[CW: This interview contains NSFW, sexually explicit artwork.]
If you’ve been following the blog for a while now then you have likely already surmised that I’m a pretty big furry fan, or more specifically: I fucking LOVE queer furry porn. Lucky for me, the furry art scene is BURSTING with queer furry porn and sex comics. In fact, I’m pretty confident in saying that in terms of sheer volume alone the furry scene seems to have more queer and trans positive sexual content than any other art genre out there.
But, like, why? Why is it that the furry community seems to be such a huge conduit for expressions of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity? I dunno.
So, to explore those questions, I decided to put on my big kid leggings and reached out to one of my absolute favorite artists working within the genre, SalKitten, who recently just announced an exciting new Sketchbook Tour video series on their Patreon account.
And despite my negative self-talk convincing me that they would never respond, Sal agreed to an interview! Here’s what we got to talking about:
What initially drew you to the furry/anthro community and what do you enjoy about making furry art?
Sal: The first time I drew a furry, I didn’t even know what they were called. In middle school I dabbled in comics for fun and made two characters, Todd (a stereotypical fox) and Coala (a sheepdog). From there I went through the classic weaboo phase where I read Loveless and fell in love with the idea of kemonomimi (humans with animal features). That naturally grew into drawing classic furries, though it wasn’t until I entered college when I made a furaffinity account and began to make characters. Funny enough, my ‘fursona’ has evolved since early highschool, and while they’ve changed a lot in style and design, a lot has stayed consistent.
Character creation and individuality are the big draws of the furry fandom for me. My fursona feels just detached enough from myself to draw in unique ways, but also represents an image of myself that I cannot ever accomplish. I can draw my characters with whatever gender expression I feel like at that moment, and living vicariously through my art gives me an outlet that otherwise wouldn’t exist in my daily life.
And, beyond that, I really love animals. Surprise!
As a queer individual yourself, how big of a role, if any, does your identity play in the art that you create?
Sal: It might seem contrite, but my gender identity is fairly null and leaning toward non binary/ambivalence. I used to tell my friends that my birth sex only truly matters to my doctor and partners, but as time goes on I do acknowledge that my gender expression can be far from androgynous. Some days I present more masculine, some days I’m more feminine, but the brain inside the body likes to remind me that it considers itself a gender neutral being.
My preference? I Identify with my name more than my gender, if that makes sense.
My art has always been a way for me to explore myself, and is a big reason why I know what I like and don’t like. Likewise, my identity influences what I enjoy drawing, particularly at the time. Sometimes I’ll browse my own gallery and see five drawings of girl pinups in a row, or five images of gay twinks. Perhaps I’m lucky to have broad tastes! However, I feel like my identity has much less bearing on my work when it comes to commissioned art. I’m comfortable drawing a lot of different content for clients, though I briefly fell into a niche of femboys and twinks that I’ve not quite made my way out of.
The furry community generally seems to attract a fandom of very diverse sexualities as well as gender identities and expressions. Why do you think that is?
Sal: I think that it’s a similar concept to why I enjoy my fursona. Very few other communities allow a way to so drastically express yourself. The furry fandom is also unique in that it revolves around art and content of characters. Someone with a closeted sexuality or gender identity in their day life can draw or buy art that allows them to express that desire.
I’ve also been a part of the BDSM community, which can have a similar appeal for a double life. Like the furry fandom, you can create a new identity and live through it, exploring parts of your identity and meeting likeminded people. What makes the furry fandom different is a community-wide fondness for animals and the potential to distance yourself from sexual aspects or kinks, if you so choose.
I also find it interesting how what someone chooses for their fursona can reflect their personality and quirks, though it’s not always the case. For example, my fursona is a cat because I identify with the independent nature, aloofness and occasional sass of cats. It’s like a Myer’s Briggs test with animals. You can’t find THAT so easily in a BDSM club!
In a recent journal post on Fur Affinity you mentioned that you wished you could see more realistic pornography, and that more adult furry art worked to destigmatize sex, and to promote consent and communication. Are these values that you foster in your sexually explicit content too and, if so, how do you feel your collected work embodies those positive notions?
Sal: I’d definitely like to put more effort into drawing this type of content, myself. I think that the best content to create is the type you would enjoy viewing, and I always love reading comics and viewing art with these themes.
While I agree that classic pornography tropes have their place, I enjoy seeing things like loving couples, consent, communication and more gender and sexuality diversity. I feel like furry art, like all other art, is saturated by stereotypes and could use a few more artists out there trying to put out more heartfelt content.
I love cheesey smut stories as much as the next dude, but nothing beats feeling emotionally invested in characters or relating personally to their lovemaking. It’s like the difference between drive through burgers and a delicious steak. Both are good, but one you remember longer.
How, specifically, would you like to see other adult furry artists in the community destigmatize sex and promote consent and communication in their work as well?
Sal: Create content! Specifically? Comics have the best chance, as realistic and emotional scenes take more than one still frame to put together. If it’s alright with you, I’d particularly point out the following comics that successfully pull this off, such as Yes, Roya, Forbidden Flora, and Little Buddy.
What pieces, or comics, are you proudest of and how would you like to see yourself develop as an artist going forward?
Sal: While it’s terribly dated at this point, I believe that my first comic, Kiss the Rain, is still one of the best works I’ve done. I still get emails regarding it and how people relate to the relationship between the characters. It set the bar for what I want to see in my own work as far as stories go, and my goal is to produce content that exceeds it. Right now, I’m planning for a potential comic with a transgender protagonist, so we’ll see how it goes!