The Art of Online Dating
Contemporary. Feminist. Funny. One valiant woman walks us through her journey of raising awareness about bullying in the online dating community. The designer artist opens a little deeper with us, here in this article. Through clever designs her art shines past the hate these negative dudes’ cloud into our inboxes so we can see the silver lining, these insults are just stupid words… but that doesn’t mean they haven’t caused damage. The literal words these men have used in conversation while chatting on dating platforms are amplified through creative animation. Words used to damage are depicted, euphemisms twisted in brilliant ways to show others suffering just how horrible these words are. Our special feature this month is Michigan artist, Sarey Ruden, for her project “Sareytales: The Art of Online Dating.” This project is a collection of art and designs inspired by the creepy, cruel and misogynistic messages she has received, and continues to receive, during her online dating experiences. Sarey describes how her art is relatable and makes an impact: Using my art and design background, quirky brand of dark humor plus personal experience and insight, I transform tragic dating app messages into fearless and thought-provoking works of art. Leveraging contemporary and feminist art as its medium, the Sareytales platform hopes to increase awareness to the cyber-bullying and sexual harassment culture that is so prevalent in the digital dating world.
Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege of coming across this thought-provoking art several times, at local gallery openings such as the Dirty Show and other festivals. I’ve done a lot of online dating myself and working as a model, I can unfortunately relate to a lot of these insults and forms of harassment. No body needs a bad day. You’re just trying to look for love and WHAM insult city. Check out this interview and learn for yourself, the beauty of belittling bullies. Read this important Q&A session with artist Sarey Ruden of Sareytales.
Q & A with Artist and Speaker Sareytales
When did you start?
I began Sareytales in the fall of 2016, but I have been online dating since it’s inception! First date from an online dating site (Jdate Beta) was in the summer of 2001 when my then boyfriend and I were “on a break” during college.
What was your turning point? The moment you were like. “I’m putting this out there” / describe this for yourself. After a particularly cruel message (which I can recite per batim to this day), an idea popped in my head. What if I could take these cruel words, intended to belittle, degrade and make me feel less than, and re-contextualize them. Take away their power by reclaiming the words as my own, but as art. So, in the fall of 2016, that’s what I started to do. I took the small collection of screen shots I had been hoarding for years and began creating typographic designs, posters mostly, of the worst messages I had received. I started an Instagram account to post them to, and I decided to call the account “Sareytales”. The name comes from a former boss of mine who would also call my dating stories “Sareytales”, a play on fairytales. So, Ken, thanks for the namesake!
Do you still hope for the perfect love?
I am not sure that a “perfect love” exists. I can say that I am still hopeful to make a connection with a soul that makes me happy, but I do not know if that will come in the form of romantic love, or friendship, or maybe even connecting with others who have experienced this extreme form of misogyny during their own dating journeys.
What is the sweetest or most genuine compliment you’ve gotten while online dating?
The most genuine messages I have received have been from men who tell me they appreciate my profile for its thoughtfulness, passion and bluntness, because it is so refreshing in a world of clichés.
Ever get rude lesbians?
Have I ever received messages from rude lesbians? haha..I don’t think so. I have received messages from guys calling me a rude lesbian though!
Do you ever want to give men up?
Do you think gender roles are important?
I think that’s a personal preference. For some folks, that binary distinction may bring them comfort. I view traditional gender roles as limiting, personally. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. I just think it’s important to check why they might be important to you, and what that means.
—if so what is a “real man” / qualities each person should strive to be / have?
I hate the phrase “real man”. It reinforces the toxic masculinity culture that men need to be tough, dominant and emotionless. And like I said a bit ago about the importance (or lack thereof) of gender roles, that is just a personal preference. Maybe people may require what a traditional “real man” brings to the table. I just know than an alpha male is not for me. I think a “real man” is someone who has empathy, self-awareness and compassion. To me, these are qualities I think any “real” person should strive for.
Museums you’ve been featured in the past
No museums (yet!) but some notable art gallery exhibitions and events:
Presenter, TEDx Detroit, November 2019
Tinder Moments, Norwest Gallery, Summer 2019 (featured artist)
“Nevertheless” at Z Gallery in San Fransisco, Spring 2019 (featured artist and co-curator)
Dirty Show Detroit (2017, 2018, 2019 and coming up in february 2020!)
Seattle Erotic Art Exhibition, Spring 2019
London Erotic Art Exhibition, Fall 2019
I am also going to attached my CV with more relevant shows/info if you need it.
I will have two pieces (New Religion and Like a Snack) in Detroit’s annual Dirty Show (www.dirtydetroit.com) and will be in NYC this spring participating in Superfine’s “The “(wo)men” Art Fair in Soho. (www.superfine.world).
Should you teach how to date properly classes?
I have thought about doing a “tour” of sorts, maybe take the show on the road and see how men behave on these dating apps in different cities/regions of the US, and create a new series for each “stop” on the tour. I’d love to branch out and not only create art from these interactions, but bring some academia into the mix.
Do you have pets
no, hate them.
Is it weird to say Sareytales? At 39, most women are married with children (if that’s what they wanted). I am single and do not have kids. A part of me feels like I am missing out, but then, if I really did want that, I think I would have it. So I keep coming back to the fact that maybe, I don’t want that “traditional” life. I really feel like my creations, these “tales”, are my children. And maybe that is ok. Maybe my path is a little different than that of my parents, family and friends. But I have never been happier or more fulfilled.
Want to know more about The Sareytales project? Follow on Instagram and check out her website to purchase your own collectable piece.