Sapphic Fascination: A Talk With the Belgian Illustrator Slartzee
Recently, I came across some entertaining illustrations depicting girls either peeing or 'flying solo' that reminded me, in terms of brushstroke and characters, of one of the favorite comics from my childhood (more on this later). The creator of these drawings is a Belgian illustrator who uses the pseudonym Slartzee for his erotica.
Interestingly, the (often lesbian) protagonists in his erotic work do not immediately appeal to the imagination in terms of beauty ideal. This finding sparked my curiosity and so I approached the artist. Below, the result of our conversation...
1) What can you tell us about your background?
You can call me Steph. I was born in and still live in Leuven, Belgium. I studied Comic & Illustration in Brussel and graduated in the Master Graphic Storytelling. Next to drawing I play some instruments and like to take hikes in nature. At the end of the week I enjoy a good strong Belgian Beer, it makes me come to rest since I have ADHD. And if it is of any importance, I'm almost 29 years of age.
2) How did art come into your life?
Art came into my life probably the same way it came to most artists; in childhood. Every child starts drawing, but only those who hear the call go on. And that can be at any time. I kept drawing for my own pleasure and never stopped doing exactly that. At age 16 I realized it was the only thing I really wanted to do in school and at age 18 I knew I had to draw more to improve. But that's not good enough: you have to be sure of what you want to be able to draw. In this case, anatomy.
Erotic art came - maybe - a bit too early in my life and drawing career. I draw naked girls since early puberty, and improving in anatomy only makes it more fun. Not saying I'm an expert at it. I forgot the exact names of the twenty-or-so muscles in the arm alone.
3) The theme in your illustrations is primarily focused on masturbating females and same-sex erotics intimacy, in particular lesbian lovemaking. Why these themes?
I admit without shame: I watch porn since a young age, and very early on I couldn't stand men in porn. I didn't want to see intercourse between a man and a woman. Even their voice could turn me off. When it comes to anatomy, the male body is very interesting to draw.
So the category I went to was actually mostly solo videos, barely any lesbian activity. In my opinion; a girl pleasuring herself without sex toys is one of the most beautiful and arousing sights a man can see. It is highly personal, intimate and extremely hypnotizing. She is in charge of herself and her own body. And the others just watch.
And that is why in most of my drawings there is one person depicted, with some kind of fetish or activity I like involved. And the other just watches..
The lesbian themed pieces are to show that the girls I draw are also human beings. They love, they make love, they flirt, they play, they sleep, they laugh, they cry, they drink, they eat, they smell, they fart, they pee, they even turned into boys at one point! (that was an experiment that I gave up because I couldn't draw it with the same kind of pleasure) And the sex is almost always oral sex.
4) The bodies of the female protagonists in your images are at first glance not flawless, less glamorous, with a love handle here and there or protruding teeth. What's your thought behind this?
Simply put: I detest perfection. I love imperfection.
To come back on the porn-part: I never watch studio/professional porn. Amateur porn that is shot in a personal bedroom or living room is the realest porn you can get. I'm proud to say that porn never gave me a distorted image of women and sex, it actually inspired me to appreciate and draw the real female form.
For example, take cellulite. By today's beauty standards it is considered ugly, while around 90% of women have it. Isn't that a crime against nature?
I'm not interested in beauty but in humanity. Imperfection is so much more interesting, like heterochromia iridum (two eyes, different full colors).
I draw what I love or find interesting. Body hair, freckles, moles, scars, teeth-gaps, large nipples, pimples, cellulite, fat, soft skin, saggin skin, folds, love handles, happy trials, ... basically anything that beauty standards hate.
The references I use are always from old pictures, way before Photoshop was invented.
I keep this thought not only on paper but also in real life.
5) As I mentioned to you earlier your work reminded me of the favorite comic of my youth Jeremiah by your fellow-countryman Hermann (Huppen). Is there a relation between your work and his? Who are your influences?
I actually never read Jeremiah, only Comanche. Also very good and suspenseful. When it comes to westerns, I choose Blueberry by Giraud.
For erotic art I look at other artists. I like the works of Georges Pichard, David Sourdrille and Balak. As long as it is a bit out of the ordinary, I love it!
6) Since we consider shunga art (hence Shunga Gallery) to be the most influential and most important erotic art form, we always ask the interviewee for his/her opinion. Are you familiar with this art form and if so, what do you think of it?
When I look at shunga art, the first thing I see is the pubic hair. It is but a tiny detail, but for me it means a lot. In fact, most shunga art involves the principles I like. The bodies aren't perfect and the depictions are not censored.
What is also very interesting is that well-known artists made these at some point in their career. It warms my heart that you make art for everyone to see and make erotic art next to it. And in those times it had more purposes than to arouse, it gave some kind of guidance and there was nothing wrong with owning a piece.
Inspiring people with erotic art is awesome.
7) Do you have difficulties, considering the risky subject matter, displaying your art? How do you promote it?
I don't promote it, actually. Slartzee is for my own pleasure, and I share it with the world via social media. Does it get a lot of attention? It varies, my Twitter had a sudden short boost last month. But not that much. It is all traditional and I don't like to sell originals. And I don't like doing commissions either.
Twitter has no problem with my depictions, but DeviantArt can be picky. Some of my pieces got taken down because of genitalia and urination, and some of those were very well received by my followers. But oh well, I keep drawing nonetheless.
8) Can you live from your art?
I don't live from Slartzee. I never made a buck from Slartzee because that is not what I want. I enjoy it and making it into a job may kill the fun for me. That doesn't mean I don't make money from any of my art. Slartzee is an alias of my alias Slartz, and as Slartz I sometimes do small commissions. But still not too much because I don't like it.
As mentioned in the first question, I studied comics. I made two narrative artbooks laying in stores in Belgium and the Netherlands, the first two books of a trilogy, named LIMBO: Lux In Tenebris and LIMBO: Vox Aquarum. It doesn't make that much money, a months salary in a year if you're lucky. I work fulltime in a grocery store to pay the bills, and in my free time I draw.
9) What are you currently working on?
Aside from some future Slartzee pieces; the last LIMBO, called Legatum, which will be published in January 2023; and a cyberpunk comic called 'Moon'. I won't stop drawing very soon.
Click HERE for an interview with the artist Andy's Dames about his submissive benevolent ladies
Let us know your thoughts about the interview in the comment box below..!!