. I was terrible in high school, but I’m pretty good now.

Also, you might not be good at, let’s say drawing, but try your hand at other things and you’ll find something you’re great at. My dragons are a hell of a lot better than my portraits.

There’ll always be someone willing to give you praise and encourage you. And that helps more than making a couple of pieces that you’re proud of.

jaguar_by_bindah-d8kak78

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and biromantic

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

Not really. I don’t exactly hide my sexuality, but I don’t go around shouting it from the rooftops either, because I kind of think it’s nobody’s business. So only a few people, close friends and my boyfriend, know.

glow_by_bindah-d8hmi7r

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

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that Asexual people don’t want to have relationships at all. Sure, some people don’t. But I’ve been in a happy relationship for 4 years now, and I couldn’t imagine my life without Josh. See, it’s possible!

IMG_1654

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

It really doesn’t matter! Sure, being able to put a word to how you feel is great, but it’s not the be all and end all. Your sexuality is not everything you are. And anyway, you’re not broken, sometimes people just feel this way. Just like sometimes people like boys, sometimes people like girls, sometimes people like both, or more than that. And sometimes, people don’t really like anyone. That doesn’t mean you’ll never have a partner. And there’s always that quote, which is always true: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

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

On the tag on my blog: http://hawkeyetoo.tumblr.com/tagged/beth%20draws%20stuff

On my dragon’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bethsdragons

And on my DeviantArt: http://bindah.deviantart.com/

07969442da095a78c685df4feb63aa33-d8k68td

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

Interview: Sally Jenks

Today we’re joined by Sally Jenks.  Sally works with clay and makes functional work and sculpture.  They have their own studio called White Feather Studio and their work is absolutely gorgeous.  The octopus was a particular favorite.  My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Cherry Blossom Mug
Cherry Blossom Mug

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a ceramic artist and I work primarily with stoneware clay.  The majority of my work is functional (cups, mugs, bowls, vases, etc.) but I also produce pieces that are decorative or sculptural, so I kind of have two related but different bodies of work to talk about.

I have a B.A. in studio art and art history, and earned a M.A. in museum studies and a Certificate of Advanced Study in cultural heritage preservation.  I now have a home studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and work as a ceramic artist full time.

Heart Mug
Heart Mug

What inspires you?

My most obvious inspiration is nature.  I use a lot of natural textures and organic forms in my sculptural and decorative work.  I’m currently working on a project with the Land Conservancy of West Michigan in which selected local artists are visiting natural sites and creating art in response to the preserves.  (more information here: http://www.naturenearby.org/preserved/)

I have really varied interests that work themselves into my art.  For example, I collect vintage books and I’ve started incorporating vintage images in my work.  I think in general my sources of inspiration tend to be some combination of odd vintage, morbid, and humorous.

Octopus Vase
Octopus Vase

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

I’ve always been into art and making things.  I did a lot of crafts and art projects with my mom when I was a kid, and I was always encouraged to pursue whatever interested me.  I took a ceramics class at a local community arts center when I was probably 15 (I’m 29 now), and that was kind of it for me.  At some point I realized that I’d always have to work in clay, even if it was just a hobby.  I did have a period of denial where I felt like I had to have a “real” career, but then I couldn’t find a real job so I went back to making art and now that is my real job.

Reaper Mug
Reaper Mug

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 think the most notable feature of my work is my use of texture.  With hand built pieces I often use strong natural textures like tree bark or weathered wood.  Then with my wheel thrown functional pieces I include texture in details, for example the handles of my mugs are textured, usually with simple diamond or spiral patterns, or to look like wood or a tree branch.

I also keep my forms simple, and for me that has a few uses.  With my functional work, I want the use to be the focus – to me a functional piece is utilitarian, but it’s also a handmade piece of art, and the art should enhance the experience of using it.  Then my decorative or sculptural work focuses on texture and I don’t like to have a complex form with a strong surface texture.  Ultimately I feel like either the form or the surface should be the dominant feature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be willing to experiment.  If you have an idea for a project, then go for it and if it doesn’t work maybe it will inspire something else.  Or maybe it’ll be a mess and you’ll have a funny story.  Either way, be open to experimenting with materials.

I also recommend joining an art group.  It can be intimidating to put yourself out there as an artist, but joining an art club or a community art organization can be really rewarding and provide many opportunities and resources like calls for entries, workshops, and group activities.

Root Sculpture
Root Sculpture

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demiromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t really come out as asexual, mostly because it hasn’t come up and I haven’t felt ready to initiate that conversation.  Though if it came up organically, or if someone asked, I would be open about it.

