Monday, June 14, 2010

Meeting The Creator: Jozef Szekeres

Redhead Man in Gold.Szekeres © 2009-2010 by JozefSzekeres 

You’ve surely bumped onto his illustrations whether you’re gay or not. 
If you’re fond of gay art it is more than sure that you’ve seen his work on this chaotic pan galactic gay internet sphere, since he’s contributed a lot as an artist to gay activism. 
If you’re not so much on gay art, you probably won’t be reading this, despite of that, you might also have seen his work on Disney and other famous gaming companies. Although he worked on Intellectual Property aimed at kids, you don’t want to play unfair games with him. I’ve warned you, he’s a tough guy. 
And I sense you like tough guys!

The superpower you have or wish you had
X-ray vision.

The TV animated series attracted you more as a kid
He-Man and She-Ra, Smurfs and Gummi Bears.

Which way they formed your adulthood?
He-Man and She-Ra: I loved the muscles, the figures and the voices. I loved the toys. I loved the animation of He-man and She-Ra, I loved seeing them run, it gave me an appreciation of animation.
Smurfs: I loved this little village of the little blue men, all you really needed was one girl in the crowd.
Gummi Bears: I loved them so much I used to tape them in the mornings, and watch them over and over again. I ended up working for Disney, and one of my first jobs was inbetweening on the Gummi Bears.

Is it easier to fall in love with a comic character or with a real person?
I never really thought you could fall for a cartoon character. I remember loving Disney's Aurora, Ariel and Jessica Rabbit, but that love was for their beauty and their movement, it was never sexual. However, once I saw Tarzan... well I then understood how it could be much more.

RingMasterRecovery.G.Szekeres art © 2007-2010 by Jozef Szekeres

Why the mermaid in your project is black?
I love mermaids, and a silhouette is black, it made sense. Plus I like that there is no discernible race to a silhouette.

Your opinion on T.S. Eliot’s quote; “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal”
Anyone stealing from me will speak to my lawyer... Trust me, it's happened before, and I'm always ready to defend my art and my Intellectual Property.

Your work is sometimes cute, sometimes sexy, sometimes both, what would you choose if you had to choose?
That's a hard one, for I love cute, and I love sexy, they both have their times and moments to shine. Depends what I wanted to focus on, I guess I've never decided either way. Do I HAVE to choose?

Working for big TV productions
Working for Disney was great for experience. The characters you got to work with were amazing, such a fulfilling experience to work on iconic characters like that. Management didn't appreciate the artists, so I left Disney before it imploded in Australia. I know that there are many high level gay men in the creative area of Disney in the States, but being gay in the Australian studio seemed to work against you. I knew many gay men that worked there that were harassed by management or lost jobs, and being gay was a huge factor in why...

I worked for an Australian Gaming company for about 5 years. 4 Great years, then in the 5th, my new supervisor was homophobic, and when the government changed the employment rules, this supervisor fired me in the first 2 weeks of the changes, for being gay. I took this company to court and got usage rights to my artwork (rather than the settlement money). What hurt was all that Good-Will and time and good work I'd created for them that they made millions, meant nothing once the legal machine got into action, and it was nasty, they were really nasty and harassed me even 2 years after our final settlement, arguing against what had already been awarded me in this settlement. Of course they were rebuffed on this second attack, but the experience was costly on many levels. So from my personal experience, homophobia is VERY present at this company and generally in the arts industry in Australia.

Rogues.Sleaze08.Szekeres. artwork © 2008-2010 Jozef Szekeres
(Collection of 11 villainous characters that was created 
by J. Szekeres for the Sydney Mardi Gras "Sleaze Ball 08")

What is this government change on employment rules that helped your supervisor to fire you?
WorkChoices was passed in 2006, and was said to improve employment levels and national economic performance by dispensing unfair dismissal laws for companies under a certain size. Additional factors aimed at increasing economic performance included clauses significantly compromising a workforce's ability to legally go on strike, requiring workers to bargain for previously-guaranteed conditions without collectivized representation, and significantly restricting trade union activity and recruitment on the worksite. Critics argued that the laws stripped away basic employee rights and were fundamentally unfair.

