Pinkie Toons – Artist Interview

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Click here to download a PDF of the full interview.

While still in college, April “Pinkie” Davis started Pinkie Toons Studios, focusing on character design and television animation. Davis has an incredible dynamic style with a good sense of form and proportion, and she has already put her skills to use in concept art and storyboarding. Additionally she has just launched her webcomic Armada’s Rebellion which explores contemporary human rights issues via anthropomorphic themes.

Z | A lot of the character designs that you do are humans or animals in addition to some anthropomorphism. Do you consider yourself a furry or just an artist who does anthro themes?

PT | I absolutely do consider myself a furry. It’s something that’s always been very personal to me. I’ve been in the fandom for about 10 years. Although as far as the professional art world goes, I’d rather that they just assume I draw anthro characters.

Z | How did you get into furry?

PT | I was watching My Strange Addiction with my mom when I was in middle school. There was this episode that showed a girl who was addicted to being in her fur suit and she wore it everywhere. She’d be in public just sitting at a cafe and wearing her fur suit. She also explained what a fursona was and a lot more about furry on TV.

My mom’s reaction and my reaction were very different. We looked at each other and kind of thought we’d have the same reaction. But her reaction was, “oh my god, that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.” And my reaction was “oh my god, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” [Laughs]

So my parents actually knew about it from the very beginning. It was a little bit weird because they knew as much about furries as I did. Starting off we both had the same amount of information. I knew it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make the fur suit, I wanted to make a fursona. Pretty much immediately I was on FurAffinity, literally later that night.

It was like an epiphany for me, “This is amazing; I love this!” That show is supposed to portray people as weird, like they’re freaks. But I was like, “Wow, this is so fun!”

Z | It’s interesting to think about that, how ten years ago the media always presented furries as being weird and very out of the ordinary. As someone who got started that way, how have you seen the media’s portrayal of the furry fandom changing over time? Does it seem much different to you today?

PT | I don’t see as much shock factor pieces anymore. I feel like people have gotten sick of it. It’s like an old joke. It’s old news. They’ll move on to a different weird internet thing, and have a different reaction.

I think like the most current thing I’ve seen in popular media is that they treat furries more like real people now. They try to bring light to it. So it’s actually very positive. I’ve seen a lot of a shift from “point and laugh at these people” to “that’s a little strange, but I’m interested.”

Cent, 2018

Z | As far as your background goes, do you have any formal art training?

PT | I’m currently in college. I originally went to school to be a cosmetologist but I left that and completely quit everything so I could do art full time. Right now I’m going back to get my degree.

It’s unusual because everything in my life has gone out of order for me. I went back to school so I could get more professional jobs after my degree. But now that I’m here I’ve started to get more professional jobs while still studying, based on the work I’ve been doing for my degree.

Right now I’m working on a pitch for a TV show that I did character designs for. One of the producers reached out to me via email after having been discovered on Twitter. I’ve sought out a lot of professional animation jobs on my own but I’d get rejected constantly. When I did start to find things everything was coming to me from Twitter.

Z | Do you mostly connect with your fans and clients through Twitter?

PT | I actually have more of a following on Instagram. Although Twitter has been more lucrative because people buy more art that way. Instagram seems more of a younger audience, people who are more like fans who look up to you and really like your style. So I don’t get a lot of business there. Occasionally I still draw in people but most of my customers come from my website or Twitter.

I find that interesting because there’s no good tagging system on Twitter. I’ll be on all these websites like Tumblr and Instagram and put all these tags on for people to find me. But even though Twitter has a hashtag system, you can’t put a paragraph’s worth of tags on a post where they’re out of the way. You have to put it all in your tweet, and then it’s kind of off-putting because people don’t want to be retweeting something that’s just a whole list of hashtags.

Usually if it makes sense with the caption, I’ll just put one, and that’s all I’ll use. But other than that, it’s very interesting how a lot of my attention comes from Twitter, and I’m not actually actively trying to put it into tags for people to seek out.

Z | Do you do any streaming?

PT | Yes, I do. I usually stream on weekends. That’s a good place for me to do a lot of sales and answer a lot of questions. It’s also quicker for me, because I’m really fast with commissions, but the back and forth with customers can take forever for me. So if I have them right there and I can just ask them, “Is this good?”, pretty much all of my pieces take an hour to two hours. So I can pump out a bunch of things if I just have people in the Twitch stream and I’m just constantly taking commissions.

