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Today I thought about fat.

Well, no, actually I thought about tapirs. I've been wanting to paint a tapir for awhile, and with these various obscure species in the flat-shaded, not-quite-cartoony style I've been playing with recently, I have a vague notion that I might put together some kind of "Terra Obscura" print folio. Having noted at the convention I went to that people generally bought according to favored species, though, I don't know if there are enough people out there who like aye-ayes and okapis and--I dunno what else I'd put in it...quolls and phascogales and Irimote cats, for all I know, although that might move from Terra Obscura into Terra Completely Unhearda. What was I saying? Right, I dunno if given the buyer's tendency to collect by species, if there'd be enough interest in generally obscure species to make it lucrative. Then again, if all I did was foxes, wolves, and skunks, I'd eventually gouge my eyes out, or take up accounting or something, so maybe it'd be worth it anyway just for personal amusement.

Anyway. While contemplating this, I drew a tapir woman, and I realized right away that you cannot make a svelte tapir. It just ain't gonna happen. It's like trying to make a skinny elephant or hippo--fate has decreed that these creatures are hefty, and that's the way it is. A skinny elephant is an elephant that has been spending a lot of time scouting out a spot in the legendary elephant graveyard, prepatory to lumbering off this mortal coil. Same with tapirs. Nature has designed the tapir to beep when it backs up. Such is life.

So I said what the hell, and made this tapir woman chunky. Not morbidly obese--fat fetishists seriously creep me out--but one solid tapir chick. And I felt good about it, and I'll tell you why--because, as you can probably guess, I know in my heart of hearts, that 99% of the women in fantasy art, who tend to be six feet tall, weigh 110 lbs, and sport a DD rack, represents maybe 5% or less of the human population. Sure, there are women who look like that, but most of them don't, can't, and it's rather sad the way that some of 'em try. And yet, I draw 'em that way anyway, because I am inherently a crassly commercial art mercenary, and I want to sell art.

Lately I've been getting away from that, or trying--I've been trying to take inspiration from vintage postcards, for example, instead of modern pin-ups, where the women look a little more human instead of like skeletons shot with silicone. But still, there are limits to how bold I get when inching away from the norm--giving the breasts a bit more sag, or making them less than totally spherical, making the women average or short, is about as far as I go, 'cos the art still has to sell.

This isn't going to turn into a rant about media stereotypes about women, because frankly, I don't care that much, and in my colder and unkinder moments, I feel that women who allow themselves to have their self-image dictated by Calvin Klein probably have overcooked pasta for spines and if they weren't unhappy about how they looked, they'd be unhappy about something else. This is probably rather wrong of me, and futhermore easy for me to say, since I am comfortably average in build, married, and have a career where, if I wanted, I'd never have to leave the house except in case of fires, but there you go. A good friend of mine who was anorexic said that her form at least had nothing to do with being fat, it was a control issue on the order of "At least I can control this one aspect of my life, even if the rest goes to hell," but I accept that there are women out there with major mental problems deriving from society's view of beauty. However, that's life--there's always something around to make you crazy, and here I am blathering about what I said I wasn't going to blather about, because while I'm sure many of us are sick of wasp-waisted women in art, many of us are probably equally sick of people complaining about it, and I will freely admit that I Am Part Of The Problem.

The upshot of all this is that I am pathetically proud of the occasionally chunky illustration I sneak in. My chupacabra heroine, for example, is a pudgy little creature that still kicks ass, and I am obscurely pleased by that fact, although I admit that making a small green cartoon with no apparent love life pudgy does not exactly strike a blow for women in general. And now I did this tapir painting, and she is one big girl, and yet still sort've sexy (I mean, for a tapir. Do not construe this as a statement of attraction to female tapirs.) and I feel good about that. And really, despite the long-winded speech above, that's pretty much the gist of my entire statement. I drew a fat tapir, and I think she came out cute, and that makes me sort've smugly happy, damnit.

Thank you.
Tapir in Question (Nudity! More National Geographic than Penthouse, but still. Minors, avert thine eyes.)

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She is, in fact, darned cute, and I don't even like anthropomorphized animals. :) (I didn't know what a tapir looked like, either. I had to go look up a picture. Terra Completely Unhearda!)

She's adorable. And yes, I know what tapirs are! :) My only suggestion for improvement would be drawing a chubby little watermelon-patterned baby tapir.

I have an idea of what you mean about drawing females of an actual human, normal, size and stature. Sure, a lot of my drawings are of the 6 foot, 110 pound (well, not quite) variety, but i figure after spending some time fighting monsters or super-villains (and that's what they tend to be doing), a body would tend to get a work out and end up a bit more like that. Also, you'd probably have to be in pretty good shape to start yout fighting super-powered archenemies, anyway. ;)

The thing is, the same goes for my male characters. They're generally muscular (or quite thin), tall, handsome, and so unlike me, that i often get jealous of my own creations. ;) Truth is, i never really think about fantasy or super hero art that way, when i DO feel some of that strange everyone-must-be-perfect kind of pressure from other media... anyway, i'm off track.

