Interview: Nilah Magruder

Today we’re joined by Nilah Magruder. Nilah is a brilliant visual artist and writer who I met at Capricon. She moderated a great panel that I was on about friendships in SFF and I was ecstatic to find out she was a fellow ace creator. Nilah’s work is absolutely gorgeous and I’m so excited to check out her new projects. Her upcoming graphic novel, M.F.K., looks particularly intriguing. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

20140216_POD

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

By day, I’m a storyboard artist in the animation industry. In my free time, I make comics and children’s books. My most recent projects are HOW TO FIND A FOX, a picture book about exploring the outdoors and perseverance, and M.F.K., originally a fantasy webcomic that will be hitting bookstores in graphic novel form in September.

What inspires you?

Life! Stories! Observing the world, its nature, its people, its politics is a huge inspiration. I also get inspiration from other people’s art.

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

I saw the pencil tests for The Lion King for the first time when I was twelve (I’m old, and The Lion King was still under production at this point) and from that moment I wanted to work in animation. I’d loved drawing from a young age, but I don’t think I ever considered it a serious profession. I had no concept of how to become an animator; it was more a pipe dream than anything. So at first I was interested in pursuing music, writing, or something more practical like accounting. It wasn’t until I was applying to colleges that I found out you could study animation, and it rekindled my interest.

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?

Nothing unique or consistent like that. My work is kind of all over the place, actually, because I’m always trying new things. If there’s anything, I guess I draw a lot of girls.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work on the fundamentals. Explore styles and influences. Be a sponge. Work hard, but don’t work yourself sick. Your health and life are important. Take breaks, stretch, exercise, eat well, sleep, enjoy the world around you, and learn to say “no” when you need to.

20140620_landsea2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and aromantic.

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

I guess ace erasure is what I encounter most commonly. Most people don’t seem to have a concept of what asexuality is, so there’s very little representation in animation and comics. I’m trying to be more open about my own sexuality, but in the meantime, I include asexual characters in my work. The main characters of M.F.K. are asexual. In my own canon, asexuality is always present.

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

I’ve been hearing the “asexuals are just straight people who wish they were queer” rhetoric a lot lately. And also the idea that it’s the same thing as celibacy, like it’s a choice. It’s sad, and also annoying to have your identity and feelings treated as invalid… something that I’d think more people would relate to, honestly.

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

Asexuality is a fairly new term, but asexuals have always existed; we just used different language in the past. So don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong in the queer community. We’ve always been here.

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

I’m on Twitter (nilaffle) and Tumblr as nilaffle, and Instagram as nilaffles. My website is nilahmagruder.com. You can find M.F.K. at mfkcomic.com.

20170301_mfk

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

Interview: Kerstin

Today we’re joined by Kerstin. Kerstin is a phenomenal fanartist and visual artist. She writes a lot of fanfiction and cosplays as well. When she’s not writing, Kerstin enjoys drawing. She has been drawing and writing for years and has a great deal of passion for both, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

hand
Hand

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m mostly a writer, especially a fanfiction writer nowadays. I started with original stories when I was about nine or ten years old and continued to write original works until I was maybe sixteen. I never lost interest in writing but somehow I barely ever finished anything because I didn’t have the drive to write without getting any feedback. That’s where fanfiction came in. It’s a great way to practise writing, explore different styles and genres and also get feedback from people who love the characters as much as I do.

Drawing has always been important to me, too. I’ve drawn for pretty much my entire life, anything from little doodles or abstract art to manga to attempts of realistic art. I mostly draw people, many original characters, but recently I’ve started using real people for references as well and tried myself in art studies.

Lastly, I also started cosplaying about four years ago. I don’t do it regularly but it’s a lot of fun, especially when you see other people’s reactions to your portrayal of their favourite character. I’ve made cosplays that were close to the originals as well as freeforms.

What inspires you?

Honestly, pretty much anything can inspire me. Photos, buildings I pass, sceneries I see while going for a walk, music, people or objects around me, characters I adore,… Occasionally I’m inspired works by other artists, especially when it comes to drawing – I just love Renaissance and Romantic art. In fanfiction it’s the canon characters mixed with headcanons, oftentimes also conversations with friends that give me ideas. I’m also a big fan of thrillers and medieval European literature and I try to combine these two types when I write.

