Note: This article contains themes and images of an adult nature.
Catwoman’s skintight costume. Princess Leia’s metal bikini. Lara Croft’s ample bust. Like it or not, sexuality is pervasive in geek culture. A group of local Seattle artists known as the Mythos Art Club has utilized this theme as inspiration to create the annual art show known as Nerdgasm. The second Nerdgasm art show is currently on display through March 30th at The Raygun Lounge in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. I got in touch with the two Mythos members who organized the show, Jon Young and Erick Lingbloom and asked them about Nerdgasm.
"Lovers" by Zeuf
What is the Mythos Art Club?
Erick: Mythos Art Club is an informal group of artists, each member pursuing art in varying capacities. All of us share similar interests, and endeavor to cultivate a community that engages others who share them as well. Key components that define Mythos Art Club are:The work is mythology/story-based; we are concerned with characters and stories, not art for art's sake. The work is graphic and commercial art based, with contributing artists who are cartoonists, tattoo artists, designers -- working artists -- though we maintain an open-mind to other mediums. My role within Mythos is as a co-founder and event organizer.
Jon: It started out as a group called Dead End Press. They would put on 5 hour sketch jams that I attended. That's actually how I know Erick and the core members of Mythos, it stemmed from that initial group, and when it dissolved Jordan Girratano started Mythos. Everyone that takes part is at different skill levels and work in different parts of the art industry: freelance, game design, comics, college students, all types.
Can anyone join? How do they get involved? What’s next for Mythos?
Jon: It’s totally open to join, we are a group that just wants to help promote our fellow artists and give them a fun environment in which to show their art.
Erick: There is a running joke among us that we never do the same thing twice. That being said, I have no idea what's next! We've got a Facebook thingy where people can check in with us. A big part of Mythos is just supporting other artists by going to their shows, taking their classes, and participating in their events. We will be working more with Raygun in the future for other art shows and a regular artist meet up/drink and draw night.
"Neil Degrasse Tyson" by Maxine Iglich
How would you describe the goal of Nerdgasm? How do you feel the show relates with the sex-positive movement?
Erick: The idea for Nerdgasm evolved from a very tongue-in-cheek brainstorming session between other members of Mythos -- much of our enthusiasm came from the name -- which led to the concept of what kind of work we wanted to collect -- erotic nerd art. We thought this would be fun (and it is), to see how artists interpret the prompt for sexy nerdy art. I'm sure we have much to learn, but I think we represent sex-positivity by creating a space for artists of all orientations to have their voices heard.
Jon: A lot of the art that gets created for Nerdgasm references regular discussion points in the nerd/geek community and some of it reflects the personal fantasy situation of the artist. I think hanging that on the wall gets a lot of people discussing those images ideas and generally just making people more comfortable to open that discussion.
How did you get the word out to artists who wanted to participate?
Erick: For this show it was an open call to artists we have worked with in the past. This is our second Nerdgasm, and we are very happy with how artists have responded to the concept-- in turn we have built a "word-of-mouth" type of network. Artists who "missed out" on last year's show approached us, artists invited other artists to submit work -- we even had submissions from artists who simply saw our posters! All pieces submitted were accepted (45 pieces from 30 different artists). One goal of Mythos is to provide a platform for unknown and inexperienced artists to show their work; and to create an environment for them to learn what it is like to show in a gallery. We have the experience and hustle to put shows together and create opportunities for artists who may not realize they have the power to do it themselves. It is satisfying to see other artists flourish and be inspired when they recognize the value of participating in an art community.
"Good Book" by Teague Tysseling
Do you have any of your own works on display?
Erick: Yes, I have on display the piece titled "Sci-Fi Pulp." The piece was an attempt to capture the cheesy sci-fi aesthetic of men's pulp adventure magazines. Like much of that type of adventure magazine art, I think the goal is to convey an image that is alluring and sexy; and inherently lacks much substance. I wanted to do a piece that focused on the purely aesthetic aspects of lurid pulp magazine illustration.
Jon: I do. Avengers Part 1 and 2, M.O.D.O.C , and Mumm-Ra the Ever-Babely. For my Avengers pieces, it was taking a fun way to connect the classic tattoos I love and comics I've read forever. Mumm-Ra the Ever-Babely was a fun gender-bent piece with a beautiful curvy girl that's also a bit of a throwback to one of my favorite shows as a kid. I created the Modok piece because there's just something wrong about making him seen in a sexy/cute light.
"Bound 2 - Nightwing and Batgirl" by Nolan Harris
How did you decide on the Raygun Lounge to display in?
Erick: We felt the Raygun Lounge was a part of the community we wanted to engage with. We wanted to work with a space that would reach an audience outside of the group of friends/artists that we typically rely on to populate our events. As a "start up" we are still getting our name out there.
Where do you feel the art in Nerdgasm falls on the spectrum of sexy to sexist?
Erick: A fantastic question. We keep this in our peripheral throughout the development of the show. We don't want to alienate anybody with this show, but we also recognize that the content is inherently controversial. We leave the subject of the art entirely up to the artist, with the exception of a few stipulations against violence and anti-gender content (as well as some ground rules with respect towards the wishes of the space we are working with). Beyond that, the show is driven off of the prompt of "erotic art, however you define it, based on themes found in nerd culture." We want to illicit a reaction, but we also want to have fun. Some of my favorite pieces are those that are most uncomfortable, or those that use the theme to tell a dirty joke. We let the artists express their interpretation of Erotic Nerd Art, and have confidence that the artists we work with will produce work that is varied and well thought out. We are conscientious of the potential for this show to come across as a tits and ass fanboy fest that only appeals to dudes-- for that reason, we try to seek out artists from various backgrounds and sexual orientations.
Jon: We left it up to the artists to interpret with very few guidelines. Generally the guidelines are given to us by the space we are displaying in. For the Raygun Lounge, the guidelines were pretty much to keep the art at an R rating: no spread vaginas, no erect penises. It was fun since it made sure no one could go straight to the gross out factor or just shock value completely.
"Torchwood 3 Way" by Amy Chisman
Have you encountered any criticism for this show?
Erick: We have not -- though I imagine this largely due to being such a new/small operation. The only criticisms come internally in the form of, "Oh my god I can't believe what I'm looking at -- that is so brilliant."
Jon: Surprisingly not, the only complaint we had last year is when we went in to take down the show. We've had a lot of nervous giggles though, which is a great compliment. Everyone seems to love the art and at our opening events it's always a very relaxed environment. No one seems to be too uptight or stuffy about the situation.
Jon: We are so appreciative for everyone that has contributed to the show and everyone that's come through to check us out and enjoy Nerdgasm!
Erick: The response to this show has been great and overwhelmingly positive. I encourage people with questions or criticisms to contact me and start a dialog. One of the great things about this show is its ability to elicit a strong reaction from the viewer. Not a lot of art does that. We want people to engage in art and be a part of the art community -- actively, not passively. We want to break down the wall that separates artists from viewers and shatter the idea that art must come packaged with a sense of elitism.
Many thanks to Jon and Erick for providing insight on the Mythos Art Club and Nerdgasm! Readers, if you have the chance to check out the show, I highly recommend it! Feel free to come back to A Bit Of Geek and post your thoughts and impressions.
"Wonder Boudoir" by Aliva
You can find more from Jon Young at Artful Dodger Tattoo, where he is finishing up his tattoo apprenticeship. Also, check out Erick Lingbloom’s works on his website: Erick Lingbloom Art
**Photography Note: I took the above photographs, but I am not the artist.