The art of The Bone Witch presents an incredibly rich visual world, each image adds to their boundless narrative. The final image is crafted from their hyper-realized sense of self. That self is both raw and honest — a poised figure in the woods gifting their audience a path into some unknown darkness, The Bone Witch acts as guide. As a model, they cut an elfen figure, light above the ground. Thin and angular, the arms pitch and curve. Face stern and clear. The Bone Witch is an artist and art itself.
The Bone Witch has an ever-growing audience across Instagram, Patreon, Only Fans, and their own online shop featuring headwear, masks, and jewelry handcrafted from found animal bones. What follows is an interview with The Bone Witch and a series of figure studies shot specifically for ETDC to spark the imagination and get the pen moving, the paint flowing. Reference material for those that want it.
CJ: Your Instagram post from April 2019 really hit me – two photos of you, both nude, side by side. One, you don a wig, the other, your short-cropped hair.
The text reads, “Some people grow up knowing that their gender is specifically male or female. Regardless of whatever parts they were born with they know this to be true. Just like you know that your hand is in fact YOUR hand. This is what it’s like for me as a non-binary person. I’ve always felt like I didn’t fit into either one of those boxes, no matter how hard I tried to contort myself into them. Even when presenting as very traditionally feminine or masculine inside I still just felt, off. I’ve always known and felt in my heart I am neither female or male. The language is still being written and I am still learning what it means to be nonbinary in my own body. I’m still learning how to love and cherish both my feminine and masculine sides while honoring my neutrality. I’m still growing into myself, and I hope that we never stop getting to know each other. They are my mirrors and I am theirs.”
That line, “Just like you know that your hand is in fact YOUR hand,” is a great visualization of something most people cannot understand. If you met me, I am a regular forty-something Gen X heterosexual male. Wife and kids. Suburban home with two cars in the driveway. Yet, your words and art speak to me, someone totally outside of your world. Your genuine and honest approach reaches outside of the audience you may have expected to have. You put forth your most honest self. You are educating those that come into contact with you. Is that intentional? Do you see yourself as an educator, or is that just a by-product of doing what you do you?
TBW: I certainly had no intention of being an educator, honestly I hadn’t really intended for any of this. Even in reading that question you opened my mind to how far the reach truly is, I forget sometimes. Because my intention was and is to be open, honest and genuine with who I am as I’m learning about myself. To share my art and see if anyone else feels something when they experience it. But I’m happy it ended up this way. I don’t have the energy or the space to be pretending to be something I’m not.
As I grew into the name “The Bone Witch” I started to realize just how my own form of spirituality was bleeding into my art. I embrace my shadows, the darkness, the realms most misunderstood. That is where crystals grow in the depths of the planet, the stars shine the brightest in the vastness of space, and our shadow is our closest friend, with us from beginning to end. I think of these archetypes in our lives, the “villians” and how the story has been skewed through time and patriarchal lenses and I feel empathy for their stories to be so twisted. I think that comes across in what I put out into the world and other people feel it too. Before I did this and connected with people on this level, I felt like Gonzo from The Muppets, an alien and maybe I was the only one. Now I know there are so many beautiful people and creatures in the shadows there with me. Now, people look to me for guidance in these realms so I offer healing witch rituals to help be the bridge between people and their own shadows.
Outside of the visual arts, you also do tarot readings, intuitive healing sessions, creative sessions, and other one on one offerings. Do you segment the many things you do into “work” and “art,” or is it all one and the same?
I may call it work sometimes but honestly, it’s all art to me. It’s creating, sharing of energy, it is connection and creation! Those are the elements to make art and this is what my “work” really consists of. In session, I often will say, “With me today, if only for a moment you are an art piece, a canvas for magic. Let me show you how beautiful you are through my eyes.” I love what I do so much, out of all the work I’ve done, I have found nothing as fulfilling and rewarding as this is.
You share your work via Patreon, Only Fans, Twitter, Instagram, and your online shop at thebonewitch.com – what do you feel is the best way for an audience to experience your work?
Hmm, they are all very different. I bounce between the shadows of spirituality and erotic realms, and often they blend together. So each place is a slightly different mixture of my realms. Depends on what you’re looking for. I also have a podcast The Venus Lucifer Effect. I dive deep into my life there, and my thoughts on the universe, something else fun to check out. You can find it anywhere podcasts can be found.
You have an incredibly rich visual sense, as if each image posted is part of an ongoing narrative. You seem to live the art that you put out into the world. Is The Bone Witch in the photos the same person I would meet in person? Is there an on-camera version and a real-life version of you, or are they one and the same?
The Bone Witch lives inside of me always, and sometimes they take over, but I have other sides to myself who I dance with, and I’m still learning. I’m still learning to be with myself, explore who I am. I believe we are all are multifaceted complex individuals with many different sides to ourselves, and also different masks we wear. But all of that is still part of the same, one person. Sometimes I wonder if maybe it’s even the other way around, I’m just a mask the Bone Witch likes to wear sometimes. I also have what I like to call “Dad mode” sweats, and a fluffy robe, this is rarely ever on film. Haha, what can I say I like my comfy clothes as much as I like my costumes or being naked!
There is a wonderful connection between you and the other elements in the photos. Are the headpieces and props you create and pose with inspiring the photos you take?
Often times I see an image in my head before I create it. Be it the headpiece, the costume, the pose, or even the entire image displays itself to me underneath my eyelids. Before I use visual mediums to bring it to life, it’s alive in my mind, moving and dancing. Expressing to me how they wish to be brought into this world. When the visions stay long enough, or when they leave a big enough impression on my mind, I bring them to the forefront. Sometimes I try to catch the whisps, but they are fickle faeries to be inspired by. I have other muses and faeries who help me make art, just remember to always be grateful, and humble so the well doesn’t dry up.
You use a variety of photographers, including yourself. How are you choosing who shoots you? Does the outcome change based on who is behind the camera?
I have chosen many different ways in the past than I do currently, especially the past few years. Before I would reach out to people who I thought shared a similar vision and would see if they wanted to work together. Now, I just have a select few of my favorites who I shoot with on rotation. Often I focus on self-portraits, because my compulsion to create is so often and I can make the vision a reality with editing if needed.
The outcome absolutely changes depending on who is behind the camera. Some people like to edit a certain way, some people only use film and so on. Art is so individual, you could have the same camera, with the same subject with 10 different people shooting one picture, and each picture I promise you, would look different. Some photographers are very caught in their ways, and have said some of the most awful and sexually harassing things I’ve ever been told. So I keep the people I work with down to the photographers I can share creative mental space with. It’s almost as if we read each other’s minds. I can hear them think “just a little bit that way into the light” and so I adjust to their sight and then they say “yes!” That’s the kind of connection I like in my creative partners. That natural playfulness and flow!