Z | Can folks find you at cons, as well?

PT | I pretty much always go to Anthrocon. That convention’s very special to me and I can always get into that. I also go to cons that are local to me on the east coast.

The amazing thing about Anthrocon is that you can enjoy just being in Pittsburgh. It’s so immersive the way everybody gets excited about seeing the furries. It kind of goes back to what we said about how people perceive furries. Pittsburgh has never been negative towards them. They’re so accepting. It’s a completely different experience from what I see everywhere else.

Z | Do you consider art to be a full time job? Of course you’re still a student, so that’s really a full time job in itself. And you’ve also got your professional projects. But is furry art a main source of income for you?

PT | Yes, I would consider it a job. I’ve been trying to move more towards doing things that are good for my portfolio and also professionally. A lot of times I’ve been trying to incorporate more human art and different characters that aren’t necessarily anthro. What gets people to pay for things is fandoms, though. I very rarely get commissions of people wanting like just a drawing of themselves, though it does happen.

I’ve been trying to get a little bit away from that, but pretty much all my income just comes from furries. Everybody wants me to draw anthro characters all the time. And I don’t think that’ll ever change; I don’t think I’ll ever stop. A lot of it is actually still good for my portfolio. I’ve just been trying to push doing a little bit more professional things that would appeal to people hiring, especially in TV animation.

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Meowzers, 2018

Z | So in the future do you see yourself work more for a studio or doing animation?

PT | Yes, my goal is to eventually end up at a studio. I think one day I would like to eventually end up in Burbank, CA. I’m from California originally; that’s home for me. So it’s not like a huge leap. For a lot of people it’s like “oh, big scary city! Must be tough to move out there.” But for me, it’s just going back home.

Z | It’s great to have the furry community as a backup source of income. You know that you can take bigger risks and if things don’t work out it’s not the end of the world. You still have something to fall back on.

PT | And I’ve had the most supportive people, too. I’ve had some people who will just toss me money for things I want to practice on. I’ve had some really great people on Patreon. I even have a few patrons who will consistently be like, “Oh I want to see you do this project” and just throw me like fifty bucks to work on it. That really goes a long way for me.

Z | What are some of the things that have inspired you as you’ve been working on your projects?

PT | My biggest inspiration comes from western TV animation. For me it’s Don Bluth, old school Disney, Looney Tunes, those kinds of more traditional 2D animations. That’s pretty much where all of my inspiration comes from nowadays.

Z | It seems like there’s also a very 90’s cartoon vibe too. Stuff like Invader Zim with a very dynamic kind of line to it. Are those things you’d consider to be an inspiration as well?

PT | Yeah, that’s another one of my favorites!

Z | You had talked before about looking up to artists within the furry fandom as you started to explore anthro art more. Do you have any furry artists that you’d say really helped shape your work?

PT | Yes, and I know this is really old school—one is Eric W. Schwartz. I stumbled across his webcomic, Sabrina Online. I obsessively read from the beginning of it, from 1996 to the current day. I still follow up on it today, and I support him on Patreon, so I see his comics as they go. Early on, I pretty much copied his style exactly. Because I was young! If you go back to all my really early art, it all looks like bad Eric Schwartz art. [Laughs]

Z | You had mentioned doing some work for a digital magazine as well. Is that something you can talk more about?

PT | I actually do a lot of different zines, including ones that are printed. A lot of times it’s a smaller thing where they gather a bunch of artists. I’ve been a part of a Naruto one, I’ve been included in Gummy Guts, and a few others.

A lot of times someone just announces on Twitter that they want to produce one, and artists sign up if they’re interested. Sometimes it’s for charity. Sometimes it’s for profit. When it’s for profit it needs to be split up the profit between artists, so there’s not always a lot left.

I’m also a graphic designer and I have a Photoshop certification. So I helped my friend with one where I did the cover. She didn’t know how to do typography or set it up for print. So I formatted it with bleeds and everything so she could print it. And it was for my friend so I didn’t want payment for that at all.

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Crosspaws, 2018 (left) | Fursonacon Buddy Room, 2018 (right)

Z | Hopefully that pays off down the road for you too, in a “pay it forward” sort of way.

PT | Thanks, I do enjoy doing it now just for fun and maybe a little bit of exposure and experience. But I don’t see anything huge coming from them. It’s just something that I enjoying doing and at the same time, creating work for my portfolio.

Z | I’d just like to follow up with one final question here, and that’s where do you see yourself in the future? What do you see for the future of your practice or for yourself professionally.

PT | For the future, I see myself working in TV animation. Probably pre-production, visual development and storyboard art. I would like to learn more about character animation, and to do in-betweens as well. I would like to end up permanently working in television animation, and possibly one day movies too. But for that happen a lot of things also do have to change about the animation world. There are very few 2D animated movies being produced today.

For the immediate future, I’m still focusing on my education. I never want to stop learning things. I want to learn 3D, I want get better at everything I can within the industry. Even when I’m working in it, I always want to continue to improve.

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Armada’s Rebellion concept art

Z | Can you tell us more about your web comic, Armada’s Rebellion? I know it’s something you’ve been working on for a while.

PT | It’s a sci fi webcomic where the characters are all anthro. It’s based in a post-human post-apocalyptic setting. There was a crisis—not explained in the plot yet, but part of the background lore—which resulted in wiping out humans. So in the setting, which all takes place in Africa, the smartest races are the anthro African animals.

It involves a race war between the predators and the prey. The prey had been kept by the predators as livestock, but their intelligence has reached a point of sentience. So they’re rebelling.

I haven’t revealed a lot of the plot yet. But they have weapons and mecha left behind from the human military that they use to fight each other. They want to rule what they call New Africa. The hyenas are very strong and building their own empire. While some prey creatures like zebras are trying to defend their race and trying to beat the oppression of the hyenas.

Eventually as I continue to develop the plot, it’ll be more of a theme of community and coming together. It also touches on things like things like minority groups and animal rights.  At the beginning it’s all focused on the war, but eventually it’ll get more into the rebellion part where it’s more about coming together as people.


Pinkie Toons can be found on the web at pinkietoons.com, on Twitter @pinkietoons and via email at pinkietoons@yahoo.com. You can also support her on Patreon at Pinkietoons.


If you are an artist working with anthropomorphic art or themes who would like to be featured, please contact us via email, zoionmedia@gmail.com

Cupcake Creature – Artist Interview

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Click here to download a PDF of the full interview.

CC | I want to say I got into furry around 2010. I had always been drawing anthro animals ever since I was a kid, I just didn’t know that there was a word for it—or that there was a group of people that did it, or had it as their source of entertainment, or as a hobby. In 2010 I was on Deviant Art mostly, and Deviant Art was not a great place for furries. There was a lot of furry hate. My friend told me, well I know this site called Fur Affinity and it’s just that kind of drawing. And I was like, ‘well what do you mean, like animal people?’ And he was like, ‘yeah!’ So I signed up and started focusing on that kind of art because it’s what I like to draw best.

Z | Do you have any formal art training?

CC | I do! I actually went to an arts high school where we studied college-level art from freshman to senior year. My high school was not the norm at all. Actually my grandfather founded the school I went to. He was really passionate about the arts and education, and also founded a few other schools in the south-central Pennsylvania area. I still had to audition like everybody else, though. I didn’t just get in. The way it was set up was half a day, every day, was dedicated to art and the other half was academics. We studied drawing, painting sculpture, and art history. There are several majors in the school. Visual art was just one of them. They had theater, music, figure skating, dancing—any kind of artistic expression, you could major in. So I learned all my art basics in high school.

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Quen, Cupcake Chibi (left), Rek (right)

Z | Did your grandfather encourage you to go there? Or is that something you always knew you were going to aspire to art, so you knew you were going to go?

CC | I’ve always loved art. My mom claimed as soon as I could grab a crayon, that’s when I started drawing and just haven’t stopped. She really encouraged me to go. At the time, I had just turned 13 and I did not want to move away from my home in New Jersey. I was very adamant about not moving away and staying with my friends, and all that stuff.

Z | It’s hard to blame you. At 13, the idea of moving away from your home is a huge step. Not many 13 year olds are doing that.

CC | It is, it really is. Just uprooting your life. I was born and raised in New Jersey. And it was hard. But after I went to the school for my audition and met my potential future art history professor, she was just so cool and passionate about art that I was like, alright, I have to go here. I moved with my parents. They uprooted and we all moved to Pennsylvania so I could go. And my parents are still there. They’ve been living in the same house ever since.

