Unveiled: Fénix Díaz

One of the first guys outside my immediate friend’s circle to sign up for Obscured was Fénix Dîaz – someone who I recognised of doing some amazing illustrations. So, when I thought of my first ‘Unveiled’ interviews I chose him. However I forgot we didn’t share a language – so here is my first interview via Google Translate – in English and Spanish.
read English translation

© Fénix DíazUno de los primeros chicos fuera del círculo de mi amigo inmediata para inscribirse oculta era Fénix Dîaz – alguien que reconocí de hacer algunas ilustraciones sorprendentes. Así que, cuando pensé en mis primeras entrevistas ‘Unveiled’ Yo lo elegí. Sin embargo me olvidé que no compartimos una lengua – Así que aquí está mi primera entrevista a través de Google Translate – en Inglés y Español.

En primer lugar – felicitaciones por su trabajo – un fuerte estilo personal y una gran positivos para los hombres más peludo! ¿Cómo fueron tus comienzos, ¿cuáles fueron tus primeras obras?

© Fénix DíazComencé profesionalmente trabajando en el campo de la moda, y diseñando logotipos, decoraciones y llevando la parte artística y creativa de diversos locales de ocio, restauración y tiendas. También fui director de “Tenerife Entiende”, la primera revista canaria destinada al público LGTB, donde me ocupaba también de hacer algunas ilustraciones. Con el tiempo me fui especializando en representar el mundo Bear.

Máscaras cuentan mucho en su trabajo – ¿ha considerado esto?

La verdad es que usó las máscaras para representar algo oculto que quiero transmitir con mis dibujos , ya sea un sentimiento o una doble intención escondida tras lo que se ve a simple vista.

© Fénix DíazTambién suelen dibujar superhéroes; a menudo en una forma más madura, más masculino lo que atrae a este tema.

Me crié leyendo cómics de Superhéroes en los que los personajes siempre son jóvenes y por los que parece no pasar el tiempo. Lo que hago cuando dibujo a estamos personajes es hacerles un homenaje a la vez que doy una versión más adulta que se adapta más a mis gustos.

Sus imágenes varían de hombres muy fuertes que se ven bastante dominante para hombres muy cariñosos – y en cada uno el sentimiento es fuerte; Es esto algo que usted trabaja duro en?

© Fénix DíazMi interés es representar gráficamente a la comunidad Osuna actual, la subcultura gay amante de las barbas y la actitud masculina. Pero esta masculinidad no tiene nada que ver con no mostrar el lado sensible, dulce, e incluso, coqueto. Por ello los protagonistas de mis ilustraciones son hombres con barba y vello corporal, que buscan la complicidad con el espectador moviéndose entre la dureza y la ternura, mostrando que el camino entre ambas, a veces, es muy corto y sutil.

¿Trabaja usted en la memoria – o usted basa sus imágenes en las fotos que se encuentran u otras obras de arte?

La verdad es que siempre estoy sacando ideas nuevas de donde voy y lo que veo para mis ilustraciones, tanto de forma gráfica (fotografías o bocetos rápidos) como haciendo uso de mi memoria.

© Fénix Díaz¿Cuáles son sus pensamientos sobre cómo los hombres homosexuales ocultan o no cambios en sí mismos para “encajar” – ya sea en el mundo o en la vida gay? Por qué no hay más espacio para la individualidad?

Aunque respeto la decisión de cada uno a manifestarse libremente como hay o no, creo que vivir oculto o en un armario nunca es bueno para poder realizarte como persona.

¿Cree usted que los colectivos como Obscured son importantes o útiles para los creativos?

¡Por supuesto que sí! Colectivos, como Obscured, hacen que se conozcan nuevos artistas y que sus trabajos se den a conocer.

A muy grandes gracias a Fénix ​​Díaz para compartir sus pensamientos y obras. Más en su blog…

English translation…

Firstly – my congratulations on your artistic work – you have a strong personal style and a great positive for furry men! How did you get started, what were your early works?

© Fénix DíazI started working professionally in the field of fashion and designing logos, decorations and bringing artistic and a creative dimension to various entertainment venues, restaurants and shops. I was also director of “Tenerife Entiende” (“Tenerife understands”) – the first Canarian magazine for the LGBT audience – where I also produced a few illustrations. Eventually I left to specialize in representing bears.

Masks appear a lot in your work – have you considered why this is?

The truth is that the masks are used to represent something hidden that I want to convey within my drawings, be it a feeling or a double meaning hidden behind what initially meets the eye. Masks also tend to suggest superheroes; often in a more mature, masculine way. I grew up reading Superhero comics in which the characters are so young and for whom time seems to stand still. What I do when drawing my characters is to create a tribute to them while showing an older version that is more suited to my own tastes.

© Fénix DíazYour images range from very strong men who are dominant to very loving men – and in each the emotion strong – is this something you work hard at?

My interest is to show the current bear community, the gay subculture which loves beards and other emblems of maleness. But this masculinity doesn’t mean I can’t also show the sensitive and sweet sides – even flirtatiousness. Thus the protagonists of my illustrations are men with beards and body hair, seeking complicity with the audience moving between toughness and tenderness, showing that the path between the two, sometimes, is very short and subtle.

