Kinbaku might seem like the latest BDSM trend, but the erotic art practice is centuries-old.
This article contains adult content.
Taut lines, complex designs, and knots that would make a sailor blush are bound together in the art of kinbaku, or erotic Japanese rope bondage. The practice is part sculpture, performance, and pas de deux, and these days, you don’t have to be kinky to have seen it. Artists and enthusiasts have adopted the practice, bringing doses to the public in fashion magazines and art galleries alike. A search for #kinbaku on Instagram yields an infinite scroll of over 60,000 tagged posts.
To the uninitiated, kinbaku might seem like the latest in pop-BDSM, but the tradition evolved over centuries before making it to the smutty, nipple-free crannies of social media. Historical antecedents include representations in shunga, Japanese erotica that once doubled as sex education for newlyweds, and Japan’s version of the Kama Sutra, Shijuhatte. Katsushika Hokusai’s Dream of a Fisherman’s Wife is an iconic reference to rope erotica—the ukiyo-e woodblock print depicts the ecstasy of a woman ravaged by octopuses whose tentacles intertwine and titillate her body in rope-like fashion.
Just as the tools of Western subjugation have become the subject of fantasy, rope has had a similar pattern of expression. The metal chains used to anchor damsels in distress in Western fairy tales find their correlate in the rope that subdues captives in Japanese folklore. In his definitive text on the subject, The Beauty of Kinbaku, author and teacher Master "K" explains that shibari, the general term for rope tying, has had myriad practical and decorative functions throughout Japan’s history, in Shinto spiritual offerings, Sumo wrestling, and traditional kimono. Its adoption into erotic practice is simply another application of rope—a tool inextricable to the culture itself.
During the feudal Edo era, the dominant samurai class used rope in combat and to restrain prisoners of war in a martial art called hojojutsu, a brutal practice that bears little resemblance to the kinbaku of today. At the time, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, official Tokugawa crime laws used knots to torture and extort confessions from captives and to display alleged criminals. Each public punishment specifically fit the crime, so the tie used to administer it created a legible, symbolic admonition for crowds of onlookers.
In the early 20th century, kabuki theater began adapting rope ties into its highly stylized performances, presenting the earliest instances of what is now recognized as kinbaku. The technique of hojojutsu was reimagined so that actors could recreate the moves safely on stage, and redesigned to be more boldly aestheticized, giving audiences a more prominent visual experience.
He emphasizes that kinbaku is a practice in which a tier “[takes] on a tremendous amount of responsibility for [a] partner,” and that “kinbaku, at its most important, is about communication, empathy, and real understanding before any technique is applied.” Beyond knowing basic anatomy and the location of nerve centers, that means checking in with someone on a physical and psychological level, such as asking if a submissive is on medication or if they have significant past injuries. Then, and more importantly, a tier must know how to adjust techniques to address particular needs. “The dirty little secret,” he says, both here and in Japan, is that kinbaku models get hurt.
By day, Taiwan-based artist Pigo Lin is a watch designer. By night, he creates erotica inspired by his own desire.
This article contains adult content.
For a day job, Taiwan-based artist Pigo Lin works as a professional watch designer. In his spare time, Lin indulges in another relatively traditional line of creativity—erotic art. With a Masters in Fine Arts from the National Taiwan Normal University, Lin creates a wide array of colorful and cartoonish soft erotica illustrations. Lin, who posts regularly on Instagram, imbues his work with a heavy dose of Pop surrealism in a style that seems like a mixture of anime and guro, the gore art of Japanese rebellion.
In Lin’s Private Jet, a female astronaut ejects jets of fluids from her breasts and vagina while floating in space. Lin also plays with the Pokémon franchise by picturing Pikachu with a human face blasting out of a young man’s pants.
This sexual humor also surfaces in Handjob, in which a giant female hand reaches down to pull a lever that stands in for the penis of a naked man lying on a bed. And in a piece titled, Shake your hands, be a friendly gesture, two smiling, pantless men stand beside each other with their hands behind their backs, and extend arms from where their genitalia should be.
“Erotica is an interesting topic to me,” Lin tells The Creators Project, saying that he originally decided to create erotic-themed illustrations back in 2015. He was inspired by Japanese comics, particularly the work of Japanese erotic art masters Toshio Saeki and Suemiro Maruo.
Anna Vekri’s nude drawings are sincere, not sexual.
There is an overflowing calmness in the gouache and pencil drawings of artist Anna Vekri, a.k.a., Naked Tendencies. Maybe it’s due to the simplicity of the scenes she depicts; her slender subjects lay on park benches, swim in pools, and sit and smoke cigarettes in living rooms. Perhaps it’s related to the facial expressions most of her figures share; what seems to be a perplexing fusion of disinterest, sadness, and preoccupation. It’s probably all of the above, but it also certainly relates to her figures’ comfort in being completely naked with one another.
The artist’s engagement with nudity throughout her works is more than just a passing fad or a momentary interest for her: “I’ve always been attracted to the concept of nudity because it demonstrates two of the most sacred features of humanity, that of birth and that of love,” Vekri tells The Creators Project.
Her thoughts on the possibilities of nudity, however, extend beyond a mainstream narrative: “Today, we are constantly overexposed to both nudity and sexual images, but a lot of the times I find that these images do not depict the purest virtues of being nude. Through my work I aim to show that sometimes there are alternative ways of seeing things although they may at first seem illogical. This is to say that my figures illustrate the beauty of returning to our most basic and fundamental form, the one of nudity. In this way, people meet new emotions and get a different experience.”
