Category Archives: My art

Artwork and various creative projects and obsessions from Berlin artist Suzanne Forbes.

BEDx at Lovelite!

Cameryn Moore at BEDx by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019Wow, what lovely cozy queer community there is in Berlin!

I was a presenter at Cameryn Moore‘s BEDx, a mini-conference for sex-geeking. My hub and I taxied across town (first taxi of the year! luxury!) to the gorgeous, welcoming venue, Lovelite. I had an absolutely wonderful time and so did my hub, who said it was like SF in the old days. It really was like the events he and I used to go to together at places like Femina Potens and the Center for Sex and Culture. Everyone relaxed and friendly and supportive, and so kind.

I talked about my work doing documentary drawing at events like play parties and dungeons. It was my first time doing a presentation with slides, but Cameryn set it all up for me and there was a lovely AV person named Yasmin who worked with me running them, and I think the slides were very appropriately filthy ūüôā That’s Cameryn in the top drawing.

Erin Bell at BEDx by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019Erin Bell talked about (and briefly demonstrated!) the practice of “Thinking Off.”

I was very interested because I am reading a book called “The Body Keeps the Score” and am learning that breathwork has healing potential for trauma survivors. Erin is a delightful personality and knows so much about somatics and¬†sex-positive bodywork!Jane Flett at BEDx by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019

And Jane Flett read her amazing poetry!

Wow, she is a terrific writer. I was knocked out by the power of her words. So vivid and fierce, in the warm red-lit room. Really Lovelite is an amazing venue for queer performance.

Altogether a lovely evening out for us and thanks so much to Cameryn for including me! You can check out Cameryn’s other events like the incredibly popular Smut Slam on her Facebook I believe, follow her on twitter and support her on Patreon!

My work documenting queer culture in Berlin is made possible by my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make art. 

You can help, for a little as a dollar/euro a month! My live documentary art is licensed Creative Commons and free for all to share and print, you can read about how that works here.

Seen around town: waltzing boyfriends and a Hoplite warrior!

Waltzing boyfriends Jan 24 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThese two lovebirds were waltzing and smooching as they waited for their train at Hermannplatz.

The funny thing was, I got on the same car as them, and once they were sitting down, the taller guy produced a Dan Brown thriller and began reading it with complete concentration, oblivious to his partner. As Book Time is taken very seriously in our house, I completely respected his boundary-setting around reading.

Cosplay guardian Jan 25 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThis Hoplite was guarding the door at the Erinyes benefit gig I went to recently.

I drew him because it was not what you expected for the security detail at a Polish children’s healthcare benefit. And also it was pretty funny that I was sitting with my Greek friend Anastis drawing the Greek soldier at the Polish children’s healthcare benefit.

However, I only know the armor style is called Hoplite because just a couple days later my husband told me we needed to get a reproduction Hoplite helmet for the library. Because of his studies on Ancient Greece. I said sure, no problem. My first husband built a Tesla coil for our living room and my second husband kept leeches for pets and made daguerreotypes with radioactive rocks, so a Hoplite helmet seems fairly reasonable, really.

edited to add these dancing girls who were whirling around in front of the stage before The Erinyes went on!Dancing girls by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019

Bonus Jan 2019 unterwegs!

Unterwegs Jan 23 2019 A row of readers by Suzanne ForbesI loved this row of reading women.

I wound up having to take a lot of transit this week cause I had medical tests at various doctors, so I had more unterwegs time. There were actually two more women, on either side of these three, also with bent heads reading screens or books, but only these three had bags with rectangular bases in their laps. I imagined the young woman on the right to be a fashion student or designer. She was wearing these cream-colored wide-legged pants that were so striking and unusual for January.

Unterwegs Jan 23 2019 winter hats by Suzanne ForbesHere you can see me being mesmerized by all the textures and shapes of how people bundle up.

As I mentioned in the first unterwegs of this month, it blows my mind how wrapped up people stay on the warm train!

Balance unterwegs by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019edit. to add one more train drawing, which I did on the way to yet another doctor appt!

Previous unterwegs below, all unterwegs courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!

