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Stevens Añazco Photographs 5 Rising Queer Creatives

For photographer Stevens Añazco, queer creativity is a source of endless inspirationand it shows in his vibrant portraiture. Says Añazco of his recent INTO-commissioned series:

“I was moved by and followed a group of queer artists creating work that deals with themes and issues of queer lifestyle, drawing inspiration from their identity and their upbringing and exploring how that translates into their work.”

Check out Añazco’s striking portraits, along with interviews of his emerging subjects, below.

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Nay Campbell

Preferred Pronouns: He/she/they

Occupation: Artist
Location: New York City
Wearing: LORDELE season 1 collection 'Heartbreak and the Bowery'

Who are you and what do you do?

Visual artist, styling, designer at LORDELE.

How are you keeping politically active through your work?

My first collection, “Heartbreak and the Bowery,” is centered around my position as a young queer artist. Dealing with the corruption and heartbreak of our current political climate, I wanted this collection to celebrate queer NYC culture and the individuals who helped define it--not to distract from what's going on, but to help promote the idea that we are all still here with valid positions/ideas about the future.

What are some recurring themes you explore through your work/designs?

I'm very influenced by former kids of the underground: Warhol's Factory, Studio 54, CBGB and the people who cultivated these eras.

How has your experience as an LGBTQ person influenced your work/designs?
As an artist it is everything. If the only thing I do as an artist is help influence/educate and promote inclusivity to people who have felt ostracized from mainstream or even gay culture, that would be okay.

How do you explore gender identity through your work?

The identity/persona Nay Campbell was formed to help push me out of my comfort zone and promote a side of myself I did not always feel comfortable with in the past. Two years later I believe I've established who that person is for me, and I’m now trying to push that energy into my work, my clothes etc.

Who is your favorite artists right now?

I absolutely love the fashion duo Fecal Matter. I think their work is so important.

What are your professional goals and dreams?

To develop my aesthetic further and continue to grow as an artists, creating some positive impact and hopefully being able to monetize.

What are you currently working on?

New editorial work, along with LORDELE season 02, much more glam to come...

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Edvin Thompson


Occupation: Fashion Designer
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Wearing: Top from Theophilio SS18

Who are you and what do you do?

I am into the arts, primarily fashion design. I’m also involved with creative direction on various artistically inclined projects. I enjoy traveling, developing new hobbies, and learning about different cultures.

How are you keeping politically active through your work?

I always aim for my consumer to have a conversation about my clothing. For being content, secure, intimidating because it’s the norm but endearing because it’s fresh. My clothing can be hypersexual, especially for men. So the conversation about sexuality and gender identity is inevitable. Fashion represents that. Politics and fashion will always have a seat at the table with each other.

What are some recurring themes you explore through your work/designs?

I love to explore the deconstruction of garments. The perfect fabric that adheres to that is denim. Denim is my favorite textile to conform and deconstruct into anything

How do you explore gender identity through your work?

When I design, I design as I see fit. I rarely think of whether this would look good on a male or female’s body. I’m all for the function of the garment and the rest follows.

Who is your favorite artists right now?

My favorite artist right now would be Cardi B. Simply for her success story.

What are your professional goals and dreams?

Professional dream for the coming years would be having my own studio space.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on my first pop-up shop due late November and my Fall ’18 collection for Fashion Week in February.

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Darius Xavier Moreno


Preferred Pronouns: Male/He
Occupation: Illustrator/Fine Artist
Location: New York City
Wearing: Theophilio SS18 diamond corset

Who are you and what do you do?

Illustration is my main focus, but I do animation, portrait painting, sculpting, and want to continue to practice more forms of visual art. More specifically I'm into portraying black figures with colorful expressions through my work. It reflects what I'm attracted to irl. If I'm not working on commissions I'm usually working on pieces for future shows or personal art projects.

How are you keeping politically active through your work?

I try to paint black people in situations or with elements that are nostalgic to my childhood and where I'm from. To stay politically active or relatable through my work i use colors that are relatable to everyone. I think because of the color palettes I use, people of different backgrounds can relate to my work and see the beauty in the characters regardless of the action of the piece.