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

Ever since I was a child I’ve been reading tons of books and soon started coming up with my own stories. It just fascinates me how words can create worlds and capture one’s imagination but everybody still has their own pictures in their mind while reading the exact same story or sees different things in the same painting. I love the emotions art can elicit. I’ve wanted to become an author for years now and just graduated in art history and German literature and I hope that it will help me pursue my dream.

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 any signature.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep creating, no matter what field of art you like. You will get better, even if it might not seem like it occasionally. Practice is crucial, but so is having fun. Create what you’re interested in, not what you think you should create. Accept constructive criticism and don’t beat yourself up if you think your art isn’t getting any better. It is. You just need some time. And remember, no one will ever be able to create the exact same things you do – your art is one of a kind and you should be proud of it.

jensen jeffrey
Jensen Jeffrey

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as akoisexual and akoiromantic. Now and then I find some people attractive but it usually doesn’t last very long and if this attraction is ever reciprocated it just fades away.

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

So far I haven’t since I only recently started including asexual characters in my writing and most people don’t even know I’m on the spectrum.

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

The misconception I get confronted with all the time is that people on the spectrum don’t ever have sex and can’t have functioning relationships because sex “is a crucial aspect to any romantic relationship”. People don’t seem to understand that sexual attraction and enjoying sex are two different things, that you could have sex even if you’re not physically attracted to that person and that there are people who make relationships work just fine without sex.

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

Personally, I was glad to find a term that describes me because I felt a little less alone, but it’s not the most important thing to find a label for yourself so if you’re unsure, that’s okay. You’re not strange, you’re not alone, and you’ll be fine. You might encounter individuals who won’t be able to understand your orientation but their opinion doesn’t matter. Find people who accept you the way you are. Try to stay true to yourself – I know it can be hard, but it’s okay to struggle and question your orientation, I still sometimes do that, too. Your orientation does not define what kind of person you are.

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

I occasionally post some of my artwork and cosplays on my Tumblr: http://crazy-walls.tumblr.com/

My fanfictions can be found on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/crazywalls

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

Interview: Darius

Today we’re joined by Darius. Darius is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in making beautiful digital art. He specializes in photo editing and makes wonderful pieces with inspiring quotes on them. Darius loves creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

07B661D3-1199-463A-A383-A7DD1C80210E

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make art digitally. I would love to make things physically but I’m afraid that I have a low aptitude for that. I like photo editing which is a bit hard to describe because it can be so varying. I think the only necessary component to photo editing is that a photo be incorporated. Typically a subject is masked out and we use various softwares and applications to bend that photo to our will and make it into whatever we imagine it to me. I know that’s not the best explanation but it’s the best that I can offer (sorry), at least for now.

For about a year now I’ve started using shapes to make art. Basically what I do is I take shapes such as a square and triangle or maybe even an inorganic shape and combine them in whatever way I want to make whatever I want. For example, I may put an equilateral triangle on top of a square to make house looking figure from the too. The example is very simplified explanation of my process as for a given piece, I may use 100 different shapes and have a few thousand shapes in all in one photo. I can change the opacity, stroke, shadow, height, width, color of these shapes to give a piece even more depth or uniqueness.

92C78F32-7D36-4144-9891-1843BD2F0A40

I mainly make relatively simple pieces and put inspirational quotes on them. I’ve always really liked those pictures quotes that we all have seen somewhere on the internet. About 5 years back I thought that they were so great because one could positively touch another with word in an art form. It inspired me to start making digital art.

I’ve put my shape art and quote into one, combining the things I love and sharing them with others in the hopes of inspiring them or touching them in some way and of for my own enjoyment as well.

FullSizeRender

What inspires you?

I am mostly inspired by plants.

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

I’m not arting as a career or anything. It’s more of a very time consuming hobby.

Though I have been paid to create local campaign posters and store signs.

FullSizeRender_1

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?

Hmm, no I don’t believe so

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would like to young artist that perhaps aren’t as confident or capable in the art to not give up. I encourage them to try new mediums or to even make up their own.

I encourage them to try different art styles because there are so many and just because one doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean they all won’t. Most of all, have fun and love what you’re doing.

