In The Dungeon Contest 2021, Winner interview
Congratulations on winning the In The Dungeon contest, SquarePeg. You’ve given us a vision of torture that many would be chewing through the straps to get away from. Tell us a little about the inspiration for your piece.
Thanks so much, Elayn! It's much appreciated! Indeed, nobody should have to suffer through such a torture, as fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - the inspiration behind this piece - can attest to! I'm personally still making my way through the literature itself, but the movie itself was a never-ending fountain of clever absurdity and inspiration.
Elayn: On a more serious note, why do you think poetry takes so much shit as an artistic medium?
Peg: Just like "art" as a whole, that's something a bit tough to pin down exactly. The only thing I can think to say is that people tend to like to point at the extremes when it comes to examples of what's "wrong" with something. Our neighbor can be a perfectly normal individual in every respect - they're a loving parent, they work a normal job, they buy normal groceries, and lead a perfectly normal life...except for the fact that they use a samurai sword to cut their hedges. As a result, they will always be "that weirdo that cuts their yard with a sword."
Typically when people think of poets, they think of turtlenecks and berets, cigarettes and a chorus of finger snapping after a parade of dissonant words. In a way it's a sort of sensationalism that we as humans tend to enjoy - we praise while rebuking the dramatic, which in and of itself is something of an ironic paradox. We are dramatic in our mockeries of the dramatic.
It's also interesting to me that poets are typically frowned upon, yet singers are - for lack of better words, and usually quite literally - rock stars. It just goes to show that it's all about the trappings and wrappings that determine how a medium is received, I suppose!
Elayn: Is there a particular poem you imagined being read in the dungeon while you were composing this piece? Is there a particular poem or poet you adore?
Peg: Well for sure the poem in mind during the creation of this piece was the recitation Jeltz reads to Arthur and Ford while aboard the Vogon ship. It IS after all the third worst poetry in the galaxy!
As for favorite poets I'm afraid I'm a bit of an uncultured swine and haven't delved much into the world of poetry itself. I do however spend much of my time listening to music and enjoying the wordplay that my favorite artists employ. A personal favorite of mine would have to be Maynard James Keenan and the other lyricists that work with him!
Elayn: From an anthropological perspective, I think “art appreciation” is a terrible definition of culture, so we can be uncultured swine together.
Peg: I have to admit I never quite understood the function of "art appreciation" compared to "art history," both of which were courses at my community college. Hell, I think even the professor of my art appreciation course didn't know since one lecture was specifically talking about the best methods to pack and ship completed art pieces across the country. I guess we can add him to our swine mud pit!
Last time we talked about horror and eroticism. Given the focus here, what are your thoughts on the interplay of comedy and eroticism?
Long-time followers of mine will quickly tell you that I LOVE fusing comedy and sex into one package. There have even been a few offhand comments I've received from folks that said they didn't know whether to fap or laugh in regards to my dialog in comics. Hell, one of my most recent submissions to Slushe was a fusion of horror, comedy, and sex appeal all in one stupid abomination of an image.
I may have mentioned it in the past, but artists are at liberty to make viewers feel any range of emotions and should never limit themselves to just one. I feel as though playing with emotions in different ways will create a bit more "permanence" to an image as well as perhaps a more subconscious appeal and prompt a viewer to enjoy a piece even if they can't quite put their finger on why.
Elayn: Eroticism and comedy is certainly a compelling blend, and you use it well. Eroticism builds tension, but both it and comedy release tension. Do you have any advice for other creators on how to make that brew just right?
I totally agree with your idea of permanence. I certainly don’t remember all the details of a particular piece of art once it’s no longer present to my senses, but the feeling or impression lasts. Do you think the difference between good and great for a particular member of the audience rests in the power of that impression?
Peg: Very true! Laughing is just as much a release as an orgasm albeit from different stimuli. And oof, that's a tough one! Any advice I could possibly give would be strictly subjective. I think the only thing I can think to say is "make stuff that makes you smile." I also recommend paying close attention to the types of things you find enjoyable. It's one thing to know that you enjoy something but it's something else entirely to know WHY you enjoy something. Once you can deconstruct your favorite things into their core components you can not only better appreciate the work that goes into them but you can also know what elements might work best for your own work.
