Some people have all the luck. And talent. And looks. As for Jacob Bixenman, the model, photographer, filmmaker, and Instagram sweetheart, he's the definition of today's multi-hyphenate. Oh, and he's got a pretty cute boyfriend too — maybe you've heard of him?
He's since walked the runways of some of the biggest names in fashion including Dolce & Gabanna, KITH, Stella McCartney, and Moncler.
Today, the 24-year-old repped by IMG is best known for taking candid images of himself and famous friends like Hari Nef, Luka Sabbat, and Alton Mason that he posts for his over 300,000 Instagram followers. His documentary-style images are intimate and unpretentious, leaving us with the sense that we're in on his personal life, whether he's in Namibia working for Paco Rabanne, gracing the cover of Gay Times, or hanging out with Troye while he gets ready for the Met Ball.
We spoke to Bixenman about his limited edition t-shirts, how he manages to capture all those amazing impromptu shots, and how he deals with internet fame.
Your work ranges from commercials to campaigns, to more contemplative pieces addressing the concept of identity, particularly within the LGBTQIA+ community. How did you get started with multi-media production?
I started taking photos as a hobby and means of documenting my life a few years ago and was no good but fell in love with the medium, so I kept working at it. That sort of spiraled into playing with video and editing. I’d bring my cameras backstage to shows and modeling jobs and make photo stories and shorts of the characters on set to turn into something interesting that communicated a mood. Sharing those things online led some publications and brands to reach out for me to make content, and it’s built from there.
Walk us through your process of creating.
A lot of the creative work I do is somewhat documentarian, or at least candid by happenstance of having my camera with me at an interesting moment. I like those environments the most and try to capture the in-between in a way that shares something aspirational and beautiful.
Lawlessness, tenderness, disintegration, intimacy, power, and fear are subjects that interest me in a broad, spacey way. As far as work that’s more organized, it really depends. I’ll nail down a mood that I want to convey for a specific project and then work around that while making content and editing.
Your career quickly took off after a modeling competition. What are your thoughts on the Internet’s ability to propel someone to fame?
I think it’s great but scary. With the Internet, it’s easy to catch a wave but hard to know how to surf it. Everything is immediate, ephemeral, and catered to the moment, so it takes confidence to defy that and sustain. Gaining quick attention is strange, but it’s amazing that people have the power to do so if they’re ready.
You've been such a major force in spreading awareness and acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community. Tell us more about your decision to get involved.
I appreciate that but would hesitate to call myself a major force in that arena. I don’t deserve that credit. Living my life visibly online has been a decision I’ve made out of respect for myself more than a political objective, although I think it’s amazing if that’s had a positive impact on people.
As far as activism goes, I do feel responsible to involve myself and inspire others to do the same. I owe that to the people that have fought for me to have the opportunities and protections I do. It’s easier now than ever to communicate what you believe in and to find a queer-rights organization to involve yourself with [like] Voices 4, Gays Against Guns, Lambda Legal, #BreakThePatent, etc.
How do you deal with all this new attention? What message do you hope to communicate?
I don’t take it that seriously, even though I try to be responsible with what I communicate. I guess I want people to recognize that their lives are theirs and to do what they want. Love the process. Do something good.
You were an English major. Do you still have time to write?
That’s right. I do have time, but I’ve kind of neglected writing since focusing on visual stuff. It’s still something I love, but I need to work more at understanding my written voice. That’s something I want to do this year.
Who's your favorite writer?
James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Fran Lebowitz have always stuck with me. I just read What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell, which was really great. [I'm] diving into Yukio Mishima right now.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Yeah, I’m working on a few video projects at the moment and developing a script for a short that I’m hoping to make in the next few months, along with a few other ideas that are floating in space for now. More shirts, too.