Grindr Illustrated: bangable watercolours

Ted Sterchi’s project Grindr Illustrated got quite viral recently. His idea is intriguing: turning Grindr profile pictures into watercolour illustrations. Scrolling through his tumblr we see a whole panorama of gay men in the never-ending mating season that the gay dating app provides. Medium and sujet mingle into something new, that reveals the very vulnerability all these tough and cute mates bare by exposing abs and beards, muscles and faces.

Ted was so nice to answer some questions for wolf auf tausend plateaus:

Watercolours seem to be a big thing recently. Why did you choose this medium?
I’ve always been a fan of watercolours. I used them a bit in my teens, just painting things in my free time, but it had been maybe five years since I’d painted before I started this project. When I came up with the idea, I realised that I had some watercolours sitting around in my flat and I just started painting. Plus, I’m really impatient and I think with watercolours you can be fast and messy and still get a nice result! I hate waiting for paint to dry.

Your drawings take something sexual and turn it into something very naive. Was this bias part of your initial idea?
Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to go for. I have nothing against sex but I think it’s everywhere nowadays – on our phones, our computers – and sometimes it feels like there’s no escaping. It can be tiring to be honest. I wanted to do something creative and innocent for a change.

How does it feel that your project is getting so viral?
It’s been very surreal! I’ve gotten lots of nice comments and I’m still trying to respond to everyone, I don’t want anyone to think I’m being ungrateful. Since it’s gotten bigger I’ve had to think more about respecting people’s privacy but so far I’ve found that everyone has been happy to be painted. My mom has been reading all of my interviews and that’s really awesome but sometimes scary; Grindr isn’t something you’d normally discuss with your parents. I think she knows all the Grindr lingo now!

Do people use your images as Grindr profile picture?
I haven’t seen anyone use one of my paintings as their Grindr profile picture yet, but a couple people have used them on Facebook.

There is a certain code and aesthetic in the way people show off themselves on dating portals like Grindr. How do you feel about it? Isn’t it boring to see or even draw another guy with an iPhone in his hand in front of the mirror?
I’m not a fan of selfies or mirror shots, but it does appeal to some people and that’s good for them. I think a downside to social media and smartphones is that they encourage us to be quite vain, so when I paint a portrait like that, it is a mild critique – not of the individual, but of society. It’s only going to get worse I’m afraid. Sometimes it can be hard to find an exciting picture to paint because a lot of the poses are similar, but I think the most boring subject of all is muscular torsos with no face. I like drawing faces!

Are you attracted to the guys you paint?
I do find some of them attractive, yes. However I’m quite shy and old-fashioned so I never really hit on anyone. To be honest some of my favourite paintings are of the people who I’m least physically attracted to. I think it would be dull if I only painted pictures of people who I thought were hot, so I try to get a good mix.

You just started your project a few months ago, but how about the future of Grindr illustrated?
I definitely plan on keeping it up. I’d like to have more submissions from other artists. Sometime’s it’s hard because I’ve had a lot of requests and there’s only one of me, but I can produce the images rather quickly and it’s a great creative outlet. I’ve painted about 60 pictures so far, so I can’t wait to make it to 100 – I’d love to paint my entire neighbourhood. I’ve bought some better painting materials and I may try different styles some day, stay tuned!

I definitely will, thanks for the interview Ted!

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