An illustrator based in Mexico City is building a growing following with his cute illustrations of naked, bear-ish men.
Carlos Radriguez, 37, was born and raised in the small town of La Soledad in San Luis Potosi.
‘My parents worked as primary school teachers and at home there were always color markers, cardboard and chalks. So, I started to draw – wild animals and houses. The penises came after.’
He studied graphic design. After graduating, he moved to Mexico City 11 years ago to seek, ‘a job, guys and adventures … and I can say I found a lot of them!’
He met his partner, Gustavo, a fashion photographer, eight years ago. At first, he made his living as an art director with advertising agencies but now works full-time as an artist and illustrator.
Turning his passion into full-time work
‘When I was dismissed from my last job I started selling painted underwear and customized notebooks illustrating sexual fantasies.
‘Thanks to social media, people began to take an interest. This was largely thanks to Instagram. Instagram has become the biggest platform to make yourself known globally. Either by your work or by showing your ass. Or in my case, both.’
He says the last two years have been spent concentrating on his art and products, exploring gay identity, sex, ‘the obsession with the penis, male anatomy and body positivity.’
‘Keeping your work fresh and interesting is the biggest challenge for an artist in the digital age. You also have to know how to avoid the censorship that exists around the male nude. Instagram has closed my accounts five times in the past because they say that my drawings are offensive.’
He says he believes female nudity is more accepted and celebrated.
‘Guys drawing guys, people think we’re perverts, but we are just claiming our natural relationship with our bodies and our masculinity. My goal is to dignify art inspired by the male body and its sexuality.’
Big bellies and big noses
In terms of influences, Radriguez draws upon many inspirations: ‘from classical painting, pop culture and Tumblr porn pages, Henri Rousseau, Tom of Finland, Keith Haring. The bear-ish male figures are my own Rubens and Michelangelos with hards dicks, bellies and big noses.’
Aah, yes. What is it with him and big noses? He admits the men he draws are the type who turn him on.
‘Big noses, bellies, muscles, hairs, mustaches, beards, bald heads … Guys ask me a lot about the meaning of the pink noses in my drawings. The answer is easy – it’s a juxtaposition of a big penis in the face.’
Radriguez’s playful and sexy art is now adoring a range of merchandise. Much of it features a recurring character he has named ‘Sailor’. Radriguez personally takes charge of every aspect of the production, marketing and distribution. He says it’s very much a full-time job but one he finds deeply satisfying.
If anyone wants to buy some original artwork, he’s also open to commission – but you might want to do so sooner rather than later.
‘I’m still affordable! I’m fortunate there is a big and growing interest in my original work. My paintings, drawings and lately my ceramics – my pieces are finding their own happy home. And sometimes clients come to me with very specific commissions, like drawing them nude on a unicorn.’
Carlos Radriguez on public display
Radriguez’s work has featured in group art shows in local Mexico City galleries, gay bars, and illustration fairs in his home country and Colombia. He’s also had solo shows in Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. He will also be included in a group show taking place for Pride Month at Mexico City’s Museo del Chopo.
And if anyone wants a more hands-on experience, ‘I’ll be hosting (‘Chupanda y Dibujanda’) drinking and drawing nude sessions in a bar during the summer. Guys always end up drunk and horny because I offer free mezcal shots!’