Ji:Welcome to the Mecrob interview, Why don’t you introduce yourself to our audience, where are you from, When and how did you start Shevibe?
Sandra Bruce:My name is Sandra Bruce, I’m the president of Shevibe.com, we’re based in Beacon, NY.
SheVibe, Inc. was conceptualized by myself, my husband Thor Mikelic and our two creative partners. Thor and I had some not-so-great experiences with other sex toy retailers and thought we could bring something different to the space. As we started to design the site, through a miraculous happenstance, we were introduced to Marvel illustrator Alex Kotkin and Graphic & Web Designer, Keith Beresnoy. Both of whom were working for their own company producing video games at the time. As soon as the four of us came together, so did the full vision for SheVibe. We had about 2 years in R&D before we launched on July 4th, 2006.
Ji:I noticed that you have steampunk and fantasy series of sex toys. Who came up with the idea for these products and why?
Sandra Bruce:In about 2011 it occurred to us that, creatively, we had everything we needed to start designing our own toys. We knew absolutely nothing about how to turn the designs into a functioning product, so we started making phone calls. We reached out to some big names in silicone toy production and Tantus was interested in what we had to say. We immediately put together an entire book of ideas and flew to Reno, NV to meet with the president of the company. Within a few hours, it was decided we would start with our Steampunk designs. Back then, 3D printing was still a little rough and the intricacy of a lot of our ideas had to be sacrificed so the toy line didn’t develop how we had hoped. The Steampunk idea was one of many that we sat together and brainstormed on. Alex would draw whatever our ideas were – it was kind of magical.
Ji:What do you think is the relationship between sci-fi and sex?
Sandra Bruce:I think Sci-Fi and sex were always destined to be intertwined. Sci-Fi can take us places that (at least for now) only exist in the human imagination. Desire, societal norms, gender, and ethics can all be explored through the lens of science fiction allowing the creator and observer to weave narratives that could not exist in everyday society. The fact that the scenarios don’t currently exist create a safer space for otherwise taboo ideas to be explored.
Ji:The idea of virtual reality sex has been explored in sci-fi and cyberpunk. Do you think virtual reality sex will become mainstream in the future?
Sandra Bruce:I think there is the definite possibility that it will become widely accepted. As visual beings (who also carry so much shame surrounding sex) this type of visual stimuli can allow people to explore their sexuality in a safe environment. It has the potential of being an incredible tool for teaching people about their bodies. However, this also gives rise to ethical concerns over what type of imagery people “should” have access to. While the unique experiences that VR technology will be capable of offering will have its place in the lexicon of sexual exploration, I think the need for human connection and touch will never be completely usurped.
Ji:What is your thought about Chat GPT? Is it dangerous to the future of Artists?
Sandra Bruce:Chat GPT and other AI programs can be a beneficial tool if used with integrity for inspiration & collaboration. There’s no question that bad actors will always find angles to exploit. Again, ethics will come into play regarding intellectual property and likeness use. I have a hard time imagining that it will replace human creation, emotion, and perspective altogether. As a society we probably need to get our arms around this quickly.
Ji:Steve Jobs often talked about the intersection of design and innovation. He believed design was the soul of a product. His biography attributes his success to his ability to weave technology, design and humanism. How do you, as an artist, view this idea?
From Alex: I fully agree with Steve Jobs’ belief in the intersection of design and innovation. Design is the injection of human imagination into a product, and I feel it does play a crucial role in shaping the user experiences and emotional connections. Just as Jobs emphasized the importance of aesthetics and user-friendly interfaces in Apple products, when design and innovation are harmoniously combined, it elevates the experience and enhances the emotional impact of the artwork.
Ji:Are you working on any new or upcoming projects? Can you introduce them to our readers?
Sandra Bruce:Our main priorities right now are focused on expanding our operation to include a west coast hub. But we are often creating new toy designs in collaboration with Uberrime and we do have a new design dropping soon. We can’t reveal it just yet!
Ji:Has your creation been influenced by anyone? Can you recommend some artists and works that you like?
From Alex: Comic book artists like Neal Adams, Frank Miller, John Byrne, and Todd McFarlane have been especially inspiring to me. Neal Adams revolutionized comic book illustration with his dynamic, realistic style. Frank Miller's gritty storytelling, combined with his noir-inspired art, challenged conventions. John Byrne's attention to detail and character development set a benchmark for aspiring illustrators. Todd McFarlane's unique style and creative success showed artists the possibilities in the industry. These artists epitomize pushing the boundaries of comic book illustration and constantly inspire me. By being able to study their work, I've been able to develop my own artistic voice.
Ji:Some of our models are designed in a cyberpunk style—such as the cyberpunk spider, which was inspired by the work of Alexander Trufanov and comes as a model that can be assembled. How do you think science-fiction intersects with such designs?
Sandra Bruce:Science fiction and Cyberpunk designs are a wonderful complement to each other. They both provide a visual medium for exploring concepts which offer glimpses into future possibilities while simultaneously serving as a mirror for present day concerns. The added layer of creativity of a design you can interact with by taking part in its’ creation provides an extraordinary lens through which to experience science fiction.
Ji:Is inspiration necessary in creating art? Why or why not?
Sandra Bruce:Absolutely. Yes. We do our best work when we feel inspired. It is so obvious to me when we just “phone it in”, which happens sometimes because we are committed to constantly producing new art and have deadlines to meet. To avoid that, we’ve become better planners and try to get ahead of the art by a few months so that we’re not rushing. Some of my favorite memories with the partners are when we were conceptualizing the layout of the site in our living room or in a restaurant somewhere and we would just riff off each other. It could go sideways quickly in the most hilarious ways possible but out of all that some true magic would bubble up. It still does.