Today’s awesome aro-spec creator is Signe, better known to aro-spec Tumblr as @fluffyllamacorn!
Signe is a busy aroace writer, visual and textile artist! She writes for the Young Avengers, The Shadowhunter Chronicles/Shadowhunters, Hawkeye Comics and New X-Men: Academy fandoms in addition to developing diverse original fiction. You can find her growing collection of fanworks on AO3 under the name FluffyLlamacorn and her gorgeous art at @llamacorn-productions.
She also posts and reblogs fashion and accessories at @clothing-inspiration, and some of her cosplays can be seen throughout this post!
With us Signe talks about her passion for textile arts and how they allowed her to reclaim her femininity, the importance of non-romantic relationships in creative media, the difficulty of writing kissing scenes, and the need for works and discussions that celebrate our aromanticism. Her love of making, crafting and designing just shines through this post, so please let’s give her all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.
Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?
I just sort of … never cared? I’ve never wanted to get married and have children, and I never really had crushes growing up. I partly figured that was because I was surrounded by assholes who weren’t worth crushing on, but even when I graduated and moved to better schools where I actually had friends, I still didn’t care. I’ve always had a lot of confidence, so I’ve never bothered feeling insecure about not dating. I spent a while identifying as a straight person “who doesn’t care about romance” before eventually identifying with the ace and then aroace identifiers after having known them for a while, but there was never any big moments in the journey that really stand out.
Currently, I see my aromanticism as more important to my identity than my asexuality – being aro is what I do, while being ace is what my body does – but I also don’t really see them as separate. It’s hard to put into words because it requires cementing some stuff that I don’t mind leaving fluid, but while my lack of attraction is a package deal, it’s the lack of romantic attraction that defines my lifestyle the most. I know which I would choose if I had to, but I prefer not having to. That’s the only good thing about the ace discourse: It’s made me very protective of my ace identity again after having let somewhat go of it after I came to identify as aro.
Can you share with us the story behind your creativity?
I’m the type of person who has a thousand different hobbies and therefore doesn’t have time to actually do any of them. The three I care most about are writing, drawing and textile work.
I’ve always told myself a lot of stories. Walking home from school, I would develop my stories, acting out scenes in my mind and developing huge universes. When I decided to share them with the world, it was initially as comics. I drew a lot, so I had developed the characters’ visual identities along with their personalities. While I’ve switched to planning my stories as books, drawing and writing is still pretty linked in my mind and I can’t imagine creating a character that I don’t know how to draw.
I got into textile work through cosplay, but have spread out into knitting, sewing, embroidery, cross stitch, weaving, crocheting, bobbin lace… Pretty much everything I can get my hands on, which is why I give it such a broad name. (This is part of my too many hobbies deal!) I love everything about textiles, from the look and feel of it, to how many different things can be created out of one simple material. Looking at clothes and knowing not just how it’s been sewn, but also how the fabric was made, is so cool. Creating things from scratch can make me feel like something akin to a god, recreating this corner of the universe as I see fit. A big part of my love for textile work is also reclaiming my femininity in a way that’s so different from the girly girl image I was taught to look down on as a girl. This is a way to enjoy being feminine that doesn’t force me to embrace things I don’t enjoy.
One thing I’ve realized recently is that I love the freedom to design my own work. My cosplays have moved further and further away from canon, from human versions to characters without a firm design or completely redesigning a canon design. On the other hand, I rarely feel the need to sew completely original things, and without the built in deadline of a con, I’m not very likely to get it done. I tend to rarely do the things I can just do whenever, but I’m getting better at that.
Are there any particular ways your aro-spec experience is expressed in your art?
It’s easy to spot in my stories. I have a lot of a-spec characters. The two main characters who were specifically designed to get most of my heart – Shizuka, the shy girl who didn’t know how to make friends, and Diana, the confident girl who’s never cared what anyone thinks of her – both ended up being a-spec even though I created them long before I started identifying as aroace. Shizuka is demi and I don’t know whether it’s sexually and/or romantically or if it even matters. Diana ended up being aroace because I was thinking about her future and my mind nope’d out of the possibility of her ever dating. I also made a conscious choice not to include much romance until I got interested in queer love stories and that sorta fell by the way side. Even then, I try to keep the love stories from being the only defining feature of the stories and the characters involved in them and never to devalue other types of relationship. You will never hear the term “just friends” in my work unless I’m trying to make a point about the person who uses it.
(This is not to pass a value judgement on anyone who uses that expression, but to help normalize language that doesn’t devalue platonic relationships.)
What challenges do you face as an aro-spec artist?
The recent anti-a-spec discourse has made me worried about posting about aromantic things too publicly, as aphobic comments and opinions seem way to commonly accepted these days.
Also, writing kissing scenes. What the hell. “And then their mouths squished together for a little while, which apparently made fireworks go off in their brains.” Like. What? Why does society think this is the epitome of every relationship?
