Today we’re joined by Eldervine. Eldervine is a phenomenal visual artist who enjoys experimenting with different mediums and styles. She is mostly a realistic illustrator, but occasionally dabbles in impressionism and surrealism. Eldervine does both traditional and digital art. She does sculpture/3D modelling and is currently studying game art/design. She’s a passionate artist and obviously has a very bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’ve been drawing pretty much my entire life- I can’t remember when I started but (looking back) by the time I started school I was pretty well practiced for a 5/6 year old. Since then I’ve dabbled in almost every art form; painting (and then digital painting) was my staple for a long time but I’m pushing myself to sculpt more now.
In style I consider myself a realistic illustrator, even though I slide into impressionism and/or surrealism a bit.
What inspires you?
I’m an unashamed lover of beauty whether it’s found in pleasing shapes, rich colours or lush textures. Animals are the best source for me, particularly horses- they’re made of such beautiful shapes (loads of sine curves) and textures and I was totally that girl at school that always drew horses haha
My first degree ended up being in biological anthropology though (through a weird slide from the art school into the humanities, into the sciences), and that did get me interested in how humans work- that and working at my city art gallery made me more appreciative of human (and cultural) beauty. And it seems weird to me but playing The Sims 3 inspired an appreciation for architecture and landscape. The greatest artistic urge I get remains equine though, so I guess it’s true that old habits die hard.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Phew, it’s a bit of a twisty ride!
My obsession with horses lead me into playing a ton of the online text-based horse sim games that abounded during the 90s/2000s; they were good because they were targeted just at people that like horses, unlike the modern ones which also have a clear intended age bracket. Those games all eventually died so I found myself joining a forum that used The Sims 3 (in modded form) as a horse game, with picture shows and breed registries etc. hosted on the forum. That then led me into the world of computer game modding, and I found I really enjoyed retexturing things and became interested in learning how to 3D model.
So starting from last year I’m studying game design/game art, and I think it’s the best career idea I’ve had so far! I previously didn’t think I could make a living doing art, but games is a growing industry with heaps of demand for artists. I’ve also found that games is a field that allows me to apply the biggest selection of my broad interests and skills (I’ve found my anthropology surprisingly relevant too), and offers specialist and generalist opportunities in equal amounts so I’ll be able to try a lot of different jobs and/or specialize in whatever I end up liking the most.
I don’t know about a unique thing (apart from a signature obvs). I’m guilty of the ol’ scratchy sketching that my new teachers (all animators) hate and are trying to beat out of me haha, but I don’t like leaving much lineart in my coloured stuff anyway. I think I certainly have a style which is very different to what everyone else in my class does- mainly, I think, because my artistic influences come from fine art whereas most of them grew up on comics.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Stop worrying about having a style, it will happen naturally over the course of your life and if you try and force it you’ll just end up limiting yourself as an artist.
Learn the fundamentals of colour, light and anatomy (yes, I mean realism) BEFORE you start stylizing. If you do it the other way around you’re locking yourself in to only being able to do that style, and often not as well. Anime/manga artists are prone to this; the good ones did heaps of life drawing before translating into the style, whereas you can tell the ones that started out in the style because they do some real janky stuff with anatomy and perspective, and it just doesn’t look as good even when considering style.
Also, be intelligent with your art; always ask yourself why you’re doing something or why something looks good to you. It helps you learn about yourself as well as your craft.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I knew I was asexual when I was 12, and I’m now 100% again, but there were bumpy bits at 22 and 25 where I thought I could be demisexual (thinking back and being brutally honest with myself, the first boyfriend I wasn’t interested in at all and the second one I thought I had found someone who I could be happy with, but they didn’t seem to get what I said about my sexuality and so I just tried my best to be into him sexually too. Spoilers: didn’t last long with either of them).
As far as the romantic scale is concerned, I have no idea. I do overwhelmingly connect better with women than (heterosexual) men, but I honestly don’t know what exactly the difference is between a close friendship and a platonic romantic one. Because I seem to be missing something, my current guess is that I’m aromantic as well. xD
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve only mentioned asexuality to a few friends so far in the games field, so I’m going to answer from all the fields I’ve dabbled in.