Strangely enough, Vekri’s nude figures aren’t overtly sensual or seductive, even in her works depicting coitus. This aspect only makes the drawings seem more natural and grounded in a familiar reality, though: sex often isn’t the overwhelmingly erotic experience that pop culture paints it out to be, and hanging out with a good friend or a romantic partner isn’t always a metaphorical walk in the park. Life often requires you to engage in activities even though your mind wanders elsewhere.
Depicting an earnest portrait of everyday life is precisely one of the goals Vekri has in making her drawings: “The way I see it, these figures are predominantly experiencing sincere moments. Whatever they might be doing or feeling, they are genuine in the way they are experiencing it.”
There's also an element of figure-on-viewer reflection that the artist hopes to achieve in her work. “The figures act, in a way, as a blank canvas. They expose the way the viewer perceives them,” Vekri adds. “The ambiguity that emerges from their facial expressions is a result of my desire to impose a different tone to the freedom of being naked. To become at moments disinterested, detached, and distant from the result of the world constitutes a very tangible reality of human nature and is a phenomenon that is particularly visible in today’s society.”
After World War II, fetish magazines on both sides of the Pacific featured kinbaku in provocative illustrations, and later, photographs. Popular magazines like Kitan Club and Uramado were exchanged with mainstays from the American underground like Bizarre, beginning the cross pollination of two global fetish cultures, which has continued to this day.
To the untrained eye, kinbaku doesn’t look all that different from its roots in torture, but practitioners extol the virtues and pleasures of “sub space,” in which submissive partners can achieve a meditative state that is deeply therapeutic—finding, like so many BDSM enthusiasts, liberation in bondage. “When it’s done properly, kinbaku is not painful at all. It’s completely sensual,” Master "K" explains in an interview. "You can come out of a kinbaku session feeling every bit as relaxed as you do coming out of a good hot yoga practice,” he says, imparting how techniques stimulate erogenous zones, releasing endorphins and dopamine in the brain.
Despite providing one-on-one tutelage to a few select clients, Master "K" claims to have receded from the kinbaku scene in the face of its newfound popularity. Like much of the old guard, he is skeptical of the DIY ethos spilling over from the BDSM community post-Fifty Shades of Grey. Between YouTube copycats to alleged masters doling out workshops, he cautions that the technique demands rigorous study beyond hipster attention spans and weekend workshops. “In America, there’s a tendency to want to pay five dollars and expect that in two weeks you’re an expert. This is not something anybody can do without serious thought and learning,” he says, likening self-taught tiers to self-taught dentists.
Master K says he’s delighted that kinbaku is coming out of the shadows, “and being appreciated, hopefully for the right reasons ... It is very empowering and is [finally] being seen for that instead of misogynistic junk.”
“I love women,” says Lin, who also says “I like sex” on his website. “I just use my erotic eyes to see my life. I use my works to show my desire. Actually, they are all pure and simple.”
“I think sex has different possibilities,” he adds. “Although I am bisexual; men's love is also interesting to me.”
Lin loves everything about sex, and his work isn’t simply about sexual autonomy and liberation, either: it's about sex in all its complexity. The illustrations are also a way for Lin to explore his sexual fantasies.
“I admit that these works are my desire,” he writes. “In fact, I want to do these things in reality.”
To create his work, Lin creates drafts in Adobe Photoshop. After confirming the drafts, he then uses various types of drawing ink on Saunders watercolor paper. Both curators and Instagram users are taking notice of the quality of the work.
Even though Lin’s erotic illustration career is a very recent development, Lin has shown his work at a number of exhibitions, including the pop-up exhibition EROTICAAA at The Lure, curated by Vanessa Xu of Brooklyn’s Cotton Candy Machine. Lin won’t say if he is collecting his works into a book of illustrated erotica, but he is selling original prints on his website.
A Smile in the Mind: Witty thinking in graphic design is a 1996 graphic design book
written by Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart. It was first published in hardback in May 1996 through Phaidon Press and was later revised and updated in 2016. The book includes work from over 300 designers in the United States, Britain, Europe and Japan, and a series of interviews with designers such as Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser and Alan Fletcher. The RSA Journal gave A Smile in the Mind an overall favorable review, stating that there were places where the "wit wears thin" but that "these interludes are few and far between" and praised the work for its images and examples.
Print also gave a positive review, writing that it was "not only entertaining, it's also a valuable instruction manual for one of the most useful but difficult to judge aspects of contemporary.
THE classic work about improving creativity from world-renowned writer and philosopher Edward de Bono.
In schools we are taught to meet problems head-on: what Edward de Bono calls 'vertical thinking'. This works well in simple situations - but we are at a loss when this approach fails. What then?
Lateral thinking is all about freeing up your imagination. Through a series of special techniques, in groups or working alone, Edward de Bono shows how to stimulate the mind in new and exciting ways.
Soon you will be looking at problems from a variety of angles and offering up solutions that are as ingenious as they are effective. You will become much more productive and a formidable thinker in your own right.
'If more bankers and traders had read Lateral Thinking and applied the ideas of Edward de Bono to their own narrow definitions of risk, reward and human expectations, I suspect we would be in much better shape than we are'Sir Richard Branson
Edward de Bono invented the concept of lateral thinking. A world-renowned writer and philosopher, he is the leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill.
This page was pretty useful when it came to the project brief to create a pamphlet of some sorts, as it showed a few ‘seasonal’ cards and general graphic design ways in which we can present the front of our booklets, which I found useful and interesting as it made me consider all the different ways I can do so for my final project.
I really liked the front book cover for Edward de Bono’s book series, because they are all following the same style but obviously with variation but I really enjoy this repetitive technique as it would be easy for the reader to find. I like the range of colours that have been chosen as they stand out, not all particularly pretty colours but they are eye-catching