Drag. Politics. Social Media. Cosplay. Bears. Sex. Equality. Identity…It seems that the cultural forces at play in the world today have created the perfect storm for a gay art explosion.
Which is a great thing!
These are paradoxical times. Progress and change is happening, but not necessarily at an even pace around the world. Yet we’re also more connected and in many ways, living closer to one another than at any other point in human history.
Here I am, a gay dude living in semi-rural Australia, and for the first time in my life, I’m seeing the works of some incredibly amazingly talented gay artists, most of who live on the other side of the planet. If it weren’t for social media, I probably wouldn’t have come across their work.
I’m writing this article to share with you just some of the amazing gay art I’ve stumbled upon on Instagram. The keyword in that previous sentence is “some”, as I’m sure for every artist I include, there are plenty more I’m omitting.
This isn’t done on purpose. It just wouldn’t be possible to profile all the incredible gay artists producing great work at the moment. These artists just happen to be the ones that I have come across, and whose work I love.
I’d encourage you to check them out and to support them. What I’ll give you here is a little preview, a teaser if you like. If something sparks your interest, I encourage you to look into, connect with and support the artist.
That doesn’t just mean buying their work (although that of course, would be an awesome thing to do if you have the means to do so!). You can support them in other ways too. Ways that don’t involve money.
Follow them on their social media channels. Leave a nice comment (from personal experience, this can be so encouraging). Sign up to receive their newsletter. Spread the word about them on your own social media networks.
Helping to get the word out about an artist, especially someone who’s new and emerging, can make a huge difference. It might be that a friend of a friend of a friend sees your post and maybe they decide to buy a piece from the artist.
So, here in no particular order, I present to you some of my favourite gay artists at the moment. I’m celebrating their talent and their unique take on the world. This list is a mixture of established and emerging artists. I’ve deliberately shuffled the order up so hopefully you’ll enjoy exploring this list at your own pace, because there are some definite gems for you to find!
I’d also just quickly like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of these guys. They have all been so kind and great to deal with, which I really appreciate. They’re amazing guys and I’m so glad to be able to shine my little spotlight on them.
I generally don’t like to compare or rank people (especially in creative fields), but I think it’s pretty safe to say that Magnus Hastings is the world’s number 1 drag queen photographer at the moment.
His journey has taken him from the UK, to the progressive Sydney drag scene in 2005, to his current home base of LA in 2011.
The great thing I love about Magnus’ work is that not only does he have access to the world’s most well known and loved queens, he has a unique talent to capture them in a way that’s at once both familiar, and yet feels new and original too.
He combines technical brilliance with an ability to create an emotional connection and share a story, managing to convey so much from one single image.
Justin is a phenomenally talented artist and illustrator from New York. His work ranges from portraiture to caricature, drawings and oil-based painting.
Justin’s work is incredibly diverse. From capturing the idealism and iconography of World War II, to delving into the culture of the gay psyche (his Beard Project examines what it means to be a modern gay man with facial hair in New York), to exploring the plethora of cultural and nostalgic moments of the 1990’s.
Most recently, Justin has combined the art of the pinup (and beefcake) with politics. By de-sensitising famous presidents and campaigners, Justin aims to make a heavy topic more light and fun.
I find myself relating to so many of his pieces: Tina Fey, drag, politics, the 90s. It’s almost a little scary. This is one very, very talented guy!
(Oh, and if you think you might recognise Justin from something non-art related, he’s currently starring in Logo’s hit new TV show ‘Fire Island’).
Levi Jackman Foster
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Levi. He’s not only an artist, but he’s also an activist. He’s amassed a huge following on social media for both his artistic output and his activism.
Levi is an amazing photographer. One of the things I love most about his work is that he leaves it open to interpretation. This gives everyone a unique sense of connection to it, and possibly explains why the popularity of his artwork extends across different cultures and languages.
In the category of pink, political pussy, Homocats is in a league of their own. I love this aesthetic. It’s bright, unapologetic and fabulously queer.
Created by Brooklyn artist J. Morrison, Homocats “fights phobias, proposes equal rights, combats cultural stereotypes and challenges social norms.” I also love how J takes the art off the canvas and applies it to anything from jockstraps to tote bags.
Art off the canvas seems to be becoming more of a thing these days, as it’s something that Stephen does too.
