Hi, James, thank you for agreeing for us to interview you! Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! I’m James, a queer illustrator currently living and making art in Brooklyn, NY.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration really comes from all over. My surroundings - I live in New York City, which is a vibrant place full of life. The buildings, parks, art, fashion, culture and sense of community all inform my creativity, especially the queer community I've found here. I'm endlessly inspired by the work of fellow queer artists, engaging with their work on social media and in person at art fairs and shows always sparks my own inspiration. It's always wonderful to see how other artists explore their queerness and identities in their work. I'm also very inspired by Art History, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to history in general. I love to pull references and techniques from Old Masters, as well as from the history of fashion, while adding my own queer spin to it in my work.
What does your creative process look like?
I like to really organize my thoughts before starting a new piece. I start with listing ideas as they come to me. I've got the opposite problem of creative block these days...I've got more ideas for drawings and not enough time to ever be able to get to them. Which I guess isn't such a bad problem to have, when compared to periods of deep creative block I've experienced in the past. Exploring and embracing my own queer identity has really opened up my creativity in a big way, there's so much I still want to explore and express through my work.
Once I've narrowed down which specific idea I'm going to bring to life, the next step for me is creating a sort of "mood board" for it. I compile various imagery that is inspiring me for the piece. This part is a lot of fun, and it's something I can do wherever I am in the world, whether on the subway or in line at a store while running errands. I like this because it helps me feel that I'm still being creative and advancing my ideas even in moments when I don't have the time or energy to sit and draw. I pull imagery from all over - fashion, art history, nature, and especially referencing the work of other queer artists as a jumping off point for then making the idea my own. Lately, I really enjoy creating my own made up characters for a drawing. When I do this, I usually model the pose myself as I usually have a specific "vibe" in mind and still need a human body to use as reference. And then once I've sketched the pose from my own reference images, I can then have fun fleshing out the details of the characters physicality and "look".
Why do you think we need queer art?
First and foremost I think art in general gives us access to a language that goes beyond mere words. You can see yourself in art, you can feel emotions through art, you can connect with the human experience on a deeper level through art. You can also shed light on political and activist issues through art, and platform topics and communities that need to be seen and heard. This all makes art a perfect outlet for queerness - when we have been historically marginalized and suppressed in society (and in many ways still are), art becomes a valuable tool for self expression, and to signal to others like us that they are not alone. It is a way to share of ourselves, and to find a sense of community with other queers. It is a way to celebrate our queerness and to lift one another up. To explore and express our gender identities and sexuality. To celebrate the sacred beauty of Trans and queer bodies. Queer art is incredibly important - it gives a voice to those who have long been silenced. And ultimately it shapes the larger culture too (whether the cis-het society knows it or not). Whether it is visual art, fashion, music, performance, dance...many times boundaries in so many artistic mediums are first being pushed and shaped by queer creators. Eventually the wider world has no choice but to take notice because of the sheer talent of these queer creators who are sharing their own unique and powerful ways of being human through their artwork. I think that is incredibly moving and important. Queer art can and is changing the world for the better.
Where do you think queer art will look like in future generations?
I think art is always changing and evolving and that is a good thing. There are always new ways of self expression being explored, and new mediums being experimented with. For myself, I switched to drawing digitally within the past few years. It was a change I was scared of and hesitant towards, but it has ended up widening the scope of my own creative potential exponentially. I think in general digital media is giving visual artists new and exciting ways to express themselves, and that is fun to witness and be a part of. But also, while things change the core reason of why we create is still there...to connect, to express, to emote. So I think the mediums and outlets may look very different in the years to come, but that raw human desire to express ourselves and to find connection will still be a through-line of why we create art, especially queer art.
Now the most important and serious question, what is your favorite smell and why?
Hmm, I think it can be narrowed down to musky/woodsy/piney scents. Anything earthy…probably my Virgo Sun earth sign coming into play here. Definitely a fan of natural pheromones if we’re talking about scents that turn you on. Or any baked goods recipe that involves cinnamon and makes your whole home smell like it for days afterwards.
Where can you be found online?
Find more of my work on IG - @jamesfalciano, or my website - jfalciano.com