November 8, 2017 | Posted in Editorial Features by
Seattle erotic photographer The Dark Arts has a Kickstarter going to make a book of his beautiful work hopefully become a reality. Featuring many beautiful people in shibari/rope bondage/suspension bondage, porn stars Joanna Angel, Kimberly Kane, Jiz Lee and retired porn star Yhivi are included in the beautiful images of "LIGHT/SHADOW/COLOR". Get to know Arts here.
So what made you decide to start this Kickstarter for this book?
"I've always thought of doing a book, and while I could have done something using short-run, a-la-carte services that are relatively inexpensive, I felt like doing a small book with fifty pages or whatever wouldn't have done justice to the body of work I've amassed. If I was going to do this, I might as well make a comprehensive and definitive commemoration of my bondage work up to this point. Once I started slapping together a rough layout, it became quickly apparent that this book would not be small. it ended up being over three hundred pages and will weigh about five pounds, and that means producing the physical book will cost some bucks. Combine that with shipping costs and sending one to every model in the book (the very least I can do) it's something I could not afford to finance on my own."
What other photographers have most inspired your work? Are there any book or particular pieces that have really moved you?
"To be honest I am not too versed in photographers :(. I only know the names of the super famous people like Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts and stuff, but generally just bop around in my own world. I'm sure I've stolen lighting or composition ideas from something I've seen in passing, but I don't have any photo books myself."
What do you love most about shibari? Why do you think it photographs so well?
"I think rope provides the same kind of aesthetic compliment to a body as fabric does. Like how fashion is this huge, ubiquitous, completely acceptable form of human decoration and beautification and it's just "throwing some fabric on a naked body" when you boil it all down. Rope is the same in many ways, but it has some extra layers of appeal, for me at least. It's a restrictive art, in that you're using a pretty limited medium and binding limbs and keeping them from moving, and that presents interesting challenges. Then there's the taboo aspect of it; working in a realm that so many people think is so deviant or sexual. Bondage is not sex, but it often is used in sex or sexual situations, and society at large has this misconception that the second you touch a piece of rope to a body you are immediately engaging in insane sadomasochist sex orgies and shoving your entire leg up somebody's ass while a German woman in a latex cat suit beats you in the balls with a Negan bat, which is obviously wrong and ridiculous and so many "normal people" really enjoy light bondage or BDSM play, so it's dancing around in this area between sexy sex stuff and fine art nude work and that's just fun. Beyond that rope bondage just creates cool shapes and lines with a body. It just has that "wow that looks cool" factor."
You have a great variety of models in this project. Why is that diversity important to you as an artist?
"Modeling in general, and especially bondage modeling, is heavily skewed towards cis white and Asian women who are skinny and conventionally attractive. Those kinds of people are nice to look at, but so is every other kind of person. I rarely turn down anybody who wants to shoot with me, and the majority of people who do inquire are indeed a certain kind of person, but I do try to find other kinds of people to shoot because bondage photography needs to represent all kinds of people who are into bondage and that is ~all kinds of people~. Having a diverse portfolio with bigger models, cis men, trans people, gay men and older people not only makes my body of work better, it also shows more people that bondage is for everybody and looking awesome in rope is possible not just for skinny women."
Included in those models are a whole bunch of porn stars. What have you found was different about your porn star models and the work you could get from them?
"Working with porn stars is great because they are used to being in front of a camera. Whenever I work with somebody who has never modeled in their life I always say "90% of modeling is feeling like an idiot and being OK with feeling like an idiot", because modeling is ridiculous if you really look at how poses work and stuff. Porn stars are way over that hump and usually can just jump in there and move and twist around and know that most of the shots will look bad but a couple will be super awesome and it's all about throwing a million poses out there. They also are less nervous so I don't have to be as "coachy" about it. Like when a regular civilian comes through and it's the first time they've ever went to a stranger's house to get naked and roll around on the floor while some guy takes pictures of their butthole, I usually need to make them a lot more comfortable. Porn stars are like "OK my clothes are off let's get this show on the road!"."
You will be including fan art in your book. Why is that an important part of this project to you?
"I get lots of amazing artists using my work as inspiration. Painters, illustrators, tattoo artists. Tattoo artists! It's crazy that my photographs are permanently stuck on bodies out there but I so appreciate that people connect with my stuff enough to incorporate it into their work, so I felt it would be really cool to dedicate some pages to this. I am collecting a lot of really great art for this section, and I hope it will both be an added bonus for the book and also get these artists some more fans."
You have a bunch of fun rewards set up for people who help you Kickstart this. What is your personal favorite of the rewards?
"If somebody does end up getting the reward that allows me to travel to them I will be so stoked. Surely there is some rich person out there who wants this! I love traveling and would be so excited to go somewhere just to teach somebody how to tie or shoot. The print rewards are also cool. I selected photos that would look stunning on a wall, and I think people would be really happy with them."
What do you have planned if for some unfortunate reason, this project does not fund?
"There's a very real chance this could not get funded. 30K is a lot of money, and I set that mark because that's about what it would take for me to do everything needed without losing any money. There's a lot of costs involved beyond simply printing and shipping the book. Taxes, Kickstarter fees, etc... So if it doesn't make it to the finish line, I may explore other options for a smaller, less comprehensive book that I can fund myself or I might just shelve the book idea (pun intended) for a while and try again later. I really do hope it makes it though, it's such a unique collection and there is no bondage book out there like this."
What else is coming up for you?
"Right now I am planning a little travel for next year, not sure where yet but overall I just wanna keep shooting and thinking of new concepts and ideas. it's getting tougher, since I sometimes feel like I have tied every tie there is! But I know there's more out there. I also would love to get into commercial shoots for gear/toy companies, magazines, etc... I feel like my style could make some great stuff. I also do video. Hit me up, kinky/adult companies!"
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans here at Fleshbot?
Support artists! Support sex workers! Pay for your porn and pay for my book!
All of the images here appear courtesy of The Dark Arts.