FullSizeRender_2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual Aromantic

FullSizeRender_3

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

I’ve only realized my asexuality for hmm about a month now and I’ve only told two friends who received me positively, so I haven’t had much opportunity for that. Though I’m certain people in my life would tell me that I’m a closeted homosexual or that I’m making it up. Something out there like that. I’ve decided that I won’t really tell people, partly to avoid predicaments like that but also because I feel people aren’t obligated to tell everyone.

FullSizeRender_4

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

I’ve realized that most people don’t even realize that asexuality exists.

They think that it’s something made up and laugh, but not before bringing up asexual reproduction … sigh

IMG_0238

I honestly haven’t encountered misconceptions because everyone in my life either doesn’t know what asexuality is or has a great understanding of it.

I’m sure I’ll encounter those with misconceptions in time. I just hope that I’m equipped enough to better educate them

IMG_0501

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

Take your time and breathe.

If you’re not sure if you’re ace or not, you’re more than welcome to use it as a title.

If you don’t know where you fall, that’s okay also.

Don’t feel like it’s necessary to give who you are a title or a name. You don’t have to have one.

IMG_0519

You don’t have to use the split attraction model if you don’t want to.

You can be ace yet still enjoy sexual interaction with another.

Please understand that the only person who decides if you are ace or not is you, no someone else.

You aren’t broken. You aren’t going to die alone. You’re still capable of love. And you are very much loved by many.

IMG_0631

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

I mostly keep my art to myself and friends but I do post them on my Tumblr if I remember to.

FullSizeRender_5

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

Interview: Kelline

Today we’re joined by Kelline. Kelline is a phenomenal visual artist who does both original work and fanart. She’s a hobbyist who mainly does traditional drawings and watercolors, although she also dabbles in digital art. Her work is gorgeous, making expert use of bright vivid colors and lines, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Michelle copy
Michelle

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My drawings tend to be human driven, I just really enjoy drawing people above all else.

I have my own set of characters that wander around my head, but as I can’t commit to writing anything about them, they’re not much more than vague muses that appear in my drawings sometimes. I have a bit of a world and a magic system that’ll also be referenced in some works but again . . . lazy writer.

I also do a fair amount of fanart, mainly video game related (Pokémon and Undertale are the most recent themes). I used to do a LOT of Nintendo fanart. A lot.

My favorite mediums are watercolors, colored pencils, and recently ink/pens/markers. I do tend to very lightly combine digital elements into my work through color edits or added effects, this is based from before I had a scanner and had to rely on Photoshop edits to make my photos of the artwork look at all decent. I also occasionally do digital drawings.

What inspires you?

Music, video games, nature, night skies and outer space, other artists, dreams, and I guess feelings in general.

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

Pretty much always! I’ve loved drawing as far back as I can remember. My first inspirations were my mom, she makes cool colored pencil drawings, and my grandmother (mom’s mom) who was an amazing painter. Plus I was an imaginative kid, and liked illustrating all of my stories and fancies.

My original plan for after high school was to study art and do it professionally, maybe as an illustrator, but my parents (who were kind enough to pay for my college education) wanted me to study something that would get me a quote-unquote “real job.” But the major I settled into “Digital Technology and Culture” (in a nutshell it’s basically digital communication and rhetoric), was a pleasant mix of writing and visual design, so I still have some graphic design work I do in my current office job, and I’m free to pursue art as my hobby outside of work.

Reset copy
Reset

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 think so? I’ve been told my style is pretty unique, that’s good enough for me; I’ve never thought of adding a unique symbol/trademark.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Sorry I have lots of thoughts here:

Check thrift shops for cheap supplies! – Probably won’t have too much luck with more expensive supplies, like paints and higher quality tools, but I’ve found great grab bags of colored pencils, crayons, pens, pencils, and erasers at my local Value Villages. Part of why I have a giant shoe box filled with colored pencils. >w> I’ve also seen basic watercolors and pastels. You could probably find some sketchpads too!

Keep pushing through! – Almost every drawing I do there is a point, usually early on, where I absolutely hate it and want to scrap it. But over time I’ve learned that if you can push past that point, keep adjusting the sketch, add shading, change the colors, I can get it to a point where I love, like, or am at least “okay with” the drawing.