What are some recurring themes in your work/designs?

Themes that occur a lot in my work are androgynous figures with sculpted features, money, cars, jewelry, lustful women and men. I like to explore my own fantasies and how I view myself in different worlds. Most of the worlds I imagine are underground music videos from the late ‘90s/early ‘00s.

How has your experience as an LGBTQ person influenced your work/designs?

I find myself painting or creating characters that I've encountered in the past. People that I've met in the LGBTQ community have had a huge impact on my my art. Going to balls and LGBTQ parties in New York, I've seen beauty in every type of person. A lot of the times when I'm painting I can't say if it's male or female, i just know it's what I'm attracted to.

How do you explore gender identity through your work?

I like to push myself to keep playing with gender roles in my art. Also creating characters that everyone's attracted to regardless of sexuality.

Who is your favorite artist right now?

Antonio Aiello. I've been following him for years now and I'm always blown away by his colors. Also Gerald Lovell. He uses so much texture in his paintings, they literally look 3D.

What are your professional goals and dreams?

To have my own cartoon, have a piece in a major at museum, to continue doing art shows and cover art.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on some new paintings for a pop-up later this month, and some more projects with that artists that will be out really soon :).

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Jewel Friday


Occupation: Fashion Designer
Location: New York City
Wearing: Top from Jewel Friday collection entitled “Bandits of Society”

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jewel Friday and I’m a fashion designer. I am a recent graduate from Parsons school for design with a BFA in fashion design. I originally grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and I’m very proud to say I’m from there. It made me the person I am today. I am a creative individual who loves art. To me, fashion is a key aspect for one to express themselves emotionally.

How are you keeping politically active through your work?

Being politically active is very important for me, especially right now. I am black and queer and knowing that there are people in this world that despise me for those two factors alone isn’t comforting, but I don’t let that intimidate me. It is important for me to at least showcase the struggles that I face on a day to day basic through my designs, from fabric manipulations, embroidery, and prints, so people can pay attention and finally see that what’s going on in the world isn’t right.

For example, I designed and constructed a hoodie with pearls running along the shoulders, hood, and the bottom hem with long gathered sleeves. You would think it’s just a pretty hoodie until you see the back that was embroidered with the iconic phrase “stay woke” in a rich red color that stands for the blood that was shed from every fallen angel victim of police brutality. I chose to put “stay woke” because the phrase is so powerful and means so much to the black community. It is us telling others and our fellow people to pay attention to the systematic injustices in this country and make a change.

What are some recurring themes in your work/designs?

A recurring theme that plays throughout my work would be the whole idea of masculinity and femininity. I am often influenced by myself when it comes to this topic because I feel as if I am the perfect balance of the two. I am very much in touch with my feminine side, from emotions to random things like facial features, color choices, the way I behave, being sensual, nurturing, and showing affection but also in touch with my masculine side like my jawline and muscles, being overly confident and free. All these things come into play when I design and play around with fabric. I strive to merge the two together to make something magical and special even tho society tell us to keep these two things separate and that one goes with a specific gender.

How has your experience as an LGBTQ person influenced your work/designs?

My personal experience with being a gay man has been nothing but positive. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen and heard some horrible shit, but I try not to dwell on negativity. You just have to know how to flip it and make it positive. Being a part of the LGBTQ community allows me to live my best life. It allowed me to do things I probably never would have done before. I became more sure of myself and I started to live free. And as far as being a designer, I mean there is that stereotype that all gays love fashion, which is not true, but this gay man does. I live it, I breath it. I love the craft behind it and I love making someone feel good, and if I can do that with my art, then I’m more than satisfied.

How do you explore gender identity through your work?

I feel as if my clothes are made for everyone. I do not exclude anyone from wanting to be apart of my journey. Gender identity comes into play after I’ve made the clothes and am thinking who would look best a specific garment. If I see a guy and think, “Wow he’d look good with bundles of hair down to his lower back with cunt eye makeup” or a girl with short hair and a chiseled jaw, then I’m all for making magic in front of the camera. Let’s gender-bend. Let’s break these barriers that are telling us “No! You can’t do that.”