What I love about Stephen’s work is that it seems to juxtapose hard core imagery with a soft, almost shy quality. That’s really cool. (At least, that’s my own personal take on it. I have a notorious history of ‘not getting it’ when it comes to art :-)
Kenneth is a photographer in NYC specialising in athlete portraiture. His recent exhibits include the Berlin Biennial and Somerset House in London.
I love the fact that Kenneth features men of all different ages. His work proves that masculinity, desirability and attractiveness don’t have an expiration date. It’s also inspiring to see fit guys over 40.
You can follow Gruen on Instagram here.
Mister Maciste’s art encourages you to think inside the box…sort of. In a collection of images of him (and assorted people in his life) wearing a box over his head, he’s creating a kind of ‘glimpse into the life of’ style commentary and documentary.
It’s visually striking, especially since the face which is often the most expressive part of a person, is completely covered. There are so many observations you can take away from this: the facelessness of digital life, the commodification of the body, the alienation between man and environment…His images always make me think.
Bonus – He’s an awesome writer too! Check out his writing here.
Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colours. While that’s a bit of a cliche, it’s one that we should actually put some more consideration into, especially since our social media newsfeeds are swarming with images of unattainable perfection.
Matthew does a brilliant job of capturing the best in everyone. He showcases a diverse range of guys and is amazingly talented at making each work feel authentic. It’s as if you actually get to know the guys through his work. Brilliant!
Alex is a supremely talented artist. His work has a vintage, retro vibe, at least for me anyway. It’s tinged with soft hues and an almost innocent quality to it.
His work also features men of different shapes and sizes, which is something I love to see. Extending our ideals of beauty is something that I really believe in. Seeing Alex do that through art is a great way of opening our minds to what we consider to be beautiful and attractive.
The Judas Kiss NYC
There’s a classic essence to the paintings and sketches found in Judas Kiss NYC’s artwork. Despite this, the work feels relevant to the modern world. It’s an evocative, sensual feast for the senses.
As the name suggests, Drag Mice is a collection of mice (no, not real ones) wearing outfits inspired by drag queens. Quite a concept huh? It’s fun, quirky and definitely a bit out there.
The two guys behind it, Quenton and Kevyn are incredibly imaginative. It’s so much fun seeing them on Instagram, as they show the drag queen inspired outfit and then their creation afterwards.
The guys don’t have a website, but you can follow them on Instagram here.
The work of Story Poet is really interesting. It combines an ethereal stargazing aesthetic with sometimes shimmery, sometimes translucent imagery of the (mainly) male form. The two elements sound like they wouldn’t work together (kind of like bacon and maple syrup), but they really do.
The work has a dreamy, other worldy feel to it too which I really enjoy. It kind of takes you away and out of wherever you are (both literally and in your mind space as well).
You can follow Story Poet on Instagram here.
You can literally feel the sexual heat and magnetism emanating out of Robert’s work. It celebrates the vintage, muscley vibe of ‘manly men’.
My personal favourite works though are the slightly off-kilter images (like the one below as an example). I’m always drawn to work like this. I really enjoy weird things. I guess it gives me a feeling of getting inside another person’s mind.
You can follow Robert on Instagram here.
Matthew Dean Stewart
Matthew is a photographer, videographer and visual artist. I see a slight punk influence in his work, as well as (for some reason), I pick up on 90s vibes too. Which is ironic since I’m pretty sure Matthew was only a kid back in the 90s.
I really connect with his photographs in particular. There’s something about the way he captures people’s essence. It’s slightly unnerving, but at the same time, totally relatable too. I’m a big fan of his work and really excited to see what his future holds.
The young and supremely talented Joel Devereux is not only the only Aussie artist on this list, he’s also a fellow home town boy (Brisbane, if you’re curious). He attained his Bachelor of Creative Industries, with a major in Entertainment Industries and a minor in Visual Art, at QUT Kelvin Grove in 2013. He’s been working non-stop pretty much ever since.
Joel has photographed a number of personalities and celebrities, including; Paris Hilton, Mel B, Olympian Matthew Mitcham, Zack Smith, Ryan Greasley, Brendan Maclean, DJ Havana Brown, The Veronicas, The Naked Magicians, Josh Wade, stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Duo-RAW, and every crowned Miss Burlesque Australia.
I’ve followed Joel for a while on Instagram and I love not only his style, but his entrepreneurship. He creates opportunities for himself. This has resulted in him creating a number of really interesting projects, including his first solo exhibition and book HYDRA, his extended book and exhibition series #FOODP*RN and his DVRX online series.
