I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “you can’t fight fire with fire.” In context, it typically suggests we shouldn’t fight negativity with negativity. When the mean boy in school teased you for playing with a Tamagotchi, your retaliation (kicking him in his mean ‘ol shins) landed you in detention. As an adult, after working your ass off and interviewing for a promotion at your job for which you were qualified to later find out it was offered to your colleague, talking shit about them behind their back lands you in your boss’s office to discuss “ethics and behavior in the workplace.” As we’re currently seeing with the U.S. presidential election, fire is fighting fire. While some of us choose to sit on the sidelines and watch everything burn, others choose to fuel the side of the fire with the least potential for damage.
Inevitable firestorms within politics aside, one facet of our nation’s binary I’ve always fueled is freedom of expression and acceptance of others’ culture/passions. Artists (photographers, painters, writers, singers, dancers, performers, advocates, etc.) put their heart and soul into a piece of work to offend, entice, shock, or educate the viewer. Through his photography of nude men all over the world, Instagram favorite Luke Austin-Paglialonga (@lukeaustinphotosthe3rd) instilled the “male gaze” in gays (and a few straights) who, in the past, felt comfortable looking at male models only in their shade-drawn homes and offices. Chicago native and Drag Race runner-up Kim Chi (@kimchi_chic), who kept her drag veiled in secret from her mother in fear of rejection, used her impeccable makeup and styling skills to encourage others (and herself) to do what makes you happy and to follow your dreams (especially when it lands you a deal with Sugarpill cosmetics). For APACHE (@salvandal), an 18-year old Canadian upon whose Instagram I recently stumbled, his traditional and playful portrayal of death, sex, and politics gives us a glimpse into a world we often fear or try to avoid. His surreal illustrations, comprised of dead nuns, the beauty of cigarettes, and androgynous silhouettes kissing, encourage viewers to live life (and fuck shit up) - because death is inevitable and the only real constant on which we can rely. Learn more about him and check out his amazing drawings below.
Tell me a little about yourself: Where are you living? What do you love about it? How long have you been drawing/creating?
I live in Quebec, Canada. I’m located in a town near Montreal City...it sucks really hard. I guess you could picture it as a perfect town for perfectly brainwashed families with a lot of police surveillance. Not my type. My parents told me that I was creating since I was a little guy…I loved drawing so much, but I kinda stopped for a couple of years. I guess I got back to it two years ago, approximately.
What inspires you? Before you create a new illustration, what are you thinking about?
My mind is often empty before creating. I never really know what is going to appear on my computer screen. I draw on paper before getting it done on my tablet since I don’t like sketching on my computer, but it goes the same way on paper. To be honest though, what really drives me is to draw something that is aesthetically pleasing. That’s why the stuff on my page is relatively easy to make, I don’t feel the need to draw something complicated for it to be beautiful.
When I was a child, I used to cry at the thought of death. My mom would try to comfort me by playing Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" and assure me, "You're five! You have a long life to live!" A lot of what I love about your work is the use of bright colors alongside the imagery of death and skulls. What is your take on dying? How does it make you feel? Is the inevitability of death a comfort or a source of anxiety?
That’s a really good question! I don’t believe in life after death, so for me, death is just the end of consciousness. Lets say that I’m not anxious of dying, but anxious of getting old. It terrifies me. I don’t know how i’m going to react when my best friends or parents will die, but as far as I can say, I’m not afraid of my own death, nor the one of others. To be honest, I didn’t even notice my use of bright colours alongside the imagery of death. Maybe it’s the answer to my question, I guess I really don’t give a shit about it, haha.
I love your picture of Trump with the dagger through his head. Living in Canada, how do American politics influence you? Are all Canadians laughing at us?
I can’t really say, people here don’t seem to worry that much about it. I guess that people not worrying about the world’s problems is what scares me the most. Fact is, I used Trump in my illustration as the modern face of fascism, but what is going on in the states as we speak is far more scary. It is already a police, fascist state in my opinion.
Your "PENIS" illustration stood out to me a lot (I'm a huge faggot ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). What are your thoughts on the current state of sex and sexuality in media / the public eye? Does society still have a long way to go, or are we making sufficient progress?
Happy you like it! My word on this is live and let live. Love is love, sex is natural. I don’t see anything special about it. In my opinion, at this point, we should ignore what society says, fuck society. Someone doesn’t agree with your sexual orientation? Ignore them or break their jaw. Your choice.
Where do you go to unwind/relax/vent/create?
I create in my room and in my living room. I live with my parents in a small apartment, so there is not much space for me to be comfortable. They’re pretty open about me using the whole house to paint and do my stuff though, thanks to them. To unwind and get the frustration out, I grab my skateboard and head out cruising in the neighborhood or at the skatepark with my pack.
If you could spend the rest of your life with one other person, who would it be - and why?
Myself. Because sadly, I didn’t find my special someone yet. Also, it’s less drama, I don’t know if I could handle living with the same person everyday. (Quick note from the Editor: SAME AS HELL!!!)
When do we get to buy your artwork on some fucking t-shirts or tote bags?! I'm ready.
I thought of it. If I’m selling something, it’s going to be stickers. Overconsumption is responsible for so much problems in the world, I don’t want to take part in it.