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Emma Stern Marries Online Gaming and Fine Art
The future? Virtual Muses.
Art Girls Jungle 08 Jun 2020

Working with 3D software, Emma Stern’s art mixes fine art painting with futuristic digital influences. Interested in how the apparent preferences, biases, and predispositions of (mostly male) gamers are imposed on virtual female bodies, her work pulls inspiration from the online world. We spoke to Emma about her art making process, her thoughts on social media and what she’s been up to in quarantine.


Emma Stern and her painting Jess 2. Image courtesy Xin Yu.

What first got you into making art?

I have made art my whole life so I can’t really pinpoint any one factor. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t driven towards creativity in some form. 

Amaya. Image courtesy Emma Stern

What are your inspirations?

I draw a lot of inspiration from outsider art, in particular from online niche subcultures like fursonas, fandom and 3d erotica. 

Your work seems to be influenced a lot by digital media, can you tell me a little about your art making process?

I work with 3d character design software used mostly by game devs or for hobbyists with, shall we say…a broad range of interests. By recontextualizing this tool within the world of *Fine Art*,  I create virtual muses that often appear repeatedly throughout my work, as well as virtual environments for them. These 3d compositions serve not only as my reference material but also as master files for paintings and drawings and more recently sculptures.

Who are the subjects in your work?

Sometimes I think of them as self portraits or alter-egos. Other times, I think of them as archetypical tropes or characters or whatever you want to call them that appear all throughout history but are especially pronounced in the world of 3d art and erotica; the cheerleader, the cowgirl, the pin-up girl, the bimbo, the secretary, the girl next door… and then when you start involving all the niche internet/gamer subcultures, you get these fantasy elements and wind up with the slutty elf, sexy centaur, warrior princess, etc. I am interested in how the apparent preferences, biases, and predispositions of (mostly male) creators in these subcultures are imposed on virtual female bodies. 


Naomi 1. Image courtesy Emma Stern

What advice would you give to young women wanting to make a career as an artist?

My advice to women is the same advice I would give to anyone, which is to make (a lot) of good work. Go to the studio every day even if you don’t feel like it. Also, social media can be your friend or your enemy, use it thoughtfully.


April + May. Image courtesy Emma Stern

What have you been up to in quarantine?

I live and work in Brooklyn but have been incredibly fortunate to have (accidentally) spent all of quarantine in Los Angeles on a (very) extended residency. It’s been very surreal for this all to unexpectedly happen while removed from my regular environment and social support network but since I was mentally prepared to be hyper-productive during these few months anyway, I have just tried to remain focused and use the time wisely. Other than art-making, I have been reading, writing, teaching my 93 year old grandma how to Facetime, working on my tan, and scheming up future projects/collaborations. 

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

My hope AND my plan is to hug and kiss my friends IRL ASAP. 

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