I am conventionally attractive, and my body developed early- my breasts were already fully developed and large at 12. Both things I have had people try to use as evidence that I cannot possibly be asexual, despite my pointing out that what feelings they get from my body are the results of their sexuality. (That and breasts are not actually sexual organs, they’re just sexualized in many cultures).
Apart from that, whenever I do mention it (which isn’t often) people tend to go “uh” and then gloss over it, clearly not understanding/not believing but not wanting to make more of a deal out of it. Which is fine by me actually, except I’m pretty sure my parents still have their fingers in their ears (some crossed) and are looking the other way as well. (I’ve definitely heard the “you just haven’t found the right person yet” line).
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Apart from the binary fission joke (which every asexual gets I think) and the one where people get their sexuality mixed up with yours, that asexuality is due to trauma.
I did actually have panic attacks – with my first boyfriend, the first week after we became official I couldn’t eat anything or I’d throw it up. Doctor gave me meds to calm the acid in my stomach and then I was fine. With the second boyfriend I woke up one day in abdominal agony, shaking and sweating (making it rain, but not in a good way!) but as soon as he called the paramedic hotline and I was talking and joking to the lady on the line I was better- when doctors later examined me they found absolutely nothing wrong. I had another exactly a week after (and I still feel awful about this one) where we had finished making out for a bit and he went to start on lunch (or something, can’t remember) and he came back to ask me something, and as he sat down next to me/leaned over me I suddenly felt so ill, had to bolt to the bathroom- didn’t quite make it- and was ridiculously, violently sick everywhere.
It was at this point that my mother helped me set up 6 months of therapy with a well-reputed sex therapist. xD Who was actually really lovely, and I enjoyed those sessions with her! It was really nice to have talks about sex that weren’t charged with expectations, with someone who was relaxed and had actually studied sexual health, critiques of sex ed, etc. She didn’t believe though that anyone with any hint of sexual need was asexual (and I did say that I was fine to have sex with myself occasionally) so I didn’t really get the benefit of that discussion. She also thought that my aversion to men (as she saw it- honestly I think guys being the only issue was because no lesbians ever hit on me haha) was due to my developing early and being sexualized by others before my mind was caught up. That boys would pretend to be friends with me because I had the big boobs, she said, lead to me linking sexual desire with dishonesty and so I distrusted it. Now, I still think it’s a really interesting idea and I do wonder if my sexuality would’ve expressed any differently if a)I got boobs later and b)if the world/how we raise boys was different. It’s been a long while now though and I’ve continued thinking about it and reflecting on myself, and while I do think I am put off a lot by how the world at large treats sex and sexuality (and women), I think 13 year old boys being self-centered pricks triggering asexuality for the rest of my life is giving them rather a lot of credit!
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I used to get so stressed when I was a teenager because I was taking on everyone’s expectations about me and my future, and felt that a relationship and sex was just going to happen to me and I had no control over anything. Don’t stress- I can’t talk for everyone, everywhere in the world or in every situation, but at least in my case, the only thing that was keeping me from feeling secure and in control was me thinking that I wasn’t. Hopefully, this can serve as a reminder for someone else in a similar situation. You don’t have to do shit if you don’t want to. If you’re not in a similar situation, don’t be scared to go looking for help to get that control. It exists.
Having said that, don’t be scared to revisit what you think and try working yourself out all over again- you are what you are, and labels are tools that we can use to try and make more sense of ourselves, for us and for others, but remember that they are tools crafted from an imperfect world and they are clumsy.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My Tumblr that I set up to share my game art/schoolwork is eldervine.tumblr.com (you can also find my Twitter through there, which I use to post arty stuff, game stuff, school stuff, news stuff and feminist rants haha)
If you’re interested in seeing the Sims 3 horse art I did when I was a part of Equus-Sims, you can have a look at eldervinefields.tumblr.com (it’s sadly not active anymore but all my stuff, including mods, is still there).
Thank you, Eldervine, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.