When you think of the word erotica, it’s entirely possible you still picture romance novel covers with Fabio shirtless by the ocean. And that totally counts! But fortunately, the medium has become a little more adventurous than that. Beyond its power to titillate, good erotic art can make powerful, sex-positive social statements. Just look at how the genre has flourished on Instagram: Tons of artists with hundreds of thousands of followers have, for the last few years, been showing their huge audiences new ways to think about love, sex, and intimacy—often at the risk of getting their accounts deleted for being in violation of Instagram’s intense, decidedly antinipple community guidelines.
We decided to talk to the women behind the profiles, seeking out nine of the best-known erotica artists on Instagram and asking them about the statements they want to make, the art they’re creating, and how they’re able to showcase it in front of such a big audience without getting their profiles suspended. These nine artists may come from all over the world and have a lot of stylistic differences, but they all share an ability to make really sexy art—and promote sex and body positivity in the process.
Just a heads-up though: Some of what follows is NSFW.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Regards Coupables Paris Tell me about your background as an artist. Are you selftaught or did you go to school for…
@Regards_Coupables (499k followers)
Regards Coupables, Paris
Tell me about your background as an artist. Are you self-taught or did you go to school for it?
As a kid, I got an art education from my parents. My mom had tons of cool comics from the sixties, seventies, and eighties. I spent my youth watching these super-sexy, badass girls like La Femme piège, Valentina (Guido Crepax), L’Incal (Moebius), Paulette (Wolinski), Le Déclic (Manara), and Alef Thau (Arno).
How do you describe the style of work on your Instagram?
I like to call it “Erotic & Romantic Art.” I’m exploring emotional closeness and sexual intimacy between lovers.
What’s your preferred medium to work in?
As Regards Coupables I’ve spent a whole year finding my own style. I found a super-efficient process using a graphic tablet on my computer, and for the last year I’ve drawn and posted on my social media every single day. I’m actually exploring big canvas acrylic painting, as I’m getting prepared for my next exhibition in Los Angeles in 2018 at Allmost Gallery.
Instagram has some pretty stringent antiobscenity rules. Is there anything you do to get around the community guidelines?
My first Instagram account was deleted because it violated the Instagram community rules! I decided to censor my own art: I stopped drawing nipples and too many close-up things. But I feel like all these rules and algorithms are evolving in a good way. In the last couple months, I’ve posted more than 10 illustrations containing women’s nipples, and they’re still not deleted. To prevent any more problems with social media’s stupid rules, I decided to create a profile on Patreon and offer uncensored contents to my most precious fans.
@tinamariaelena (149k followers)
Tina Maria Elena Bak, 32, Odense, Denmark
What do you think makes for good erotic art?
I love art the focuses on the beauty of sensuality in life. There’s so much erotic art and so many variations on this theme. I feel that good erotic art is when a painting or drawing touches something in me. When, just by looking at it, it sparks my imagination. If I remember that painting or drawing weeks later, then I know it has made an impact. Art should never be forgettable.
Are you inspired by any other erotic art?
I started following Alpha Channeling on Instagram a few years ago, and I think he was one of the reasons I dared to share my erotic art too. I love his magical Erotica Utopia. But I’m constantly inspired by multiple things: By art I see on Instagram and in books, by photos I see, and by my own feelings, experiences, dreams, and ideas.
What kind of opportunities have you gotten from Instagram that you wouldn’t have had without it?
I’m very grateful to have Instagram as a visual portfolio of my work. In July of 2016, I had around 2,500 followers on Instagram, and then something happened and I suddenly got a lot of likes and new followers and people started to share my profile. Eight months later, I have over 100,000, so things can really escalate with an Instagram profile. I get to show my work to anyone who is interested. People from all over the world are buying my art because they can watch as soon as I post it. I can now live full-time as an artist. I don’t think this would have been possible without Instagram.
What’s next for you?
At the moment, I paint two to five watercolor paintings a week and I love this constant flow. I feel very blessed to work like this. I hope to be part of an awesome exhibition somewhere in 2018. I’ll continue on the path I’m already on.
@dvrkshines (77.1k followers)
Coco, 25, Austria
How’d you get started making art?
I’ve been drawing my whole life; it was always a big passion of mine. When I was young, I used to draw a lot in my free time. I don’t remember if there was something that made me wanna start drawing. I guess it’s just one of those things that you try as a hobby and instantly enjoy.