Jan 2019

Dec 2018

Fall 2018

September 2018

August 2018 unterwegs

July 2018 bonus round

July 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

First unterwegs of 2019!

Unterwegs reading guy by Suzanne Forbes Jan 20 2019Drawing a foreshortened face is always a good challenge.

I appreciate people who are reading a book very much for this! I have a tutorial about drawing skulls here where I talk about my approach to the face in perspective.Unterwegs wrapped up guy by Suzanne Forbes Jan 20 2019

People in Berlin are all so bundled up in the winter!

Thanks to menopause I run hot and wear about half as much wrapping as most people. Sitting on the cozy subway and buses and trams, I marvel at their bundling. Many people do not even open their coats on the train! While I get on and am immediately clawing mine open ūüôā

Dancer unterwegs Jan 29 2019 by Suzanne Forbesedit. to add one person who DOESN’T bundle up: this very tall pole dancing guy I’ve seen several times on the U7!

All the thanks to my beautiful Patrons on  Patreon whose monthly financial contributions make it possible for me to make documentary art of life in Berlin.

Previous unterwegs are here:

Dec 2018

Fall 2018

September 2018

August 2018 unterwegs

July 2018 bonus round

July 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

In Berlin, even charity benefits are punk as fuck.

Baron Anastis and Rah Hell of The Erinyes by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2019I was invited to draw The Erinyes at a¬†WOŇöP Berlin charity fundraiser at Werkstatt der Kulturen (Workshop of Cultures).

The Werkstatt is an amazing castle-like building near Hermannplatz. It¬†focuses on¬†transculturality and diversity¬†and showcases¬†Berlin’s migrant forms of culture, art and action. Amazing right?!? There is a big concert auditorium and for this event there was a delicious Polish food pop-up. I ate the most scrumptious vegetarian pierogi, the best I’ve had since those middle of the night feasts at the Kiev in the 80s.

My friends and muses Rah Hell and Baron Anastis were performing, with Antony Buzz who flew in from Greece that morning. I had had some trouble controlling my line the night before at the Schwules Museum, as my hands are a bit shaky from various medication adjustments.

So I decided to take a break from pencil and ink and do some ballpoint drawings. 
The Erinyes by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2019The Erinyes by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2019

Ballpoint is so great for gigs!

It’s so fluid, I just let my hand move with the music, swirling and slashing. It feels incredibly good to draw with a ballpoint, but in general it is other artists who really like the drawings rather than the larger audience, so I tend to avoid it. Still, some of my favorite musician drawings I’ve ever done are in ballpoint or rollerball.

It was so rad to see The Erinyes rocking out, howling their signature raw sexypunk, at an event to raise money for medical care for kids. So gloriously Berlin. I love this city so much.

Spoken word at the Schwules Museum!

audience at the Schwules Museum by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2019I finally made it to an event at the Schwules Museum!

Thanks to my friend Suzanne Wegh, who is always on top of the cool events, I knew there would be an evening of poetry, prose readings and talks at the SPIRITS Dyke Bar at Schwules Museum. I’ve been wanting to visit Berlin’s Gay and Lesbian museum for ages, but with chronic illness I can’t do as much as I want.

The Schwules Museum is 34 years old this year, and it is so lovely.

I came in out of the rain and immediately was happy and comfortable and wanted to see everything, read everything and buy all the cool stuff at the gift shop. The SPIRITS Dyke Bar has been a year-long installation by¬†Ernest Ah, T Blank, and C Detrow set up in the cafe, which is super cozy and comfortable. The event was held by COVEN Berlin, a¬†sex-positive transdisciplinary genderbender collective that my friend Sadie Lune belongs to. (Sadie has a piece in COVEN Berlin’s current exhibition at the museum, EXTRA+TERRESTRIAL!)

Alex Alvina at the Schwules Museum by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2019Here is my drawing of Alex Alvina Chamberland reading from one of her amazing pieces about travelling while trans.

She is hilarious and poignant and writes about lots of Bay Area experiences I could relate to ūüôā

Lee Richards at the Schwules Museum Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2019Here is Lee Richards telling the audience about how “Voodoo doesn’t give a shit who you sleep with” during their talk.

