Forever Young is not a portrait per se. This one was my first time at trying my hand at illustrating people. That is not to say that I had not drawn people before. I most certainly did. But with this piece, my goal was to reflect an idea through a figurative piece.
It all started with a magazine. I came across a beautiful photo of this young man in an indie European magazine with a focus on fashion photography. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed a pattern, especially in the way models were being depicted. This magazine was going for a young and trendy look, possibly adhering to one of the oldest industry mottos (does sex really sell?). But none of the models were shot with a smile. Not even one. I mean, that, I might understand. A smile is rarely sexy. But there was more: while women were objectified as usual, portrayed as passionate through calculated colors and revealing costumes, men looked downright unhappy, depressed even.
As predictable as it was, it was an observation and a good one at that. I’m not gonna tell the whole story, but it was an aha moment for me: Most I men I knew did not seem happy. Most men I knew continued to act with their impulses with it being confirmed and even encouraged by their peers, spouses etc.
“As I read more on the topic I noticed that many attritube this element of impulsivity or carelessness to partiarchy. But it doesn’t cut it for me. There’s more to this story.”
Anyways, to make a long story short, this piece was when I decided to go out there and seek out stories on men. What does manhood mean? What is partiarchy? When and where does it occur in a one’s life? And at what cost? Where exactly does toxic masculinity come from?
I would say this young man’s portrait is more of a question than an answer. Because I was not clear myself (am still not) on many of these questions back then. But I was sure of one thing: Most men I knew were stuck at an early moment in their lives and were mostly reliving it again again in the face of triggers. And their notion of masculinity was one big blanket of fluff that perfectly wrapped them up in a cocooon of comfort where they did not need to address any serious issues life threw at them.
The word I should have been using was not man, it was man-child.
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