Throughout the years, I tried several different styles and materials—like using watercolor, ink, pencils, markers, drawing on canvas or paper—but nothing really felt 100 percent right for me. It took me years to figure out my own style, and I completely agree when other artists say the same. Now I can draw without even having to think about what technique I want to use. It just comes naturally and that was always my goal.
How would you describe the style of the pieces you put on Instagram?
I’d say my drawing style is simple but still detailed. I like using black and white and only hints of color every now and then. I feel like it gives my art more depth and makes the theme of the image more clear by taking away unnecessary information and reducing the whole image to the parts that I want the people to see.
People also probably recognize my work by the way I draw lines. They are quite thin and precise, something I’d struggle with if I on paper or canvas, for example.
How’d you get started on Instagram?
I started DVRKSHINES around February 2016. It took me about a year to get where I am now—a lot of it was hard work, constantly trying to improve myself, but also some luck because I got featured by a few bigger accounts and was lucky enough to reach more people that way. The response was always good. I love the fact that I recognize quite a few fans (it’s still weird to me to put the word fans in my mouth when I talk about my own art!) who stayed with me since the beginning. I keep trying to change the themes because I don’t want to be seen as an erotic artist only. I like to switch it up. I still see drawing as a way to channel my emotions, even though not all of my art is automatically about me or how I’m feeling at the moment.
Do you ever get nervous about your art violating the site’s community guidelines?
To be honest, I think Instagram’s antiobscenity rules are ridiculous. They just don’t make sense. I get it when they want to keep it a somewhat safe place in case kids use the app, but to remove art or photos where you can see nipples, for example, is just beyond me. I really don’t care about those rules. I draw what I feel like drawing and will keep doing that.
@kliuwong (127k followers)
Kristen Liu-Wong, 26, Los Angeles
What do you think makes for good erotic art?
It can’t just be vulgar for vulgarity’s sake, but it also shouldn’t be afraid of being overtly sexual. I think erotic art needs to reflect something of the artist’s own sexual tastes, and it should also attempt to explore human sexuality through its depiction.
When did you start showing your work on Instagram? What was the early response like?
I got an Instagram account once I got an iPhone, and that was after I graduated in 2013. So I’ve had one for about four years now! Most of my early followers were friends or people who had followed me already from Tumblr, so everyone was already into my work. It’s once I started getting way more followers that I started to get negative feedback.
Is there anything you do to get around the community guidelines?
I’ve actually been flagged a couple times, so now if I show straight vagina or penis, I’ll censor it. Which sucks. But since I rely on my IG account for a lot of my jobs, I feel like I have to do it, unfortunately.
What kind of opportunities have you gotten from Instagram that you wouldn’t have had without it?
So many! International people can see my work now, and bigger brands will reach out to me because they see that I also have a bunch of followers which works in their favor too. I’ve gotten gallery shows from Instagram also. Honestly, the Internet has completely changed the amount of exposure a young artist can get, so that’s awesome! Of course, there are downsides to putting your work on the Internet, but nothing is perfect, and I try to be careful and focus on making good work. Instagram is just a tool for me, and hopefully, my paintings can speak for themselves regardless of how many followers I have.
@fridacastelli (162k followers)
Frida Castelli, Milan, Italy
How do you like to describe the style of the works on your Instagram?
I like to define my art as eromantic work, in the sense that eroticism is just an indispensable aspect of my love story, but it’s not all there. There is a world, a subtext behind every design, a secret story that helps me not forget the perfect feeling of being in the right place in the world.
How did the response to your Instagram change over time?
I published the first drawings in April 2016 to keep them in order. I never paid too much attention to the growth of the fan base or the viral power of certain images, but at one point I realized that what I thought was just my space became a space for everyone. This thing has changed my approach slightly, and I began to care more about the page’s appearance, but more for the respect for visitors than out of self-respect. With a more cautious organization, I got the storytelling of my relationship.
Is there anything you do to get around their community guidelines?
I do everything so that those who visit my profile can feel comfortable. I do not talk about sex as an excitement and voyeuristic performance, but as a moment of pure and sweet intimacy. That’s why sometimes I cover the nipples with graphics, even though it makes me smile that someone can think that a drawing of a small pink circle is obscene.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m ending the latest phases of my third illustrated book, which will be called hotelrooms. It will be an emotional investigation into 12 hotel rooms with the man I love.
