Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine

Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators

Fashion photographer Lope Navo releases RAW, a coffee table book that celebrates male beauty, masculinity, boyhood, nudity, and fashion. A follow up from his first book STARK, RAW is a 200-page hardcover monograph shot in more than five continents and dozens of majors cities.

Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine

It includes 200 bold pages, more than 100 men, 5 vast continents, a dozen wild cities in 3 extraordinary decades, all jam-packed in one groundbreaking hardcover book of the 21st Century. RAW serves as a culmination of Navo’s three-decade journey abroad where he amassed a grand body of work while living in the most exciting cities. The book includes a foreword by Christopher Harrity of Advocate Magazine.

In addition and to mark World AIDS Day, he donated 8% of the sales on RAW to charities fighting to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has taken the lives of countless people. You can buy it here.

Q: What made you want to pursue a career as a photographer?

A: I studied photography back in my University as a minor subject, I studied Fine Arts, along with painting and sculpture, back when photography was still filmed, and dark rooms. But what made me decide to see photography as an actual ‘career’ per se, is when I took job contracts all over the world as an artist to fend for myself and initially help my family, because I owe them. But I exchanged my paintbrushes with my keyboards and my canvas with my computer screens. Even though I was almost old enough to even seen the inside of an actual darkroom, I am also one of the first kids in my country of the Philippines who were privileged enough to learn Photoshop and those other cool software, giving me the tool to paint with my computer. I painted murals as big as an entire building. Only when I was offered a job for a magazine I started dabbling again into photography, shooting people. But even before that as a gay teenager, I’ve always been collecting magazine clippings of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jared Leto, and Johnny Depp in TeenBeat Magazine. As a kid growing up in a Third-World country, I fantasize about these magazines, and they brought me to places. Literally.

Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine

Q: And also, how did you start doing erotic photography, and what interested you most about that field?

A: Erotic photography specifically? Well, I think I was very young when I saw the first erotic or pornographic images, I wasn’t supposed to, this was before the internet. This when all magazines are print. By accident. But I started doing erotic photography when I was also traveling the world at a very early age. I photographed portraits of my friends and lovers, I was quite a very young Casanova. All these photographs were lost. Since these were at the time before Google or Instagram. I even printed some books at that time but since I was traveling the world, I lost them all. I am possibly the only photographer or artist today that have lived everywhere and on almost all continents, most popular photographers today lived in one city their entire lives. So all their works were saved and archived. For me, it is completely a different story. The other direction. 

Q: How do you think nudity is seen in todays’s society? 

A: Nudity is still a taboo in most countries and most societies, when I was growing in Manila, two decades ago, in the Philippines, a mostly Catholic country, and I was a catholic choir boy, almost like Madonna. Before the Philippines had many gay publications, very gay-friendly, now they are all gone. Not even one. As if progress went backwards, suddenly the Philippines became prude. But I think people should not be ashamed of how they look, of their ‘god-given gifts’. Like what they always say, if you have it, why not flaunt it? Otherwise, the future will be heading in a totally different direction, if you know what I mean.

Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine

Q: How did the idea of doing the book “RAW” start? 

A: I just wanted to have a follow-up book of my work “STARK” published in 2009 by Bruno Gmunder, quite a controversial book in New York. Ahead of its time, it never went on a reprint. So last April of 2020 during lockdown I started to actually finish an entire book by going through archives of my work, old and new. As I said, I am probably the only photographer on the planet that have lived on almost all continents, especially in the fashion world, you can fact-check that. New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Thailand, Singapore, and of course the Philippines, name it I’ve seen them all and actually lived for years. Mind you, I have a ‘Third World passport’, it is as good as toilet paper, but I managed. So I’ve archived thousands and thousands of unpublished works, and these are the only ones that survived the hard drive loss or damage. So months ago I compiled a selection of my work that represents the most RAW I’ve done so far.  200 pages of no hold barred images of men’s raw beauty, masculinity, and also boyhood, from all over the world. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job? Do you think it’s an easy one? 

A: My favorite part about photography is when I capture a moment that wouldn’t otherwise have existed if I haven’t taken it. If I haven’t clicked that shutter, that world wouldn’t have seen the light of day. I know there are many photographs in the world and in the age of Instagram we are all desensitized by the flood of images all of our waking hours. To capture a fragment of time and put it into a pause, something you can collect or own or remember. I also write, so for me what I like about photography is how memory takes a big part of the creative process. You are saying: “Here is my memory of this specific moment”. You are free to be privy to it and live vicariously through it, even just for a split second. Imagine if you own my book, it is like owning a part of myself for you to close or open whenever you want. Isn’t that beautiful? A part of me is forever attached to those photographs, especially in a book. Also, the part that I am surrounded by youth and beauty, the fountain of youth. I can’t complain about that.

Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Lope Navo: Artists are our emotional translators Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine

Q: What makes you keep creating art specially through these rough times? 

A: Art is very important. Without art, we will all be lost in darkness, because artists can express what we can’t, as writers do. They are our translators, our emotional translators. Especially in trying times. The early cave paintings made of spit and grime, leaving their handprints, it is our ancestors saying; “Here we are we existed, hold my hands.” 

Q: For those who are planning to start a creative career, which piece of advice would you give them? 

A creative career is never the easiest, a lot of it deals with emotion, and that is the dangerous part sometimes. And I don’t think you can be an artist if you are a stuck-up, prude, and close-minded. I was blessed to have not only one gift, but I can also paint and write, imagine that some people can’t even have one means of ‘self-expression’. So you should see the museums, read books and magazines, tick all the boxes, support the art, travel, fall in love, try at least everything twice, and also know your limits. A creative life needs to be sometimes all about balance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletter and get posts every week
Yo! Don't be left out! Dive into the latest trends and uncover fresh perspectives with Vanity Teen. Hit that subscribe button NOW, and always stay on the pulse of fashion. Let's keep it 100% authentic! 👊🔥