Angel Velluto on Coming From a Rural Background, Creative Direction, Being a Late Bloomer & More

by Rubén Palma
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Angel Velluto (Jake Martin), is an emerging creative from The Forest of Dean, living in London. Focusing on art direction and playing with all forms of media, his creativity stems from being inquisitive and discovering his purpose late in life.

Hi Angel! It’s a pleasure to sit down with you! First question that I always ask. How does a regular day look like for you in London? 

Well, I wish I had some sort of routine.. but everyday I seem to be doing something new. The only consistent thing is my meditation practice and a strong coffee.  

Growing up, what kind of kid were you? What did you enjoy doing, and how did you spend your time? 

From what I have been told, I was very quiet and shy. I was very much a little observer and was obsessed with bugs, nature and drawing. It wasn’t until I reached my first year of secondary school started to come out of myself. But even then, I think I always found myself on my own making something away from others.

 Seeing that you spent a lot of time on your own, what is your relationship with isolation?

I think, spending so much of my time on my own is a way to feel incontrol. It has helped me build worlds that I’m comfortable in and feel safe. I’ve spent the majority of my working life on farms or working it the woods and often I’m on my own, and it’s in these times fantasy has been a saving Grace. I would like to say at this point though, I am such a loud mouth now and it takes a great amount of patience to talk to me for more than about 15 mins, so this isolation has not made me peaceful or serene … just thoughtful.

Speaking of farms… About 2 years ago you worked on a farm, and now now you’re working with models, design studios and renowned publications. Tell me a little bit about what your background, how you got introduced to this new world and how has that transaction been? 

Well, tbh I have only one person to thank and that is the crazy talented artist @JaninaZais. I think I always felt like a creative, and have had ideas and expressions but didn’t think I had a place in the creative community. She showed me I did and I can add value If I trust my intuition.Without her guidance I would have never told anyone any of my ideas, or shown them my sketches or even revealed my ambitions.

So who have been your mentors and what mistakes have you made that they have helped you with? 

As I mentioned  previously, Janina was my guiding light on how the fashion and beauty industry worked. She was also very patient when when I would drag her through some stupid ideas, that ultimately were beneath her and that we both knew would fail. Together she helped me to trust the process and try and make something good out of bad work. If images aren’t ideal, or I’m not happy with the way something is shot, then I can find a way redirect, be flexible and create something new. 

I am also really lucky that my best friend @jessicarubbish, has been a guiding force also. With out her I wouldn’t be a good artist or man. If anyone ever has the chance to spend some time with her in any capacity then I encourage it… she’s a rare example of power, Grace and goofiness. 

What has your experiences been like, coming from a rural background? And how has your artistic identity been shaped by it?

I think it’s to just try and find beauty in the space between the everyday and the fantasy. Living and working in the countryside allows you the time to escape and think. I came from a heavily wooded area of tall dark trees where mystery is just felt in all ways. I have countless moments of the divine that occurred to me when I would commit my self to those woods. At some point hopefully I can capture that in my work more, yknow instead of naked women with cake on them.

My work ethic and approach to creative work comes from being aware that it is a privilege to work as a creative, and that if your given the chance (late in life at 31) to express yourself for a living then you need to give it everything you have.

What is your relationship with queer culture? 

This is difficult, as although I work with queer themes and have always been felt comfortable in the queer community, but I am also very much aware that I am a guest and try to act appropriately and with respect you should while in someone else’s house.

With that in mind. How do you approach playing with the ideas of Femininity and beauty as a straight man? What’s your thought process like?

I think, as with the queer community I have to operate as an outsider in someone’s else’s space. To be frank I have been lucky to have some of my industries toughest and most bad ass women, creatives and queers on my side and they direct the visions as much as I do. I hope the overall perspective my work gives is an outsider and when the focus is on the femininity, it is represented as powerful, unbridled and mysterious. 

How important is collaboration to you?

It’s the most important part of any of the work I’ve made and probably what ever I make in the future. The collaborative process is what makes this job fun! I try and work with as many of the same people as possibile, as once we make some interesting I know that the next thing we make will be even better. Regular collaborators like @janinazais MUA @dashatavias, Model @rue.charlotte and musician @twstwstwstwst, as well as my my incredibly talented assistant @r.osew, make the art we create take on a quality I couldn’t possibly create on my own. I owe each person who takes a leap of faith with me (after I send them a badly spelt DM that contains a vague idea and often little budget) a great deal of gratitude. I am often the least experienced and weakest in the room on my shoots and everyone I work with elevates me and teaches me.

 Can you walk me through your creative process. From beginning, to end result?

I really wish I had a functioning and consistent process, it would save allot of anxiety. But really I just wait for something to me me feel a particular way and try find a beautiful way to represent this. Humour is also a driving force, if I tell someone an idea they find funny then I’m gonna pursue it.

What motivates you? 

Curiosity and fear.

How would you describe a perfect day?

My perfect day is a day walking in the Forest of Dean, eating cute snacks and then falling asleep with tired limbs by a wood stove with a loved one. Maybe Nick Cave is there too in some capacity, maybe on a piano…. If it’s a PERFECT day.

Any future projects coming up?

Yes so many, to the point that I’m kinda overwhelmed right now. But I have one that I’m making for you guys which is gonna be super fun!

How do you deal with creative blocks?

I just try and work through them and stay as inquisitive as possible. Often I just hang out with friends that I trust and just bounce shit off them. Dreams are also always helpful, and thank goodness I’m low-key nuts as my dreams are wild and I can always wake, write them down and find something interesting in them to explore.

Alright Angel. I always ask these two questions at the end of an interview. The first is. What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?

My favourite movie is American Movie by Chris Smith. This movie gave me courage and the inspiration to just go into anything with a true heart…. Talent is secondary if your creating something sincere. I promise if your a creative who is either hesitant, insecure or fearful… there is something in that movie that will want you to create the moment it finishes.

The second is. What song(s) are you currently listening to the most right now?

Was I ever alone? by @twstwstwstwst.

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