Spotlight on Instagram’s Best Gay Artists: Meet Guido Fiato

Spotlight on Instagram’s Best Gay Artists: Meet Guido Fiato

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The Italian word for “bear” is “orso.” Keep that one in your back pocket. It might come in handy during your travels around the world.

That’s also a key word for the art of Guido Fiato, an illustrator based in Naples whose preferred subject is muscle bears. He draws men thick, muscled and beardy. He’s not the only one, of course. Just last week we also profiled Leonardo Gutierrez’s Super Smash Bears. But there’s something about Fiato’s line work that captures a sense of softness and fun even when he’s showing a guy who’s ripped.

“I like the contrasts that’s created with muscles and the inner sweetness,” Fiato explained. “Strong outside but cuddly inside.”

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As Fiato sees it, the men he draws represent not just an ideal of hunkiness but also a type of masculinity he’s aspired to his whole life.

“When I was in my teens, I was very skinny and not very tall. Sometimes other kids made fun of me, and I would ask myself, ‘What if I was a muscle bear? Would they have the courage to do that? No! They would be afraid!’” he said. “So I think that maybe muscle bears give me some kind of sense of security.”

Though Fiato counts pop culture’s more notable losers among his favorite — Charlie Brown and Clark Kent — he names Russell Crowe in Gladiator as a longtime crush. Another? Hercules as interpreted by the 1997 Disney movie. “He got all my attention when I was young.” And you can that in his art today — musclebound lunks who don’t take themselves so seriously and who actually smile.

He’s been drawing in this way for four years, following a period of self-censorship in which he’d try to instead draw what he thought other people wanted to look at. Today, in putting out the art you can see on his Instagram feed, he’s feels like he’s expressing himself more fully. “I don’t care what others say,” he said.

You can find Fiato’s work on Instagram, on his Tumblr and on his Facebook page. But he says for the type of gay-themed art he makes, the first two are the ideal place to post, because it’s easier for people to interact and engage on a social network that’s less open to the entire world. “I’ve noticed that on Facebook people are afraid to comment on my work, because their real names are exposed. They don’t want to be labeled as gay because they said something about my gay drawing. Or other artists won’t show their support publicly,” he said. “They sometimes prefer to contact me directly and tell me how much they like my art.”

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Fiato teamed up with Dale Lazarov earlier this year on the erotic comic Manly (link is NSFW, BTW) and hopes to continue honing his art. “I dedicated my whole life to drawing, and I’d like to show the world that making art with the right passion can pay off,” he said. “I really hope to be to be able to live a dignified life as an artist and be able to pay my bills and my rent. I’m not really the kind of guy that makes long term projects, but who really knows what will happen?”

See more of Fiato’s work on Patreon.