People generally will not or just do not talk about this stuff. If you’re thinking about going down this road, read it and save yourself some grief. Also, I know Japan doesn’t use the term hentai; I get it, it’s not the correct term. For ease of communication with my English audience, I will use it excessively.
- Becoming a Hentai Artist in Japan
- Problems With Being a Hentai Artist
- Being a Loli Artist is Hard
- Should You Become a Hentai Artist?
- How to Become a Hentai Artist and Survive
Becoming a Hentai Artist in Japan
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to a Japanese artist and the main question I asked him was: “Is your job economically stable?” The image above shows the original response and a translated version. If I get responses from anymore artists, I’ll post them in links here. Please share any of your findings with me as well.
I realize this is just the opinion of one artist, but if you look at other e-famous artists like Asanagi/Fatal Pulse, they are increasingly turning to Enty (a Japanese Patreon system basically) and even Patreon to free up their time from commissions. You don’t have to talk to any of these artists to figure this out, just look at Pixiv and see how much talent is out there. Even big artists who don’t do adult comics for a living draw hentai sometimes, which makes competition even fiercer.
I made the mistake of thinking that “oh, the animation industry is suffering and the manga industry chews and spits out huge artists like Tite Kubo, but the hentai industry must be different because sex sells! Toshio Maeda, the tentacle master, said so!” Not taking into account the fact that industries change over time and the overall economic state of things in Japan. There’s also work culture, the phenomenon of karoshi or “overwork”, and the homogeneous way of things.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; don’t make the mistake of blending the Eastern and Western markets. Being a hentai artist outside of Japan is easier because the market is so small, but if you think just because you’re a big fish in a small pond that you can just jump into the Eastern market with no problems, then you’re in for a rude awakening. I’ve spoken briefly with a popular Western artist trying to do this shit and he confirms these hardships. It’s really not easy. You have to learn the language, bow down to a publisher, beat everyone in a popularity contest, and consistently do that for the rest of your life. I’m oversimplifying, but that’s the gist of it.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone going down this route. You most certainly can make it as a hentai artist if you stick to a western market, but if you want to go to Japan and get published, be prepared for the mental and physical strain. Is it impossible? Heck no, Shindol did it but even he turned to Patreon for extra financial support.
Problems With Being a Hentai Artist
In general, being a hentai artist will leave your guard down and it can stifle your progress as an artist. Whether you’re Japanese or a foreigner, it will delude you into thinking you’re better than you actually are. To be fair, I fall prey to that sometimes. Until I recently met up with some artists who work in the game, film, and animation industry, I realized shit–these people aren’t just studying anatomy, they’re covering every base they can through school, workshops, ateliers, etc…The reality is, most artists are leagues ahead of us because most of us limit ourselves to drawing porn.
At any moment, a SFW artist who has been studying the fundamentals could decide one day that they want to draw porn and bam, you’re knocked down the totem pole. Just look at Sakimichan. Not the most skilled artist, in fact, there are many who are way ahead of her but as soon as she does NSFW, her profits skyrocketed. This lady is making 60k+ a month on Patreon alone, not taking into account taxes. Regardless, she’s still making more than 99.9% of us. How many of you make that much in a year? Exactly. That’s the level of competition I’m talking about.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s room for all of us at the moment, but be aware–these things change. The world of business can be merciless, and if you’re so concentrated on feeling good instead of sharpening your skills, you’ll dull and lose your edge like a neglected sword.
Which brings me to my next point: the hentai “community” is a huge circle jerk. Harmful Opinions did a great video about how constant positive reinforcement can be just as toxic as nonconstructive criticism. The thing with hentai artists is that they don’t seem to talk about art or approach it the way regular artists do. There’s obviously more emphasis on the sexual aspect and if it’s fanart, the Franchises tied to it. It’s a totally different world even though we’re all doing the same shit. No one seems to critique one another, and if you do, you generally get ignored or it comes off as a personal insult because no one is abstracted the way popular Japanese artists are. You could shit on their art and they probably will never see it or care, but at the end of the day, you’re criticizing their work like you would anyone else. There aren’t many avenues to turn to for help when there’s a stigma against porn to begin with, so hopefully things will change.
