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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Poketale Undyne

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

Interview: Vide Frank

Today we’re joined by Vide Frank. Vide is a phenomenal illustrator from Sweden. They’re part of a group made up of asexual and aromantic individuals. Vide was also on a panel about asexual and aro issues at Stockholm pride. Their work is gorgeous and vivid, evoking an incredible amount of emotion, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a visual artist, which is a very broad term. I paint and draw both digitally and traditionally but have also dabbled around in sewing, sculpting, writing and jewelry making. I mostly stick to painting and drawing though. I use a lot of different mediums, like watercolor, markers, graphite, oil paint, acrylic paint, colored pencils, photoshop and paint tool sai.

What inspires you?

So many things, like music, movies, books, fanfiction, poetry, photos, drawings, paintings and real life. I’m very driven by my emotions though, so it all depends on how I’m feeling in that moment.

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

I guess I always had this fascination with art, I used to beg my mom to draw things for me and I loved to use my hands to create things. Art has always been a part of my life, although I didn’t really try to improve until I was around twelve, and it wasn’t until I was fifteen that I actually thought of making it into a carrier. I don’t believe enough in myself to actually take that leap though, so I’m studying to become an assistant nurse at a gymnasium in Sweden.

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

I don’t really have a symbol or feature, since I think I would grow tired of it and start to hate it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s okay if your art look like crap, your dance can be off or you could have fucked up that seam, and that’s okay. Perfection isn’t necessary, it’s just tiring. Keep practicing, keep making mistakes, keep working and someday someone will say that you did well, and maybe that won’t be enough, but maybe it will. Learn to love the journey, not the result (as cheesy as that sounds).

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demi gray asexual, which means (according to me) that I need to have an emotional connection to a person to feel sexual attraction to them, but it’s still very rare for me to experience sexual attraction.

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

In my field? No, but that’s mostly because I’m not very open about my “queer-ness” around my art. In other places? Yeah, defiantly. I mostly try to keep a calm and open mind when I meet these people, and try to calmly explain my point of view with examples and such. Most of the time they understand or we agree to disagree.

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

That we don’t have sex or that we just need to find “the one”. Both are complete bullshit, I can have sex with a person and still be ace, asexuality isn’t about our actions, but about our attractions.

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

You don’t have a find a label or figure everything out, it’s okay to just be. If the people around you don’t support you there’s always other people in the world, someone out of the seven billion are going to understand.

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

You can find my art on my Instagram at plantrot:
https://www.instagram.com/plantrot/

Or my portfolio http://vide.teknisten.com/

You can also buy some of my works at my Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/videfrank
(or contact me at vide.frankh@gmail.com)

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

Interview: Lisa

Today we’re joined by Lisa. Lisa is a phenomenal hobbyist who loves to draw and take pictures. Her photography is beautiful, showing everyday life and various scenes she comes across. For drawing, Lisa mostly does illustration. She works with both digital and traditional medium. Lisa is an incredibly enthusiastic artist with a creative soul, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m someone with a lot of hobbies who takes some of them a tad too serious. First of all I draw a lot on paper and digitally but I’ve experimented with acrylics, watercolor, oil paint, clay and probably a lot more things. I tend to stay with illustration though, because, well, it’s in my comfort zone. And then there’s the photography thing. I try to take my camera anywhere I can and usually end up taking lots of photos, sometimes even with good result. I’m also mostly interested in street photography. I also enjoy learning about the technical aspects of optics and photography.

What inspires you?

For photography of course other photographers (on Flickr, Instagram etc.) but also the places I go to and the architecture of the city I’m visiting that day, although I don’t feel like I have the right lens for architectural photography though. (Lenses are insanely expensive, did you know that?)

As for my art, well, other artists of course! Following a bunch of artists (pros or not) has helped me grow a LOT. Also seeing art from my friends all the time motivated me because it made me want to improve.

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

I was in kindergarten and in class, minding my own business and enjoying myself with a coloring book when I overheard some girls say to each other that I was bad at coloring. I was so upset that from that day on I decided to practice drawing and I basically never stopped. (don’t worry though, I take criticism well these days) There was a period of a year or so that I was determined to go to art school as well, but my fear of financial instability eventually creeped in and I convinced myself to choose another career.

