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Fantasy Art and Comics: Controversial bondage fantasy art

Accessory to Mischief


One of my most controversial works ever! With its casual storybook style, giant space clock, and megaphone-vocal lady sliding down time's oversized hands, this image takes on a surrealistic appearance. The drawing and Photoshop effects are reminiscent of my late 90s work. Seems rather tame for Vigistry, so what's all the fuss about? The answer reads like my resume.

In the late 90s, I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator creating posters and promotional material for downtown events in my hometown of Waterville, Maine. My favorite event was the downtown Arts Fest, an annual gathering of artists on Main Street displaying and selling their works to the public. Not only was the event fun to advertise, but I did volunteer work, too. I met a bunch of artists from the local Art Society and became a member. Although my collection was a little weird and not as vast as the pros, I was talked into entering the Fest as a displaying artist, so in 1998 I not only designed the show's promotion, but my first competition entry became my first award-winner. What a welcoming gesture.

I worked in downtown promotions for nine years while also honing my skills as a fantasy pin-up artist. As many Maine artists are compelled to paint lighthouses and landscapes, I have my niche too. I'm proud to be recognized by Heavy Metal, the classic, spicy film and magazine franchise run by Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the children's cartoon staple, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Most local artists respect the imagination and creativity of my work. It's gotten to the point where exotic images and revealing fashion designs are expected of me. That makes me feel welcome but, at the same time, some folks think a disclaimer is always in order.

How you observe this drawing depends on who you think created it. Intended for public promotion, it was a job for Brian the Advertiser. Yes, the request had an extra stipulation to not include nudity or profanity, needless to say as that may be. Otherwise it was a pretty straightforward approach: develop a concept, share a preliminary sketch, work up some proofs, and send it off for committee review. With an ecstatic thumbs-up on the concept and thumbnail, it was time to start fleshing it out.

Sliding girl thumbnail

I had a rush deadline for this as I was saving the day from the previous designer who fell ill. The girl and clock were drawn during a weekend of travel and business matters at a cozy lounge in Massachusetts. My reference was the thumbnail, plain and simplistic as thumbnails are, and it shows. The girl's basic outfit was pretty much carried over to the second draft. She looked a little too plain. I thought of putting ribbons in her hair but ended up jazzing her feet instead. She's a happy, carefree slider likely to prance barefoot around the playground; little baubled anklets seemed just her style.

With the design up for review, I got the verdict: terminal rejection on behalf of the committee— not fix a few things here and there, not come up with a new design, but complete rehiring of a new designer to take over the project. Zero hour had no bearing. As a professional, my first response was that these things happen. Obviously a different vision was needed, and I got reimbursed for my work, so everything was fine. But as an artist it raised an interesting mystery. The graphics industry I know of involves customer relations, feedback, and revision, not a nervous hush on the first go.

It turned out that no one on the committee (I would later discover it was only one raging feminist with a penchant for bashing anything interesting) appreciated the fact that the girl's feet were bound. O-kay. Believe me, I don't think bondage has a place in this particular downtown event, or any public event for that matter. And I know how to draw bondage; that's not the expression of someone partaking in it! So maybe a jpeg proof might have presented that optical illusion at a quick glance, but like I said about feedback and revision...

Bondage time is not fun time

Bondage time is not fun time!

This poster design, stripped of its info and sponsor logos, will live on to tell this story. Her style is retro, but the emotional reaction this sliding girl struck represents a multidimensional art form all its own. Her megaphone takes on a whole new meaning now.

Although Brian the Advertiser has been in marketing for much of his life, it appears Brian the Fantasy Artist's reputation has preceded that amount of experience and professionalism. The side who draws the naughty things prevails in the minds of many. It is kind of cool to know that "[my] art spurs wildly divergent opinions" so said by the one who hired me. If being forgotten is the worst thing ever, the Fantasy Artist doesn't have that problem. Now to resume burning up the mainstream...