Interview: Jen

Today we’re joined by Jen. Jen is a phenomenal painter who uses oil paints on canvas. She creates a wide variety of different images in various genres: science fiction, fantasy, and even some fanart. Her work demonstrates a keen imagination and a beautiful use of color and line. It’s very obvious that she loves painting and it shows in her work. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a traditional painter — oils on canvas. The bigger the better, but I’m running out of room to store them all. I paint a lot of landscapes, mostly science fiction or fantasy, sometimes abstract or modern stuff, some fan art (Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Witcher fandoms), and I dabble in bit of fanfiction as well.

What inspires you?

So many other artists! The natural world, video games, books, colors or textures I’ve seen. Smells. Dramatic scenes. Music. Lighting. Inspiration can come from the most mundane and sometimes the funniest most unlooked for places. Never take it for granted.

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

I was never the kid with the sketchbook when I was young. I started collecting Star Wars comics and art books when I was in high school. I remember looking through one of the art books and seeing Ralph McQuarrie’s matte paintings for the original trilogy and realizing that people did this for a living. So I started drawing on my own. I went to two semesters of state college and then pleaded (I was splitting the cost w/ family) to transfer to art school. I had to take a painting course as part of my major. It was challenging but I ended up loving it and although I dropped out before completing the degree, I have now been painting for over fifteen years and am starting to work towards making a career out of it.

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?

Along with my signature, I add a thumbprint. I don’t know if that’s all that special.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Besides the obvious one of: practice, practice, practice? I’d add that it’s important to have as much variety in your education as possible: Sculpture, digital, drafting, even dance. It all helps your brain learn to translate light, movement, color, and form and perspective from two dimensions into three and back again. Diversity is key. Lots of different media, lots of different subject matter. That and learn some solid financial and organizational habits. Boring, but it will help keep you in food and work.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am demi/ace/autochorisexual.

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

Mostly, I don’t tell people. But even so I’ve encountered a bit when it’s come up as to why I’m single and not dating. Ignorance more than anything else. Many people have not heard of it. Those of an ‘old-fashioned’ mindset insist I’d be happier with a husband and children. As if I don’t know what I’m talking about. Some tend to think it’s a trend or an affect to gain some kind of reputation or attention like I’m putting on some kind of special snowflake act.

Then there is the preconception that artists are somehow more passionate than other people…so it follows that they should be more promiscuous, too, right?

I’ve also been told, mostly by men although I did hear it from at least one woman, that if I’m ‘not getting any’ that I’m somehow stifling my own artistic ability and creative process? Which is as ridiculous as it is manipulative crap and very annoying.

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

As I’ve sought to learn more, I’ve noticed a lot of folks struggling to understand what asexual is and getting it confused with being bisexual or pansexual. They just take all these terms that they don’t understand and lump them together.  The gender preference (or lack thereof) regarding any potential partner is an entirely different aspect of human sexuality. A person can be asexual and bi, asexual and pan, asexual and gay, asexual and straight, etc. Asexuality deals with the lack of sex drive and/or sexual attraction and/or interest in having sex.

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

Take your time with it. You don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations. Figuring yourself out is a lifelong process. You are allowed to learn and grow and change your mind as often as you need to about who/what you are. Society still places a lot of pressure on people to be in relationships. If a relationship makes you happier and healthier, then fine. If not, that’s fine too.

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

I post on Tumblr. http://caffeinatedmusing.tumblr.com/
My portfolio is http://jenniferward.foliohd.com/  and I have some prints and such available on Society6 https://society6.com/jwardart_2016

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

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Abstract expressionist artist, Chinese American, lesbian, and community activist, Bernice Bing (1936-1998) was involved in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, She attended the California College of Arts & Crafts and was inspired in life and her work by Japanese painting professor, Saburo Hasegawa as well as by Chinese calligraphy. 

Sources: Centre for Asian American Media, Mythos Fine Arts and Artifacts