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Skybound by MarcSimonetti Skybound by MarcSimonetti
This is the french cover art for "Skybound" by Sam Sykes, ed Fleuve noir.

I hope you'll like it. (I did have tons of fun doing it)
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:iconkaytara:
Kaytara Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The artwork is lovely but that outfit on her. Whyyy. This is 'in the best tradition of fantasy' in the same way that slavery is in the best tradition of western civilisation - it's a sad and embarrassing one and needs to end.

I realise this was presumably what the client requested and not something you have control over, but just... *sighhh*
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:iconmarcsimonetti:
MarcSimonetti Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Well, that's simple:
That's the way she's dressed in the book.
Please note the guys in armor are women too.(without a nipple armor)

I can see that whole "feminist" movement around the world against that kind of dressing in the fantasy cover art field. No one is moving against the naked ladies dancing in hip hop video clips, no one is saying anything about the girls exploited all around the world for the porn industry, or used to sell cars, shampoo, or beers. 

Maybe you could start to think a little bit by yourself. Why on that subject do you agree with extremists (they're the only ones not wanting to see naked bodies)? Women have fought to have the right to do whatever they want, including be dressed the way the want. 
Pay one day of your time to visit an art museum, or even a church in Europe, you might find some almost naked bodies all around the paintings and the sculptures.

Take two seconds and look at the picture: She's not submissive, she doesn't need any male warrior to fight, she's not showing her tits or ass in an unnatural way, and she's more dressed than lady gaga or Miley Cyrus.
So maybe what needs to end is that kind of easy, and formatted comment.

Oh and there's a Man-Dragon is the background, as you can see he's more naked than she is: Is that a problem too? Is the problem only for women? Then what about equality? 

I'm scared to see that sex can't be shown anywhere (because as you may know, hopefully people still have sex to have children, nothing dirty in that), and that violence isn't a problem at all anywhere. There's blood all over the picture, see?
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:iconkaytara:
Kaytara Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for replying personally. I'lll try to reply to your arguments point by point.

That's the way she's dressed in the book. Please note the guys in armor are women too.(without a nipple armor) I don't have the book to judge this by, however. If there's different types of female characters with various dress tastes in the book, that's pretty great. (I mean, I'm skeptical about a character staying in her bikini armour for the entire book, but alright.) It doesn't change the fact that this is still a run-of-the-mill fantasy cover in which a half-naked female body is used as the main attraction. Or, to put it more simply, there are doubtless (hopefully?) other epic scenes (or even non-epic ones, you're skilled enough as an illustrator to make three guards ambling down the street look awesome, you could make any scene look catching on a cover) that could've been chosen as the scene for the cover, but out of all those countless scenes, the one with the bikini armoured woman was chosen. Why is that?

No one is moving against the naked ladies dancing in hip hop video clips, no one is saying anything about the girls exploited all around the world for the porn industry, or used to sell cars, shampoo, or beers.
I didn't mention the word feminist or the feminist agenda, and this conversation isn't about the porn industry or sexualisation in advertisements. However, since you mentioned it, I can tell you this: Simply because you haven't seen it discussed doesn't mean it's not being discussed. In fact, I'm pretty surprised by this statement because I see criticism of sexualisation of women in ads all the time, and the porn industry is a heavily contested issue too because of how badly it treats its workers. Again: these things are being criticised because of the *exploitative* way female nudity is used, not because of the nudity itself. However, once again, my comment wasn't about feminism at large until you made it about feminism at large. Please don't derail the conversation.

Maybe you could start to think a little bit by yourself.
You're patronising me there. I understand that you're assuming I'm a brainwashed puritanist whose knee-jerk response to anything involving bare skin is to ask for it to disappear, but please keep implicit accusations that the other person isn't capable of critical thinking out of rational debates.

Why on that subject do you agree with extremists (they're the only ones not wanting to see naked bodies)?
The issue isnt' with naked bodies, it's with *whose* naked bodies are being shown, and for what purpose.