© Fénix DíazDo you work from memory – or you base your pictures on the photos that are found or other works of art?

The truth is I’m always getting new ideas of where I go and what I see for my artwork, both graphically (quick sketches or photographs) and using my memory.

What are your thoughts on how gay men hide or change themselves to “fit” – either in the world or the gay life? Why is not there more room for individuality?

© Fénix DíazWhile I respect everyone’s decision as to demonstrate freely or not, I think being hidden – either in a closet or in life – is never good. It is important to realize yourself as a person.

Do you think that collectives like ‘Obscured’ are important or useful for creatives?

Of course they are! Through groups such as Obscured, new artists can make their work and themselves known (more widely).

A very big thanks to Fénix Díaz for sharing his thoughts and works. More on his blog…

Unveiled: Gregory Moon

The first of our artist interviews on Obscured, this focuses on Gregory Moon who works primarily in photographic images – a large number of which use himself as the model. Currently working in Seattle (USA) he has almost a decade of image-making behind him – much of it in themes which resonate with the themes of ‘Obscured’.

Jon: Thanks for agreeing to be be interviewed for Obscured. I’m hoping that, in addition to the collaborative Facebook group that these blog posts will help others taking part to get more insight into the project’s themes from the input of the other artists who are taking part.

Tatdude - © Gregory Moon
Tatdude – © Gregory Moon

Having looked through your site – and the links – I can see that masks aren’t a new subject for you. What drew you to capturing masked people?

Gregory: I use masks for many reasons in my photos but mainly I use them to erase the subject’s identity. I like to give the sense of a story to my images and obscuring the face of the model makes the photo less of a portrait and more about the situation.

Jon: Interesting concept – that, by hiding more recognisable features – even of someone the audience doesn’t know, they’re better able to apply a narrative.

As an artist are you conscious when making the work as to how much the viewers will see your ‘story’ and how much they apply their own?

Gregory: I try not to think about what the viewer will see too much .

Self Portrait - © Gregory Moon
Self Portrait – © Gregory Moon

When shooting I always have a very vague story in mind, or at least an idea of what I would think if I were viewing the images and hadn’t shot them myself , but I love it when people bring what they see in the photos to the table.

I deliberately keep the images vague and simple so they won’t necessarily be locked into a specific time period and as a result the viewers are more open to bring what they see to the story and start creating their own.

Jon: The majority of your images are often auto (self) portraits – to what extent are they also auto-biographical (as opposed to simply referencing themes of interest)?

Gregory: I would say less than half of them are auto-biographical.

In most of the photos I use myself in, I am striving to make myself as generic as possible. A basic human figure or “everyman that I feel gives the images a more relatable and timeless feel.

The other 30 to 40% are shot spontaneously because I am inspired by some great lighting or a particular location and need to shoot it right away . These tend to be the more auto-biographical images, because I am shooting so quickly my facial expressions and body positions are dictated by however I am feeling that day.

It can be a bit alarming on a personal level when I view these photos . I always try to inject some of my humour but they usually swing from moody and depressed to highly sexualized images.

Jon: Practically and creatively – what differences do you find between using yourself as the subject and featuring someone else? And are your subjects models or coerced friends and contacts?

Self Portrait - © Gregory Moon
Self Portrait – © Gregory Moon

Gregory: This is something that comes up often as they both have their good points and drawbacks.

From a practical standpoint, shooting other people is much easier. Taking my own photo can be very challenging. It involves a lot of trial and error and guess work simply because I can’t see what the camera is seeing while it is shooting. Having a model in front of me simplifies a lot of things. I can make adjustments instantly, move two

feet to the left, crouch down, change the lighting, without having to take several shots to realize that these things are needed.

Creatively though, I still find it simpler to just shoot myself. I know exactly what I want to do and just do it, without having to communicate it to anyone else .

Also, there are things I am willing to do in my photos that I am still not comfortable asking someone else to do! I’ve never used an actual model, most of the people I have photographed are friends or acquaintances who have offered to pose for me. A couple of them have been very brave with what they are willing to do , but I still can’t imagine asking any of them to do something like paint themselves white and pose nude in the woods at 8.00am when it’s 38 degrees (Farenheit – close to 0°c) out there. For now, I still do those things myself.

Lilith - © Gregory Moon
Lilith – © Gregory Moon

Those in my photos are all friends and contacts that genuinely like my work and want to be a part of it. Most have approached me and offered to pose , some of them have since been shot by other people . I have only had to coerce a couple of them.

Jon: Sounds great – I always think I get a different response and rapport when I know the subject. The first theme for the Obscured collective is ‘Behind the Mask’; what are your thoughts on this and the first editorial.

Gregory: I love this theme and the editorial. Gay men – and their identities and personas – have always been very interesting to me. My own included.

Jon: Ok (And thanks!) So, finally – what’s new with you – what’s upcoming and what should we expect from you in the coming months?

Gregory: Well , I am currently making plans to move from Seattle back home to Michigan . So for the next 2 months I will be taking every opportunity to take photos of everyone and every place here that I can . In the coming months you will be seeing many portraits of other people !

Gallery (contains adult-themed images and nudity).

You can see more of Gregory’s work on his website* or on Tumblr*
*You may consider these unsafe websites for the workplace, male nudity and sexualised images.