I only ever started photography when I decided to buy a DSLR because some of my high school friends had one at that time (it was also a trend I believe). But being extremely competitive by nature when it comes to these things, I wanted to make sure I was better at it than them so I learned about photography theory for two months before finally buying the camera. (I had some money saved up from my job, luckily)

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 I have any to be honest!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep doing what you love and don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes. You will improve and learn new things your whole life which is something you should be excited about. Treat art like a lifelong adventure! 🙂

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an asexual and that’s all I know. I guess I’ve had crushes on all kinds of people but I never wanted it to get serious. (commitment issues, probably? : ))

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

Well I wouldn’t know since most people don’t know. Or rather: I talked about it to some of my friends but some of them don’t seem to take it serious at all or don’t even believe it exist. I even have one friend who mocked me publicly a few times which was very painful. She is still very dear to me though, but it kind of made me wary. I’m not planning on ever speaking ‘irl’ about my asexuality again because I’m uncomfortable with it now. It’s just a tiny inconvenience in my life and we all have to live with those, right?

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NGE

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

That asexuality is just a medical issue that should be able to get fixed with the right treatment.

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

Take your time with it I guess! I’m still struggling with it myself so I wouldn’t know what else to say other than, well, there’s more people out there going through the same thing so you’re not alone!

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

I post my photography (and sometimes some stupid sketches) on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisnano/

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Yael

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

Interview: Alena Matuch

Today we’re joined by Alena Matuch. Alena is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who enjoys writing fantasy, often taking inspiration from mythology. Aside from writing fiction, Alena also writes fanfiction and personal essays. She’s also an incredibly talented visual artist and considers illustration to be part of her writing process. She very obviously has a great amount of passion, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Hel

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m both a writer and an artist. I’m hugely interested in Fantasy and Mythology and how those forces are woven into how we see the world. Most of my work is fantastic or has some bizarre element that doesn’t fit in with how the world typically works. You can see some of my stuff on Tumblr and I also love to play around in fanfiction. I’m currently working on a novel about Norse Mythology from the point of view of a canonically genderfluid god.

As for my art, I work primarily in watercolors and ink. Arthur Rackham, Edward Gorey and Chris Riddell are huge influences on my illustrative style. I see my drawings as an extension of my writing. There’s something so special about seeing your characters standing before you with your own eyes, seeing how exactly it is that they move about their respective stories. Painting them helps me to see them more clearly as people and (hopefully) write them into better stories.

What inspires you?

Small things that very few people notice. A misplaced line of text, never explained, but important. I like the stories of people that were written out of history, whom the Arbiters of Good Taste decided were not worth the ink or time. I look for places, feelings, states of being that are largely unexplored and considered terrifying, until you know the lay of the land.

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Lady Lucine Woolsey

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

Most definitely! I was writing stories about my classmates in grade school and had a multi-chapter saga about an alien invasion from Mars by fifth grade. In kindergarten I convinced a friend that I had 100 kittens living in my home. He was extremely disappointed when he came over for my birthday party and could only find one.

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 used to do a small doodle of the Cauldron of Inspiration next to my signature on works of art. It’s a common motif in Germanic and Celtic mythology representing fertility, birth and raw creative power. Maybe I should bring it back.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Listen to what your body is telling you. For the love of God, get up and take a walk once in a while. Don’t punish yourself for taking breaks. You need time to be a human being as well as an artist, to let your mind drift into things that aren’t related to what you’re working on. It is okay. And you’ll come back to work so much stronger than you were before.

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Laenke

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a demi lesbian. I also identify as Butch.

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

No. Of course, I’m not out about it at all.

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

The biggest misconception I’ve ever run into was for the longest time my own. For almost my entire life I had no idea that there was a spectrum at all, that there was any such thing as demisexuality. I knew that I could and was getting along just fine without a partner. My sex drive was never something that had any bearing on my life. And yet, every once in a long while, I did feel something for someone else. So I couldn’t actually be ace, right? I stumbled over the definition of demisexuality by sheer accident in an offhand comment on the YouTube channel of my favorite sex educator and learned something about myself that day.