Z | And you went to college for art, as well?

CC | Honestly I couldn’t afford a high-end art college. Even with financial aid and scholarships, it’s rough. My mom actually worked at one of the local community colleges, Northampton Community College, so I decided to go there and major in communication design. Finances play a roll in this kind of thing. As much as I would have liked to go to SCAD or one of the New York art schools, it’s just not feasible for some people. That’s why I’m a huge supporter of community college. I will always recommend it. I like to drive home that it’s not a “cop-out” by any means. It’s a great step, and my community college had fantastic art classes.

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Quen Mermaid

Z | Do you have any professional background, working in the industry after college?

CC | I had an internship out of college for a big company that did pretty basic graphic design. It was a food company, so I helped with designing menus for colleges and hospitals. It was mostly pretty boring stuff. Other than that, my only other “professional” art job was as a face painter at Dorney Park. So I did face painting there. It was funny, because I was the only one on the face-painting team that even liked art. The other people with me had like no interest in it, didn’t know how to draw. It was just a summer job to them, but I was taking it so seriously. [Laughs]

Z | So after that, you got into doing furry art? Is that your main source of income?

CC | Yes, I started dabbling with that when I joined Fur Affinity in 2010, somewhere around there. I would take some small projects, like icon commissions. Then I was like, wow I know some people who are making a living off of this, and maybe that’s something I could do.

I struggle with anxiety, so I had been looking for a job or something I could do which I enjoyed, but also fit my needs, anxiety-wise. Drawing obviously is like an innate part of me, so I’m pretty relaxed while I do it. And furries are a really nice clientele. They are understanding, and not only that but they have so many creative ideas. It’s so exciting just to work with all my clients. They come at me with these awesome ideas and it makes me so excited to do what I do.

It started out really slow, and it took about a year for it to be sustenance. I was lucky, people seemed to like my art. I brought some people over from Deviant Art when I made that switch to Fur Affinity. And now on Twitter, of course. I learned a little bit about social media networking and marketing in college, so that came in handy. And it just grew from there.

I still do some freelance work for non-furries. My mom and my aunt are both authors, so I’ve been hired to do some illustrations for books and book covers and stuff like that. But the difference between furry clients and real world clients is astronomical. You get your fair share of picky clients, no matter what fandom or industry. But in general, working outside of the furry fandom can be harder to get through to people, I think.

Freelance work is not for everyone. And that’s okay. I know a lot of people who think it’s “the dream”. You can work at home in your pajamas, and you can eat out of a jar of peanut butter while you draw! [Laughs] Nooo! I frantically wake up, I get dressed, I have a proper breakfast, then run over to my computer and sit my butt down, and draw. I get work done. You have to have that drive and self-discipline to do it. Because if you don’t, it’s not going to get done.

Z | Let’s talk about inspiration, either artistic inspiration, or even just general inspiration from media anywhere. What sorts of things have influenced your art?

CC | I’m going to say the corniest furry answer: anime. I love anime and I always have since I was young. I can’t even pin it on a specific show or artist. I guess if I had to pick one very big inspiration, it has to be Studio Ghibli. I can’t even describe how much Spirited Away influenced me when I was younger. It just really awakened something in me, artistically. Then Disney, of course. Who would I be if I didn’t say Disney? And Chris Sanders who did Lilo & Stitch. He was a huge inspiration to me in high school. He drew all kinds of bodies—not like how they’re “supposed” to look. He had fun with weight and body shapes, and that always spoke to me.

I feel like Spirited Away and Lilo & Stitch are like my benchmark of influence, especially throughout my young artistic life. Because that’s when you’re really finding yourself as an artist.

Z | Do you have any non-visual influences as well?

CC | Oh yes, totally. Music in general really inspires me. I love the story aspects. I love stories, I love music. My biggest musical inspiration is most video game soundtracks. The Persona series soundtracks are my latest thing. I’ve always loved the Katamari games. Those influenced me a lot.

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Bite Me (left), Vern The Hippo (right)

Z | Video games are a major theme in your art, particularly the character cosplay. Can you talk a little about character cosplay, how that came about and what that is?

CC | Video games have been in my life since I was very young. My mom was really into Legend of Zelda, and when she had me, she was really determined to get me at least one kind of game system when I was old enough to start playing games. So thank you mom!

