portrait of sara and her 2 cats within a golden frame, with a background of the ace pride flag colors.

Meet Our Pilots: Sara

Today we shine the spotlight on Sara, our illustrious illustrator! Around these parts she’s known for her cool hair, two cute cats, and making us all squee with joy from her cute blob art.

Thank you for being part of the Pride edition of this! So, who are you and what do you do here at Big Blue Sky Games?

Hey, I’m Sara Olson, and I am the illustrator and concept artist here. I do a lot of weird things!

What would you say is your favorite part about having this role?

I mean the whole thing, really. This job was a dream and I kind of tripped into it. I did not intend to get into the games industry because I didn’t think I was good enough, then all of a sudden I had this big opportunity fall in my lap. It’s been a fun learning experience, and it’s so nice to have a team that are all just, you know, on the same page. We’re cool people making a cool thing together, and that’s awesome! Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for better.

If you originally didn’t think you’d end up in the gaming industry, did you have a different industry or line of work in mind?

Prior to this, I had finally started getting work in tabletop games, which is still something I do on the side. I do a lot of, you know, odd illustrations and monsters for card games and stuff, and that’s pretty much what I thought I was going to do. I thought I was going to do the freelance hustle for my entire life, which is really hard and stressful. But one day I was lamenting about not being able to find steady work and Crow (our narrative designer) messaged me and was like, hey, just so happens we’re looking for an artist, do wanna take an art test? And I was like, yeah, of course!

Now that you’re here, is there anything in particular that you either want to see changed in the industry or be part of?

I mean, it would be really cool to go to like GDC (Game Developers Conference) and talk to people about what I do. I believe a lot of artists, and definitely me included at one time, think that we’re just not good enough to get into the industry. There’s this big imposing wall that you have to climb up to get into it. When you look at all these super talented people in the industry, you think no way, I might as well give up. But I just want to tell people that you don’t have to be the best at anything to get a job in gaming. And that’s something I had to really tell myself over the years, you know? So, I feel like just explaining this to other artists that are looking for work might help them.

Growing up or even now, was there a fictional world that you really enjoyed and would want to live in?

I don’t know about living in it, but I was a voracious reader when I was a kid, and I really enjoyed fantasy books. My favorite book series is Dragonlance, and I distinctly remember there being no illustrations really. There were some little, tiny sketches that they had in the books at the beginning of chapters, but there was nothing else besides the covers of the books for me to know what the dragons looked like. So, in junior high I was like, well, I’m going to draw the dragons myself! I remember just getting really heavily into doing that. And so instead of writing, which was my other passion at the time, art kind of overtook that. I suppose that would have been the point where I was like, yes, it is the art life for me!

So, you got to go to Japan last year, right? What were some of your favorite places that you went to, or places that you hope to go to on your next trip there?

Oh man, there was so much to see and so little time. Also, I got sick during the trip, so I did not do everything or eat everything that I really wanted to. But one of my favorite places that we went to is the Meiji Shrine, which is so massive, and you have to walk for a mile or so to even get to it. It’s got these big forests on both sides, with little shrines and torii gates everywhere. There’s a wishing tree that has walls surrounding it, with a little gate to get to it. I was like I’ve seen this in Inuyasha! But yeah, there were these shrine maidens there that actually sell good luck charms, so I got a few of those and made a wish for a sick friend of mine at the wishing tree, hoping that that would help. It was just a really cool experience.

I also enjoyed just roaming around Akihabara, which is like nerd central where you find the manga stores and figurine stores, and all these little gadgets and gachapon. Walking around there was the coolest thing, but I really want to go to more shrines and take more pictures for inspiration on my next trip!

Speaking of eating, if you could have one of your favorite foods appear in our game, what would it be?

I have a lot of favorite foods. I am a foodie and I’ve also been on this diet for three months, but I really like a good pizza with fresh veggies. Pizza’s good. Like, I don’t need it to be a fancy, I just want it to be a pizza!

Switching gears here, but would you like to tell us about your journey of discovering your sexual or gender identity?

I’ve always been a bit of a “tomboy”, like I was that kid playing with the sticks and bugs and didn’t care what I was wearing. I also never wore makeup and would just kind of roll out of bed when going to school, not worried about what I looked like. I just remember being really annoyed growing up to find out that, like, if you were a girl or AFAB (assigned female at birth), you were always treated in a certain way. Like, you weren’t the same as the boys, you were going to be lesser than them, and you couldn’t do the same things or have the same opportunities they did.

It is still very much like that now, but I took it personally enough where I had to think, okay, I definitely identify as a woman, but nah to all of the baggage with it, you know? As I got older, I had to take a good look on the inside and be like, alright, what all are we dealing with here? I ended up realizing that there were some things about me that were very different from the rest of my friends in that, you know, everybody was very interested in getting boyfriends, but it didn’t make any sense to me. Everything is very hyper-sexualized in the world and it just never sat right with me. And I didn’t understand why that was until later because it took a while to realize that there was a name for what I was feeling, for who I am.

Are you hoping that with a character in our game, or even just being yourself here, there can be some open asexual representation?

Yeah, because I’ve definitely never really encountered any character in any major media where I would have been like aha, they are ace! You know, there is really no representation of it. We are who we are, and it would be nice to have that representation. Right now, I think the only way we’d be able to find characters like that in media is if there was never any mention of them, you know, being interested in somebody in that way. Like, if they’re always focused on what they’re doing instead of trying to get the guy or the girl or just someone. That’s kind of a difficult one really.

Although you’ve talked about the struggles of being ace, are there any moments of queer happiness that you’d like to share with us?

It’s hard when you are under the ace umbrella because I feel like it’s just kind of brushed off, like you’re not normal in this sector either, you know? And it makes relationships or finding relationships very annoying. In one of my past relationships, they basically used me being ace as an excuse to leave me, and that was really upsetting because I can’t change that. I did my best, it’s not my fault, and there’s nothing wrong with me. That was a thing that I needed to just understand and grasp about myself. Growing up I was like – I don’t have all these feelings everybody else is supposed to have, what’s going on?

But I remember telling a friend of mine this and explaining the whole entire situation because he’d never really heard about or knew what it meant to be asexual. And he told me that doesn’t change anything. That I am who I am, and whoever leaves me just because I’m ace is missing out. That made me feel so much better to hear, because I have a lot of love to give. It doesn’t matter if I’m ace. Since then, it’s really nice when I can tell my friends and they accept me for who I am, and that it doesn’t really change anything about me. I have always been this way and them knowing about it is nice. To know that you’re not abnormal, you’re just you.

Interviews are edited for content and clarity.

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