So this is probably really a stupid question, but why did you move to New York? I mean, it seems like a lot of artists move to New York to start their careers. I know that it's a big city, and there's a lot of art all around, but since your art is digital and can be sent over easily, how does it help?

Well, first — even if you’re purely a traditional illustrator, being within personal delivery distance of your client doesn’t matter, if you show up to an office with an oil painting, they’ll stare at you as if you just tried to order a filet mignon from arby’s, then send your ass home to get it scanned or photographed, outputted to print dimensions at 300+dpi, converted to their printer’s color profile, and then emailed as a secure link to a properly named uncompressed tiff file. 

As for doing the whole art thing in New York, you don’t need it at all, it’s just an experience. Having all these museums, galleries, and publications doesn’t magically unlock career opportunities, it’s just stuff to explore and see a bit closer than from a computer screen. Cool and memorable things happen here all the time, but when it comes to work, every job I’ve had started with an email or phone call, not a meeting — once even from a text message. I could do exactly what I do career-wise from a Walter White cabin in the mountains so long as I had power and high-speed internet. I just prefer to do it here because a) it keeps you motivated by being constantly surrounded by people succeeding or trying to succeed, and b) you can get literally almost anything delivered at a moments notice.  Living in New York is something I recommend to anyone as a place worth experiencing, but I don’t stay here for any reason related to my career in art — it’s just a beautiful, unique, soul-crushing, cynicism-inducing, uplifting, magical, romantic, and disgusting place.

Hi, hey, hello. Tiny PSA — generally speaking, all of you are really great, the messages in my inbox are super nice and I’m Wayne’s World levels of unworthy. But for whatever reason, there’s been a recent uptick in people saying nice things to me (sweet) but do so by also tearing apart other artists specifically by name or even entire genres of art (not sweet). Like instead of people saying “Yo, Sam, I really like your new calculator watch” they’re saying “Yo, Sam, I really like your new calculator watch, unlike Stacey Applebaum whose watch does NOT have any mathematical functionality. What a fuckhead.”

In an attempt to do something nice, you’ve done something pretty bullshitty. If that rare magical feeling that causes you to celebrate someone — may it be for their genetics, their art, their music, their body, their words, their mind, their actions, or any other thing that was enough for you to put that small shred of goodness out into the air — please don’t sully it by shaming others in the process. And that’s really like the bare minimum, ideally you can find something to celebrate about Stacey to tell her too. Thanks, that’s all.

Opinion on erotic art, whether "classy" or plain smut? I know that's a broad question, I'm just curious. I'm an aspiring artist and I strive to create wonderful illustrations and paintings, but then I also want to draw unrealistic hentai-esque pics. I see artists who blend the two to create gorgeous erotic paintings, but don't receive the same level of respect because of it. Should they be separate or can there be middle a ground? Will drawing porn affect a person's chances for a career in art?

Asked by Anonymous

What you’re asking seems so much like it’s an art question, right? Like it should be. It should be an actual art conversation when you’re using all these artsy words – but the truth is that we’re still at a point so far from discussing with any kind of legitimacy the abstract depiction of sex in a painting and its “classiness”, when the world-view of the act of sex itself is still so … wack. Sex is still widely seen as being simultaneously the worst and greatest thing in the world – lives revolve around it, public worth is lost because of it, double standards are laced through every action, and even the most accepted versions of “sex” are incredibly surface-level and binary. We live in a time that still gasps in offense if the majority of the world’s nipples aren’t covered and shames that same majority for enjoying something enjoyable – I know this may sound defeatist, and maybe that’s because I’ve never had a compulsion to add to this genre of art, but in my eyes we are simply just so far from even considering the merits of a painstakingly painted orgy as mainstream art. The acceptance of it will come as a result of bigger battles. There are rare exceptions that have found a market through abstracted styles (usually in fine art), but despite my massive disagreement with the systemic idolization and condemnation of sex that leads to this stigma, I think that the genre of erotic art will (largely) be relegated to “smut” for a long time to come.

What I don’t think: is that mainstream acceptance should determine what you want to make. Use a pseudonym if you’re legitimately worried about your career, but there’s always going to be someone on a higher horse in the art world, don’t let that stop you from creating what you want to.

Or in short: If you wanna draw people fucking, fucking draw people fucking.

How do you feel about experimentation vs staying true to your voice as an artist?

Asked by Anonymous

I mean, people evolve. Our personalities, our tastes, and our interests shift constantly as we’re introduced to new ideas, experiences, and perspectives. I don’t see why our art — whatever that may be — shouldn’t do the same with us.

"Staying true to your voice as an artist" just sounds like stagnation under the guise of tradition — it’s the artsy equivalent of those curmudgeon-y, old, racist, guys who bullshitedly romanticize the 1950s and yell at youths for their internet telephones, hippity-hop, black presidents, and clothing which doesn’t cover knees. If you get too comfortable with the way things have always been done — with you or your art — you’ll miss (what in my opinion is) one of the absolute best parts of being human: growth.

Now, that may seem like heavy talk, but I’m not sure that we can detach those big human concepts from art — they’ve always kinda gone together. It’s not like art history is just a chronological series of totally arbitrary fashion trends and stylistic fads — art has, and likely always will, change in tandem with, and in reaction to, the way people view the world.