How to deal with NSFW requests for artists

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If you have been spending any time in the art world you will very likely have been approached for NSFW art. It might have been due to your style or because of the profession, you picked. This can be simply because you have a very realistic style and you can envision a scene that doesn't exist. But also your profession in creature art which could receive requests for furry art for example. But either way, how do you deal with a request like this? And how do you handle anything following that request?

Hi! My name is Tessa, I’m a Dutch artist, specializing in wildlife and creature designs. I love to share my passion for nature, art and fantasy, and do that by creating this archive and community, alongside my company Tez Art & Design.

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*Please note that this is an NSFW article that discusses subjects like porn. It’s written in a non-illustrative way, but it’s recommended that you don’t read this or even consider this craft when you’re younger than 18 years old. Some requests can really damage you, your reputation, or even your life when you make the wrong decisions. For more information about the pros and cons I highly recommend that you read this article as well. The article you’re reading now is a follow-up to the one linked here.

How to deal with NSFW requests

How you deal with NSFW requests is very personal. First and foremost you have to ask yourself if this is something you want to be doing. It can be very lucrative, but depending on your character or the type of requests or clients you deal with it can also be detrimental to your sexual life. So ask yourself what you’re interested in, and what you feel comfortable doing.

For one person this can mean that they would enjoy drawing tasteful NSFW art. This could be as simple as a couple cuddling naked in bed or a sexual act where nothing really is visible. But maybe you’re more into BDSM or another kink. This opens new up new doors for you as the more specialized a request is, the rarer the chance someone will take on the job.

Another good example is furry art which has a very lively following. In furry art, there will be mostly sentient animals performing sexual acts with people or other sentient animals. This is a gigantic market and for some people, this will be easier to draw because it’s less personal and recognizable. However, others will never even think about it.

Either way: Before you start to offer your service you should really ask yourself what you’d be okay with doing and practice that kind of art so you can familiarize yourself with it so you can deal with everything with a clear mind and not be overwhelmed. Because trust me: Not every person that approaches you will have the right intentions regarding you or their request. So my main advice would be: Create an alias.

Creating an alias

Creating an alias is probably one of the best pieces of advice one can give you for several reasons.

  • You might have other artistic endeavors like drawing children’s books. You don’t want to be known as the king or queen of NSFW art then.
  • Your art career might not be forever. There are plenty of companies out there that won’t appreciate an employee with an NSFW art trail.
  • Some of your clients might not have the best intentions. There will inevitably come a point at which you will meet a client that tries to involve you in their fantasy. They might become an unpleasant person to you or people around you and can potentially do a lot of damage to your reputation.
  • When your client knows your name and in what town you live it’s very easy for them to find out where you work, or do your shopping or whatever. It’s not unheard of that clients come to pay an unannounced visit. This is of course always a risk, but a bit more so with it comes to NSFW art. People who request this kind of art might also have a slightly different intention to visit you, other than being a fan which would be more likely the case in different artistic professions.

That being said: Most of your clients will just be genuine people that need an artist to visualize their fantasies in a very innocent way. These can be personal fantasies, a scene that played out in a book they’re writing or a D&D story they’re playing. It can also be a couple that approaches you to make a nice tasteful drawing of them.

My personal experience with NSFW art

Sometimes NSFW requests can be really innocent, sometimes they are not. When you have any doubts for whatever reason, just thank that person for their interest and move on.
Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

I told some about it before in this article. But I dealt with people who were sending private images of someone else, clearly not meant for my eyes. People they may or may not have a relationship with, or even approved of the photo to be shared. Some of these subjects’ age was even very questionable. You obviously don’t take on shady requests like this because they can mark you for life, if not get you in prison.

It’s easy to imagine how you can get into trouble with something like this. You may have to end up dealing with authorities or the person that was drawn but never gave the permission.

Other than that I also have been approached by couples. Both IRL and on the internet to draw them both in one pose or another. This is most of the time very innocent. It’s even really sweet and quite an honor for a couple to request something like that. This does get a bit more up close and personal though because in some cases you might be the one making the reference pictures for it. Something that’s arguably preferred because you yourself can apply your artistic view on it.

