When we saw in his bio that he was “Perpetuating 25,000 years of artistic obsession for butts!”, we knew that kink content creator, The Hedonistologist, would bring something new to the table. In his partnership with LELO, he created animations and illustrations that represented pleasure and lust as they should be, authentically and visually beautiful.
As you’ll see below, we had a thing or two to ask him about his personal and professional life and how the two intertwine.
1. Do you consider yourself an artist?
I don’t see myself as an artist. Maybe I’m biased because of my design background. But I don’t see what I do as pure art. Of course there is an artistic side to it, but it’s more about creating content. So far over the two years of having this account I’ve done things that mostly go beyond the scope of art and illustration. I’ve collaborated with brands and been published, but I’ve also given art classes on instagram (always in the topic of sexuality), participated is positive sexuality projects within the always growing insta sex/wellness community, and done some side projects like the 1,000 Butts project, written articles, etc.
2. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As far as I remember, I’ve always been driven by two passions: Space and History. So as a child I would often fluctuate between the desire to be an astronaut or an archaeologist. I understood very early on that I would never be an astronaut, or at least not as I imagined it with my love for sci-fi. Around 12/13 I also realised that archaeology would not be a great career choice…
Interestingly enough, both those childhood passions fed my drawing habits. I would draw spaceships and complete attires, copy graphics I would see in magazines, and try to draw objects from museums. To this day I still love both subjects and love to always learn more about them!
3. When did you start pursuing your artistic abilities as a career?
Ah, that’s a tough question! I trained as a designer so maybe I’m biased and it has made me feel like I’m not an artist stricto sensu. Instagram as a channel of communication makes it feel even less like it’s a real artistic practice. I’m just alone on my end of the screen. But to give some background, I started studying art & design in high-school with a special program and went on to study industrial design and design research. At the end of the day, I feel like I just like to quote a famous French illustrator, Gilles Boulet, that says “Everyone draws as a child. Some just never stop”.
4. Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what kind?
I don’t listen to too much music when I work. It happens from time to time. I have this playlist that I’ve been adding tracks to since 2004. As you can imagine my choice of music changes with a playlist like that. Lately I’m into Beethoven and Paganini.
What I really enjoy while I work is to (mostly) listen to Youtube videos. There are a lot of educational videos there and it’s great. It ranges from cinematography, biology, geopolitics and of course history and astronomy.
5. Where do you draw inspiration from for your artwork?
I draw my inspiration probably the most from what I found pleasing. I focus the most on erotic things because we humans feast a lot with the eyes and the brain is the biggest erogenous zone. I also see a lot of great content creators on instagram but not only. The idea for me is always to play with that thin line between sexy and very in your face sexuality. That’s why I chose to use those colours, and play a lot with whitespace. I tease the viewer.
In that sense I also find a lot of inspiration from XIXth century painters (Bonnard, Monet, Manet, Delacroix, Pissaro, Klimt, etc.), but also more recent illustrators like Malika Favre. I look also into the sexual and iconographic history of different cultures. Japan has a lot to provide and I would love to have a more Japanese take on my work someday. A trained eye might see my love for parietal art in my illustrations too.
6. We have to ask. Do you ever watch porn to get new ideas?
Not at all! A lot of mainstream porn is not to my taste. Part of what seems to make my work popular and appreciated is that I try as much as possible to stay away from porn iconography. Even in my most sexual pieces I do not want to use porn as a reference for ideas. My goal is to be relatable and to show that sexuality is natural and not some performance.
7. What does your typical work day look like?
I work freelance and illustration is not my main activity so everyday is a little different. I try to carve out time for recurring things that help me “grow” like reading in the morning, doing some creative experiments in the evening that can involve drawing, painting, 3D rendering, type design, photography, etc. If I’m doing a specific series of illustrations, I’ll try to do one a day to keep it consistent. Otherwise I might just sit down and do several in a row then nothing for maybe weeks.
8. What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I never had the intention to be popular. I’ve had other accounts on Instagram for years and only have a couple hundred followers on each. My goal with this account was to reach 100 followers over a year. I was very surprised to see that I reached that amount in under a week. I never had the intention to spread a specific message with my work either. I’ve been praised in the past for producing content that feels positive about sexualities, inclusive, and so on.
