Venfield 8 Queer Culture Makers pt. 3

Welcome back to Project Claude’s Culture Maker Series!

This week we’re moving in to the realm of photography, as we talk with global fashion photographer Venfield 8. The ‘fashion photographer gone rogue’ has captured attention for almost two decades with his distinctive photography that puts it all on display. His work combines everyday objects and unreserved male sexuality to create images that are explicit but incredibly captivating.

Now buckle up, take a deep breath, and join us for one of our favourite interviews with an incredible queer culture maker!

Thankyou for talking with us today, it’s wonderful to speak to you again. First things first – tell us about the room you’re in, and where you’re located.

I live in Los Angeles California, USA. I am lucky enough to be close to the ocean, so I get the cool breezes when it is hot. Right now, we are still dealing with the pandemic and California has lots of fires. It is a very tumultuous time in my country, so I have the solace of my office here in my home, covered in art ( A new piece from Studio Bara, a framed 1974 Playgirl poster, a rare Jasper Johns, and of course, my own work on the walls). At my feet, two sleeping Golden Retrievers. Life is good.

How have you been keeping busy over the last few months?

Besides moving, which is surreal during a pandemic, I have mostly hunkered down with my husband and worked on my art. Lots of reading too. I wish I could say I have spent my time working out, organising my life, and bettering myself, learning a new language etc, but lots of naps and cuddling with my husband is more realistic.

Where did the name ‘Venfield 8’ originate, and why the pseudonym?

I have been a fashion photographer for many years. Some, though not all, of my clients were pretty conservative, so when I started exploring nudes in a frank and unedited way, I came up with another name. It wasn’t about being ashamed of the work, but more out of protecting the guilty. Soon, as my name spread, people wondered who I was, and rumours of a fashion photographer gone rogue started to get out. Today, people don’t care about who I am as much as the expectation of the work. It is both a blessing and a curse. I am very lucky.

When did you start working with male nudity as your main subject matter, and how has its inclusion changed/developed since then?

I never set out to shoot “beefcake” or “porn” as I find both of those genres sort of oversaturated and boring. I realized that I had something to say about the world I saw, or rather, wanted to see. If people see me as a provocateur, great. If the work turns them on, that’s fine too. But my intent has always been to explore certain themes about masculinity, beauty, race, luxury – whatever strikes my fancy.

How has censorship affected your art, getting exposure, and social media presence?

 As you can imagine, I am always against censorship – it is a constant battle with my work. I like that the work creates a reaction, I think good art should, but censorship is such a lazy response. I’m not a big fan of social media, for a variety of reasons, mostly because as a platform to show art, it trivializes the work into something looked at for a fraction of a second before it is swiped on to the next. As a result, people are encouraged not to really examine art, and it takes on a disposable, fleeting quality. Social media can be beneficial for an artist to get their name into the public space, but it is reductive for the art itself.

Where did the idea to blend consumerism and male nudity originate?

For me, it was natural. My background in fashion photography intersects perfectly with a desire to explore themes about male representation. When you remove the consumerist element of fashion photography, you get into an interesting space where the rules are few. It is the perfect environment to explore.

How has your body of work affected your perception of your own masculinity?

 Masculinity as most people see it, is merely a label. An affectation if you will. Drag. The elements of visual masculinity – hairiness, muscles and swagger, are merely facades. I like to use those visual cues in my work because it is a sort of visual shorthand, but in real life, those aren’t always accurate indicators of what makes a man a man. At the end of the day, masculinity isn’t as important as true character.

What is your favourite part of a photoshoot?

I love the process of getting something that starts in my mind, and trying to make it a tangible image. It’s really magic when it happens. I love the starting off point and then seeing where it goes, when everyone on set contributes, trusts and feels freedom to create. That’s how truly amazing images come about.

What projects are you currently working on?

 I have a second issue of my publication Cannibal Culture coming out soon – and I am really excited. The first issue had 200 copies, this second one will only have 100. It keeps it exclusive and valuable to the collectors. And just continuing to explore and question using my camera.

Tell us about your vision for our 2020 jewellery collaboration!

The mandate was “Do Venfield 8″, so I wanted something visually striking and editorial. I wanted people to see the amazing jewellery, which is fun and provocative on its own, but I wanted the images to suggest a narrative. We shot at night using only a flash to give them a sort of paparazzi feel, but also to let the pieces shine and sizzle. I’m really thrilled with the results. They are really eye catching. Project Claude is the dream client; ” Do you, no barriers – create something amazing.”  How lucky am I? I wish all clients were like that.

Project Claude was lucky enough to collaborate on an exciting photoshoot of our gay tribe jewellery collection by Venfield 8.

Check out our exciting collaboration of our gay-tribe jewellery with Venfield 8 here, and be sure follow the links below to learn more about the man, myth, and the icon that is Venfield 8!

Venfield 8 Official Website

Vimeo

Venfield 8’s Instagram