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Online Creative Challenge: Nautical Erotica

Theme : The NSFW #MerMay
An adjacent, adult, online celebration of creativity, erotica, and the sea.

Date: May 1-30th 2020
Location: Social media (censored), + forthcoming private uncensored online gallery (hosted by The Papercut Arcade)!
Facilitated by: Kay Slater
Featuring: Louise Chow, Christopher Alan Slater, Kay Slater, and YOU!

Artists must be 18+, viewer’s discretion is advised. Illustration, video, photography, writing – all creative formats welcome.

Don’t get us wrong – we love #MerMay. This online challenge embraces the idea that creativity is for everyone, and many talented artists put forward beautiful works throughout the month of May. Last year, the instagram sensation even attracted a sponsor and participants could submit their work to win a drawing tablet.

But as beautiful as many of these works are, not everyone connects the image of a “Mermaid” with a cinch-waisted, seashell sporting little cartoon princess. And certainly, not everyone expresses themselves with polished illustration. But, even more odd, is how these sexualized, icons of femininity are so universally adored, are considered to be family friendly, and are somehow appropriate symbols of childish fantasy.

From the entwined history of the mermaids and the sirens, to erotic scrimshaw art, there is so much to explore during a month of nautical-themed creativity. For the past few months as we practice physical distance we have, in a way, been consigned aboard vessels of our own, unable to disembark, our gazes continuously watching the horizon for the next storm. Many of us feel bottled up. We count the days until we can set ashore and can gather at the nearest watering hole to let loose all our passions and anxieties all at once. The untameable, indomitable seductress that is the ocean cannot be celebrated with a mere annual party; she demands an orgy.

For the month of May, as the internet is otherwise flooded with images of pretty little mermaids, we want to see/share your nautical erotica. This creative challenge celebrates creativity, the unattainable, sexual-starvation, cabin-fever, the scrimshaw, masturbation, idolatry, and the sea. Try creating something DAILY, but no shame if you only produce a few pieces*. We encourage you to be moved by the theme, but have also created a prompt list for you to follow to help you stay motivated. Send us your responses at or tag us online!

Feeling brave? Submit your work on your own platforms using the hashtag #meroticmay and be sure to tag us so we can collect your work to share. If you’re posting to Instagram, don’t forget to censor any “naughty bits” so you don’t get banned (we’ll contact you for the uncensored piece for the gallery). We’ll be hosting an online gallery behind an age-warning. Depending on how the year shakes out, we may host a small gallery show in the Fall (but for now, stay home/stay safe)!

To be considered and included in our online gallery, you simply need to tag us in your posts (with the hashtag #meroticmay). Since we are a not-for-profit organization, we ask that you only submit to this project if you are over the age of 18**. Not feeling up to posting publicly? Send us an email or a DM on instagram. As long as you adhere to basic rules of respect and anti-oppression, are willing to have your work listed in our gallery (behind an age-restriction check), and are willing to challenge yourself to produce work on theme with the event – we want you to participate! Writers, illustrators, collage, sculptors, hobbyists, film-markers – everyone is welcome to submit! Our collective members reserve the right to review and approve all materials prior to their being published under our domain. **If we are unsure of your age, we will ask that you provide proof of your age to protect ourselves and our artists.

*The Papercut Arcade defines artist as a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, photographer, painter, novelist, poet, or filmmaker. The keyword is practice; therefore, if you make art or produce work with the intent of participating in a The Papercut Arcade challenge or exhibition, you ARE an artist.

The Papercut Arcade will work to keep the NSFW/18+ gallery clearly labeled and only accessible via a portal that requires an age check, but ultimately, none of us are so naive to think that any part of the internet is inaccessible to those with the will and know-how. We do not believe in censorship, and all of the words published within this post and challenge are readily found in the dictionary. Everyone’s idea of obscene is so very different and while we acknowledge you may feel uncomfortable viewing some of the submissions, we take no responsibility in managing opinions or protecting your sensibilities.

Text list of the prompt image:

1. Bow
2. Edge
3. Plunge
4. Whirl
5. Lighting
6. Abandon
7. Surrender
8. Reeve
9. Manrope
10. Whirl
11. Frap
12. Stern
13. Wet
14. Surge
15. Sink
16. Spill
17. Fury
18. Cocket
19. Race
20. Wild
21. Coil
22. Lanyard
23. Signal
24. Rake
25. Shiver
26. Fluke
27. Swell
28. Watching
29. Signal
30. Bottle
31. Figurehead

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