Upon landing on the front page of deviantArt you have a good chance of being graced with works such as MILF_RAINBOWDASH_STRAPON_FUCK.png or BUSTY_WIFE_STEPS_ON_LITTLE_JIMMY.jpg. Though it was always a popular website, in recent years it has become notorious for its hypersexualized, unapologetically nerdy community.
Despite the website’s cultural changes over the years its online marketplace has remained the same: cheap, sketchy, and sad. There are entire subcommunities in deviantArt dedicated to selling “CHEAP COMMI$$IONS”, full of people begging through posts or making up stories in hopes of attracting some desperate customers. At prices as low as one dollar, it seemed like a lot of people thought they’d get tons of cheap requests or get compensated by being “paid through exposure”. What was even more fascinating to me though is the assumed cheapness from these internet images and how I could change that. For this project, I wanted to recontextualize deviantArt commissions and showcase my interactions with these users to people outside the internet community
I created an account under the name of “4-my-hot-wife”. The plan was to take four photos of myself and tell users to “draw my beautiful lovely girlfriend of 5 years ”. I’d tell them her name is Vanessa, Jessie, etc. The story changed all the time. What I paid for ranged from 40 cents to 10 dollars, though I only ordered one that was 10. Most were 5 or less. By the time of critique I had 9 finished pieces; I put them on display in the Ellis Gallery, accompanied by a couple pamphlets showcasing the private interactions I had with the users I ordered from. I tried making the pamphlets believable; the set-up was small but formal in comparison to what was displayed online. I got used family frames from Pittsburgh Center For Creative Reuse and hung all the portraits I had on a wall. If I were to keep expanding on this project, I’d like a ridiculous amount of prints and frames.
My goal with this exhibit was for it to reflect the tackiness of the drawings themselves while opening up conversations to people regarding these deviantArt users. What makes art cheap? What is the inherent value in digital or online art? What do fringe internet communities have in common? What kinds of translations / "beautification-s" do I go through when all these people draw me? To answer some of these questions I got a decently varied sampling pool: my little pony fans, generic Tumblr teenagers, comic artists, Manga / Chibi artists, etc. Again, if I were to keep doing this project I would expand upon this (more highly fetishized work, other fanbases, etc.)
* link to my webpage (which has some of the commissioned works on it): https://www.deviantart.com/4-my-hot-wife
Images of my exhibit: