Artemisia is about fantastic art, but that covers a wide range of topics. “Art” was something we left fairly broad, because we wanted the opportunity to talk about all kinds of art. Whether it’s the obvious sort like fantasy illustration, book covers, concept art; or things that involve art: like movies, video games, books, conventions, etc.
“Fantastic” is also something we left fairly broad. Both Louisa and I are genre artists. She specializes more in video games and conceptual art, where I lean more heavily toward illustration and graphic art—but we both share a love for sci-fi, fantasy, even sometimes horror, genre art. We work in what we loosely call “the Industry”, which if I had to define it would be something like: those who produce genre art for money.
“From a Female Perspective” is where things get a little sticky sometimes. Obviously both Louisa and I are female. We are not ALL females. Our views are not going to be shared by all women—but we do spend a great deal of time talking to other women who work in the industry, asking questions, gathering information, and trying to draw informed conclusions.
Gender equality is something that the world has struggled with for centuries. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t believe it’s possible. Men and women are never going to see eye to eye, primarily because society won’t let us. And that’s a GOOD thing. If we thought alike all the time, if everything were perfectly balanced, I think the world would be much less interesting. Stagnant, even.
That said, we also think that there’s such a thing as too much imbalance. Right now our industry is so male dominated, it’s like sitting an elephant and a house cat on opposite ends of a balancing board. Sci-fi, fantasy, horror are produced and marketed mostly by and for men. There is a subtle but clear line of thinking that seems to say that women are only interested in fantasy if there are pretty fairies, elves and unicorns, only interested in games that involve dressing up fake people in cool clothes, only going to read fantasy if there is a heavy dose of romance in it, too. While those statements may be true of some women, some of the time, they are not true of all women, all of the time, and they certainly aren’t true for us.
We believe that it’s important to even that up a little, and the only way to do that is to get people to THINK about it. To think about why certain choices are made, and to hopefully help people realize that it might be time to start thinking a little outside the box.
For example: A few days ago ImagineFX, the magazine, started a poll so readers could vote for their favorite cover out of their first 48 issues, in preparation for the release of their 50th issue. Louisa and I have pointed it out before, and it became even more obvious once all those issues were laid out side by side on a single page. Of the 48 covers, three featured couples, two had monsters, one had a landscape, two featured masked male comic characters, and one had a single barbarian male (of the not exactly supermodel or body builder variety) staring out at the reader. The rest of those 39 issues? A single, usually scantily clad, sexualized female subject. Most of them were pin-ups; those that weren’t were of the pretty, soft, fairy tale sort of female.
We complained. ImagineFX didn’t bother to respond, but some of our readers did.
@charreed said: “I don't mind all the ladies on the cover of Imagine FX. I'm a lady and I like looking at fantastical woman :)When it comes right down to it, neither do we, Char. I can appreciate female beauty, too. The problem that we see, however, is that the imbalance in the covers suggests that ImagineFX’s primary audience is male, and that any female readers are going to be interested in pretty fairy art. The assumption is that putting a male on the cover is somehow going to disinterest the male readers, or scare off the female readers.
@cetriya said: “I would think it more, its easier to design for females where you have to watch out not… make the males 'gay' looking”[sic]Why do we assume that it’s okay for women to have to look at sexualized female characters with their tits and ass hanging out, posing tantalizingly… but it’s not okay for men to look at male characters posing somewhat more tastefully but just as objectified? Why do we assume that it’s HARD to draw a good-looking man without making him appear effeminate? I see guys draw tough, sexy male characters all the time. I see women do it, too.I never see those images on the cover of ImagineFX. Why not?
@charreed also said: “… unfortunately the audience is mostly dudes.... So convince more girls to buy the mag or get guys to like beef ;)”Honestly? Of all the artists I know, the majority of the ones who subscribe to IFX on a regular basis are female. So we ARE buying the magazine. You might ask “why, when it’s so obviously marketed to men?” Because ImagineFX isn’t a gaming magazine, or one meant for guys to …er… enjoy in the privacy of their own bathrooms. ImagineFX, in theory, is for ARTISTS. It’s a trade magazine, with tips and tricks for artists—both male and female.
It might come as a surprise to many people to know that there are a LOT of women working in this field. One of our goals here at Artemisia is to find and promote those women—precisely because so few people are aware that we’re even here, and working. Even fewer seem aware of the fact that many of the women in this industry aren’t drawing pretty fairy girls in dresses. That particular market IS huge, and it’s been popularized by female artists like Linda Bergkvist, Melanie Delon, Marta Dahlig, and Benita Winkler; but there are more women who are doing awesome art that is comparable to what the guys in this field are doing.
The problem is that they are so overshadowed by the men who dominate the field that they’ve become almost a myth. Artists like Terese Nielson, Trish Mulvihill, Nicole Cardiff, Socar Myles, Anna Christenson, Jana Schirmer, Cris Griffin, Julie Dillon, Nei Ruffino, and Laurel Austin are some of our favorite artists here at Artemisia—and I’ve seen many people who assume that they are male simply because they don’t paint typical “girly” art. (Actually, small confession: until about three minutes ago I thought Julie Dillon—who goes by jdillon82 on deviantART—was male. So I’m an idiot, too.)
As women, working in this industry, it makes sense that we would be interested in magazines, art books, etc. that talk about the industry, give tips and tutorials, or are just inspiring because they show what so many of us are working on. It kind of sucks when you realize how little the creators of these magazines and books value your interest in them because you don’t happen to think with your penis.
Faerywitch said: “As for more males... Girls, when there are more girls you complain, now you have more guys and you complain!! ;) Now, seriously, again, I think it is catered to the people that spend the money.She’s talking about Louisa’s post the other day about character design in video games, and how video games are marketed to men and ignore female players.
Yes, we do complain. And we will continue to.
It’s not really about the precise ratio of male characters versus female characters. It’s about imbalance. It’s about objectifying one, but not the other. It’s because we are here, we DO spend money on these things, and there are more of us than the industry seems to believe. We want the world to know that. We want them to stop stereotyping us, stop pigeonholing our gender, and start putting things out there that we enjoy because we are a part of this industry… whether men like it or not.
There’s a lot more to discuss here, more than I have time to go into right now. Expect some posts in the future on topics like video games and female gamers, conventions from a woman’s point of view, and what it’s like to be an objectified female AND an artist. Expect some interviews with some of the ladies I’ve mentioned here.
And expect us to hold what occasionally might seem like contradictory or conflicting opinions… we ARE women, after all. ;)