Artist Features

An Artist a Week: Gwen D’Arcy


Week 54: Gwen D’Arcy

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Society6, or Storenvy.

Illustrator and tattoo artist Gwen D’Arcy creates some truly beautiful woman. Consider this your warning that some of the art on her pages might be NSFW; she frequently draws beautiful, topless female bodies. These women are usually alternative (tattoos, piercings, dyed hair) and often ethereal (including wide, unseeing blank eyes); some even are part animal. These women are also incredibly sensual, with curves aplenty and lush lips. Why am I okay with this when I write here so often about the sexualization of women in art (and comics)?


There has always been something incredibly empowering to me about a woman drawing beautiful women. There’s a nuance and appreciation there, something about it that is strong. It’s a woman in charge of the beauty and sexuality and what is worth drawing. It may be an expression of ourselves or a reclamation of what has been misused by the male gaze so often but it is one of my favorite things in art (as you may have noticed so far).


Not only that–D’Arcy  often subverts this beauty, making it otherworldly and maybe slightly unsettling. It’s a subtle shift of control–if beauty is power, what happens when someone is so beautiful that they transcend to alien, beyond human? (This is getting a little philosophical but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with art making a person think.)


Beyond all of that, however, D’Arcy is good at art, technically and creatively. While I haven’t been able to find any photos of her designs actually tattooed, it isn’t hard to imagine someone getting one as a forever piece of art for them.


The women D’Arcy creates on the page make me feel like a badass by proxy. They make me feel inspired to be ethereal, unreal, the kind of beautiful that is mine and no one else’s–the kind of beauty that scares. It makes me feel powerful.


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