Every May, we celebrate International Masturbation Day - but we all know that everyday is masturbation day! So much so, that we have collaborated with London-based artist, Nicole Bailey, to create a reminder of just how good masturbation is for vulva owners.
What better way to bring sexual pleasure OUT IN THE OPEN than hanging it on the wall as a conversation starter, right? This limited-edition mastur-piece of art is a celebration of female masturbation and vibrator usage, afterall 63% of vulva owners in the UK have used a vibrator! Yet, like any art, the interpretations are endless. The Firefighter vibrator depicted in the masturbation print is one of the most asked about sex toys at Smile Makers. Why? Because it’s unique shape doesn’t look like the typical vibrator that many of us are used to seeing in pop culture, and that’s down to the perception that sexual pleasure for vulva owners is penetration centric. We love external pleasure! In our recent sexual wellness report, 76% of vulva owners said they need external stimulation to reach orgasm. So, it’s very fitting that a clitoral vibrator is the focus of Nicole’s art!
We chatted to Nicole to find out more about the meanings behind this masturbation artwork, her vibrator inspiration and how to talk more about self-pleasure...
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’ve never had a dating app so it’s hard for me to be creative on this one, I’ll go for the standard ‘filling out a form’ style response. Nicole Bailey, 25, artist, London dweller, classic Virgo, just a bog standard 20 something year old I suppose. I’ve been painting more full time for about half a year now and am working on making it my full-time - I just love creating things.
How would you describe your art & the themes that come out in your work?
This body of work is something that has been occupying my mind way before it all came out on plywood. I think all of the ideas and realisations manifested themselves through a few years of having lots of fun but probably not being very kind to my body and mind. I like to think of them each as a therapy session and I feel like the way I talk about things can be clouded with quick wit or comedy hence the humour in my work. They take a stance on not taking life too seriously, and unify a culture by being relatable but also quite thought provoking.=
What was your inspiration for your masturbation art?
So when I was drawing inspiration for the copy, I thought of those well known, traditional phrases that get thrown around in a bit of a cliche sort of way, and ‘good things come to those who wait’ was a huge example of that. I started finding words that fit with my style and rhymes with ‘wait’ and low and behold - masturbate! There’s also a bit of wordplay with the word ‘come’ too, totally unintentional but it works so well!
What drew you to The Firefighter vibrator?
I did the Smile Makers quiz and found my perfect match! I was happy it was The Firefighter too as the colour is amazing and the shape of the vibrator is something I’ve never seen before - the only thing I can say is it fuels the fire more than fighting it ;)
At Smile Makers, we bring conversations about solo sex for vulva owners OUT IN THE OPEN to normalize this integral part of our overall wellbeing. What are your thoughts on our mission?
I think it’s brilliant and I’m amazed it’s still such a new thing to become normalised and not seen as ‘taboo’. I LOVE that your products are stocked in grocery and beauty stores, I think everyone else should follow suit! When you spend a bit of intimate time with yourself it gives you such a self-love buzz (pardon the pun) and allows you to discover new things that arouse you that you can then communicate to a partner. I think it’s also really important to stay in tune with yourself and regularly mapping your physical form can not only feel nice but can bring forward changes to your body that could be quite important to notice. There’s no denying it’s an integral part of your overall well-being!
"When you spend a bit of intimate time with yourself it gives you such a self-love buzz (pardon the pun) and allows you to discover new things that arouse you…"
As well as making brilliant masturbation statements through art, what does normalizing the conversation mean to you?
Confidence and power in joining the conversation. More and more vulva owners are wanting to converse more openly about sexual pleasure and are learning to pay attention to their needs and desires, which is so important and a great step into being able to confidently relay that to a sexual partner. It also allows non vulva owners access to an open space/platform to be able to educate themselves on things they may not have known before, or even themselves been nervous asking about! It’s a win win!
As we both love smashing sexuality taboos, have you watched, read or listened to anything recently that you think does the same?
I’m going to let myself down here and say that I don’t actually watch too much tv or listen to half as many podcasts as I probably should but there was one podcast that aired on Spotify a few months ago called Sex, lies and dm slides, which really opens up the conversation about sex, and super confidently - plus it’s hilarious! I spend some time on social media too and I feel like that is a great place to find real influential advocates for sex positivity especially for vulva owners - one of whom is Florence Given, who also has a book out at the moment, which I’m looking forward to reading!
From the seven markets surveyed in The Smile Makers Sexual wellness study, Brits more so than any other vulva owners said they loved getting curious about vibrators through talking to friends! Is this something that you’ve experienced in the UK?
Oh yes definitely! I even find myself at parties with other vulva owners talking about sex, partners and vibrators having just met them! It’s great for confidence, comparing stories and to generally normalise masturbation. These conversations are usually hilarious and light hearted, so it’s also great to have a close knit group of friends to share more intimate experiences or problems with who are comfortable listening to and being honest with you.
What are your best tips for having these fun conversations with friends?
I think number one is to not be afraid. Whatever you want to say, chances are they do too so go for it! I remember being nervous and embarrassed the first few times I brought it up with my friends but if you’re all there for each other and are a bottle of wine deep, it’s great! I’m not advocating getting sloshed every time you want to talk about masturbation but to fight the initial nervousness it works a treat, then it’s all smooth sailing from there!
"I think number one is to not be afraid. Whatever you want to say, chances are they do too."
We really believe in the power of journaling to blow off steam and provide time and space to reflect. Do you think we can get the same kind of effect from painting/creating art?
For sure. Both are a great way to achieve a meditative state of reflection, which I think is a really important thing to do. Words are such an accessible medium to look back upon, and I always find that whenever I look back on a drawing or a painting I’m reminded of how I was feeling when I made it. I find it super interesting looking back on something I created out of anger with fresh eyes and seeing different parts within it - like even brush strokes where I probably became a bit more calm through painting. It’s really important to find some kind of outlet that stops your mind from fogging with a million negative things because there are so many opportunities and positive things that can fill that space instead.
Good Things Come To Those Who Masturbate
Of course, there are SO many benefits to masturbation; better sleep, stress relief, feel good vibes. These almost instant effects can really boost our lives on a daily basis, hence why we are big advocates of perceiving masturbation as a part of our self-care routine!
But, the benefits go way beyond just the day-to-day impacts. Pleasuring ourselves with a vibrator, solo or partnered, makes for a better sex life overall! Vulva owners that use vibrators are more likely to be sexually satisfied than those that don’t, take their sexual wellbeing more seriously and know their bodies better. So, let’s get talking about it!