As his only solo portfolio suggests, Julian Murphy’s erotic view of the world of kink and fetish seen largely through the lens of everyday objects and mechanistic art is indeed singular. Nobody else has combined a precise pre-computer airbrush technique with a keen fetishistic view of the world as he has, and with the advent of graphics tablets and a generally softer, post Forty Shades kink world, it is unlikely that anyone else ever will.

One of Murphy’s repeating elements.

Murphy is originally a Bristolian, who studied design for print at Bristol’s Brunel University and art at the Royal College of Art in London. During the 1980s he worked as a graphic designer, but towards the end of the decade his interest in kink and sexual desire led him to experiment with both subject matter and artistic technique. An admirer of the work of M.C. Escher, he created several repeated interlocking elements that would fill a plane surface and have a sexual theme. He went on to explore more Escher-like compositions (like that of the continuous domino fall); his main theme, however, became the way in which everyday objects like a penknife, a clothes peg, a grater, a wood plane or a vacuum cleaner could be subtly transformed into fetish art, just by emphasising and slightly altering the humanoid aspects of their shapes. Images of fetish sexual automata, detailed down to the last screw and string, were another important avenue.

Though his work attracted much critical attention, and appeared in many exhibitions and publications between 1999 and 2006, Murphy gradually shifted from creating art to curating it. Moving to the USA in 2004, for several years he was Art Director at the Wilzig Erotic Art Museum in Miami Beach, Florida; in 2009 he established himself in Washington DC, where he divides his time between art management at the Kyo Gallery and being a manager and photographer at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

Though he rarely now creates new art, his most popular designs continue to be used as design elements for prints and clothing, and he is still interested in what he calls ‘tantric pop art’. His motto is ‘Your most erogenous zone is your mind’.

Julian Murphy’s storefront can be found here.

Example illustration