A proud Canadian who needs about four more hours in the day to get everything she wants done. Shonna is a writer, artist, and gamer, while working full time and raising two kids. Creativity is where she finds her centre. It is both invigorating and frustrating. Currently, Shonna is working toward attaining a book deal for the series she is working on, Lost Infernal. My biggest fandoms? Final Fantasy, Halo (if you couldn't tell from the tattoo), and Dragon Age. I also collect action figures and merchandise. No, I don't keep them in boxes. I display them or wear them proudly.
EXPOS & COMMISSIONS
Shonna sells select portraits at the Calgary and Edmonton expos. This is the only place she sells art. As each piece takes 40-60 hours, Shonna does not take commissions.
Through the years I've worked on the shirtless man-art, I've had several discussions with people about double-standards and message. I want to share my thoughts on this.
WHY I DRAW WHAT I DO
I actually started by drawing women and eventually started drawing men. I find male musculature challenging. A subtle shift of an arm can completely change the shape of a muscle in the torso. I also find the angles of the face a greater challenge. That is what I am trying to do - challenge myself. The subjects of my art are also based off requests. The more I hear a name come up, the more likely I am to draw them.
- EXCEPTIONS: When choosing a subject, I try to take into consideration a few very important things if this is a real person.
1. What is their personality? I research all people I draw and have pulled out of drawing someone based on what I see in their interviews or about their personality. If that person is shy or seems uncomfortable with the attention they are given, I simply won't draw them.
2. Does the subject pose or do work without a shirt? And I mean more than once. Sometimes contracts in movies or shows demand shirtless work and it really wouldn't be there thing otherwise. (This, OF COURSE, puts huge limitations on the types of bodies I draw. I would totally be down for drawing a wider range of body types, if I knew the subject would not mind being portrayed shirtless.)
3. Does the person seem comfortable being portrayed this way? This is mostly guess work, based off personality and I have gotten it wrong before. Most times, I seem to have gotten it right. In fact, many subjects request prints of their portrait (and, yes, they are given to them free).
4. Has the subject expressed their opinion on social media or elsewhere? When possible, I tag the subject in posts about my intent and then in WIP shots. This way they, or the people monitoring their account, might see it's being done. Their body, their rules. If they express discomfort, or I hear of apparent discomfort through my fans who take prints to them for signing, I stop production and may pull the piece, depending on the situation. I've pulled two pieces so far (earlier works) that the subject has expressed discomfort with. On the other hand, I have had subjects provide me with the reference material.
Despite what some people may think, I will only ever draw the subject in a body that is theirs! This is a big one for me. I take all my subject's bodies from pictures of them. I even try to identify areas where editing has occurred and get rid of it. I try my damnedest to stick to source material. I think it would be repugnant to draw someone in a body that has been changed from their actual physique. That being said, people may have bulked up for a role, or for a time in their life, and that is the only reference I can find.
This is a touchy one, so let's break it apart here:
1. Let's be real for a moment
Generally, guys can be found shirtless walking down the street, at swimming pools, or on the beach. Sure, when a man is shirtless and has a physique that pings on someone's sexual attraction meter, it can take on a sexual context, however, they're not about to get arrested for it. Female breasts are, for the large part, handled completely different than men's. I put shirtless men in the same category of sexiness as a woman in a bikini top. Sexy? yes. Out of the norm? No.
2. Context is important
A woman standing naturally around in a bikini top can send a different message than a woman posing in a sexual position in a bikini top. For the most part, especially in the more recent years, literally the guys are just standing or sitting. There is very little overtly sexual about the way I'm posing them (though some of my earlier works have exceptions). You could literally see the people I'm drawing walking along a beach on any given day.
3. Body types
As stated above, the body types I draw are limited by my rules. Some of these rules came from getting it wrong. I did once draw a man who was not spending his days in the gym and eating ridiculous amounts of protein. He was bit larger at the time. The subject did not appreciate it and I ended up pulling it. Thus began the creation of my rules, rules which wildly reduce the variety of body types I portray.
*I WOULD BE HAPPY TO DRAW A MORE DIVERSE RANGE OF BODIES*
Everyone, regardless of gender, is attracted to a range of body types. I certainly am. But this is a fine line I'm walking, honestly. In an ideal world, I would be able to get consent from all of them - not just the few I do. In a less than ideal world, I try to make educated guesses about the person and that limits my options.
LET'S TALK ABOUT STANDARDS OF BEAUTY
*YOU AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW ARE BEAUTIFUL*
*YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR PREFERENCE. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO BE AN ASSHOLE ABOUT IT*
Everyone on this planet has preferences. Everyone is allowed their preferences (this is the internet so let's say what shouldn't need to be said, and say I am not counting minors or animals in that statement). The problem arises with what they do with it.
YOU MAY BE AN ASSHOLE CAUSING THE PROBLEM IF:
- You think it's fine to tell other people that they don't fit into your ideal when they did not ask.
- You think it's fine to tell other people that they do fit into your ideal when they did not ask.
- You think it's fine to encourage others to adhere to your ideal, either in appearance or in their own preferences.
- You go online and call people fat or ugly because you think knocking someone's appearance makes you a fucking genius or better than them.
- You have the power to represent a realistic variety of body types and influence society with that power, but you chose not to.
- You use your ideal to make other people feel small, uncomfortable, or unsafe.
- You believe how close someone is to your ideal has any impact on their worth.
- You speak disrespectfully, even in praise, about a person's appearance - to them or to others.
- You believe a person's worth is measured by your idea of beauty standards.
AND ON A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT NOTE
- You hold a belief that beauty can determine the right or wrongness of a person's behaviour. Murders, abusers, stalkers, etc...your narrative, even in jest, can be harmful.
Whether you spend your days in a gym or are someone content with a body that just does what you need it to based on your chosen lifestyle, you are just as worthy and important as any other person. YOUR WORTH IS NOT IN YOUR APPEARANCE. IT IS IN YOUR ACTIONS. Fuck what other people say. You are beautiful.
If beauty is important to you, try to remember: Good people fall in love with people not bodies. Not hair lines. Not skin. Not height. Your physical appearance *will* impact who is physically attracted to you and no one owes you their attention. That is reality. However, the truth is that you don't know who really loves your body as it is or who is afraid to speak up because they've been told their whole life that liking anything out of the generic beauty standard is wrong. And, remember, how many people find your attractive has no impact on your worth.
Take care of yourself. Be in a body that is realistic for your lifestyle, and strive every day to be a better person. Nothing else matters. If anyone thinks otherwise, you really don't want to be with them anyhow. If you're going to care about what someone thinks about you, make you you care about the opinions of people who share your values.