Do these new regulations have to do with homosexuality as a cause to fire people?
Not directly, but there were many untested dismissals at this time. My case was taken up for free by the NSW University Legal Dept. based on Unfair Dismissal on the grounds of sexuality/Homosexuality, as they felt this was untested in court with the new WorkChoices conditions. The supervisor cited that "He knew what gay was, and gay was unacceptable". I had a co-worker witness I took into all meetings.
We had an out of court settlement that gave me usage/publishing rights to the $400,000 worth of artwork I created for the company during my 5 years of employment. To my understanding, no other artist currently working or ex to this company has usage rights to their works for this company as I have. I chose this outcome over a WorkChoices payment limit of 6 months of pay (which would have closed all usage rights to the artwork I had created in the 5 years of employment... even for my own art threatened by the company).

Sauna.PG.Szekeres © 2008-2010 by Jozef Szekeres

Your point of view on the market of gay comics
I think the gay comic market is amazing. I'm a fan, and I collect it all. Joe Phillips and Glen Hanson need to be thanked for being the flame bearers, bringing it to the present from the days of Tom of Finland. I think their contribution started the new generation of homo comics. I had my work included in the 2nd Bruno Gmunder book, Stripped: Uncensored. I remember when the first Stripped was released in 2006, I had only JUST started doing homoerotic artwork, and I though MAN... just like me to miss out. But 3 years later... they asked me to be a contributor, so I had made enough of an impact in 3 years to be noticed and invited, that felt great.

Art as activism and your contribution to it
I'm very active in artists’ rights, and vocal on the subject of Australian artists being used for Australian events. I love Glen Hanson’s work, and would never want to take work from him (I discussed this with Glen, and he understood my issue was not personal towards him), but when he was secured as the poster artist for 3 years in a row for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras' Sleaze Ball, I was incensed. The first year, no problem to have an international guest artist, but 3 years in a row was insulting to the Australian artistic homoerotic talent which is just as strong, and just as internationally appealing. There is such a limited field of possible exposure, especially in Australia, I think it behooves Australian events to promote the homoerotic art talent from within. The Bruno Gmunder book was good for that... as it's their feeling that those included in the book are the best of the internationals currently doing homoerotic artwork. Myself and two other Australian artists were included (Peter Skirrow, and Ross Watson), so Australia... wake up, we've international players that are local.

Artists you would collaborate with
Peter Skirrow, as he's a friend and mentor, Idis Art... a brilliant gay cartoonist I met through Disney. Already collaborated with Glen Hanson, as I retooled his 3rd Sleaze Ball poster for further marketing usage, and also created another 13 characters for the Villains Lair rouges gallery.

Your upcoming projects
I'm constantly doing smaller poster work for local gay events, more to support them then they supporting me financially for the work. In these instances I do art for them because I believe in the event or the group. But of course paying jobs are always preferred. I'm working on a comic series called Elf-fin with co-creator and writer Julie Ditrich, about mermaids and mermen. The lead characters are straight, but there are supporting characters who are gay. The totally gay homo comic from me is still in the future to create.

You can follow my work here: 

And a P.S. by Jozef: It seems several times a day, I get people contacting me, requesting that I make drawings, painted artworks, or animations of them, presenting it in such a way as if I'm being offered the opportunity of a lifetime to do them in this way, OR... that it would be the absolute best fun for me, or for them, to see themselves as artworks. Just to clarify, I'm a professional artist, art is how I pay my bills and keep food on the table, every artwork I do must have a financial reason for being. SO, I'm not interested in immortalizing you, your face your body your cock or ass in art just for fun. To me, it's just UNPAID days and days of work people are expecting I do for free. I'm just NOT that interested.

1 comment:

urge said...

Hey man! love your blog.
I'm an artist, check out my sexy drawings on my blog, hope you like them....



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