Video games are just as important to me as my artwork is, so I’ve always been inspired by them as well. When I started realizing that most of the furries I talk to are also into video games, I drew my character dressed as Princess Peach. And thought, wouldn’t it be cool to do more of that?

I really think the idea of furry characters dressing as their favorite video game characters is cool and fun. Of course it’s not an idea that I came up with. People have always been drawing cosplay of their characters as other characters. But I love video games so much that I just started offering that.

I think my first commission type that I started offering was Smash Brothers. I offered Smash Brothers icons where it looked like the “player select” icon from the game. Ever since then I just pay attention to what’s coming out, even if it’s not a game that I personally play. I try to play whatever is hot and trending, for this purpose specifically. But even if it’s not a game I’m not playing, I will research it and see if there’s something I can do with it. Like is there a character here or is there a portrait in the game that has a certain style that people would look at and recognize? Then it’s like, okay cool, get your character drawn that way.

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Love Yourself

Z | You’d also mentioned another main theme in your art is body positivity. And you talked about Chris Sanders and how he inspired you by drawing a variety of body types. Can you tell us more about that aspect of your work?

CC | I strive to represent bodies of all kinds in my art. Furries tend to have a specific body type that’s like an idealization—and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I based my fursona on myself. Her body looks like mine. I always strive to make that an important part of my life because my whole life I’ve been fat. Discrimination against people of different sizes—whether it’s discrimination against someone who’s too thin or against someone who is too fat—is something that has been on my mind my whole life. And I know I’m not alone, so I try to show the beauty in all kinds of bodies in art. I often have an emphasis on chubbiness or fatness, because I can model for myself which is helpful. I just love having diverse body shapes in my art, and I’ve noticed in the furry fandom that’s become a lot more common.

I just think it’s beautiful. I genuinely think—100%, as corny as it sounds—that every body is beautiful. I just want to show that as much as I can. I know that for a lot of people their fursona is what they want to be, or what they aspire to. It’s not necessarily who they are. For some people it’s a combination of who they are and who they want to be—whatever their expression wants to be.

I know a lot of people think they’re not allowed to love themselves as they are. I think that’s horrible. I want to show people that it’s okay to love yourself. If someone gets mad at you for loving yourself, that is their problem. 

I’ve had the one piece in here, Love Yourself that is a really special piece to me and very personal. But it’s also my favorite piece that I’ve probably ever done. That piece in particular garnered a lot of attention. I got a lot of messages about that from people just thanking me for making it. At first I didn’t understand because that was me trying to love myself and my body. But then I realize the impact this kind of media has on people is so important. So I’ve tried to keep doing it, as much as I can.

Z | With that in mind—I don’t mean this question to be insulting, but I’m curious—‘cow’ is often used as an insult. So do you have the cow character as a way to take ownership of that, and turn it around as something that’s positive for you?

CC | You nailed it on the head! That is the main reason I chose a cow as my fursona. I’ve probably been called a cow the most as an insult. (Whale is a close second—but it’s kind of hard to make a whale fursona.) I can draw cute cows though! And I love cows. I’m really glad you mentioned that, because it’s the number one reason I chose a cow.

I wasn’t always a cow and it felt weird to be just some random animal. I started digging deep and I was like, I love cows. But also I can take this thing that I’ve been called my whole life, but I can be called it but in a different way! Now I can be called cow, or moo, or momma moo, and it’s great! It’s awesome and it feels empowering. I’m so glad I made my fursona a cow.

Z | You’ve been doing furry art full time now for nearly a decade. Where do you see yourself going in the future? What do you see as the future of your work or where you want to take your practice?

CC | I try to think about that a lot. I think one goal I’d love to achieve soon is selling at conventions. I never have before. I’ve just done digital work and selling my entire career.

For a while I could only afford one con a year, and it was Anthrocon. And it was kind of like vacation time for me—like a family reunion. I did a panel at Anthrocon before, but that’s the closest I’ve ever come to “working” a con. It’s a very intimidating thing for me, being someone who’s only ever sold digital goods online. But it’s something I’d love to take that next step and do.

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Gold

Z | Of all your art, this stood out as particularly striking. It seems like such a powerful piece. Would you be comfortable talking about this one in particular?