Women have fought to have the right to do whatever they want, including be dressed the way the want.
Are still fighting, and yes, women have the right to dress the way they want, but what does that have to do with the picture?
The problem with arguing agency and "this is what this person chose to dress like" is that the argument falls apart the moment you apply it to someone who's *fictional*. This woman isn't real, she didn't decide on anything. She's not an agent, she's not a subject, she's an instrument. Literally everything about her was chosen for her, some of it for very specific purposes. In this case, she was designed/written by a man, illustrated by a man, and is going to be on the cover of a book in a genre that still targets men and is hostile to women, both as characters and as an audience. It's possible this book isn't like that, but with a cover like that, it's impossible not to lump it in with the rest at first glance, and first glances are what covers are all about. When you choose a scene for a cover, you want one that creates *good* assumptions and pulls the viewer in. I can't speak for other women, but I can tell you that I wouldn't give a book like this a second glance in a store, because I'd see that the cover is trying to pull in viewers with promises of female sexualisation and assume that the content is siilar in nature.

Pay one day of your time to visit an art museum, or even a church in Europe, you might find some almost naked bodies all around the paintings and the sculptures.
Thank you *again* for the condescension and the assumptions that I'm uncultured and have no idea about art. To get matters straight, I *live* in Europe. I've been to the churches, I've been to the Louvre and the Dresden Gallery of the Old Masters, I've been to an installation of the Tretiakovska. And I'm really not sure where you're going with this. It's hard to reply because you're assuming I'm a puritan who has issues with naked bodies in general, and are making your points accordingly and trying to point out that there's nothing wrong or scandalous about naked bodies, when my actual issue is the lack of equal opportunity nakedness, so to speak, and the very different ways and purposes for which female nudity is utilised as opposed to male nudity. And while there's some equal opportunity nakedness in our history of art (the Greeks, for example), a disproportionate amount of it is still just male artists drawing naked women, not the other way around. Mainly because there are barely any pre modern era female artists who've reached any amount of fame. So yeah, what you just pointed out there is that using women as objects in art isn't a new problem by any means, and was at least equally widespread in all the rest of history when women weren't even allowed personal autonomy.

Take two seconds and look at the picture: She's not submissive, she doesn't need any male warrior to fight, she's not showing her tits or ass in an unnatural way, and she's more dressed than lady gaga or Miley Cyrus.
Yes, it could be miles worse, but that not a very good defense. She's dressed in a bikini for battle with some decorative scratches on her. She is dressed in a way that is, from every logical perspective, utterly absurd, which hammers home the point that it's more important for women to look pretty in a fantasy setting than to dress in a way that will not get them disemboweled in one second flat. You may not mean to be making that point, but the picture is making it for you. And no, no single picture "causes" sexism, but this same attitude is prevalent in everything from how women are censored on TV (even if they're breast-feeding or, you know, getting first aid for cardiac arrest) to how women's clothes are designed, which is flimsy, thin/with emphasis on being formhugging over being warm or functional, and with an absolute lack of pockets large enough to store more than chewing gum in. And I have less issues with Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus than with this, because they're at least live human beings who choose to dress that way consciously and are making money off it. (It's quite funny how women being sexual becomes scandalous the moment *they* choose to do it for their own profit, rather than it being done to them for someone else's profit.)

Oh and there's a Man-Dragon is the background, as you can see he's more naked than she is: Is that a problem too? Is the problem only for women? Then what about equality?
I'm pretty sure that the naked man-dragon in the background isn't a problem because the number of people in your audience who are both sexually oriented towards men *and* are dragon/manmonster fetishists is likely to be vanishingly low, and not part of any major marketing decisions.
But you do make a point. See, the thing is, there is a genre where male sexualisation runs rampant on the covers. It's called the romance genre and it's targeted at women. Everyone other than women - and often including women - views it with derision and dismisses it as 'chick lit'. Why is it that a genre that tries to grab women with naked bodies of men is seen as ridiculous and wish-fulfilling, while a genre that tries to grab men with naked bodies of women is often critically acclaimed, bestselling, and is considered "for everyone"?