Who is your favorite artist right now?

My favorite artist at the time is hands down Rihanna. She’s legit breaking barriers with everything she’s doing. She’s also my muse. I keep her in mind a lot when designing new work. She’s experimented with so many things, from music to acting to having a fashion line and now makeup. She’s fearless, bold, sexy, confident, sensual, artistic, and a Pisces!!! HELLO!

What are your professional goals and dreams?

My professional dream would be to continue to work hard at my career and land a job as a creative director for a big fashion house. I would definitely love to take over and merge my creative mind with the legacy of the house. That would be pretty amazing. The perfect example would be Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy. He’s a visionary and a legend, if you ask me. I also wouldn’t mind having my own line In the near future.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new collection all by myself with no help. It’s definitely a tough thing to do but I know I can get it done and I want to debut it sometime next year. The only thing I can really tell you is that it’s about female empowerment but also their ability to seduce.

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Cory Camargo


Preferred pronouns: Female/gender neutral
Occupation: Photographer
Location: NYC/Boston/CT

Who are you and what do you do?

I'm Cory Camargo, a fashion and fine art photographer. My work focuses mainly on the public and private aspects of identity and how components such as race, culture, gender, and sexuality play a role in our constructed social and personal identity. I work mostly in self-portraiture to express my experience on whichever topic and invite viewers to analyze their experience with it as well, creating dialogue between them and myself as both artist and subject.

How are you keeping politically active through your work?

Although I don't create work as a direct response to politics, I understand that the topics I grapple with are not free from important political narratives of our time. I think that my work acts as both expression and inquiry: this is my experience; what is yours? It’s important to me that viewers can use my images as a mirror to further understand their political reach when it comes to the extremely crowded conversations around social politics. By understanding my experience, maybe then they can share theirs and come to personal or global solutions to large political issues.

How do you explore gender identity in your work?

The central theme of my most recent body of work, Convirtiéndome, was constructed identity, analyzed mostly through the scope of gender/sexual identification and pop culture. Each image was a self portrait representing different female pop culture icons from my formative years (the late ‘90s to the early 2000s.) Overtly, the work was an homage to the myriad of mediums that pop culture engages as well as to the women that have acted as conduits for the expression of this engagement. I wanted to explore the way that womanhood, sexuality, and representation played a role in how I as a consumer, viewer, and creator experienced art.

How does being a member of the LGBTQ community influence your work?

Well, Convirtiéndome was truly a catalyst for a long period of self-analysis and reflection. Prior to working on this project, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where I was going with my work. I feared that continuing to make work that was directly focused on myself was too simple and was lacking inspiration to make anything substantial or that I even felt connected to when I shot things like still-life or portraiture. I think that I also had a lot of questions about myself that were unanswered and it caused a lot of aggression in me, that I finally found a way to channel with the series. I grew comfortable presenting myself as a new person, both through my images and with my engagement with others. Also, simply learning more about gender and sexual identity through exposure in New York, school, and research for the work drew for me a larger picture of our culture’s engagement with transgender and non-binary people.

Who is your favorite artist right now?

I really love the drama of artists like Gregory Crewdson and Philip Lorca-DiCorcia, whose images were central for developing the moody and sometimes over-dramatic lighting and composition of my images. Spending a few months doing visual research for how I wanted to shoot my thesis work, however, really opened me up to analyzing commercial photography as a deeply engaging medium. Artists like David LaChapelle and Frank Ockenfels helped serve as a guideline for how I could create images that engage viewers that way. I’d say that those four would be the biggest visual and conceptual inspiration for me.

What are your professional goals and dreams?

I hope to still be making work! I want this series to continue and grow and evolve. I want my work to continuously progress and act somewhat like a performance. I just want people to see it, and be able to walk away and maybe think about how they relate to what they saw and how they can use it as a tool to guide engagements with others. Also I want to be rich.

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Credits

Photographer: Stevens Añazco (@stevensanazco)
Beauty Director (hair+makeup): Yanni Peña (@domcheeks)


Alex Black

Alex Black is a writer, musician, and Enya fan. His long-haired chihuahua RuPaul is the unofficial INTO mascot.

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