NSFW: Natalie Krim Draws the Erotic Feminist
Natalie Krim greets me outside her house in Central LA wearing kitten heels, a pencil skirt and a prim button down blouse. From her sweet proper demeanor one would never think that she’s the author of some of the most amazing erotic illustrations. Krim’s work is a compilation of drawings made on antique paper filled with vintage looking girls wearing fancy lingerie sprawled in a myriad of sexual positions, sometimes even riding giant flying penises.
Over a cup of tea, Milk Made’s Alexandra Velasco asks Krim about sex, feminism, art and how wearing lavish lingerie is the equivalent of having secret superpowers.
How does the female gaze change the sexual stereotypes portrayed in your drawings?
I feel my drawings are for women, I never think about trying to get a reaction out of a man. Often times they’re self-portraits of what I am feeling or going through. A lot of the sadness comes from relationships I was in long-distance… and trying to explore my sexuality and feel comfortable with it. I feel like it can be such a beautiful thing and it can be such a dark thing. I’m trying to find what’s healthiest for somebody, but they’re always me. Sometimes they look nothing like me and sometimes there’s a resemblance. Whoever is in my life at the moment picks up on the little secrets that are hidden in these drawings.
These women are wearing particular outfits that give them a personality, a certain character. I was wondering who they were…
Well I started out as lingerie being my thing. I have a huge collection of vintage lingerie upstairs. When I first started drawing I was drawing girls because I wanted to design lingerie. Then it morphed into more of a way of expressing myself and communicating myself, cause I am quite shy usually.
From pictures that I’ve seen of you I wouldn’t get that you are shy, and then I met you in person, it’s different. Would you say that both of them are you?
I do, 100%. And that’s why a lot of my drawings have two girls. Cause I feel like I am two, like I’m split sometimes. I can put myself out there in that context with my work or photographs but I am also very reserved and all covered up. So I go back and forth. But I think women in general are so many different things, and we are allowed to be so many personalities. You can dress one way one day and a different way another day.
It’s fun to be a woman. It’s like Beyoncé with Sasha Fierce.
Yes. It’s funny, I often feel like if I meet a male that has only seen my work or photographs, they’re often disappointed because they think I am always this sexual person, but I am pretty calm most of the time.
It’s strange to think women have a lot more layers than men.
That’s what it is, layers…
What do you feel when you are wearing fancy lingerie?
I feel like it’s a superhero costume. It’s a secret that you know about… it can be so powerful, and you can tuck in or push up and play up certain assets. It’s like dressing up for an adult. It’s so feminine; you can be very powerful or you can have it be very sweet.
Your ‘Collection of Naughty Girls’ are illustrations of girls juxtaposed with words like slut, but their actions seem so menial and innocent. What are you trying to say with that?
I did those drawings a couple of years ago; my drawings are morphing a bit right now. With those drawings specifically I was trying to take the power out of that word, because it was so offensive to me. I used it to make it not be such a harmful word in my head. It doesn’t mean anything to be called that because you should feel comfortable in your sexuality and exploring it shouldn’t be this: “oh you’re a slut.” I wanted to remove any of the stigma that comes with that word.
We keep calling ourselves girls… when will the word “woman” stop being unsexy? A girl is sexy; a woman is not, why is that? What would you say your drawings are, women or girls?
I don’t feel like a woman yet and I don’t know if it’s because physically I’m not voluptuous and curvy, or I haven’t had a child. Or even if those certain milestones would play a part in making me feel like a woman. I feel like I am still trying to get there. I still feel like I am still learning so much so I feel like my drawings are kind of in that in between period also. It’s like that Britney Spears song. I don’t think it has anything to do with age; I have friends that are younger than me who I consider to be very womanly. It might be a state of mind.
Your drawings seem to follow a certain narrative… where do these ideas come from?
It’s usually a specific moment in my life. I draw so much of what I am familiar with, or what I am experiencing. It might be something someone said to me, or an interaction I had with someone. It doesn’t always have to be sexual intimacy but that’s how I do all my drawings, through something very personal I am trying to communicate. I’m not trying to think of a story but I am definitely thinking of a moment.
I think it’s important to share your vulnerabilities with people. It creates this acceptance to whoever is looking at your work that it’s ok. I think you have to own your vulnerabilities and insecurities.
Why do you choose to show your emotions through sex?
I feel that when you are with someone in that moment you are so vulnerable and you can see so much of who they are or what you choose to expose to them. I feel it can be this ultimate form of intimacy because you can see insecurities and you can see people letting go and being free. It creates a dynamic for truth, or non-truth, it can go the other way too. So I use that as a way to explore communication.
Do you think a lot of women act a role in sex instead of forgetting about playing a role and just enjoying the moment?
A hundred percent, especially with the porn that’s out there and what people are exposed to. Sexuality is just out there. All over. And you watch these things and you think that this is what you are supposed to say, do or act like. I think once you realize that you don’t have to imitate a porn star, sexuality can become much more loving and honest.
How can we get over that as women?
Finding confidence within yourself and knowing what you want, as well as being able to communicate that with your partner and not being so concerned about what they want. Realize that it’s a mutual experience. It comes form self love and confidence… and kind of just growing up.
If your life were a novel, what would it be?
Do you have any upcoming shows?
I have a show in Portugal coming up with a group of L.A. artists at Manteigaria, Lisboa.
Drawings courtesy of Natalie Krim
Visit her website for more