Mankind Seen by Juan Castano

A highly pop and comical aesthetic with very personal humor lends an apparent lightness to Castano’s unconventional and mischievous works. His strikingly bold and clear style immediately involves the viewer, but is also an invitation for deeper reading and interpretation.

Whilst his work resonates closely with the LGBT community and is extremely conscientious, an irreverent and disenchanted undercurrent suggests Juan is telling tales of his own experiences, which do not always have a dreamy and princely ending, but often remain suspended between the grotesque and the kawaii.

How was your approach to art?
When did you decide to become an illustrator?

I think that somehow art has always been present in my life. As a child I always loved drawing, and I loved painting books. I don’t think I ever decided to become an illustrator, I just began spending more and more time drawing which led me to discover the world of digital illustration. Then suddenly people began commissioning me.

Tell me something about your work, how would you describe your illustrations?

Well, I think that my illustrations are a mix of many artistic influences and styles that I admire: Japanese illustration, constructivism, art deco … and the result is work that combines eroticism and naivety with simple lines and colors.

manintown cover

In my opinion there is a certain Japanese in- spiration behind them and obviously they are very pop.
Which are your main artistic influences?

This influence is certainly more obvious in my first works yet it has never been lost as I have evolved as an artist. As for influential artists I always name Junko Mizuno; her work is fascinating, Rodchenko and Popova, whom I discovered in an exhibition in London, Malika Favre, Sanna Annuka… and many more.

Which are your main references when it comes to illustrations?

In the case of illustration, Maria Picassó i Piquer; her works hypnotize me and convey a total mastery of proportion and characterization. Jarom Vogel; his palette and work are amazing, and Roda’s work is ab- solutely brilliant with a use of color I envy.

Talking about style, what is elegant for you?

For me, elegance is something timeless. I don’t think it is merely about simplicity or dressing in basic clothes, I think it’s a step further; it’s a talent, something you are born with or without in the same garment, one can exude elegance and another cannot.

“Urban Cowboy”
in exclusive for MANINTOWN wearing DSquared2 f/w 2019-20

What is fashion for you? And which are the essentials in your personal wardrobe and style? 

Fashion has always been present in my life. When I was younger and going out at night, I could spend an hour trying on clothes, choosing what to wear that night to ensure I was not to go unnoticed. I have always liked to see what is going to take and what is not, and I usually read a lot of fashion magazines. I’m not a fashion victim and if there is something that does not fit, I do not wear it. Let’s say I like fashion but I do not obsess over it. I’m going to say something very obvious; in my closet there are always jeans – I can’t live without them. I find them very comfortable and I can use them for practically any event.

One of the focus as MANINTOWN is travelling. Can you tell us something about your country/your hometown. Like a place to see, a place where to eat, something to do...

I am lucky to have been born in the best country in the world he he he… I am from Spain and was born in Cartagena; a city in the southeast, but currently I spend most of the week in Alicante, a coastal city near the south of Valencia. It is a very touristy city that has many visitors all year round. Throughout the area there are beautiful beaches and wonderful places like Altea or La Granaella. It is very typical to eat rice (not the same as paella), cooked in a variety of different ways amongst many other tasty gastronomic delights. More over, the people of Ali- cante and Spain “in general” are very friendly.

in exclusive for MANINTOWN wearing a coat by Neil Barrett f/w 2019-20

Projects for the future?

Right now, I am working on an illustrated book for adults, a kind of sea story, with tritons and sailors of course. I am also waiting for a children’s book that I have illustrated to be published. As for future projects, I hope to finish a book dedicated to mythology by mid-2020 and my dream is to be able to devote myself full-time to illustration.

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Wish list: a new type of luxury

A new type of luxury. An almost emotional luxury, capable of representing not so much a social status, but our belonging to a tribe of style increasingly similar to an extended family, where everyone is registered in the same fanzine. And this word is not used by chance because these new objects of desire are all a bit retro’, old school, children of a nostalgia for a period that in reality part of the public to which they are addressed has not lived. As well as the excesses of color, above all the use of purple for the men’s wardrobe, refer to an energizing and revitalizing chromotherapy. Fashion thus acquires reassuring and thaumaturgical aspects, which open up to new paths. Starting from the past. 

By Ermenegildo Zegna the ‘must-have’ dress in technical satin fabric #UseTheExisting with multicolored spots on a light obsidian purple base, consisting of a soft-shoulders jacket with iconic couture lapels and slim-fit pants without darts. Oversized knit T-shirt with a wide neckline. Geometric-model glasses with light frame in metal and acetate. Ankle boots with zip in Warsaw gray leather.

Michael J. Fox and Rob Lowe portrayed by Richard Berstein in pure Warhol style for the covers of Interview. And the sweatshirt and the cotton tank top by Coach 1941, become supercool and a lot desirable tributes to the Eighties!

It reminds us of certain seaside vacations in the 1970s, between Ibiza and Saint Tropez, the sandal with sand-colored suede bands by Santoni. So chic!