Lovely picture of me with Lee! What you can’t see is that there was a cute doggie right behind us. Photo by Bard!Suzanne Forbes and Lee Richards at the SPIRITS Dyke Bar at Schwules Museum Jan 12 2019

The doggie is named Milka which is a brand of chocolate, candy and cookies; I don’t know the name of the person petting it but the man who is a chair user is Ed! I will get the name of the performer below and add it shortly ūüôā their writing was excellent.

edit: Mine Serizawa is the writer seen below!

I am so grateful to begin another year documenting queer culture in Berlin, thanks to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make art. 

My live documentary art is licensed Creative Commons and free for all to share and print, you can read about how that works here. And if you can visit the Schwules Museum, I definitely recommend it!

Roundup of my open-source crowd-funded documentary art for 2018!

Suzanne Forbes crowd funded open source art 2018Hello all my dear ones, readers/friends/muses/Patrons/collectors! It’s my 52nd birthday!

I made over¬†250 individual pieces of finished documentary art in 2018,¬†despite a year of health challenges (including being in a bus accident that busted up my drawing hand, ongoing menopause & auto-immune problems and my hb’s health issues!). That’s right baby! More diversity, representation and beautiful human stories than ever!¬†

The only reason it was possible: the financial support of my Patrons on Patreon. Thank you, my darlings!!!!!!!

As always, the best birthday present you can give me is sharing and tweeting and facebooking my Patreon and Ko-fi!

For the biggest boost of all,¬†totally free to you!!!, PLEEEEAASE, I beg you, submit my documentary artwork project to¬†Colossal,¬†BoingBoing,¬†LaughingSquid,¬†My Modern Met,¬†BoredPanda,¬†Women’s Art on twitter, and/or¬†any of these other sites. Starter text at bottom to give you an idea how to do that!

I don’t make art if I don’t get paid. I don’t have the strength to make art for free.

To me, there is no greater validation of my work than getting money (to use for food and medicine) for it. So the last three and a half years on Patreon have been amazing, a total revelation in how happy and fulfilled I can be. You can help on Patreon, for as little as a dollar/euro a month. Or chip in on my account on Ko-Fi, the dumbest-named artist support platform ever!

https://www.patreon.com/join/SuzanneForbes?

 

I love you all so much, and I’m so grateful to you for supporting my work.¬†

I am not giving up and I will keep working. Despite advancing arts censorship in the US and UK, I believe crowdfunding and releasing my art open source is the way for me. And of course I am available for¬†private portrait commissions¬†too ūüėČ

Yours in love, hope and solidarity,

my best wishes for 2019,

Your Suz

Sample text/project descriptions for submission to art news websites:

  • Former courtroom artist makes a life’s work of open source documentary art, live-drawing scenes from sex parties to the Berlin subway.
  • Former DC artist documents alternative culture by drawing live on the scene, then distributes her work open-source.
  • Huge open source queer and alternative culture art archive in jeopardy from SESTA/FOSTA.
Suzanne Forbes is an expat New Yorker by way of the Bay Area, using the skills she developed as a courtroom artist to live-draw queer, trans and alternative culture. Much like the embedded combat artists who traveled with troops in World War One, she draws live on the scene for public distribution. Instead of newspapers, her drawings are published open source for anyone to print and share on flickr and her blog. Her documentary art project has been running since 2005, and is crowd-funded through Patreon. Her mission is to tell unique human stories, with a focus on visibility and representation.

A “Reserved Parking for Eliza” OOAK spell doll!

Eliza Gauger doll by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018 with Problem GLyphs bookI made this doll as a sort of summoning spell/eidolon/telepresence device for my friend Eliza Gauger.

Eliza lived in Berlin at one time, and may return someday. The idea is that the doll holds a space for her here, whenever she’s ready to return, and when she does arrive she can have it as a gift. Until then, it will sit on my shelf with my Alien figures from a beloved friend/muse/Patron and cards from friends.

Eliza is, of course, the artist/creator of the Problem Glyphs open source art project and book. Which is a healing spell of love and sacrifice, a work of sustaining power.

