Hello everyone! A while ago we sent some questions to Jade Boylan, an artist who, just like me, has Aspergers (a form of autism). She makes super amazing stuff and we were so happy she was interested in this interview! Let’s get to the questions and answers.
Hi Jade, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
Hi I’m Jade, i’m 27 and I run my business the Candy Doll Club from my home in the Isle of Man, a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea in between England and Ireland. My business is very girly and feminine, with a strong Girl Power message and lots of Girl Gang themes, as well as designs inspired by 80s and 90s childhood toys and sweets.
When did you got diagnosed with autism and how did you feel about that?
I received my diagnosis in August 2015 after 2 years of treatment for severe depression, anxiety and self harm. Getting the autism diagnosis was actually a huge relief, it explained so many things about me and helped me to better understand why I had never really fit in at school and college, it helped me to see that I wasn’t ‘broken’, just a bit different. I know that some people can see a diagnosis of autism as a setback or a bad thing but to me it was great, and still is. I like to see it as more of an asset than a hindrance, although there are still times when it can get in the way a bit.
What is the best and the worst thing about being an artist with autism for you?
I think the best thing is how my mind is wired a little differently to most other peoples. I have exceptional spatial awareness and Hyperphantasia meaning that i find it very easy to visualize designs and products in my head before I create them, often with no real need to do any sort of preliminary sketches or rough drawings. I thought this was completely normal and that everyone did this until other artists told me they ‘have’ to sketch and plan everything before creating it. I got into trouble a lot for this at Art College as despite explaining that I could do all of the ‘rough sketches’ in my mind, my tutors refused to believe me and forced me to sit and waste time drawing out 20 ideas before producing the final piece. I’d say the worst thing is other people’s misconceptions about autism in general, I often get looks of surprise when I tell people I have Aspergers, and they look even more shocked when I tell them i’m an artist, as if they expect everyone with autism to work in STEM or something. It would be good for people to understand that just because i’m autistic doesn’t mean I can’t work in a creative industry, no i’m not good at mathematics and yes, I can function perfectly well in social situations thank you very much!
Do you think you experience more stress than others because of your autism? What do you do to keep structure in your life?
I know that I definitely struggle more with things like sensory overload than most neurotypical people. I always carry earbud headphones and sunglasses with me so if i’m ever out and about the sounds or lights get a bit too much, I can just pop on my sunglasses and listen to some of my favourite music until the overload has passed. It tends to be sounds that affect me the most, it’s like my ears amplify sounds to the point where i’m wincing in pain, but I can’t switch it off or control it, I have to wait for it to pass.
What’s a characteristic of yours that contradicts stereotypes of autism?
I am very good at reading other people’s emotions and moods. Almost everything I’ve been told about autism contradicts this but I’ve always been good at picking up on what people are thinking or feeling just by looking at them and reading their body language or looking at their eyes. I can also be quite outgoing at times although I think this is more of me just ‘putting on an act’ than anything truly genuine as I have very low self esteem, but a life of living with Aspergers has made me quite a good actress. I also enjoy public speaking engagements and often have no qualms with getting up in front of a room full of people to talk about a subject I’m passionate about. Again I thought this was normal but other people have told me it’s not, although I’m not sure what ‘normal’ is anyway, who wants to be normal?! And yet ironically I can hardly make a phone call without having a minor anxiety attack. So public speaking is fine but ask me to phone someone and I’ll panic and run away.
What are your plans for your business in the future?
I suppose I’d like to keep expanding the product range and hopefully see my items stocked in a few more places internationally. I don’t really have any specific long term goals from my business, only that I want to keep working for myself if I can for as long as possible. I suppose that one day I’d love a brick and mortar shop somewhere to stock my products in as well as items from other designers I’ve befriended online over the years.
Some extra questions:
What are your daily, weekly and monthly tasks?
My daily life is quite dull, I don’t leave the house everyday and I spend a lot of my time alone working in my office or bedroom. I like to listen to music while I work, but if i’m doing something like sketching or sorting new pins, I usually stick on a movie or a show to have on in the background while I carry out whatever project it is i’m working on. I can’t work in complete silence, I need some sort of white noise as a filler otherwise my brain can’t focus properly. I try to leave the house at least a couple of times a week even if it’s only to take orders to my local Post Office or grab a coffee with a friend. I definitely don’t get out as much as I should though.
What does your network look like? Do you get a lot of help from others?
I don’t have a lot of Autistic friends in real life but I talk to some online via twitter and instagram. I don’t really get any help in regards to my autism, there aren’t a lot of local services aimed at helping people on the spectrum and i’m not eligible for the ones that we do have as I’m considered too ‘high functioning’ apparently. I’ve read a lot of books about living on the spectrum and I regularly take part in online and in person Autism studies at various UK Universities as i’m always interested in learning more about the Autistic community.
I can definitely conclude that we have so much in common (Jade and me, Eva from Brainfog)! It’s almost creepy. I hope you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I did and learned something about autism.
Jade’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jade_boylan/
Her shop: https://www.candydollclub.com/
Her art website: https://www.jadeboylan.com/
Her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jadeboylanillustration/
If you’re an artist that’s on the spectrum as well and you want us to interview you as well, you can send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.