Everybody knows Girth of Venus, now it is time to learn Mazahir! For those who don’t know him yet, Mazahir is the queer illustrator behind the popular @girthofvenus who is serving us art combined with mythology, fairy tales, magic realism literature and queerness!
YASS Magazine met the successful illustrator, and this is what we talked about!
Who is behing @girthofvenus ? Tell us some things about yourself and tge artist behind this account.
Hi! My name is Maz Hussain, and I’m a 30 year old self taught illustrator. I’m of mixed origin and based in the U.K. . I grew up in a secular Islamic household, so growing up I saw very little of my face represented in media. And even less so in queer media. Creating romantic representation I never got as a brown kid has, and always will be at the heart of my drive.
Hod do you define?
A cis gendered queer man.
Why did you decide to use this account name?
I’ve always loved Greek mythology, and the origin myth of Aphrodite has always been my favourite. The idea of being born fully formed from the ocean has always mirrored to me the idea of coming out, and how a second birth occurs in queer people, but as a fully grown adult. The ‘girth’ was just to make it sexy and playful, but I fear has caused some people to enquire whats in my pants.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Greek mythology, fairy tales, magic realism literature.
How would you describe your work?
When I first started out, it used to get called ‘charming pastel filth’. But as I’ve done this more, it’s been less ‘dick jokes’ and more ‘love notes’. So kind of like, if you imagined an upscale love hotel. But as a drawing.
Do you want to be political with your work?
I never intended to be political in my work. But I think if you’re a queer artist, especially of colour, it translates and gets adopted as political and you get labelled as an activist. I draw brown queer bodies, and I draw body hair to disconnect it from the aggressive fetishisation that I’ve had to deal with being coded with. That in itself will have it be translated as sexually political.
I saw that you been involved in supporting the BLM. How did the latest incidents affect you? Do you think there is a long way to end racial and any kind of discrimination?
The way the incidents affected me didn’t matter, outside of wanting to do what I could to elevate Black voices and educate myself on what privilege looked like for mixed people/POC that aren’t Black. There is absolutely a long way to end radial justice. Which you can already see. For a few months BLM protests were all anyone could talk about, and rightly so. But as time dwindled, non Black people lost momentum with promoting the message. Consistency is needed just as much as educating to incite change.
What do you most enjoy sketching and drawing?
Weirdly enough, fruits. The small details I add to scenes are always my favourite features.
Have social media helped your account and your work?
Social media has 100% been the cause for my work being seen. I’m self taught and came in late to the game at 28. I don’t know how exhibitions or galleries or open calls work. So I can thank being media savvy.
What is the best compliment you received?
People say quite often they want to live in the fantasies I make. I mean, same.
What has been the funniest request from a fan?
If I could send them a nude if they paid extra for a commission.
What are your role models?
Sailor Venus! I have a strong connection to the character and attribute a lot of resilience and ambition to her.
Do you feel your work is sexualising the male body?
Sexualise? No. I mean it’s a broad scope that people will interpret for themselves. I like to think I’m romanticising the brown male body.
What technique do you use?
How did you cope during the lockdown? Has this changed you as a person?
Pretty well to be honest. I was living alone at the time and just threw myself into drawing since I was furloughed from my day job. There was a point though I had neglected sleep so much because I wanted to make the most out of a time I wasn’t in a day job. And I don’t think I changed that much, I’m used to spending my time alone. But it made me reassess my priorities.
What did you miss the most?
Clubs. I miss music and my friends and slut dropping.
What is the first thing you will do when this pandemic ends?
Make out with someone I really want to.
What shall we expect from you in the future?
A book! Some new merch! And hopefully a brooch!
More of Mazahir here: