Saturday, May 28, 2011

BDSM Art

  How does one get started in BDSM art? Well, for me, it was all tied (get it?) into my first real efforts to become a tattoo artist.  I started out designing tattoo flash... that artwork you see on tattoo walls.  I went from shop-to-shop with my flash set as well as my portfolio (on the off-chance that someone might be looking for an apprentice).  I had some nudes in my portfolio at the time, but nothing too extreme.  At one of the shops, the owner said he loved my style, especially the nudes.  What he said he needed was some bondage-art, women tied-up, wearing leather, that kind of thing.

 Up until that time, I hadn't really given it that much thought.  I mean, I was aware of what bondage was, and had tied a girlfriend or two up, but again, nothing too extreme.  The imagery I had run across I found interesting, especially the unusual power-shifts that seem to go between the model and the observer defined by the gear and the particular predicament.  I did some research and came up with several designs that were not only purchased but actually one a local contest. 
 I was "hooked", though not in the way that I would later draw some women.

 The above image was my favorite for a long time.  Though the expression of this and other women in these designs suggests trepidation, I do not consider this kind of work "objectifying" women.  The women I have known who engage in this kinds of expressions of there sexuality all seem to feel very empowered.  Most people do not realize that in a healthy BDSM relation, it is the sub, not the Dom, who determines the parameters. 

The piece above "Romantic Candlelight", was probably one of my most extreme early pieces, and garnered a great deal of attention on the Internet.  Unfortunately, printing options for such a piece were limited, and only a few prints of this were ever made.  People get a little squeamish around this kind of work, and many printers do not want to be associated with profane artwork.

 Not every expression of bondage needs to be overt.  The piece to the right, "Rose", was very popular, and ended up being sold at auction for charity.  There is a romanticism to this piece of work, and expression of the beauty and joy that one can find in abandoning their taboos and restrictions and indulging in whatever they find pleasurable. 


 As I started to get better at this, I learned to have fun with the designs.  The piece to the left was done as a flier and t-shirt design for a local band in Austin, the Blind Pets.  It is an homage to a Black Flag album cover, one where a pistol is in a cop's mouth and the pistol is saying "suck me off, faggot!"

 Yep, Black Flag had a problem with the cops.

 I came up with the text in this piece, emphasizing the different perspectives and focus of each character.  The guy is all about what is going to be done, the girl is about how she is going to be doing it, and the gun is excited to be utilized in the manner it was designed for.

 I think the lead singer was the only one in the band that really liked this piece.  They went to artsy photography for their next flier.

 I started using this kind of work in my advertising.  The piece to the right had arm-tattoos in the color-version that said "Thanks for the Add" and was used as a response to those who added me to their friend's list on MySpace.  I colored it "Warhol-style", four different pastel combinations, and used a red-one for my avatar in some of the forums I used to engage.

 On this piece, I was complimented on the chain's realism.  My collection of BDSM gear was growing considerably, and like the belt in "Rose", I actually had a model to draw from.  Another popular comment was about the effect of not having the face in the image.  This forces the viewer to focus on the chain and her breasts... not that most of my patrons needed any help in that department.  Still, it insists on its raw sexuality and deviance.  The person is not important in this image, only her kink.


This next piece was done as an add asking for donations, and people went nuts over it.  Either they were in love with it or they hated it, and it was all about the woman being hooked to this device meant to pull on her nipples as the tray was weighted down with change.  One day, I am going to create a flash-animation version of this image allowing the viewer to actually add virtual coins to the tray and increase her obvious discomfort.

 Again, the people who complained about this image as being "abusive" forget that their are all kinds of people with all kinds of kinks, and any woman who finds herself in this kind of predicament had requested it or was getting paid for it, more often the former rather than the latter. People would be shocked at what their fellow human-beings do for fun.
 I stared experimenting with different techniques, as represented by these next two pieces.  I did a number of pieces using stark contrast between the black and white tones.  With these pieces, I also intentionally avoided using line to represent form.  The result is a number of places where there is not distinction between the form and the background.  The mind creates the edges that are not actually represented.  A few of these pieces treated the subject matter from a direct perspective; the whole figure was represented in the center of the image (roughly).  This particular piece also experimented with an extreme-angle up-close to the subject who is also contorted.  The lessons learned from the series of which this piece is a part would be applied to later works.




This next piece was less about the image and more about how it was colored.  I had been seeing a technique where the outer edge of the form was defined by a line that was a darker shade of the interior tone.  The result was meant to soften the image... which, given my particular subject matter, seemed to go against the over-all tone of the work.  The proudest part of this piece for me is the spot-light; created completely on the digital file.  I enjoy my little victories almost as much as my large ones.