Don’t be afraid to erase! – This was a mantra of one of my college drawing instructors, and I still think about and use it. Basically if you just know something is off with your work, don’t be afraid to fix it, even if it means completely starting over. Don’t stress so much about messing up what you have now to not fix something that’s bothering you. If nothing else, I think forcing yourself to acknowledge and fix the error could lead to improvement in future drawings. But also keep in mind:

You have to stop at some point – Advice from an editing teacher that I also think about when I draw. If you’re a person who is a perfectionist or an overachiever, know that there’s never going to be a point where the drawing will feel 100%, completely perfect, flawless. Especially since we are our own worst critics (and also have spent the past 8 hours looking at the bloody thing), we’re going to see every little error in a drawing. But there has to be a point where you have to let go and call it done. It probably varies by artist, but for me it’s when it gets too exhausting to keep working on it, and I feel okay calling it done.

Above all, don’t give up! – Art can be frustrating, it can be emotionally draining, and it can be tough to see people who seem more talented or popular than yourself. But if you love it and/or it’s a part of who you are, don’t give up. It’s still so worth it, as an expression of who you are and what you feel, what you love and care about. It’s worth it to see yourself improve, and realize you’re creating things you once couldn’t, or better than you once could.

take care copy
Take Care

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual definitely, but I’m very unsure where my romantic orientation lies. I used to think I was hetero, but realizing I’m ace has kind of opened new ideas for me.

I think I’m either heteromantic, panromantic, or aromantic. Pan is my current thought, but I feel generally not wanting a relationship right now, so it’ll be hard to say until my heart’s ready for that again, if it ever is.

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

Ace ignorance is pretty common everywhere; I’ve never personally encountered ace prejudice, either in my drawing/art sharing experiences or in my past or current jobs. I see ace prejudice on Tumblr more than anywhere else. <_<

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

The most common? I don’t know, I don’t really talk to people about asexuality (I mean I ramble online sometimes, but that’s different). Going off of general attitudes, probably that “real” asexual people would never experience any kind of sexual feelings or enjoyment ever. And that they probably wouldn’t experience romantic feelings either.

It’s definitely a giant part of why it took me so long to identify as ace, and I think also a large part of why asexuality either never came up or wasn’t taken seriously in past romantic relationships, even when I was trying to explain to past partners how I could care for them deeply yet still be very disinterested in sexual activities.

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

Listen to yourself. If something feels right or really uncomfortable/wrong, listen to it. Don’t let others dictate what you are or aren’t, listen to yourself; you know your feelings better than those who only have an outside view. Even if you think it is “just a phase” and things will change, your current feelings are still worth listening to. If identifying as ace (or any other orientation) is what makes you feel comfortable and happy, do it!

And do your research; if you think something but aren’t sure, look into it. Find the science, listen to other experiences. Don’t just say nah and ignore your feelings.

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

In a few places!

DeviantArt: http://kelline.deviantart.com/
Tumblr: http://artsyagnostis.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SweetAgnostis

While mostly similar, there are some differences between them. My DeviantArt is the oldest, has the most on it, and where I’ll talk the most about my drawings. My Tumblr is where I’ll post the more personal thoughts or less finished work. My Twitter is pretty new and kind simple and breezy, but I also just started a Throwback Thursday where I’ll be posting REALLY old stuff, currently from the my first ever “sketchpad” I had when I was 5 or so, and might eventually move on to some of the sillier/wackier drawings I did when younger.

Poketale Undyne copy
Poketale Undyne

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

Interview: Barbara

Today we’re joined by Barbara. Barbara is a phenomenal artist who does a few different things. She’s a visual artist who does drawing, painting, and carving. Aside from visual art, Barbara is also an enthusiastic dancer. If that weren’t impressive enough, Barbara is also an acrobat! She has just started training in aerial silks, which is super cool. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

image1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Okay. Starting with the visual arts I have been learning how to make visual art such as drawing painting and carving since I was just a few years old so I can say I have been learning for over 10 years. I am going to start an official art school next year. I started dancing 4 years ago and 2 years ago I went to my first aerial silk training (it’s an air acrobatic technique mostly performed in circus). I’ve improved my skills especially in the last 2 years and I am going to perform my first solo choreographies (acrobatic and dancing) in April and June of 2017

What inspires you?

Well, mostly it’s other people. I love the way we are all different and my definition of beauty is the opposite of perfect. Every mark, every scar, wrinkles or freckles- that’s what makes people so amazing and extraordinary. And I love stories. They inspire me a lot, and by stories I mean books and movies of course, but also biographies and little facts from everybody’s past. For example every time when I discover a new artist or author or a band or anything like that – I try to find information about their past because it’s the past that makes us the way we are, and we think, and we create.