Tall Vase with Wood
Tall Vase with Wood

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

I haven’t personally encountered anything too offensive; mostly people either aren’t aware of asexuality or have a very generalized idea of it.  The most common misconception I’ve seen is that asexuality is just a point on the spectrum of sexual orientation and every asexual person has the same experience, when it really varies from person to person.

Treasurebox
Treasurebox

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

Having moments where you’re insecure or unsure of your orientation does not make it less valid.  I’ve identified as asexual for about 2 years, but before that I spent about 15 years trying to figure out what was wrong with me because I didn’t feel or want the same things as everyone else.  I’m comfortable in my asexuality most of the time, but I was in that “why am I different from everyone, what’s wrong with me” state of mind for so long, that it’s still easy to fall back into.  It’s perfectly valid to question, but try to keep it from turning negative.

Tree Vase
Tree Vase

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

My work can be found on my art Tumblr (whitefeatherstudio.tumblr.com), my Facebook page (facebook.com/studiowhitefeather), and I have a website with an online store (whitefeatherceramics.com).  I’m also on Instagram (@whitefeatherstudio), but I mostly post work in progress there.

If you want to see me/my work in person, I show at art fairs and other events throughout the year – mostly in the West Michigan area – and my current schedule can be found on my website, Facebook, and Tumblr pages.

Wood Texture Plaque
Wood Texture Plaque

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

Interview: Aria Gale

Today we’re joined by Aria Gale.  Aria is an incredibly talented and versatile visual artist who does a bit of everything.  She sent along some truly beautiful examples of her work to go with her interview.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Aria Gale logo
Aria Gale logo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mainly work with digital art but I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. I of course draw and paint, I knit and crochet, make jewelry and armor and have dabbled in cross stitching, sewing, sculpting and 3D modeling.

My art used to be an outlet for me, I’ve loved art ever since I could hold a pencil. In the last couple of years I’ve learned how passionate I truly am about it. I could draw all day and never be bored of it, and I’m constantly working to improve my art and learn new ways to go about it. My art shows another side of me, and I’m hoping I can inspire at least one person to do the same.

What inspires you?

That’s a tough question, a little of everything I suppose. Beauty is definitely a main source, and there’s beauty in everything.

Another big inspiration for me would have to be stories, whether it’s fan written for something, original or from a book. I don’t just read the words, I see it play out in my mind and I’d like to be able to share them visually because I know not everyone can see it in their mind.

Fantasy would have to complete my trifecta of inspiration. It’s easy to lose yourself in it, and your problems. Running away from problems is never good but to lose yourself and forget your worries, even if for a little while is nice.

Picture 1113

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

I can’t really say anything in particular got my interested. I have always wanted to be an artist.

It was the first real dream I had as a kid, I later abandoned it thinking it was stupid, but I just can’t seem to truly let it go. So instead of trying to go about life “normally” I’m going headstrong after my dreams. I’m not normal by any standard of our society so I’m done trying to be.

I’m determined to make my passions and dreams a reality and I’m helping as many other struggling artists as I can on my way.

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 always add a signature or symbol. Sometimes I’ll put a watermark of a musical note wrapped in a gust of wind, or I’ll put the date I finished the piece in the bottom left corner, with the letters JG above it in cursive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Artists are always doubting themselves, so don’t let your doubts hold you back. If you doubt it, work more on it. You’ll get it!

Don’t be afraid to pursue your passion. I backed away from it for fear of failure, and thanks to that I lost so much time I could have spent improving what I love.

Believe in yourself and work hard to learn and improve, if you keep at it you just might go beyond what you thought you ever would.

TA Zach gift

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a Demiromantic Asexual. I’m also borderline sex repulsed.

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

I haven’t encountered any prejudice personally, but that’s mostly because I’ve not told those who I know would be prejudicial.

I have encountered ignorance, I simply sit down with them and explain to them what asexuality is. I try to be as informative as I can and patient with them because it’s not easy for some people to understand.

Picture 1114

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

That it’s not a sexuality but how some plants reproduce.

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

Don’t worry too much about it. You are the same person today that you were yesterday. The only thing that has changed is that you can better describe yourself to others.

Read up on it, about other sexualities too, that way you know what’s out there and you can find what you feel is the best fit for you. It helps to be able to properly answer any questions someone else might have, and to answer your own.

You aren’t broken, you are you, and you aren’t alone. You cannot be fixed or cured because there is nothing wrong with you. Wherever you may land on any spectrum, you have a friend in me, and others.

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

ariagaleart.tumblr.com

My art commission blog. I also take requests from time to time. I hope to see some of you on there at some point.

