Get Into Natalie Krim's Erotic/Girly Art
Natalie Krim's drawings tread the line between cute and erotic, or rather, they're both cute and erotic. Her subjects are usually femme women, wearing lingerie and garter belts, depicted pleasuring themselves or in intimate poses with other girls. They're the kind of pics that would get you banned on Instagram if they were photos not drawings (although sometimes they get banned anyway).
Natalie's been exhibiting her work in group shows since 2013, and she's just wrapped up a solo exhibition at Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles, comprised of both small pen drawings rendered on scrap or repurposed paper and large-scale murals. We caught up with her there to find out more about her creative process, moving beyond the feminist tag and why people are afraid of female sexuality.
Rafael Martinez: When did you first start drawing?
Natalie Krim: I've always drawn since I was little. I'd draw in school and in notebooks and diaries, which has carried over into the aesthetic of my current drawings. Looking back at early journals from as far back as elementary school, one can see that there has always been a continuous thread of documenting my experiences through a journalistic approach, even if I was just drawing farm animals.
Were you always drawn to depicting female nudity?
In my adult years, yes, I think female nudity has always played a part in my work. I draw what I know and I know my body and myself best, so that is what I draw.
Can you describe your creative process for us?
My creative process is deeply rooted in my relationships and the emotions evoked by lovers past and present. I use drawing as a tool to better understand those feelings of love and loss, and often times it helps me ease the turbulence that can swirl around those themes. Typically, I wake up very early in the morning and do my drawings as the sun comes up. There is something special about that time of day that seems pure and honest and I like experiencing the transition from dark to light.
Have you gotten any criticism for your themes?
I have in some cases, but I understand that my work is not for everyone and I don't take it to heart anymore. I think if one looks at my drawings and only sees sexual content that they are not really "seeing" me, or what I'm trying to say, they are missing the bigger picture. I have found that most negative criticism towards sexuality or the female body stems from insecurities the viewer has with his or her own relationship with intimacy, and that's totally OK. Every drawing I've done comes from a very real place with very real feelings attached to it; I can't apologise for my journey or how I choose to express that.
What do you think is the meaning of nudity in our times?
Honesty and acceptance.
Does the word "feminist" relate to your work?
I would like to hope that one day, and I think that day is coming soon, that women won't be asked if they are trying to make a feminist statement by creating; that their work will be seen without the veil of gender issues gracefully pulled over the surface. I feel like men can create and the content of their work is explored and accepted without assuming they are making a social statement solely on gender. My work is feminine, I identify as a feminist, but my drawings are not necessarily made with the word "feminist" stringing them along.
What is your relationship with Instagram when it comes to censorship?
I definitely get photos flagged from time to time and sometimes I'm like, "How does this drawing get removed, yet I can see that girl's vagina on her page and that gets to stay?" The whole thing is ridiculous to me. Censor… don't censor… If you have any kind of hater out there you are bound to get flagged. It's unfortunate.
Do you think people are afraid of young female sexuality?
Unfortunately, I think sexuality in general can provoke a lot of feelings of shame and guilt and yes, in some cases fear. I can't speak for everyone, so I'm not sure if people in general are afraid of it or embrace it. I can say though that a lot of those feelings deeply depend on the cultural context and which generation one is speaking to. In my immediate surroundings, sexuality is embraced and celebrated, but I'm not naïve to the realties that other young women face in other places of the world. Here in America, and especially on social media, our big fight is "Free the Nipple," while other girls are fighting just to get their hands on a book. Everything is relative. I think we should be more afraid of girls not having equal access to education than being scared of their sexuality.
Photography & Interview: Rafael Martine