What i did want to say is that although many of my female characters do fit that "uber"-human mold, quite a few of them don't. I draw quite a few "average" women, smaller chests, larger hips, etc. (And i feel bad saying that, because i'm drawing women as they genrally *are*, not "large", etc.) In fact, i prefer drawing women with larger hips, thighs, backsides, i tend to give them a bit of a belly, and if they do have large breasts, they look natural, and realistic, not like cereal bowls glued to their ribcages... That's just preferrable to me. What i see as being the standard (and supposedly the ultimate in "beautiful") in most media is, in most cases, unattractive to me.

And like i said, i draw my fair share of the thin, large-chested variety of characters, and, yeah, those women DO actually exist, but i like to make a lot of my characters (male and female) as much like real people as possible, and i think what i draw is a bit more like real life than tends to be "popular", but i think my characters being more realistic makes it easier to accept them as human, and not just super-human.....

Just because I *know* I'm going to ramble a bit, I'd like to put in the, "I really like the picture and if it's not sell-able, at the very least it's pleasing to the average viewer (or above average, whichever. :D) and great practice." Just so when I ramble I don't forget to add that. ^^;

I sat and thought before I replied. I didn't want to go into a major rant about why I'm pretty much sick of hearing about the complaining (those usually doing the complaining rarely, if ever [depending on the artists], draw 'realistically figured women' themselves, so it just flips one of my triggers. ;p )

I've often been "brought up on charges" (so to speak) for not drawing many 'full figured' women. And I guess I have to take it as a compliment that they try to get ME to do it, but it's almost as if they're trying to imply I'm against anything other than "perfect" body types. ;p I guess I'm a bit frustrated because they look over how many different body types I draw already (perhaps all variations on 'perfect', but it's not like I'm saying "only this specific body type is appealing" - and, hell, most of my characters are superheroes anyway, what do you expect? Comic Store guy from Simpsons in a cape? It's already straining the limits of 'suspension of disbelief' when they DO look that athletic. >_<) .. Ee. Rambling. You just... draw what you see, usually, you know? My family is mostly slim, though one of my bros is built like a linebacker and my dad is built like a quarterback. (Ooog. Football terms is the only way I can think to describe it.)

But, uhm. Yeah. Do a portfiolio of that kind. I probably wouldn't do a huge printing of them, but I'm sure that at least a small run (5 - 12?) would sell. And, hey, marketing ploy, "These animals are very rare in nature, so of course there are only a few copies of the folio. Muah. ha. ha. ha."

Nature has designed the tapir to beep when it backs up.

Comedy gold.

And now I did this tapir painting, and she is one big girl, and yet still sort've sexy [...] and I feel good about that.

You should. She's lovely (and in no way traumatic to the viewer, which is more than I can say for the svelte, busty hybrid-form werebear I ran into the other day. Oh, the pain ...). And I really like this style, it's got a degree of character and life I don't normally associate with cel coloring.

Something I don't think a whole lot of people twig to about getting this sort of figure to work in art, at least in art intended for a Western audience, not less than 60% of which has probably at least got a No Fat Chicks bumper sticker hidden in the garage somewhere, is that one needs to go about it pretty much the way one goes about, say, getting fantasy art to work: you have to get all the bits to hang together sensibly, even the ones the viewer is not already prepared to accept. Which you've done, and it completely works. She's proportional, internally consistent (there's clearly a bone structure in there, for example, she's not just a shapeless mass of flesh), and healthy-looking, and it's not a long step from there to, 'Oo. Pretty.'

Hell, I'd buy it.

But no, I don't have any useful critique to offer, why do you ask? It's too odd an hour for anything but lyrical praise.

(I mean, for a tapir. Do not construe this as a statement of attraction to female tapirs.)

Of course not.

I'd like to see an emu. Not that they are unheard of by the mass, but just because I haven't seen one. And a sloth bear. That would be damn neat. Anyhow...

I kinda fell out of the anthro fandom a while back, but if I were picking odd animals to do, I would say try a capybara! How can you go wrong with the world's largest rodent? ^^

As for women in fantasy art, at least you're aware of the issue. A lot of people seem to think that 'super-skinny with bonus personal flotation devices' is the only way to draw attractive women. Seems to me that art has always idealized women, with looks that suit the time, and very few people are a society's given ideal when that ideal is popular. Still, it's your art, and if you consider the issue and actively choose to draw what you draw (to sell or just out of preference), the more power to you. And the more power to this tapir too!

Heck, I'd probably buy a portfolio of obscure animals from you, Ursula, including your cute tapir chick. So I say go for it, and if someone complains about her being too thick, bite them.

:diligently takes notes: "Ursula is aroused by pudgy tapir girls."

Fine, take notes...but if a pudgy tapir girl doesn't jump naked out of a cake and start singing on my next birthday, I'm gonna think you don't care. *sniffle*

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