Eliza Gauger doll by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018Eliza was also one of the people who sent us money when we were desperate, the first couple months in Berlin, cause Dan couldn’t work and we had to pay cash for my meds.

And Eliza had a hard year, this year. You can support her work on Patreon and download open source Problem Glyph art here, buy your own copy of the Problem Glyphs coffee table book here, buy Problem Glyph t-shirts here, request a sigil for your own problem here, buy original art and prints here, and follow her shitposts on twitter here.

I started the doll months ago, when I noticed one of the porcelain fairy heads I bought at a craft store in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early 90s reminded me of Eliza. At the same time, in the doll parts drawer, my gaze fell on a little leather jacket. It was from a Living Dead Doll I bought in the early Oughts, which I had cut up and redressed for some other project. The vision of the Eliza Reserved Parking doll came together in minutes, scrabbling through the drawer.

But – there were no arms in the doll drawer! Just a grubby baggy of taxidermy weasel feet.

Video of this disappointing moment on my IG video here. I found the fairy mint-colored ones, from a Monster High body sold withouten any head, online. The arms have ball joints and pegs, which I inserted into shoulder pieces of epoxy clay, thus meaning the doll has some posability.

Weasel feet in the doll parts drawerTheir body (the doll is definitely non-binary) is made with the traditional batting-stuffed cotton body, and their legs are porcelain ballerina legs that I made stockings for and gave boots from a totally different Monster High doll. I used grey nail flocking, just like the flock I used on the White Witch’s reindeer’s ears, to give the doll’s head some pale, glinting texture.¬†Adhesive testing for micro rhinestuds Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018

During the time I was making the doll, Eliza got a dog.

A gallumphing nightmare beast of a lolloping moor-rambler, with glowing eyes and black fur. Luckily, while searching through a box of action figure bases for Sentinel parts for my upcoming Danger Room project (which will go under the School for Gifted Youngsters), I found a nice black wolf. Maybe he came with a Wolverine figure? Idk.

Terror Goggie for Eliza doll modified by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018Anyway I had exactly enough left of the deep purple glove leather trim I got from an LA handbag manufacturer on etsy back in 2005 to make the terror goggie a harness. And while I used silver Sharpie and a bit of drybrushed gray acrylic to reduce the albedo of the micro-rhinestuds on the doll’s jacket, I left the ones I glued on the dog’s eyes alone. Hence, the glittering.

So here it is, “Parking Space Reserved for 3Liza”, a work which will hold a space of love and protection here until such time as Eliza collects it.¬†3Liza doll on shelf by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018

An immigrant family at the Ausländerbehörde.

Immigrant family at the visa office Dec 18 2018 by Suzanne ForbesWe had to go to the visa office, nowadays known as the LABO, to get the hub’s work visa renewed.

As I have said before, the “foreigners office” is not really that bad a place. Although in winter there are no families picnicking on the grass outside, there are still lots of folks eating and drinking. The fact that food and beverages are allowed is such a humane detail. People buying snacks from vending machines and eating vegan salad from Scoom make it seem normal, not terrifying, to be waiting there. It’s also pretty shabby, with this random desk shoved in front of an unused door, in our waiting room. As you can see in the picture. The seats are stained, and everyone is pretty casual about their kids running around.

It’s all of a piece with our experience of German bureaucracy, which has been that they care about getting the procedure correct, getting you what you need, and getting you outta there, not about denying you. The agents in the offices are generally irritated, at you, but not cruel. Their end goal is the same as yours.

Following correct procedure is seen as a public good, so if you don’t follow correct procedure, you are inconveniencing everyone, and why would you do that? Hence the irritation. We actually screwed up, for the first time, forgetting Dan’s most recent paystub, but they found a workaround for it. His visa was renewed, and off we went. I hope things worked out as well for the sweet family I had a few minutes to draw while we waited.

In the waiting room Dec 2018 by Suzanne ForbesSometimes in Europe you see very European things, like this guy in another waiting room.

I was waiting at the gastroenterologist office and saw this fellow in the most totally bland minimalist Swiss look. I drew him because I liked the geometry of his folded legs and the boxy chair, even though his style choices were putting me to sleep.

More visa office

More medical waiting rooms:

Charité one and two