I'm scared to see that sex can't be shown anywhere (because as you may know, hopefully people still have sex to have children, nothing dirty in that), and that violence isn't a problem at all anywhere. There's blood all over the picture, see?
Again, to make it clear, I have zero issues with sex by itself, the issue is that as things stand, it's used as a marketing tactic at the real life expense of women, not to serve the story or add realism to it.

As for the "but there's so much violence, why aren't you complaining about that!" argument... I'm going to guess that the reason people don't usually take issue with gratuitous depictions of violence is that there *hasn't* yet been proof of violence in video games/books/movies causing real life violence, and more to the point, geek culture at large doesn't have a problem with being routinely hostile to, dismissive of and abusive towards actual real life victims of attempted or completed muggings, homicide or terrorism. Conversely, geek culture very much DOES have a huge, pervasive problem of being hostile to, dismissive of and abusive towards real life women, and it's not hard to pinpoint one of the ways they're being taught to act this way.
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:iconmarcsimonetti:
MarcSimonetti Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
What IS wrong and sick is to assume that every sexy woman with revealing clothes want to fuck with you.

"Yes, it could be miles worse, but that not a very good defense"
I don't have to defend myself  (that's so pretentious of you) , and I don't truly care about your judgment. You can see that kind of male sexualisation if you open what is called internet, or what is called TV, and guess why :
Because we still live a patriarchal society. (and when talking about fantasy, a universe inspired by middle age, it was even more patriarchal, this is called history)

"She is dressed in a way that is, from every logical perspective, utterly absurd, which hammers home the point that it's more important for women to look pretty in a fantasy setting than to dress in a way that will not get them disemboweled in one second flat."
In a world with dragons, orcs and magic, the way she is dressed is not LOGICAL. I think you've got the point, bravo. (in fact she comes from a tribal culture, native-american like, so I could have painted bare breast too)

I won't start to paint only convenient pictures because in life there is sexism, racism, pollution, exploitation, diseases and poverty, and each pictures can be interpreted on so many levels. I won't take much more of your time, as you have plenty of lessons to give to all the people painting sexy girls, pin ups, big boobs manga like characters.
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:iconkaytara:
Kaytara Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What IS wrong and sick is to assume that every sexy woman with revealing clothes want to fuck with you.

Again, I'm not sure how to interpret this comment about a woman's intent when we're talking about creations of design.. It is wrong and sick, but it's the way men and women both are socialised from an early age to think, and it's something the marketing department deliberately uses to appeal to the male demographic. *You* may be trying to depict the one in a thousand woman who's actually sexy for her own sake and is a complex character or something, but that doesn't mean you can escape the context of the 999 other sexy depictions just like that. You're still feeding the system.

I don't have to defend myself  (that's so pretentious of you
No, pretentious is assuming the person who disagrees with you has never been to an art museum or thought critically for themselves. I said it's not much of a defense because that's what your argument was aiming at: a defense, in the formal sense. I criticised something, you presented a counter-argument. That's called a defense.

Because we still live a patriarchal society. (and when talking about fantasy, a universe inspired by middle age, it was even more patriarchal, this is called history

It's funny how all "medieval fantasy" seems to be able to easily depart from reality in the realm of dragons and magic, but never at the expense of losing racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry, because that would be "unrealistic". Says some pretty depressing things about us as a society, that we need a fantasy society to have bigotry in order to still be relatable. But that's an aside. I agree that yes, we still live in a patriarchal society. And that means that the decision to pick a scene involving a scantily clad sexy woman as a fantasy book cover carries with it some unfortunate baggage. Which is the main reason I'm criticising that decision.

In a world with dragons, orcs and magic, the way she is dressed is not LOGICAL. I think you've got the point, bravo. (in fact she comes from a tribal culture, native-american like, so I could have painted bare breast too)

