“Peludo” (2016). Graphite on paper.
I caught up with artist Nik Santi to talk about his hobby of creating erotic drawings of naked men.
You’ve written that it was your grandmother who first got you interested in art and being creative. Do you think she’d be pleased with the creative direction that you’ve taken?
My grandmother has really surprised me with her acceptance of my lifestyle. That being said, she’s fairly conservative when it comes to discussing anything sexual, so I’m not sure that she would want to see some of my more explicit drawings.
I’ve shown her several of my pieces, but only the safe-for-work ones. I think it’s probably better for the both of us if I don’t show her the drawings of blowjobs, rimming, or fisting, because those aren’t really things that I particularly want to discuss with her. I’m proud of my work, but would prefer not to have to explain a rim-job to my granny.
“Colby does mixed media” (2016) Graphite and acrylic on paper.
What’s your creative process when you’re creating these images of naked men?
I work primarily from reference photos that are sent to me by the men that I choose to draw. I really like to focus on capturing the details, down to the very last freckle, so that means that a single drawing takes me anywhere from six to twelve hours to complete. That’s far too long for a person to sit still in front of me.
I’ve been trying to work on doing quicker sketches with live models, to practice freeing up my hand and trying to break out of the perfectionist mindset I have when drawing. Allowing myself to make mistakes and be a little more expressive with my work has been a lot of fun, but it definitely makes for a different type of sketch than I’m used to.
I primarily work in pencil, but have experimented with pen and paint.
“Communion” (2016). Graphite on paper.
The guys that feature in your work are all fairly hairy – how difficult is it to capture body hair in a drawing?
Drawing the body hair is my favourite part of any sketch. Because I love it so much, I tend to have a heavy hand with it, so sometimes my muses end up with a little more hair than they actually have.
I feel that body hair adds a lot of depth to a sketch, allows me to better capture the shades and highlights of a piece, and makes it look more realistic. Plus, I’m just personally attracted to men with body hair, so it gives me something fun to look at while I’m sketching.
“Rob” (2016). Graphite on paper.
Who are some of your art heroes or inspirations?
My favourite artist is Keith Haring. I love how free and expressive his pieces are. I feel like he’s my artistic opposite, as his pieces are really colourful and have minimal detail, so I think I see in his work something I’d love to be able to achieve some day.
My work, though, is more inspired by artists I’ve met and discovered on Instagram. David Farquhar is one of the best portrait artists, and I consider him one of my art idols. His pieces are really expressive and detailed and I hope to someday get to that level.
I also have a friend, Katie, who is incredibly talented and masters every medium she tries. We like to joke that we’re art twins because we both create erotic art in graphite, but she’s miles ahead of me technically and someone I also look up to artistically.
“Christopher and Co.” (2018). Graphite on paper.
Do you accept commissions?
I don’t accept commissions – I’ve found that when there’s money involved, my art feels forced. I find that my best art comes when I draw for myself and when I work on what inspires me rather than what I’ve been hired to do.
I am working on getting prints made of my finished pieces, so that I can start selling those. I’d love to make money from this hobby, but want to be able to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise my creativity – I think selling finished pieces is my best route. People can check out my website for details about when pieces and prints will be available for sale.
“Hole is where the art is” (2018). Graphite on paper.
What do you hope that people feel when looking at your drawings?
I like to say that I draw what I find beautiful, so if there’s anything I want people to get from my art it is that same feeling of beauty. I’ve heard from people that my pieces turn them on, so that’s a fun, but unintended, reaction.
“T.J.” (2015). Graphite on paper.