CC | I had a relationship that ended in August, 2017. It was a long relationship, and my whole life changed. You just have so many questions and so many doubts about everything you’ve been through.

Even though art is a job for me, it’s also very therapeutic. I usually don’t share too much of my vent art. But with this one, I felt better and better as I was drawing it. So by the end, I was like, “oh this looks pretty cool. I think I’ll post it.” And it worked. I felt really good when I finished it.

But yeah, it came from a place of my life changing so suddenly and drastically. And, you know, heartbreak. The classic, “art is made from love and heartbreak.”


Cupcake Creature can be found on the web at cupcakecreature.com, on Twitter @CupcakeCreature, and via email at contact@cupcakecreature.com.


If you are an artist working with anthropomorphic art or themes who would like to be featured, please contact us via email, zoionmedia@gmail.com

On The Anthropomorphic Artistic Nude

As I mentioned in the previous article, several people have asked variations of, “Will the magazine include artistic nudity?” It’s a good question. After all, nudity is not uncommon in fine art and it is generally presented as-is. Will Zoion also include artistic nudity as it sometimes appears in furry art?

To fully answer that, it’s important to contrast artistic nudity in historical fine art, and artistic nudity in anthropmorphic art. There’s a long tradition of depicting the human body as an artistic object. From the Greeks, to the Romans’ emulation of them and on up through the Renaissance, and of course to present day. There were many reasons for this and I won’t go through them all here, but consider the religious aspect. In Christian theology, we were created by God, in his image. In that sense, the human form is the ultimate in artistic expression: beautiful, ideal, perfectly formed, as it is a reflection of God’s own perfection. To depict the human form in art was often in reverence to its holy origins.

This tradition is evident even as the figure was often stylized. The sculpture of David by Michelangelo has numerous odd proportions or details and yet it is still one of the most profound masterpieces of sculpture ever created. Indeed, it is because of these stylizations that the figure is so effective. Of note is that Michelangelo depicted David with a foreskin, even though as a Jew, the biblical David would have been circumcised. As a scholar, Michelangelo would likely have been aware of this fact, but it was uncommon in Renaissance art for male figures to be shown circumcised (and indeed, it was uncommon in the general population of the time, outside of Jews).

We don’t have any commentary from Michelangelo himself as to why he chose to include the foreskin, but we can surmise two possibilities. The statue was as much of a political statement at the time as a religious one, and so in order to help the citizens of Florence connect with David’s tense determination, he was shown as they would’ve been. Depicting him circumcised would have immediately marked him as an outsider. Secondly it’s also possible that Michelangelo was simply depicting the human form in its most natural, idealized state, as created by God, even if that meant a certain amount of stylization of the subject’s historical context.

Anthropomorphic art is stylized, as well. However, it has a fundamental difference from the artistic nude: anthropomorphic animals do not exist. By choosing to draw one, an artist is creating it—playing God, in a sense, rather than reinterpreting God. An anthropomorphic figure has no “idealized” form to capture. There is no nature to draw on. It’s not possible to draw an anthropomorphic figure in a way that showcases its natural artistic beauty the way you can with a human form. At best, it’s a remix of already existing parts, and it’s up to the artist to balance those parts in the way they see fit.

 An anthropomorphic form doesn’t have to be any particular way, which means that every choice the artist makes is a considered one. It’s not possible to include a foreskin on a nude anthropomorphic figure without it drawing attention to itself, since it is not inherently a thing that exists. It even raises additional questions: why does this anthro figure have a foreskin, and is not circumcised? Why not use animal rather than human genitalia? Why not leave it off completely, or hide it in fur? Every one of these options is valid—which is to say, there are no right or wrong answers when drawing an anthro form.

Not only are these choices all equally valid, I think there’s an untapped potential for their use as symbolism in anthropomorphic art. And this gets to the heart of the issue. Not only is the use of artistic nudity in anthro art not a reflection of reality, it almost never draws on the traditions of historical fine art, either. It doesn’t serve as allegory, symbolism, or commentary. It doesn’t seek to make a statement on the human condition, the environment, naturalism, or indeed any statement at all—other than that it is a pretty picture.

To be clear, I’m not saying that all anthropomorphic art is this way, or that there is no potential at all for deeper meaning or complex interpretations that would justify the use of the artistic nude. In fact, I think it would be fantastic if more anthro art did draw on history, religion or culture. I fully expect that as the fandom continues to mature, this will happen. Those are the sorts of things we’re looking for, too. Not just pretty pictures, although they are fine in their own way, but complex pictures, images with multiple layers of meaning or possible interpretations.

