Letters from Somnolescent November 21, 2020

Yerf, yerf, yerf

by caby

I post once in a blue moon, but I finally have a new thing to talk about, so here I am! That thing is a little old art portal named Yerf. I should probably know what the name means but all I can imagine is it being the sound a very posh dog makes. It was apparently originally called the “Squeaky Clean Furry Archive” or the SCFA

So, back in 1996, when Yerf came to be, the internet was a very different place. It was a whole lot smaller, and a whole lot more homegrown. You didn’t have centralised platforms, you had portals. You didn’t have glossy, gigantic PNGs, you had tiny little GIFs and JPGs.

Yerf’s whole deal was SFW furry art, so it’s full of all sorts of cute critters, in a big mixture of styles, very unique from most modern furry art, that’s for sure.

Yerf itself is very much dead now, and has been since 2004 or 2007, depending on who you ask, but there’s still a pretty sizable archive available for anyone to browse, complete with each upload’s original blurb, filename, and posting date. It can be viewed here.

What I want to do here is go through a few interesting examples I’ve found while browsing this thing, as well as a little hunt to find a few of the artists. I’m also probably gonna ramble about mediums and such, so fair warning,,,

Oh, and one other warning. I am woefully out of touch with the furry fandom, so if I just casually talk about some weirdo, it’s not on purpose, I’m just looking at the drawings.

Ainsley Seago

One of the first artists I found that I liked, Ainsley Seago, or Seagains on Yerf, drew a lot of more fantasy-esque furries, many pirates and such.

Pirate bunny! It was at this moment I knew I had to send this stuff to Cameron…

She used a lot of inks and watercolours, pretty typical for the time, most people drew traditionally and then scanned it in later, digital art packages and such weren’t what they are now.

Lots of lovely textures, and a neat lad too

Fully digital art is a rarity, you’re far more likely to see art that was sketched and inked traditionally, scanned in and then edited/coloured, such as this rather fetchingly airbrushed piece.

Still, mostly just nice to see all these fantasy-esque furry lads painted all nicely and inked traditionally, a very underappreciated method nowadays.

This post is probably gonna have far too many images in it, but you can’t stop me, I tells ya.

Another theme you might notice pop up quite a lot is Redwall, a book series that was extremely popular in the furry community back in the 90s and early 2000s, especially among the fantasy types.

Her old sona, a mouse

And as for where she is now? Well, I could tell from her posts that she was a biology student of some kind, and a quick search of her name brings up a decently active Twitter, though she is mainly a coleopterist these days and no longer producing furry art, from what I can see. She does occasionally post art though, and is a mother, according to this old Tumblr page. Some other art can be found here, though it peters out during 2018, sadly.

Some goofy cats from 2018

Jenn Rodriguez

And now for something completely different.

Jenn Rodriguez, or PacRat, caught my eye while I was looking through a bunch of those iPod advert parodies people drew back in the day, with an example of those classic early 2000s hardcore vibes I remember rather fondly, considering I was an infant.

The OZZY tattoo is a nice touch.

PacRat worked in a myriad of mediums, everything from gauche and pencil to slick digital work, all in this really strong, sometimes edgy, style. But you can tell she’s got great skill, and has fun with it. Lots of humour, lots of experimentation, lots of moshing.

Never before has such a beasty been so adorable.

Her sona was this rat-ish thing, named Pac, stood out something chronic against all the cutesy, fluffy furries and muscular edge-factories. Rather charming to see.

She of course drew a bunch of more traditional furry stuff, but it’s the more angular, striking stuff that made her stand out to me, really interesting to see and unique, too.

Some gotdamn awesome art of a dragon, absolutely love the colours, especially in the clouds. Very high contrast and vibrant. Don’t really have a point to make with this thing, it just looks cool.
Some digital work of hers, which despite being drawn in 2003, is smoother and more detailed than my own work now,,,,
A sketchy drawing, done in pencils. More traditionally furry, but still very much her own.

And as for where she is now? Once again, a quick search reveals her current whereabouts.

Turns out, she’s very much still involved with the fandom, mostly doing commission work with the odd personal piece mixed in. Her site can be found here, and she’s also active on Furaffinity and Weasyl if you’re so inclined. Again, it is mostly commission work so to keep that in mind.

One fact that delights me no end though?

Still using the same sona!

Absolutely made my day, that did.

Mary Minch

I swear I’m not purposefully searching for female artists, it just kind of happened. Impressive, really, considering how male-dominated the early internet was…

Anywhom! Mary Minch was a neat artist making these real fun, professional-looking comics and illustrations with this thick, weighted lines and cute characters. Inked traditionally of course, but occasionally coloured digitally.

