ArtCrush: Quentin Maxfield
We’re obsessed with the erotic artwork created by Quentin Maxfield – blending real-life photos with cartoon characters.
We caught up with Quentin for a behind-the-scenes look at his art.
The origin story
“I’ve been drawing since I was a kid…” explains Quentin, when I ask how he discovered his passion for illustration.
“I love animation, and I learned illustration by meticulously copying what I saw in classic Disney animated movies. I’d pause my favourite films, and then sit in front of the TV for hours mimicking some of the great Disney animators of the past.”
“My work has been described as adult cartoons with a Disney flair. I can’t think of a higher compliment.”
“The cartoon mashups came about because of one of my favorite films of all time – Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
“I’ve always loved when animation meets real life. So, once I got the courage to draw nude men, it didn’t take long for me to take it a step further and incorporate real models into my artwork.”
Heroes and inspirations
“I’m mesmerised by Rembrandt’s and Rodin’s use of light…” says Quentin, when I ask about his art heroes.
“Although Rodin is primarily known for his sculpture work, he was very concerned about how his sculptures reacted to light.”
“Dante and Virgil in Hell, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, is my favourite classic painting. It’s not explicitly gay but it’s very homoerotic.”
“My favourite modern nude male illustrator is Kent Lau. His line work and ability to capture nuances in perspective are very inspirational. His artwork rides that perfect line between art and erotica. I find his work both beautiful and arousing. Kent showed me that stylised, erotic illustrations of nude men could still be done with artistic excellence.”
“Another modern artist that I love is Brent Ray Fraser. Though he’s an incredible fine artist in his own right, he’s made a bit of a name for himself as a nude performance artist who literally paints images with his cock. It also doesn’t hurt that Brent’s body is absolutely stunning to look at – his physique is a work of art in and of itself. So, needless to say, I was ecstatic when Brent agreed to be in one of my mashups. Since his body is usually covered in paint, I incorporated that theme into his mashup. It was definitely a highlight for me to get to work with Brent.”
“The mashups are just so much fun for me to do…” says Quentin. “It’s the challenge that draws me to the process – matching lighting, film grain, focal lengths, and everything else is just flat out fun.”
“When I first begin an illustration, the process is very arousing – for about five minutes, but then the process very quickly becomes all about the work. I often forget that I’m working on an erotic image because I’m so focused on technique.”
“So far, I’ve met all of my models through social media – Instagram and Twitter. There’s no shortage of amazing models out there who are eager to pose for artists. Some models have approached me, and some I’ve approached on my own.”
“I understand that I’m asking my models to be very vulnerable, so I try to be sensitive to that. I typically don’t take requests from models – in terms of what I draw – but when it comes to their poses, I let them get creative and come up with their own ideas.”
“That’s actually part of the challenge for me, getting a new photo and figuring out how to do something with it. I actually love it when models give me really challenging, difficult poses.”
“However, I do try to be respectful about certain things. For example, some models don’t want to show their faces, or they want to be depicted with a nude cartoon, but they don’t want to be in a sexual situation. I would never ask a model to pose for an image that makes them uncomfortable. I also make a point to get the models approval before I post the final image on social media. I’ve never had a model say no, but I want to give them the opportunity.”
“Before I begin working with a model, I provide them with a technical checklist – just a few pointers for them to consider as they take their photographs or choose images from their library. Some poses work better than others. For example, straight-on shots are bad, because once I add the character, the cartoon often covers up the model. I really do want my models to be the stars of the images.”
“I also have to be mindful of Instagram, because of its strict rules about nudity and the depiction of sexuality – I often have to crop or censor images for Instagram. Some illustrations lend themselves well to a nice crop, but others don’t. I try to help models select poses that will work both as full, uncensored illustrations and as cropped versions for Instagram.”
The freedom of fantasy
“I get requests from models all the time, which is super humbling and flattering. I don’t charge for my work yet, but I am exploring commission options. I know that once I get into commissions, I have to start being more mindful of models’ requests. For example, I recently was approached by a model who was willing to pay for a mashup, but the scenario he wanted me to depict made me very uncomfortable, so I said no.”
“I do these mashups for my own joy, so by offering my services for free I feel like I can still retain some creative ownership regarding content and what I chose to depict. As soon as I charge for my illustrations, this whole process becomes a job. Right now, I’m having a blast just doing this for my own enjoyment.”
“I sometimes get complaints that I only depict muscular hairy men in my photos. That’s another reason why I don’t charge for my images. I find all types of men beautiful, but these mashups are my fantasies – I draw the types of men that I’m attracted to.”
“While my cartoon men are all typically muscular bears or otters, I’m always on the lookout for diversity with my models – I really want to work with more models of all shapes and sizes.”
“When guys look at my images, I hope they can see – and experience – the fun of sexuality, and maybe even see the comedy in it. One comment that I get a lot is – I never thought I could be aroused by a cartoon until I saw your images. Of course, the models I work with play a big part in that, but I’m always flattered when I know one of my images got a viewer a bit hot and bothered.
Follow Quentin Maxfield on Twitter