 BDSM is its own culture, and has its own symbols, language, and trends.  As such, it is often marketed to.  The piece to the right was inspired by a few BDSM themes I had seen being marketed at the local mall (Keep Austin Weird!).  Of course, the images I saw were somewhat more 'vanilla' (tame) by comparison.  marketing this kind of work means finding a venue that is friendly to it.  Usually, this means head-shops, sex-shops, tattoo-studios, novelty-shops, certain publications, and of course the Internet.  I somehow doubt that the people who originally made these phrases popular had the same idea in mind.
 The next few images bring together some of the concepts and techniques I explored in previous images.  One of the things about my pieces that other artists have appreciated (when they voiced their opinion) or noticed (when they just scowled) is that I "am not afraid of the vag".  Among artists it seems to be an unspoken taboo to blatantly display the female genitalia... even worse to make it the images most prominent feature. 

 This is referred to as "fear of the vag".  Apparently, it is often more acceptable to depict male genitalia (but not erect male genitalia... although that is how we prefer to present ourselves).  I can only guess that this is related to our puritanically-based social morals, although even in Europe there was the same modesty-inspired reaction from my friends there, just not to the same degree.  I might also propose another theory.  It may be that we are instinctively urged to look at genitalia, while we have been taught not to look.  It is a conflict of nature vs. nurture that causes our discomfort.  Our interest in displays of sexuality is perfectly natural, perhaps even healthy, but runs counter to our moral/intellectual complex.  In either case, whatever internal governor that may have been instilled in me when I was young has been burned out long ago.  I am more apt to notice a butterfly than a bottomless woman walking down the street.

 

 Along with the "objectification" argument comes also the "violence" argument.  BDSM images often display scenes that could be construed as violent; people being tied-up, placed in cages, spanked, slapped, pinched, pulled, pierced, roughly penetrated or handled, and "tortured".  What is being missed by those looking from the outside in is that, again, the participants are all willing pursuing these behaviors.  Especially in the case of the sub, who appears to be being hurt and humiliated, the individual's power, sexuality, and liberty from the many hang-ups we have about our sexuality is on display.  This display forms a circuit between the viewer and the person being viewed, by which the "victim" is empowered by the audiences interest, emotional response, even their desire.  The Dom often becomes an after-thought in the over-all scene, facilitating and managing the event, but more a part of the environment than the center of focus.  This is akin to ballroom dancing where the man is meant to be a frame for the woman, who is on display for all watching the dance.  The lead may have the illusion of control, but the woman is empowered.

 I once read that sex was the manner in which adults played, so it is no surprise that much of what goes on in BDSM involves a kind of power-shift that relates more to that of a parent/child than a husband/wife... though some marriages and relationships I have witnessed have that kind of dynamic without the kink.  Another study I read suggested that those of us who endured corporal punishment (ie spanking) as a child are more likely to have these 'deviant' interests as adults.  This may be why spanking and "punishment" are such prominent aspects of the BDSM culture. The Dom seems to enjoy the power they have over the sub, but also in their ability to fulfill the desires of their partner.  The sub enjoys being ruled, but also the power in being an object of desire inspiring their partner.  The exchange goes far beyond the physical.

 What may be surprising to some is that in my experience, when these kinds of fetishes are embraced by a couple, those people seem to have a stronger bond.  If considered, there is a logic to this.  The couple has to communicate about there desires and inhibitions as a part of their 'play' with one another, and the trust that exists between partners is re-enforced with each session, as well as the connection between them.  BDSM relationships tend to last longer, and the partners in them seem more satisfied with their relationship than what is seen in other couples who's sex-lives are more conventional.

 I am often asked why I do not create more socially acceptable images, as well as why I do not feature males in any of my works.  The answer to both questions is the same... because the subject-matter doesn't engage my interest.  Art is, first and foremost, created for the pleasure of the artist.  It is meant to challenge the artists skills and mind and to create a pleasurable result.  If the artist just mechanically designs something, then the effort is no more stimulating than that of a person working on an assembly-line.  This is what I enjoy, and even if the work was never appreciated by others, I would continue to produce it.

 Thankfully, this kind of work seems to have a sizable audience with which to share my talents and individual deviance.

 Most of these images are available as prints; 11X14" for $14.99 each.  Get yours here


3 comments:

  1. The ability to recognize things that can satisfy your partner is the best to possess in order to gain long lasting relationship and there are many reading materials that can be a good tool for you to acquire that knowledge you are longing for.

    busco amo dominante

    ReplyDelete
  2. O... kay? While I appreciate the comment, I get the feeling that you did not read the blog, or do any research about me. If this was meant as a PSA for my readers, well, awesome. Personally, I have a long lasting relationship, some reading material did help (along with years of experience in relationships that did not last), and the wife is very satisfied. She is the inspiration for most of my work.

    Take that any way you like.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think u r a wonderful artist,I found this site thru Fet&am so glad to join.I love the perspectives you write as well,it is so great to know your mindset as well as see the finished artwork.I look forward to seeing more as u progress.Bset of luck in your journey:)

    ReplyDelete