@milliemoonhouse (71.1k followers)
Luna Noone, 22, Toronto
Can you talk about how you learned to make art?
Almost everything I know about art, my mother taught me. She taught me all about mediums, technique, how to do figures and landscape art.
What inspires the work you show on Instagram?
I am inspired by my own mind. The content of my art is, in a sense, my expression. I’m inspired by the way I feel while working on a piece. Any stroke I add must make me feel better and better, and closer to what I’m trying to say but can’t.
What was the early response to your art like on the site?
The response at first was cruel. Many people thought I must’ve been a man, I was accused of being misogynistic. Then when they learned I was a woman, I was thought of as dirty and called a whore. For a split second, the negativity did hurt, but then it became funny. Now it’s more balanced in my favor and there are so many people who support it. I’m grateful for all the lovely people who see what I do in a positive light.
Have you gotten any opportunities that you wouldn’t have without Instagram?
Sharing my work was the best decision I’ve ever made. I get to work with international companies as a designer and artist, featuring my art on much more than paper and canvas. The most exciting opportunity was the launch of my MillieMoonhouse merch.
@eroticwatercolor (89.5k followers)
Noomi, 25, Russia
What do you think makes for good erotica?
It should definitely be sincere and should come from the heart and be mindful. I don’t support tasteless art or plagiarism—both are very common in this genre. Also, it should promote only consensual sex. There is a very thin line, but nobody should cross it.
What inspires your work?
Considering I make erotic art, I’m inspired by Kink.com movies and base many of my paintings on them. Also, I’m inspired by Brecht Evens and his use of color and his visual language. Lorenzo Mattotti is quite an inspiration too—figures, color, body shapes.
Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?
Currently, I am working on my erotic graphic novel and different small side projects to submit to several contests. I am still quite a young artist, and I’m aiming to organize my solo exhibitions in Russia or elsewhere and maybe get a residency somewhere.
How’d you start on Instagram?
I started in March 2017, when I was greatly fed up by my final major project in university, and I instantly got quite a lot of positive responses—100 to 200 likes on those first drawings. I also asked a few art pages on Instagram to repost my works, and some of them agreed to do it for free. That’s how first one to two thousand followers came. After that, people just followed me naturally.
The comic book, graphic novel, manga, and anime industries are some of the fastest growing areas in all of literature, and the demand for great artists continues to grow with each passing year. If you can draw and spend much of your day reading Peanuts and The Hulk, or Tank Girl and Scott Pilgrim, a career as a comic book artist is for you!
1 . Learn the Basics of Comic Book Art
CNBC, the Washington Post, Business Insider and even comic book geeks like Seth Meyers agree, the comic book market is hot. With the rise in comic-book-based movies over the past decade like Deadpool, Ant Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy, the comic book industry has witnessed an all-time high not seen since 1997, with an increase in sales during each of the past five years. Even webcomics like Twokinds, Replay, and Not A Villain have become increasingly popular in the last several years.A comic book or graphic novel artist produces work in comic form and may produce the whole strip, or contribute to only a part of the comic. They convey humor or tell a story about everyday situations, recent trends, current events, and made-up worlds. It’s not uncommon for a team to be involved in the creation of a comic. One artist may create only the key figures in the comic, while another artist or artists create the backgrounds, and a writer or writers write the script. It’s also worth noting that these roles can be interchangeable, and an artist that draws a character may be brought in to write a part or the whole script.Like the fields of illustration and design, the comic book and graphic novel industry is very competitive, and you must be extremely talented to succeed. And, your first job just starting out may not be as a comic book artist. However, an entry-level job with a publishing firm or film production house can still offer valuable skill-building opportunities you can use later.
2. Learn the Essential Skills & Techniques to Succeed
Although most anyone can become a comic book artist, there are several essential skills you’ll need to make it in this industry. Obviously, the most important skill to have is artistic ability and a natural talent for drawing, followed closely by the ability to conceptualize. Creativity, imagination, interpersonal skills, and manual dexterity are also skills every comic book artist should possess. And, since a lot of comic book art is generated digitally, even for printed comics in newspapers or other publications, artists must know and master a variety of graphic software, such as Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator, and Mac’s Made with Mischief. A Wacom tablet is also a must-have. But, the process of creating comics usually starts with a pencil in the form of rough sketches and drawings on paper, so owning an arsenal of pencils from 6H to 2B is important.Since most (if not all) comics have a main character and a few or many minor characters, a comic book artist must know how to draw the human body accurately. Over-exaggeration can only take an artist so far, unless the specific comic calls for it, so making characters look believable is imperative in this field. Artists must also be able to tell a story that takes readers (or viewers) on a journey through sequential panels of artwork. You may not be the best writer in the world and may have a writer as part of the team, but you still must have a story in mind; from start to finish.There are probably a couple dozen ways to break into the comic book industry, and earning a degree is one of the most valuable. Although a degree is not mandatory, the level of training you will receive can help when looking for a job, advancing in this field, or branching out on your own. Most comic book artists will earn an art degree with an emphasis in drawing or illustration, where they learn various techniques of studio or fine art and graphic design. An alternative to attending a two-year or four-year college or university is attending and earning a degree from a private art school. Art schools often offer specialized programs in drawing and illustration with an emphasis on graphic novel and comic book art, and more and more on webcomics, manga, and anime.Webcomics, also known as Internet or online comics, are published on a website; often an artist’s personal site, but also on sites like Reddit, Imgur, Tapastic, or Webtoons, just to name a few. They are typically published on a regular schedule (Monday – Friday, 3X a week, or on weekends) and are free to view, although most webcomic artists make money via advertisements on the site, or even by selling t-shirts with imprinted artwork. Two to the most popular webcomics today are xkcd and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. These comics are in strip form or single-panel format and usually written by the artist. Typically, the subject matter of most (not all) webcomics is a bit more niche than most printed newspaper or magazine comics, and the subject matter is usually much darker, yet the artwork and subject matter varies greatly. Although most webcomic artists stick to a simple presentation; just artwork and words, some will add animations, music, and motion.
3. Build a Strong Portfolio
One of the most important tools for any comic book artist is a strong portfolio and website. But, as not all comics are the same, neither should all portfolios be identical, and a successful artist will have a variety of artwork to show depending on the client, agency, or company. The main point of a comic book artist’s portfolio, whether printed or available online as part of a personal website, is to show you can draw well and consistently in a variety of styles.A personal brand is also essential. You may be able to draw fabulous characters and write amazing copy, but if it looks and sounds the same as last year’s comics, your work won’t get a second glance. Developing your personal brand can take months or even years, and includes hours and hours of drawing and honing your brand. This is crushingly important if you freelance.If you decide to freelance and try entering the market solo, the lack of regular paychecks, long hours drawing and re-drawing, finding clients, and simply learning how to run your business can take a toll. But, many comic book artists are very successful freelancers. Posting samples and your profile on one of the many freelance sites, like UpWork or Guru, can get you started. But, you won’t get rich right away. As in most art fields, you must prove yourself first, often earning very little money starting out. In fact, a comic book artist who is new to the field may only make $10 per page. But, as you gain experience and strengthen your reputation you can make as much as $200 per page.Most comic artists work for newspaper syndicates, they freelance, or are employed by comic book companies. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has no specific salary information for comic book artists/cartoonists. But, the job outlook for multimedia artists and animators (which loosely includes graphic novel artists) is expected to grow six percent between 2014 and 2024, with a typical median salary of about $64,000. The amount an artist (or writer) gets paid depends on many variables, such as company size, location, medium (printed or online), and whether you are a company employee or working freelance.Because the field of comic book artist is so specific, gaining professional experience while still in school can help. This may include internships, drawing a comic strip for your college newspaper, or freelancing on the side. Joining associations and organizations can also benefit an artist just starting out, as well as attending conventions – with your portfolio in tow. To advance as a comic book artist, you need persistence and dedication. By networking while at school and at conventions and other events, you can make life-long industry connections, which can often lead to a job.
SOLOMON! HERCULES! ATLAS! ZEUS! ACHILLES! MERCURY!
“What on Earth are you talking about?” I hear you cry. Well, those are the names of the gods whose powers you’ll be imbued with if you meet a wizard in a dark abandoned subway car and he decides that you’re worthy.
Let me take you back to 1939 when a company called Fawcett Comics published a comic called Whiz Comics #2, which starred a character called Captain Marvel (we’ll come back to that). The hero was the alter ego of a young boy named Billy Batson, who, when he called out the acronym SHAZAM of the six “Immortal Elders,” would become an adult costumed superhero who could fly, had superhuman strength, moved with super speed, and a found himself with whole bunch of other powers over time.
And since he’s got a new movie coming out, we figured we’d run you through his backstory.
The Golden Age
Billy began his journey as a young orphan who accidentally discovered the lair of the Wizard SHAZAM when he wandered into an abandoned subway station and a magical subway car in the interestingly titled aforementioned Whiz Comics #2 (we say “interestingly titled” because there was never a Whiz Comics #1). The issue was drawn by artist C. C. Beck and written by Bill Parker, and sparked what was undoubtedly the most popular comic book series of its day. Whiz Comics #2 even outsold Superman, which led Fawcett to create the Marvel Family, a team of superpowered kids who could also wield the power of SHAZAM.
The original issue also introduced one of Billy Batson’s longest running foes: Dr. Sivana. The villain originally began as a humanitarian who wanted to better the world, but who was driven to evil by giant corporations and violent conservatism. Sivana is also a cosmic comic bad guy as he got so sick of Earth that he actually moved to Venus before heading back to our world and becoming the first person to realize Billy Batson was actually Captain Marvel, leading to an ongoing battle between the two characters.
Billy Batson was so popular that in 1941 he got his own series, Captain Marvel Adventures—he also earned a movie the very same year—which soon became the most popular comic of its time, and one of the best-selling of all time with a reported circulation of 1.3 million copies a month. 1941 was also the year that would change Captain Marvel’s history forever, as National Comics (now known as DC) sued Fawcett for copyright infringement, claiming that Captain Marvel was a ripoff of Superman. Though it would take a decade and a couple of different trials and appeals—as well as a decline in sales—Fawcett eventually agreed to permanently cease publication of Captain Marvel in 1951, closing their comic book doors forever in 1953.
The Silver Age
It wouldn’t be until almost 20 years later that DC would license the Captain Marvel characters, relaunching the book under the title Shazam! This was due to a copyright issue with a Marvel Comics character with the same name who was established in 1967 when the rights for the original were murky at best. We speak, of course, of Captain Marvel A.K.A. Mar-Vell, forebear to Carol Danvers.
Over at DC, however, original artist C. C. Beck joined writer Denny O’Neil for new tales and the book even held the subtitle “The Original Captain Marvel” for a short period before changing to “The World’s Mightiest Mortal.” The stories retold Billy’s classic origin and retconned the huge gap in continuity by explaining that Sivana had trapped the Marvel Family in suspended animation for 20 years. Though the series was heavily advertised by the publisher, the reception from fans was relatively lukewarm.
In 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Shazam family was introduced into main DC Comics continuity. By 1991, the company had acquired all of the Shazam characters. In 1994, writer-artist Jerry Ordway authored an original graphic novel called The Power of Shazam, this take on the red, white, and gold champion of orphans everywhere saw Billy’s parents as archeologists in Egypt murdered by their partner Theo Adam.
Otherwise, Billy’s origin stayed relatively close to the original Fawcett comic. The Power of Shazam was popular enough to get an ongoing series that ran until the end of the ’90s. But, as time would have it, Captain Marvel again fell by the wayside at the end of the decade, making only sporadic appearances in other titles or testing the waters with his own occasional miniseries in the ’00s.
The New 52
The Marvel Family antagonist and anti-hero Black Adam grew into his own during this period, becoming a focal character in the experimental weekly series simply titled 52. But that iteration of the Marvel Family was to be short-lived, as the entire DC line relaunched yet again with The New 52 initiative in 2011, where Captain Marvel was officially renamed Shazam for good and given his own recurring backup feature in the ongoing Justice League series. This era also included a lot of non-continuity stories like Kingdom Come and The Power of Hope.
In these backups, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank provided their own take on Billy’s classic origin, the newly-christened Shazam Family, and Black Adam for a couple of years. If you’re excited about the upcoming Shazam movie, you might do well to have a look Johns and Frank’s New 52 run, which looks to be a huge influence on the film. The entire New 52 line was relaunched with Rebirth, leaving the DC Shazam-less until very, very recently. It’s been announced that this November will see a new Shazam series by Johns and Dale Eaglesham, just in time to reintroduce the character to new audiences before the film drops in April!
Now you’re all caught up on your new fave character, do you have a personal pick for a Shazam origin? Can’t wait to see Billy Batson on screen once again? Let us know below!