He is definitely one to watch, because the world is his for the taking!
Jose Andres uses his body as art – literally. He’s an aerialist and pole dancer, and he infuses that work with a sense of classic artistry in a really unique way. He is incredibly talented and clearly great at what he does. Be sure to check it out for yourself!
Chad is a queer artist from Chicago. His recent work focuses on the queens from season 9 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. His artwork collection also includes a lot of comic-inspired work.
Chad is super talented, able to create an accurate representation while also infusing the work with his own sense of uniqueness and individuality. That’s not an easy thing to do.
Anthony is an incredibly talented illustrator/sketcher. His work reflects elements of beary, beefy, bearded guys and cosplay. A pretty good combo if you ask me :-)
I love simplicity and minimalism (in design, as well as in life too). Anthony has mastered the ability to know when enough is enough, and when to finish a piece. That leaves his work with enough details to convey a message or emotion, while also keeping the style clean and minimal. That takes serious talent to do well, and Anthony does it brilliantly.
Zach is a freelance illustrator specialising in “monsters and booty”. Another good combination :-)
His work is distinctive and unique. There’s a really great interplay of sexualisation and wholesomeness throughout his work. Plus, he’s just supremely talented at what he does. I really love his work.
Drawing inspiration from comic book heroes and characters, Wil’s work is bold, colourful and creative. It reminds me of a lot of the comics and cartoons I watched as a kid back in the 80s. Wil is one really talented artist.
Harvey Del Reyy
What’s impressive about Harvey Del Reyy’s artwork is that he’s totally self-taught. His passion for all things drag is evident.
I love his bold use of colour. It really gives his artwork a unique and distinct edge that’s all his own.
Jordan is one seriously talented artist. He’s a graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York and has studied with Elaine De Kooning and Larry Rivers. His work has appeared in publications such as Conde Nast and he’s featured in the book ‘100 Artists of the Male Figure’.
(Keep an eye out for his new book of male nudes ‘Of Art and Men’ coming out in June 2017. He’s also got a summer long show at the Ray Wiggs Gallery in Provincetown).
Jordan spends his time between NYC and Frankfurt. All of his work is based on live models, so you know it’s unique and one of a kind.
This work is not for the faint hearted. It’s bold, provocative and incredibly sexual (so yeah, best not to be viewed at work). That said, the use of colours (particularly the pinks and purples) lends the work towards a sense of cartoon like innocence, despite it’s somewhat graphic subject matter.
I love artists and artworks that play with the rules and bend them out of shape. This is a great example of doing just that!
I love, love, love Beefcake Boss. He’s a hugely talented artist with a penchant for creating bulkybear-icatures of people. You can see what that means in the image below. It’s such a fun and cool idea. I really love his style, use of colour and overall aesthetic.
Vlad Chi Art
Vlad’s art is really interesting. It’s highly sexual, but in an almost utilitarian way. It’s not soft or sensual. It’s very direct, and I like that because it causes me to have a strong response to it. It shows you a certain reality – and your response to it is your own. Very cool.
Gabriel’s drawings and paintings have a softness to them that I really like. I also really, really love the way he plays with lighting in his work. I’ve always been drawn to lighting for some reason and Gabriel’s work captures different lighting effects and angles brilliantly. The image below is one of my favourites.
Now I may be a clean skin myself (translation: a person with no tattoos), but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the artistry that goes into tattoo work.
Chris is Buddhist and in some ways, I think this really comes through in his work. It’s infused with a free-spirit quality that makes it truly unique. Tattoos are an expression of so many emotions and experiences. Chris does a great job of showcasing that.
You can follow Chris on Instagram here.
Pursuing art as a hobby (at this stage at least), Joey loves drawing muscular, alpha men. He’s incredibly talented at what he does, and the visual feast he creates is absolutely sumptuous. I really hope Joey is able to progress his love of art into a professional pursuit someday.
Mainly focusing on drag queens and muscle cubs, I love Georey Photography’s use of props – ranging from crowns, to cowboy hats to jewels – to elevate what could just be a regular photograph, into something next level.
I also love the diversity of subjects, and the thoughtful approach that goes into showcasing the subject’s uniqueness. I find myself coming back to certain images time and time again and always finding something new in them. Brilliant work!
So there you have it!
A list of some of the most amazing gay artists producing amazing pieces of work right now. I hope you enjoyed it and have discovered some awesome gay art to add to your collection!