Javier Delgado has never been drawn to the perfection of art, especially in photographs, because they don’t find them pleasing. Instead, they love the not-so-perfect witty, grainy, trashy photographs that showcase our real, vulnerable selves. Photo by Javier Delgado.
This is an installment of exclusive Q+As with our Shifter Fest Vol. II performers. This interview with Javier Delgado was held through emails due to their busy schedule. Be sure to check out their performances on our IGTV channel!
Meet Javier Delgado — a Sagittarius queer photographer and multidisciplinary artist based in Puerto Rico.
Drawn from the polar opposite of perfection, they love making art — especially photographs — that embody the not-so-perfect witty, grainy and trashy realness and vulnerability about people. Through their work, you can see heavy inspiration drawn from music, camp aesthetics from the 80s up to the 2000s, sexuality and 19th-century paintings.
Shifter Mag had the opportunity to chat with Javier and ask about their passion to showcase the so-called "weird" side of life, the labeled "ugly" or "non-functional."
Shifter Mag: Where are you from and how has that helped shaped your identity?
Javier: I am born, raised and also based in Puerto Rico. Shaping an identity when you live in a colony is very hard because once you are old enough to understand history you get a sense of how identity can be manipulated until it becomes a memory. I say this because in my own experience I wasn’t shown culture as I would’ve loved. I had to look up for things like art, music, history in order to understand and “live” through it.
One thing that helped me a lot in shaping my identity was music. This chameleonic form of Art made me understand things that I would've never thought possible. You can mix music with anything (video, picture or even putting on headphones and just living your life) and you can feel it gives a whole different narrative to the way you see things.
SM: How long have you been doing art? How has it changed over the years, with everything happening in Puerto Rico and worldwide?
Javier: Ever since I was a kid, I loved creating. I have a strong imagination and curiosity that it's always running. I started my creative journey with painting and writing (a thing I should start doing again), then moved to just sketching until I found the digital medium and decided to use it as my base in my artistic journey.
I started doing "official" art in 2015. During these five years, my art has changed a lot mostly because I found a way of putting my feelings and self out for the public to see. Back in 2015, I was trying to create things that society wanted to see, but I wasn't feeling it at all. Three years later, I noticed that I just had to do Art for myself and if people liked it it was a plus. I. know my Art may seem campy, ugly, witty, not serious, sexual... but that's how I want it to be.
I see my art evolving every day and with my curiosity, I can definitely see a change in how I create art, especially in how our world is changing.
SM: What is your creative process like? How do you conceptualize your thoughts and ideas into visuals?
Javier: A chaotic mess! First, the concept/idea comes (90% of the time) from a song lyric; I just listen to it and visuals come to mind in seconds. Then I write it down and as I write it more things pop to mind. Sometimes if I have time I’ll even create it right at the moment. My process is very “at the moment” because sometimes the idea that popped won’t have the same excitement if it's done later or maybe even days after it came. Usually waiting for it turns into a mess and it ends up in my archives until I see it again and go “Okay but this is great! Why did I scrap this?!”
SM: As a queer artist, have you found it difficult to create a space where you can express your artistry? What limitations have you faced?
Javier: Now this is a debate I’ve had with myself for a long time. It's clear that our culture is very patriarchal, religious and to top it all off, LGBTQIA+phobic. My coming out story was not the greatest so this took a heavy toll on how I wanted to be seen. This is one of the reasons I decided to change my artist name to Javier Delgado. I always say that this “change” in how I wanted to be called made an impact on me for the better. Made me more confident, determined and overall happy.
I still face limitations on creating my safe space, still trying to find that state of mind where I can be 100% like “Fuck it.” But I can assure you that it’ll come pretty soon because there’s no time to waste!
SM: I see the usage of human bodies a lot in your art, what's the significance in that? Walk us through that usage and the role you place in them.
Javier: The natural human body has always fascinated me, it's just art. I think this focus on it is a representation of the freedom I wanted to have when I was still in denial of my true self. I have a deep love for the imperfections people have because that's what makes us unique. I never retouch my portraits because of that, what you see is what you get. This is what I try with my models too. I also try to put a little bit of me in them (in poses) because I think it's a cool thing to do; you've gotta have fun with it. I always try to do new things, turning things around.
SM: Where do you plan to take your art?
Javier: My main goal is that my art reaches everyone. I always have that mindset of one of my favorite artists Keith Haring. I’m happy enough that I get to share (some because of the guidelines) of my art through the internet. I feel like even if I don’t believe it I know people that I don’t know about me may look through hashtags and notice/appreciate my work. Also one of my main goals is to be able to open my own Gallery and be as inclusive as one can be.
SM: Anything you'd like to add? Feel free to say anything and everything!
Javier: Remember to ALWAYS support artists. You don't need to buy their Art to show support.
A like, a comment and share helps us a lot. You may not be interested but someone will be by the little exposure you gave us.
"Hoy por mi, mañana por ti." (Rough translation: "I'll scratch your back and you'll scratch mine.")
Catch Javier Delgado’s performance titled “Breathe” in our next installment of Shifter Fest Vol. II on our IGTV channel: