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Ephereal is a personal art blog run by Jaclyn Tan, creative director of Meep Media. I aim to bring my quirky humour and spacey dreams to the world through art, blogging and design.

My thoughts on the portrayal of females (and males?) in ART.

15/03/2014

So I’ve been wondering about this for a while…well..I’m not sure wondering is the right word. More like thinking in general about why 90% of art I see is a depiction of women in some way. And in this depiction, why many of them have similar features and/or are overly sexualised. I’m not saying it’s a totally bad thing. I think it’s just an interesting talking point and a note of what society defines as ‘beauty’ …and what is acceptable…today. I mean really, people like art because it’s beautiful, or appealing in some way. And in that sense I can see why so many people love viewing art with females as the main focal point. I think art and making art makes everyone at least a bit happy…it is after all human nature to want to create, or make something new. It broadens our horizons, and it also expresses what we value or believe in, or perhaps question. In this case, I see myself viewing art, appreciating the thought and message behind it, but always thinking why the artist chose to draw a piece the way they did. I’m not an expert at critiquing art but it’s pretty obvious males like looking at females. And females like looking at females.

So I’ve always wondered firstly, why so many people choose to draw females. And I don’t think many are even aware of it…it just happens. I think it’s easier to draw females than males in a lot of cases (I know there are exceptions…just making a general statement here), mainly because the lines are smoother and more organic, with less hard edges and jagged points. In this sense, females suit a lot of styles because the lines and gestures are nicer and easier to work with. There’s also the case of fashion which I think also plays a pretty big part in why many choose to draw females instead of males. And also attractiveness, of course. I admit, I would probably be more inclined to like a piece depicting an attractive female rather than a male, mainly because females are more appealing (or maybe because the artist modelled the person in what society values as being attractive? ) The thing that always bugs me though, is the portrayal of extremely exaggerated boobs, butts, and thigh gaps being modelled in art today. And at the same time, I feel majorly conflicted because at the end of the day I still appreciate some of the sexualisation of women in art. And I too find it hard to not draw what society defines as beauty too. But before I go any further, I think I’m pretty open minded when it comes to art; I appreciate pretty much any medium and I’m never dismissive about something without giving reasons why I don’t like it. But I think there’s a very fine line between tasteful and shameful that I can never seem to wrap my head around…

So I know pin ups and all that have been around for ages, and I guess it has a market (a pretty big one at that) that caters to people who are into that. I usually enjoy it if I really like the style or technique…but again, I always question myself when I automatically like an overly sexualised portrayal of someone be it male or female… and then I think I’m the biggest hypocrite. As an example, I really, really like Artgerm’s Powerpuff girls pin up. I think he’s just an all round great, inspirational artist I look up to and admire. His portrait and human anatomy drawing skills are just sublime. That said I almost always notice the boobs and skimpy clothing first in the pin ups, and …I don’t know how to feel about that. And as an artist maybe sometimes I’m not consciously aware of what I’m sketching…but sometimes I guess the mind just switches off and we just draw….pretty, appealing things. Which may or may not include portrayals of women with features our culture defines as beautiful. eg. aquiline noses, big eyes, long legs,tiny waist etc. That’s not to say men aren’t sexualised either. I’m talking about the chiseled abs and set jaws and toned arms. It’s just a lot more art depicts sexualised females in the stupidest poses, particularly in posters and ads…things like that.