Aria sunset
Aria sunset

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

Interview: Beth

Today we’re joined by Beth.  Beth is an amazingly talented visual artist whose work is incredibly gorgeous.  She was the first person to contact me a while back in March I was looking to commission an artist for C2E2.  I could not be happier with her interpretation of Blitz (the finished product had me a bit misty-eyed).  Beth is a very versatile artist who does a bit of everything.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Autumn Chill
Autumn Chill

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m pretty much a jack of all trades. While my primary focus is illustration (mostly of children’s books and games), I also do logo and graphic design, fine art, comics, writing, and I occasionally dabble in 3D arts like sculpture and mask-making.

What inspires you?

I have a couple favorite subjects and themes, particularly birds and space. But my biggest inspiration is probably stories; I really enjoy the challenge inherent in taking a description of a scene, character, or concept, and bringing that to life in visual form. A great illustration can really add a whole new dimension to a piece of writing (just think about how iconic illustrations like Where the Wild Things Are or the Harry Potter covers became) and that’s something I find very inspiring.

Birdazzling Blue Tit
Birdazzling Blue Tit

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

Pretty much. My mom is an artist, so I grew up watching her paint and following her around to various art fairs as a kid. I’d spend the whole weekend wandering around talking to the other artists there. My mom was also always exposing myself and my siblings to different media and techniques, letting us experiment. She used to sit and teach me the basics of composition, color, and other important aspects of art by pointing them out in her own paintings, which was incredibly helpful to my own understanding; I had internalized a lot of really important concepts long before I started formal training.

As far as my specific field, I’ve always had an interest in pairing art with storytelling. As a kid, I would spend hours making up stories and filling up notebooks as I drew out the scenes. It was a bit like a comic, although I never bothered to write in any of the dialogue; that was all in my head. I loved (and still love) animation, and initially considered becoming an animator, but I wasn’t really impressed by the idea of working for Disney with their formulaic storytelling (this was well before Dreamworks or Pixar formed) and the immense amount of work involved in animation was daunting. So I opted for illustration, which still has a big focus on storytelling and communication, but in a few dozen images instead of thousands.

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 sign most of my pieces with my initials, “BZ.” However, I don’t really like the signature to be too visible, as I find it distracts from the piece, so it’s often blended into the background or somewhat hidden.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Find the thing that you like to draw and draw it. Yes, you need to learn the basic stuff like anatomy and value and everything, even if it feels boring sometimes. But don’t let your art teachers or anyone else pressure you into what you “should” be drawing. My art school was very fine art-focused, and I often felt pressured to draw more realistically. So I waffled back and forth and didn’t fully allow myself to push my own style until after I graduated. Guess what? The art that is getting me jobs now is the art I enjoy drawing, not the realistic pieces that my teachers wanted me to do.

Also: learn how to work digitally. You don’t have to create the art digitally, but you need to know how to do basic stuff like scanning or photographing it, cleaning up that file, and resizing it to display well on the web. The internet creates the possibility for your art to reach around the world, but you’ve got to get it presentable online first.

That said, don’t feel like you need a certain program or tool to make art. You can make art out of practically anything, so work with what you have and keep challenging yourself. You will get better.

Pheonix Dancer
Pheonix Dancer

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual biromantic.

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

Not so much, although this is probably because I’m only out to a few close friends. This interview is kind of my debut. (Hi, Internet.) So we’ll see if I get any nasty comments. If I do — eh. I’ll probably just delete them. Life is too short to give that kind of negativity any response.

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

I think most people just don’t even really ever consider asexuality as a possibility that exists. I know I had no idea that this was something I could be. I found a brief reference to asexuality online, and felt incredibly relieved when I started reading about it. It was incredibly validating to know that other people felt the same way I did and I wasn’t just weird or sheltered because I wasn’t interested in sex.

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

You’re not alone.

You don’t need to have a romantic or sexual relationship to have a fulfilling life.

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

My website is SpaceTurtleStudios.com, and I’m on Deviantart, Etsy, Facebook, and Tumblr as SpaceTurtleStudios too. You can find me on twitter at SpaceTurtleArt.

Song of the Space Turtle 2015
Song of the Space Turtle 2015

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

Interview: T. Hueston

Today we’re joined by T. Hueston.  T. Hueston is a veterinarian and an incredibly talented sculptor.  Their animal sculptures are just so remarkably beautiful (and cruelty-free).  I was seriously just staring at the images they sent in complete awe.  My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Self-portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love to design and make soft sculptures out of faux fur and wire. I draw upon my expertise as a veterinarian to make realistic animal and fantasy sculptures.