From the super-loved Gucci designed by Alessandro Michele a document holder in red leather with Horsebit detail. And you can go to work with style and an electrifying spirit

Bally‘s leather bag with hiking style details, not necessarily only for weekends in the high mountains.

The Marni shopping bag from the s/s 2020 Men’s collection is in PVC with leather handles. The detail of the drawings of plastic bottles recalls an eco-friendly spirit that is totally essential today.

They make us think of american colleges, a touch of “Grease” style, a bit of “The rules of attraction” by Bret Easton Ellis, where the main protagonists are the cheerleaders and the rugby players. Here are the Sneakers in cotton gabardine by Prada: new objects of desire.

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Christmas 2019, gift ideas between tech and lifestyle

Whether we like it or not, Christmas is approaching even this year, and with it the uncontrollable desire to amaze our loved ones with useful and above all non-trivial gift ideas. In this gallery, you will find some interesting proposals between tech and lifestyle, so as not to disfigure during the next holidays.


The David Bowie collector’s box is inspired by the unique talent and continuous reinventing of an iconic songwriter, a creative and visionary thinker. This limited edition captures the evolving identity of the singer with an iridescent case that transforms Aladdin Sane into Ziggy Stardust. Inside there is a limited edition numbered notebook that shows Bowie and his famous logo.


Sparco men’s sports watch, red silicone strap with pneumatic design.


A collector’s bottle in Limited Edition made by Polimoda students. The 250ml format is loved by an audience that is attentive to taste and form, able to reveal an innovative and refined soul, outside the traditional canons.


Jägermeister Manifest, the first super-premium reference in the range, created to satisfy the most mature and demanding palates who love a more exclusive liquor, to be savored on more relaxed occasions.


The Tequila Espolòn Blanco commemorates the history of Mexican independence in which Guadalupe and Rosarita joined the valiant military campaign of Father Miguel Hidalgo. A primary quality obtained without aging from the distillation process of pure blue agave.


La Grappa Riserva Bortolo Selection Nardini Single Cask 22 years completes the ultra-premium line “Selezione Bortolo Nardini”, the result of a project that establishes a new quality threshold for the Italian national distillate with the choice of the softest, scented and sweet grappas.


Baseball model hat. Maxi foliage logo with inner lining. 


Pelty is the only Bluetooth speaker in the world operated by the heat of the fire to reproduce the music of every device, using clean energy for its operation. 


Brown suede lace-up model 


This clock, inspired by the cosmos, sees the collaboration between Richard Mille and Pharrell Williams and is made using highly technological materials processed manually in miniature, using the most advanced technology.


GPO Union Flag Phone is inspired by the iconic push-button model, the protagonist of all homes in the 1960s, combining vintage design, classic lines and modern technology for a guaranteed British effect. 


The Papirho stool in paper with an unmistakable honeycomb structure, practical, light and at the same time resistant. Perfect both as a seat and as a side table in the living area. 


Rum Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2019 is born from the mixture of rums aged between 6 and 24 years, aged in specially selected muscatel barrels. The result is a distillate with lively notes of vanilla and wood, accompanied by citrus and floral notes. 


“Disaronno wears Diesel” is a Limited Edition with a contemporary and “gritty” style that reflects the soul of the two companies that sign it, two Italian companies appreciated internationally, united by a deep vocation for innovation and a lively creative spirit. 


Limited edition bottle of the most widely distributed whiskey in the world, just launched in Italy this Christmas. The graphic of the bottle pays tribute to the rarities and beauties of Scotland, a land so dear to the lovers of the distillate.

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Walt Cassidy, New York: Club Kids

Damiani Editori, the renowned publisher that proposes international publications dedicated to art and photography – always cool, cutting-edge and important – has printed a book that is really interesting, for those who love style and for those who are intrigued about the ways with which certain phenomena have influenced more than a generation, not only from the point of view of the image. The book “New York: Club Kids. By Waltpaper” by Walt Cassidy, with the preface of Mark Holgate. The club kids from the New York scene in the 90’s were maybe the last underground phenomenon, the last true subculture that became something recognizable and creatively stimulating.

High on the agenda also thanks to the film “Party Monster” with Macaulay Culkin, that focuses more on the unpleasant events that involved especially one of the club kids, Michael Alig, this book wants to emphasize the mediatic, cultural and creative importance of that group of guys. 

 When he was young, Cassidy was Waltpaper, an almost genderless figure, with an alien look, and the book brings us back to those nights in the 90’s. So the book is more than a simple chronicle from the past, and Walt explains it clearly in the exclusive interview that he gave us.

When did you decide to create this book and why? Which is in your opinion the importance and the legacy of the period you are talking about?

NEW YORK: CLUB KIDS first began with a 40 page editorial that I did for Candy Magazine in 2015, where I selected five photographers who beautifully documented the Club Kids and New York nightlife culture in the 1990’s. The images ran with a short biographical text of my personal reflections about the period. I have always been very careful about investing too much in nostalgia. 

