interview#16: Bryan Tan

Bryan Tan was a student from a local Junior college who graduated from his A levels in the year 2010. He is an art teacher and illustrator in a school (which should not be named) where he teaches fine art to the young. Bryan’s works largely revolve around watercolours and pencils which he is most comfortable with. Eccentric in nature, Bryan tends to direct his works towards cartoons and random imagery. He experiments with homoerotic drawings as a hobby as well, where he plays around with gestural expressions. He is currently applying for a spot in a local University. He plans to take on an artistic career in the future after graduating. Check out his work on his blog, Toastwire, here.

Question (Q): Tell me more about the erotic drawings that you do.
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Bryan Tan (Tan): The erotic drawings were done out of experimentation initially, before the first drawing was made, I drew a series of random non-sexual cartoons as well as paintings done in watercolours. Over time it became repetitive to me and hence I wanted to try something extremely different, something that captures the attention of the viewer immediately, even if it is reduced to a thumbnail. Hence, the creation of my first erotic drawing.
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I do not give unique identities to my characters, none of them have a name, they are all created automatically( I draw what comes into my mind at that point of moment). As an erotic drawing, the focus is the visual aspect of it, not the storyline that goes behind it. I do plan however, to create original characters in the future, more like a mascot for the site.
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I do not refer to an image to create my erotic art, I draw them directly on a piece of paper without guidance. I start out with a rough sketch and I fill in the details thereafter. I’m also using this site to practice anatomy and facial expressions.

Q: Censorship is something that is against this genre in Singapore, how do you handle this?

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Tan: The fact that the contents in my blog are not part of a public platform such as Facebook gives the conservative Singaporeans space, its like a virtual censorship. There is a saying “Don’t like, don’t watch/see” in which im familiar with, my blog can only be accesed through links and typing in the address, it is a choice for the viewer to view it. So in my opinion, my erotic content does not have a negative effect on the society. True, an innocent underaged child might chance upon this website, but the chances of that happening is really slim if you ask me.
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Unlike raw pornography, my works is considered an art form, besides the erotic content, there is much to appreciate on the aesthetic details such as the shading, anatomy and body expressions. Thus, my work has value in it, raw porn degrades the subjects filmed to an object, but erotic art elevates the characters to be appreciated as individuals.
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Furthermore, my method of promotion would be subtle and not “in your face” as compared to macdonald adverts, I promote my art through gay forums such as Blowingwind.org and art sites which acknowledge these drawings as works of art. I’ts not as if I promote it through stomp.com.sg for the additional exposure.
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Q: Erotic illustrations are pretty much common in Japan, correct me if I’m wrong. How do you see this being a trend locally? 
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Tan: Well, Singapore is a country which is heavily influenced by both eastern and western cultures. On one hand, we see young people coming out to sing rap songs while on the other, we see loads of young boys styling Japanese hairstyles. I do not see this as much of a trend in Singapore but eventually the idea will catch on since more and more people are exposed to the internet and people are more adventurous in exploring sites. Raw porn – porn that involves filming a pornographic event might become repetitive over time and Singaporeans might seek something more different that will interest them. Erotic art might be an option, since it is visually different and it has the power to exaggerate and intensify various sexual organs or scenarios. Then again, Singapore has a very conservative society hence such trend shifts in the porn community will be slow in its progress.
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Q: There will be a certain Japanese quality into the aesthetic of erotic illustrations, how do you differentiate yours with others?
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Tan: Japanese illustrations tend to exxagerate features of the characters, the facial expressions for example, are exxagerated heavily when it comes to their illustrations. My works however, are more grounded to reality, there is respect made to anatomy (except the sexual organs, tehee) as well. Interestingly, people have commented on my works with different opinions, some will say it resembles hentai while others would say it is a unique style on its own. I for one will let the viewer see for himself and decide, I do not label the style of my work as doing so might attract criticism.
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The characters in my works are more muscled and buffed up as compared to the ones in japanese illustrations as well. There is respect done to the anatomy of my characters, the style of shading is partly influenced by figurative pastel drawing in the fine arts. Japanese illustrations has more emphasis on the assesories of the characters, while my works focus more on the body and its form.
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Q: Any artists that have inspired you so far?
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Tan: yes of course! there are a few artists whom have inspired me in the style and execution, I have not seen them personally nor have I communicated with them as they represent themselves through art blogs. I do not know their name, but I do kno the name of their sites.
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Sudonym from www.sudonym.net
This was the first erotic art site I chanced upon in my life, it showcases a collection of homoerotic animorphic(furry) art, what inspired me was the idea that such erotic art exists and it is effective and striking. The stimulative aspect of the erotic art brings appreciation of the art to a whole new level. the fusing of animal with human characters invokes creativity to me as well. This was what gave me awareness to the artform.
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Braford from Braford’s gym, (you can google it)
similar to sudonym, this site works with furry art. his works are more refined and the muscles drawn are bigger. He inspired me with his colour pencil works and anatomical accuracy as well.
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The Humplex from www.humplex.com
This one deals with human beings and some furry ones, what inspires me is his variety in his art works. He promoted his visual, 2d art to a whole new level by using it in flash games that can be actually sold for money. This gave me an idea of an avenue where I can earn money through art. In addition, he uses a virtual painting software whihc gave the skin blending textures which made it impressive!
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He collaborates with the Humplex in art making, his works are flat but intense and it can be seen that it uses vector art as well. this opened my mind’s eye to illustrations with flat tones.
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Q: What is the feedback of the people around you regarding this creative side of yours?
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Tan: Generally, I have recieved positive feedback from my viewers, I do get a few annoying “flirty” comments such as “can you draw yourself” and usually I would ignore them. on the whole, I do not take crticism as a serious setback, but more of a learning point. As for my family and non-LGBT friends, they are completely unaware of it and it might be a struggle for me to explain myself should they find out.
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What im happy about is the fact that the viewership rating of these art is much better than the previous cartoon illustrations ive don, where only one or two people comment on my works in Facebook.
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Q: Looking into LGBT art in general, how do you see its development or even existence in local culture?

Tan: In my opinion, the development will be slow since Singaporeans generally rely on traditional believes that frown on homosexuality. But there will be developement as more people are becoming accepting and tolerant, seeing events such as The Pink Dot being noticed by the community. When it comes to LGBT art, there are 3 types of them, the first catergory refers to art that have a sexual/ pornographic nature, the second category refers to art that shows commentaries on homosexuality in Singapore and the last would refer to miscellanious non-sexual art that is simply done by the LGBT community. I would say that the first 2 will not develop much due to the restrictions by the country’s censorship laws. Naturally, homosexuals form a minority in the community and this minority is a heavy disadvantage as the support will be minimal.
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Q: Any further plans with your illustrations?
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Tan: Like The Humplex, im planning to bring my works to a new level, Im planning to create a mascot as well as a logo that can be used to make merchandizes such as coffee mugs or T shirts that have no sexual imagery. I might work on flash animations as well. I’m also planning to promote my blog further. If I have the time, I might even create an alternate blog for straight people instead to expand my viewer base. Im capable of drawing women as Iam less distracted while drawing them.
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