Rules I live by when it comes to NSFW art

Drawing NSFW is something that can be really beautiful if you yourself can appreciate it. I had to find out the ‘hard’ way and what risks there are involved in exposing yourself. This included not exactly knowing how to deal with subjects of questionable age. But also people who wanted to visit me at my regular day job after finding out where I worked.

When requested to draw the likeness of someone:

These days I live by the rule: If I don’t know the subject that’s supposed to be drawn I don’t take on the job. I can be inspired by a picture of a person, but I never try to draw an obvious likeness. The only exception I make is when both parties approach me. Both the person who commissions me and the person that’s drawn. I want to be able to speak to both people through camera or IRL. I want their consent, which can be either on a video or written down.

When you know someone in real life

It’s a whole different ballgame when you know the person IRL. You have to ask yourself if you can handle having very intimate knowledge about that person you have known for quite some time. You also have to wonder if this person is fair and square like any other. Because they for sure can easily find out ~ or already know where you live. You have to make sure that your relationship with this person is clear and non-invasive before you take on a commission this way.

When you’re asked to go to someone’s home

This is something I highly advise against! In my educational position, I cannot tell anyone to go to someone’s home and take pictures of them for an NSFW illustration. This is for very obvious reasons. If you decide to do this make sure you take someone with you. Even better advice would be to suggest a photographer specialized in this kind of work to take the pictures for you.

The reason I’m saying this is because I can’t think of reasons that would be comfortable for anyone in every circumstance. You either know the people too well to want to draw them or you don’t know them well enough to trust them naked with you in one room.

There is a fine line here and I walked that one on multiple occasions. People I knew indirectly (friends of friends or regulars at work) who I did help out with art. But with each and single one of them, people knew what I was doing where and when I would be back. Not because I didn’t trust the people I was at, but simply because it’s better safe than sorry. But for the sake of this argument. Please always make sure that you have someone with you.

Dealing with people that uncovered your identity

The biggest red flag you can have: A client that uncovered your identity. Your alias is similar to a business name. It’s not in the interest of your client to know you by your real name. There is a reason why you are using an alias and the rest is none of their business.

If you ever have this happen to you it’s best to just cut your losses. Just stop dealing with this person. And if you practice your craft well you let your client pay 50% upfront and have a little buffer to deal with things like this. Because sooner or later, this will likely happen to you too unless you do an awesomely great job in creating an alias. If you do, please contact me to share these tips and tricks!

What steps to take next

There are multiple things you can do depending on your situation and the extent of the intrusion into your privacy. Your client can just simply point out that they know who you are and nothing more. In that case, you may want to ask them how they found out, to not share your identity, and do something about the leak yourself.

If they start to contact you however on other social media platforms, you might want to inform them not to do so. Some might not stop, however. Depending on the situation there are several things you can do. But first and foremost: Contact someone that knows what you’re doing and explain the situation so people are up to date.
If you don’t have someone like that, join our Discord channel instead and share your story with us. We might be able to give you advice specific to your situation and if you like, keep an eye out for you.

Some quick tips to help you to conceal your identity online

  • Don’t share your alias with people that cannot keep a secret or you don’t know.
  • Make sure you don’t crosspost art on social media channels.
  • Even better: Don’t ever interact with the channels and names you have/use.
  • (Slightly) alter your style so people can’t match you by style.
  • Don’t use the same e-mail address for different accounts.
  • You might even want to avoid using the same birthdate/town/etc.
  • Use a VPN service to protect your location from being logged online whenever you work from your alias.
  • Search your alias online through search engines and services to see if there’s any connection with your real identity.

Conclusion

NSFW art can be anything as simple as a person in a bathing suit, to full-blown comics, or even animated series about one fetish or another. Except for some obvious ones, like those involving children or recognizable people that may or may not have agreed on them being drawn, you can’t really go wrong here. That is if you feel okay with it. Just make sure that you know beforehand what you’re okay with. If you’re unsure: Draw some yourself. You’ll find out soon enough what you’re okay with and what not.

As soon as you have that answer, all you have to do is make sure the person you’re dealing with is okay. We already gave some tips before about how you can do that. But you can also look up reviews about that person. You can do so through Facebook if they approached you that way or you know their real name. You can also check out their alias through google, or if you work through a platform like Fiverr: You can check it out that way.

Either way: Do your research. And always make sure you have people around you that know what you’re doing!

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