Magió, the queer god of male pin-ups

In his colourful imaginary world models and porn actors become adorable pin-ups. Magió managed to make pin-up boys the new Instagram sensation and everybody loves his colourful illustrations that put men in the forefront of his work. His illustrations are too cute to be true and present men of all shapes, sizes and colours. Either playful and sexy or innocent and irresistible all his creations make us gag!

YASS Magazine met Magió and he invited us to explore his world of fantasy and queerness!

Magio_marco is writing Instagram history, but little is known about you. Who is Marco?

I wouldn´t go so far to say that I’m writing history, but I try to be as genuine as possible on social media. So actually I think you already know pretty much about me and my life.

I come from Italy, precisely from Sicily, but like many Italians I left my country to be able to follow my dream. I live in Bremen, Germany, for 5 years. It is a small city near to Hamburg where I can enjoy my life. Growing up in a small Christian village in Sicily, I felt and still feel that here in Germany I can totally be myself and live my gay life freely without being judged too much.

I work part-time as a graphic designer and illustrator, so that I can do what I really love in my free time: drawing cute naked guys, the brand of Magió. It is my artist name and it´s coming from my grandfather, who passed away. Magió is a combination of both our names Marco + Giovanni.  When I created this name I wasn´t expecting to make queer art and I find it pretty funny, because he didn´t know I was gay and he wouldn’t have accepted it, because he was really religious and conservative.

Tell me more about your later project sensation on Instagram “Send Nudes”. Did you receive many nudes? And what makes a picture better than another one?

“Send me nudes” is an open call that I launched on Instagram and Twitter in April 2019. I invited all my followers to send me nudes in whatever way they wanted to show themselves to have the opportunity to win being a part of my next book. It will be a collection of illustrations inspired from selected nudes I received. It can be seen as an homage to the naked body in all its beauty

I am really proud of this project. I started it, because I wanted to create a book dedicated to my amazing supporters who give me inspirations, energy and tons of love everyday. 

I didn´t expect to receive more than 700 submissions, also from professional models and porn actors. It meant a lot to me, because a nude is something very private and the fact that so many people wanted to share their picture and their trust with me is very special. At the moment I am working on the selection and starting to draw some illustrations. This process takes a lot of time, because I received so many beautiful pictures, but I can already say that there are some very cute illustrations coming out. 

The selection of the final pictures is not about better or worse, it’s mainly about the pose and the attitude, which are what actually makes a good pin-up. It’s not about body type, because every body is beautiful in its unique way. 

I received a lot of cute, funny and sexy poses. But the most beautiful thing is that in all those pictures I saw people proud to be naked and totally comfortable in their own skin and sometimes that´s not that easy. I am the first one to have problem with that.

Did you expect the huge success of your account?

Not at all. I started my account a few years ago as an excuse to produce more collages, exercise my illustration skills and to follow other interesting queer artists who inspire me.

Then I saw that my own style began to change and famous Instagrammers recognized my work which gave me validation and helped me to build a career. I wasn´t expecting so much appreciation and love from all over the world. Getting in contact and collaborating with some models and other artists, who are my idols and whom I always loved, is very exciting and inspring to me. 

Who are your biggest fans and what is your target group?

My biggest fans are definitively my boyfriend and my best friend, who believed in my art also when I didn’t. I also have some great fans from all over the world and I am very glad about it. I receive lovely messages everyday, and I try to answer each one of them. 

According to my Instagram statistics my target group includes mostly queers and girls between 20 and 35 years old, mainly based in the USA . But I also have some younger followers and a lot of straight people. The truth is that I don’t draw just for a particular group of people, but I do it  for everybody, who can appreciate some cute naked boys ;).

Who are your favourite homoerotic artists and your inspirations in general?

Tom of Finland is of course the first on the list; I also love Pierre et Gilles and some of the homoerotic works from Andy Warhol. But my work takes also a lot inspiration from modern artists like Jeremy Lucido (founder of Starrfucker Magazine), and Freddie Lanka (@freddelanka). I also take a lot of inspiration from Sicilian handcrafted ceramic art. De Simone is one of my favorite ceramic artists.

What is your creative process?

I always collect pictures that inspire me for poses and models characteristics. I take mostly picture from porn and the people I follow on Instagram and Twitter.
So when I am motivated I can sketch some boys on paper with pencil; this is my favorite part of the process. Before to finalize the drawings I do a selection. Not every sketch becomes a final illustration.

I do the inking analogically using my light table or digitally using my Ipad. Then for the coloring I always prefer to do it digitally; therefore I use “Procreate” and “Photoshop”. I kind of have a Magió palette with my favorite and most used colors, but the choice of the color depends on the subject and kind of drawings. I think this is the most challenging part of the process.