Now there’s the whole issue of being self employed if you decide not to go down the paysite route. Not only do you face the same issues as any other freelancer, you don’t have as many options as a regular artists because the illustrated porn industry is restricted to the internet. It’s tough shit like I said before, but you have options. I will elaborate in the last part regarding “How to Become a Hentai Artist.”
Being A Loli Artist Is Hard
Unless you’ve built an empire on fanart, tits, ass, and every fetish under the sun–you will struggle. It’s already hard to get noticed and make a living in Japan where all the lolicons congregate; it’s even tougher in a western market. The demand is low and even if you work your ass off, the return is still low. It’s a niche and most platforms don’t allow you to post it so you can’t advertise it unless you do it in roundabout ways like I do. I usually use a cropped image and then link to a direct link on twitter if I post anywhere else. I haven’t had any issues, but with this Orwellian age of censorship coming upon us, that could change any time.
Sometimes I get criticism for the online persona thing but don’t be stupid and dox yourself. If you have to make up an elaborate story about yourself, do it and don’t show your face. If someone really wanted to go after you, they can sit on this information and then release it like a ticking time bomb when you’re most vulnerable. Sounds silly because whaaat it’s just cartoons! No, we live in an age where being publicly crucified is acceptable. Fuck justice, fuck the system, I feeeel like you’re a bad person so you must be! Fuck that shit, protect yourself.
As for my personal thoughts on this matter. Everyday I wake up wondering what the fuck am I doing? I don’t live in a 3rd world country, I can’t survive off of $800 a month (I work a day job but that eats up so much time). I’ve even considered moving to a 3rd world shit hole too just to save on living costs, but don’t do that. That’s stupid. You could get caught in the country’s brewing political affairs, have your passport stolen, held for ransom if you stand out, or mugged and murdered.
I constantly wonder if I should just sell out to support my passions, but compromising that crushes your soul–the very thing that keeps you going in the first place. Should you compromise your values or prioritize survival? It’s up to you whether you want to live like an animal or not. I’ve chosen freedom, family, and values over security but we’ll see how that pans out. If I stop posting, assume I’m dead or a corporate wage slave.
It’s a lonely road. It’s obviously hard to meet regular artists because you have to keep it a secret and you can’t share your work unless you do SFW on the side. Even hentai artists won’t want to associate with you unless you’re popular or you have other things going for you. That’s what I’ve noticed with most other western loli artists, but then again, there aren’t a lot of them and they might just be private people like me.
Should You Become a Hentai Artist?
Like I mentioned above, it’s up to you whether or not you value survival more than artistic integrity. Time is your most important asset. You can choose to work in an environment to support your goals if that’s an option, but if it’s not, you’re compromising your goals for a paycheck. Sometimes things will work itself out if you’re doing the things you want to do. I’m jaded from working a dead end job, so I’ve decided to proceed from love as oppose to fear. You decide what to expect from yourself and build your life around that. Elliot Hulse is one of my favorite contemporary philosophers; this video doesn’t address art or hentai specifically, but the essence of it is the same. Just substitute strength training with art, but you should also take the message as is because your health is just as if not more important!
How to Become a Hentai Artist and Survive
It’s simple, but you have to be consistent. How much you put into it will determine how much you get out of it.
If you’re thinking of quitting your job, here’s a realistic explanation on how to do it. Otherwise, if you’re going to be gung-ho about it, here’s a list of 10 things to keep in mind.
Post a lot. Whether it’s a doodle or a full post, have something new at least once a week.
Use many different platforms to direct traffic to your site. Keep in mind every site’s terms of service.
English: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Newgrounds, Hentai Foundry, Gelbooru, 8 or 7 Chan, Pixzel for streaming.
Japanese: Pixiv, Nijie, Ecchi Iwara, (I’ll add more as I find them)
Update social media everyday or at least the important ones that bring traffic.
Do a lot of fanart and cash in on hype.
Do different types of porn: loli, furry, straight, gay (trap), futa, tentacles, etc.
Interact with your community often.
Collaborate with artists or feature them on your site.
Make friends with other hentai artists.
Be entertaining and stand out
Options for making money: Patreon, commissions, paysites, donations, streaming, Youtube, merchandise, any other sources of revenue you can think of.
If there’s anything I forgot, let me know and I’ll elaborate or correct any wrong information. If you just think I’m a dick, ok, I don’t care. It’s not any easy road to go down, everyone should know what it entails.