How do you connect to the aro-spec and a-spec communities as an aro-spec person?
Building communities about a lack of something is always hard. Once you’ve written the first story about being aro, it can be hard to write the next one, unless you consciously try to write about a different way of being aro-spec. It’s also a hard orientation to include quickly as being single isn’t as clear an indicator as having a romantic partner of the same gender. While I follow a bunch of aro-blogs and I have a bunch of a-spec friends, I wouldn’t say I’m strongly integrated in the a-spec communities on Tumblr.
Part of it is that most content I see is validations that every sort of aro is alright. I see a lot of content aimed at people who feel bad. That’s important, definitely, but I don’t need it. I’ve always known I’m amazing, both independently of and intersecting with my aromantic identity. I’m interested in work that celebrates being aro, work that doesn’t say I’ll be happy “even though” I’m aro, but “while” I’m aro, maybe even “because” I’m aro and don’t need to waste my life on amatonormativity. At the very least, work that spends more than a sentence on reassuring me. I see a lot of content that implies the basic state of an aro-spec person is sad, and I object to that idea.
I have also recently seen a whole lot of posts about QPRs and that’s really cool! I’m happy to see they’re becoming more and more accepted, at least in some circles. I’m less happy to see them become so prominent and so expected that they start feeling like a new shape of amatonormativity. It’s not that bad right now, but I definitely got allo aces saying “at least we can still feel love” vibes from some QPR posts earlier this year. Because here’s the thing: I’m aroace. I won the lottery. I don’t need to define myself by relationships to other people.* I refuse to take another label that sounds like I don’t want friends because of people pushing QPRs to be the new norm. Again, I’m super happy QPRs seem to have become more accepted, just please don’t present them as something every aro-spec person is interested in unless we specifically opt out.
There’s also the question of what kind of aro stories should be told. I mean, as many as possible, obviously, but that’s going to take a while. But the whole deal with being aro-spec is to have less interest in romance, so too many stories that focus on the lack of it become … counterproductive? I think the Jughead comics are pretty perfect in that regard. The main character is aroace and there are several stories that’s hella important to, but mainly it’s just about him going on adventures with his friends.
(P.S. I hate Riverdale. I’ve seen two different Jughead cosplays these last two weekends, but I didn’t dare fangirl, because what if they were based on the wrong version?)
Honestly, my main way of interacting with the a-spec community is befriending people at random and later finding out they’re a-spec. It’s … almost a superpower? It’s pretty great.
* No one needs to define themselves by relationships to other people, but I imagine it’s much easier when you don’t feel the desire to.
How do you connect to your creative community as an aro-spec person?
I don’t feel very connected to creative communities, but that’s more because I’m not very good at reaching out and promoting myself unless I know I have exactly what’s being asked for. I mainly stick to one or two people I can bounce ideas off of for my different projects before I post it and hope it finds an audience. It might also be because I’m juggling so many things and don’t spend enough time on the social connections needed to connect with a community.
How can the aro-spec community best help you as a creative?
Feedback, feedback, feedback! I love it! I live on it! Telling me you like X or Y part of my work can keep me floating for days and makes me so much more motivated to keep arting! So please, check out my art and leave a comment and/or share it with your friends/followers, if you like it.
(Also, if anyone has good tips on how to reach a larger audience, let me know.)
Can you share with us something about your current project?
I just finished my newest cosplay, which is Lup from The Adventure Zone in her lich form! I had a lot of fun designing her – the podcast doesn’t have very specific descriptions and the creators encourage fans to come up with their own designs – and got a lot of positive reactions at the con last weekend. I went for a very non-human design, including hiding my face, and added a bunch of fire details to reflect her evocation magic. I would have added more, but then my sewing machine broke in the last second, and I had to finish everything by hand, so I just aimed for the basic version. I’ll be updating her for the next con and will have much more fire with me then. I have yet to finish editing the pictures, but they should be up soon.
Have you any forthcoming works we should look forward to?
My next project, one I’ve alluded to a couple of times in this profile already, in fact combines all three of my passions. I was considering cosplaying Pixie, one of the underrated students from X-Men, relegated to the background since their series ended, but I kept bumping up against the problem that her uniform was just too … generic to be fun. Besides, what’s the point of cosplaying the pink girl, and then not getting to work with pink fabric?
So I just redesigned her and gave her an individual outfit. And then I decided to redesign all of her teammates. I wanted them all to go together, but still keep an individual feeling, and I achieved that by giving them a rainbow theme when they’re together. Obviously, the next stop was figuring out a story for that to take place in, of which I’ve posted the first chapter. The idea is that they get out in their bright colors and visibly help everyday people with everyday problems to stop people from hating and fearing mutants and maybe actually making a positive change, unlike all of the superhero battles that don’t get anyone anywhere.
The project has three parts: Individual drawings for every member where I develop their outfits further, chapters of fic describing their adventures and a cosplay that I aim to finish for Genki in August, the next big con in Denmark.