Q: I like your photos, but why are you censoring nudity?
Medium answer: Nudity is only incidental to my larger artistic belief that all aspects of our lives should be equally depicted as legitimate subjects.
But honestly, there’s very little incentive for an artist to publish even modestly sexual visual work online. This is specially true when an artist also does work that requires patronage from often-skittish and culturally conservative corporations. Sexual images become extremely popular with rebloggers, and begin to crowd out more mainstream images, leading to an inaccurate survey of an artist’s oeuvre. While it might be superficially satisfying to have many thousand reblogs on a sexual/nude image, these many thousand reblogs are not worth even a single tiny poorly-paid ad campaign, which they might cost by scaring clients away when those clients do Google Image searches.
It used to be you could publish some content appropriately in one venue, and other content appropriately in other venues. As Google’s reach becomes more complete and permanent, publishing content anywhere means that content is published everywhere.
I estimate that I’ve lost six-figures worth of income over the years due to “edgy” content, like nudity or sexuality. I’ve only earned five-figures of income due to it. And while I don’t make artistic decisions based solely on what hypothetical future clients might be scared by (if I did I’d just quit and become a banker,) they have some factor in the equation, as does the censorship inherent to the “Community Guidelines” of publishing platforms like Instagram and Tumblr. Whereas lost reblogs? No factor at all.
Reblogs are worth approximately zero point zero zero dollars. It does me no good when a thousand fetish tumblrs reblog a single sub-genre of my work, but a single ad campaign can buy my mom a house. The math does itself. Sex doesn’t sell. This sells
This would involve a larger exploration of the economics of attention and the disparity between what an audience craves and what an artist needs from that audience. It would explore how self-censorship and obfuscation of detail can actually be an expressive art in itself. It would probably also touch on metaphors involving pornography, astrometry, and stellar wobbles, and it’d be way too wordy for Tumblr. Maybe I’ll explore it someday over on my essay site, Always On