People often get stuck in the past, and I am more interested in the present, so despite many requests to tell the story of that time period, I kept my energy mostly focused on my current  life. As time moved on, a number of key figures from the original scene began to pass, sadly. 

I got nervous that important photographic archives might be at risk of being lost forever. I had not been satisfied with outside journalist’s interpretation of our scene, after 25 years since it’s collapse.  No one seemed to be able to capture the creativity and inventiveness that the Club Kids represented. 

There were so many idea’s and concepts that intersected that moment in time in New York City, but had yet to be addressed. I realized that it was an insider’s job, and I was the only person who could put together a book that would properly capture that 10 year time period.

Is there a picture in particular that gave you goosebumps, that reminds you of a specific moment? Do you wanna share that moment with us?

The process of doing the book was incredibly cathartic and labor intensive. I needed to process the many feelings that I had, as well as, absorb the energy and thoughts of all the photographers and subjects in the book. 

I felt responsible for everyone involved, despite it being a story about my personal journey. Additionally, I had to glue together heavily fractured and often damaged archives, which needed extensive restoration. 

The book required the work of four different graphic designers.  Every image conjures up tender moments for me. Since many of the people featured are no longer with us, this added another layer of responsibility. I tell the story of my first male lover in New York, named Donald, who was a notorious street hustler, and eventually died from AIDS. 

Despite his reputation, he was very protective of me, perhaps because I was only 19 years old, new to the city, and quite innocent. He was an angel with broken wings, and was my introduction to life in New York City, and I believe he still watches over me today.

Which was the most difficult moment in preparing the book?

Writing the last chapter was the hardest because not only did I need to make firm decisions about how I felt, but I also needed to make sure that the book would be of some service to the 15 year old, who would be discovering and reading about this culture for the first time, as well as, my peers from my generation and New York City who would be reflecting back on that time as they passed through the pages.

SKID, Waltpaper, Nocturnal Oddities at Willow Gallery, 1992. Copyright SKID. All Rights Reserved.

You were all very creative in dressing, do you remember the most outrageous outfit you had? Could you save some of those outfit? Do you still have some of them?

I did not save any of my outfits.  One of the things that was unique about the Club Kids was that we approached fashion as disposable. Most of our outfits were made to be worn one night then disposed of. 

For the book, I use the metaphor of “deconstruction” as an over arching concept and motivation that defined the 1990’s.  You see this in the music, the clothes and the drugs. Instead of saving my clothes, I saved all my photos and press editorials, which created the foundation for the book.

In which way do you think the club kids of today can be different from your generation? And in generale how New York has changed in your opinion?

The energy and dynamics of youth culture is always regenerative, playing off of the same reoccurring concepts, but responding to the politics and technology of any given time period. At the core of history and our human experience are pictures and words. That is the essence of everything. How we capture our experience and how we talk about ourselves is what creates distinctions between different time periods and generations. 

This goes back to cave drawings of the earliest human beings. My excitement comes from seeing these things change and evolve. Human culture ebbs and flows between the liberal and the conservative. New York City has suffered as a result of conservative city politics and the money and real estate agenda since the late 90’s. I feel that we are on the cusp of a more positive and exciting period, not just in New York City, but in the world.

We are currently in the same position as we were as the 1980’s moved into the 1990’s, or as the 1950’s moved into the 1960’s. The conservative have had their hold, but that will break apart soon. I am very excited by Generation Z and the idea’s that they are beginning to push through.

What have you learned about yourself or about that period while preparing the book?

That it is important to show up and participate in life, even if you weren’t invited, especially if you weren’t invited.

You are a very different person, from who you were, at least it is what we can see from the outside. What is still there of that young kid?

I am still very much the same person moving through this lifetime, gathering new experiences as each day passes. I believe the essence of life is fluidity, and I allow myself to remain in flux, and constantly change and evolve. I believe it is a great mistake to invest in the idea that if we chase after one singular experience or identity, that we will find happiness. 

Fear is what drives the desire to cling to one thing.  Fear will never lead to freedom and joy. The world is not flat and neither is the human experience. We are dimensional beings, and that should always be celebrated.

You have a lot of projects, can you tell us what are you doing at the moment?

I am a multimedia artist, so to keep myself engaged, I navigate various mediums. My jewelry and artworks are always available at My primary focus at the moment is getting the book launched. We are partnering with the store Opening Ceremony and have created a small capsule collection inspired by the book, which will drop mid-November and coincide with a book launch event. NEW YORK: CLUB KIDS is published by Damiani and is now available for Pre-order online, and will hit stores internationally in October. 

Since Manintown has a focus on traveling, can you give us your suggestions about New York? Like the place you love the most? And a couple of places to go drinking/eating/having fun? 

The love the parks of New York City… Central Park, Prospect Park and Hudson River Park are particular favorites. I recently discovered Dekalb Market Hall in Brooklyn which has a fantastic array of food vendors. The Wiki Wiki Hawaiian food stand is a favorite.

SKID, Christopher Comp at Wall Street outlaw party, 1992. Copyright SKID. All Rights Reserved.

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