|TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION|
OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.
THE INTERNET, EROTICA & YOU
As you read the articles on this page, keep in mind they were written for our normal 'snail-mail' newsletter and were intended to tell people who don't have internet access about the things that make it well worth the trouble and expense of getting hooked into the world wide web.
What's so great about the internet? If you're reading this, you have an interest in erotic art and the internet is an endless source of stimulating images and information without the budget constraints of printed material like our newsletter. Unlike many subjects, when it comes to erotica, you'd have a hard time finding the same material in libraries or bookstores. Best of all, you can take your time in the privacy of your own home, without a nosy librarian or angry bookstore owner looking over your shoulder.
A small section of the
Foundation links page
Most people are a little familiar with `surfing the net' with browsers and search engines, and the first of a series of articles by webmaster Will Hildreth offers great advice on using them. And as artist Darel Smith points out in his article, for a specific interest like erotica, links are an endless source of new and exciting exploration and communication. Finally, artist Marc DeBauch gives a hint of the global possibilities of the net, for artists and art lovers alike.
If youre reading this, you've at least got a start on the internet. We don't have the space here to go into the all the details - from buying a computer, modem and software to building your own website. But luckily if you want to get on the internet, there is help everywhere, because all the people who have invested billions of dollars in this wildly growing global entity WANT you to get on the internet.
Most libraries provide computers for you to get a taste of the internet, and while you're there check out a book on the subject. Go to a good computer store, find a knowledgeable salesperson and do your homework. Identify your needs and get just the hardware and software you really need. Service providers like AOL, Earthlink or just about any phone or cable company will be very happy to provide you with information about getting on-line. Once you get on-line there is an almost infinite amount of information about building websites, hardware, software, design, plus lots of free or `shareware' stuff to download.
The best information is word of mouth - talk to friends about their service providers, hardware and software choices. And like anything else, buyer beware. The tidal wave of information may be daunting, but take the example of a friend of mine. A few months ago I was giving him a hard time about not having e-mail. He got on the net at the library, bought a couple of books and now he has his own nicely designed website complete with beautifully rendered images and fancy web-effects. And he gets mail - from all over the world.
One of the most common complaints I hear about the Internet is that it's hard to find what you're looking for. There are many search engines to choose from - so here's some guidelines to help you search. If you are researching a broad topic using a directory style search engine like Yahoo www.yahoo.com or Infoseek's Channels is best. (these are directories that divide subject matter into browse-able categories like: Society and Culture: Sexuality: Pornography Issues You can browse the categories to find your interests.
If you are looking for more specific information searching Excite! - www.excite.com, AltaVista - www.altavista.com, or HotBot - www.hotbot.com for consecutive phrases rather than single words will narrow the search results. i.e. - search for erotic art and then narrow the search further by searching the results for Male. Another example would be to first search for erotica, then for male and then narrow that further by searching the results for The Hun. Some search engines also accept Boolean Operators which are conditions applied to the search. For example search for bondage NEAR leather which will return pages where the word bondage appears in close proximity to the word leather. (This would return much more targeted results than searching for bondage - which returns everything from the Hun to sites about the bondage of drug addiction and the Israelites being delivered from their bondage in Egypt. (For some deeply Freudian reason Born Again Christian sites are very fond of the word bondage; make what you will of that!)
Another issue that often confuses searchers is the use of quotes in searching. Most engines read quotes as a command to search for the exact phrase as entered between the quotes. In other words searching for The Hun erotica would return all pages with any of those three words, where erotica AND The Hun would return pages containing the word erotica, and also the exact phrase The Hun. Note that erotica The Hun would probably be too narrow a search, as it's unlikely that exact phrase would be found.
The Internet is in its infancy - and is a sprawling and rapidly evolving global community. It is realizing the promise of truly two-way mass communication where everyone can be both a consumer and a transmitter of information. It is inherently more accessible and democratic in that way than radio, television or film. There is an excitement and newness to the web akin to the advent of Impressionism or the explosive arrival of Abstraction. As such it is an arena that cries out for the vision, imagination and creativity of artists, erotic and otherwise.
The author is an Internet consultant, content creator and WebMaster of many sites both adult/erotic and otherwise. Look for more articles from Will in future issues and on our website.
In an effort to assist in attaining the exposure they want, need and deserve, I propose that erotic artists who have their own websites should link up. For those of you who don't know, this means that when you visit, let's say, my site - webhome.idirect.com/~boyrotic - after viewing the works there, you can link up to another artist I've chosen to put on my site, have a look around, and then either return to my site or visit another. The possibilities are endless - much like the Internet itself. It's been dubbed the greatest invention of mankind - ever. No wonder. Anyway, it's a much faster way of surfing the net, and something that I feel should happen sooner rather than later. If you've invested the time to post to bulletin boards and input a description of your site on the multitude of search engines, you know what we're up against. Linking-up amongst ourselves can help art-lovers find our sites amongst the glut of for-pay porno sites that clog the search engines.
In view of the fact that the admiration (and, hopefully, purchase) of a piece of erotic art is solely dependent upon an individual's taste, linking up can only serve to help reach that oh-so-important collector/admirer. It also encourages unification and strength among all of us who are trying collectively to erase the stigma attached to erotic art and artists. As we all know, there's strength in numbers and like Tom of Finland, I'm sure we all hope to show in an art museum one day.
For those who already have computers but haven't discovered the beauty of being on the Internet, it's really not that daunting to get started - but in addition you do need a scanner (or access to one), a modem and I suggest a zip drive. My internet service provider includes with its package, an e-mail address, a free website, and How To Design Your Own Web Page instructions. I believe many of the other internet service companies provide the same or similar package, but check with your provider. Or you can pay a graphics firm to help you design your site (www.nas.net/~digital is my favourite), but you still need the internet service provider.
Starting a website can really be quite simple, but perfecting it, keeping it updated and dealing with all the responses can be crazy! Personally speaking, I have received numerous, serious inquiries from all over the United States and Canada, as well as Europe, with some turning into actual sales and commissions. And all from people I have never met! In fact, I was recently contacted by a collector from Luxembourg, and I didn't have to send him a catalog - it was all right there. How could I have known that there was a collector in Luxembourg? My site has already been linked up to several organizations and on-line galleries as well, all happening as a result of them having viewed my site and suggesting the link. From those links, I have been approached by individuals and companies interested in mass-producing images. So, as you can see, the potential exposure of your work to any and all interested parties, on an international scale, is endless.
Any erotic artists that are interested in linking-up (or galleries/organizations interested in supporting our efforts on-line), please feel free to contact the Foundation and they will put you in touch with other interested artists. In an upcoming companion article, we'll talk about the real costs involved in getting on-line.
Darel is the new Erotic Art Gallery's featured artist with 6 of his works available for purchase.
REACHING A GLOBAL
My website, www.scc.net/~debauch/ has been up for almost 5 months. At first I was disappointed in the lack of interest in my site. Search engines alone do not bring people to web pages. After several unsuccessful attempts to have popular sites link to my web page, I was approached by a high profile porn website that wanted to feature my site on its product page.
Since then, my site gets about 350 hits a day, which is not great by internet standards but this is art, not pornstars. I also have several links to other erotic art websites.
My website and artwork now reach people in parts of the world that would never have access to erotic art. I receive e-mails from galleries that are interested in showing my work. I also receive orders from people to purchase prints and positive comments on my art. Men offer to model for me to appear in my paintings. However, I have yet to sell an original painting through the net.
I feel like the website is kind of a cross between a mail-order catalog, a public relations tool and an infomercial. What is nice is that I can give someone my site address and they can look at my art when they want, and as many times as they want without pressure to buy. I am sure that some of my images get downloaded and printed out by internet users, but a true collector will not settle for anything other than an original. My hope is to have someone look at my site so many times that they find they absolutely must have an original painting.
© TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION 1999
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“In those days, a gay man was made to feel nothing but shame about his feelings and his sexuality. I wanted my drawings to counteract that, to show gay men being happy and positive about who they were. Oh, I didn’t sit down to think this all out carefully. But I knew — right from the start — that my men were going to be proud and happy men!" — Tom of Finland