Oh god, you seriously used the 'it's fantasy!!' defense. I feel like I should have gone into this discussion with a bingo card. Here's the problem with that argument. As a fantasy illustrator, you must by proxy be aware of what is called the willing suspension of disbelief. Yes, she's not dressed logically, and that IS a bad thing. Why? Because a fantasy universe can and must still function on some form of logic. It can be a *modified* form of logic, with different rules, but the adherence to those rules must be consistent nonetheless. If I'm told gravity works in this fantasy universe except for when an anti-gravity spell is used, which is when objects float upwards, I expect them to actually either fall or float upwards. You can't have them start floating *sideways* and handwave it as "it's fantasy, there is no logic" - it would make a shoddy story. The same applies for armour. In short, it is fine to expect a reason to accept dragons in the story, if those dragons are treated and used consistently, as long as you don't break your own rules. It is another thing altogether to ask them to accept  bikini armour in combat, because human(oid) biology, unless explicitly specified otherwise, is not among those expected departures from reality. And that means that the same rules of pragmatism are in play that we have in the real world, where a battle without armour is suicide. It's an inevitable conclusion no matter what rules are in place. Even if we assume she is using magic to protect herself from blows, why would she make it harder for herself? Why would she rely on magic to prevent scratches and glancing blows and roadburn on her knees and thus waste her energy if she could just put on clothes, padding, and armour? And again, even if there are perfectly sound reasons she's dressed like that (she was not expecting a battle and was on her way to fantasy yoga), reasons that become clear in the book, why choose *that* scene out of all others to slap on the cover, given how much unpleasant baggage that depiction still carries?

I won't take much more of your time, as you have plenty of lessons to give to all the people painting sexy girls, pin ups, big boobs manga like characters.

Yeah, but I don't usually follow those artists. I didn't come here to lecture you (do remember that my original comment was one line long, you were the one who decided to involve everything from a critique of puritanism to the failings of modern feminism in your reply - was I supposed to just stay silent?), I'm in this discussion because I came to look at the work of an artist whom I usually greatly admire and who comes up with original, non-conventional covers, and is very serious about his craft. That's why this cover unpleasantly surprised me: as far as I'm concerned, stripperiffic bikini armour on fantasy women is a staple of an immature artist aiming at an immature audience more interested in absurd sexual fantasies than good storytelling. It's not something a serious artist should be able to include in their artwork without being laughed at. The keyword being 'should be'. I'm aware that's not the reality as things stand. Yes, currently it is possible and even widespread for serious, distinguished, high-profile artists to do that regularly, and far, far often than you do, but that is because, as you've said, we still live in a patriarchal society, and the unreasonable sexualisation of women against all sense and logic is so ingrained and omnipresent that nobody tends to dwell much on how immature and pathetic it is.

I don't go out of my way to give lessons to people, I'm here to enjoy the art. Except for when that art makes me roll my eyes and groan because ugh, it's yet another fantasy woman in bikini armour because the genre as a whole is unable to see me and others like me as anything but sacks of meat, and oh joy, this time it's from an otherwise awesome and inspiring artist. Now, you don't do this sort of thing *anywhere* near as often as others, and I *do* appreciate that. But the condescending and hostile response has been pretty disheartening nonetheless. I commented with *one* line and you heaped a patronising tirade on me and started lecturing *me* effectively about how I, as a woman, shouldn't find this image uncomfortable because this fictional woman, who was written by a man and illustrated by a man, "chose" to dress this way. At the end of the day, it looks like you mean well but care more about sticking to your set ways than that you may be pushing away female viewers, and that's unfortunate.
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:iconmarcsimonetti:
MarcSimonetti Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
You're absolutely right.
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:icongwendolyn12:
Gwendolyn12 Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
your comment needs to be framed and posted all over the world. Now THAT'S a reasonable and feminist position. As far as I'm aware of, we feminists fight to be free, do what we want and be what we like, and not be be even more opressed (and worse off, by women themselves)
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:iconmarcsimonetti:
MarcSimonetti Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks a lot! :)
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:icongwendolyn12:
Gwendolyn12 Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
You're welcome. Thanks for being reasonable, it's not something I see a lot these days, besides being twice as pleasing coming from an artist I admire so much and look up to.
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:iconkaytara:
Kaytara Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Right now you're defending a fictional woman whose outfit was chosen for her by a man and for a man over a real life woman (and others like her) who is uncomfortable with her kind being used as eye candy on covers made by men, for men. But I'm the one who's being oppressive for expressing my discomfort?
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