To me personally, using exaggerated sexualisation feels so cheap. Like I’m using the easiest, cheapest way to make something appealing to the masses. I hate the fact that when I draw a sexy female (not that I draw many sexy females in the first place) I’m potentially reaffirming what society defines as beautiful. The same definition which is featured in women’s magazines and mass media in general. The same definition which guides editors/designers to Photoshop celebrities into our culture’s ‘ideal’ female form. Non subversive art does that to me. :sweat: It’s conflicting because being in that position needs decisive and assured reasons as to why you’re editing someone in that way…and I can say I’m not a very decisive person. :sweat: I mean I know Artgerm does a lot of pin ups and I know they’re supposed to be exaggerated-ly attractive. People like looking at pretty things. It’s totally normal. It just feels….hypocritical of me and wrong to like it when at the same time I dislike some pieces for using sex too much to sell itself. I don’t really know how to feel towards a piece that’s really just an overly sexualised figure, no matter how great the background or effects is, but I can definitely appreciate the technique and skill behind it. However, I don’t think I can really fully love something without regarding the sexualisation used.

At the same time, I enjoy sexy armour in games and such; I like having a pretty avatar and getting awesome armour that just looks good. Example, I have a Diablo 3 wizard which had the skimpiest armour for a time…granted she’s now fully decked out with a pretty sweet set so it’s all pretty realistic now (kudos Blizzard). But honestly, I never thought to myself ‘omg I hate my avatar because she’s just TOO SEXY‘. So from this, perhaps people like sexy avatars because it’s basically just like an rpg element? Whereas with art, it’s more of just the artist’s context and no interaction from the viewer…resulting in a disconnect between the two. I’m sure some would argue the only reason some women are against the sexualisation of females in art is because of jealousy (you know like with ads where they make men want something for it’s purpose, and a woman want to be like the woman in the ad). But I really think there’s more to it than that. It’s the use of the female form to sell something that feels wrong, and I’m talking about all media here not just fine art.

Maybe I’m just looking into it all a bit too much….but I’ve actually been meaning to blog about this for a while, because it’s something that’s always bothered me. I don’t know about anyone else but whenever I see art that’s really just a female with bedroom eyes I always ask why? I’m on deviantART a lot and there’s almost always a semi naked girl on the front page, whether it’s nude or drawn..and I just think is that all it takes for people to appreciate something? Maybe deviantART isn’t a very good example….but again, a publication such as Juxtapoz mag has a section completely dedicated to ‘erotica’. Which obviously consists of sexy female pin ups. Again, I know there’s a market for this, I’m just saying, for me personally I don’t think I can ever fully love a piece of art without determining the intent of the use of sex in the piece. Then again, I guess I could also ask the question, why do we even bother drawing anything at all, if not for the sake of beauty? The female form is beautiful. I think sometimes, it’s just cheaply used with hardly any artistic merit…and honestly I hope I’m perceptive enough to decide what’s tasteful and what’s not. But I’m just one person, I’m just writing what I think here and as a whole I think this topic is quite interesting to think about. When I see posts on tumblr and such criticising the portrayal of females in media I usually think ‘but collectively, society likes beautiful things and females are beautiful. It’s just human nature’. Going back to two thoughts; that is sex is powerful and yet sex is also demeaning and cheap. In art and design in general, it takes great skill to get a balance in using an exaggerated human form in an artistic way, something which I think is rare to come by.

hellllooo hello hello

26/02/2014

I’m not dead I’ve just been really really busy x.x My desk is a complete mess at the moment and I can’t really do much without knocking something off the table.  :sweat:

Anyway just wanted to do a quick update and say I will try to post more – I have this Art Nouveau assignment for college I want to write all about.  ^m^ We’re also doing botanical illustration and making logos and a branding/packaging exercise which is actually going pretty well. There is other stuff I’m working on, some of which is doing my head in but I really gotta go catch my bus now. :uhh:  Hopefully more soon  :zz:

 

The Long Overdue Post of 2013

11/01/2014

Hiii everyone. I know this is a super overdue post – I’ve been meaning to blog a while ago but you know…things get in the way….as they do….

I’ve done a bunch of arts since I last posted which you can see on my deviantART gallery  :hee: I am aiming to blog more this year so hopefulllly I actually do come up with more stuff to entertain you with ;) Blogging just really takes a lot of time to write and plan…and I’m not the best at time management (working on it, promise ;_;). I’ve actually been a bit conflicted about art and stuff lately which may be one of the reasons why I can’t be bothered writing about it all…it’s just one of those ruts I think I get into every now and then.