Some of my favorite pieces are Poochie the Shetland sheepdog, designed after a three-legged dog who belongs to one of my friends, and my Howling Wolf Anthro pieces, a collection of anthropomorphic wolves. It was also a pleasure to work on Charity the Goffin’s Cockatoo. She was based on a real cockatoo, and I puzzled over how to best create a feathered animal with fabric. I ultimately made the wire base first, and then I sewed fake leather over the wire to produce a more life-like appearance. I custom-molded and lacquered the beak to match the desired color and texture. Feathers were individually cut, shaped, and fastened on an armature shaped like the bony portion of a bird’s wings, and I replicated the feather pattern of real cockatoos. It was a fun challenge, to say the least.

What inspires you?

Nature and biology. I’m just holding a mirror to the natural world.

Poochie the Shetland Sheepdog
Poochie the Shetland Sheepdog

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

I’ve always been scientifically-minded, and enjoyed thinking about and working with animals. Biology is particularly fascinating to me. I love learning how every species functions in its environment and adapts to changes.  Currently, I work full-time as a veterinarian.

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 have always loved wolves, and I enjoy incorporating them into my artwork.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Draw exactly what you want to draw.  Many artists are frustrated by lack of interest in their art. For many years before I found a medium that other people seemed to prefer, I did not enjoy much interest in my art. Honestly, don’t feel pressure to make something that does not personally interest you.

Charity the Cockatoo
Charity the Cockatoo

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an aromantic asexual.

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

Many people who don’t believe that asexual people exist assume that I am either hetero or homosexual. I usually try to correct this misconception and explain myself. Unfortunately, some people still refuse to believe me and insist that my “true” orientation will emerge after I meet the “right” person or get over a phase. I ignore these ignorant people.

I think we need more representation of QLGBTA characters in media in general.

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

That my asexuality will be reversed when I am introduced to the right person.

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

Embrace your difference. Don’t let people convince you that you aren’t human because you don’t feel sexual attachment, and don’t feel forced to do anything that you don’t want to do. Members of the QLGBTA  spectrum often face unique social barriers on the path to happiness. Find a supportive social community and consider reaching out to support groups.

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

You can look on my deviantart blog at Jarahamee.deviantart.com or at jarahamee.tumblr.com for more information about both my personal art and current art projects. I’m doing a comic book project with Darcie LittleBadger and Nick Robles called The Shining Ascension  (https://darcielittlebadger.wordpress.com/shining-ascension-comic/ ). It’s a fantasy story with a diverse cast.

The Howling Wolf
The Howling Wolf

Thank you so much, T. Hueston, for participating in this interview and this project.  It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Hevendemo

Today we’re joined by Hevendemo.  Hevendemo is a versatile artist who does a bit of everything.  Ne does a lot of animation and is inspired by the anime style.  Nir work is really interesting to look at, as you’ll soon see.  My thanks to Nem for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is really just about anything I want. It is mostly anime like due to it being more easy to draw than realism. I consider myself a jack of all trades in art, so I can animate, sculpt, and do all sorts of things in digital anime traditional art. I’m not that great but I’m still refining.

What inspires you?

Music inspires my mood, I tend to draw based on my mood. Everything inspires me to be honest I have random thoughts and then I instantly want to draw it down.

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

I’m aspiring to be an animator, so Hayao Miyazaki gotten me interested, and the folks at Nintendo. They see their products as both entertainment and art, so I want to become one of them.

I wanted to be many things when I was young, but when I was nine years old, I wanted to be an animator and I am still walking that path.

IMG_20150405_141850_resized

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 have a signature that is always in my work, and I am currently working on webcomics, though they are not published anywhere yet.

My advice, though, is to keep an eye on the flowers, that’s one of the few. There are many more but that is one I are able to reveal.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never think you’re the best, you will stop improving. Confidence is great, it will impress everyone, no one likes a down-talker. Don’t judge people’s work.

If you want to improve, don’t give up. Everything new that you make is always better than the last one.

Time will do its job, be patient and soon you will walk amongst those who you look up to.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am Asexual Demiromantic. Probably autochrissexual as well.

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

I have had people tell me “that sucks,” or “You’re missing out” and “… like plants?” Also the whole “time will come, you haven’t met the right person” and all that junk so I remain quiet and look at them until they feel really dumb.

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

That we reproduce like plants and that we haven’t met the right person yet.

Oh, and the thought that we will never have sex.

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

Believe what you believe, ignore their ignorance.  Just ignore them, or educate people.

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

These ones are personal and I will chat with you on~ these are more my daily life and interest. My art is organized, and I show progress on latest works and previews of new ones.

https://www.facebook.com/hevendemo?_rdr
http://hevendemo.tumblr.com/
https://twitter.com/hevendemo

This is strictly art (but I will chat)

https://www.paigeeworld.com/u/heavensdemon
http://hevendemo.deviantart.com/
https://instagram.com/hevendemo/
http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=5986148

IMG_20150421_165111_resized

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