I am also very inspired by other people’s art. That includes music, drawings, literature and stuff like that.

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

As I said I was really young when I started drawing. Into dance and acrobatics I got mostly because of my mom who’s a dancer and owner of the dance school where my adventure started. I think that a lot of motivation to become an acrobat came from that one time when I saw Circue di Solei live, it’s an experience that I will hopefully never forget.

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?

My signature is always visible on my visual art, I also always wanted my symbol to be a simple drawing of moth but I am still working on the project, do that’s something more for future.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I am only a beginner and don’t know much about life yet but my best advice is – practice a lot. Nothing makes you improve your skills more than practicing. Also don’t give up easily. Even if you lose a big opportunity or miss some chance. There will be another one – I promise.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as heteroromantic and asexual (or at least on the asexual spectrum because I am really young and I know some things can change but I don’t think they will to be honest)

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

Well, I haven’t come out to my parents because they don’t even seem to believe in such thing as asexuality. I am sure I will come out to them someday but by now I prefer the save option. Honestly most people in my country probably doesn’t know much about whole LGBTQIA community which is sad and it’s caused by an incredibly small amount of representation in media. I wouldn’t call it homophobia, it’s more like overwhelming ignorance. It isn’t that bad after all, I don’t think most people hate LGBTQIA community – especially younger ones.

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

The fact that we don’t actually exist is surprisingly common. I also saw people calling it a disease once or twice.

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

I don’t think I’m ready to give any advice. I discovered my own sexuality quite recently. I started identifying as asexual only about 6 months ago. From my experience I know that it really helps when you come out to someone. Just make sure it’s a person that you really trust.

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

My Tumblr: https://verysassywitch.tumblr.com/

My Pinterest (a lot of inspirations and some of my art as well): https://pl.pinterest.com/verysassywitch/

My DeviantArt: http://verrysassywitch.deviantart.com/

Thank you, Barbara, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Interview: Haley

Today we’re joined by Haley. Haley is a phenomenal visual artist and crafter, who is also a seamstress. She absolutely loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

IMG_20161228_160756977

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a visual artist, and I draw mainly figures and portraits in ink and marker but also sometimes watercolor. Not only am I a visual artist I am a crafter and seamstress too. I like to create pieces that are trendy at the moment for much cheaper.

IMG_20170127_215142430

What inspires you?

The diversity in the world around me. Everyone is beautiful and different in their own way. Also the internet is a huge inspiration as well I love seeing everyone else’s creations.

IMG_20170328_180529593

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

I always thought it was amazing how people can just create anything from nothing. My aunt got me interested in sewing she taught me to sew when I was about eight years old.

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?

In my signature on my artwork, the H in my name is somewhat shaped like a star.

IMG_20170129_173133302

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up on yourself. There will be artists who are better at what you do than you. You might look up to them or you might despise them because they’re younger than you and better than them. You need to remember there’s someone out there who feels that way about you.

IMG_20170328_180603531

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am panromantic asexual.

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

I have had many people who ask me why don’t you make it sexier? Why don’t you make that dress shorter or the neckline deeper? You’ll get more followers if you design that character with bigger boobs and a bigger butt. I realize sex is all over in the media but that’s just not how I am. I tell them that I don’t want to and that it doesn’t fit my personality or just plain ignore it. Most often when someone is sending you hate or “suggestions” they just want attention.

IMG_20170129_214249981

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

The worst one I’ve encountered is that we are cold emotionless beings who love no one else, and that we have no feelings or passion.

IMG_20170328_180413330

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

I struggled with my sexuality for years… I thought I wasn’t gay enough or maybe I wasn’t actually asexual and I’m just pretending. I actually still struggle with my identity, and I probably will for a long time and that’s okay, take your time to figure it all out and don’t feel like you have to come out to anyone. Also, most importantly, don’t forget it’s okay to talk to someone about it all. I have a really close and amazing best friend who I talked to about my whole mess.

IMG_20170223_174308590

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

My art Tumblr, teaandsketchbooks is probably the best place to find it.

IMG_20170328_180232156

Thank you, Haley, 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.

endgültiges Cover deutsch 1

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.

Signature

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.

T. Hiddleston craft

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)

fb logo

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