And absolutely. Art - and this includes all forms of it be it music, literature, art, etc - has just as much power to repulse as it does to represent. When something resonates on a personal level with your audience you create a permanent impression be it positive or negative. Furthermore the feeling that an artist imparts on a piece becomes a part of the permanence behind the work. If an artist isn't feeling a piece, there's a good chance the audience won't either, thus increasing the chances of entering the realm of vague memory.
Elayn: That’s a fascinating thought. How much of an impression do you think an audience feels is yours, and how much is theirs? Is there a subconscious transference of feeling? I generally argue against the idea of an objectively “correct” interpretation of art, but subjectively, some portion of an artist’s feeling reaching the audience implies at least some portion of correctness.
Speaking of feeling a piece, is there something you do to conjure the feelings you want to put into your work? (That was a terrible double entendre/pun)
Peg: I want to say it's an even split, but the artist has the interesting conundrum wherein only they understand the full meaning or emotion behind a piece they create. What exists in our heads and what the audience sees can be two completely different things. I've personally made images while depressed, happy, angry, melancholic, and all ranges of emotions; likewise does my audience view my work under their OWN similar myriad of emotions. This can create strange dynamics in which the meaning of a piece changes from artist to artist and spectator to spectator, allowing almost infinite interpretations. Even if an artist says "this means this" about a piece doesn't necessarily make it "correct" to the one viewing said piece. This is basically a super-long way of me saying, "Yes I definitely agree with you on the topic of objective correctness" ha ha!
As for that, I adopt an absolute dump truck of things to work on an image. I listen to numerous genres of music, listen to streamers play video games, listen to podcasts, or sometimes even just listen to simple ambience. Interestingly each one can put an artist into a different headspace as they create. I think that could be a bit of advice to artists as well; if you listen to music but find yourself struggling to find inspiration, switch it up! Explore a new genre of music, try listening to a thunderstorm, or maybe listen to an audiobook or podcast as you work. My current background noise is streamers playing horror games!
Elayn: That reminds me of Joseph Campbell expressing the idea that “myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths.” Do you think this fits with your thoughts on the public/private relationship art plays between artist and audience?
Peg: I can definitely subscribe to that notion. It further extends the range of emotions from both artist and audience notion and instead pushes it into something more of a "consciousness" to me. Myths and legends were used to explain the world around us and why things were the way they were. Gods and goddesses were typically created in our images to explain our complex emotions and as a result they acted very human-like. Myths and legends sprang up around these gods, explaining their lives and actions, and as a result we received art that depicted these gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines living these fantastical lives. In a way you could say that the "subconscious" dreams were the wellspring behind the "conscious" myths.
As artists and writers we can create whole worlds - universes, even - from even the smallest of pieces. We present these universes to our audience who then "fill in the blanks" so to speak with their own characters and stories - their own myths and legends.
Art in general is a perpetual cycle of creativity, recycling, repurposing, and reshaping itself into new forms from artist to audience and back again.
Elayn: This is a very endearing and optimistic view of fanfiction. Thank you for encouraging people to be full participants in their fandom.
Peg: I would never be one to quash creativity in any of its forms, that's for certain!
What’s tickling your fancy for future exploration these days?
I've still been in something of a horror kick lately for some reason. I blame Halloween approaching! Aside from that I've been working on making assets for Daz artists to use in their own work. I've recently started taking to selling my more "polished" products - mostly pose packs - on Renderhub. The pickings are a bit meager at the moment, but I'm working on expanding my catalog a bit.
Aside from that I've officially started working on "Season 2" of a fan-favorite series, the F.U.T.A. - a sultry lil' combination of competitive sex with some interesting personalities that futanari fans are certain to enjoy over on my Patreon and Subscribestar!
Elayn: What are your favorite things about Halloween?
Peg: I can't quite say...there's so many things about it that're just awesome. There's a different energy to it compared to any other holiday, it takes place during my favorite season of the year, the cool decorations and costumes you get to see, you name it I love it! There's certainly also the appeal of playing dress up and not being looked at weird then drinking some hot apple cider as you scare the crap out of yourself watching a scary movie.
Anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Thank you guys so much for being so supportive! Keep being awesome, and I'll do my best to keep making stuff you guys continue to enjoy!
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