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Taniale Prosthetic Leg

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

The single thing that helped me the absolute most in coming to grips with my orientation was this little comic that drifted across my feed one day. I have no idea who drew it or where it came from. I didn’t think to save it at the time, but the idea of it stuck in my mind, giving me peace and hope as I struggled to figure out who exactly I was.

In it, the protagonist is deeply questioning their orientation and visits an “Orientation Shelter” to figure it out. The proprietor kindly shows them around, gently easing their confusion. She unlocks the first door.

“Maybe you like men?” she asks, gesturing inside.

The room is filled with men of all shapes and sizes, kissing, embracing, gazing lovingly into each others’ eyes. The protagonist shakes their head, getting more irked by the minute by a question which they thought should have an easy answer.

The proprietor pats them on the back and says it’s okay. She unlocks the second door.

A room full of beautiful women. Romantic picnics, holding hands, lips locking.

The protagonist turns away in despair. They think there’s something wrong with them, that they’ll never find what they’re looking for. But there is one more door left to try.

The key turns in the lock and they step through the portal into a vast, open field, the sun gleaming on the swaying blades of grass. The land is filled with all kinds of people – artists, dreamers, athletes kicking a ball across the green, an astronomer gazing through a telescope. In that room there is represented every faucet of creativity that can be imagined, every color of sheer joy that has ever been painted.

I keep that image in my head when the thoughts that I am lacking in something come back to haunt me. I hold it in my heart and remember that this is who I am, that these are the things I love.

I am lacking in nothing and the entire world waits for me to bend it to my will.

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

Check me out on Tumblr at Neriad13.Tumblr.com. The “My Art and “My Writing” tags are a very good place to start.

I also post fanfiction on Ao3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/Neriad13/pseuds/Neriad13) and Fanfiction.net (https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4296233/Neriad13) under the same handle.

I post art on Deviantart (http://neriad13.deviantart.com/), though I am falling a bit behind on that one.

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Angrboða

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

Interview: Oliver

Today we’re joined by Oliver. Oliver is a wonderful visual artist who works in both traditional mediums and digital as well. Their style is inspired by cartoons and anime, though they also do realistic drawings as well. Their work is brimming with beautiful vivid colors and wonderful flowing lines, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I love drawing people. I like to draw realistic portraits, but I find a more cartoony/anime inspired style is very fun as well.

The majority of my work is done traditionally, usually an amalgamation of water colour, coloured pencil, and ink is used. But I dabble in digital art as well.

I’m the kind of person who carries around ideas for pieces for years without actually ever putting them on paper. I find it very hard to translate the bigger concepts and visuals I have in my head into real life. So it’s not often my drawings make it past the sketchy pencil stage before I shove them away in exasperation never to see the light of day. Often times I go through these sketches at a later date, going “this is really good! But it isn’t like how I had conceptualized it all” and back into the abyss it goes.  *laughs*

I use art as a personal casual hobby. I often struggle to express myself effectively in verbal and text communication, so sometimes drawing out what I’m feeling, or how much I love something can be really soothing. So in that regard my art is very self-centric, art to me is about showing who you are in a way others can relate to.

What inspires you?

Other artists always! I love storytelling, especially visually, and don’t think I ever would have found the drive to draw if it was not for other artists around me. I specifically know I’ve been rather influenced by Shigenori Soejima, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

I can’t really pinpoint for my original pieces what inspires me, striking visual thoughts or feelings mainly. It’s very abstract. I have whole reference folders dedicated to abstract imagines that make me feel ___ to help me draw that visually.

For fan art pieces, this is always much easier. I just have to try and channel what I love about that character, and then think of a dynamic visual way I can show that love to people.

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

DeviantArt was definitely a game changer for me. Little grade 5 me was introduced to it by one of my older siblings. I formed a close knit community with other artists around the same age and artistic level as me, and I was always pushed to keep producing things and learning and help them do the same. I thrived there for a long time.

I really wanted to be a professional artist, and had a lot of support in early high school to try and make a portfolio to attend a university art school. But I found once I put my nose to the grind stone and lived , breathed , and sweat art for that portfolio , that art wasn’t something I was interested in pursuing professionally. I hated the restrictions of what I could and couldn’t draw. I hated the class time as I often didn’t want to draw past 20 minute intervals. It was around this time I decided to see art as a hobby, because it was the only way I really enjoyed it.

