We Chat with Ian Jacob, Creator of RetroSex, about Love, Loss, Side Boobs, and Inspiration
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RetroSex by Ian Jacob: a powerful and subversive line about sex, emotion, and retrospect.
You may have seen Ian Jacob's photos racking up the retweets and reblogs on Twitter and Tumblr, but it's time to dive deeper into the artist and his inspiration for RetroSex. Ian is amazing as an artist, model, and designer, so make sure to click on all the images in this interview to enlarge them and get info on how to buy his designs and support his work.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and RetroSex
The line itself started as some really incoherent poetry jotted down in my phone at like 3 am. I had just gone through a breakup with a guy I had planned to propose to and I was in the midst of therapy for sexual assault unrelated to that relationship.
I was at a loss for a way to connect sex to emotion, to connect my body to my brain, and I was fascinated by the sort of muscle memories my body possessed in relation to both the relationship (ie, a sense of arousal when a guy wearing his cologne walked by) and the assault (ie, discomfort being around gay men in bars). So I wrote these lines about this physical sort of retrospect, and that became RetroSex.
The inspiration for it is constantly changing, it’s just me doing all of this so I’m investing more and more and a lot of things have changed and are going to change over time.
"I constantly fear... that I’ll inevitably end up doing what’s already been done"
What is your favorite thing, place, or person you go to for inspiration?
By rule, I try to avoid social media when I’m coming up with a design. I constantly fear that in a world where everyone creates content, that I’ll inevitably end up doing what’s already been done.
I try to get lost in obscure google image searches of old gay porn, old gay rights riots, gender expression in other cultures in past decades, etc.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done this last year?
So far the most exciting part of 2019 has been getting a job as a personal trainer, I studied for a full six months and will be taking clients soon.
What should we expect going forward for this next year?
The “normal” view of things is always through the eyes of a white heterosexual cis male, which is lame but sadly true.
I’m hoping to up the quality and feel of the brand. Make it more cohesive, less campy and more insightful while upping the fashion. I’m also really trying to find new ways to display and market the fantasy of the brand on social media.
Why do you think male nudity—especially in a queer context—is treated differently from female nudity?
I think it’s not all that different in some ways. The “normal” view of things is always through the eyes of a white heterosexual cis male, which is lame but sadly true. Because of this, the female form is always sexualized, always.
"I’m sure this average straight man I’m speaking of wouldn’t admit it, but thoughts about our sex arise."
A man sees a little side boob and the immediate response is a certain level of sexual arousal, thoughts of sex with that woman. A queer male form is also sexualized, the mere existence of a gay male evoke images of the “alternative” sex acts we partake in. It’s not necessarily arousal, although I’m sure this average straight man I’m speaking of wouldn’t admit it, but thoughts about our sex arise.
Tell us about a time you had your heart broken.
I had been saving up money for an engagement ring. I had moved 1000 miles to live with him, I had come far too close to being in the midst of the biggest mass killing in a queer space in American history, and I realized he wasn’t really going to able to get through the hard times with me. I left pretty quickly and used the money I had saved to move back home.
I really didn’t do any art for nearly two years until I found a square chunk of plywood on the side of the road.
What would you go back and tell yourself at the beginning or RetroSex that you know now?
Go slow. Don’t try to please people. It’s a brand, you want to sell things not sell out.
What piece of art that you have made or taken part in are you the proudest of?
I dropped out of art school after almost killing myself at 19. I was in one of the top programs in the country and honestly, I was bored. I really didn’t do any art for nearly two years until I found a square chunk of plywood on the side of the road. I left it outside for months before I started painting on it. It was decrepit.
The painting ended up being this collage of renaissance references painted in an almost decayed zombie-like palette. It’s big and heavy and horrible to hang but one day it’ll be up in my future home.
What media are you into right now?
Ariana fucking Grande. I’m also loving Lizzo, and a few weeks ago binged on some K‑Pop.
If you could change one thing about society right now what would it be?
I’d take the mic from white cishet men. They have far too large of a voice and the average conservative ideals of these men are rooted in a desire to maintain power, not within their own existence but power over others (women, POC, queers etc). It’s damaging, it holds us all back.