From art and music to photography and film, the world of BDSM-inspired works of erotic imagination is as diverse as it is unique. In this spirit, we present this by-no-means complete list of kinky creatives and fetish artists past and present who have produced fantastic work and who in no small way have shaped—or continue to shape—how we view the magical power of kink.

 

Kat Toronto (Miss Meatface)

While some fetish photographers take a more documentarian approach to their work, where they aim to capture the reality of BDSM, the art of Kat Toronto, otherwise known as Miss Meatface, is instead designed to blur the lines between subject and photographer. Doing so has challenged many of our preconceptions regarding sex, kink, and the objectification of women.

In her starkly disturbing images, Kat Toronto shows us highly fetishistic snapshots of erotically bizarre sexual scenarios appearing to occur in real-world, domestic spaces. The upshot is that Kat Toronto has given us an arousing and thought-provoking new viewpoint in kink, sexuality, commercialism, beauty, and conformism.

Image of BDSM and fetish artist, "Miss Meatface: Household Chores" © 2017 Kat Toronto
Miss Meatface: Household Chores © 2017 Kat Toronto. Reproduced with kind permission.

Olivia De Berardinis

With illustrations as elegant as they are amorous, Olivia De Berardinis' erotic imagination has fueled the wild fantasies of people since they first appeared in the mid-1970s.

Stylistically inspired by classic pin-ups, Olivia de Berardinis gave that kind of sultry yet commonly chaste images a uniquely kinky twist by adding to them a twist of burning-hot eroticism.

Some of her erotic illustrations can be pleasantly and arousingly jarring to realize that her depictions of aesthetic female beauty include fetish fashions of all sorts and styles, along with explicit portrayals of various steamy sexual antics.

 

Tom Of Finland (Touko Valio Laaksonen)

No list of BDSM & fetish artists would be complete without acknowledging the legacy of Touko Valio Laaksonen, whose works published under the name Tom Of Finland single-handled forged the iconic symbol of the leatherman for gay men the world over.

Combining elegant detailing with muscular eroticism and an enticing helping of sensuality, the Tom Of Finland illustrations were initially censored, and the Finnish government persecuted the artist. But as time went on and Laaksonen's fame grew, bolstered by how his work became an iconic symbol of queer pride, he's now accepted as a master artist and a national treasure in his home country.

 

Namio Harukawa

As Tom Of Finland became a symbol for gay leather culture, so has Namio Harukawa for female domination enthusiasts and femdom art fans. Born in 1947, the Japanese artist's long-spanning history of drawing large, powerful women putting their smaller male-identified playthings through their sexual paces began with illustrations in early sadomasochistic magazines like Kitan Club.

After receiving enthusiastic praise from his artistic contemporaries, Harukawa's work was suddenly in demand, and, as time went on, fans of his femdom art reached far beyond Japan. And they still appear today whenever anyone wants to depict the erotic allure of female domination: firmly cementing Namio Harukawa's place as an iconic BDSM artist.

 

Eric Stanton

Following suit with Tom of Finland and Namio Harukawa, the illustrations of Eric Stanton have become iconic for bondage aficionados—in addition to fans of femdom art. As prolific as he was erotically imaginative, Stanton's bondage artwork frequently bordered on the surreal, with statuesque women in ultra-tight leather garments suspended in elaborate bondage rigs. Stanton was also partially responsible for what we'd now call fetish fashion, with its appreciation of those form-fitting garments and ultra-high heels. 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe

Though respected for his non-erotic work, Robert Mapplethorpe's queer and kink-inspired photographs are what he is often most remembered for.

While his name has a predominant link to controversies regarding his public exhibitions, his explicit photographs of fellow queer men—in addition to people like Lisa Lyon—are what has made him a legendary BDSM photographer. Mapplethorpe had an incredible skill in capturing the sexual power of kink, gay sexuality and celebrated the sensual arousal of his subjects.

More than this, however, Mapplethorpe's fame isn't only for his kinky pictures or the sensationalism that frequently came with his exhibitions, but that he's become a symbol for the freedom of artistic expression. His name has become synonymous with battling against anti-sexual, anti-erotic, anti-queer censorship.

 

Elmer Batters

Think you might have a foot fetish or stocking fetish? Elmer Batters could be the reason. He was a photographer back in the 1960s, and at the beginning, Batters self-published his work. However, as foot, stocking, and nylon fetishes grew in popularity, he found that plenty of magazines wanted to share his work and marked himself out as one of the leading fetish artists in this area.

Image of Elmer Batters book, Legs That Dance to Elmer's Tune
Elmer Batters: Legs That Dance to Elmer's Tune (Photobook). Available on Amazon.
 

Gene Bilbrew

Gene Bilbrew was an influential African-American cartoonist who went by several pseudonyms: ENEG, Bondy, and Van Rod. As the first black career fetish artist, his speciality was the forced feminization of men. Bilbrew created most of his work during the 1950s and most notably produced femdom art for fetish magazine Exotique (1955-1959).

 

Michael Manning

Michael Manning is an American contemporary fetish artist. He is a comic book writer and a well-known fetish artist focusing on pan-sexuality and BDSM in fantasy or science fiction settings with a style that takes you back in time but is no less erotic or kinky. His most famous works are the graphic novel series, The Spider Garden and Tranceptor.

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Michael Manning at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2002) CC BY-SA 3.0


Discover a kinky world of fetish art

These are merely a few examples of the ground-breaking kink-inspired artists who have made or are creating BDSM culture what it is today. So we encourage you to go out and explore fetish artists and other creatives for how they may aid your sexual fantasies and support them in their work—and in doing so, allow them to continue to push the against outermost limits of erotic and artistic expression.


M. Christian is a respected author and BDSM educator, having taught classes on everything from polyamory to tit torture for venues such as the SF Citadel, Good Vibrations, Beat Me In St. Louis and many others.
 

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Have you discovered any exciting fetish artists working today that aren’t featured? Let us know in the Fetish.com forum or in the comments below.
 

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Cover image: Miss Meatface As Mae West © 2017 Kat Toronto. Reproduced with kind permission.

 

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