The popularity of an Italian, gay artist looks set to rise further with a new, cool T-shirt collaboration with a US-based website.
Mattia Caracciolo grew up in southern Italy but is now based in Bologna, where he relocated two years ago to study an illustration and comic course at The Academy of Fine Art.
Although working by day in a local shoe store, he’s increasingly seeing demand for his simple but cute illustrations – many of which feature men with beards and romantic gay lovers.
Although drawing since a young age, he says that it was actually a more recent interest in Buddhism that prompted him to pursue his passions.
‘I made my first painting when I was three with my father’s oil colors,’ he told GSN. ‘From that moment, I couldn’t stop drawing and drawing and drawing.
‘It has always been my passion, but I never took it that seriously until around 2011, when I was discovered to the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and became a member of the Soka Gakkai International.
‘It was there that I came to understand that my mission was to spread joy and beauty, and to encourage people with my drawings. Now it’s 2016 and I’m collaborating with one of the best queer blogs!’
That blog is Accidental Bear, run by San Francisco-based Mike Enders. He’s collaborated with Caracciolo to produce a line of T-shirts. It’s the first collection in what Enders hopes will be further Accidental Bear merchandise.
‘I have featured Mattia and his work a few times on Accidental Bear after finding him on Instagram and falling in love with his illustrations,’ Enders said in an email to GSN.
‘They are the perfect combination of cute, sexy, and are full of joy. I first commissioned him to design one T-shirt design for me called the “Ginger Rocker” and the response was so fantastic that we immediately started to talk about collaborating more and this is where the idea for our Summer 2016 Collection was born.
In terms of his drawings, Caracciolo says that he has been inspired by the likes of Aubrey Beardsley, Rene Gruau and Laura Laine, before settling on a distinctive style of his own.
And as for the men: ‘I’ve been always attracted by the bear community, beards and moustaches in general, but this doesn’t mean they’re my type of men. My boyfriend is definitely not a bear but I’m so in love with him!
‘Beards, fur and moustaches are my favorite subjects because they remind me of the past, of the ancient Greeks and my dead grandfather, a role model to me.
‘He was really similar to Captain Findus. He actually worked in the Italian navy for ages. He influenced my work, especially after his death. It’s why I love the sea. Mermen have become a leitmotiv for me – as you can see in the collection for Accidental Bear.’
A photo posted by accidentalbear (@accidentalbear) on Jul 18, 2016 at 8:17am PDT
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