The mouse with the flower in her hair is Mary, I gather.

Most of her art centers around her mouse characters and their adventures through this fantastical world full of big beasts. Feels very much like an old comic you might find in an annual, and she did occasionally post short comics on Yerf.

She, like just about everyone I came across, experimented in a bunch of mediums, and was very skilled at it, so have a real pretty painterly drawing;

Such a lovely atmosphere, feels very quiet and somber

And this dramatic ink, colouring pencil and watercolour combo which I’m very fond of;

Again, fantastic atmosphere. Feels rather cold this time, but still quiet. Such a thoughtful little mouse.

So, where is she now? Once again, I discovered that she’s still very much active in the fandom, and a busy commissions artist, with a Furaffinity, Twitter and DeviantART page. Her style’s changed a bit, but remains very toony. Otherwise, much more heavily digital-based, though by the looks of her Twitter, she does occasionally draw traditionally still.

I didn’t look very far because it’s too, uh, heavily furry for my tastes. Lots of furry cons and fursuits and stuff, not my cup of tea.

Nevertheless, Mary Mouse is still around and I appreciate that greatly too.

Second rodent of the night, how about that?

Raymond Yap

Listen, I saw a white cat and I had to go peek. Even though it’s a lion. Shoosh you.

Raymond Yap, or alphaleo on Yerf, is a dude who really, really likes big, mechanical, metal things. And he likes drawing cute furries piloting or poking at said mechanical things. He’s ridiculously detailed with his work, definitely part of that one bit of the fandom that just draws cars and robots and such in painstaking detail and then slap a furry next to it.

But the furries look neat and there’s some proper talent there, so I appreciate it. And again, white cat! I’m weak.

Alphaleo’s one of the more heavily digital artists I came across, as it looks as though he sketches, inks and colours digitally, creating this neat, airbrushed effect.

Though that’s not to say he hasn’t worked in other mediums, check out this utterly fantastic painting, again with ridiculous mechanical details that I can barely even fathom.

Just because I don’t personally get the mech furry stuff, doesn’t mean I don’t respect this bonkers level of attention to detail.
And something less mech-y, so that my brain doesn’t melt…

And as far as where he is now…

Well, sometimes people find their groove early on, and then stick with it. I can confidently say that alphaleo here did that, because a quick check of his Furaffinity or DeviantART shows that he hasn’t changed at all, other than general art quality improvement, a move into some 3d printed work, and also a newfound love of cycling and bikes.

And more power to him, I say.

Niki Foley

Now here’s one I’m mixed about.

The first drawing I see, immediately adorable, I must see this profile. And to my delight, many cute pictures ensue. Pretty much entirely digital, except for a few little bits and pieces early on in her gallery.

She drew a whole lot of this character, I must say

Just a very expressive, bouncy art style, very cute, very lively. And the soft colours are just perfect for it. Was drawn in a program called Painter, according to a few of the blurbs. I like it.

Now begins the adventure of trying to find her current online presence.

First, I search her name, I get nothing. So I follow a new lead, an old long-dead personal site. I head to the Wayback Machine to find it, whereupon I find a link to a DeviantART, which for some reason didn’t show up in my search results the first time around. Turns out she drew some Portal fanart that I recognise, so that’s neat. Sadly, this was last updated in 2014, so I continue my search.

I then find a portfolio site, which while outdated, does have a neat layout that was fun to click about on, so extra points for that. But again, outdated, I’m still curious, I continue searching.

I thusly find her Twitter, which is still active, and also a decently recent Tumblr. Turns out she’s now working for Nick Jr and is a seasoned character designer, so yeah, no furries no more… Her art is still neat, if totally to the whims of her job, and her Twitter reminds me why I don’t like using Twitter, which is why I’m conflicted.

I’ve looked at cute furries again though, so I feel better.

The latest drawing of that fennec I can find is from 2009, so have this frog instead.

Lisa Payne

Lisa, otherwise known as Blinded Angel on Yerf, made these fantastic, atmospheric paintings, some in acrylic, others in oils. They stood out to me immediately because of the skill level involved.

Wonderfully detailed and with lovely colours too, just a joy to look at, really. Her acrylic work, like that top painting, tended to have this misty, dreamy feel to it, while her oil work, like the lower painting, was more crisp and warm. Very strong vibes.

And she of course dabbled in digital work too, with similarly moody, pretty results.

Inked traditionally and coloured in Photoshop, according to the description.

Now where it gets tricky is finding her anywhere. But I’m fairly certain I managed to. Where she is right now? I’ve no idea, but I’ve found some stuff. Took a little bit of effort though.

So, first things first, that username is zero help. So I search her name. I get a Facebook page. I do not want to click a Facebook page. So I search her name again, but this time with “artist” at the end.

I find a Tumblr. Last updated in 2015 but I at least know I’m on the right track. I find evidence of furries midst the many many painterly studies, and also her pet bird which she also mentioned on her Yerf page.

Pepper in 2004, painted in acrylic
Pepper in 2014, drawn in Photoshop

I decide to try and look further to see if I could find anything newer, but sadly it looks as though she moved to Instagram, so I can’t peek further. So if you use that app, here ya go.

Seeing that she also doesn’t draw furry art anymore, have another wistful, winged furry from her Yerf page. So damn vibey.

J.C. Amberlyn

One more in-depth write-up before my head explodes, J.C. Amberlyn, or DesertCoyote on Yerf. Again one of the first artists I peeked at on my journey, and a favourite as far as plain prettiness goes.

She’s part of another very big, very memorable, very skilled genre of furry artist, the kind that make those fantastically realistic and detailed wolf portraits and nature scenes. A big emphasis on American wildlife in her work. Less on the mystical side and more on the fun realism side, just a very loving portrayal of the animals she draws.

It’s mostly drawn traditonally, lots of wonderfully lively paintings such as the one above, and also detailed pencil sketches such as the piece below. Just very cute, very fluffy, fun to look at.

I absolutely love how detailed both her animals and plantlife are, gives her work this really lush feel to it.

That’s not to say she didn’t also create some fantastic digital art too, mind you. All done in Painter again, with as much skill and attention to detail as her traditional work, which continues to amaze be, I’d have difficulty doing anything close to this on my modern system, let alone a computer from 2002.

A spooked coyote looks to the night sky. Very pretty, love the dramatic lighting and sharp contrast, plus the pup’s wonderfully readable expression.
Imagine. It’s 2002. You switch on your computer, open up your art package. And make this. In two goddamn days.

Now as for where she is currently, I went looking and found a website as well as a humble little Twitter. Looks like she focuses more on “How To Draw” books, which you can see the beginnings of in the Yerf gallery. Her art is still wonderful, if harder to find.

Her site is kinda bad now but check out how it looked in 2001, high quality.

As far as recent art goes, here’s a pencil sketch I found on her Twitter from back in February, cute stuff.

Other Stuff

If I continue on in this fashion, this post will be even more ridiculously long, so instead, I’m going to show you a few more things, one drawing per gallery, and if you’re curious about seeing more, all you have to do is click the image and it’ll take you to their gallery.

I’ll even add a lil caption to each one, just for extra rambly nonsense.

A cold and rather sad vixen, drawn in inks, just a very pretty piece, even though the poor girl is so glum.
It’s hideous but that’s why I love it! The rest of his gallery is less eye-searing, luckily.
A fun mix of 90s 2d art and 90s computer graphics, a theme seen many times in this gallery. Also wonderfully smooth, large images for such a long time ago.
On the subject of 3d, have some beautiful 3d models! They look like murderous play-doh and that adds to the charm.
This guy’s a mystery because “Fenn” obviously brings up nothing, and looking up his name brings up nothing but a listing on the “pages to add” part of WikiFur. I did find a partial archive of a site but that didn’t really answer anything either.
Cute little mouse in the rain, good thing he’s wrapped up like he is. A gallery with many nice backgrounds here.
Had to include this one, tiger painted on a feather. How gotdamn neat is that??
Viewers beware, you’re in for a(n unintentional) scare! Utterly bizarre, bordering on hallucinations, but impressively done for the time, I guess.
Just wanted you all to check out this sweet set-up, with a graphics tablet, from 1996. Gotdamn tidy.

And that’s about it for me and Yerf, I do recommend taking a peek, if just for history’s sake. It’s a fascinating little thing, really shows the evolution that happened in the early years, plus it’s full of artists with styles inspired by stuff outside of the fandom, so it’s just plain varied. Every time I look at it I feel the urge to draw again, something so pure about it, just drawing for the hell of it. The numbers game hadn’t quite gripped us all yet. Makes me want to make something traditional again, it does.

And I’m well aware that the furry fandom’s always been massively sexual, but with this being a SFW collection, it’s nice to be able to browse this stuff without fear of hideously drawn naked vixens from 1997, so that’s another bonus.

Lordy this post is long.

Now? I collapse and sleep,,,, Dream about Redwall, probably,,,

(Ignore any and all typos, I’m being casual, thanku,,,)

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About caby

caby

cosmic hippie sperg and cavy fan that may or may not write a new blogpost in the near future. depends on a multitude of variables...


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