Today we’re joined by Arf. I could not be more excited to have a fellow ace blogger: Arf runs the demigray Tumblr (http://www.demigray.org/), which is awesome. She is also a ridiculously talented and versatile visual artist. Arf works in a number of different mediums and her art is absolutely beautiful. She’s also open to commissions. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I work in several different mediums: watercolors, colored pencils, digital art, and hand embroidery. I’ve been using traditional mediums since I was a child, and like combining watercolors with colored pencils to make layered, textured areas of color. My digital art has a graphic design focus, and I work with both vector and raster images; my current projects are making designs for my t-shirt line, Pride and Joy Prints, and playing around with glitch art. I recently took up embroidery as a hobby and have found it rewarding and relaxing to engage with a slower, more tedious process.
What inspires you?
I’m primarily inspired by nature — most of my subject matter features birds, plants, and animals, and it’s always vividly colored with flowers, foliage, patterns, plumage, and pelts. This is flavored with mythology and spirituality, as I like drawing deity-like or even mythical creatures sometimes.
Other sources of inspiration include vintage postage stamps, fashion and textile design from all cultures, contemporary tattoo design, and art dating from the late 1800s to the present. I also have a fondness for the clean lines and neon/muted colors of cyberpunk and dystopian aesthetics.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I have always been an artist, so it has always been natural for me to create images. My dad is an apparel designer so I grew up with Photoshop and Illustrator and an interest in graphic design. I think being an avid reader of fiction since forever helped, as I always have clear images in my head that want to come out. Finally, I’m Indian, and India of course has a very colorful culture, with saturated illustrations of Hindu gods, rainbow-colored silks, and much more.
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 have a specific symbol or secret, but I think my bold lines and use of color tend to be distinctive.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
If you have the opportunity, take formal art classes at school or privately. There isn’t a replacement for getting feedback on your work from a professional, especially if you are just starting out. If you aren’t able to do this, do all the basic exercises that they would make you do, like drawing still lifes of apples, and consider finding a mentor.
Take time to refine your taste. This doesn’t mean that it is narrow necessarily, it just means that you know what you like. This helps in the development of your unique style. I maintain a personal Tumblr for this purpose and I reblog images that I think have something—color palette, subject matter, style—that I can incorporate into my own work.
Spend time researching different artists and think about why you like or dislike their works. Focus on curated sources like galleries, museums, and blogs/magazines.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am demisexual, though gray asexual also fits.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I haven’t, thankfully! But that’s because I rarely if ever tell people about it offline.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
There are many misconceptions about asexuality as a whole, but the main one I hear about demisexuality is that it’s how everyone “normally” is, which is, of course, a misunderstanding of the basic concept. I also (disturbingly) hear from both aces and non-aces that gray asexuality is not a necessary or useful label.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Remember that labels can be as constricting as they can be liberating. If identifying with a label is stressing you out, it is perfectly acceptable to step back and say something like “I relate to asexuality” rather than “I am asexual.” It’s okay to be yourself first and accept your individualized sexuality on its own terms, rather than deal with the baggage a label might bring.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I have an unfortunately rarely updated “my art” tag on my blog and an Etsy shop where I sell pride t-shirts. There is more glitch art on my other blog.
Thank you so much, Arf, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.