Nick Knight, Vivienne Westwood, Beth Ditto and more pen a penis for Dominic Myatt’s new book, which sees all proceeds donated to charity
The ‘dick pic’ is a divisive topic. An increasingly prolific and unsolicited form of image-sharing, the dick pic can raise issues surrounding sex, boundaries and consent. However, artist Dominic Myatt’s new book, Penile Papers, allows its contributors to pen the penis in their own unique (and warranted) way.
Published in an edition of 200, the intimate book is cock-a-block of bawdy illustrations from fashion favourites – the likes of Nick Knight, Matty Bovan, Beth Ditto, Princess Julia, Charles Jeffrey, Vivienne Westwood, and Andreas Kronthaler are included – as well as an IT consultant, a pub landlady, and Dominic’s friend‘s grandmother. The book’s profits are all to be equally split between the HIV and sexual health awareness organisation Terrence Higgins Trust and racial equality organisation Runnymede Trust.
The collection of drawings is diverse in shape, size, style, and sauciness. Some are painterly and tender, others minimal and scrawled. Cartoonish or anatomical in their attempts, the drawings are printed next to their drawers’ name. Thus, whether the artist presents with male genitalia or not is immaterial – the penises become bold self-portraits.
Published by MNK Press, the drawings are also accompanied by snippets of text scattered throughout the book, taken from contributors’ answers to choice penis-pertinent questions posed by Myatt – and some of the ‘no thanks’ emails received in response.
Here, speaking in his own words, Dominic Myatt tells us about the process of compiling it.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the way people make different marks to communicate the same ideas or messages. For a long time I’ve collected photos of hand-written signs and drawings and this just felt like a playful way to compile all of those things and draw attention to the humble but ubiquitous phallic scribble that we’ve all either done or seen scrawled in the backs of books, walls, doors, toilet cubicles and elsewhere.
“I was mostly interested in recording how different people would respond to the request for a drawing of a penis, and what their drawing would look like ... as you can see by flicking through the book, it’s anything but uniform. My favourite penises are by Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler. Vivienne’s was delicately and beautifully drawn onto a piece of pattern cutting paper and Andreas’ marker-penned onto the back of a photocopy from the studio.
“The meaning – and in turn, the reaction – to the image of a penis has changed throughout history, but it’s always been there. My favourite one is a drawing archeologists found etched into a quarry near Hadrian’s Wall, put there almost 2,000 years ago. Experts say it then would have been a symbol of good luck.
“Most people found it hilarious and were pretty eager to be involved. I asked Björk in person at the Queen Adelaide, though thrusting a notebook in her direction and over all the noise, I think she assumed I was asking for an autograph and quickly exited my vicinity. I even tried to contact some MPs via their offices but I didn’t receive any replies ... I’ve put snippets of the various responses and answers to other questions throughout the book.
“I worked on the design with Chris Colville-Walker and we decided to print it to the average dimensions of a penis, so that when it is rolled up in your hand, you have this little temporary sculptural phallus that sort of tied everything together. Even unrolled, its weight and size feel akin to a smartphone or device – one of the main channels for many people’s sexuality, especially over the past year. Yes, it’s a nod to the phenomenon of the unsolicited (or solicited) dick pic but simultaneously makes a mockery of it.”
Penile Papers is available here.