Now with other obligations and just life in general , I don’t get to draw much , and I don’t see as much rapid progress in skill as I did once , but I really enjoy drawing and that’s something I’m really glad has persisted. It’s so relaxing!

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, not really. I have been told I have a very unique line texture by several people though (I’m not sure that’s a good thing though!)

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing what you like, not what other people like!

And if you’re considering becoming an artistic professional give yourself a time line where you will dedicate yourself to you’re art 100% to see if it really is the right fit for you! Evaluate, after that time line and make your choice from there. There is no wrong choice either.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a Nonbinary Panromantic Asexual.

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

I’m actually incredibly lucky to live in a big city, which has a pride center that specifically organizes asexual pride events and casual hang outs.

At my job, I work with several A-Spec coworkers. And the rest are part of the Queer community themselves or are very supportive Allies.

I tend to get flack for other aspects of my identity, more so because it is easier to see upon introduction that I am trans, versus asexual, which is only brought up when discussing sexual activities (which rarely is a work topic, which makes the NSFW acronym pretty relevant *finger pistols)

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

Probably from my family, they are all incredibly sex positive, and so am I, so I’m very open that sex is not something that appeals to me. I have identified as Asexual since I was 13. I am now 21. My mother was a late bloomer and she keeps insisting I’m just a very very veerrryy late bloomer. :/

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

I never really talked about my lack of sexuality until I connected online with other Aces. Foster a community and raise awareness. It’s very hard to feel isolated when you know others are experiencing the same thing as you are. Plus you will make some amazing friends along the way. 🙂

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

My personal art blog is http://p3hero-art.tumblr.com/
My main blog is http://p3hero.tumblr.com/

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

Interview: Fawndolyn Valentine

Today we’re joined by Fawndolyn Valentine. Fawndolyn is a phenomenal versatile artist who has tried her hand at just about everything. She’s most dedicated to illustration and dabbles in steampunk jewelry. When she’s not doing that, she also does makeup. It’s very apparent that Fawndolyn is an incredibly dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m kind of a jack-of-all, master-of-none, but I chiefly work on illustrations, and frequently dabble in making steampunk jewelry, and practical/special FX makeup.  In my illustrations, I mostly work in watercolours and Copic markers, but it’s Inktober now, so I’ve been concentrating on my ink work this month.

And when I say jack-of-many, I mean give me something interesting to do, and I’ll damn-well give it a shot!  I’ve made hobbies of cake-designing, woodworking, costuming, violin, making comics, translating French, urban exploration, making comics, writing, bookbinding, prop-making, acting, web design, painting, medical experimentation, and a cornucopia of other things.

What inspires you?

Other artists.  I’ve never been one to say, “I’ll never be that good” when looking at better artists’ work, but I tend to say, “I can draw that!  Let me try to draw that.”  That’s how I practice.  I learn techniques and styles from other artists so I can better understand how to develop my own style (even though I’m still trying to settle).

I’m also inspired by faces. I do a lot of portraits, so an interesting pose with well-defined features are particularly inspiring to me. If we’re friends and I have a picture of you in a striking pose or making a goofy face, you’d better believe I’m going to try to draw it.

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

I’ve been drawing since I was four years old.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw – except a few years back, for a few years during a severe depression.

I haven’t always wanted to be an artist.  Sort of. I was kinda forced into it – my mom and grandfather were artists, so their legacy needed to continue.  Most of my time spent in college was skating around other majors, trying to be anything but an artist.  I felt like I was pre-destined to it.  Not to mention, my family always ragged on me about not making money with my talents, which really spoiled it for me.

It wasn’t until I was about to run out of financial aid that I finally decided “FINE!  I’LL DO IT.”  And of course, that turned out to be my saving grace.  Highest marks all around.

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?

When I was young, I watched a great documentary on Al Hirschfeld, and I loved how he would hide his daughter Nina’s name in his work.  I tried to sneak something into my drawings, but my type of work didn’t really allow for it.  Not enough detail.  In the age of internet art theft, I’ve reconsidered sneaking my name into my work, but I haven’t really been able to figure out how just yet.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep drawing.  If you suck, pick one of the things you suck at and find out how to get better at it.  Keep going down the list of things you suck at until you don’t suck anymore (or you could go the way I go and just avoid drawing the thing you suck at).  I highly recommend taking a life-drawing class. They’ll start you with the basics (drawing your own hand) in a number of different ways, but you’ll learn how to draw what you see.