How would you describe your art?

That´s a tough one. I don´t like to describe my art myself, but I consider it sexy and at the same time adorable. I’ve always been attracted to human beauty and that’s probably the reason why I feel the need to portray every beautiful guy I see. I take inspiration from reality and porn, but I transport my subjects in an imaginary word with pastel colour.

Somebody described my illustration as whimsical and that´s a term that definitely conveys my original idea. What I am really proud of is that trough my art people can understand the way I see my world.

Is humour important to your artwork?

It definitely is. I consider myself a funny person and I always like to put some irony in my art as well. A lot of followers told me that my drawings make them smile and I find that this is the best compliment I could receive.

How has the social media platform era helped your career?

Even though I wasn’t a big fan of social media at first I have to say that I grew a lot because of it. Instagram didn´t offer only a place to showcase my art, but it also gave me a voice. Most important it gave me the chance to get in contact and collaborate with great artists and models, who helped me to grow my fanbase. Like real life Instagram is about talent and mostly networking. But trough social media you have the chance to get to know the people who inspire you even if they are really famous or live on the other side of the world, which is really difficult to do in real life. And if you are lucky they will notice and appreciate your work. 

In another time I probably wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did today. But on the other hand I have to add that, because Social Media gives the opportunity to share art and thoughts with the world to everybody, it makes it also more difficult to be outstanding and recognized.

How do people react to your designs?

I am always scared from peoples reaction, especially if they are not inside the queer community. But even though I work with queer art and nudity, people mostly see the irony in my art and not so much the erotic factor. I have always received only positive feedback even from people that I didn´t expect to appreciate my work.

As I said, I work as a part-time graphic designer and all my collegues respect, love  and support my art. This is something really important to me and shows me that I can be myself in every situation and that I don´t have to be scared to show my art even though it is gay content.

Why is nudity such a hot topic on social media?

Well, sex sells of course. But I don´t think that this is the main reason anymore. In my opinion, a lot of it is because of the political situation. Being naked online has become kind of a symbol of freedom and equality. Because it really doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you identify as and who you love: without our clothes we are all the same and we are all beautiful in our own way. Like RuPaul would say: “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”

Nudity to me is somehow part of my past. Coming from a catholic village I grew up believing that sexuality is a sin and that everything connected with nudity is a taboo. Because of Sicilian social convention I believed that my body was something to be ashamed of and that I was not allowed to show. On top of that I din’t like my body and I was really self conscious. Being a gay teenager I wasn´t feeling comfortable to get naked in the boy shower room, because I was scared to be bullied.

Growing up and after I left Italy, I realized that nudity doesn’t have to be connected with sex and sexual orientation. But most important, I started to love myself and my body. I was finally able to go to nudist beaches and saunas without feeling ashamed. Nowadays being naked makes me feel free and far away from all those rules, social conventions and doubt that made my past pretty difficult. I think that this is the reason why nudity is so much present in my art.

What is your style as an illustrator and graphic designer?

When I am at work I use a totally different style for my illustrations and projects. I mostly work with vectorial graphics and simple shapes. I think the thing that doesn’t change is the fact that I always try to work with loud and funny colours.

What has been the most glorious moment in your career?

Probably when Jeremy Lucido posted one of my illustration on his account. 2 Years ago, when I still had just 200 followers, I participated in an open call for the Starrfucker Magazine Collaborate Issue and all my illustrations got selected. It was the first time that I was creating something with my actual style and receiving such a positive feedback from one of my biggest idols. It was such a big achievement. That was actually when I realized that I could create a career with my own illustrations.

How do you combine hyper-sexualisation and human fantasy?

I really like to look at this kind of art, even though I don’t think it’s really part of my work.  But who knows, maybe one day I will create a series of fantasy pin-ups.

What is the most unexpected comment you have received from a fan?

When people ask me to use one of my illustrations as a tatoo. Thinking that somebody wants to have one of my illustrations on his own skin is something I never expected. It is such a huge compliment and honor.

What are your future plans?

At the moment I am working on my “Send Me Nudes” book and creating several Magió merchandise products for the summer festivals.

I also just started to do some live sessions with some well-known instagrammers who I got to know last year. I really like to draw  people whom I follow, because it gives me the chance to get to know them and see the real person behind the screen. I also think that you can see in the final illustrations that the model and me were able to bond in a particular way. I will keep doing this sessions here in North Germany, so if any model is in this area and wants to be part of my project: please slide into my DMs and let’s talk about it.

I also hope to be able to travel more and draw some models that I follow from all over the world. I dream to make a big long term project out of those sessions. So this is kind of my biggest plan for the future.

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