A California-based artist is building an online following with his stylish and beguiling images of men.
‘Pastel Papi’ is the artist moniker for 24-year-old Jose Flores. Born in Orange County, CA, he now lives in Rancho Cucamonga with his fiancé, Robert Garibay, and two dogs.
He tells Gay Star News he’s been drawing since he was a child, but it was, ‘things like fruits and small cartoons that were, by comparison, very different from the work I do now.’
His Pastel Papi work is clearly very influenced by him being a gay man. It often depicts other guys in various states of undress.
‘After high school ended and I had a lot more free time my drawings gradually started to change and I started drawing pictures of some of the men I was following on Tumblr.’
Finding his style and picking up a following
At first, Flores didn’t put any of his own work to Tumblr or Instagram. But after he began to follow other artists, he decided he would upload some of his own.
His Pastel Papi work immediately began to generate interest. He also posted images to Facebook, and friends began to ask him if he would draw them.
Flores works primarily with digital technology. He favors an app called Procreate.
‘Somehow it happened that I was getting paid by friends to draw them, and boy, were those first few drawings terrible! As time went on I kept getting paid for more drawings. I can only assume I’ve gotten better but you should really ask my followers.’
Changes to Tumbr
He says he finds most of the men he draws via social media.
‘Whenever I’m browsing my feed I pay attention to whatever catches my eye. I save about 20 to 30+ pictures a day that I’ll later go back and look at for inspiration.
‘My account is heavily devoted to latin men of color and I guess I’ve made that pretty obvious. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted to the type of men I draw, though my taste in men has been known to vary over the years.’
He says he was disappointed by Tumblr’s recent decision to remove adult content.
‘I thought the banning of a lot of NSFW content on Tumblr was a little bit unfair. I realize that they were just trying to get rid of the apparent child pornography problem, which is understandable. But a lot of us were caught in the crossfire.
‘I enjoyed Tumblr because they were so lenient about NSFW content so I was allowed to post explicit versions of my work on there. Though with this new ban it’s next to impossible. Also a lot of people have deleted their accounts so the interaction has definitely gone down.’
Working with Azealia Banks
Flores signals out his boyfriend, Robert, as‘a huge help to my work and career.’ That career looks set to reach greater heights in 2019. Besides launching his own Pastel Papi merchandise, he’s recently been picking up commercial interest from others.
‘I’ve been lucky enough to work with other artists like Azealia Banks and Victor ‘Velo’ Cruz, who admire hugely.
‘Velo is actually a friend of mine so it was so fun working with him. I love his music so getting the chance to work with him was definitely one of my favorite collaborations.
‘Working with Azealia was actually a completely different experience because I had never done something like that before. We worked on a soap box design titled Muscle Mike.
‘It was very challenging just because Azealia has always been a bit of a perfectionist. Getting the final product took a little longer than normal. I still feel proud something I worked on is out there. I’d love the opportunity to work with her again.’