Reference photos are amazing.  Many artists use them.  If an artist says they don’t ever use references, they’re lying – every artist has referenced something in their lives, even if they don’t use references anymore.  Not using references is possible, but why torture yourself while you’re starting out.

And for ultra-beginners, here’s how I really got going: When I was in 7th grade, I would draw by holding paper against a paused TV screen and trace the blurry shapes of Ren and Stimpy and Sailor Moon, or whatever show I liked, just to get the feeling of drawing those lines.  Man, that helped.  Tracing to copying to referencing to working from imagination… it’s all about leveling up. I still pause movies if I can’t find a good reference photo.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as graysexual (I know it’s gray asexual, but it just rolls off the tongue better the other way).  Panromantic. But I just say I’m asexual and allow for gentle prodding, if questions occur.

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

The first person I came out to was a friend who I had a fling with in the past.  His follow-up questions were so abrasive that I felt attacked, and it took me two years getting over the fear to come out to my own boyfriend (when I did finally come out to him, his reaction was, “well obviously!”  And he was completely okay and understanding about it).

My asexuality and the aforementioned terrible coming-out experience came up in casual conversation with an acquaintance and he said, “I can understand why someone would get mad about it, if they like-liked you.”  Can you believe that crap?  Like sex is the only thing I’m good for?  Like already having a goddamn boyfriend isn’t your bigger obstacle?!  Piss off!

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

That we can’t have or enjoy sex.  And that we’re a challenge to be fixed.

Trigger warning.  Before I ever even heard of asexuality, before I realized I wasn’t broken, I dated a piece of shit who treated sex like part of the girlfriend package.  Like I owed him.  Having sex was fine, but he poured on the guilt whenever I didn’t want to.  My circumstances of being homeless at the time, plus the guilt trip, made me feel like I did owe him.  He thought I would enjoy it when he got it in.  And I always faced away to hide my tears.  I was young and didn’t know I didn’t deserve that.

(end Trigger Warning)

Despite that, I have, after that relationship, still enjoyed sex.  I don’t have it anymore; haven’t for a few years now, and I don’t intend to. My boyfriend is okay with this.  I also still masturbate.  That’s part of the “can’t enjoy sex” misconception, though I don’t do it for fun (I mean, I sometimes try to have fun with it).  I do it to silence the baby-making hormones that rear their annoying heads every month (my boyfriend was shocked when I told him I only take care of myself once or twice a month.  I guess that’s a low amount).

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

Take as much time and experience as you need to figure out who you are, who you like, and what you want. It took me til I was 32 years old to realize I’m asexual.  In high school, I didn’t understand why everyone (even the nerdiest of nerds) were having sex.  I felt embarrassed and a little attacked for having feelings for someone and then my friends teasing me that I’m “a big ol’ horn-dog” who wants to bone everyone.  I couldn’t understand why having a crush meant wanting to have sex to everyone but me.  When I grew up, I had a lot of enjoyable sex, but it never felt like anything but a hormonal satisfaction (not connected to romance).  Mostly, I had sex because I thought I was supposed to.  When I discovered that asexuality is a thing I could finally identify with, I felt like a huge chip came off my shoulders.

I feel like, nowadays, we live in a world of sexual autonomy, and more people understand that they have the right to say NO or YES whenever they need to.  Don’t let anyone make you feel like you owe them.  I still feel weird for being ace, and I think it’ll make any future dating I do pretty difficult, but I think that comes with the territory in a sex-driven society.  But listen.  We are not weird.  Okay, some of us might be a little weird, but it’s not because of our (a)sexual preference.

And if you’re stuck somewhere in your self-discovery, ask for help.  Find like-minded people online.  Ask questions to google or to forums.  We’re out there.

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

My art: https://www.facebook.com/fawndolyn/

Instagram (this month is mostly inktober and SFX): https://www.instagram.com/fawndolyn/

Steampunk jewelry: https://www.facebook.com/honeyinmygears/

And just in case anyone wants to read the boring details of my life, I still use LiveJournal: https://diello.livejournal.com/

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