Interview with kinky artist Rubberex

“With the portraits of others that I paint, I also enjoy the connection, the feeling of community and the giving aspect.”

Published on 9 July 2020

© Rubberex

Hello Matt, nice to meet you. Thanks for having you for this interview. Let me first ask you: What would you like to express when you’re drawing?
It began as a way of connecting with my kinky side, I initially had some self-imposed barriers but I’ve slowly come to embrace the erotic and embrace my kinky self. With the portraits of others that I paint, I also enjoy the connection, the feeling of community and the giving aspect. Then with the pieces I have been creating recently that are inspired by icons in the fetish and erotic art world: exploring my identity as a fetish artist and connect with the rich history of our subculture. Sometimes I don’t feel like an artist, I feel more like an archivist capturing the energy of other people. Maybe that is because I still have work to do in finding my true kinky self, so that I can share my point of view with freedom.

You’ve mentioned your own fetish side. Which personal fetishes do you have?
I think my fetishes relate to an idea of transformation. I like the transformative nature of rubber, the uniformity of it and feeling like part of something bigger: becoming one with the bondage around me as well as becoming part of this wider world of BDSM with its rituals and processes to follow. I have a lot to explore, I have become very open-minded in trying things now that I am in quarantine lol.

How did you find out you like kinky art?
I think just like any other kinkster trying to find what makes them tick I landed on various works by fetish artists on the internet. The beauty of it is that it is able to capture pure fantasy, like training grounds full of gimps and intricate bondage displays that would require superhuman flexibility. It can paint your kinks in the most depraved way or the most decadent way without any real world limitations. The works of Leo Ravenwood were I think the epiphany moment of I would love to either live out this comic, or create something like this comic, or ideally both hahaha.

© Rubberex,
inspired by the work of Leo Ravenswood

You’ve talked about Ravenswood. Can you try to explain what you especially like about his work?
Leo Ravenswood was incredibly imaginative and he didn’t particularly subscribe to the hyper masculine stereotypes of his contemporaries, he featured a lot of elements that you would expect to see only in female bondage illustrations, which I appreciate. Things like corsetry and decorative bondage. Off the back of that, the inventive bondage you see with the House of Gord, reminds me a lot of Leo’s work and I would love to see an updated version of those ideas with a touch of the homo.

Do you have any further role models?
I am also inspired by Etienne a.ka. Dom Orejudos, not particularly his style or content, but more so because he became a pivotal member of the Chicago fetish community, creating the spaces, and illustrating the fantasy that our community buys into.

When you start a new piece of work: How do you find your subjects?
Either people ask me to paint them, or occasionally I will see a photo that I really connect to and I ask to paint it. Usually it is due to the use of colour or the shapes and lines created by light reflecting off rubber/leather. I am also inspired by something I find hard to verablise, but I believe it is called ‘frame-breaking’ – apparently it was a technique used in 80s comics a lot – where some part of the figure breaks the frame I draw around them. I don’t know why exactly I like it, I think it might be something to do with me being a very precise, particular person and the breaking-frame element represents the part of me that would really like to relax lol.

© Rubberex

What means intimicy, privacy and self-expression for you when you’re drawing?
Well it is quite a vulnerable thing to draw your fantasies because you’re being incredibly honest and you have to have zero shame, I don’t think Instagram is the best place for that, with the censorship and focus on followers and likes. I haven’t found a better alternative yet though. I have felt the need to censor my paintings in the past, partly because of Instagram’s rules and partly that shame element, but I’m trying to get better at being bolder with imagery.

Which kind of postures and scenes do you like most for drawings?
Anything with rubber really and nice lighting. I like putting some sort of narrative in a painting, I find it is quite the skill to get a narrative across in just one piece, one I haven’t quite mastered yet.

Why do you prefer drawing? Where’s the difference for you to photography and other kinds of arts?
I use watercolour because it is a quick medium and I have the most control with it. I do love the physicality of traditional artwork, and the permanence of it – I frequently make mistakes but I just have to move on, I can’t fret about it too much, which I am prone to doing. I do enjoy digital art, I just wouldn’t know where to start with it. Similarly I enjoy photography, there are so many stunning photographers with unique creative visions, but I feel that even if I had that eye I am limited by location and resources as well as the courage to use myself as the medium. As I said in the previous question, there is still work to do in being my true self. So hopefully those discoveries will coincide with a chance to photograph them in the future, though I think I would still like to capture those moments in paint.

© Rubberex

Which plans and aims to you have concerning your art?
I would like to make more of my own work, create original characters like Tom had Kake, but I feel that needs to wait until after quarantine, when I am experiencing the sorts of things I’m drawing because I feel it would lack authenticity otherwise? Until then, I am continuing to study the fetish illustration masters, I hope to cross-over to the icons in female bondage, as well as other pioneers and icons in our subculture at some point too.

Matt, thanks for this interview!

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(Interviewer: Michael)