Today we’re joined by Paige Hender. Paige is an incredibly enthusiastic illustrator. She is working on a webcomic called Celestial Bodies. Aside from illustration, she also specializes in sequential art. The lines and colors really makes her images pop, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a visual artist with a focus in illustration and sequential art. I run a webcomic called Celestial Bodies about witch hunters in a small college town and the struggles they face. I try to focus as much attention possible to shape, flow, and color. I feel that these three things can truly bring a piece to life.
What inspires you?
Honestly there is no driving force in my life greater than spite. In my freshman year of high school a teacher told me that I would never get into art school or become a professional. I’m trying desperately to piss her off. I’ve also managed to make a few enemies amongst my peers who are absolutely fantastic artists, so there’s a bit of animosity driving me there as well.
When it comes to inspiration for subject matter, I’ve always been interested in otherworldly material, like the occult and old folktales. Within the last year I’ve become especially interested in witches. Seeing other people make art that involves these subjects always gets me really excited to create!
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I grew up with the most insane admiration for my older sister. I’d never tell her, of course, because that’s how sisters are, but I wanted to be just like her. I don’t know if she necessarily wanted to be an artist, but she was always drawing. So once she started drawing, so did I. By the time I hit fifth grade she knew she wanted to be something else, but I knew there was nothing else that made me happier than drawing. Flashback to around the time I was in third grade, when she let me sneak into her room at night and watch Inuyasha with her while our parents thought we were asleep. That show more or less opened my eyes to the world of anime and laid a plague on my home. I would say that seeing art like that on screen and in print was what really cemented the idea in me that I wanted to make art for a living.
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’ve been getting into traditional symbolism a lot lately. I like to put actual research into any sort of subject matter I put in my work. For example if I have a character surrounded by flowers, I want to look up what each flower means so I know I’m saying something more than it seems. Some symbols I’ve been looking into a lot more lately include water, mirrors, and various plants.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Draw every day. No matter what. Even if it’s a doodle in the margin of your notes. Keep your end goal in mind and work harder towards it than you think might be possible. Your mind can do incredible things. Trust your mind, trust your eyes, and trust your heart. Don’t force yourself to draw something you don’t want to (unless it’s for a grade or for money). Don’t you dare give up. You can endure whatever life throws at you as long as you have a pencil. Keep trying!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am asexual heteromantic, and I’m starting to realize that I’m pretty sex-repulsed.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’m not deep enough in my field to encounter any prejudice, but I have encountered it in my daily life. My mother, for example, still doesn’t believe that it’s a real sexuality. I was once in a creative writing class where a girl basically told me to my face that I was broken, that there was something wrong with me. And of course there are just ignorant people in general. I’ve been very fortunate to find friends and classmates who understand my sexuality and are not disturbed by it at all. Many of my closest friends are asexual, as well. Truth be told we’ve formed a little ace squad.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I’ve of course gotten the jokes about asexual reproduction and the like, but once that wears off people tend to sweep asexuality under the rug. It’s a passing one-liner, nothing more. In my experience, people are far too likely to deny the existence of asexuality altogether. And I’m not surprised, in our sexually charged culture, that people feel that way but it’s still unnerving to come up against such fervent deniers of my identity.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Please take your time to discover yourself. You have all the time in the world. You are not broken or wrong for who you are. Don’t feel like your sexuality is equivalent to your social status. And don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not real. If your friends bully you about your sexuality, tell them off. Fuck them up. Please please fight for yourself. And never stop learning about who you are.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You can also read my webcomic, Celestial Bodies here http://celestialbodieswebcomic.tumblr.com/
Thank you, Paige, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.