I am back... with a new pin-up, of course. As always, I hope you like it. However, I must say that I am back with much more than just a pin-up. I am bringing some personal thoughts. I ask you to please bare with me, because, if you are familiar with my posts, you also know that I tend to write about my thoughts in a lengthy way. Many times I ramble away, but this time I assure you that what I am writing has a definite point, a purpose. You and I might not agree to it, but it is a point nonetheless. One more thing, a very important thing before rambling... errr, I mean, sharing my thoughts: I want to thank Eirenne Suicide for being the beautiful reference muse and inspiration for this artwork. This is the second time I've had the honor of working with her image. Thanks so much, Eirenne, you rock!
OK, most of you have not noticed, but I have been virtually absent from social media for about a month now. And I say "virtually" because I have popped in here and there, once in a while, mostly sharing different posts. Not that I was very active before, but I had some plans about new images, new merchandise, promotions, etc. Then, a terrible murder on May 25, triggered a chain reaction that became stronger and stronger in a matter of days, if not hours. Yes, I am talking about the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed. I am not a news savvy guy, but I do try to stay up to date of what is happening in the global arena. I saw a movement that kept growing, and the more it grew, the more I read about it. Not in an academic way per se, but rather as in checking the pulse of what was brewing in real time. That is the reason why I went away, at first as a form of respect to the movement, but after a while it was because a lot of my time was dedicated to learn about it.
I must say that in the last few weeks I learned a lot about discrimination to Blacks, in specific, the African-American community. And by saying "a lot" is in no way to compliment myself, but in fact the opposite. I learned a lot because my knowledge about racist practices toward Blacks was so minimal, so basic, that yes, what I know now is huge compared to what I knew just a month ago. Is like going from being illiterate to learn all the vowels. Yes, it is a big progress, no arguing there... but there is still a lot to learn.
I try to keep to myself. I try to stay out of the way. I try to be empathetic to the needs of the vulnerable groups of our society. Being that said, I just keep doing my artwork and watching how the world goes up and down, up and down. I am an observer, you might say. But, that also means I am an enabler, by turning a blind eye or playing along in a system that I myself cannot change. I am not a politically active guy, I am not an activist. After all, I am just one person, and what I do or not do, does not make a difference, right? Well, sometimes is not so easy to hide behind that rationalization. Sometimes the truth gets so much in your face, that the rationalization I mentioned becomes a paper thin wall.
This movement is not just about George Floyd or anybody in particular, but about a society in general. Obviously, is not about me either. Then, why am I talking about myself? Because, I want you to understand that I am trying. I am trying to understand. I am trying to empathize more and more. I am trying to stop being numb about everything that is happening around us. The world keeps going up and down, up and down, like a jump rope. And, as we would do with a jump rope game, we have to decide when it is time to jump in.
For many many years, my life has revolved around my artwork, specifically my passion for drawing women. When the social unrest and the protests started, once I learned more about it, my first reaction was to render a new pin-up featuring a Black model, as my artistic contribution. But, since I did not have anything ready, I thought it would be good to post a couple of past pin-ups that featured Black models, while I worked in a new piece. After all, between toons, portraits and everything in between, I have rendered a few hundreds of images, so it should not be hard to have a few Black model pin-ups available right away, right? I am embarrassed to say that, once I started looking for some samples, I realized that the number of images I have rendered using Black models as a reference or inspiration could be counted in one hand. There is no excuse for that, I own it. I like to think that, when it comes to my artwork, I am a king, a god of my empty canvas. I say that as an obvious nerdish joke, meaning that I and only I decide what goes and what does not into my art. That is why I like to work as an independent artist, rather than doing business or private commissions. When it comes to my canvas, the only rules that play are my rules. Therefore, the fact that I do not have Black models represented in my portfolio is entirely my fault, nobody else's. If you are a figure artist and your opinion is that you do not need inclusion in your portfolio, that is a perfectly valid point as well, it is your art. In my case, that was not my conscious decision, but it is something I did anyway.
I am sure that for many, the lack of Black models in my portfolio is not a big deal. But for me, it means that I did play along with a system that is failing to so many communities. As small as my role is in this society, I did play my tiny part in perpetuating discrimination. Be it because I was too busy, or because I had other projects in mind, or because I like to forge my own path when it comes to my art, or because (insert any excuse here). The reality is that representation for Black people in my art is not there.
That is why I decided to pledge that my next personal pin-up projects for the rest of year will be based on Black models. And, starting next year, I will be incorporating more and more Black models as well. This is my contribution as a pin-up artist. It is just as a start, not a "solution" or anything of the sort, but we all have to start somewhere.
Additionally, I want to sell prints of those pin-ups and donate 100% of the profits to an organization/funding/charity that supports BLM. Yes, 100%. I would like for clients to "pay" (or donate) directly to the chosen organization/funding/charity, then show me the receipt of their donation and I'll take care of the costs of printing and shipping. I am not expecting the number of orders growing too big, but if it does, I will need help with the shipping costs (it would be great if the orders reached that point, though). If you know any organization/funding/charity that would like this idea, please let me (or them) know.
"But... what about Latina models? what about Asian models? what about Muslim models? what about trans models? what about full figure models? what about...?" I know, there is always another area to cover, another community to support, but again: we all have to start somewhere. The African-American community is not the only one close to me, but at this moment they need most of the immediate support. Being that said, it is my goal to represent more and more communities in my work in the near future, with the proper respect.
Last but not least, let me tell you more about this new pin-up illustration. As I mentioned, it is based on the beaaaaaautiful Eirenne Suicide, an official SuicideGirls model. About three years ago I rendered a semi-realistic cartoon of her, and when I thought of doing this current project, she immediately popped in my mind. I am so happy that she allowed me to work with her likeness again. Thanks so much Eirenne! I have many ideas that I want to try in the upcoming images based on Black models, but for this one, being the first, I decided to render a simple yet detailed illustration. It allowed me to work and play more with colors. I erroneously thought working on this new pin-up would be identical to working in what has been my regular line, with a bit of tweaking the color tones and saturation. But I was definitely wrong. If I had done so, I would have ended rendering an image that looked just similar to a Black model, but not quite the real deal. I like to render images that look natural, that look authentic. That does not mean that I achieve that effect every time, but I do try. And this was no exception. It was great to work on Eirenne's image in so much detail, because it allowed me to study and highlight the beauty that she portrays, both due to her persona as well as her ethnicity. And that is the point of my artwork: to celebrate the beauty of women of all colors and figures (something I obviously have not done for many many years).
As always, I want to thank each one of my patrons, for their support month after month. You are part of what allows me to keep working as an independent artist. This post touches a very sensitive subject, and I can imagine not everybody agrees with my point of view. If you have questions or concerns (or comments in general), please do not hesitate to contact me. Speaking of patrons, Patreon will start charging taxes next month... but as far as I understood, that does not affect my patrons, since I do not sell anything. If I missed anything, please point it out, so I can research more about it.
And with that, I am done for today. If you made it here, congratulations, I know that my posts are a bit hard to read sometimes (English is not my first language). Also, a big thank you for reading my thoughts all the way through. And if you did not, no worries, I will give you the main idea/purpose of my post:
BLACK LIVES MATTER. They do. :)
See you next time.
Pin-up artist by day… and also by night. Well, mostly by night, because night time is my favorite time to paint.