I’m always glad when people send me those messages, that it helps them in some way. It is rewarding, however, the most rewarding part of this project is when people acquire some of my prints or use the backgrounds I put online. I feel proud that they appreciate the work enough to put it in their homes. Indeed to me, a house with a decoration has a lot of influence on your mood and it’s a reflection of your personality, so to have someone make that conscious decision makes me happy!
9. Do you ever get interesting reactions when you show people your work?
AHAHA! Yes! Most reactions are a blank at first. I don’t communicate much on that part of my creative activities so people do not expect to see erotic work. Most people are not shocked because my illustrations are not too raw, but it does spark a lot of questions. Some people ask if it’s “autobiographic” or not. Plenty seems to imagine I’m drawing my sex life. So I have to explain that it’s not.
Some people feel emboldened and ask if I could do this or that kink of theirs. The most interesting reaction I get however comes from followers when they realise I’m a man. They have this idea that since my illustrations use softer, warmer hues, that I do more inclusive work that I must be a woman. It has created some weird situations!
10. Is it true that artists receive random bursts of creativity, or is that a common misconception?
I can’t talk for everyone. I’ve seen all types of creative people with different minds. A lot of people seem to think there’s something mysterious about creativity. To me, creativity is like any other practice. It’s like a muscle you have to train. The more you train it the better it gets. At times you have to let it rest. And sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. There are more suitable times in the day to feel creative. You have to have “available” brain space. Hard to feel creative after a 10-hour work shift and 2-hour commute.
11. If you could have dinner with three famous people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
That’s the hardest question of this interview! I could probably spend hours discussing who I would be interested to talk to and why. My first pick would probably be Diogenes the Cynic If you know who he is you know why I picked him! Someone that is bold enough to troll Alexander the Great and Plato deserves a seat at my table. My second pick would be Marco Polo. He has both amazing things to say about 13th/14th century Venice and China and all the countries in the middle. It would allow me to learn so much about what life was like at that time and see how those cultures evolved. My last pick would be Hasui Kawase. He’s a Japanese woodblock artist that did a lot to improve his craft at the beginning of the XXth century. His composition game is amazing and a dinner would probably be too short to learn from the master.
That list is just off the top of my head. Ask me again in an hour and I would come up with somebody else. One constant thing is I would love to get to meet and discuss with people that changed the face of their world knowingly or not. People that were the first to experience something that might feel mundane today. Talk with Gagarin or Armstrong about their experience of space. Meet with my ancestors and let them know what our family has become but also learn about where I’m from. Chat with the people that painted the Lascaux caves and show them this new world and see their reactions, etc. There is so much to learn when you see in the eyes of others!
12. If you could change anything about the world right now, what would it be and why?
There is too much to change about this world, and it’s a never ending process for us and the next generations. A Sisyphean task! Right now I would of course change that pandemic that’s really altering billions of lives. 2020 is really the year the earth stood still!
Aside from that, if I had the power to change one thing it’s racism or exclusion in its broader forms. It seems like this very vague thing but it has so many implications ranging to everyday life and how people treat each other to economy and geopolitics. Maybe I feel that way because I’ve lived in over 5 countries, I’ve had the chance to study abroad, travel from a young age, that I come from a very mixed family or maybe simply because I read too much sci-fi where nations are united in peace under one banner. There are many ways to fight such racism and exclusion, but if I had to make a proposal for one way, it is to get the chance to get more exposure by having young people travel and maybe do exchange programs. The more different, the better. I had the chance to do that, and being immersed in another culture really changes your perception on things.
13. How do you see your artwork changing in the next few years? Have you thought of exploring new avenues of creativity?
I’m always experimenting with things. I have 5 accounts on Instagram that each try different things. Illustration, photography, more design related things, etc. Regarding my erotic work, I probably see it slowing down, focusing on more specific project and thus posting less. Those two years since I started this project have been pretty intense and Instagram is a platform that really squeezes you like a lemon if you want to stay relevant. It’s hard to not fall into that trap.
My next goal would be to do a bit more photographic work. I do a lot of street photography when I travel. I’d also like to get back to some industrial design and maybe design some sextoys! I wish to put more time and energy into this. One thing I want to explore is giving back more. I did some teaching and mentoring in the past and I want to focus my creativity more toward this, whether that be on instagram or somewhere else!
It was a pleasure working with you, The Hedonistologist, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next!