It’s just the usual, like I question what I’m even trying to achieve with what I draw or where I’m going with my style or technique in general. It’s mostly just random stuff that spews from my imagination, which I guess is not always a bad thing. But when I see my art all together it doesn’t really look cohesive, or like they belong together. And that kinda bothers me. I think I’m still finding my ‘style’ and the right technique to use, but it’s just hard to be positive about it sometimes when I seem to have a negative attitude about everything I produce. Sometimes I just hate even looking at my work, (and this is not just art, but design as well :sweat: ) because it makes me question everything about why I even bother in the first place. I know I should probably just try forget it and move on but it’s not that easy when this is about something that’s personal and something you created….it’s hard to put into words how it feels. But it’s not nice and I just always seem to think (lately anyway) how I could do so much better. It’s like my work’s ok, but not great, which is kinda disheartening.

I have a lot of ideas and concepts but putting it together and forming them into something tangible is still difficult for me…………..urgh it’s just annoying really. I don’t really know how to get through it but to just continue doing what I’m doing. I’ve always leaned more towards conceptual art and illustration, rather than something that purely looks nice for the sake of looking nice. And I guess I’ll continue to do that……but yeah. I get so distracted by other things as well, which does not help at all. >_>

Sorry for the ramble….let’s see how 2014 goes.

Ephereal e-zine: Issue 1

25/11/2013

I’ve decided to make this blog a bit more active, and post a round up things every week I find interesting/news worthy. I’ll probably make this a weekly thing so stay tuned. :D

Quarterly

Like a magazine subscription, only you subscribe to people you’re interested in and they send you cool stuff you can use  :riluv2: I think this is such a great idea, kind of like Art Snacks. I think the price is pretty steep though for an adult version mystery bag. Although, I like where Scott Belsky of Behance is going with his shipments.

Dinosaur Sneakers!

Dino Sneakers!

Um, yes please.

I want the pink and teal dinosaur sneakers…but I’d take the blue and red ones too. :* Too bad it’s kind of expensive ;_;  

Sofia

Sofia font   I really like how flowy this font is. It’s also pretty nice to alter. :koluv:

The Type Fight

The Type FightVote on letters crafted by different artists. I only started learning about typography a few months ago, but I can appreciate the thought that go behind these. Some of the pieces on this site are just amazing.

CoolorusCoolorus

$10 Photoshop extension that gives you a colour wheel like in Corel Painter/Paint Tool SAI. I don’t know why Photoshop doesn’t have this feature already, but this is also cool because you can make colour combos and tints and shades of a colour really easily with this. I just got it this week and I’m now using it with Kuler.

Lost & Taken

Free textures to use in personal/commercial projects. Can’t say no to that! The textures are really useful and high quality too.

X by Officeworks

X by OfficeworksI’m a sucker for stationery. I have like a billion pens in my room and I could always do with more ;) I really like the understated design of the stationery in X. I got a retractable eraser, dot grid notebook and pen, and although it’s not the cheapest items you could buy, as a whole I love the aesthetic. Plus, I’ve been looking for a non-Moleskine dot grid notebook for ages….you’d be surprised how hard it is to find cheap ones here.

Perspective Mockups Photoshop Plugin

Perspective Mockups Photoshop PluginPretty neat plugin that turns your mockups into a 3D concept, just because it looks awesome. I imagine this would actually have more purpose for designers working on mobile projects. But regardless, this looks really awesome.

Subtle Patterns Plugin

Subtle Patterns pluginAnother awesome plugin I gotta have. I am a huge fan of Subtle Patterns so this is pretty much an insta-buy. Although I really like the sound of the bundle with CSS Hat and Enigma, so I might even get all three. ;D

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