Although anthro art has the potential to be much more than it is, crucially the public’s perception is that furry art is pornographic, or at best, benign. And with that we come back to the concept of the artistic nude. I believe it is possible for the artistic nude to be maturely handled in anthropomorphic art. And I absolutely believe that it will become a possibility for exhibition sometime in the future. But I don’t feel like we’re there yet. I don’t think the artistic output of the fandom has matured to that point yet. And I don’t think the larger public lack of understanding towards the furry fandom would allow that to be interpreted in any way other than pornographic.

And so, I don’t currently feel like artistic nudity in anthropomorphic art has a place in Zoion. I would love for that to change. Perhaps, in the course of doing this project, it may help the artistic expression of the fandom develop to where that is an acceptable possibility. But I also believe we have a long way to go in overcoming current prejudices and we need to acknowledge that. I think the right course of action is to err too far on the side of safe at the beginning—to swing the pendulum in the other direction for a time, away from pornography. As anthropomorphic art continues to develop, we’ll find an appropriate middle ground where the anthropomorphic artistic nude is not immediately dismissed as pornographic, but that it can be understood and accepted for the message it’s trying to convey.

 

 

The Elephant in the Room

It’s difficult to talk about anthro art without sexuality and pornography coming up at some point in the discussion. On the one hand, it’s a natural part of the human experience and so appears in nearly everything humans do, including anthropomorphization. On the other hand, furry is seen by many people exclusively as a fetish, and isn’t one of the goals of this project to try and break away from that perception?

Since I announced Zoion, this is the topic that has come up most often in conversation. It’s inevitable that I’d have to address it.

I’ve tried to emphasize in the marketing material that the magazine will be clean and professional. Or as I’ve started to say when I was talking about it at FWA, “not cringey”. Nevertheless I’ve had people ask a variety of questions as to what exactly might be included.  Obviously art exists on a spectrum. Not everything falls neatly into the categories of “clean” or “adult”. This is, naturally, where editorial discretion comes in, and it would be something of a quixotic task to try and define every possible instance of what may or may not be included. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said, “I know it when I see it.”

That being said, here are a few of the specific questions I’ve gotten, and some answers:

• Will you accept advertising for adult products? No.

• Will you accept advertising for adult products, even if it’s not obvious from the context of the ad that they are for an adult audience? No.

• Will you talk about, discuss, or otherwise try to curate pornography in an effort to preserve it as a part of furry culture? No. I wrote in response to a comment on Print Lives : “I don’t think it’s disingenuous to not include furry pornography any more than it is when regular art magazines don’t include regular pornography. There’s plenty of room in our lives for both. At the moment, furry pornography is so ubiquitous that it’s drowning out non-pornographic work. It would be great if there was a way to shift that balance a little, and that’s one of the goals we have in mind for the magazine.”

• Will you link to a gallery which includes adult artwork? Possibly. If an artist is featured and has all their work in one gallery, we would likely still link back to it. This is very much something to address on a per-case basis. And there may be other options too, such as a disclaimer that the gallery contains adult material.

• Will you include tasteful or artistic nudity? This is an interesting question. While the answer is basically “no, we will not include artistic nudity”, the explanation as to why is not so simple. To address this, I’ll be writing a separate article tomorrow that contrasts examples of historical artistic nudity with artistic nudity in anthropomorphic art. Depending on length, it may also include some thoughts on challenging subject matter in art, or that may be discussed in a future article. I don’t want to spend too much more time on adult or pornographic themes in art. But like I said, it’s something that’s come up a lot, so better to address it now at the beginning so we can move on.

If you have another question that’s not listed here, feel free to leave it in the comments.

I’ll close with the following quote from my aforementioned comment which I think gets the point across pretty well:

“Consider that the audience for furry pornography of any sort—even tasteful artistic nudity—is so incredibly large and it receives so much attention, there is just no situation where us leaving it out would be detrimental to the fandom. Contrariwise, if we include it, it could very well be detrimental to our goals of attracting a diverse audience, including people outside the furry fandom who appreciate the fine art aspect but have no interest in nude anthropomorphic animals, no matter how tastefully done.”